The Opening Chapter of How To EAT LOADS And LOSE WEIGHT

To Begin With

Back in 2013 I found myself on BBC Radio Two, talking to Steve Wright (in the afternoon), about a book I’d co-written that seemed to promise the impossible: How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim.

Steve was very enthusiastic about the book. Or, more accurately, about the title. And the blurb. He liked that too. Little wonder; it promised a diet-free way to lose weight. This was everything that Steve, and potentially a large proportion of his listeners, had been looking for. But as the interview progressed, it became obvious that Steve wasn’t going to be reading past the blurb, because we hadn’t written the book that he really, really wanted. There was a look on his face, one that said “I’ve heard this all before.”

Thing is, whilst Steve wasn’t 100% right, he wasn’t 100% wrong either. How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim does indeed contain a lot of conventional advice that you might have heard before. But it also, I’m proud to say, contains a few ‘new’ ideas which I think we did a damn fine job of putting into layman terms.

That said, I’m the first to admit that some of the suggestions we made might have been a little too ‘out there’. Very few people seemed willing to give the ‘oil diet’ a go.

Looking back I realise that How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim does exactly what it says on the cover; if you’re already slim, then that book might help you stay that way. Maybe. If you follow the advice.

But what if you’re not slim? What if you’re overweight and desperate… what then?

Well I’ll be honest with you, following our advice might not work. And how do I know? Because four years after that radio interview I was fatter than I’d ever been in my entire life. I could no longer bear to see myself naked.

How did I get that way?

Simple: By enjoying food, by being happy with life, and celebrating the fact whenever I could.

Did I buy smaller plates to control my portion size? No.

Did I vary my meals as much as possible in order to confuse my taste buds and dull my appetite? No.

Did I have a protein rich breakfast? No!

Did I swap high fat products for low-fat alternatives—absolutely not!

Did I try anything that my co-author and I had proposed just a few short years earlier?

Yes. I gave my beloved oil diet another go.

Did it work…?

No.

Then in September 2017, Valerie, my partner, did a very risky thing. She suggested that I needed to lose weight. You know you’re in a strong, loving relationship when one of you can say something like that, and get away with it.

I was shocked. More than that, I was shocked that I was shocked. Because she was right.

In the previous couple of years together I’d started to struggle with certain age-related ailments. The rubbish feet I’d inherited from my father were starting to play up. My knees had started to creak. To sleep through the night I’d have to take a good swig of antacid to calm my acid reflux, and then follow that with an antihistamine.

This was the new norm.

But it wouldn’t be like that forever. I could see where this was heading.

My father is an enormous man. He has severe dementia, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. He can barely move. I love him dearly, but my biggest fear was (and still is) that I might end up with the same physical ailments. On those occasions when I could actually bear to look in the mirror, it wasn’t me who I could see staring back at me, but my father.

I had no idea whether losing weight would prevent the inevitable, but it certainly seemed a good place to start.

You know what the most dangerous word in the English language is? Should. Behind every should there’s always an assumption, and I’ve noticed that nine times out of ten times, ‘assumptions’ are nearly always wrong.

Take weight loss for instance; when I came to try and lose all that ‘extra’ weight by adopting a simple ‘eat less, move more’ strategy, or any kind of calorie counting regime—advice that, so conventional wisdom had it, should work—my body steadfastly refused to play by the rules. I was hungry all the time. I had zero energy. I’d lose maybe a pound here and there, only to put it straight back on again. Somewhere along the line assumptions had been made, and clearly they were wrong!

I’ve always been a problem solver—a ‘fix-it’ man if you like. Much of my professional life has been spent figuring out why stuff that should work doesn’t, and then putting solutions in place. So faced with the problem of trying to lose a few pounds I did what I always did: I read a lot. Went in search of solutions. Found some! Made changes accordingly. And…

It worked.

In a few weeks I lost 18 pounds. Over a stone.

I was slim again.

More than that… I’m still slim.

And what’s more I’m still enjoying food. I’m still happy with life, and I’m still celebrating the fact whenever I can.

For instance; last night we went out to an Italian restaurant. I had a steak, with a blue cheese sauce. Val had the meatballs. We shared two bottles of Prosecco. Then today I had a ham hock omelette for breakfast, and for lunch I’ll probably have a cheesy meaty wrap. For dinner I’m cooking a broccoli bake in a heavy cream & mozzarella sauce. And there’s another bottle of wine chilling in the fridge to go with it. Tomorrow morning we’ll have our usual weekend fry up, or maybe scrambled eggs. And yet, for the first time in my life, whilst my weight might fluctuate from one day to the next, it has, by and large, stayed pretty much the same for an entire year.

Want to know how?

Welcome to How To EAT LOADS and LOSE WEIGHT.

If you’re fed up with diets, diet food, counting calories, and all that miserable weight loss malarkey, then this book might be for you.

If you suffer from any kind of weight related ailments—diabetes type 2, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia, acid reflux, GORD—then this book is probably for you.

And if you want to take back control of your body, if you’re prepared to make some fairly painless (but nonetheless significant) changes to the way that you eat, if you’re prepared to do a little bit of reading, thinking, questioning, and re-learning—and if you really, really, want to eat LOADS (of lovely, proper, tasty food) and still LOSE WEIGHT—this book is most definitely for you.

But it’s not for everyone.

For instance, if you’re a lifetime member of a slimming club, follow some sort of calorie controlled diet, and that seems to be working for you… well, this book might not be for you.

If you think of yourself as fairly traditional, find ‘newfangled’ ideas difficult to swallow (pun intended), might have used the phrase ‘fad diet’ once or twice in your lifetime, have an absolute unshakeable faith in the medical wisdom and advice of the last five decades, and you prefer the taste of skimmed milk over full fat… well, this book probably isn’t for you either.

And if you’re one of those people who don’t like being told what to do, can’t stand change or ‘compromise’, of any description, might—once or twice—have been accused by friends and family of being a ‘fussy eater’, and would rather part with tens of pounds than hand over that packet of biscuits you’re currently munching through… yeah, this book: definitely not for you.

But you know what? You’re here now. You’ve read this far. You’re comfortable. And I’m not actually going to ask you to change anything… not for a few pages anyway.

All I’d like you to do for now, is read.

And think.

Give me one chapter. And if you find yourself surprised, maybe even a little intrigued, by what I have to say, well then give me another.

Because you too can EAT LOADS and LOSE WEIGHT.

The Big Fat Lie

Fats make you fat.

Everybody knows this. That is, after all, why they’re called ‘fats’. It’s a ‘fat fact’. One that’s easy to verify with other facts, and a little logic. Let me talk you through it.

Pretty much everything we eat is made up of three ‘macronutrients’. You will have heard of them, I’m sure. They are: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

So, for instance, a humble 100-gram stick of celery (let’s assume that it’s a very large humble stick) contains 3 grams of carbohydrates, 0.7 grams of protein and, wait for it, 0.2 grams of fat.

Each of these macronutrients contain energy, which we measure in terms of ‘calories’. The human body needs energy to function, and the more active a body is, the more calories it ‘burns’. In that sense, you’re a bit like a car.

So the more calories a food has (despite its size that enormous stick of celery only has a mere 16 of them) the more energy a food is, and the longer it can sustain you.

From this we can conclude what I’ve always known in my heart to be true; man cannot live on celery alone.

But there’s more to it than that.

Anybody with a basic knowledge of human biology knows that the body stores the calories it doesn’t use. It does this so that if there aren’t enough calories coming in the front end, it can use the ones in storage. Which is why we get fat. In that sense, you’re like a car with an expanding fuel tank.

So, to lose excess weight you merely need to eat food with fewer calories, or burn more calories than you consume, and you should get slimmer.

Or to put it another way, eat less, move more. Calories in (eaten) vs calories out (used as fuel). Simple.

Here’s the crucial thing though; whilst all macronutrients can be measured in terms of calories, they don’t yield the same amount of calories. Protein and carbohydrates both contain four calories per gram, whilst fats contain a whopping nine calories per gram! More than double.

So by avoiding fatty foods, you should, logically, reduce your overall calorie intake a lot quicker. Reduce those calories enough and your body will be forced to fall back on its reserves, use all those stored calories and suddenly you’ll be able to get back into those skinny jeans you had three summers ago.

And if that isn’t enough to start you munching on celery sticks, how about this: fats are bad for you. Specifically, saturated fats. Saturated fats clog up your arteries and raise your cholesterol. Clog them up enough and you might drop down dead. Still finding it hard to get excited about celery?

Except that… all that I’ve just told you might be nonsense.

For whilst it all makes total sense on paper, it’s not actually borne out by any solid scientific research.

Not one scrap.

For the last four decades at least, although the powers that be and the mainstream media have consistently cast saturated fats as the dietary arch-villain, preached the mantra of calories in vs calories out, and provided us with low-fat everything, as a nation we’re not getting any slimmer. We’re getting fatter. And sicker.

Some diet professionals claim this is because no-one is listening to the advice. No one, apparently, is buying diet books. No one is attending weekly weigh ins, or diet clubs. No one is eating those low-fat foods. No one.

Except of course we are.

So maybe it isn’t us.

Maybe, just maybe, it isn’t actually our fault at all. Maybe the traditional weight loss advice of the last half a century is total and utter bilge. Maybe fat DOESN’T make you fat. Maybe it’s something else?

Blimey.

That can’t be right.

Can it?

EAT LOADS LOSE WEIGHT


How To EAT LOADS And LOSE WEIGHT will be available in paperback, and for your tablet, phone, or computer (via the free Kindle App) from Boxing Day (26th January). Pre-order here, now.

The eBook is a mere £1.99. Less than the price of a cup of coffee. Click or tap here now.

Other ebook formats will be available in the New Year.

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Five ways to Beat the Blues

bluesSo how are you? I mean – how are you feeling? Stressed? Constantly tired? A little achey perhaps. As I write this now it’s Monday morning, and though we’ve finally entered March with Spring just round the corner, nobody seems to have told the weather. On days like today, it’s hard to feel particularly chipper.

What follows are five bullet proof layers partly inspired by my friend Agent Sparkles who created a 13 point beat-the-blues survival guide after a difficult period in her life struggling with depression. You can find her list, unedited and in its entirety, here – for now however, here are five items that really work for me, and should provide you with some much needed defence against the blues.

Bullet Proof Layer 1 – Put Your Pants On!

Every morning, before 9am, and regardless of what day of the week it is and whether you have any plans – get out of bed.

Get up, have a shower, get dressed, put on decent clothes. Do your make up, do your hair, shave your legs – or whatever your personal equivalent may be. This sends a strong message to your psyche that you’re ready to face the day.

This is doubly important for people who work from home.

Bullet Proof Layer 2 – Eat Properly

After millions of years of shovelling food into our mouths it seems like we’re only just beginning to realise that the old saying “you are what you eat” is actually true. Every single cell, every hair, every flake of dandruff, every tear, every bead of sweat, every inch of skin, muscle and bone, all of it was constructed by your body from something you (or your mother) ate.

This includes your brain.

If you have a habit of eating rubbish on a daily basis you’ll end up with a brain that’s not as able to cope with the stresses or strains of everyday life. That melon-sized lump of grey matter in your skull really is less efficient if it’s been constructed out of crisps, burgers and chocolate bars!
Fortunately this is very easy to fix. Whilst cultivating a ‘better diet’ (i.e. lots of fresh fruit and vegetables whilst avoiding processed foods wherever possible) is just good sense, there are specific foods that are good for your brain.

Omega 3 fatty acids, for instance, directly affect your brain’s ability to cope with stress, depression, concentration and memory. Study after study has shown that an increase of Omega 3 in your diet can make a huge, measurable difference to how you feel.

So where can you get your Omega 3? Flax seeds and walnuts are a good source, though you’ve got to eat a lot to notice a difference (crush them up beforehand to reduce the chances of them passing straight through you). A better source is oily fish (such as mackerel and salmon) because the fish has actually done much of the work, converting the fats into a form ready for your body to digest.

If you haven’t got the time to start grilling fish once or twice a week there’s always supplements. It’s worth mentioning that there’s research to suggest that you absorb far more Omega 3 from food than from supplements, but from personal experience I’ve found supplements to be an acceptable alternative – but remember, they’re supplements, not meal alternatives. Nothing beats a balanced diet of three proper meals a day with plenty of fruit and veg.

Bullet Proof Layer 3 – Sleepasleep

Almost everyone who came back to me with their list of External Forces sited tiredness or sleep deprivation as a cause of unhappiness. Which isn’t surprising really. It’s a rare person who can keep a positive upbeat attitude when they’re walking around like a zombie.

So – go to bed at a reasonable hour, and go to sleep. This means if you’re aiming to get up at 8am you probably need to be lying down, ready to sleep, by eleven.
If you’re struggling with insomnia then an excellent book on the subject (written by a sleep doctor) is “Tired But Wired: How to Overcome Sleep Problems ” by Nerina Ramlakhan (ISBN-13: 978-0285638778)

Bullet Proof Layer 4 – Daylight

First, the basics. Having got up in the morning (bullet proof layer 1) – open the curtains. A lack of sunshine can really drag you down. But do you know why?

All living organisms have an internal biological clock (of sorts) called a circadian rhythm. This internal process regulates a number of bodily functions and for most people their ‘rhythm’ is approximately a twenty four hour cycle. Approximately.

And there’s the rub. Your cycle is only approximately the same length as a normal day. If it’s a little on the short or long side (which it easily could be) it’s possible for your circadian rhythm to become out of sync with your lifestyle, the effect of which is to leave you feeling like you’re suffering from permanent jet-lag (because essentially that’s exactly what jet-lag is). It’s not uncommon to experience insomnia, acute tiredness, lethargy, anxiety, even depression.

Fortunately your body has a ‘reset button’. If when you wake enough light reaches your eyes (or specifically a group of cells called ganglions) your circadian rhythm is reset.
Notice the if in that sentence. If you spend your days asleep, and your nights sitting in front of the TV or computer, your rhythm might actually fail to reset itself. For some people, one too many winter days has the same effect, and before you know it you feel as if you’re stumbling through life with a head full of porridge, boxing with one hand tied behind your back.

That’s not a good state to be in if you also have to deal with your evil boss, your interfering mother-in-law, that angry idiot from next door, or whoever it is that has the ability to press all your buttons – and if you’re not getting enough daylight those buttons are fully exposed and there for the pressing (commonly referred to as SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder). SAD can be reversed, without drugs, pretty much overnight. My personal therapy of choice is a ‘light box’ to take the place of sunshine).

Bullet Proof Layer 5 – Trust that ‘Things Will Get Better’

In the words of my favourite quote:

EVERYTHING WILL BE ALRIGHT IN THE END.
IF IT’S NOT ALRIGHT,
IT’S NOT THE END.