Ex-pat Rosemary had battled with alcohol and yo yo dieting her whole life. She turned to The Harcombe Diet for a family wedding, but soon came to a revelation that sugar is far more difficult to give up than drink.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Rosemary, a 68-year old ex-pat who has lived in Melbourne, Australia for 26 years. I’m also a recovering alcoholic, and have struggled with my weight since my marriage at the age of 23.
My weight problems started in the late 60s, when Twiggy and the skinny look became fashionable. I now realise that I wasn’t fat, but I am fairly big-boned and looked a bit chunky, so I nibbled on an apple and a piece of cheese for lunch at work, alongside cooked breakfast and dinner.
(I was also in my early 20s and away from my parents… so my drinking became heavier. Of course, alcohol tends to lead to nibbles, and slowly the weight piled on.)
My serious dieting history began in my late 20s. I was still living in England, and a calorie-controlled diet helped me reduce down from 12 stone to 9.5 stone. Then it crept back up to just 15 stone 4 lbs. Another diet and the gym got me back down to 10 stone, but it all went back on within a year.
You know the cycle! The only saving grace is that my yo-yo dieting would top-out at 15 stone 4 lbs. I’ve never gone above that.
So jump forward to March 2011. I am – surprise surprise – topping the scales at 15 stone 4lbs. I tried a diet called “HCG”. It was really weird, involving homeopathic HCG drops and low carb and low fat. I lost just over two stone in about six months, but ‘low carb/low fat’ is an unsustainable combination.
But with my sugar and junk food addictions still raging, it didn’t take long for me to fall off the wagon. I remember being in pain (I needed a knee replacement), depressed, and with no desire to cook. Oh look, there’s a McDonalds very close by…! Yes, I was there for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The cycle began again: I’d lose a few kilos and then fall back to a destructive eating pattern.
Come May 2014, I was up over 14 stone, and taking a wealth of medications for high blood pressure and gout. And THEN Harcombe found me.
What was the final straw to taking control?
It was my nephew’s wedding, back in England, in July 2014. I’d already bought an outfit months before. Yes it was tight, but I intended on losing the half-stone in plenty of time. The wedding was getting closer and I was actually getting even heavier. I decided that there was no way I was going to travel the globe to be the only aunty of the groom looking like a sausage about to pop out of its skin.
How and when did you find out us?
A friend of mine loaned me her copy of “The Harcombe Diet 3-Step Plan” and the science really resonated with me. It just made so much sense. Yes, I knew the calorie-controlled option helped me get the weight off if I was determined to suffer food deprivation, but it just wasn’t sustainable. There had to be some joy to food and nourishment!
So I was hooked. I had six weeks to lose just over a stone, so jumped straight in.
And you know what: I did it. And yes, the wedding day was fantastic!
What has been the biggest benefit to you of getting to your current weight?
Oh where to start…
For the first time in years, I’m not starving myself. I’m enjoying what I’m eating. I’ve lost a further two-stone since the wedding, and still have some to go. Yes, I gain and drop a few pounds every now and again, but that no longer matters so much, as I’m far happier with who I am.
My health is now better than ever: I’ve halved my blood pressure medication; no longer need tablets to control my gout; and insulin resistance (pre diabetic) is a thing of the past!
I have an amazing amount of energy, which I focus into 9,000 steps per day and two Pilates classes every week. It’s a wonderful feeling and something I would never have been able to enjoy when I was so heavy.
And all this has culminated in my depression… It. Has. Gone!
I had never realised how much being fat impacted on my mental state. The jolly fat person was my outside persona, not the inside one.
On the personal front, I finally enjoy shopping for clothes! What an amazing experience!
I can look at photos of myself. (I’m sure I was not the only one who always tried to stand at the back, or offer to take the photo!)
Do you have any advice to our readers?
Don’t think of this as a diet and cure for the reason you became obese. It’s a way of life, for the rest of your life.
If you have a lot of weight to release, don’t look at it as a single step, but set mini-milestones. Each little victory pushes you forward, and makes it far easier than a far-off long-term goal.
Find a big personal reason to do this: mine was vanity mostly, but health was very important to me as well. If you have a reason to do this, it really does help a lot.
Find pictures of yourself when you were slimmer. Keep looking at them and say to yourself: “Life is wonderful when I look like that.”
The only day you can control is the current one: yesterday is gone and you can do nothing about it; and tomorrow never comes.
Don’t just think about doing it: just do it. Don’t sit, plan and write shopping lists. Just jump in and do it – a bag of porridge oats will start you off!
So join the forum and actively participate. If you have deviated from real eating don’t hide in shame and beat yourself up, post it, accept you are human and move on. Your story may help someone else who is has gone off the rails. Failing and getting back up as soon as you can is so very important.
My final thoughts (as addict to both alcohol and sugar)
AA taught me that I can never be cured from alcoholism. I am an alcoholic for life, but I have chosen to be a sober one (hence my introduction of myself as a recovering alcoholic). I made the decision to give up alcohol and have never touched it since. It wasn’t easy and my first year was the hardest, so I just stayed out of the way of temptation.
In the same way, I know that I’m a sugar addict for life, and I will never be cured of this addiction. Yet, I can tell you now that giving up sugar is far harder than alcohol because there is no way of avoiding it! It’s everywhere.
Walk into a café, and you are blinded by all their cakes; sweets and chocolates scream at you from supermarket checkouts (thank goodness for self service). Abstaining from sugar is proving a far harder struggle, but I know that it is achievable.
I actually treat our club forum as my “sugar anonymous” meeting! You are also giving me so help to keep me on the right path, and I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.