How do you lose 14 pounds in 14 days? It's actually not that hard. What's more difficult is keeping it off. And if you're in a similar state to the way I was a little while ago (ie. enormous) then it's how you keep on taking more off too.
The key to success is in how you translate all your well thought-out good intentions into everyday action. And this isn't always easy because our brains and biology are designed to over-ride our sensible thoughts with the instinctive actions to keep us alive. Our Amy brain (Amygdala) goes for instant gratification ahead of weight-loss every time. This was all well and good as a survival mechanism for our ancestors. It's somewhat less helpful in modern Britain where even the warm, doughy air in Tesco's is designed to make you feel hungry.
To fight back we need ways to win over our Amy brain and get her on our side. And that means resorting to simple actions that just give your sensible head a bit of an advantage. I call them grooves because they are ways of behaving that are good to get into. They are combined with some time-tested nutritional nuggets, and I've found them the only way I ever got my 19 and a half stone obesity turned around for good.
The grooves are here. And they include things like constant measurement (to provide lots of feedback), dramatic behaviour (to make noticeable impact) and the need to build in escape routes to your progress so you can learn to come off course and get back on again easily - embracing the yo-yo. We need variety to stop ourselves getting sabotaged by Amy.
For example, fasting is the ultimate weapon in weight-loss. But traditional fasting is hard. You either have to deny yourself food altogether, or count calories, or make up special meals. These things don't help. Starving yourself is never going to be fun and counting calories and making up special meals or juices only makes you think more about food, and inevitably about the food that you're missing.
Instead there is a different way to look at fasting. The aim is to get through the day without making any fuss about food at all. No meals, no restaurants, no socialising over food. There is no need to put yourself through any of this, when you can arrange your life so that you enjoy food on Burndays and Reload days.
And as for feeling hungry, you can avoid that by snacking on protein. The power of protein as a highly satisfying eat with a high thermic value has been well known to nutritionists for decades and it forms the basis of everything from Atkins to Sirtfoods. I'll spare you the science but protein keeps away the hunger pangs as well as giving you a really tasty eat. Just ripping the flesh of a chicken drumstick feels good, in a Henry the Eighth kind of way.
So don't even give Amy brain a look-in. Last week I made a simple coriander salsa just to give my protein a little extra kick. Red onions, chilli, tomato and coriander. Not much more than just a salsa. I kept it in the fridge and used a couple of spoonfuls with evening Fastday snacks. Once with chicken, once with salmon flakes. So each 'meal' took about ten seconds to prepare. And then I left the kitchen. 'Move away from the fridge'. You could go to the cinema, read, take up basket weaving. I sat on the sofa and watched box sets. Like I said, don't make it hard on yourself.
It wasn't a smooth journey. The earlier post charts the first few days. I hit a big plateau in the middle that wasn't much fun. Don't be disheartened by this stuff. Just keep watching the numbers and you'll soon see how thing works for you. There'll be a reward coming up. And then there was a bit of a wobble with my daughter's birthday cake. When you switch between Fastdays and Burndays there can be some lags as the bulk of vegetables makes itself felt, but the full-on empty carb hit of chocolate cake is a tough one. That will easily not just stop all the progress but send it into reverse. But hey, a birthday is a birthday. And though I put on a pound or so I still got back on track.
And so by the third week in January I've lost my Christmas weight and am ready to resume the normal rhythms of my Diet Groove. I'll still fast once or twice a week, but there'll be lots of reload days and meals too, and not to mention a few gins.