Some people want to look good naked. I just want to look good in a dress.
I have gained weight to become a Size 12 on the top and Size 14 on the bottom, that awkward pear shape with a heavy bum and thighs (and the belly has expanded too!). I can wear separates, a top and pants, and disguise my thunder thighs but dresses are just too tight.
Well-fitted dresses are feminine. Looking good in a dress, curvy but evenly proportioned, is what makes us womanly. I want my shape back.
So much for my vanity, I also want optimum health. After years of focusing on my intellect and ignoring my body, I am finally ready, at 53, to discover a new level of vitality. I want to be agile and nippy as I dash and weave through the crowd in the Tube and city streets, dodging back packs and stragglers.
It is harder to stay slim as we age because the metabolism slows down and the body insists on storing fat. But it doesn’t mean that being overweight in midlife is normal, natural or inevitable. It just means weight is harder to manage.
There is a healthy weight range for your skeletal frame and height. It is reassuring to know this range is quite wide and generous. For example, for my height of 5 foot 4 with a light frame, my weight can range between eight and 10 stone and be considered Okay. Between 10 and 12 stone is Overweight and more than 12 stone falls into the category of Obese.
It is stating the obvious that being overweight has a host of unhealthy consequences such as lethargy, the risk of diabetes and constant strain on the heart, organs and all body systems as you lug the extra lard around.
In my 20s and 30s, with an efficient metabolism, I could eat carbs all day and never gain weight. I stayed around eight and a half stone, a dainty size 10. Now I am a hefty 10 and a half stone. I don’t want to go back to my tiny figure but I would be happy with nine and a half stone, a comfortable Size 12, with no bits that jiggle; a flat tummy, pert bum and firm legs.
So this is my mission and I am devoting a month to regaining a slim, fit body and getting on track with super healthy eating and an active lifestyle.
Doing a detoxifying diet focuses attention on the digestive system, giving it a rest from hard-to-digest, acidic foods and replenishing it with nutrients while releasing a build-up of toxins through the lymphatic system, bowel, bladder, and skin.
This is a new frontier for me. I am someone who has pretty much ignored my body until now. But I am developing a new respect for my body, as an entity in its own right with its own intelligence that keeps the whole complex business going despite my neglect!
In my sudden discovery of my body, fortunately I have the guidance of talented trainer Morne and his beautiful, intelligent girlfriend Natalja who run the program called Forever Young supervising clients through a 28-day Detox program.
Morne and Natalja are keen to help overweight, menopausal, sedentary old chicks like me break entrenched habits and overcome food cravings to discover a whole new level of health, fitness and vitality.
And so, the Show begins!
On Monday, the first day of my Detox I have a severe reaction. By 1 pm I am throwing up and blindsided with a migraine. What have I done to make myself so sick? Eaten something horrible?
No. All morning I had feasted on fresh fruit; delicious sweet raspberries, strawberries, blue berries, cherries, apricots, apple, banana and a few almonds! Followed by a big healthy green salad!
By the time Morne arrives later in the day I am reeling with nausea and ready to call it quits, swearing off Detoxing forever, resigning myself to hauling around extra poundage and accepting mediocre health.
I was used to tea and toast with a generous spread of jam and peanut butter propped up in bed as my pampered start to the day, followed by a mid-morning coffee and biscuit at my desk. Now that’s not much for a girl to ask is it? Simple pleasures really.
It was as if my body was behaving like a toddle throwing a tantrum demanding my Carb Fix and rebelling against digesting the sudden onslaught of healthy natural food.
Morne has a better explanation. He says when I stopped eating ‘bad’ food, that is, processed, hard to digest bread with a sugar hit, my body saw a break in the traffic and seized the opportunity to purge toxins.
Now what is all this about toxins? I have been down that track before with Jeni Edgley at the Hideaway health retreat in the lush Gold Coast hinterland where I endured the seven-day cleanse complete with daily colonic irrigations. Now that is commitment to releasing toxins!
Older and wiser, I am now sceptical about New Age theories. Really, just how toxic could my system be on my new meat-free and dairy-free diet?
Since becoming a vegan earlier in the year, I have gone overboard on the soya milk, with great slurps in my tea several times a day. It turns out the brand I like is high in sugar! I have also devoured meat-substitute products, which although better than meat, are still processed, not natural sources of protein.
And okay, I admit I am addicted to bread, pasta, corn chips, potato chips, oil-soaked wedges, dark chocolate and the occasional glass of Red.
Morne points out very politely that I am eating a lot of ‘dead’ foods that lack enzymes and nutrients, which promote toxicity and acidity and a build-up of fat in the cells. (Might explain the thunder thighs!)
My home-cooked eating habits, while better than most people’s junk food intake, are low in fresh, living nutrient-rich fruits and veggies and also lacking water. Most of us fail to drink sufficient pure water to keep up the supply to the body made up of 70 per cent water.
Morne eases me through my Detox Crisis and encourages me to persist by writing up my goals.
The first question on the form is ‘How do I feel about my physical self and current state of health?’ I have to admit I am in denial and delusional about my weight gain, imagining I am still as slim as I was in my 30s.
I am also in denial about my lack of fitness because I seldom put it to the test! Gyms can be dangerous!
But I am starting to worry about ageing and getting lethargic and sick as the years roll by. While my health is okay now, I realise I need an ‘intervention’ to prevent illness in the future.
For everyone who has coasted through their 40s and made it to early 50s with few complaints, it is essential to take charge to prevent serious health problems in later life.
I decide that NOW is the time to grasp the nettle and create new healthy eating and exercise habits for the rest of my life.
I want to lose at least one and half stone (eight kilos) and become lithe and agile again and fit into pretty dresses and suits (and give my pants and t-shirts a rest!)
I want to be revitalised so I can work out in the gym and get fit and strong for all the strenuous activities I aspire to over the coming years (not all at once) such as travelling, hiking, cycling, kayaking, swimming, tennis, horse riding, snow skiing and dancing.
I want to WORK productively without stress and bad habits for three more decades. Like most people, I have to balance my time in front of the computer screen with physical activities.
I want to be fit, healthy and slim for another reason; to be an example of good health as a vegan and activist for ethical eating so I can influence others to Go Veggie. It is part of my world domination plan.
I want every human being on the planet to stop killing and eating animals. We now kill 57 billion animals every year for food, causing our fellow creatures immense pain, suffering and death, when tragically meat-eating is entirely unnecessary and unhealthy and the cause of most illness and disease and the abhorrent meat industry is the root cause of most environmental damage. Visit Viva!
Morne suggests that I visualise my future self, the New Me, whenever I feel discouraged and lose motivation. So I have a mental picture of myself looking Ab Fab!
But in my wretched state that first day, as a touching role reversal, my lovely husband, Andrew together with Morne, a big muscular body builder, went shopping at the health food store to buy all the Super Foods I need for the program.
By Day Two my body has stabilised and accepted the deprivation of my tea and toast ritual and is gearing up for all the life-giving goodies. I’m a little light-headed but the vast quantity of food and water ensures I’m not hungry.
I clear out my food cupboard and fridge and make up my own delicious salad oil with a potent combo of Hemp seed oil, Flax oil, Bragg Liquid Aminos seasoning, garlic and lemon juice. I start to really enjoy the Big Salad in a whole new way, crunching and munching and savouring the taste sensations then follow up with veggie soup.
The program allows you to eat carbohydrates for dinner, but NO bread or pasta. I can get my carb fix from brown rice OR potato, not both at once. Bliss! I love my spuds! And I eat lentil burgers, tofu or hummus for protein.
Day Three, Morne visits for a pep talk and takes my measurements. Reality bites. How depressing! My weight has crept up to 68 kilos and I aim to shed at least eight kilos. And my waistline is missing in action! And those bat wings are ready for take off!
By Thursday, Day Four, I am laughing at the irony of this so-called ‘diet’. I am eating so much more than normal. The point is to consume vast quantities of super healthy, life-giving fresh fruit and veggies to replenish and revitalise the whole body.
And it sure is time-consuming chopping up all the good stuff. I just grated an apple, beetroot and carrot to add to my spinach leaves, bean sprouts, red peppers, tomato and avocado. And that’s just for me!
This afternoon it’s veggie soup and lots of water. And I’m off to the health food store for more supplies and my favourite bargain store, Argos to buy a juicer.
Friday morning, though usually confounded by gadgets, I persist and get sorted with the bits and bobs of the juicer and make a delicious brew of apple, pear, ginger with spinach leaves and cucumber. Now I know what you’re thinking, something like ‘How vile!’ but to my utter surprise, it is delicious because the sweet of the fruit overpower the greens. There’s a lesson in that, Sweetness Rules!
Slow food is the antithesis of fast food. A Macca’s burger can be purchased in minutes and wolfed down in seconds. Healthy food takes time in shopping for fresh ingredients (I am now the smiley Sri Lankan man’s favourite customer at the Fruit and Veg store around the corner) all that peeling and chopping, then the munching and crunching and the big clean up! But maybe this is how it should be, since food is the essence of our survival. Maybe meals should be a purposeful ritual as they is in so many other cultures.
Saturday, out shopping at Westfield at Shepherd’s Bush with beautiful daughter, Justine, I bust out from my regime and have a decaf soy latte, known to gay waiters as the ‘Why Bother’ cup of coffee! Usually I love the creamy texture but after a week of pure alkaline fruit and veg, it tastes acidic and icky.
In a masterstroke of forward planning, I buy two new dresses in Size 12, to slide into when I reach my goal weight. Now some people might buy new clothes as a reward at the end of a diet, but, always the optimist, I preer to give myself a tangible incentive!
We meet Andrew in the city for dinner at funky Leon’s on the Strand and Jus and I have the veggie and bean curries and brown rice, proving it is possible to eat out and stick with healthy dishes. We see the delightfully entertaining stage show, Legally Blonde. I sit clutching my water, while Andrew indulges in ice cream at interval!
Sunday sees me at Gina’s birthday lunch sharing in a superb healthy feast, once again proving to myself it is possible to socialise without falling off the wagon.
Monday brings me to my first treatment of electrotherapy. I am rigged up to a machine with 32 pads placed over my body and experience a gentle pulsating sensation for a 40 minute session as the currents stimulate the tissue to break down fat and release toxins into the lymphatic system.
This is Morne and Natalja’s secret asset in the quest for weight loss and super health and in conjunction with the pure diet promises to be powerful. I am privileged to be the first client to use the new kit! And I am glad to have some extra help from technology!
But most of all I am grateful to have human help along the way. Changing comfortable habits is tough but essential to growth. I feel more balanced mentally and emotionally as well as physically after just one week.
Thanks Morne for kick starting me on the road to health! Read more about the program at Elixir wellbeing