Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Silliest, Most Unhelpful Response To Diets

As you know if you've been reading this blog recently, I'm doing Herbalife. With mixed results and another two weeks to go, I'm not making any final judgments until the end. You can read my Herbalife posts here.

However, I have to comment on what to me seems like the silliest response to anyone who announces they're on a diet. What overweight person hasn't heard it? As soon as you say, "not for me thanks I'm doing Atkins (or any of the other diet plan)," someone is going to respond with, "diets are all rubbish, all you need is to eat smaller amounts of healthy food." This is usually said by a slim person.

Whether it's Herbalife, The Cambridge Plan, Atkins, South Beach, Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Billy Connolly (it's not Billy Connolly - what's that woman's name who sells whole pre-packed meals and exercise dvds?), etc... I agree that all of them have a way of eating that you would not want to keep up for the rest of your life. Some are faddy and unhealthy for a long period, some too expensive, and some just too complicated to think about for more than a few months.

But how does it help to tell a fatty that all they need to do is eat smaller amounts of healthy food? Do you think they don't know that it wasn't a healthy diet that made them fat in the first place? Do you not think that if they were able to sustain a diet of smaller amounts of healthy food they would have been doing it for a while and not be fat?

It's not just a matter of willpower. I know fat Jewish women who, if you presented them with a sumptuous buffet and said, "by the way it's not kosher, everything's made with ham or cooked in lard," they would not touch a morsel. However hungry they were and however delicious the food looked, they would not even be tempted. It's not kosher so it's not for them any more than if you'd served a wonderfully presented dish of dog food. Yet they cannot restrain themselves from overeating in any other [kosher] setting.

Nor is it ignorance. Fat people often know more about nutrition than anyone due to years, lifetimes sometimes, of researching the solution to being overweight. They are not fat because they don't know that too many carbs result in too many kilos of fat. They don't eat those excess carbs because they think it's healthy. Fat people eat as compensation for something else in the way that an alcoholic or drug addict is tempted by their own particular poison when certain stress buttons are pushed.

If I'm upset, frustrated, angry (or even just a bit cross), nervous or agitated in any way, I find myself heading to the fridge for comfort. Under stress for long periods of time I've not had a heart attack, migraines, stomach problems, skin eruptions, a stroke, or a nervous breakdown. I've got fat.

The best antidote is to get into the right mindset and cure oneself by eating smaller amounts of healthy food. No Nobel prize for stating the obvious here. However, I bet a Nobel prize would be awarded to the billionaire (and they would become billionaires if they cracked this one) who discovered a sure way to get yourself into that mindset. I've done it a few times in my life and ended up slim and feeling great. In every instance I kept off the weight until I was sabotaged by extreme stress or upset. And every time it took me years to achieve the same mindset that enabled me to lose the weight in the first place. If I could only pinpoint the trigger I'd be writing the book as we speak.

In fact I did manage to lose a stone (14lbs) in the four weeks before I started a month of Hebalife. In my case it was desperation followed by ten days of a urine/kidney infection that left me without any appetite. Experience has taught me that a few weeks of eating smaller amounts of healthy food is not enough to keep me on the straight and narrow for the long haul.

I chose to do Herbalife because it would give me a strict programme to follow, without being complicated (involving too many choices or loads of preparation), for another month. Never mind how effective Herbalife is as a nutritional product, for me the success would come from knowing I'd paid quite a lot of money for it so I jolly well wasn't going to waste that, and from adding to my 14lbs of weight already lost as extra motivation to continue losing afterwards.

For those who cannot get themselves into the right mindset, diets like these (choose any of them, they all work if you stick to it) get you to the starting post without all the excess baggage. In the end if you want to stay slim and healthy, of course you must eat smaller amounts of healthy food. Nothing will take the place of changing your eating habits for life. But how much easier it is to do this from the starting line of being fit and healthy. How much easier it is to eat healthily without the added burdens of depression, low self esteem, ill health, restricted mobility and general sluggishness of being overweight.

So no we haven't been conned into paying for rubbish (rubbish is all the processed and fast food we might have been buying beforehand) or even wasting money on something we can do ourselves without paying for it (I clean my own home but I wouldn't ridicule those who employ a cleaner and don't do it themselves). Sometimes you need a little help to get started and you pay whatever takes. For me it's three weeks of guaranteed not falling off the diet wagon. And when I've reached my target weight, then it might be useful and helpful to remind me to eat smaller amounts of healthy food.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Herbalife 4: 10 Days In

For those who've been waiting, here are the results after 10 days of Herbalife. But first some other information...

Previous Herbalife posts here.

This past week started out really easy but by the end of the week I could not face another Herbalife shake. I've started having them hot when the weather is cold but this works better for the vanilla than the tropical fruit. I imagine it would also be good for chocolate but I didn't get chocolate. So on Tuesday, the day before my meeting with Debi, I didn't do it. Instead I ate four small meals which added up to about the same calories as the shake-shake-meal programme.

I did some googling about Herbalife and it seems I'm on a very basic programme - others are taking pill supplements and eating protein bars as well as the shakes. I'm happy to keep it basic.

On Wednesday morning I weighed myself before setting off on my trek up the hill to Debi's clinic, and was aghast to see that I'd only lost 0.2lb since the previous Wednesday (0.6lb in total during the 10 days). It was a very despondent dieter who trekked up the hill that morning. And I was feeling a bit sluggish for some reason.

I seem have lost the entire 0.6lb from my bust which has gone down 2cm (if she measured it in exactly the same place and I used the same set of hooks on my bra). Apart from 1cm from my hips and 1cm from my upper arm, which went during the three day trial (ditto the above about the same place), all other measurements are the same.

The numbers on the magic scales were slightly better. Higher water content and less fat/higher muscle. So you could add those weights onto the weight loss to make it a bit more of a return for all the effort expended.

With that in mind I came home resolving to see better results next week. (Must try harder). One of the main problems is that the guidelines advise you eat more protein and I'm definitely not eating enough. However, having bought the shakes and the tea, I can't afford to buy more protein!

And would you believe it, this morning the scales were down another whole pound. Why does it always happen that weigh-in day is the one when you retain everything?

Anyway, two more weeks to go.....

Debi Zylbermann can be reached on fb. Jerusalem peeps, if you go to her please say you came because of my blog and I may be able to do another three weeks on the commission. Tnx.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Single Motherhood, Should You Or Shouldn't You?

There's a meme going around whereby you answer questions set by the person who tagged you. I was tagged by Candi at Looking for Blue Sky but, as luck would have it, the same week a friend asked me to answer some questions about being a single mother for a presentation she's giving next month. So I'm answering these questions instead but thank you Candi for the tag.

What is your name? Rachel, blogging about this very subject at http://midlifesinglemum.blogspot.com

What is your child's name? Adiele
How old are they? 6
How old were you when you had them? 46

What are your hopes and dreams for your kids? The same as every parent I imagine - that she should be happy, healthy, fulfilled, and surrounded by loving family and good friends her entire life.

Why did you decide to take this route? I was entering my 40s, single, and facing the possibility that I would never be a Mummy. This was unacceptable to me and more than a bit scary.

How did people react to your decision? Most people understood me completely and were very positive and supportive. A couple of single women just a few years older than me said they'd wished they'd done it themselves but it hadn't been as accepted, available, or as successful even 10 years before. Interestingly it was the most religious women who were the happiest for me that I was pursuing this option as they totally got it about being a mother. Actually that's perhaps not so surprising on reflection. A few single men expressed regret that they didn't have the same option.

Others, also interestingly all of them women who already had children of their own and therefore never faced the prospect of being childless, were anti: it's selfish (not sure why it's any more selfish than two adults wanting a baby), it's irresponsible, you won't be able to cope, it's not fair on the child, you don't understand how hard it will be, etc... I had a very simple response to this. These people were dropped from my life at least until after Adiele was born. Then some of them came back but tbh, it was never the same relationship.

Who and how have people surprised you along your single mother by choice journey? The only surprise was how many other people were going this route or already had. Even more surprising were the women who'd done it 20 or 30 years ago (mostly without the IVF).

What have you learned along this journey? Getting pregnant and staying pregnant isn't so easy this side of 40 - I though it would be easier. You can't control everything so it's best to be laid back and fit in the 'procedures' around your regular life whilst just going with the flow (no pun intended). It took me four years from my initial meeting at the IVF clinic to bringing home my daughter. And when you have your baby you realize that the end goal of IVF and everything before the birth was nothing. Motherhood is where it all begins.

What would you advise someone thinking about it today? The best piece of advice I got was from my family doctor who said just do it. Don't think about it too much or you'll scare yourself out of it.

From the other side and six years on, I admit that there were difficult times - scarily low finances, day after day of baby/toddler routine with no promise of adult company at the end of the day (thank goodness for facebook), being torn three ways between needing to work for money, do household tasks and entertain your child, and putting your own social life almost completely on hold until you can afford babysitters or your child is old enough for sleepovers. But it all passes. Now we are 6 everything is a lot easier and, for me, a lot more fun.

For those with modest careers and no trust fund, the biggest fear seems to be one of finances, and rightly so. However, I believe that there is no such thing as not being able to afford one child if you want to be a mother. The question is how much you want it. Do you want it enough to move to a cheaper area, live a much more frugal life, change your career rather than be bankrupt by childcare fees, give up your car, etc, etc. I wanted to be a mother above all else so the choice for me was an easy one.

Do you have any regrets? No

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Herbalife 3: Hmmmmm

Today I got the results of my three day trial with Herbalife and I'm in two minds. You can read why I'm doing this here and about the daily regime here.

I stood on my scales this morning before going to meet Debi and I had lost only 0.4lb (150g) in the three days. I was disappointed as I initially dropped 1.6lbs after the first day but seem to have gained most of that back.

Wearing the same clothes I'd worn on Sunday and drinking the same amount of green tea before setting off, I walked the 30 minutes uphill (I've discovered shortcuts since Sunday) to Debi's clinic. I'd basically decided I was not going to continue with the programme. I have no doubt that it works and is great for people whose eating is out of control but for me.... I've been eating sensibly for seven weeks already and I can manage to lose 1lb a week on my own, eating real food and paying much less.

However, it's not about the weight apparently. It's about your percentage of fat as opposed to water and muscle mass, your measurements of course but also your basal metabolic rate (BMR - how many calories you'd use if you just slept all day), your metabolic age, bone mass and visceral fat (internal fat around your organs).

So in three days my bust went down 1 1/2cm, hips down 1cm and arm down 1cm (I forgot to mention the arm before). Waist and neck stayed the same.

Weight down 0.15kg (0.4lb), body fat down 0.3%, and Metabolic Age down from 90 (which is the maximum the scales can read so it could have been higher) to 89.

Water content was up 0.1% (good because I am about 12% below the healthy 50% - 60%), muscle mass up 0.1 (g I suppose but I don't know for sure) and BMR up from 1469 to 1472 (3 calories is 3 calories :~P).

Bone Mass is is a very healthy 2.4 (kg?) and visceral fat is a just ok 12 (0-5 is healthy, 6-12 is just ok, 13+ is excess, I've no idea what the unit of measurement is). No change in either.

Of course I signed up for another three weeks of this. I'm a numbers person and I need to see those numbers improve. The cost is an issue as it's over half my monthly household budget (food and cleaning/toiletries) for three weeks. However, I'm also paying for the numbers and the weekly consultation.

I'll report back after my meeting next Wednesday. As I said, I'm in two minds. On the one hand I can't believe I just paid so much for two tins of formula and  packet of tea (Debi threw in a shake shaker for free which actually makes it a lot easier). On the other hand I know that health isn't just about how many kgs you weigh. In a word: Hmmmmm.

Debi Zylbermann can be reached on fb. Jerusalem peeps, if you go to her please say you came because of my blog and I may be able to do another three weeks on the commission. Tnx.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Herbalife Day One

You can read here my reasons for doing this, Today is about the first day.

Yesterday I had my first meeting with Debi Zylbermann. I drank one glass of herbal tea before setting off at 8am and walked the 40 minutes uphill to her clinic (yes she has a clinic, she doesn't sell sachets of cup-o-soup from her handbag).

On my way, with plenty of time to think, I'm already wondering why you need to buy a meal replacement powdered soup rather than make a big healthy soup yourself and have one cup for lunch every day. I'm also resenting the fact that I will have to buy milk again, having virtually given it up, in order to make the shakes, and I don't much care for chocolate or strawberry flavour, etc, etc, etc.

When I arrived everything changed (either they are very friendly or I'm very gullible) and I went with the flow. Debi's assistant (a clinic with an assistant even) gave me a 2-cup (500ml) glass of tea. Raspberry flavour. It was good,

Debi measured my height (hooray I'm just over 5'3" and 161cm - I always thought I was only 160cm and was also worried that I may have started shrinking). Then I stood on the scales with bare feet (required) and a series of numbers flashed up. I recognised the number of kg relating to my weight and Debi said she'd explain all the others when we meet on Wednesday.

She also measured my neck, bust, waist, and hips. All a good 10 inches above the measurements I remember from the Miss World contestants on the telly all those years ago (well I don't know about the neck).

I was presented with my first shake (Vanilla - phew!) and though it was quite creamy I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was made with water not milk. As I sipped Debi asked me questions about my eating habits and lifestyle. We agreed that we're not expecting spectacular results from a three day trial as I've already lost a stone (14lbs/6kg) in the past six weeks. So actually this will be a more realistic test of Herbalife than had I come to them from being totally out of control.

My questions were answered:
1. They only have one soup (tomato) and it's fortified with extra vitamins, minerals and protein. My vegetable soup at home has a lot less protein even if I do add rice and beans,

2. One of the principles is that you lose weight faster on a high-protein diet which is why it's better to make the shakes with low-fat milk or soya milk than to make them with water. We agreed on half/half water and milk.

I was given five scoops of the tea (actually a different flavour not as nice as the raspberry) and five sachets of the vanilla shake mix. This was the three day trial pack. I also had a list of instructions: One protein snack in the afternoon (Debi suggested one or two hard boiled eggs) with a piece of fruit, and a light meal at about 6pm (mostly vegetables, a serving of protein, low on carbs). The tea (500ml) was to be drunk directly before the shake (500ml) and another 1.5 litres (6 cups) of water or other herbal tea to be drunk aswell during the day. Simple.

I walked home and beyond to the supermarket to buy my 1% fat milk (I should've bought soya milk but it's three times the price), a dozen eggs, and some fruit. I arrived home just in time replace my lunch and boil the eggs for later.

I finished lunch and tried to do some work but actually, I was counting the minutes until I could eat my eggs and fruit. I got no work done. I was far too pre-occupied by the regime. I filled the time with cups of herbal tea and going to the loo.

I loved those hard boiled eggs at 3.30pm, sprinkled with a little salt. I didn't fancy an apple after that so I had a less commendable banana but so what.

Supper was a big salad of lettuce, avocado, tomato, grated cheese (the protein element) with a lemon and olive oil dressing. I also had two rice crackers with humus and a spicy aubergine pate on top. This was a bit sneaky as the rice crackers and humus were what I would have had for breakfast only on toast.

Into bed at 9pm with a good book even though I wasn't remotely tired (and I usually am). Lights out at 9.30 still not tired but too nervous to get up and work in case I ate something and resolving to get up early in the morning to work instead.

12.30 woke up to go to the loo and couldn't get back to sleep. Worrying about all the work I'd not done the previous day. Read a bit. Fell asleep again at about 3am and woke at 7 which is the usual time not early at all.

I stood on my scales this morning and had dropped 1.6lbs since yesterday! :~).

Btw, I ditched the blender and made my shake with an egg whisk - just as good, no electricity, and less washing up. Debi suggested I put ice-cubes in the shake which wouldn't work with an egg whisk but I'm happy with milk and water both from the fridge.

Today I had planned to walk to the bank (40 minutes uphill) and home again but I really didn't have the time. I also had a meeting at someone's house where I had two cups of coffee (decaf because that's what they had) with soya milk. I know it's not herbal tea but it has some protein right? I took the bus home aswell.

So now I'm finishing my tea, going to make my shake for lunch, and dreaming about my hard boiled eggs. And I'll probably have a banana too.

Tomorrow I won't be walking much as I'm in college all day - must remember to take my tea and shake with me. And on Wednesday I will walk the 40 minutes uphill to Debi's clinic (no direct bus so no choice) to find out the results of my three day trial and decide what to do next.

Jerusalem people, you can contact Debi Zylbermann on fb.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Herbalife, Why Am I Doing This?

Some of you may have noticed the little pink ticker on the right of my blog. It says Weight Loss Target and it hadn't moved in many months (I updated it today to show that I've lost 20% of what I want to lose). I put it up there in March - I know because I still have the email from when Elaine (Mortgage Free in Three) sent it to me. I've had my fat times and my thin times. Usually fat times are triggered by episodes of stress or grief and even though the stress/grief goes away, it can take years to get back into the right frame of mind to lose the weight again. Even big family or social events are not enough motivation. Tbh, I don't know what the best motivation is.

This time it was shock, shear desperation, the mirror and photos. I'd hit a very high number of kg (and an even higher number of lbs :~P) by the beginning of this year - my highest ever. This was enough of a shock to get me started but I could never sustain the weight loss for more than two weeks at a time. All my motivating factors came and went - a holiday in Eilat, going to London for Pesach (Passover), a wedding, the summer at the pool... I stayed the same weight throughout.

Then I started to really take stock - some of my friends were looking great at 50 whereas I was beginning to look decidedly (and unnecessarily) middle-aged. I was starting to feel uncomfortable after any physical effort. I was starting to avoid any physical effort. The other parents at my daughter's school are between 10 and 25 years younger than me. I cannot change my age but I don't want to look like the Granny picking up from school.  And one day someone actually asked me if I was DD's grandma. This final item may have been the last straw.

On September 24th (The day before Rosh Hashannah - Jewish New Year) I started eating less and managed to avoid all sugary desserts, snacking between meals, and late night eating, for the entire festival. As luck would have it I got a kidney infection after two weeks of dieting (not related) and hardly ate anything for the two weeks after that. In four weeks I lost a stone (14lbs/6kg).

Over the next two weeks I lost only one more pound which I may have put back on again. I needed to get back with the programme (or a programme). As if to order, Debi Zylbermann posted on fb about a three day trial with Herbalife. You have to understand that Herbalife (and all other meal replacement schemes) go against everything I believe in. I believe in real food, little sugar or processed foods, and a lot less of it. So I immediately called Debi on the phone.

I'm doing it because I need a kick start (or re-start), I don't want to lose the momentum of motivation that helped me lose a stone, I need a simple regime, and I want the support. So the three day trial is to see if it agrees with me. If it does I envisage doing it for up to a month but not more - despite what they say it is more expensive than just eating sensibly (but cheaper than eating your children's crisps and other snacks between meals).

I had my first meeting with Debi this morning and I will be reporting back regularly. Jerusalem people, you can contact Debi Zylbermann via fb.

P.S. One of the things Aviva said to me was that I need to learn to ask for help more. Maybe this is the beginning of asking for help? I always looked down on throwing money at losing weight - just eat less for goodness sake! But maybe sometimes one does need the help.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Are You A Driver Or A Passenger In Your Life?

I told you I took tea with my friend and neighbour Aviva Belfer. Aviva is a life enhancer - both the outer (manicures, pedicures, and waxing) and the inner (Reiki, Journey Therapy, and Access Consciousness - she is a certified practitioner of all three).

I was interested in The Journey. I could link to The Journey official website but I don't want to. As I'm not intending to be a Journey Practitioner myself I have no interest in promoting a new-age guru, making her into some sort of Goddess, and adding to her billion dollar industry. The Journey as a technique uses much of the same empowering devices as Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP) and many other systems found on the self-help/new-age shelf of the library.

What I am interested in is the bottom line. Why do some people seem to have enchanted lives while others struggle and yet others have downright tragic existences? Why can some people cure themselves of life-threatening illnesses while others succumb to the medical prognosis. Why do some people succeed at everything while others fail at everything? Is luck just luck or do we make our own luck? Why are some people the drivers of their own lives while others are passengers?

Aviva uses Journey methods which she learned at Journey seminars and courses. I believe in it because I cannot accept that all those people I alluded to in the paragraph above have to be the victims of chaos, coincidence and luck for their whole lives. Something must make the universe work with some people and against others. Unless you believe that the universe (insert your God here if that works for you better) is vindictive and has favourites, the answer has to come from within ourselves.

I also believe that, without hero worship or creating new-age gods (and billionaires), you can find someone to help you unlock whatever is holding you back from realizing your potential and achieving your dreams. My visit with Aviva gave me a taste of how this can work.

A big part of The Journey is about letting go of past 'issues'. This can mean hurts, humiliations, anger, fear, regrets, guilt, and/or injustices. The premise is that these emotions are held in the very cells of our bodies and they hold us back or, even worse, can make us sick. We all know the effects of stress for example, can be physically debilitating so there is some truth in this we can all agree on. In my mind it doesn't matter if it's the whole truth or not and whether the same results could be achieved with e.g NLP or The Secret. The important thing is the result and the person who can help you get there. Any talk therapy that works is good.

I didn't go in with a particular problem. In order to discuss The Journey I remembered something I did in my youth that I regret bitterly. Interestingly, Aviva wasn't interested in the story. What happened happened and we can't change it after all. Aviva was only interested in exploring how this event was blocking me and limiting my life. I admit that I sort of wanted to unburden myself by telling the story but though she was willing to listen if I needed to tell it, it wasn't relevant to the process. I didn't share the story. I'm not sure what happened to that thread because as we delved deeper into the emotions and impulses involved, we uncovered a much bigger issue in my childhood and went off on a tangent.

Using guided imagery techniques, Aviva asked me to invite all the players to a campfire and ask them all in turn to explain their side of the events. I reached a point where I could understand why everyone behaved as they did and I could let go of some of the injustice I felt. I could not go as far as forgiving the person I felt should have helped me at the time. I know I was supposed to be able to say, "I forgive you," but I don't. I understand them but I think the wrong choices were made by grown-ups even though they didn't know any better and thought they were doing the best for me. (So I probably won't be retiring to my villa in the South of France just yet. :~P) Maybe it takes longer or maybe understanding is enough. What is forgiveness anyway?

On the other hand, I no longer feel like a failure in this instance. I now realize that I was failed (without hating anyone for it but not exactly forgiving them either). Before you start getting the wrong idea, it's not about shifting all the blame for everything onto others but about absolving the guilt. If you mess up there is usually a reason. You can make bad choices and wrong decisions and even though you made them yourself, they didn't come from nowhere. Something even further back led to you not being able to take the better path. This is The Journey - going back to find the point of destruction and changing the points of creation (or is it the other way around?).

The next day I had a meeting about working on a project that I could call my dream job. Not being sure exactly how many hours work it will entail, the 'boss' suggested he advance me X amount of money and we'd see how far it goes. The X represents exactly the amount I needed to get me through to the next payout for another project without going into overdraft. I also have not indulged in any comfort eating since my session with Aviva and I've organised my two college courses so they should run smoothly through the semester without any hitches or last minute planning panics - something I was putting off for no apparent reason. It's not a villa in Provence but it's a start.

Aviva Belfer can be contacted through her website.