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Wedding ready? Diets that could work for you (2/2)

by | 10 September 2016 | Health & Fitness

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Diets that could work for you

In part one of this series, I shared a handful of healthy eating plans that I reckon could have you looking and feeling happy and healthy for your wedding day. This week, I’m giving you some real-life insights into these plans, and I’m not sugar coating any of it (‘scuse the pun).

‘It can work in the short term’ – the 5:2 diet

After watching the 2012 Horizon episode ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’ with Dr Michael Mosley, Popup Weddings co-founders Alasdair and Kerry started the 5:2 diet.

‘It seemed like a healthy way to not only get to our natural weight, but also eat normally’ says Alasdair. So for the next two years they both ate normally for five ‘feast’ days a week; and only consumed 500 calories for two ‘fast’ days a week.

‘I found it very difficult for the whole two years’ Kerry explains. ‘I enjoyed the feast days and eating what I wanted, but the fast days I really struggled with. It even made me physically weak on fast days.’

Whereas Alasdair found it manageable: ‘I got over the hungriness quickly and now I can go 16 hours comfortably without eating.’ But did they notice any long-term benefits?

‘I lost weight initially for the first six months (I didn’t have much to lose)’ says Alasdair. ‘But then my weight began to climb again and I was back where I began, which still wasn’t overweight.’

Kerry’s weight followed a similar pattern. ‘The diet helped maintain my weight, but I never really lost anything; I just went up and down. After doing it for so long and not seeing major results I became disheartened, less strict on the fast days and would end up eating more than 500 calories.’

So the 5:2 diet is…

‘…all about the willpower’ says Kerry.

‘You need it to get through the hungry period’ adds Alasdair. ‘For different people that lasts a different amount of time. I know plenty of people who simply cannot deal with being hungry.’

So if you’re one to get hangry, maybe the 5:2 diet isn’t right for you. But that’s not to say intermittent fasting couldn’t work.

‘The idea of fasting is a good, and I could see myself doing a 5:2-type fast every now and again – to clear out my system’ says Kerry. ‘But now I’m doing a 14-hour fast every day, 16-hours for Alasdair, and we do it mainly overnight (option one in the link). That’s keeping my weight as is. And I find it easier as I am not a breakfast eater anyway.’

‘And I’ve started tracking my calorie intake again using My Fitness Pal (highly recommended)’ says Alasdair. ‘But if I wanted to lose weight, I may have to consider moving more, AKA exercise.’

Two years is an admirable length of time to stick to any eating plan, particularly one that involves fasting. So what did they learn from it?

‘These things aren’t really diets but a way of life’ says Kerry. ‘You need to find one that works for you and stick to it – there are no shortcuts.’

Alasdair agrees: ‘I think 5:2 can work in the short term, but I don’t know if there’s any trick to losing and maintaining weight. I have a feeling the traditional health advice may be correct, and diet and exercise are both important.’

  • Alasdair’s stats: At the start of 2013, Alasdair started on 73kg. He dropped to just under 70kg within the first six months. But then his weight climbed steadily back to 73kg at the start of 2015.
  • Kerry’s stats: Starting off at 55kg, Kerry’s weight dropped in the initial months to 52kgs. For the rest of the time, she went up to 57kg, down to 52kgs, before settling back on 55kg.

Eat right

‘It fitted in with my life’ – Weight Watchers

Kim’s a self-confessed weakling when it comes to diet staying power: ‘Every diet I’ve ever embarked on has ended with me scoffing biscuits a fortnight in.’

But four months before her wedding, she joined Weight Watchers with one of her bridesmaids.

‘It fitted in with my life. I didn’t feel like I was dieting in the traditional sense, ie I wasn’t hungry or craving foods I couldn’t have because I could have treats, as long as I didn’t exceed my points. And the weigh-ins were a good motivator (because I wanted to ‘beat’ my weigh-in each week).’

That’s not to say it was plain sailing: ‘My first month was really positive; the diet was a new thing and I lost 3kg! But the second month was tough; I stuck to my plan but my weight stayed pretty much the same.’

But she didn’t revert to scoffing biscuits: ‘In the second month I was ready to just give up. I felt disheartened because I was putting too much focus on losing weight. So my Weight Watcher leader shifted my attention from weigh-ins to how I felt in general. The answer was good – I felt smaller, and I had more energy. So I joined a kickboxfit class (which I still do twice a week) and focused on feeling healthier rather than what the scales said. That was when I realised I’d approached Weight Watchers as a temporary fad diet rather than a lifestyle change.’

The sooner Kim got over her obsession with the weigh-ins (thanks to her leader), the happier she was: ‘It’s quite a contradictive situation: the leaders weigh you every fortnight and almost imply that you could do better, which made me obsessed with the scales. But then it was also the leader who got me to see the diet as a way of life rather than something I do to avoid going over a certain number on the scales.’

  • Kim’s stats: over four months, Kim lost 9kg! For the first month she didn’t exercise. After that, she did a kickboxfit class twice a week and started walking rather than using the car.

Fitness concept with dumbbells and fresh fruits

‘I was energised and productive’ – The Whole30

I’ve just finished my second Whole30 after sugary treats started to creep into my daily diet. I was getting headaches and generally just feeling low on energy. So I started clean eating for 30 days.

Because I’d done my first Whole30 a year earlier, I was comparing my recent experience to that. But it wasn’t the same at all. With my first one, I got over my sugar comedown after four days, and felt invincible from day 16 right through to the end.

But this time it took me ten days to shake my headaches, and I didn’t notice such an obvious increase in energy levels. But I followed the plan religiously. And before I knew, it was over.

During my 30 days I assured myself that I’d maintain the fundamentals of this diet – eat real food. And I have. But my first weekend off the plan, I snacked on banana cake, honey and waaay too much chocolate. Seems I didn’t kick my sugar dragon during the 30 days after all!

Come Monday morning I was paying the price with a rubbish night’s sleep and a sugar headache. Now I’m out the other side, I’m realising just how energised and productive I felt on the plan, specifically without refined sugar.’

  • Jo’s stats: I don’t tend to weigh myself because muscle weighs more than fat and I’m quite sporty. But I went from 69kg to 65kg. More interestingly were my measurements. I lost 2cm on each of my inner thighs, 5cm off my waist, 5cm off my bust and 3cm from each of my calves! But I did do 45 minutes of yoga every day, rode my bike around town and went for fast walks/runs about three times a week. (But nothing too strenuous.)

Paleo diet products

So there you have it – four accounts on three of the better healthy eating plans out there.

Although everyone’s experiences are different, a common theme between them all is that losing weight shouldn’t be the main focus. It’s more about paying attention to how you’re feeling on a physical, spiritual and mental level.

And on a general note, I really do believe that when you’re in a good place mind, body and soul, everything else – the desire to eat healthily and exercise more – follows. Just try not to put too much pressure on yourself; that’s not good for anyone.

If you’ve done any of these healthy eating plans, or you’re halfway through one, we’d love to hear about your experience. Let us know in the comments box below.

About the author

Jo Wigley

From her word-nerd studio (way) down under in New Zealand, the copywriter in Jo crafts websites, advertising campaigns, scripts, blogs and brochures for businesses across the world. While the creative consultant in her helps brands, big and small, find their voice in one heck of a noisy world.

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Health & Fitness Wedding ready? Diets that could work for you (2/2)