Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Dukan diet

Just say Yes

A lot of people have messaged me with questions about the Dukan diet. Others have told me the reasons why it didn’t work for them; ranging from feelings of nausea and exhaustion, to vegetarians and vegans having serious issues with the animal protein needed. I understand all of the problems and challenges.

Luckily for me I was able to put a most commonly used improv skill into practice (I don’t know why I have never ever done it with my diet before), and that is, just say yes. I did everything to make the diet work. I stuck to my guns, I broke certain rules if it was going to make me stick to it, and I followed others to the letter. I just said yes, and committed and got on with it. Before I knew it I was two months in 8kgs down and happy and confident that what I was doing was working.

So, instead of feeling disappointed and sad and resigned I felt empowered and successful and energised. I have capitalised on those feelings. They totally motivate me. Everyone’s response to me has been inspiring and delicious too. This is a yes I can success story.

The Truth

Somewhere during the last four months of dieting the proper shift happened. It is the shift that I didn’t think would be possible for me. It’s the one I assumed would never happen. Somewhere, at some time, it dawned on me that my eating habits were to change forever. I was never going to go back to my old, pig out on carbs and sugar, ignore breakfast, snack all day, promise myself I’d eat better the next day, eat the cake instead of refuse it. I was going to actually do this, stick to it, follow the rules (mostly) and get down to my target weight and stay there.

I admit, I was nervous about what would happen when I reached my target weight and the Dukan diet moved into the consolidation phase (the phase I am in now). So nervous that it took me a little longer than it should have to shed that last stubborn kilo. I was so confident of the control I had in the cruise phase.

Here are a few things that helped me stay so firmly on track, and helped me change.

1. I traveled quite a bit while I was on the strict, alternating days of pure protein and protein and veg. Some days it was pretty impossible to eat pure protein (when others were providing my meals for me), but I did my best to sort of stick to what I could. I traveled with my oat bran. I sometimes had yogurt in my bag. I chose very carefully when eating out.

2. I shopped properly. I am so lucky to have the best fish shop in Cape Town on my doorstep. I found out who stocked the fat-free, artificially sweetened yogurt I liked and always have a few in the fridge.

3. I took time preparing meals, and discovering great, creative recipes for fish, eggs and veggies. My new, most favourite thing in the world is cauliflower rice (exactly that. Cauliflower that can be used as rice.)

4. I felt what it was like to be almost completely carb and sugar free. It feels fantastic, and once the initial cravings are gone, there is no pull.

5. I discovered Stoney Zero. Yes, I know it is full of bad stuff, but it is my guilty secret.

I can’t swear that I’ll never sit down and eat a whole slab of Lindt Dark with Chilli again. But if I do it’ll be a once off. I like this new me, and I am going to carry on working hard to keep it.

What is hard about dieting

So far I have written about what was easy for me about going on the Dukan diet. But it would be ridiculous to think that it has all been easy. Of course not. There are huge challenges on the journey and here are a few I encountered.

The first difficulty, for me, is being on a restricted diet in a relationship. It just so happens that Big Friendly is the total opposite of me, physically and eating wise. It is hard enough sharing a meal when I am not dieting, but when I am there are two completely separate buying, cooking and eating routines in our house. Big Friendly is a carnivore. I don’t eat meat or chicken. Big Friendly is way over 6ft tall. I come in at 5ft1. Big Friendly can subsist on a diet of chocolates, cheese curls and salami sticks. I look at chocolate and put on a kilo. Big Friendly adores every single form of carbohydrate, from bread to pasta to potatoes. I am gluten intolerant.

The one thing I found really hard to give up was fruit. The first two phases of the Dukan diet exclude fruit entirely. It is only now, in the consolidation phase that one fruit a day is allowed. I love fruit. And I really missed it.

The pure protein days were tough too. Because I don’t eat meat or chicken I am eating fish, eggs and dairy. Some pure protein days were a boring challenge. But so worth it. I could literally feel the difference the next day. Boredom needs to be countered with creativity. Do different things with the same ingredients.

Ultimately, the hardest thing was just deciding to do it. I don’t know why it took me so long, and I can’t believe it did.

Portion Control Rebel

One of the main reasons I have been able to stick to the Dukan diet, aside from the obvious speedy results I’ve seen, is the fact that there is no portion control. So what you can eat is restricted as opposed to how much. I didn’t realise how important this was for me. I hate feeling hungry or unsatisfied and it makes me irritable. I end up feeling punished, and this is the worst feeling for when I am dieting. It means chucking the towel in, to be honest. So here I have been able to eat protein until I am full. And because protein takes the most effort for the body to metabolise it is absolutely ok to eat as much as you want. I end up experiencing a sense of absolute fullness, and it lasts a long time; often until just before my next meal.

It’s the kind of freedom that I need in a diet. I can’t stand weighing things and counting calories and measuring portions in the palm of my relatively tiny hand. No. I also can’t handle feeling guilty about the amount I eat, as if I was this giant, greedy pig. Not good for sticking to a diet with firm resolve. Here there is no problem with the feeling that I have a healthy, normal appetite. Here there is no need to fill up on junk, or sugar or carbs.

There is a small drawback to eating so much protein. Protein is the most expensive food. Being on this diet is not cheap. But I haven’t let that stop me, and the results speak for themselves.

The Trigger

I can pinpoint the exact moment I decided, that’s it. No more. I am done. We had gone to Reunion for the most divine improv festival. It was so, so hot and I felt like a whale in my body. But I managed to get away with not looking in mirrors, and wearing those huge Thai fisherman’s pants and vests. When I look back I remember a sense of overwhelming discomfort because I was so heavy and big and bloated. Eating all that fruit and bread and beer didn’t help either. And then we came home and I saw the photographs that others had posted of me, on Facebum. They were photos that I hadn’t chosen or edited or approved. And I was absolutely horrified and shocked. I couldn’t believe my eyes. That huge, fat old lady was me. Here is one of those photos. It’s not the worst one, but it is a good example.

That was it. And then the right thing happened at exactly the right time. We were walking the dogs and chatting to another dog walking owner and I suddenly realised that she was half the size she had always been. Christa told me what she had been doing; the Dukan diet. I went home and started doing the research. I bought oat bran and fat-free cottage cheese, and fish, and eggs. I bit the bullet and just dived straight in. I am not sure how many kilos I lost in that first week. My friend Peter Hayes died, on Big Friendly’s birthday. Things were not terribly normal. And I didn’t even have a scale to weigh myself. But somehow, for me, it was the right start; crazy, tempestuous, illogical and manic. By the end of that first ”attack phase” of pure protein (which I didn’t do properly when I think back) I had lost kilos, but I didn’t even know how many. And I had stopped carbs and sugar, and the cravings were gone.

I guess I needed a trigger. My weight had become a constantly creeping up problem. I was embarrassed, uncomfortable and resigned. Until the trigger. Here is a picture of me yesterday. Most importantly, I am 100% more alive.

My (ongoing) journey to find my old, skinnier self

My facebum post about having reached my target weight was liked and commented on by over 150 people. This is what it said. “I reached my target body weight today, after four months of successful dieting. I have lost 17kgs, and feel like my old self. I still have a way to go, with disciplined eating to keep from piling on the kilos, but I am inspired, healthy and strong.”

And I got many, many messages, asking all sorts of questions more privately. Losing weight is a huge deal, not to mention a multimillion dollar industry. And everyone has a personal story attached to this whole body, weight, food issue.

One friend who messaged me suggested I write a book about my experience. My first thought was that there was nothing much to my story. I was very overweight and hating what I looked like, I got a tip from someone about the Dukan diet, decided to try it out, had great results, stuck to it for four months and lost 17kgs. Sounds easy. It has been. I was in the right space, and my almost zero tolerance policy to wimping out really helped. But there is more. Much more. And I am going to write about it here on my blog and see whether it helps others, or even just me.

So let’s start with the facts.

1. In a slow build-up over 11 years (since I gave up smoking) I managed to get 17kgs too fat. This is far too much for somebody my height.

2. I was never successful in sticking to an exercise or diet programme.

3. I was shocked by a photograph of myself in December. And that was the trigger.

4. I found the diet that worked for me.

5. I wasn’t scared that I couldn’t do it.

6. I lost my carb and sugar cravings after 48 hours, and never really got them back.

7. I have been cheating, mostly with alcohol, but in moderation, so I don’t feel punished, ever.

8. I have been encouraged by how fast it has been. 4 months. 17kgs.

9. I have been open to all the praise and compliments and words of encouragement, and that has kept me motivated.

10. I have dispelled my personal myths. It is not my ‘body type’ to be thin, I am getting too old to be thin, I have always been overweight (not even true), I have a slow metabolism, I am obsessed with food, I comfort eat (I really don’t, and never have, I just have portion control issues which isn’t a problem on this diet because you can eat us much protein as you physically can).

I will be writing about this for the next while, spending more time on issues as they arise. If you want to check out what I did, start here at My Dukan Diet. I read the actual book in fits and starts, I have the summary of the various phases handy on my computer and I worked out my target weight and converted the lbs to kilos for my own easy use.

Oh, and I bought a scale and I weigh myself every day. And it is fantastic.


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