I have had a battle with my weight from my teens onwards. In truth, looking back, I didn't really have a problem in my teens but I felt I did and that made it all the easier to let the pounds pile on thereafter. I have tried so many diets I can't remember them all. Ten years ago, in my early thirties, I lost a lot of weight after following a "Zone" type diet but developed hair-loss and stones in my gallbladder which resulted in its removal. From then on I decided that diets and me were finished. Twenty years of misery was enough. I felt I was living proof that diets didn't really work long-term and after the traumas of gallbladder attacks, then the operation (followed by another trip to A&E), I just wanted to be well.
So that was it. I did stop dieting. And after a while I stopped worrying about my weight. I wouldn't say I was happy about my weight but I decided that as I feminist I wasn't going to be defined by my clothing size. The fact I had a partner who always loved me and found me attractive didn't hurt. I started to realise how boring people were when they were dieting - women beating themselves up and talking about being "bad" - I felt very happy not to be part of their number any more. Then I started reading about the 5:2 Diet. What really appealed to me were the health benefits. Losing weight was not my reason for starting: I just wanted to be healthier. I didn't tell friends about it, I just got on with it.
One year on and I couldn't be happier that I decided to give 5:2 a go. I undoubtedly feel healthier, less short of breath, less tired but I have also lost 3 stone. It may not have been my motivation for starting but it was certainly a welcome side-effect! It hasn't all been smooth going. I've regularly had weeks (sometimes 3 or 4) where I didn't lose a thing, or even put on a pound or two, but through it all I've stuck with it and slowly the weight has come off. I've never been tempted to fast more than two days a week and on non-fast days I eat completely normally, including eating cakes and biscuits if I want them. For me that has been the key. How could I even think of giving up when five days a week I eat whatever I want? Of course my appetite has changed - I don't want to eat the portions I used to - but I don't feel like I'm on a diet.
The single biggest thing that has changed is my attitude to food. I don't obsess about it and I don't get into a panic about not having access to food all the time and that goes for fast days as well as non-fast days. On every other diet I have ever done I become fixated on food: what can I eat when? How many calories is this thing? If I eat that now what will that mean for later. On fast days it's completely different. What I can eat is so limited I just plan it in advance and don't worry about it on the day. Actually I tend to be very boring on fast days. I have found that I have to eat three small meals otherwise I, without fail, get a headache. I eat 0% yoghurt with frozen blueberries for "breakfast" at about 1pm; a boiled egg and cup of bouillon at 5pm; and one of a variety of meals (fish & veg; ratatouille; lentil & veg soups & stews; miso soup) at about 9pm.
Anyway, I just wanted to post my experience as I've spoken to lots of people who have given up 5:2 because the weight loss is too slow. But now one year on they are all still struggling to stick to diets and I am 3 stone lighter. I don't mean to sound smug but this is the first time in my life that I've really felt that this is a way-of-life rather than a diet. I don't find myself calculating how many pounds I will have lost by a certain date and I don't long for it all to be over so I don't feel in denial. I hope I don't sound too melodramatic when I say that I think 5:2 has changed my life. I know that my weight-loss will likely slow down (it already has) but I will stick with it and continue to reap the other benefits while hoping that, however slowly, the weight will continue to come off. The main thing is that it just feels like a massive relief and that is probably what I like best about 5:2.