Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: April 2014 (Page 1 of 2)

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.

Just Walk

One of the things Dukan insists on is walking every day. It’s not a lot of walking, only 30 minutes. I don’t always do it for that long, but I do walk the dogs every single day, which means I do some walking every day. Some days I walk a lot; like yesterday when my friend dragged me into the Newlands forest, from his house, in Rondebosch!I can tell you that the best part of it all (aside from the exquisite forest in our back yard) was that I wasn’t carrying an extra 17kg load with me. The beach walk on weekends is filled with energy, running and playing and physical fun. Because I can actually move.

My whole body looks and feels different, and I am enjoying it again. I want to boast and show off. How great to have turned into that from the, let’s be honest, embarrassment that accompanied me most of the time when I felt so fat, unfit and uncomfortable.

I remember, not so long ago, having to drag myself out to walk the dogs. Now I can’t wait. Even right now, while I wait for the sun to come up. The dogs and I are the same. We go and walk, and then come home hungry for breakfast.

The kids are playing in the street before being picked up for school. The sun is creeping into the sky. Time to get out there.

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.


Our dog is trying to kill us

linusIt is official. Linus is trying to kill us. It starts off really early in the morning when Big Friendly gets up. I hear it happening in the passage. Linus tries to trip him, every single day of our lives. After he has tried to trip Big Friendly he lies plonk, in the middle of whatever space he is in, and then he will not budge. At all. And he does it like a spatchcock style, with his back legs stretched out behind him for maximum potential tripping damage.

With me, his plan is a little different. He waits until I am on my haunches to say hello, before trying to push me over, with his head, followed by his body. If I need to go to the bathroom in the morning one of two things must happen. Either, I can’t get out of bed because Linus is lying on my legs, hard, in a comatose sleep from which he will not budge (trying to kill Big Friendly is obviously hard work), or he will walk behind me all the way to the batheroom with his cold, wet nose aiming for my bum. It is pretty disconcerting. All of this is before leaving the house.

At the park we are in the most danger. Linus designs rough-and-tumble games with Frieda to guarantee their proximity to me and Big Friendly and then he aims for our legs. If he is in a jolly mood he will aim directly for us, from the front. If he is a bit more woes and energetic he will hit us from behind, with such force our knees and legs buckle, and I have hit the deck more than once. This is a great result, because then he can sniff and lick my face. Sometimes he has eaten cat poo with that tongue. Just saying.

Going to the beach with Linus is very interesting. Here I think his aim is to maim and torture us rather than outright kill us. I think he knows we need to drive him home. And he loves coming home. For food. On the beach Linus looks like the perfect example of joy and freedom. He greets all other dogs happily, frolics in the waves, bounds in the sand, looks for chicken bones, cools his tummy by lying in the shallows. Then he charges for our legs. Prize number one for him is to scrape the tops of our bare feet with his giant claws. Second prize is to take us down from behind, like at the park, only this time in sand or water. And his new thing is to use our legs as towels, when he is soaked and sandy. He comes bouncing up to either one of us, and drags his entire body across the back and front of our legs, covered or bare. Human towels.

When we drive we have to beg Linus to “go to the back” from his determined position on the driver’s seat.

Yesterday Linus took himself for a splash about in a slick and muddy stream, and then he couldn’t get out (or so we thought). Big Friendly had to go and drag him out by his slowly slipping front paws. I saw the whole thing. Linus was trying to kill Big Friendly by getting him to fall face first into the black, muddy water.



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