After coming back from a holiday where I consumed far too much pastry, clotted cream, cheese and wine (yes – the most incredible holiday ever) I knew that drastic action was needed – particularly after standing on the scales. You know that bit in American Dad when Roger is leaning on the door to stop the bad guys from getting in the house and they shout that someone’s leaned a fridge against it? That was me. I was Roger. I was a fridge.
I eat well and genuinely enjoy healthy food. A holiday is a holiday I say, so let the good times roll (all puns intended). Unfortunately a weakness of mine (aside from carbs and Hellman’s Mayonnaise) is QUANTITY. Written in big letters to signify its importance so though I find it easy to eat ‘well’ – I still tend to eat big dinners, with plenty of wine and treats over the weekend.
To summarise, I find I can maintain my weight through eating – but once it’s blobbing around down there, I can’t shift it as easily – particularly now I’m older and when exercise has never been my idea of fun. Occasionally I get into routines, but I far quicker get back out of them.
So a while go, I had an epiphany moment whilst eating a ‘healthy’ dinner of jacket potato, chicken breast, cottage cheese and salad. Yes indeed a healthy meal – but I had two jacket potatoes. Highly unnecessary and the sheer gluttony of the wolfish episode made me feel ashamed – I needed action.
I looked into fasting diets, a subject I’d perused before out of interest, and the one that appealed most – mainly due to its pure simplicity, was the 5:2 Diet – an uncomplicated, straightforward plan where you eat normally over five days of the week and then on two, non-consecutive days consume no more than 500 calories.
I usually fast on a Monday and either Wednesday or Thursday, plans depending – it’s handy having a bit of leeway. Last Monday for example, I was off work and went to the cinema (ice cream) and for lunch (Nando’s) – but that’s the beauty of 5:2 – you can still live your life without feeling you’re on a permanent diet. I love going out for dinner and it does make up the most part of my social life.
Obviously you can’t go completely mad on cheese and wine and all things fantastic during the five ‘normal days’ but you CAN eat normally – and if you’re actively trying to lose weight like I am, eat normally and healthily. I’m now on my sixth week and have definitely seen results having lost around 6/7 lbs. And that’s including weekend wine 😁.
The 5:2 plan won’t be for everyone but it works for me. It’s the simplicity of it that I value. I don’t need fancy meal plans or to calculate the calorific value of every single thing – and I don’t feel like I’m constantly watching what I eat either – it’s just two days a week where I don’t eat more than 500 calories and for me that’s manageable.
I’ve never been a fan of diets as such, preferring to just try and eat well (and perhaps get some exercise into my life – as I’ve been telling myself for fifteen years) but the easy, simple rule of 5:2 I find less of a fad and more of a lifestyle choice – and yes I’m aware of how dreadfully pretentious that sounds, I’m sorry and I hate myself. But I could see myself doing 5:2 for the duration. People have fasted for thousands of years, it’s not a new concept and the benefits – aside from losing weight, also include lowering cholesterol (and stress levels), less heart problems and a boost to the immune system. Basically shovelling less calories down your gullet is a GOOD thing.
Everyone will eat their 500 calories differently, I’ve heard of some who have a decent breakfast, others who choose to fast all day then enjoy a relatively normal evening meal and so on. But what works for me is to eat a little during the day, usually between 10am and 4pm (I work 8-5 during the week so need something to get me through) and then save a good two thirds of my calories for the evening ‘meal’.
I always plan the night before what I’m going to eat the following day and these are some of my current go to foods –
Tangerine – 40 calories
Banana – depending on size 90/130 calories
Raspberries (150g) – 80 calories
Apple – 80 calories
Broccoli (150g) – 45 calories
Beetroot (100g) – 40 calories
Bell pepper – 40 calories
Cherry tomato (each) – 3 calories
Cucumber (each) – 42 calories
Large boiled egg – 76 calories
Crab sticks (each) – 19 calories
Cooked prawns (150g) – 95 calories
Can of tuna in spring water – 107 calories
Ham slices – around 30/35 calories per slice
Cooked chicken pieces (60g) – anywhere between 50/70 calories
Cream cracker – 30 calories
Low fat cuppa soup – anywhere between 35/100 calories
As for liquids I just have water and black coffee. I should probably try and get into drinking disgusting herbal teas but I’m not that disciplined.
The humble cuppa soup is (almost bizarrely) the thing I look forward to most and I have one to accompany my measly evening meal, which always consists of a boiled egg – my second favourite. Our food cupboard is currently stacked with various soups and the other week I found Naked Noodle sachets. They are fantastic, around 85 calories each and packed with noodles and flavour. Sad but true – the highlight of my fasting day!
Now I didn’t write this to be all sanctimonious or self-righteous about losing weight and being healthy – without sounding like a wall sticker you’d find in Pound Stretcher, it IS important to love yourself for who you are and in the grand scheme of things, a few extra pounds hardly matter. But when I was researching the 5:2 Diet, I came upon blog posts written by people who wanted to share their advice and tips and I found it genuinely interesting reading their experiences. And then I thought HANG ON A MINUTE I’ve got a poorly constructed and inconsistent blog that’s kind of about movies, I could do a post too!
Plus the whole thing does seem to be shrouded in mystery. I haven’t told anyone except my boyfriend about doing the 5:2, because, I don’t know, it’s not a secret but just seems an odd thing to declare. All the articles I read had that common theme also – people don’t generally advertise they’re fasting. So why not declare it I thought.
If you’re interested in reading more or learning about the different types of fasting – this article from Healthline gives a concise oversight into the most popular methods – ranging from daily no-eating periods to fasting for an entire twenty-four hours. And there’s a lot less babbling.