“There was a photo of my boys playing mini golf with some tired, old and pudgy woman. Oh wait… Oh no. I couldn’t believe it. I was looking at me.”
44-year old Karin Muchall has followed dietary advice on both sides of the Atlantic, but without luck. It took one honest photograph and a chance posting on Facebook for her to start her successful journey on The Harcombe Diet®.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am mother of two wonderful boys, Ben (12) and Dylan (9), with a busy job leading a learning and development team in Toronto.
As a young girl, I rode horses competitively, which required me to keep my weight low. I remember joining Weight Watchers as a pre-teen with my mum. By the age of 16, I was anorexic.
I recorded my calorie consumption every day, and sometimes it was as little as the equivalent of a Mars bar.
This was not a good time and everyone – friends, family, teachers – were very worried about me, but my GP told my mum to keep out of my life. As a mum (of two wonderful boys) myself, I can only imagine how much that must have broken her heart.
My turning point came during my school exams. I was so weak I couldn’t concentrate, so finally turned to my mum for help. She gave me the support and comfort I needed to battle back to a healthy weight.
My love-hate relationship with food ensured that I was always on some type of diet throughout my late teens and early 20’s: Rosemary Conley, Weight Watchers, low fat, grapefruit – whatever the latest fad was, I tried it.
However, my life changed when I met Colin in 1995.
There and then I knew that he was ‘the one’. Fortunately it was reciprocated (!) and we married. I consider myself one of the lucky ones, as he helped me became more comfortable with who I was, and all my worries about my weight drifted away.
Then we moved from the UK to Canada: home of great beer and HUGE portions. Colin put on some weight, but I ballooned to 155lbs (I’m 5’4”) in our first summer.
That wasn’t great – especially as we were thinking about starting a family – so both decided to take charge through exercise and nutrition advice at a local gym. I had lost 19lbs by the time Colin and I were given the most fantastic news!
After the birth of Ben, I lost the weight I had gained. After my second pregnancy (2004), I couldn’t shift the last few pounds, but it didn’t matter as I was too busy juggling two very active little boys and a busy job.
What was the final straw to taking control?
I was following the national health advice (yes, Canada follow the low-fat myth too), but my weight gradually increased over the next six years. I got to within a few pounds of my full pregnancy weight (152lbs). My doctor’s advice to exercise more just didn’t work.
I had no energy either, which is really hard when you have two young, sports-mad boys. My busy job took all the blame, when, in hindsight, I should have focused squarely on my diet.
As for the final straw: it was while we were on holiday back in the UK in 2012. My mum took a photo of my boys playing mini golf with some tired, old and pudgy woman. Oh wait… Oh no. I couldn’t believe it. I was looking at me.
How and when did you find out us?
Serendipity. On the evening that my mum had taken the photos of me with the boys, a school friend posted that he’d followed THD on Facebook and was feeling great. I’d never heard of it before, and was intrigued enough to spent some time researching more.
I liked what I read, then spent the next two days trying desperately to find the book before coming back to Canada. The only one I could find was The Harcombe Diet for Men, which I bought and read from cover to cover that day.
I loved that there was no measuring. I loved that it was vegetarian-friendly. I loved that there were plans I could follow. I loved the three rules and real food. And I’ve loved THD ever since.
What has been the biggest benefit to you of getting to your current weight?
It has to be the feeling that I have ‘me’ back.
My confidence has sky-rocketed, and instead of picking clothes to ‘hide my flaws’ I pick clothes that make me feel good. My youngest has also stopped calling me (affectionately) “squishy belly”!
As for my energy levels, they have soared; more than enough to keep up with the boys, whether it’s skiing, kayaking or hiking.
Do you have any advice to our readers?
I have four actually:
Take a leap of faith and try it
Yes it challenges everything that has been engrained into your head (calories, food guide, healthy grains, low fat etc.) Five days is such a small amount of time to invest in yourself given the potential impact on your life.
Take everyone in the family along with you
My family thought it was awesome to get bacon and eggs for the five days. Colin benefited from healthy salads at lunch, and we had fish, brown rice and veggies or veggie curry and rice in the evenings. What he ate when he wasn’t with me didn’t matter, but the fact we were eating the same the rest of the time helped.
Get the recipe book
It has some great meals that really helps with Phase 1 in particular. I have my own dinner party favourites – such as the roasted fish. No-one realises that they are eating ‘Harcombe-style’!
Record your journey in a journal
I know that this is a personal thing, but I found it very helpful to jot down each day what I was eating and how my body was feeling. This was especially helpful in the first weeks of Phase 2, as I started to notice trends of stomach bloating/pains when I ate bread/wheat products. In the end, I eliminated them from my diet. Even now, I will occasionally go back to journaling if I notice bloating or changes in my body or energy levels that I want to better understand.