Tag Archives: weight loss

Is yoyo dieting bad for you?

So what

Every now and again, a new piece of research pops up to say that dieting, even the yoyo variety, isn’t as bad for us as the diet gurus always said it was. If you take this at face value, it might make you think that the tabloids are right when they admonish fatties that there are no excuses, they should enrol in Weightwatchers again next week. After cleaning out everything that could be considered fattening from the kitchen cupboards, of course.

Don’t take headlines at face value. Most of us are wise enough to question what we read in the news anyway, but some of us (myself included at times) have a tendency to believe whatever we read when it comes to the latest diet and weight loss news. Do you want to know the truth? Of course you do…

According to a report in Metabolism magazine (and not the interpretation put on it by diet magazines) 439 overweight, inactive, postmenopausal women took part in a study – which makes it a smallish study anyway. Around 25% of them (103) were yo-yo dieters who had lost 10 or more pounds three or more times, and a further 77 had lost 20 or more pounds three or more times. At the start of the study all the women were checked, and the yoyo dieters were heavier and had’ less favourable metabolic profiles’ than the women who had never yoyo dieted.

The obvious conclusion would have been that yoyo dieting was associated with higher starting weight and a less favourable metabolic profile, so should be avoided.

But what do you think happened?

They were all put on another diet. The study split them into four groups; diet alone, exercise alone, a combination or a control group.

After a year, all the dieters had lost weight. Well, it was strict! Calorie-controlled dieting that included a weekly group meeting for six months, then monthly meetings, two visits from a dietician, email and phone follow-up and six month food diaries which had to be completed with every morsel eaten and returned with feedback. Exercisers also lost weight, on their three sessions a week of supervised fitness five days a week. It’s a no-brainer really.

It’s hardly a surprise that all the yoyo dieters lost weight. They had all done it before! The issue isn’t whether they could do it; it’s whether it was bad for them to do it. And we don’t know if they managed to keep the weight off, as there was no follow up. Nobody knows how having to be monitored so closely for such a long time affected the women emotionally. Personally, I can’t do the whole ‘keeping a food diary’ thing because as soon as I start writing down every morsel I eat for some slimming club leader, it scrambles my rational brain. I get stressed and obsessed with food. Invariably I cheat, miss things off and ‘forget’ the odd thing too.

As far as pointless studies go, this one is pretty high up on the list. It proves nothing except that women who already lost weight and put it back on can do it again. And again. And again. Did any of us not actually know that?

As far as I’m concerned, eat well, keep fit and enjoy your life. And don’t take anything you read in the news about weight loss at face value!

If you want to read the study, here it is:

Weight Cycling and Dieting


A version of this post appeared in a previous blog for FatPhrocks


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Diet dilemma


Work in progress

It’s crazy in my head right now.

I thought it was hard enough with what’s going on with Dad, but I kind of came to terms with that and decided that all the time he’s happy, I will be too.

Then something else happened and it’s put me into a situation where if I want to get what I want, not only do I somehow have to work out a way to get enough money for Moley and I to move into a bigger place, but I also have to lose weight. Probably.

What do I do? Diets DO NOT WORK.

So I’m holding out every hope that the EFT I’m doing will start to sink in and make scarfing down family size packets of Kettle Chips less appealing. I’ve been doing a lot of very personal work with Cara on what it is that makes me overeat, and I’ve even gone right back to when I was bullied at school, a particularly horrible incident that might have made skinny, short arsed 12 year-old Sarah think it wasn’t such a good idea to be smaller than everyone else. Especially when four girls, all bigger than her, decided they were going to gang up on her and challenge her to a fight in the playground.

You want to know the outcome? I hid behind a bush. They found me. I ended up covered in spit. Not very pretty.

I guess I can see why  I might have decided that being bigger could be used to my advantage.

Anyway, I have to do something. Because if I don’t my weight might be used against me as a grown up, but in the opposite way. So it’s time I got a proper grip on my overeating, using all the resources I have available to me. Notice I don’t say “I have to lose weight” – that will just trigger me in the opposite direction!

I’d love to get my hula hoop out again and give it a go in the back garden, and wiggle until I can keep the damn thing going more than a minute, but I’m scared people will laugh at me. Dumb, huh? I’m overlooked as I share the back garden with the neighbours, living in a ground floor flat. I could try indoors but there’s not a lot of room. I think the ABBA Wii game might have to come out and the Davina boxing workout can get dusted off. I’m getting the walking shoes back on too. Making fitness fun, that’s the key, right? My Zumba buddy cancelled again tonight, though.

This time next year, I’ll be sorted, no longer an overeater, fit, getting a bigger place and – I’ll tell you all exactly how I do it as I figure it out. Wish me luck…it’s quite a target!



Filed under Food and diets, Lifestyle, Project Junior

Party of a lifetime


I am enjoying myself, honestly!

Do you remember 1999? Of course you do. If the pressure was ever on to get skinny for a Christmas party, it was that year.

I’d been feeling a lot better in 1999. Mainly because I managed to escape from the relentless negativity of the job I hated, and move miles away so that I never had to see the perpetrator of my bullying hell ever again. Unfortunately, I ended up in Soham, which even before the only thing the place the town is famous for was still a sh*t hole.

Anyway, despite everything, and despite the temptation for me to rattle off all the things my awful boss did that made me miserable before I managed to escape, things were a bit better in 1999. My determination to move away and leave Suffolk Trading Standards behind me, coupled with the amount of self help books I had been reading, made me feel a lot stronger. I wasn’t bingeing so much, although I was still overeating. I hadn’t managed to lose any weight, despite joining Slimming World AGAIN in Ipswich just before I moved. I think I dropped about half a stone and then put it back on again, same old, same old.

Husband #2 had managed to successfully cut me off from most of my friends and family before we left. Now, I don’t really want to get all whiney about it, because it was me doing my people-pleasing and not standing up for myself that allowed it to happen. But I got earache for spending time with my parents, he didn’t like my male friends (he’d banned me from even talking to one of them, and moaned about my work-mate Mark who he said fancied me, but clearly didn’t) and even managed to stop me seeing my closest female friend because she was ‘weird’ and ‘she’s always trying to split us up so that you can go out with her more’. She wasn’t.

I was allowed to see L, and her boyfriend P, though. We moved to Soham because they lived there, and because she’d managed to get H#2 a job back in the office they’d met in. Cosy, huh? But I was just desperate to get away and ignored any alarm bells.

As soon as I got to Soham that October I rejoined Slimming World. This was going to be my new start! I did meet a lovely girl there, who became a good friend. She was getting on for 18 stone when she started and was losing astonishing amounts of weight every week. With my eating disorder head on, I was a bit worried, but she was clapped and cheered every single week for 5, 6 and 7 pound losses. I asked her how she did it one day and she said that she ate less than 1000 calories most days. usually about 800. She was working in a hospital at the time, on her feet every day and had almost fainted more than once. Why didn’t it occur to the leader to ask her if she was OK? She wasn’t anorexic, but she was undereating massively and to the point of fainting for God’s sake. We weren’t close enough for me to lecture her at that point.

She went on to get through to the finals of the Slimming World Woman of the Year competition in either 2000 or 2001. She lost SO much weight and had got down to a size ten, so she was thrilled. Her boyfriend proposed. She did confess to me that the speed she’d lost the weight had left her with the dreaded loose skin, and to me she looked gaunt, but as I was 14 stone at the time, it would have sounded like sour grapes to say so. It doesn’t give me any pleasure to say with a resigned sigh that when she went through a bad time a couple of years later she put the whole damn lot back on again with interest.

As we got closer to The Millennium I was panicking big time about my weight. We planned a big party at home and I knew there’d be pictures. The weight loss adverts were everywhere. Looking good for the Year 2000 parties was ESSENTIAL. My heroine at the time was J-Lo and I kidded myself I could have a booty like hers if I just managed to stick to my Red Days and Green Days, and didn’t go over my Syns. Guess what? I couldn’t. I didn’t. And I never will.

I saw the 21st century in on a cocktail of vodka, painkillers and sheer determination as I came down with the ‘flu that was doing the rounds on New Year’s Eve. I collapsed into bed around 2.30 am and the next morning I couldn’t speak, eat or move and all I wanted was very cold cranberry juice to drink. But the good thing was it got me out of clearing up the wreckage.

2000 was going to be fabulous. I was going to lose weight, sort myself out and do something with my life. Really.


This is the face of a woman who should have cancelled her party…


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“I’ve had my weight problems but I think that makes me a normal person.”

Self-confessed yo -yo dieter actress Natalie Cassidy reveals how she finally learned to love herself.

Natalie Cassidy

Happy to be able to ease into a pair of size 10 jeans and at the weight she wants to stay forever, it hasn’t always been the same for bubbly ex-east Enders star Natalie Cassidy, 29. She worried fans when she ditched four stone for the launch of her best-selling DVD, admitting to taking laxatives to her drop  the last few dress sizes only to shoot back up to a size 16 months later and her weight has been on public display right ever since.

“It’s true to say I’ve never had an easy relationship with food, even as a teenager I struggled to maintain a regular weight and I suppose it suited me to play Sonia in East Enders as she was the “fat” one who didn’t have to look too glamorous. It still hurt when I saw pictures of me in a bikini with the headline “beached whale”

“After that I did lose weight. I tried everything from the Cabbage Soup to the Atkins plan but whenever something big happened in my life it affected my weight. When my good friend and co-star on East Enders Wendy Richard died people accused me of comfort eating but it wasn’t like that – I just lost the motivation to diet.”

It was when Natalie was at her slimmest that she really suffered. “I was asked to do a fitness DVD and I saw it as a way to get back into shape but I ended up getting out of control. I went from a size 16 to a tiny size 8 in just weeks.”  Natalie was living in a tracksuit and felt hungry all the time, and she admits she became obsessed with food, eating only an apple at meal times, and was “tired all the time.”

“One day I just snapped, went home, began to eat and piled the weight back on again.”

Months later Natalie got the chance to appear on Strictly, and for once she didn’t have to diet, she dropped two dress sizes naturally and felt fabulous.  “Just after the series I fell pregnant and did put weight on again but I think having Eliza proved the turning point when it came to yo-yo dieting:  I suddenly realised there was something in my life that was more important than me and how I looked.”

To help her lose her mummy tummy Natalie enlisted the help of personal trainer Rob Horslen who gave her a programme of walking, fitness and weights as well as a diet that’s helped her achieve her new curvy size 10 shape and made her feel sexy again. “I’ve lost 1 st 2lbs just by being sensible.  I prepared all my meals myself so I knew exactly what I was putting in. I stuck to a high protein and veg diet of 1,200 calories a day and cut out carbs completely.”

Natalie trains six days a week, working on her upper body one day and lower the next with a high intensity cardio in between and reckons she the fittest she’s ever been. “I’ve even found a herbal supplement called Thisilyn Artichoke that’s helped with my bloating problem. I might never have a totally flat stomach but this really helped when I’ve eaten too much pasta or bread. “

Natalie is Ambassador for the Health Lottery, something she’s really proud of: “I’ve had my weight problems but I think that makes me a normal person. I want women to be realistic about dieting, it’s not just something you start every January, a diet should be a way of life. I want to be a role model for women who’ve had the same problems as me, I’d like to think they can look at me and achieve their goals, too.”

Natalie uses Thisilyn Artichoke which has helped her to beat the bloat and maintain a healthy digestion. Available from Boots, (7.99 for 30 capsules for 30) visit www.thisilynartichoke.co.uk for details.

Thanks to Abby Knight for this interview, which was scheduled to appear in the March issue of Inspired Magazine…another one that wasn’t published!

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Fat Shaming

scalesSomething happened to a friend of mine today which pissed me off so much (sorry Mum) that I just had to write about it. I’d love to know if you think I’m over-reacting.

OK, so I have a lovely friend called Rachel. I’ve never met her in real life but we talk on Facebook a lot and she’s funny, very smiley and clever. She’s the kind of person who always has a kind word to say, some advice or a word or two to pep anyone up who’s having a hard time. Rachel has had a tough time of it herself for one reason and another and she’s been treated for depression.

So today she told me that she’d been to the doctor for a non-weight related issue, and the nurse insisted on weighing her. I’m sure Rach won’t mind me saying that yes, she is significantly overweight, big enough that it’s not going to be a huge shock to find she’s in the obese section on the BMI charts. Not that you have to be enormous to be in that section anyway. but she knows she’s big, like most fat people do. She didn’t want to weigh herself. Like a lot of people with weight problems, she struggles with low self-esteem and has been working really hard to be positive despite her feelings about her weight. The nurse wouldn’t take no for an answer. Of course, when she looked at the scales, the nurse proceeded to lecture her about doing something about her weight, and even though she wasn’t actually nasty, Rachel left the surgery feeling like crap.

Why did she need to do it? I don’t get it. If someone is clearly overweight, they already KNOW they are. They don’t need to be humiliated and lectured, that fat didn’t just appear overnight, most of us have been struggling for years with diet after diet. we’re constantly reminded that we’re fat and disgusting, unfit and unhealthy, so why do we need the numbers? Why do we have to be humiliated by medical professionals who continue to tell us that diets are the only way to lose weight (yeah right) and who suggest a diet sheet for people with eating disorders because they can’t be arsed to fork out for proper help?

Anyway. Rachel has been distraught all afternoon. She’s gone on that horrible downward spiral, getting very upset, weighing herself again on the wii, just to make herself feel even worse, and beating herself up with the “I’m fat and useless” stick. All because that nurse insisted on weighing her for no obvious reason. This is what Rachel wrote, and she’s given me permission to share it. I think lots of people will understand…and Rachy, you’re very talented.

They say you should be happy, you’re lovely as you are.
They say embrace your body and your mind will take you far.
They say that diets make you fat and so you shouldn’t try,
So why do I just want to cry?

They say that once you’re happy with yourself then you’ll be free
They say that when your head is straight, then comes the real ‘me’,
They say that if you want to change then what will be will be,
So why do I just feel so lost?

Perhaps the time has come when I should just give in,
Realise for once that I will never be thin,
Put all ideas of being gorgeous firmly in the bin,
So why does that make me feel so sad?

I need to make some changes to my life, but what are they?
I need to do something positive to help myself each day,
Until I do, these thoughts will never go away.
So why can’t I do this for me?

By Rachel Townsend.

Isn’t it brilliant? I just had to share it. Now I’m off to calm myself down – I’d really like your opinions on the whole bullying fat people thing though. Am I being sensitive? Should the nurse have respected Rachel’s wishes NOT to be weighed just for the sake of it?


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Teenage Angst

I’ve had to work myself up to writing this…mainly because yesterday I was feeling mahoosively sorry for myself after having a gastroscopy. I still have the horrible feeling you get when you have tonsilitis; like I’ve got something stuck in my throat and it’s a bit sore. but I’m immensely glad I did it. I was scared to death, and now it’s all over and as expected (hooray) there is actually bugger all wrong with me. So BIG WHOOP for that.

After sitting around pouting and eating ice-cream last night, and catching up with work this morning, I think it’s about time I stopped procrastinating and started talking about how a reasonably slim, pretty 17 year old managed to transform into a diet-obsessive with a food issue as big as a house.

It took years. And to be brutally honest I don’t really know. This was me at my 18th birthday party.

18th Birthday

Let’s be honest, only a rabid Daily Mail commentator would call me obese. I had biggish boobs and a big bum. I was curvy, certainly. But I wasn’t fat. The boy who called me fat not long before this picture was taken soon fell off the radar, as boys often do when you’re 18. He was replaced, a couple of months later by the man I was going to end up marrying in 1993.

So although that incident sticks in my mind, it wasn’t his fault. Anyway, I said right at the start this isn’t about blaming anyone else.

Another incident a couple of years later that sticks in my mind was reading the front of Slimming Magazine in about 1990/91 and seeing “MY 11 STONE NIGHTMARE!” from Beverley Craven. Remember her? Well, clearly she was that much of a mega-star that she could only get a front cover on a diet magazine, but anyway, there she was telling the world that being 11 stone was a nightmare. And I wasn’t far off that. Shit! What was I going to do about it? Diet, again, I expect.

When I met husband #1 in 1989, I was on a diet. Before I go any further, yes, I have been married twice. No, I’m not married to either of them now. Yes, I am getting married again next year. No, I don’t particularly like wedding cake.

So, I met him in about May 1989, and I remember I was on a diet. I was always on a diet. My heroine at the time was Sam Brown, who was in the charts with ‘Stop!” I also had a weird obsession with a band called Climie Fisher, and I don’t know what made me think of it, but this song of theirs popped into my head while I was in the shower this morning and it sort of sums up what I’m doing with these blogs. If you can forgive the hideous 80s production, the lyrics are actually quite good. I just listened to it myself for the first time in YEARS and it actually brought a bit of a lump to my throat…or is that just bruising from yesterday?

The diet I was on then involved me eating barely anything all working week, and then anything I wanted at the weekends. A kind of reversal of the 5:2 diet that’s doing the rounds at the moment. I was eating a lot of Boots Shapers crispbreads, with their ‘bag of air’ crisps and disgusting cheese spread. It was all low-fat this and low-fat that in the late 80s and early 90s. They brought out ‘Flyte’ bars – remember them? They were disgustingly sweet and probably just as high in calories as most normal chocolate bars but we were all eating the damn things because they were LOW FAT.

pigletI’d started a new job at Ipswich County Court, and  I remember that time as one of the happiest in my life. Most of us were in our twenties and thirties, the social life was good, and we mostly got along really well. The work could be pretty stressful sometimes but the people were great and I was happy there. Most of us were on and off diets all the time but none of us were actually fat. Go figure! At one point in about 1990, I got down to under 10 stone for the ONLY time in my entire adult life and it lasted about a week. Unfortunately, I didn’t use my new-found figure wisely, as the picture on the right proves.

It’s hard to recall what was going on in my head back then. In my very early twenties I still wasn’t that bad, really. Quite apart from that diet I made up myself, I also tried The Junk Food Diet, Size 12 in 21 Days (I wasn’t), and countless others. I did the Slimming Magazine Diet – I’d buy the magazines religiously and attempt the diets, but they seemed to like peanut butter on everything and being severely allergic I remember getting a bit annoyed. I went along to the club once or twice, too and hated it. They put me on a diet of about 1000 calories a day. I mean, look at the size of me! I was barely out of my teens and hardly ten and a half stone, and being told I had to lose two stone (yes, really) and eat 1000 calories a day. As you can imagine, that didn’t last.

I joined a gym in 1991. Didn’t go very often. I relied on a girl I used to work with taking me, and her willpower was as shaky as mine. More often than not, we’d end up in the pub.

So, I was in love with Husband #1 and you’ll be wondering whether he killed my confidence? To be honest, no, not really. He was a lot slimmer than me, and could eat anything he wanted but he didn’t really go on about my weight, in fact he seemed to rather like me as I was. Not only that, but I was going to college after work to study A level English and I started hanging out with another group of people about my age who used the word ‘study’ as loosely as I did. When we weren’t sniggering at the back, we were skiving off, again down the pub, or to Felixstowe sea front. It was all very innocent but there were two guys in the group who were like rutting stags competing to impress all the girls, including me. I got to be really good friends at the time with them, so they’d take turns inviting me out to lunch, which led the girls in the office to roll their eyes and exclaim “You’ve got another man here to see you, Sarah.”


That’s me on the right. Apparently.

I can’t pretend I wasn’t loving it. One of them told me I looked a bit like Evie from The House of Eliott, which was my FAVOURITE programme at the time (and probably of all time) and if I hadn’t been engaged I probably would have kissed him. I was the most confident I’d ever been – and I even forgave them for the time I went fishing for compliments and asked,”Does my bum look big in these jeans?” and they replied, “Yes!” in unison.

It was a good time in my life. Work was good, I was in love, I was young and healthy, slim, confident and happy. I still lived with my parents, got engaged in 1991 and was planning a wedding. Which of course I was on a diet for. But if you’d asked me back then whether I had a problem with food I’d have said no. Despite the way I used to sneak food into the house when nobody was looking and eat it all in my bedroom, then hide the wrappers so that nobody knew I’d been pigging out. But I was happy, so why was I bingeing?

I guess I’ll never really know….still, I had a wedding to diet for and things were looking exciting…


Filed under Food and diets, General, Lifestyle, My weight story

Going it alone


You know, I have so many non diet weight loss programmes, or get your eating under control programmes, and they are all great in their way. But I still overeat and it’s just something I’ve kinda learned to shrug my shoulders
about and call my Achilles heel.

The thing is, it bugs me. I can usually do whatever I set my mind to. I’ve made a success of most areas in my life, well maybe except the being a wife area (although I think I’ll be better this time around) but the ability to just take or leave food eludes me.

So, I think it’s time I took the things I’ve learned from other people’s life lessons and came up with my own solution. I don’t want to diet. I want to live a vibrant, full fat life with no worries about whether my bum looks big in my jeans. I want to enjoy food and not worry about it all the time!

Life is for living, food is for enjoying, and diets are for banishing to the dustbin. As for my master plan, I’m off for a think…


Filed under Food and diets, Lifestyle