Monday, June 13, 2011

Becoming and staying slim

Back when I started this blog, just over a year ago, I wrote my first post giving up all my body secrets. How much I weighed at the time, my height, my calculated BMI and my dissatisfaction at this weight. At the time only two people, who did not know me in real life, did not even live in the same country as me, knew about my blog.

Over time, I have told my sister, mother, and one girlfriend about it. And many other people who don’t know me in real life started reading too. Even though my body was still bothering me, I felt shy about sharing it. I was also worried about jinxing myself too. Mere seconds (or so it felt like) after sharing my Countdown to 40 post, I fell off the healthy living wagon and was not as svelte and slim as I would have liked for my birthday.

For the way my mind works, I find it doesn’t work for me to have a goal time such as a birthday, Christmas, wedding or summer. I just rebel against it straight away. When I was married three years ago I was a little slimmer. I had it in my mind I would look lovely in the photos and then, relaxed. I slipped back into some old habits and as a result every time I look at our wedding photos all I can see is a podgy stomach in my satin dress. The poor posture didn’t help matters either.

The trouble with me is that I am not a naturally thin person, who happily chooses the low-calorie option. My sister has a current obsession with carrots and can’t get enough of them. I, on the other hand can be obsessed with any of the following: popcorn (non-natural), potato chips, ice-cream, etc. Do you see the difference here and how it would translate to the hips?

In the past I have dieted with Weight Watchers and achieved great results. Unfortunately my maintenance follow-up was not so great. Rather than continue on with my healthy eating, I would assume that once I was skinny, I would just stay that way. Sadly, that is not the case. By slipping back into my old habits, the weight would creep back on and the 5kg (11 pounds) I had been so diligent about saying Au Revoir to, was back with me. Bonjour!, it would say.

We all know that the ideal French woman (and indeed many real ones) are very disciplined with their caloric intake, thus ensuring they stay their ideal weight and are making the most of their lovely clothes, which are all the same size, not varying from 10 up to 12-14 as mine are.

Even though I said to myself ‘no more Weight Watchers’ after finding it too restrictive, earlier this year in March I found myself turning up to a Weight Watchers meeting near work. I decided that I would try the new points programme and told myself I would continue going to meetings until I reached my goal weight of 57-60kg (125 to 132 pounds). I was over 70kg (154 pounds) at the time, almost exactly the same as listed in the first post of this blog.

Clearly I needed a little external discipline to help me along as I hadn’t lost anything myself. And if I had, it was back. Now, I don’t buy this ‘perhaps that’s the weight you are naturally’ business. Not for me anyway. I could shovel in all sorts of crap foods. Sweet or salty snack foods are designed to make you want more. And I wasn’t happy with how I felt or how my clothes (the ones I could fit) looked.

I have found that you can train your palate, and that the more you have of something, the more you want of it, whether that something is a big, crunchy, plain salad, or a large bag of jellybeans. Even knowing this, and knowing how those two things make me feel (one, vibrant, alive and quenched, the other, a hot headache and craving for sugar) didn’t help me make good decisions all the time.

Rather than rebelling against discipline, I have decided to look at it like money. If you spend more than you earn, you go into debt. In my younger years I did just that, but now, for many years I happily have savings building up, and not many problems resisting purchasing temptation.

Not so with food. Obviously I regularly went into debt with food and drink, and had the not-so-chic figure to show for it. I now look at my Weight Watchers points as a budget to spend. And so I won’t go hungry or over-spend, I have to use it wisely.

I can happily report that the new Weight Watchers programme is working really well for me, and seems much easier to stick to for the long term. I can have mini blow-outs every week if I want (and I usually do) and still decrease on the scales. This is the way to keep me interested. If it’s not fun, I don’t want to know about it.

I never attended meetings before, so that may be helping too. By saying to myself I am committed to attending until I am a certain weight, meant if I didn’t want to waste my money, I’d better do something about it.

I am happy to let you know I am now 6-7kg (13-15 pounds) lighter than I was, and at least halfway to my goal. I have had to buy a few new items of clothing, because my jeans are falling off me. Some have been put away to get rid off as they are ridiculously huge, and some I am able to cinch in with a belt for now. Jeans that I formerly could not sit in for more than five minutes at a time.

So I guess the purpose of this post is to face the fear and do it anyway. My fear was if I wrote about my weight loss, I would jinx it once again. Now I know this is silly. The books I have been reading lately, old books I have had for a long time (a few listed below) reminded me that I make up my mind, I make my reality. I wrote down a quote the other day which really spoke to me:

‘I know what I like, I know what I don’t like. I know the way I want to live, and I make it happen that way’. – Anthea Turner

Current reading:
Inspiring Messages for Daily Living by Dr Norman Vincent Peale
Seeds of Greatness by Denis Waitley
10 Days to a Great New Life by William E. Edwards
The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr Norman Vincent Peale (I’ve been listening to the audiobook in the car)


  1. I am very happy this is working so well for you. You are inspiring me to stick with it and see it through!

  2. I have struggled for years with constant weight gain. Not long ago I read an article in a magazine written by a research scientist named Gary Taubes. It talked about how wrong the philosphy of eat less, exercise more is. His book explaining why we get fat is also the title. In essence, carbohydrates are the food "enemy" not fat. It has changed my world. Google his name and check it out. Good luck with your mission. Love your blog.

  3. It is a real battle and one naturally slim people can't understand. Well done on going back to Weight Watchers and doing it despite your reservations, that's indeed brave. xo

  4. Hi Fiona
    Have been reading your blog and really enjoy it. Just wanted to let you know that I've been making your red lentil and tomato soup - it is delicious! I've got a comforting stash of it in the freezer.
    Good luck with weight loss - I spend most of my life oscillating within a 10kg range. I know the answer - I just need to apply some consistency!


  5. Well done Fiona on your weight loss!
    I too am "programmed" never to choose the healthy option of anything. Hence, I have just started the Dukan Diet.Your blog post has given me just the inspiration I need this Monday morning.

  6. Forgot to say Fiona, do pop over to my blog, there's an interesting discussion about French chic that you may find interesting ;-)

  7. Hi Fiona, I know exactly how you feel, it could have been me writing parts of this post! I'm not naturally slender and quite big boned, and I don't make naturally healthy choices. For me it's not so much about junk food like burgers etc., but I love chocolate, wine, cheese, bread, butter and pasta and food in general, and tend to eat too much for dinner.....We have something simiar to WeightWatchers here in Norway which one can join online, maybe I should consider that. Altough as a yoyo dieter for many years, the mere thought of "dieting" makes me sceptic...anyway I'm glad that WW works out for you! Have a great day:)

  8. Well done to you...I love Anthea's quote...I'll remember that one!! :)
    Have a lovely week.

  9. I just stumbled upon your blog and at first, I thougt "How To Be Chic - that's quite a claim you make". However, you live up to it. Your posts, even though long, keep me engaged (which normally does not happen if it exceeds 200 words and is on a computer screen). And I'm sure you do help people become chic and I hope I will be one of them in the future.

  10. Brava, Fiona--for your weight loss and the honest candor of this post. Very encouraging to all of us. Merci! xxBliss

  11. Congratulations, Fiona. Your weight loss is something to be very proud of. And how exciting it must have been to get rid of jeans that were falling off of you!

    I shy away from diet plans, but perhaps I will look into the WW program you mentioned. I recently stopped drinking wine and am waiting for the pounds to start melting away, but so far - nothing! We have a WW facility not far from here, perhaps I will drop in and get more info.

  12. Hi Fiona, I love your blog! I appreciate your honesty, and my thought was, many many people struggle with this, and we love you just the way you are. Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas and thoughts for us to enjoy. Don't be so hard on yourself. I believe more people than not struggle with the same issue.

  13. Stephanie, even when I have off days or am not feeling it, I still plod along. Sometimes when I feel I haven't achieved anything, pop, there goes another kilo. It's thrilled seeing how good clothing can look.

    Marguerite, thanks for the info. I agree carbs are tres fattening, but I would never cut them out totally. Well, some things like fizzy drink and sweets I have very rarely now, and rice and pasta in limited quantities, but I have a potato most nights. I will google Mr Taubes. Merci!

    Mademoiselle Poirot, now that would be a good fairy godmother dream, to wake up a naturally slim person. I actually read that on the back of one of the WW booklets. It basically said 'if your dream is to wake up slim, go to bed slim'.

    Louise, I'm so glad you love the soup. I haven't made it in a while and now that it is winter, I shall have to whip some up. It's one of the very few (perhaps only) lentil recipes I like. My range is 10kg too. Maybe it is for a lot of us?

    Vanessa, I have heard a lot about the Dukan diet, but because I've been trucking along so well with WW haven't properly looked into it. Your post is fabulous, everyone should go and read it!

    Nanne, yes I love all those foods too. I think I could eat cheese all day. I often use my points for a 1/4 camembert on crackers before dinner. A diet without cheese is not the diet for me.

    Crunchycon, I agree that this WW version is far superior and is more of a lifestyle change. It doesn't feel like I am making that many sacrifices yet the weight peels off (relatively) easily. Hoorah for that.

    Catherine, glad you like the quote too.

    Blue, your comment is high praise indeed. Merci.

    Thanks Bliss!

    Adrienne, I'd definitely recommend the new plan. I run a mile from diets too, but there seems to be solid normal-ness in the WW one. I don't use any faux diet foods though. I think it's very French/European the way it teaches portion control, and because it makes filling and healthy food very cheap (in points) you naturally eat more of it. I can honestly say there haven't been many days (perhaps one) where I've been hungry.

    Leigh, thank you for your kind comment. Weight is such a personal thing and the main part was that I wasn't happy with it. Changing something about yourself is only easy to do when it's you that wants to do it (not someone else nagging for example).

  14. Even though most of your blog friends do not see you in real life, it still takes courage to put yourself out there and admit you struggle maintaining a healthy weight. I think many of us do...and that's way the blog universe is a force for good in that we can encourage each other and share our successes.

    Like Marguerite, I follow a restricted carbohydrate eating regimen (no diet; my eating plan is permanent). Afte eliminating wheat, most grains, and simple sugars, my excess baggage seemed to magically melt away. My body is happier, more regular, with a vegetable-protein-fruit-wine eating regimen. But that's just me. I don't believe we are all wired the same.

    Good luck to you in your continued efforts to live your best life. You are inspiring to me, particularly as I start my official 100 days to 40 countdown!

  15. Hi Fiona,

    I have also recently started the new WW propoints plan. I am very enthusiastic about it, and it fits neatly into my lifestyle- which is that I try and eat mostly fruits, vegetables and grains. My weight problem is because i adore food and wine just a little too much!

    In the first week of pro points I lost 5 pounds. I am about to go and weigh in fior the third time.... but am less optimisitic as it has been a big eating week!

    I love your blog. :)

  16. Another vote here for Weight Watchers; I lost 35 pounds on it about 13 years ago, then slipped back into old habits, and predictably gained it all back (plus some.) For several years I've been considering going back, but didn't really want to, telling myself that I didn't need to join again, because I already knew what to do. Problem is, I didn't do it! So easy to put it off until another day.

    But I finally made up my mind to go back at the beginning of May. I like the new plan; like WW has always been, it's sensible and gives a wide range of food choices. The main advantage is it trains you to eat like a "real person", that is, nothing faddy, just normal healthy eating habits. So far I've lost 14 lb and it's been quite easy. If I would quit drinking wine, I could eat really quite a lot of food! (2 glasses of wine is about 1/4 of my daily points. Oh well.)

  17. Huge congrats on not only the weight loss but on figuring out what works for you and keeping up with a focus on a healthier you. It's inspiring to read your post.

  18. Hi Fiona,

    I have just seen your message over on my blog - seems we are both embarking on a new regime to shift the kgs, and yes, very similar weights, although you have a bit of a head start on me.

    I am now on day 4 of the 'shred' and I must say, it has totally changed the way I think about food. It is great. I feel like I will undo all the HARD work put in to the shred workout so I will avoid the bad foods I usually went for.

    I have been tempted to try weight watchers, but I am not too sure I'd get along with the discipline of calorie/point counting. I have never been too good with numbers.

    Can I ask if you are following an exercise regime at the same time? Because your results so far are fantastic.

    A weeekly guide of 'how to be chic' meals that you make would be lovely too, I know a lot of us need some guidance in that are.

  19. Mrs Stepford, my exercise regime is not strenuous. I attend iyengar yoga classes twice a week (an hour each) and walk to and from them (20 minutes each way). I also try and fit in one more weekly walk which is usually about an hour long, sometimes 90 minutes. That's all the exercise for me currently. I have heard weight loss or gain is 80% food, 20% exercise and have found that to be true. There is no amount of exercise that can make up for a bad diet. Sadly!

    You would probably be shocked at what I ate and drank in a week as it seems like a lot written down, particularly like Saturday night when we went to an English pub for a boutique beer, movie with an icecream and then to a New York pizza bar for dinner and a glass of wine! And I was still well within my WW points (which means generally the scales go down each week).


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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