Annie has had a bad relationship with food since infancy. Just over a year ago, Annie turned to The Harcombe Diet® to help achieve a major goal: lose seven stone by this February. Has she reached it?
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Annie Jeffery, I live near Lymington in the New Forest, and I’m about to reach my 60th birthday. I’ve had an interesting relationship with food – to put it mildly – but only now do I feel as though I am finally in control.
It all started as a child. My mother was bipolar, and never very maternal. When I was nine, my parents divorced and my beloved grandfather died. My three sisters and I lived with my dad, and I found it very hard to visit my mother, whose behaviour was, at times, extremely unpredictable. Life was not that wonderful, and food seemed to be the only constant; it was the thing I used to self-medicate when times were tough.
My dad remarried when I was 11, and my step-mum was fun and pretty, lively, and very loving. She knew how I hated my size, and took me to get the best medical advice. I was put on appetite suppressants, visited therapists… and my weight began to yo-yo.
Let’s just says that I was a horribly-fat child, a miserably-fat teenager, and things only got worse as I entered adulthood.
My weight was pretty much matching my age by my mid-20s. Having lost a little on my own, I turned to Weight Watchers to lose a lot more. After months and months of effort, I’d lost seven stone, but was still 12lbs shy of the goal they set me. I struggled and struggled for months to get any further, but failed to reach this impossible target. There was just no point trying any more. I gave up.
Such a sense of failure had two major effects: as my morale and self-esteem plummeted, my weight rocketed. I piled it on.
I’d married at 21, but was divorced at 35, with a new man coming into my life within the year. I moved to France, had an ectopic pregnancy at 45, then returned to UK after nine years… and divorced four years later.
Looking back at all the significant occasions in my life, I can actually recall, to the ounce, my weight and what I wore. How sad is that!
What was the final straw to taking control this time?
By Christmas 2013, my weight had crept back over the 20-stone mark. I felt totally exhausted, with aches and pains in every joint, and was horrified at the prospect of my 59th birthday in February. My father was also very ill, having had two strokes, and knowing how much my weight may contribute to so many health problems – not to mention the possibility of an early death.
It was January 3rd – I remember exactly – when decided that I HAD to turn things around once and for all.
How did you find out about The Harcombe Diet®?
I already had the book, and this was going to be the second time I tried it. But this time was different. I set myself a goal for my 60th birthday: I was going to lose seven stone. With just over a year to do it, I knew that it was possible.
I lost 11lbs in phase 1, which was a really confidence-boosting start. Then I ensured my kitchen was entirely Harcombe-friendly! I made vast amounts of vegetable soup, ate lots of stir-fries, and even trained myself to enjoy herbal teas!
THD makes such good sense. I didn’t eat rubbish, cut out sugar and ignored any pre-packaged and prepared foods. There was no weighing, no measuring, no faff and very little fuss.
The only tricky times are if travelling or going to some event where there are very few Harcombe-friendly foods. So I often take a ring pull tin of sardines in oil with me for journeys, and carry a plastic fork and spoon in my bag. And even smallest stores usually stock live natural yogurt.
Dark chocolate is a fall-back which has stopped me falling off the wagon and into fast-food hell out of desperation!
What has been the biggest benefit to you of getting to your current weight?
This year, I have felt happier, healthier, and much more confident and energetic. I have walked more with my dogs, the easiest way for me to increase my exercise.
I have changed direction with work, and set up an art therapy charity. This a full-time occupation with many challenges, but which has also has put me in touch with some extraordinary and wonderful people.
One of our aims is to take art therapy into schools to address issues about body image, confidence and the pressures young people feel to look and behave in certain ways. This is something I am passionate about.
So, where am I with my 60th birthday only weeks away? Well, I didn’t quite make it: I am six-stone lighter, and I know I will get to seven very soon.
When I lost all that weight in my mid-20s, I took missing my goal as failure. I gave up and the weight piled back on. The thing is that it doesn’t matter to me now. I have a far healthier relationship with food, and it is no longer so important in my life. That is exactly how it should be.
Food is fuel, and I enjoy what I have, but it’s not ruling my life. I know that it is still something I need to think about – I am an addict who could fall off the wagon – but I finally believe that I have the ability to keep the wagon going in the right direction!
I now recommend The Harcombe Diet® to the many friends and family who have asked me how I have achieved this amazing transformation, and there is quite a group of us supporting and encouraging one another.
Huge, huge thanks – and I will happily stand up and be counted as a Harcombe devotee!
Do you have any advice to our readers?
My main change of attitude has been to view certain foods as if they are cigarettes! I was a smoker until I turned 40, when I quit as the result of a breast cancer scare. I often moaned that if I could just give up food and never have to think about it again, life would be so much simpler.
So change that around: look at certain foods as being toxic, choose not to have them, and you really can give yourself a totally different mind-set. That has been my biggest discovery this year… along with hip bones, collar bones, and the fantastic feeling of trying on clothes in shops and knowing that you can finally wear some of the things you thought were only for other people!
As I type this, there is half a large tin of Quality Street sitting on the shelf in this office, left over from a workshop we ran over Christmas. If it was staring at me this time last year, I would have polished it off without thinking about it. This year, I have not had a single one. Seriously, I’ve been working here for days on my own without the thought even crossing my mind. Now if you’d told me a year ago that this would be remotely possible, I’d have been incredulous.