I have spent many years as a Weight Watcher (WW), firstly as a member and then as an employee. I have a huge respect for WW especially as I have always known that it is run by people who are genuinely motivated to find a solution to the increasing epidemic that is obesity. Don’t get me wrong they are motivated by money too, it is a business after all but trust me when I say that they care, they care strongly that they are delivering the right information and that they are making a difference.
The WW program is constantly evolving and is based on the most up to date research available to help people lose weight, safely, effectively and most importantly for the long term. However I can tell you that in the long run, as good as Weight Watchers is, less than 20% of clients here in Australia ever reach their goal weight. That’s a depressing thought especially as it is well documented that once people stop following a weight loss plan, they tend to gain all the weight they lost and approximately one third will gain more than they lost.
In the five years I worked for WW I saw many people returning again and again, the proverbial ‘yo-yo’ dieters, indeed I have been that person. I became a ‘lifetime member’ many years ago, kept it off for a few years and then gradually gained weight and ended up back at square one. This time round the same thing is happening. My weight was steady for about four years, not without some effort I might add, but over the last year I have started to feel the creep.
To top it all every six months I have bloods taken, the reason being that I have over the last five years had slightly elevated fasting blood sugar and although I seem to be keeping this under control (the ensuing glucose tolerance tests have thus far proved normal), if I gain back the weight it is only a matter of time before I graduate to full blown diabetes, indeed even if I don’t gain the weight sooner or later I may still develop diabetes hence the repeated follow up by my Gp.
So what to do now?
I have spent what feels like a lifetime counting points, weighing portions, often feeling deprived, going to parties only to avoid the food table, it is so exhausting and frankly it sucks the marrow out of life having to think about every little bite I take.
Then a couple of weeks ago I saw a BBC documentary and I can honestly say that I had a ‘ker-ching’ moment.
BBC knowledge – Eat, Fast and Live longer”
Dr Michael Mosley.
The program was fascinating, talking about ongoing, amazing new research into lifestyle changes that, in a very short space of time can exponentially improve blood results, glucose, cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides and something called IGF-1. All of these positive changes hugely decrease a person’s risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer. If the research is to be believed our cognitive thought processes will improve too, we get smarter! In mice (whose brains they can dissect to prove the point), when they have been made to follow this change in how and when they eat their Hippocampus (part of the brain that helps memory) is much bigger than in mice that have not made the changes.
To top it all people who are following this new researched way of eating are losing weight too, so it’s a win, win!
I would not be surprised if a business as motivated and forward thinking as WW was not looking very carefully at this research as we speak.
So what is it I hear you say?
Well there is the crux of it and this is what gives me pause because the research is telling me to do the exact opposite of what I have been taught and been teaching for years.
I would hazard a guess that at least 80% of women who have reached my age have at some stage tried to lose weight. Indeed many of us are experts at it, which is why we keep going back right?! The truth is that all weight loss programs work if they are adhered to as prescribed, however with society’s constant bombardment of the senses encouraging us at every turn to indulge our hedonistic eating desire, the majority of us find ourselves succumbing and any thoughts of our plan go out of the window.
We are told each day to eat breakfast it is apparently the most important meal of the day, we are told never to have long breaks between meals, encouraged to snack because heaven forbid we should allow ourselves to get hungry, we are told that high fat foods will make us fat.
It would seem that the latest research says that if we chose to, we can succumb to our hedonistic desires, it also contradicts the dieting mantras about breakfast and how, what and when to eat!
Needless to say I am sceptical, but I love research based evidence which means that I for one will be giving “Intermittent fasting” a go. It is simple to do asking you to ‘fast’ on two days a week and then on the other five days eat “normally” (I have yet to define normally), no pointing, no sin, no calorie or kilojoule counting, no weighing portions, no squinting down the menu for the healthier option when all you want is fish and chips, you eat what you want when you want it on those five days. The fasting isn’t even really fasting and the whole thing actually requires little effort.
I would strongly suggest that everyone go and get the book “The Fast Diet” by Doctor Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer. Read it and make the decision for yourself.
This week is my first week following the intermittent fasting plan. I have resolved to stick to this way of eating until my next bloods which are due in January. I am really hoping that this will make a difference and that my blood sugars will improve, everything else is a bonus.