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Sunday 26 January 2020
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Slow and steady to weight loss

I HAVE known the joy of putting “lose weight” at the top of my New Year’s resolutions and the devastation of feeling like a failure by breaking that resolution one month into the new year. Losing weight is one of the top five New Year’s resolutions people make, and it’s one of the most difficult resolutions to keep.

The good news is that shedding excess pounds is no longer difficult and painful. Forget the days when getting thinner meant starvation, guess work and the latest fad diet. This is new-age eating now – and the word “diet” isn’t even part of our vocabulary.

My weight has been a battle my entire life, but finally, I feel in control thanks to the new science of weight loss.

On New Year’s day, 1999, I hit the scale at 199 pounds. My daughter, Ijanaya, had come home for Christmas and the day she returned to her job in Sudan, I felt depressed and certain if I didn’t get a grip, I would soon weigh 250 pounds. This wasn’t far-fetched because I had tipped the scales at 230 pounds about ten years ago.

Fed up and depressed from sugar highs and lows that I managed like a drug addict to cope with depression, I took my trainer Colin’s advice to return to the nutritionist he had sent me to five years ago.

The task looked daunting, but then I began to think that ten years ago I had gone from 230 pounds to 199 pounds, and I had never crossed the threshold of 200 pounds again. Maybe there was hope.

I realised exercise alone was not enough to keep weight off. It probably kept me from reaching my peak weight again, but I did serious weight training and swimming and only managed to lose weight when I went to the nutritionist for a sensible eating plan and realistic calories. Nutritionists have a gadget that measures your water, fat and muscle content, and they can determine the exact amount of calories you can eat to lose weight.

Simply going on the internet and plugging your weight, age and height into one of those formulas that gives you ridiculously low calories and body weight goals is courting failure. The internet tells me I should eat 1200 calories a day and weigh 105 pounds. My numbers at the nutritionist showed I would lose weight on 1600 calories a day, and I should weigh 145 pounds.

Good nutritionists like mine’s works with what you like to eat. They help you to find creative ways to cut calories, use sites like Yummly to find new recipes, manage calories on My Fitness Pal and eat like you’re living in the real world. They give guidelines for balancing proteins, carbohydrates and fats at each meal, and they provide strategies for getting back on track on bad days, which everyone has.

My only restrictions were no white flour, no white rice and no processed sugar. I knew sugar would be my battle, but I quickly discovered that adding cacao nibs to protein drinks completely cut my sugar cravings.

Planning proved key to success. If you don’t cook your food, you can be doomed by eating out, but my nutritionist gave a list of possibilities of food I could buy at the nearby mall when I didn’t bring food to work.

Mindful eating became my mantra, and I learned how to extract myself from possible downward spirals. I accepted that weight loss would be slow and steady and would decrease over time. By the end of the year, my calorie intake for losing weight actually increased by almost 100 calories because of the lean muscle I built.

At the end of this month, I should reach my goal weight of 145 pounds. I used to daydream about my dream meal when I hit my goal, but there is nothing I look forward to eating that I don’t already.

I am right on track to register the perfect weight loss for a year – pounds. If you follow a sensible eating plan, which accepts that a body can lose no more than eight pounds a month, and understand that weight loss will taper as you go, you can lose around 52 pounds in a year.

It’s a new decade full of possibilities for new beginnings, and rest assured if you put losing weight as a New Year’s resolution, you can do it. The bottom line is this: if I can lose weight anyone can.

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