The 5:2 diet. Does it work?



My life seems to mostly consist of preparing meals for 2 toddler terrorists, who would live on fish fingers at every mealtime if they could, and a carnivore husband, who would live on sausages at every mealtime if he could, so I am surrounded by temptation (who hasn’t stuffed a leftover fishfinger in their mouth when tidying up teatime – no one I tell you)

Add to that, I work from home, only 2 rooms away from my fridge, so it has been hard to lose weight.

Smallest toddler terrorist has just turned one, and my pregnancy with her was very full of custard slices and jam doughnuts so I wasn’t exactly lithe.

I signed up to Slimming World first and it was very enlightening. I didn’t want to sit in a room every week particularly so I did the online version. I think the sitting in a room bit might be quite key because while I followed the plan and printed out all the recipes, I wasn’t incredibly motivated or religious about it. But it did drag me out of my reliance on jars of sauces and readymade freezer things though, I can now make curries and jambalayas and all sorts of other things from scratch (only took me 38 years to get there). We still regularly cook most of the recipes now, although never, NEVER, with the syn free sausages or reduced fat cheese. Life is too short.

So I moved on to 5:2. It was massively popular just before I went on my first maternity leave, all the guys in my office were doing it. I tried it after the first baby and it was great, I eeked out the 500 calories that you are allowed throughout the 2 days of fasting – ate half tins of baked beans and rice cakes – and lost some weight but then when trying for second baby decided it was affecting my chances so knocked it on the head. So I dusted it off again, this time I did some more research.

I read that the longer you can go without eating anything at all the better it can be so I decided that on fast days I wouldn’t eat anything until dinner time, other than a tiny snack like some carrots. The only concession was tea, I still drank tea with milk and sugar all day. Life is too short. Then at dinner time I ate a grilled chicken (doused in Cajun seasoning) and some salad and salad cream (the Carnivore would also have a baked potato and cheese with his too). You have to drink loads of water, otherwise you get a headache. And it wasn’t that hard. The children’s teatime was a bit of a challenge but if you tell yourself its only until the next morning or have a cup of tea while they are eating (and throw their leftovers away IMMEDIATELY) you can do it. And strangely the next morning you don’t wake up starving or that desperate for breakfast. On fast days where I did eat something small early on, I found I felt much more hungry all day and resentful/cross/mean to everyone around. Interesingly, I also found I could still exercise on my fast days and it fact, running while fasting is fine. You must drink LOTS of water though.

The other main useful thing I read was that half fasts have been found to be just as effective. This works better for me, because finding 2 whole days to eat like a hermit has been very hard, so I’ve done some 5 ½ :1 ½  weeks and these have worked just as well. Just follow the same principle as normal fast days i.e. nothing during the day but have a proper dinner (and some wine) in the evening.

So far I’ve lost 2 stone or thereabouts. Not quite where I want to be and I seem to have hit a plateau recently (I’ve got down to the older fat that is a bit more stubborn I reckon) but along with the exercise regime ramping up for the triathlon, hopefully it won’t be long.



Worry Less, Exercise More

image-only-jpegMental health is now talked about so much more that is has been in the past.  Numerous celebrities have shared their personal experiences to help people relate and understand how they are feeling.  Support groups are pushing for mental illness to be treated the same as physical illnesses.  A whole industry growing around mindfulness and meditation.

But is it making a difference?  Do we feel differently about mental health, how we feel about ourselves when we’re having a mental health issue.  Do we feel more comfortable talking about it in our offices with colleagues or in the pub with friends?

Well in my personal opinion, not yet….

I definitely can’t say I represent all facets of British society or even just one whole bit of it.  I live in middle England, in a middle class neighbourhood, I’m married with two children who go to a local school and I work in an office for a global company.  But do I talk about my mental health with anyone?  Not really, I read blogs about it, I listen to radio articles about it.  But in my mind depression is something that happens to someone else that is far more serious than how I feel, anxiety is something a bit silly that I wouldn’t admit too even though I feel anxious all the time.

I function like a normal person, I look like a normal person, I work and I parent like a normal person.  But inside I’m a whirling dervish of sadness, fear, anxieties, cold dread and hot shame…

Am I alone?  I suspect not, I really hope not but I don’t know for sure.   I don’t talk to anyone else about this, my friendships are shallow and based on school or work and social interactions are for fun, parties, birthdays, holidays.  But I see and hear glimpses of it from other people, a mum casually mentioning they are on anti-depressants, a colleague disappearing from work for a few weeks due to stress,  someone laughingly mentioning how overwhelmed they are or angry that someone has given then another thing to do.

What can we do?  Well firstly I’m going to try and be more open and more honest in my social interactions from now on,  it must be a grass roots movement,  if we all mention our mental struggles just to one other person every now and then it will gradually become something more acceptable to discuss.

But mainly I’m going to share with as many people as possible that my main coping mechanism is to try and exercise every day.

This is because there are moments in a Weights class or halfway through a swimming set or when you’ve run up to the top of a hill, when everything just melts away.  It’s just you and your body working together as hard as you can.  You can feel connected to the earth or part of the water, or the strongest person in the world with all your body tingling.  It feels magical and free and such a relief to let everything go.  That feeling can stay with you all day if you are lucky, restoring your mental health or making it just a little bit better.

I would recommend it to anyone, it’s not medical, it doesn’t have to cost anything, and it can make your life better.

Run – Cycle – Swim – Walk – Pump more, Worry Less.

Worry Less Design.