Saturday 22 October 2016

Tales from the scales... the final chapter

Published 08/06/2015 | 02:30

After: Eight weeks later and all is changed. From left: Pat Fitzpatrick, Triona McCarthy, John Drennan, Eleanor Goggin, Aine O’Connor and Brendan O’Connor. Photos: Gerry Mooney
After: Eight weeks later and all is changed. From left: Pat Fitzpatrick, Triona McCarthy, John Drennan, Eleanor Goggin, Aine O’Connor and Brendan O’Connor. Photos: Gerry Mooney
Before: Our columnists in the first photo shoot taken before they embarked on their various diet regimes. Photo: David Conachy
Eleanor Goggin
Triona McCarthy
Aine O'Connor
Brendan O'Connor

The challenge has finally come to an end and our columnists look back at eight weeks of success - and some failures.

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It's not over until the fat lady sings

Eleanor Goggin

STARTING WEIGHT: 13st, 7lbs/85.9kgs

FINISHING WEIGHT: 11st, 12lbs/75.29kgs

I suppose I had resigned myself to the fact that I was always going to be overweight and embraced the attitude that fat people are harder to kidnap. Who's looking at me anyway at my age kind of thing. It seemed like an awful chore to embark on a diet when I had a fair bit to lose. A massive task that I couldn't be arsed with. I know I'm never going to be a monument to pulchritude but maybe an elegant older woman in time to come would be good. And then along came this challenge which I was loathe to do. And then I succumbed and I'm glad.

The past few weeks has really set me on the right track to new beginnings and perhaps the ability to get into clothes that I haven't worn in years. And it wasn't that hard. Mind over matter. I suppose because I had to do it for this article, I stuck to it. And reaped the rewards.

I have a slight fear of being given out to, so my weekly visits to the Motivation clinic made me insure they couldn't admonish me for putting on weight and I'm not suggesting for one minute that they would have and they couldn't have been nicer, but I know I would have had to explain myself and that kept me on track My stomach has shrunk - in every sense. I just don't seem to feel the need to eat all the time. My voracious appetite seems to have waned.

When I'm watching telly, I'm not running in and out to the kitchen to make sure I don't die of starvation. I'm eating smaller portions and I can actually leave food on my plate. A concept I couldn't comprehend heretofore.

Sometimes, when I pass a drive-through burger place, I get palpitations and I'm sure at some stage I will give in and stuff my face and that's OK too. The odd break out. But for the most part I intend to stick with it. My fear is that if I need a knee or hip done in the future they would tell me to go and lose some weight before they even contemplate operating. Bad enough that I smoke. Two reasons to freak them out might be a step too far.

I know I haven't lost enough for a new summer wardrobe but I'm looking forward to kitting myself out in new gear for the winter. Maybe I'll be able to go into a shoe shop, try on boots, and not leave a bit of my calf in the zip.

I missed my motivation last week as I was in Spain and did my best but there was a bit of over indulging involved. But again, I stuck with the lots of protein and avoided the carbs. Wasted calories. I learned that comfort eating is actually the opposite. It just makes me unhappier. In total I've lost one stone and nine pounds. Four point five inches came off my boobs, five inches off my waist and four inches off my hips. Hurray!

Ending with a whoop and a yeehaw!

Triona McCarthy

STARTING WEIGHT: 13st, 2lbs/83.6kgs

FINISHING WEIGHT: 11st, 7lbs/ 73.02kgs

I started this Slimmer for Summer (SFS) challenge feeling fat and frumpy, sluggish and slow and not even able to get into my 'fat jeans' without a pair of pliers, a vice grips, an extra pair of hands and a lot of huffing and puffing! Eight weeks later, and in the words of Destiny's Child - I'm showing my age here - "I'm a survivor/ I'm not gon give up/ I'm not gon stop/ I'm gon work harder/ I'm a survivor/ I'm gonna make it/ I will survive/ Keep on survivin'"

Yes, today I'm back in my favourite jeans, not my fat ones, and I'm wearing bright colours again and not going around in all black like I was going to a funeral… for my fat! I've obvs got my sense of humour back again and I'm feeling and looking a lot more like my pre-babies self thanks to Steph from Baby Bodyfit, who has been whipping my ass into shape, and thanks to feasting on the delicious and nutritious meals delivered straight to my door.

It was no bother at all. I never felt hungry or hangry even - you know when you get angry 'cause you're hungry - and having previously been in the Fitness Protection Programme hiding from exercise, I'm actually McLovin releasing the oul endorphins, nature's free, feel good drugs! Pre SFS, I'd do anything to lose 10lbs, except eat healthily and work out. I had been trying to avoid things that make me fat like scales, mirrors and photos, which is hard when I do a photo every week in LIFE Magazine with my beauty page, but now I fear I might take to wearing a trikini - my version of a bikini - such is my mood! Although I know that while wearing a bikini you show 90pc of your body, men are so polite they will stare only at the covered places!

Anyhoo, I'm so into keeping up this new regime that I even got myself a waist trainer as well this week.

A what?

Ever since Kim Kardashian posted an Instagram of herself in the gym wearing one, #waisttraining has become a thing.

Sure, I already have a bum like Kim's, so why not try to get her waist as well?

Also known as a faja, or a girdle, Jessica Alba credits wearing corsets with helping her shed her baby weight. It helps sculpt and maintain a shapelier hourglass figure and less body fat around your waist. Apparently. So yeah, I'm feeling good although I know I'm never going to be a Victoria's Secret model - but being strong and healthy feels so good.

I will admit that sticking to this routine can be difficult with upcoming events like the Galway Races and my sister's wedding in West Cork. So there's going to be a lot of wining and dining but you can't take the Party out of McCarthy. A glass or two is all I can manage these days anyway.

Then there's chocolate. I always put the "ate" in chocolate. Mmmm, I just love it! No wonder there's an "i" in sugar high.

So, what do I weigh now? Am I still nearly the same weight as Brendan O'Connor? Before I reveal all, to get the best result, here are my Rules When Weighing Yourself

1. Always go to the loo first.

2. Place scales on thick shag carpeting.

3. Remove everything; including eyeglasses - blurred vision is an asset.

4. Remove all jewellery, as it could weigh as much as a pound.

5. Never weigh yourself with wet hair.

6. Exhale with all your might BEFORE stepping onto the scale. (Air has weight.)

7. Make sure needle placement is accurate by cautiously adjusting the little round knob on the centre-front, very slowly to the left. (Zero is a wide number and should be treated accordingly.)

8. Stay away from digital scales. (They are not properly adjustable and therefore inaccurate.)

9. Start out with just one foot on the scale, then holding onto a towel rail slowly edge your other foot onto the scale while slowly releasing the towel rail. Admittedly, this takes time, but it's worth it. You will weigh at least two pounds less than if you'd stepped onto the scale normally.

10. Weigh yourself fully clothed after dinner and again the next morning without clothes and before breakfast, because it's nice to see how much weight you've lost overnight!

WARNING: Do not weigh yourself constantly. Every time you stand on the scales it stretches the little springs and wing nuts inside and slowly presses them flat - the result, even with no weight gain whatsoever, is that the scale makes you appear to weigh a little more each time.

So here's my final weight after seven weeks: 11st, 7lbs - that's a whopping 23lbs loss in total! Can I get a whoop, whoop? Can I get a yeeeee haw!

Finally, the end is in sight . . . and my end finally appears to have shrunk

Aine O'Connor

STARTING WEIGHT: 12st, 3lbs/77.7kgs


Eight weeks, approximately nine million treadmill miles and no cake later, this hypnotic adventure in weight loss comes to a close. It's been an interesting journey and a successful one in terms of shrinkage and more importantly, mindset. I was adamant at the outset that I would not embark on another straightforward calorie decrease / exercise increase weight loss program. I know they work, I just always sabotage them so I needed something that would tackle that aspect and hypnosis was my weapon of choice. They don't offer any guarantees but for me it has been a really big success and my only regret is that I didn't do it years ago. Though as my hypnotherapist says, perhaps I wasn't ready before. Who knows?

What began with a couple of weeks of self-esteem and confidence building, took a turn into aversion therapy, maggots and dog vomit designed to put me off the foods I overindulged in, chocolate mostly. The aversion wasn't designed to last forever, the idea is that I can eat what I want as long as I want it for the right reason. I have to be hungry, not sad or stressed or bored or anxious, just hungry and in need of fuel.

And then I have to eat the right amount of fuel, letting my body, my stomach decide instead of my self-saboteur. And it turns out that my stomach has very different limits to the saboteur.

There were moments in the middle of the process of extreme anxiety. Whether because I was no longer squashing that with food or because the absence of overeating induced self-loathing left a vacuum into which anxiety stepped I don't know. But the hypnosis also worked on the anxiety and the moments of panic have passed.

I was fit enough to begin with and upped the ante to speed the process. It feels like a lot more than a diet, the proof will be long term of course, in the no pudding so to speak, but I'm 15 lbs lighter and a lot happier. There's a good bit to go, but I feel like I have the weapons now to do it once and for all.

Enough is a concept I didn't understand

Brendan O'Connor

STARTING WEIGHT: 13st, 10lbs/87.3kgs

FINISHING WEIGHT: 12st, 7lbs/79.3kgs

So here are the basics again: The Taylor Made Diet is essentially as close as you can get to being Oprah Winfrey and have your own personal chef. Every two days all your food for the next two days is delivered. You eat nothing else. As I have pointed out this is crucial. It takes the choice out of it. You don't really have the opportunity to cheat. You just do what we all want to do underneath it all. You follow orders. All discretion is removed. Any need for free will or self-discipline is gone. You don't go shopping. You don't have to choose to be good every time you order lunch. You just eat what's in the bag.

The food in the bag is nice. There's variety so you don't get bored. There are various flavours and ethnicities. You don't feel like you are on a diet. You don't obsess about food and what you can't eat, which is the problem with most diets, the obsession with food and what you can't eat. That kind of thinking ultimately makes you eat the things you can't eat.

The diet is based around GL -Glycaemic Load, which is essentially the amount of a sugar spike you get out of various foods. Ultimately it is about sugar. When you become aware of sugar, and its various incarnations in white carbohydrates, you realise it is the great drug of our age. And the reason it is so successful is that it has that great quality shared by other evils like heroin and cocaine. The more you eat the more you want. It is a food that makes you hungry.

The other cornerstone of Ken's diet is portion size. We eat too much. We eat too much at all our meals. We eat when we are not hungry. We eat until we feel stuffed. It is presumably a Western malaise, a habit born of a world where we have too much.

So Ken's two big ideas are to re-educate our palate about sugar and to re-educate our bodies about portion size. Both of these things combine to teach us about something that I never quite understood the concept of before. Enough. Enough is a concept I have never been too good with. I think I understand a lot more about enough now.

I lost 17lb in the first six weeks. The seventh week I had four days off the diet and the eighth week, as I write, I am on holidays and thus I am gone completely off piste. The last two weeks have been the interesting part, because this is when real life has intervened.

I am in possibly the most dangerous place that I could be in for a person who does not understand enough. I am on holidays so my guard is down, and I can eat and drink as much as I want because I am in an all-inclusive resort. There is a giant row of various desserts at every meal I attend. There are chips everywhere. There are bars everywhere serving me all the drink I want.

Even at the beach, when I sit at the playground with the kids, there is a tap of beer and I can just keep helping myself, sitting on a beanbag in the sun in the early evening. There is even a patisserie opened all day, with all manner of cakes and tarts and sweets. There is ice cream everywhere, anytime I want it, for free.

And today, I will admit, was not a great day. I tasted a few desserts at lunch and dinner, convincing myself it was just to see what they are like. I was a bit too liberal with the beer tap at the playground this evening. I brought the kids to the patisserie for ice cream mid afternoon and had a coffee and a liberal helping of sweets. I had some chips with my dinner.

But the difference now is this. Firstly I haven't been doing it every day. And secondly I will right that tomorrow by having a better day. Because I understand now that you can have a cheat day as long as you make up for it the next day. Most days I've been here I have not had carbs with my meals. I have had meat and salad. That's easy when you're in the South and the lamb is delicious and the tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, leaves, olive oil and lemon juice are all like the ideal of themselves.

I have eaten no bread aside from the odd taste of flatbread. I feel no desire for it. Even when I do hit the patisserie or the huge long row of desserts I go for dark chocolate. I drink less and more consciously. I probably shouldn't drink beer but it's hot here and the beer is delicious. But I don't feel guilty. I savour the cold beers. I enjoy them consciously.

I am enjoying my holiday and I am enjoying the eating and drinking, but in loads of different little ways I have tailored my eating to cut out a load of unneccessary and pointless eating and drinking. I have what I enjoy now and I stop then. And I keep it balanced. I have not let myself go nuts for the week.

And when I come home I will do my last week of the Taylor Made Diet and I am confident I will lose whatever weight I put on this week.

After that there will be a profound change in the way I consume and what I consume. Ken Taylor has changed my life and my habits with his bags of food every two days. Now it is up to me to take those lessons back into real life and I really believe I will. Something has been reset in me. It only takes three weeks for a good habit to replace a bad one. Seven or eight weeks change habits and also cement the new ones.

And every year, from now on, before the summer, I will do four weeks on the Taylor Made Diet. It will cost me less than 500 quid. I will save a few hundred on shopping and all the other unnecessary crap I buy, and I will probably lose a half a stone.

But 500 quid is a small price to pay to lose half a stone painlessly. Think of how much you'll save in the long run with your health and everything else.

I am a convert. I am converted. In fact I am hopefully transformed. And if I go back to my old ways we will never mention this whole thing again.

When the end justifies the jeans

Pat Fitzpatrick

STARTING WEIGHT: 13st, 7lbs/ 85.9kgs

FINISHING WEIGHT: 13st, 5lbs/ 84.82kgs

Don’t get alarmed if you see me walking around slapping my own arse. I just need to reassure myself that the time spent with Pat Divilly Fitness has been worthwhile.

Eight weeks ago, I had an arse that was out of proportion to the rest of my body. Your backside is your early warning system. It says, “You’ve got a month tops to get sorted or else all of your body will look like me.”

Eight weeks later and the arse is back in check. It doesn’t wobble anymore when I give it a slap. I’ve passed the slap test. (I’m going to stop slapping it now because, to be honest, it looks a bit weird.) 

I haven’t done so well on the weighing scales. I was 13 stone 7 at the outset; I’m 13 stone 5 now. That meagre weight-loss is mainly my fault. The people who make the individually-wrapped chocolate bars in Aldi need to put their hands up here too. As do the hipsters who opened a fantastic gourmet pizza place near us in Cork. They have a lot to answer for.

I didn’t follow the diet aspect of the regime at all. I tried putting blueberries in my porridge instead of honey. Unfortunately our one year old went nuts demanding that he should eat them all, so I switched back to honey for a bit of peace over breakfast. (Still, it’s good to see that he’s hooked on a superfood.)

I rarely looked at the comprehensive meal plan that Pat’s assistant, Aoife, sent out via Facebook every week. With two kids under three, there was no way I would find time to cook a separate meal for myself.

The important thing was to find the time to do the exercises. I had tried a ‘couch to 5k’ in January, without any exercises to get myself in shape. It ended up as ‘couch to bad back and back to couch again.’

Pat Divilly’s regime was a mix of strength workouts and running. I could feel my muscles firming up after one week. I’m taut now and more inclined to stand up straight. This is progress for someone who previously raised slouching to some kind of art form.

None of this is much use if I return to the couch. I don’t think I will. I’ve got a taste for feeling good now. Not just physically, but mentally too. There’s nothing quite like the buzz that sets in 30 minutes after you finish a run.

That’s not to say I won’t lapse back and take a week off on the couch. But at least now if the arse makes a return, I’ll know what to do. Squats, lunges, push-ups and a 30 minute run.

That’s the real legacy of eight weeks with Pat Divilly. I know what to do. And I like doing it.

We are in a different place to where we began

John Drennan

STARTING WEIGHT: 16st, 5lbs/104.1kgs

FINISHING WEIGHT: 16st, 12lbs/ 107.04kgs

My diet was, to borrow a popular phrase from the gay marriage referendum, a journey.

Happily, as is generally the case in journeys, we are in a different place to where we began.

We will say more about that later.

As with all ‘journeys’, the last few weeks have been an exercise in self-discovery.

The first thing we have learned is that the most important thing about going on a journey is the taking of the decision to go on that voyage.

In a sense, once the decision has been taken to go on this journey you have already reached the final destination.

The rest is mere detail.

Certainly, when it comes to my personal journey into the world of dieting, it has been a great learning experience.

And the best thing of all about it is that we are at the journey’s end.

It has been a strange journey given that I am not sure where I started from and I am not too sure where I concluded either.

The books in passing were very helpful in providing me with a theoretical roadmap.

Rather like the journey I don’t know where they are now or what the contents might have been.

But it was consoling to know I always had a narrative to call upon had I ever bothered to find where it was.

Still it has been a transformative experience.

Some might have thought my attitude to the diet was one of damn your diet to hell; we only get one spin around the merry-go-round and I intend to enjoy it.

But, I have learned a great deal about myself throughout this process of transformation.

In particular I have discovered you are what you eat.

Sadly in my case I can only hope reincarnation is not a reality for were I to be re-incarnated, I would return as a cake.

Bitter-chocolate I think.

Or maybe I will return as a sausage.

When it comes to the great journey of transformation, without a beginning or a destination, beyond the securing of a new ethic of self awareness about the luminous potentiality of an eschewing of past ways, and an existential embrace of the road less taken, the dinner less eaten, and the relevance of Nietzsche’s theory in Man and Superman of the will to power, one thing is marvellously clear.

I am, as I noted at the start of this piece, in a different place to where I was when I began my ‘journey’.

My diet has been so successful I have put on half a stone.

The plan has worked.

John was supposed to be reading ‘The Fast Diet’ by Dr Michael Mosley & Mimi Spencer, €11.90, Short Books; and Fast Cook, by Mimi Spencer, €10.99, Short Books

John Drennan is a former Sunday Independent columnist. He now works for Renua

  • Our team were photographed at The four star boutique Morrison Hotel, Ormond Quay lower, Dublin 1. Hair and make up by Brown Sugar,

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