There are a few strange habits that I've picked up and kept up over the last few weeks - I choose to have eggs for breakfast instead of cereal or bread - scrambling two eggs takes less time than toast, and keeps me full all morning (thank you Dr Atkins). I'd rather have a salad for lunch than bread - it stops that mid-afternoon lull and desperate craving for chocolate that I always seem to get. And finally, I've given up my latte's, and I'll have a regular coffee with a dash of milk instead. Which also means (with a previous two-starbuck-lattes-a-day habit at £4 a day) that I've already saved nearly £150 in the two months I've been back at work.
Overall, I'm beginning to see that lots of small changes to my lifestyle can make a big difference to the overall picture, which ties in nicely with diet #13. One of the lovely ladies on Prima Baby magazine (who sit just along from me in Natmag Towers) loaned me a brand new book called Adore Yourself Slim by Lisa Jackson. It's a bit of a strange title, which I think is in the vein of "think yourself thin" - that all I have to do is adore myself, and the rest will follow (I know, before you say it, that shouldn't be too hard then...)
Lisa is a clinical hypnotherapist/author/long distance runner and health journalist. Alongside her book, you get a cd with five different hypnotherapy sessions with Lisa.
This is more than just a book; it's a workbook, with spaces to write and add photos. You start off pasting a 'before' picture, with a space for an 'after' shot. You then have to assess your past weight battles, to overcome them and move forwards. There's (a very small) space to write why you've gained weight in the past, how you felt about it, what you were eating before, what your turning point was, how you felt listening to the hypnosis cd, mistakes you've made, strategies you've learned, other people's reactions, and so on...
For me, this is where it all becomes a bit, umm, how can I put this... American. Her recommendations include "taking a daily praise pill", getting "in touch" with your body (I used to work on Cosmo, who urged its readers to do this a lot, but I don't think that's quite what she had in mind), evicting the "wicked witch" (negative thoughts), getting in the gratitude groove, and acting like a girl guide (this is a particularly bad idea for me - those were the years that I mostly smoked too many fags, ate too many crisps, and hung out with more boys than my husband would have approved of). This is followed by an Adore Yourself Slim body map, where you write down why you love each part of yourself. You also have to create a goal group people who will follow your diet and help and encourage you - and there's a page to stick photographs. I realise that I've already got my group - it's you, the reader. Lisa next urges you to set your goals, and reward yourself accordingly.
The biggest chapter by far is on food. Lisa has some quite strict but sensible rules. Every day, you should eat 1 snack, 2 fruit, 3 protein, 3 nutritious carbs, 3 dairy and 3 fat servings.
This book is big on lists. There's lists of what's included in each of the above categories, lists of "sanity savers" (eat soup, olives, exotic fruit for sweetness/variety/fullness etc), a list of slimming foods (green tea, chilli, beans, eggs, salad), a list of slimming commandments (the oddly named although sensible enough "thou shalt not order sushi if thou doesn't like fish", "thou shalt never eat anything bigger than your head" and "if you fail to plan you plan to fail"...). There are some really good recipes which I'm going to try this week, including a chickpea and butternut squash tagine, and roasted veg with halloumi.
There's also a whole section on exercise. Sarah Maxwell, a personal trainer has devised something she's called a "sneaky workout". The idea is that no one is too busy to exercise (even me, with a full time job, two small children and a house to 'run'???). For exercise, Lisa suggests finding the time to train in "dead" time slots - whilst you're commuting, sitting at a desk, waiting for a kettle to boil and running a bath (ha, like I have time for a bath. Just to clarify, I do wash - I shower, but I'm so time-poor, I even have a 4-minute timer in the bathroom to make sure I don't stay too long). Some are good ideas - running up the stairs at work rather than taking the lift (I'm on the fifth floor), walking to the next station rather than the nearest (which is genius, she must know the horror that is Oxford Circus at rush hour) and some are less so. My least favourite: "Got a few minutes beforoe you go out? Put on your favourite cd and dance, burning calories and increasing bone density". Seriously, I have a job, two children and two left feet. I often don't even have time to put on lipstick and do a wee before I go out.
- The cumulative effects of the smaller changes that Lisa suggests (like walking up stairs), are easy to adopt and make a bigger difference to the overall picture
- Lisa looks at the big picture - as well as considering the reasons for weight gain and strategies for weight loss, there's a whole chapter on dressing better - wearing heels and make-up , clothes and make-up. As far as I'm concerned, a little bit of blusher and mascara isn't just good for the person who's wearing it, it makes the world nicer for the rest of us who have to look at you too!
- The nicest recipes of any of the diet books that I've read so far.
- Good, solid, practical nutrition advice.
- The hypnotherapy is a bit wishy-washy for me. Lisa's calm South African accent urging you to "breeeathhhe innnn throughhhhhh your nose", and "imagine sand trickling throughhhhhh your bodyyyyyyy" just makes me want to roll my eyes.
- I only have time to listen to the relaxation techniques on the tube, which is exactly the opposite of relaxation. And even worse, I've lost my headphones, so I've had to borrow Sadie's pink hello kitty ones.
- I'm not really into workbooks, and I can't write in this book anyway, because I've got to give it back.
- Some of the techniques are a bit "american" (sorry, again) for me.
For me, the style of book isn't really the sort of thing I'm into. I don't want sensible, practical advice for every day, I want crazy, faddie, hard-to-follow diets that feel like punishment. I'm still a firm believer in the whole "no pain, no gain" school of thought. Her sensible, no-nonsense approach means that this probably isn't going to be a bestseller, but for the women who buy it, her good, solid, practical advice will not only make them thin, it will make them happier and probably extend their lives.
For this week, I'll live by Lisa's rules. I'll find time to exercise wherever possible, I'll eat according to her guidelines, and I'll make an effort to dress well and look nice. I'll listen to her cd every day, I'll eat only food that I like, I'll eat slowly, I'll plan and I'll relax. And I'll give myself a 1-minute daily pep talk. If I have time.