Don’t Diet – Change Your Ways! Cumulative Effect And Weight Loss

Diet might seem to be an odd subject for an intuitive consultant to write about… but actually, it isn’t! Intuitive consultants don’t just offer predictions with insight and food for thought – they are also life advisors. And although this blog post might appear to be about diet, it is really about positive cumulative effect and the achievement of any goal:

Cumulative effect: The state in which a series of repeated actions have an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects (Wiktionary)

Cumulative: increasing by successive additions/made up of accumulated parts (Merriam-Webster)

Weight has never been a problem in my family, and I was naturally slim until I got into my twenties (after I married my first husband). There was no mystery to it, I simply got into the habit of overeating. And then, I lost that weight, plus some, by existing on very little for months on end (not to be recommended!), when I started to feel trapped by the marriage. I was motivated by my need to feel better about myself, and probably (unconsciously) to attract male attention. My then husband had little interest in anything other than pouring beer down his neck, and his bedroom manners left a lot to be desired. I apologise in advance for what I am about to say, but it’s a perfect example. One night, we were about to have sex when he said, “hang on, I just want to go for a s**t first” and I think something inside me died! I even had to remind him to wash his hands before coming back to bed. 

Anyway, that was my first experience of gaining and losing weight. Fast forward a few years to when I was with my second husband, and mother to three children. We’d moved from the city to a rural location, money was horribly tight, and the marriage less than healthy. I no longer needed my heels and briefcase, and couldn’t afford to buy new clothes anyway, so adopted a uniform of comfy trousers and trainers. And I ate – mostly junk food (because it was cheap). I was heading toward twelve stone (around 160 lbs), which is not great for someone who is 5 feet 3 inches tall and of a small build! And then history repeated itself; the marriage was dark and in tatters, and on the brink of collapse – but the one thing that I could control was my weight. Once again, I reverted to eating very little, whilst exercising and walking for miles. My average daily intake was 600 calories and I went to bed hungry, every single night. I lost 4 stone within a very short space of time (people who hadn’t seen me for a while were shocked, asking if I’d been ill – which really offended me because I was incredibly proud of myself!). I actually managed to maintain the new weight for a long time, give or take a couple of pounds – until, that is, about four years ago. Now, before I go any further, I need to state, emphatically, that a starvation diet is not a good idea, and I do not endorse it. And, that nowadays, I am incapable of indulging in such crazy behaviour – thankfully.

To cut a long story short, I developed arthritis in my right hip, which increasingly affected my ability to walk any distance. Then my partner had an accident which left him with a shattered heel and a collapsed ankle – which meant that going out on our motorbike was out of the question. I had my own little motorbike, which I adored and could still ride – until I forgot to put oil in it and rode it around for miles in the heat of summer… and broke it (along with my heart!). I couldn’t afford to have it repaired and life suddenly felt painfully limited. I turned to food for comfort and entertainment, and you can guess the rest. I expanded from 7 st 12 lbs to 10 st 12 lbs within a couple of years, repeatedly losing a few pounds before putting them back on again. I no longer had the will or the desire to starve myself, so something else was required. And, on the fourth of January 2021, I knew for sure that I had finally reached rock bottom and had to change. Despite having started kickboxing and fitness classes, I was still overeating, which is why my weight wasn’t shifting (you might ask how someone with an arthritic hip could engage in kickboxing, but that’s another story!). I felt old and lumpy and dumpy – which in turn made me sad. I feared that my best was gone, which was depressing. But then I thought about the way in which I had achieved every other goal in my life – and realised that they’d all followed a step-by-step process. Nothing had been achieved overnight. Even my intuitive consultancy business developed from an advert, written on the back of an envelope, placed in the window of a local shop. I reasoned that another year would pass whether I tackled my weight increase or not. I would be twelve months older, regardless – but I could be heavier, or I could be slimmer and fitter. I also recognised that going on a ‘diet’ wasn’t the way forward. I needed to retrain myself to eat in a different way, permanently. I also had to face a couple of facts; being on the other side of the menopause, the days of weight simply dropping off me were gone. I could no longer walk it off, but I could increase the kind of exercise that I was able to do. And exercise was imperative, not just for weight loss but for overall physical and mental health and fitness (plus, the doctor and the physiotherapist both advised me to continue with kickboxing. Believe it or not, it has helped). 

My middle aged spare ‘tractor’ tyre, when at my fattest!

I worked out how many calories I had been consistently consuming, and decided to ease myself in by gradually decreasing the number over the first few weeks. Because I’d been consuming around 2300 to 2500 daily, I started at 1900, dropping down week by week, allowing me to become used to the new routine. I am not suggesting that everyone should do what I do – what works for one might not work for others (although, regardless of method, weight loss is still about the difference between what goes into the body and the amount of energy expended by it). Each day I wrote down the calorific content of everything I ate and drank (by checking the packaging or looking it up online), carefully measuring and weighing where necessary. Yes, that’s a lot of work, and it definitely demands commitment – but when you’ve reached rock bottom it actually feels empowering! As the weeks turned into months, I found it easier and easier to eat less and feel satisfied, and developed a routine that became my new ‘normal’. I believed that it was important to be realistic, and to eat in a way that suited me; after all, I’m not on a diet – I’m developing a healthier, permanent habit. I included a small bottle of cider and something sweet in my daily calorie count, as well as lots of salad and fruit, and some protein. I’m not a nutritionist and I am sure that some will criticise my choices, pointing out where I am going wrong – but it is working for me and I feel healthy! Today, I weigh 9 st (with 4 lbs to go to target weight. I don’t want to be as slim as I was because as we age we lose some skin elasticity, and we can end up looking a bit scraggy in places if we aren’t careful!), and I still count every calorie and write it down. I am always somewhere between 1200 and 1400 calories per day, and I attend kickboxing/fitness classes three to four times per week (and I often sit and use my weights whilst watching television, or bounce on my mini trampoline!). Occasionally, I will eat and drink more because of a special event, such as a birthday, but because I return to my normal routine the following day it doesn’t have a negative impact. And, to be honest, there are the odd days where I feel genuinely hungry… so I allow myself to eat more but without going to extremes. It hasn’t been a speedy process; it has taken me six months to lose 24 lbs (as opposed to two months to lose 56 lbs!), but that time has flown by and I have never felt deprived or miserable. I take supplements daily, too, for joints and general health, and I am drinking a lot more water than I used to (mainly because of training). I also drink decaffeinated, green, and herbal tea (not much of a coffee drinker!). I also follow a routine that suits me; I tend to eat my dinner late at night, at least four times per week – which, despite being told by the naysayers that it is “the worst thing you can do” (a myth, actually) is a habit I enjoy! As I said, you’ve got to keep it real otherwise you aren’t going to stick with it. 

A progressive journey

So, let’s go back to the power of positive cumulative effect. So often we want to achieve a goal/aim/desire in one fell swoop, by-passing the blood, sweat, and tears – and who can blame us? Nevertheless, the all or nothing approach rarely produces worthwhile results and is often an overall waste of time. Regardless of the nature of our goal, it is bound to require a process that is made up of many steps – and we can choose to back-track or even come to a grinding halt, at any point along the way (something we’ve all done, including me). I have worked with many people who have explained that they are too impatient to enter into any kind of process – that they want whatever it is they want right now… often even appearing to view that stance as a virtue! I can’t really point the finger, though, because I’ve been there and done that, especially when I was younger. Nevertheless, I now fully recognise that there is no lasting overnight success… certainly not for the vast majority of us, anyway. We want to wake up tomorrow at the weight we want to be or at the level of fitness we desire. We want to be successful now, and not to have to work for years to achieve it. And we want to be able to fast-forward and be our future self… you know, the one who’s put in all of the effort and work and is reaping the rewards! However, as uncomfortable as it might be, I believe that it is the journey that is most important to us – because it changes us, and it provides us with something to be proud of. Without effort and strain, how could we appreciate the end results? And what would we have learned? Where would be the wisdom? The way I look at it is this: time will pass very quickly, whether we commit to a specific goal or not. We could be one/five/ten/twenty years older and still be talking about what we intend to achieve or giving all of the reasons why we can’t… or we could be celebrating and enjoying the results of our efforts. 

Everything that is important to us requires us to enter into a step by step process, whether we like it or not. Even relationships are a continually ongoing work in progress, despite the starry-eyed, idealistic notions of soul mates and living happily ever after. And experience is priceless – over and above textbook or second hand learning. I might not be a best selling author but I am seeing copies of my books going out every day, via Amazon. That wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t started somewhere (at the bottom, with no spare cash and little knowledge). Of course, there have been many times I’ve wanted to give up, in the face of huge competition, negative ratings (though not too many, thankfully), and quiet sales periods, not to mention the time and effort that writing and self-publishing demands. But I still want to write more than I don’t. You can talk about the book you’re going to write to everyone you meet, and you can join groups on social media… but it is the doing that makes it happen. When I first started to train I was overweight and out of condition – and it was horribly hard work. But I showed up at class, and then showed up again, and then again. And, before I knew it, three plus years had passed and I was notably fitter than when I started (and it’s still hard because you demand more and more of yourself!). My business started with one customer… and grew from there. I had no idea just what I would learn along the way, and how it would develop. It has been crushingly difficult at times, but I can say, with pride, that I served my apprenticeship by the doing of it – and then doing it again and again. I only know what I know today because of the experience of the years that have gone before. There never was a shortcut. I could have had liposuction to remove the excess fat (if I could have afforded it, that is!) – but what good would that have done me? I would still have been the person who became overweight and I wouldn’t have changed my eating habits. It is the showing up and the doing that adds up, as the days fly by – and fly by they will. If something is important to us but we aren’t committing ourselves to at least giving it our best shot, we won’t feel good about ourselves. We’ll know, even if no-one else does, that we are dragging our heels – which can be incredibly anxiety-inducing. Of course, we’ll make excuses to others, until even we can’t bear to hear them anymore: “I don’t have time” (always top of the list. So, get up earlier, go to bed later, or cut down on the amount of time you spend on social media or watching trash television). “I don’t have the money” (usually second on the list. So, start small, or at least do what you can do right now toward your goal, and build from there). “I don’t have the confidence” (of course you don’t. Confidence is the by-product of competence, and we can’t become competent at anything until we’ve done it often enough. Also, lack of confidence can be the by-product of low self-belief. See my blog post Want To Be More Confident? Then Focus On Developing Stronger Self-Belief). “I need someone to motivate me” (no-one can or even wants to motivate you. That’s your job. You need a big enough motivational carrot at the end of your stick, metaphorically speaking. In other words, the end result needs to be something that you don’t just kind of like the idea of, but really desire or need to experience or make happen). If you are happy enough the way you are, or at least not unhappy enough to do anything about it, fantastic. You are free to adopt any mindset you choose and no-one is going to try to persuade you otherwise. I just want you to know that you CAN lose the weight, become fitter, learn that skill, ride a motorbike, write a book, run or walk a marathon – whatever it is that you would love to become or experience – and that age is not a barrier. However, first of all you have to start – and then keep on doing it and then do it some more. It’ll take time, and it will demand commitment – but just imagine how you’ll feel when you start hitting those targets!

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An intuitive consultant, blogger and writer; a lover of motorbikes, Formula 1 motor racing, music, reading, walking, camping and ongoing self - improvement!

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