Happy New Year!
Christmas and New Year are now distant memories and we are now 3 weeks into January. After a festive season of almost constant eating and drinking, I managed to put on 7lb. If I am honest, it was not just the festive period, it was in fact most of December. I was like a child in a sweet shop, eating and drinking as if I was never going to see food again! It all began with a trip to my local Slimming World meeting, where I had managed to stay in my target weight range (albeit right at the top). This meant I had been at target – apart from one blip after my holiday for a WHOLE YEAR! Woohoo! I thought it was a get out of jail free card…… after all I had been following the SW principles for the most part during the week, being a bit more relaxed at weekends and the weight was staying off….
Clearly, and as I soon found out, this was more luck than judgement; in December and over Christmas I ate and drank my way through 7lbs worth of extra weight!
I would have thought that 3 weeks into the New Year, and back into the routine of work, school, exercise and meal planning, I would be happily reporting the loss of those extra lbs. Sadly not.
School and work did not start back until 7th January for us, so I kidded myself that it didn’t really matter and I would start then….(meanwhile I continued stuffing my face – Domino’s Pizza anyone?)
So, in reality we are now 2 weeks in, after I clambered back on the wagon. I have lost 4lb, but this weekend I have fallen off the wagon so spectualulary, I have managed to find 2 of them again ….. I have lost my SW mojo. My jeans remain snug and my tummy wobbles (more than usual).
In a bid to keep fit, I have kept up with my weekend runs, and I have started using my Jillian Michaels 30 Day shred DVD…. Now I haven’t been “shredding” everyday, but every other day, interspersed with Miss Bags informing me that “I do this at GymMinis”, and me chasing The Wilburbeast after he has liberated my 2kg weights – yes he is freakishly strong! Even this was not enough to prevent the 2lb gain caused by this weekend’s excesses!
The Holy Grail?
It has been with some interest then that I have been reading about the 5:2 Diet, and the successes people have had while following it; not only with weight loss but also other aspects of their health. Can following an Intermittent Fast Diet, fasting (well severely restricting calorie intake) for just two days a week, and eating “normally” for the rest of the week really be the Holy Grail of dieting?
Dr Michael Moseley presented a Horizon programme for the BBC back in August 2012, where he investigated the effects of fasting on the human body - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19112549. In a nutshell the 5:2 diet involves very low calorie restriction for two days a week and allows normal eating for the other five days. Although the number of calories consumed on the two days a week is restricted, it is up to the particular dieter to decide how to divide them throughout the day; men can consume 600 calories and women 500.
The Daily Mail has said of the diet, “Gorging yourself on as many burgers, chips and cakes as you like one day then eating fewer calories than you find in a cheese sandwich the next might sound like a worrying eating disorder. But this regime of chomping away to your heart’s content one day, and virtually starving yourself the next is the latest diet craze. It’s known as ‘intermittent fasting’, and devotees insist the pounds just drop off.”
Furthermore, other health benefits attributed to the 5:2 Diet include improved cholesterol levels, an improvement in blood sugar levels, and a reduction in IGF-1 levels. IGF-1 is a hormone that is needed in youth for growth, but in adults high levels of this hormone contribute to ageing and also cell growth which in turn raises the risk of developing cancer. However the general consensus within the medical community is that fasting has not been studied enough to conclude it’s benefits in humans.
This leaves us with anecdotal evidence amongst the goriwing number of people that have tried this diet, not least Dr Moseley himself and his co-author Mimi Spencer. They have written a book about the 5:2 diet The Fast Diet and having read it, it seems like something I could do.
The one thing I struggle with, is the concept of eating “normally”…. What is “normally”?? “Normal” for me in December was pizza, McDonalds, lots of Wine, Macaroni Cheese, Chocolate, Christmas cake, cheese, sandwiches, crisps, dips, twiglets, cheese footballs, more chocolate, more wine and peanuts. Not a lots of fruit and veg at all. When Dr Moseley refers to eating “normally” in his book I think he means a diet in which everything is allowed in moderation, to remain healthy.
While there is no doubt that my beloved Slimming World has indeed worked for me, after a year of tracking Healthy Extras, and a festive period in which every day became a Flexi Syns day (or indeed a complete blow out), and my complete failure to get my SW mojo back, I have decided that a change is as good as a rest…….
So I am going to give the 5:2 diet a whirl….. knowing that should it not work for me, or if I find restricting my calorie intake to 500kcal too hard in practice I can always go back to Slimming World.
I am starting today, I have weighed myself and taken my measurements. This week I am planning on having my fast days on Monday (today) and Thursday this week. The rest of the week, I shall continue to eat a balanced diet, as promoted by Slimming World, but if I decide to have a slice of cake, or a biscuit, or eat a meal out that pushes me over my syn allowance, I shall not beat myself up about it… nor will I deprive myself as I have done in the past.
I will be back later, describing how my first day went, and next week with my food diary for the week and my weight and inch loss stats.