How to reach your ideal weight for the summer!

New Year, New You?

As many of you know, back in September James had an operation on his foot. He then spent three months in plaster. This meant that he basically sat on his bum eating pies for the duration. As we all know, if you sit around eating pies, you put on weight.

Before the operation he was 95 kg. This was already too much and was due to a combination of being increasingly immobile for several months prior to the op, plus giving up smoking.

This will help you - read more!

Being a supportive sort of spouse, I also gave up smoking. This is clearly A Good Thing. However, over the last year or so, I have also become increasingly sedentary; James was unable to come for dog walks with me and it is boring on your own, the kids are bigger and require less physical chasing around, I spend more and more time at a desk and my horse is pregnant so I'm not riding....You get the picture!

We're both the wrong side of 40 and the pounds have been slowly piling on and this is clearly A Bad Thing. Vanity aside, there are all sorts of health benefits to being the ideal weight for your size and given that being overweight is as bad for your health as smoking, it seems daft not to do something about it.

According to this NHS chart, James is borderline obese (ouch) and I am a healthy weight. I know I only need to lose three kilos (all of which are stashed round my middle needless to say) but, I also know I need to become a whole lot more toned and generally fitter. And the less weight on his poor feet the better!

So we have decided to go for it. James wants to be in the middle of the ‘healthy’ scale which means he needs to be 75 kg. Today’s weigh in was 105 kg so that is a massive 30 kilos. Following several “I gave up the booze and lost two stone” type features, we have signed the pledge until we lose the weight, but we thought we’d ask the readership what else we should do.

Should we try fasting? The 5/2 thing? Juicing? Only eating when there is a full moon?!

We know that more exercise is a must but what worked for you? Crav Maga? Boxing? Walking or ‘active’ walking? HIIT (high intensity training)? And how did you stay committed? Did you find a phone app that worked well or did encouragement from friends and family do it for you?

We need your help and advice - we will be reporting in with a weekly weight and fitness update and if any other members would like to join us in our fitness v. flab quest, we’d be delighted!

Respect the key ingredient.

Thanks Wendy for all that fabulous info! I will "savour" it gradually and follow your tips! :-) I don't actually eat any sugar, only very occasionally for example if it is in a dessert or something at someone's house. I do like wine, but am cutting down majorly.

By the way am reading a fab book by Aymeric Caron, a French journalist. It is called "No Steak". I recommend it to anyone thinking of becoming a veggie, as you will definitely be one by the time you have read it! :-)

Rachael, have no fear it will all settle down. It's best to phase out the meat gradually and not to just stop suddenly otherwise you will go into craving mode. Try and vary what kind of carbs that you eat and also if possible eat the whole wheat version ie whole wheat pasta and brown rice and as I already mentioned - Quinoa. Pulses are classed as both a protein and carb so you could have lentils instead of rice. Whole grain cous cous is also ok and lots you can do with that. Roasted veggies go well as well as ratatouille or a hearty Moroccan stew with chick peas. Chick pea curry is another satisfying dish. This is a nice warm and satisfying salad: Cook some puy lentils until tender and then whilst still warm stir in some balsalmic vinegar, chopped coriander (or parsley if you're not keen like me) and finely chopped red onions and voila a nice tasty and filling accompaniment to serve with a salad. As a vegetarian I have learnt that you need to grow a thick skin and also be prepared to defend your lifestyle choices!!! I get so fed up now with being asked why I chose to be a vegetarian! Really irritates me to be honest! Occasionally I say that and won't discuss it! Depends on how rude and judgemental the person is to be honest! I have also challenged people and said that they should respect my choices as I respect theirs!!! I was initially mocked in the earlier years of being vegetarian but in this day and age with more and more people becoming more aware of animal welfare issues and also countless scares in the meat industry, being a vegetarian is no longer seen as "hippy new age" or a fad. A lot of people make the choice for health reasons. Never feel that you have to defend your lifestyle choices. Do you think that we should set up a veggies in Brittany group or is there one already in existence Paul? Or even a healthy eating and vegetarian group perhaps? I don't have any qualifications but have been on loads of nutrition courses and have studied a lot. Paul you have a wealth of knowledge by the looks of it :-) Rachael I had the same experience when I first became a vegetarian re unfortunate consequences. The body will eventually adjust and switching to a mainly alkaline diet helps - lots of raw leafy green veggies like spinach, water cress, lambs lettuce etc. It might not be the raw veg that's causing the problem. It could be that the other foods that you eat at the same time are contributing to fermentation. You might find this list interesting: Like Paul said, if you want any menu ideas, recipes then give us a shout. Or if you want to know if something is ok to have or don't know where to source it. Have you visited the vegetarian society website? Just a point to add in case you didn't know - a lot of Chinese and Thai food dishes use shrimp/fish paste in the recipe eg Thai curry so if you're really strict like me and also don't eat fish, you may have to avoid. Intermarche do a brand of curry paste that is suitable for vegetarians. It's made by Ayam and you add coconut milk to it. We add cashew nuts and also make egg stir fried rice so have 3 different types of protein in there :-) Easy peasey! Not particularly low fat but you could leave out the cashew nuts and have boiled rice and also get the low fat coconut milk and use less. Me personally I prefer to eat less throughout the day and then enjoy a tasty higher calorie meal in the evening. I find soya smoothies really help fill me up and keep me going for ages :-) Paul I am so lucky to have a fab organic restaurant not far away and they cater very well for vegetarians :-) The only other place that I have found caters really well, is Paris. No surprise there! I went to a fabulous restaurant about 16 years ago near Notre Dame de Paris and they actually did a fabulous vegetarian set menu with 3 choices and the 4th choice was a little bit of the 3 choices on 1 plate. I was chuffed to bits I can tell you! I also found an Algerian restaurant near Gare de Nord that catered well with vegetable stew and cous cous and a lot of it!!! My partner had to help me out!!! Unfortunately in non touristy and rural parts of France, it is a lot harder and in the past I have returned to the UK where I lived at that time and fed up to the back teeth of eating eggs, galettes and omelettes!!! Luckily I like these things :-) My husband used to get fed up with us trawling around the streets looking for a restaurant that would cater for my needs in the UK and so is used to it now! To be honest I find it easier here! I only find it a problem if we are at a festival as it's usually mainly meat offerings and the crepes and galettes would be an option but for the fact that they use goose fat to grease the crepe hot plate!!! My French neighbour uses butter and can't understand why goose fat! Paul I totally agree with you re these extreme diets and have watched people on them and seen how ill they look and also how lethargic they are! A good balanced diet in smaller portions or reduced calories is the most effective way to go and also more long term sustaining. One of the reasons why many people don't stick to a diet or quickly regain the weight after is that they don't adjust their eating habits plus diets can be very restrictive and as soon as you tell yourself that you can't have it, you start to crave it! Also people go into sugar withdrawal which can be horrible! I had to go on the candida diet many years ago and the first few weeks were hell! After that I went years without sugar or alcohol as my body adjusted to it. Lost loads of weight on that! Too much in fact! Just another tip Rachael if you are going to be strict - most soups that you would deem vegetarian ie vegetable, onion etc have meat stock in them!!! Even the shop bought ones!!! For this reason I never eat soup when out!

Thanks Wendy and Paul for your advice. Appreciate you took the time. Luckily I am someone that has eaten salads for most of my life anyway, so cutting out the meat and or animal products won't be that hard, I guess. However, I did already get mocked by my French entourage for eating salad and veg anyway. When I refuse to eat meat dripping with blood there is always a bad atmosphere afterwards, and the usual "you need iron etc etc ". I am therefore not looking forward to announcing that I am verging on a vegetarian lifestyle. I have started juicing, and love it, but too much actual raw veg plays havoc with my interior so am leaning mostly towards cooked veg for the time being and some salad, plus fruit on an empty stomach and never after meals to avoid the fermentation thing. I have put on 4 kilos since xmas and am having trouble losing it again, but I guess I cannot do everything at once. I don't know why I am suddenly eating more bread and potatoes...perhaps it is a panic reaction which will calm down when I realise I am fine and healthy and not starving :-)

I know many French chefs and they are amazed that a lot of restaurants in France class fish as vegetarian. It absolutely is not. If you eat fish you are pescatarian. The French vegetarian and vegan societies will bear this out. The French vegetarians I know are also exasperated that some people consider fish as vegetarian. You are correct, Wendy, about French cheese. In most British supermarkets the cheese is rennet free but this is rare in France. There are more and more veggie prepared meals in places like Carrefour etc but it is slow coming.
As an ex sportsman and a physiologist/nutritionist I have a great problem with low carb diets. I think the GI diet is excellent but things like Atkins, high fat-low carb diets, paleo etc are quite dangerous and cause all sorts of long term problems.
I once passed 23 restaurants in an attempt to get a warm veggie meal (they all offered me a salad but in the winter that is not what I am looking for). The 24th restaurant reluctantly agreed to do an omelette for me. I never get a problem with Italian, Chinese, Indian or Thai restaurants but French restaurants are a nightmare. Having said that when I go to a French restaurant in the UK they will knock up something without any questions asked. Is it just the mentality within France?

Paul and Rachael - I've been a vegetarian since 1991. I was speaking to someone the other day about the French attitude to being a vegetarian and they class fish as a vegetarian option! I had similar experiences in the UK so was not surprised by this assumption!!! I don't particularly have a problem eating out despite being allergic to mushrooms and intolerant to cheese plus most cheese in France is not suitable for vegetarians as it contains rennet. As for dieting - well there are options such as tofu, soya, pulses, eggs (if you eat them - I do but only organic free range) nuts in moderation. I do also get Quorn brought over for me just for convenience. No need to replace proteins with carbs. Still just as important to eat a healthy balanced diet but err towards more veggies which should take up half the plate and then a quarter of the plate protein and then the other quarter carbs. Years ago I tried the low GI diet with great success as you decide what dishes to eat but focus on the lower gi foods eg sweet potato is lower in glycemic load than regular potatoes. All root veg is high in carbs/gl but salad is not so one can eat more of that to feel more satisfied. Another trick is to eat a protein with a carb to slow down the absorbtion and feel fuller for longer. Quinoa is great protein and carb all in one and has a low gl so ticks 3 boxes all in one go. Rachael - it takes a while to train friends and family when you first become a vegetarian but they will get the hang of it eventually. You just need to decide how strict you are. For instance, is it just meat that you don't want to eat any more or are you going to avoid all animal products like jelly for instance has gelatine in it which comes from an animal. A lot of desserts like cheese cake have it in as well. Never be afraid to explain that you are a vegetarian as most restaurants are quite accommodating but that's just the experience that I have had. It helps if you like omelettes and galettes! I found the most effective diet by far though was going 100% raw. I did attend courses on this first though as it is very easy to get the nutritional balance wrong and end up with serious deficiences. It's quite hard giving up a lot of things though as the body goes into withdrawal. Quite a restrictive diet too and a lot of advance preparation and planning for meals so quite time consuming. However, the weight loss is very substantial and effective and I did feel really great eventually. It takes a lot of discipline and money though!!! I don't think I could return to it 100% again though. A lot of the ingredients are difficult to source and very expensive.

A veggie diet will definitely help to lean you down however it is tough as is my distain for dairy products especially in France. I have seen people use a no carb high protein regime but again regular medical monitoring is a priority. With high protein the kidneys can get stressed. Balance and portion size paired with moderate expercise until you have a passion, not just a goal.

Hi Wendy. I am vegetarian. I have been a 'veggie' for almost 40 years now. If you want to chat about a non-meat diet please contact me.
Rachel is correct when she said it is difficult being a vegetarian in France. It appears that it is not recognised as being a valid way to eat. I often notice that vegetarian meals in restaurants appear to contain fish. This is obviously not vegetarian at all. :-(

I am following my post up because it should draw criticism from people that think it is too elitist or not appropriate. I am 66 years old, there are lot of riders on ZWIFT that are just like me and you. I use to to train hard and instruct others. Zwifters ride indoors for various health, fitness recovery reasons. Read the comments on swiftriders FB and if it is right for you enjoy a pleasant ride in the safety of your own pain cave. Get a Certificate Medical before doing anything.

If you have ever tried cycling on an indoor trainer and found it boring beyond belief here is a best kept secret that only Geeky serious cyclists and Ex Triathletes like me know about. It is public, but 10 USD per month once you are hooked. Before you sign up you may want to check the forum or ask me. will keep you involved. Join zwiftriders on Facebook and discover your inner Geek. There is always lots of advice on posts like this but engagement is the key and it is bloody hard work.

Rosie Savage makes a good point. I have many clients who want to lose weight and the most effective thing they do is to drink more water. The part of the brain that recognises hunger is the exact same part that recognises thirst. Most people are actually dehydrated. They think they are hungry so eat something but still feel hungry so eat some more while all the time they are actually thirsty. If you are trying to lose weight then before you eat (or if you feel hungry) then drink a large glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If you are still hungry now you can eat.
If your urine is not clear or you suffer from cold hands and feet then they are signs of dehydration. If you get a dry mouth then that is a sign of severe dehydration.
Happy to help anybody who is trying to lose weight.

Hi Wendy, I'm only 90% one :-) I started before Xmas and then it all went wrong because we were on holiday so I'm kind of testing it out. I am thinking it is so much harder to lose weight on a vegetarian diet because I end up eating loads more grains and starchy things. It is also very hard being one in France. There seems to be no vegetarian restaurants and it is very awkward when we go to friends and family for meals etc. Is there a vegetarian group on SFN? I didnt really want to pinch the diet post from Catherine :-)

In answer to Rachael Fillatre's comment re vegetarians - I'm one :-)

The books have turned up in this morning's post so I will have to go and root around in the garage to try and find the willpower I lost track of years ago.

Here is a link I found after watching the TV show where I first heard of it. Apologies to Brian Milne for the source. LOL Worth a browse.

Now, do we eat all the stuff ready to go at present, such as the veal escallops for tonight, and the bacon and eggs for the morning before we go Brocanting, our main source of exercise these days? If we jogged round it would do us more good than the leisurely stroll normally employed.

Good luck Ian and interesting about the water Rosie!

Saw a programme the other day on a diabetic diet by Dr. Michael Mosley, which is primarily intended to reduce the abdominal fat and reduce the risks from Type 2 Diabetes, which I have on both counts. Ordered the book from Amazon and just waiting for it to arrive. Now we will find how good the combined matrimonial will power is, as my wife is going to go for it as well. My Doctor, who I saw a few days ago for my 3 monthly check up, has also encouraged me to go for it. I am 1.79 tall, was 1.8 but shrinking, or the weight has dragged me down a bit due to the natural gravitational effects, and 105 Kgs so well into the Obese Catagory on the chart. The normal 2 glasses of wine with the evening meal will have to be severly curtailed. The strange thing was back in the UK I put the weight gain down to my Real Ale drinking habit but as I am not keen on lager my beer consumption has plummeted here. We have three cats and no dogs so the dog walking exercise is a no go. Our bikes went into the back store 5 years a go and apart from my wife doing one trip into town 2.5 miles away, have not seen the light of day since. So this will become a 'watch this space' thing for updates.

Whilst I agree with you Catherine, the most important factor in losing weight is to drink water. I proved this to myself last summer, when I had a kidney stone - not very nice - and was told to drink water with LOW calcium content. I actually drank two large bottles of mineral water each day. My weight dropped dramatically and I in fact lost over two stone ( Sorry I still revert to this for weight loss). I ate the same regime as usual, but would point out that I eat like the French - a little of everything. The weight has remained constant, although now I drink only one large bottle of water per day, along with normal tea and coffee.

You might want to ease off on the Gin a little in that recipe ;)

I need to loose Wright too, and I have recently started my day with a heslth you smoothly. I boy a lot of bananas, not green, but ready to be eaten. I peel them and chop them in pieces, and the put them in the freezer, where I ski gave bag of raspberries and strawberries (I buy these in the super market). So I fill the blender with the frozen bananas, and whatever other fruit you like, done green leaves (whatever takes your fancy but spunach, kale etc all good, some almonds and some oats…et voila, you have a tasty drink, that rill fill you up, give it time and you’ll get used to it! Have a look at my Pinterest board ‘Joe Cross’ + ‘Drinks…’ There are lots of suggestions! I previously jouced for 3 days (fruit and vegetable will keep in the fridge for up to 72 hours), but only did juicing in the morning and at lunch, I always had something light in the evening, and never after 19.00!m also only did this 3 days a week? I lost a lot of weight, my skin, hair, Gails etc all looked fab and more importantly I felt great. I biked along the river to work and back (it was only a -0min bike tide)…try and walk the dog(s), you have to make it a routine and you will be OK!