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Dieting With The Significant Other

You know how everyone says that exercising or dieting with a friend or partner is a lot more effective than doing it solo. You have someone to share notes with, someone to celebrate your wins with and someone to support you during the lows. You are more motivated to stick to your exercise routine or diet plan because you are accountable to someone else. If you are alone, you might try and get out of a run because it is too cloudy/sunny/windy/dark. However knowing that there is someone else who can surely spot the gaping holes in your flimsy story, you are more inclined to stay on the straight and narrow.
The above theory does not seem to apply to me. Recently my husband decided to join me on the 5:2 diet. I have been on this diet for the last three months now and have found it to be pretty good. It has not been a dramatic weight loss journey for me. Definitely I will not make it to the internet headlines like “Learn how his mother of one used a WEIRD tip to lose 15 kilos in 15 days … while having a chocolate bar each day!” . However I am happy to report that over the last three months I have been losing weight steadily, albeit slowly, and have managed to keep it off. I am just a few pounds shy of my target weight now. Dramatic though it might not be, my story has definitely inspired one individual. My husband.
When he first announced he wanted to join me in 5:2 dieting, of course, I made the appropriate encouraging noises. After all I have been trying to get him to eat healthier, exercise more and live better for a while now. So I was happy that he had taken a step in the right direction.
However having gone through a couple of diet days with him, I find that having him along on the diet is not as good or as encouraging as I would have thought. Trouble started even before D day. Right before commencing on the diet, he was all chuffed and went on continuously about how he planned on being a 100% committed to his diet plan. He peppered me with questions – ‘ Can I have a coffee on a diet day?’ “How many calories are there in spoonful of sugar?” “I can have unlimited vegetables, right?” “Are oranges low in calories?”. Next he drove me crazy by going through his planned dietary intake schedule for the next day about a million times – “salad for lunch, konjac rice with stir fry vegetables and chicken for dinner and an apple as a snack.”, “salad for lunch, konjac rice with stir fry vegetables and chicken for dinner and an apple as a snack.”, “salad for lunch,…”. It started sounding almost like a semi- religious chant.
On the actual day, it was worse. He kept calling me at work almost every hour with updates.
“I thought I would have had to have that apple by now. But no, I resisted all temptation.”
“It’s almost mid-day I am still holding good. This is easier than I thought!”
“That salad for lunch tasted vile. You know I hate rocket. Couldn’t you have chosen another one?”
“I am feeling really hungry now. Is it okay if I have a Diet Coke to help tide me over?”
” What’s for dinner today? Can we have a really early one? ”
“Why do diet days have to be alcohol free? I could really do with a stiff one right now!”
Now I appreciate the fact that in the beginning, diet days are unsettling. And it is but natural that my husband turns to me, the diet guru in his eyes. I know I am being uncharitable by becoming this irritated with him. However diet days have become a kind of meditation for me. Those are days when I stay below the radar. Spend time looking inwards and interacting as little with the world as possible. Plow through huge amounts of pending work without food distractions. Drink copious amount of green tea. Have a low key dinner. Head to bed early. Make it through the day as quickly as possible.
With my husband on board, there seems to be too much noise and too much emphasis on the fact that “WE ARE DIETING!”. All through the day I am reminded of how hard dieting actually is and that makes me feel those hunger pangs more keenly. These are precisely the last things I want to be thinking of. I want a diet day to be like a normal day. Just a day – any day. Only without much food. And no song and dance about it either.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband dearly. I hope he benefits a lot from this diet and that it works even better for him than it did for me. But I also sincerely hope that he settles down in this as soon as possible.


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The Day I Almost Gave Up

Dieting isn’t easy. According to statistics, 95% of diets fail. And I almost ended up contributing to that number yesterday. I am in Week 4 of my 5:2 diet and I thought I had a handle on things by now. I was getting comfortable with the idea of feeling hungry, falling into the whole rhythm of ‘feasting’ and ‘fasting’ and telling myself that it wasn’t all that hard. Then along came a day like yesterday.
I knew when I got up in the morning yesterday that it was a fast day. However I found my usual optimism missing and something felt off. It was the middle of a hard week. I had been battling with some difficult work in office. On the personal front, things were pretty crappy as well. My husband was away on a 10 day overseas trip. This is the first time we have been separated since our marriage two and half years ago. My toddler was down with a cold and had been miserable and restless throughout the previous night. Add to that the fact that my husband is also my chauffer who ferries me part way to work and his absence made my commute pretty rough the whole week.
I thought of postponing the fast to the next day. But fasting on a Friday is not much fun. So I soldiered on. By midday, I was feeling really out of sorts. I felt uncomfortable and could feel a headache start to form. Even my usual tactics of shopping during the lunch hour failed to give much joy. My eyes were continually drawn to all the shops selling pies, cheesecakes and ice cream. I was incredibly tempted to step inside a particularly heavenly smelling bakery and had to drag myself away from there. Back in the office, I heated up some soup for myself. That was another mistake. Based on what I had found out about myself in the past few weeks, the fasting rhythm that best suits me is when I eat nothing at all till dinner, except maybe some iced teas or lemon water. Eating mini portions of food in the day somehow makes me all the more hungry. And sure enough, post soup I started craving food even more.
By the time I reached home, I was exhausted and had convinced myself that I would not be able to continue with the fast that day. Maybe I would give it a try again the next day or else just make do with single fast day in this week. Not the end of the world, right? “No, tomorrow is another day and today you can eat!” said my food deprived body. However I did feel guilt raising its head as well. I had been so good all this while and it felt wrong to throw it all away. Also my conscience reminded me that this is how my previous attempt at 5:2 had ended last year. First there was one missed day , then two and then before I knew it, I had given up on the whole thing.
It was a struggle to prepare my daughter’s dinner and while helping her eat, I came up with the idea that would in a way let me have my cake and eat it too! If I could just hold on my fast till 9pm, then from 9pm the previous day when I had last eaten to 9pm that day it would be 24 hours and that should count for a full day of fast. So technically I should be able to eat after 9pm and still salvage my fast day. That thought cheered me up a bit. No more guilt about having abandoned my fast midway. While having my dinner of grilled fish and lentil and vegetable soup, I told myself that this was Dinner Part I and Part II would follow after 9pm. With that thought, I went to put my daughter to sleep. It turned into a battle of wills for she was in no mood for sleep and would rather ask a million times about her dad and when he would be back home. Reassurances and maybe a hundred lullabies later, she finally dropped off. By then I was so tired, I just crawled into bed myself, the thought of preparing Dinner Part II too exhausting to contemplate.
And surprisingly I slept well. When I got up in the morning beating my alarm clock by ten minutes, my first thought was that I had gotten through the fast day. Hurrah! And further good news, when I went to weight myself this morning, I had lost almost a kilo since the last weigh-in a week ago. Boy, am I glad now that I did not give up last night! You see, it pays to hang on. I am now looking forward to my next fast day. After all I still have a long way to go. But as for now, where was that cheesecake shop again? Today is a feast day, guys!

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How to Battle the 5:2 Diet Hunger My Way

As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, I am doing the 5:2 diet. This is my second attempt. The first time I attempted it, I fell off the wagon after about 2 weeks as I found that having low energy towards the end of the day is disastrous when you have a toddler who expects you to run, jump and play with her. However due to reasons I won’t go into here (maybe in another blog), I am giving it another try.
Now fasting is not pretty. Having a gnawing feeling in your stomach can suck the joy out of your day. Yes, I know it is just 2 days out of 7. Still spending 28.6% of your life hungry is brutal. But now I think I have discovered an antidote to it all. Yes, Sir! Here I have made a revolutionary discovery that is going to change the way the world diets. Do you want to know what it is? Do you?
Shopping! This panacea to many ills works wonderfully well in the context of 5:2 diets. Today I went shopping in my lunch hour. Somehow going out for lunch with colleagues on a fasting day is not much fun. The sight of their yummy Yaki Udons, sausage rolls and gourmet baguettes is too much for me. And having a solitary lunch of a few cabbage leaves does not take much time. So today before tackling my paltry lunch, I slipped out of office and went to the large retail store nearby (one of the largest in the city). There I spent a blissful lunch hour browsing and trying on clothes. Near the end of my break, I emerged happy and $200 poorer. That flush from my retail therapy session was not just momentary – it has stayed well into the evening. I did not even feel the need to have that lunch and even in the evening, I was clear headed, focused and barely feeling the hunger pangs. Compare this to earlier fast days, when the evening would find me listless, slightly dizzy and completely energy depleted. I tell you, this is a breakthrough.
So now I know how to get through the tedious fast days. Of course, this means that by the time I have lost my targeted amount of weight, I will be a pauper. But a slim pauper, people!
P.S.- Online shopping , I find, does not work as well as physical shopping. Probably it does not engage the senses as much!

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Happy Weight Vs Unhappy Weight

I bought and read my first ever diet book yesterday. Many times in that book, the author refers to something that she calls ‘happy weight’. Sure I understand what she means – a weight that one can happily live with. However looking back on my life, there is a little bit of confusion. Some years back, I was at my slimmest (my personal adulthood best of 54kg). I felt good about stepping onto the scales and I could wear whatever I wanted to. But mentally I was at a really unhappy stage in my life then. Now I weigh 63kg. Weight wise I am pretty unhappy (hence the diet book!). I have love handles and bulges and have had to relegate most of my old clothes to the back of the wardrobe. However in all other spheres of life and in stark contrast to my earlier state of mind, I am happy now. So which one was/is my ‘happy weight’ – phase 1 of ‘Weight happy – Life unhappy’ or phase 2 of ‘Life happy – Weight unhappy’ ?
I am not dumb. I will take phase 2 over phase 1 any day. But I am a woman, there is no pleasing me and so I am now aiming for the elusive ‘Life happy – Weight happy’ state (if it at all exists!). Geez! There is really no such thing as a content woman, is there?

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My Body is Spinning

Last month I had a disastrous session with a personal trainer. Despite my telling him that I had been pretty slack on the exercise front for the last couple of years, he made me go through a number of gruelling circuits . Around midway into it all, I had give up. Or rather the trainer made me stop as he was probably scared that I would die and he would be banned from training forever! For the next couple of days, I was so sore that I could barely walk.
So it seems the personal training method which apparently has very good results is not for me. However I am a determined soul. Lose weight I will! So I have now started attending spinning classes at my gym. I had given spinning a try 3-4 years ago and found it uninspiring. This time however I find myself liking it quite a lot. Maybe a part of it is because I read it somewhere that a 45 minute spin class can burn up to 500 calories if you do it right. Also I have discoeverd a trick. Instead of focussing on the trainer barking out instructions like “Hill ahead” or “Race”, I try and lose myself in the music. If I close my eyes, it almost seems as though I am in a nightclub. So I am nightclubbing my way to fitness. How cool is that.


To Die(t) For – The 5:2 Way



This is the first time I am embarking on a fad diet.  I have never had a relationship with Messrs Atkins or Dukan nor have I ever binged on cabbage soup or African mangoes. I guess you can pretty much call me a fad diet virgin. I was fortunate enough not to have any significant weight woes before. I used to be a regular at the gym and I usually watched what I ate. However my recent pregnancy has left behind an additional baggage of eight kilos that somehow do not seem to budge, no matter what I do. Well, to be entirely truthful, I haven’t been doing much. I have my excuses lined up! Juggling the needs of a seven month old baby and a full time job is pretty challenging. I have had no chance to hit the gym. Breastfeeding ruled out any thoughts of dietary restrictions. But now it is a whole new year (not so new anymore but still pretty young!) and the baby has been weaned.  So shoo away the excuses. It seems like a good time to embark on a new diet. When I started scouring around for a diet that I can adhere to in the longish run, my faithful friend, the Google search engine, threw up a number of interesting, scary, bizarre options. However the word on the street is 2013 belongs to the miraculous 5:2 diet.

‘Well, it doesn’t seem too tough!’ I thought when I first read about it. One needs to restrict calories intake to 500cals (for guys it is 600cals – you  lucky buggers!) for any two non-consecutive days in the week. For the remaining five, it is business as usual. You can eat whatever you eat. For a person with a sweet tooth and not to mention a fondness for eating out, the ‘whatever you like’ part seemed very nice indeed. And wait, there is more! This diet apparently has highly beneficial effects other than weight loss– it prevents diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and helps you live longer. Apparently there is no data to prove those as the studies conducted so far have been done only on rats. But aren’t we all rats in a rat race anyways? So weight loss , brain boosting and longevity plus the ability to eat chocolate on feast days, what’s not to love here?  

Day 1

7:30 am – Woke up and remembered today is the D day. Spend some time on preparing and packing salad for lunch. Store brought stuff has way to much dressing. 

9:00 am – Decide to postpone breakfast. Well, I have to stretch out 500cals as much as I can. So my logic is that the sooner I eat, the sooner the food will be digested and the sooner I will feel hungry again. So by pushing things out a bit, I am making life easier for me.

10:00 am – Breakfast at last. Have a single slice of wholegrain bread and a hard-boiled egg.  Well the sample diet meals had allowed for two eggs. But I squirrel one away for the long day ahead.  

11:00 am – Feeling quite good. This diet is not too bad!

12:00pm – Munch on my leafy salad (no dressing) while gazing longingly at the lovely aromatic Yaki Udon being devoured by a colleague at lunch time. Maybe the next time, it might be a good idea to pretend to be super busy and having a working lunch at the desk, instead of being masochistic enough to come into the cafeteria   

2:00 pm – Head out for a brisk walk with a colleague. Surely some light exercise will only help my cause.

3:00 pm – Not sure exercise on a fasting day is a good idea anymore. The salad I ate for lunch has long been digested and I am feeling light headed. So I gnaw on a small apple trying to relish each bite. “Concentrate on the juice, the sweetness, the texture!” I tell myself. It got finished all too soon.

4:00 pm – Hunger creeping in again. Uh – oh. Turn to chewing gum for distraction.

6:30 pm – Reach home. Begin preparing grilled chicken for dinner. Need some energy for the act of making dinner. So munch on half a Lebanese cucumber ( I read somewhere cucumber is a negative calorie food.)

7:15 pm – Chicken being grilled. Feeling seriously hungry now. Not enough energy left in me to play with baby daughter . Poor thing, she is a bit crestfallen.

8:00 pm – Dinner. Mmmmmm…. Grilled chicken and vegetables never tasted as good. Hurray, fasting day comes to an end.

Day 2

7:30 am – Wake up wondering why it is fast day so soon. Surely day 1 was just yesterday. In truth though, it has been two days past by.

8:30 am – Postponing breakfast was probably not a good idea the last time. Eat half a sachet(8gms) of porridge with skim milk.

11:00 am – Working from home today. I thought removing the stress of commuting might help, but I forgot to factor in the part that being at home means so much closer to all the tempting stuff in the pantry. Get the thoughts of that slab of chocolate in the cupboard out of your head!  

1:30 am – Vegetable salad with a small serving of lentil soup. Just salad for lunch last time had made me terribly hungry by mid afternoon.

5:00 pm – Snack on a handful of unbuttered popcorn.

6:00 pm – Today has been a much better day compared to the previous one I feel. Sure, I am hungry but not ravenously so, unlike Day 1. Is it because I have gotten used to the idea of fasting? Guess, it is more to do with the fact that I have become a little wily in spreading the calories through the day.

8:00 pm – Two small rotis (Indian homemade flatbread) with vegetables.

Verdict at the end of Week 1 –The scales say that I have lost a kilo! Yippee! Maybe fad diets really work. I know I have a long way to go still and that managing to not regain the lost weight is going to be tricky. But for now, I am going to celebrate with some ice cream! After all one should make hay while the sun shines. The next fast day is just round the corner.