Welcome to part three of my journey with wellness. You may recall that in part one I explained how I started Michael Mosley’s diet plan The Fast 800, after someone said I looked fat and sick. In part two I shared a couple of hiccoughs I had during the diet. Overall, the process was incredible, and in seventeen weeks (March to July 2019), I lost a staggering 16.8 kilos (37 pounds). The positive effects on my mental and physical well-being were profound.
One of the fears I had in doing the diet was that I would regain the weight after reaching my desired goal. This is because continued weight loss is a powerful incentive and provides positive reinforcement to continue the diet. But once that goal is reached the incentive has gone.
By August 2019 I weighed slightly over 82 kilograms. I was feeling fantastic and was able to get into my favourite pair of pants after who knows how many years.
My desire was to continue for a while longer and perhaps lose up to five more kilos. I still had some fat on my abdomen and chest, and for vanity’s sake I would have preferred to be a little more defined. But, I wasn’t overly obsessed by it and felt comfortable with what I had achieved.
For the next few weeks, I increased the amount of food as per the guidelines of the regime. The science behind The Fast 800 explained that my body had been burning stores of fat because of the calorie reduction. Therefore, once I’d more or less reached my desired weight, I needed to eat more.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before I was again eating processed foods, takeaways, and increased amounts of sugar.
This can be explained by a number of things. Firstly, I figured that having the occasional ‘treat’ would be ok, despite knowing that I find it hard to just do ‘occasional’ treats. Once I start, I usually want more, day after day. If I know biscuits or chocolates are in the house, they seductively call to me, and I usually give in.
Another reason was that I experienced several weeks of intense stress in mid winter. Coupled with a bout of self-diagnosed, mild and recurring Seasonal Affective Disorder, it lead me to want to hoover up sugary snacks and comfort food.
Slowly my weight crept up and by December I had gained about 6 kilograms. Looking back on this time I can see that my brain made excuses and denials around what should have been obvious to me.
But then I had stopped weighing myself for months. So it came as a bit of a shock when I stepped on the scales in December and discovered I had reached 89 kg. Even so, I still tried to come up with excuses: ‘Well I drank a lot of water… I ate a big meal yesterday… They mustn’t have calibrated the scales…’
But the scales didn’t lie, and neither did the tape measure I wrapped around my belly. I told myself that it was no big deal, I could just exercise more and do a bit of portion control. Surely I wouldn’t need to do the 800 thing again?
Summer arrived as did Christmas and while my diet was not perfect, I managed to avoid too much over-indulgence. In the new year, the weather was good, my work was picking up, and there were lots of events on the horizon.
Then Covid-19 hit and by the end of March 2020 New Zealand was in lockdown. It was a very surreal time, particularly the six weeks at level 4. Initially I was ok, but there was an existential anxiety in the world and I was not immune from it. Before long, I was eating huge amounts of chocolate, biscuits and bread. I also drank a lot of sodas, something I haven’t done in years.
In a matter of weeks, all the events I covered on my website – movies, theatre, live performances, interviews – all were canceled. My income from paid work evaporated. I tried to remain positive, particularly when I compared my own situation to that around the world. Government assistance helped as well, but I was still anxious. Every day the news was negative.
And that anxiety lead me to seek out high calorie foods.
When the country went to level 3 and then 2, the desire to be out and about lead to increased amounts of takeaways.
As a result, from February to July I gained several more kilograms which basically wiped out all the effort I put in last year. When my gym reopened after lockdown I couldn’t face the scales but I instinctively knew I was in the high nineties. How? Well my favourite pants, the ones I looked great in at 82kgs, no longer fit.
Worst of all, I once again felt unwell. My blood pressure was back to where it was over a year ago. My skin looked terrible, my energy levels flat and I had very little stamina.
By the time Auckland went back up to Level 3 in July I felt pretty defeated, but then I remembered what I’d achieved last year, and how good I felt. I knew I had it in me to do it again and hopefully this time use my experience to create an outcome that lasted longer and that would be sustainable during times of extreme stress.
So, on the 4th of August 2020, I bit the bullet and began The Fast 800 again. I shopped, I cooked, and I was inspired. Then on the sixth day, I stopped going to the toilet and a pain developed in my lower abdomen!
It is now mid September 2020, and I have been back on the wagon for 39 days. I’ll let you know how I’m doing and what I’ve learned these past 18 months in part four!
Click here to see one of my go-to recipes.