Tuesday 21 November 2017

Tales from the scales update

Pat Fitzpatrick, John Drennan, Triona McCarthy, Eleanor Goggin, Brendan O'Connor and Aine O'Connor before their weight-loss programme.
Pat Fitzpatrick, John Drennan, Triona McCarthy, Eleanor Goggin, Brendan O'Connor and Aine O'Connor before their weight-loss programme.
Eleanor Goggin
Aine O'Connor
Triona McCarthy

It's the third week of our challenge and our columnists are beginning to see some changes.

I'm beginning to feel in the zone


STARTING WEIGHT: 13st, 7lbs/85.9kgs

It was again with fear and trepidation I went to my Motivation weekly meeting. And every week this piece will allude to the said same fear and trepidation. Unless I have a particularly good week that is. Then smugness could take over.

Buoyed up by my six pound weight loss last week, I began the week well. Before, when I used to go to Fatty classes as we used to call them, if I lost weight I would stop for a burger and chips on the way home. A little treat.

Not this time. Especially not when I'm publicly exposed and I suppose I'm now beginning to realise the folly of my previous ways.

Was I right to fear the weigh in? Had I been a disaster. By and large (how apt) I had been fairly good and stuck to the plan.

I actually like the porridge in the mornings, mainly because I'm allowed artificial sweetener on it and it does fill me up for quite a while.

And I have to have a protein bar or protein soup from the Motivation clinic to fill up between meals so as I don't lose the run of myself at the meal.

I was at a dinner party at the weekend whereby I over imbibed and ate too much but actually nothing like what I would have before. There was a vestige of self control. And at a barbeque on the following night I had the sausage, some onions and little small potatoes. But I skipped the bread with the sausage and didn't have the burger and bun at all. Saint Eleanor I say. Except for the over imbibing again. I thought about staying in bed for all of the next day and getting someone to lock me in but I didn't. I got up, had the porridge and started again. Another thing I wouldn't have done in the past. I would have given up.

I looked apologetically at Susan, my Motivation girl and stood tentatively on the scales. And I had lost another three pounds. That's nine pounds in two weeks!!. I'm fairly smug now. And with not that much deprivation. Now there's a long way to go but I feel I'm in the zone. .


Miracle on a South County Dublin street


STARTING WEIGHT: 12st, 3lbs/77.7kgs

Apparently a miracle is "an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency." I don't know if this is strictly what has happened but it's near enough. I have had three bars of abandoned chocolate beside my bed for weeks and not eating them required no effort of will. What is more, I am slightly repelled by sweet things. In the context of me, that is pretty damn close to a miracle.

So, hypnosis week one was all very nice and uplifting. "You are fabliss, your body wants to heal, you can do this." No mention of the f-word or the w-word. Week two began the same, "You are only fabliss, your body wants to heal." But then "Let's call a spade a spade, you're fat because you eat too much." "Imagine yourself naked in front of a mirror, awful innit?" I paraphrase, but that's the general gist.

I don't have a CD player, something which slightly distracted me in the initial consultation, but then someone suggested I play the CDs in the car and record them on my phone. So once a week I can be found in a trance in the driveway while the late Paul Goldin's dulcet tones transfer from the CD to my phone.

On week one there is also the sound of my family laughing when they pulled up to discover trance girl zoned out in the driver seat. But all extraneous sounds are supposed to put me deeper into relaxation.

The second daily listening is before bed so Beloved got a fright when he rocked in from a local hostelry one evening to see me under the covers with a strange man's voice filling the room.

"Imagine yourself naked before a mirror, awful innit?" (I really am paraphrasing.) He is also slightly concerned that these pre-sleep sessions will make him, a man with not one single extra ounce, lose weight too. However, as he is still able to chomp away on the sweets it seems that he is unaffected. I dare to hope there has been weight loss, but am as yet too afraid of failure to step on the scales.


From now on, it's Smarty McCarthy!


STARTING WEIGHT: 13st, 2lbs/83.6kgs

Ssssshhh! Don't tell anyone, but I was in the Fitness Protection Programme for the last few years, hiding from healthy living. My exercise routine consisted of diddly squats! Now with the help of babybodyfit.ie and gourmetfuel.ie I'm living in salad central and throwing all sorts of shapes like proper squats, planking and burpees and it's really not so bad. In fact I quite like it! Who knew?

Although I'm lucky my trainer Steph comes to the house, as you should see the cut of me huffing and puffing with a big red face and the sweat running off me! How do those gym bunnies look like they just glisten? Even my fingernails sweat when I'm training. I tell Steph that the sweat is actually my poor body crying!

Anyhoo, you'll be pleased to know that between Steph's twice weekly workouts and the delicious food delivered from gourmetfuel.ie, I managed to lose, weight/wait for it…. 5lbs. Yaaaaay! I couldn't believe it because I really didn't feel one bit deprived or hungry, or in a bad mood, you know all the things you're supposed to feel when you're on a diet. I've been having a great oul time for myself. I'm eating loads and I've loadsa energy.

I honestly thought I couldn't possibly have lost even a pound, especially as I sat eating a bag of McDonnell's Cheese and Onion crisps last Sunday and read everyone else's slimming update and two things struck me; first of all, I'm only a bit lighter than that great big hunk of burning love, Brendan O'Connor - morto for me - and secondly, it seems everyone else is a full week ahead of me in the diet!

I'm not competitive. At all. But when I realised I'm one of the heaviest it made me feel all stressy and that I should really be trying harder and what the hell was I getting myself in for. I hadn't actually weighed myself at this stage.

So I continued eating my treats - desserts is stressed spelt backwards after all and crisps and chocolate are my go to's when I'm stressing. Remember I told you I'm an emotional eater.

Now don't freak out, I hadn't dumped the diet at this stage, Sunday is my day off from my healthy eating and the crisps and a Yorkie fruit and nut, winey coloured one was what I decided I'd treat myself to as I read the Sunday papers. It's one of my favourite things to do. Especially with crisps and chocolate! I had three regular meals as well on Sunday and didn't feel the need to binge or anything.

Now, I must be honest, I did kind of deviate off the diet a few times though. My friend stylist Cathy O'Connor invited me out to Afternoon Tea, delish - although I only had a few little sandwiches and lots of coffee and sadly no alcohol - I'm nursing Mini remember. It was also my son's second birthday on Friday so there was birthday cake and of course I had to have a slice. I just didn't eat the whole thing. Like I would have done before I got into this healthy eating thang.

Actually, I now realise I'd been mindlessly eating loads of food - Maxi's mostly. When I make his porridge in the morning, I have a spoon to see if it's too hot and if he doesn't eat it all, I'll polish it off. And I don't even like porridge. It's just that I hate waste.

Then, if we go through the whole rigmarole of peeling and chopping a banana and then he decides he doesn't want it, I eat it rather than throwing it out. The same with his dinner and this I realise all adds up.

But because I'm so full from ALL the delicious gourmetfuel food - it feels like 8,000 calories not 1,800 calories a day - and because it's prepared and ready for me to eat, I'm much more conscious of what I put in my mouth now.

Even when I was up at the TV3 studios doing Midday where there's always someone with something sugary and sweet being offered round in the Make Up room, I just stuck to coffee. Lots of. I was practically high and had the jitters and talked jibberish for an hour on the show!

So I've a brand new identity now in my new fitness programme…it's no longer Party McCarthy …it's Smarty McCarthy!

www.babybodyfit.ie www.gourmetfuel.ie

There's gonna be a whole lotta shaking going on!


STARTING WEIGHT: 13st, 7lbs/ 85.9kgs

Pat Divilly is after upping The Planks. I mentioned last week that The Plank is one of the hardest things on the strength workout provided by patdivillyfitness.com.

You might wonder why I put it in capitals. Get down on the ground there now, prop yourself up on your elbows and toes and hold that horizontal pose for 30 seconds.

Let me guess. The first 20 seconds was grand. But then you spent the last 10 seconds shaking like an eejit outside his Leaving Cert Oral Irish exam.

That's why I think it deserves capitals. The Plank is a serious business.

The wife counts out the seconds for me, dwelling on 22, 23, 24 and 25 a little longer than required, just to turn the screw. Well, the strength workout is in for week 2, and the wife is licking her lips.

Last week, I had to do four Planks for 30 seconds at a time, with 30 seconds in between so you can get through some decent cursing. Now it's four Planks for 35 seconds at a time, with 25 seconds in between. There will be a whole load of shaking going on.

Here's the weird thing. I don't mind. In fact, I'm looking forward to it. The strength and cardio work I did during week 1 has put a spring in my step. I'm sleeping better, I'm eating better and without going into too many details, my digestive system is set to all guns blazing.

As a result, I've suddenly become one of these annoying Californian types who reckons anything is possible. It's only a matter of time before I shout "bring it on baby!" out of the blue.

In fairness, I've been here before and it usually ends with medieval-type pains in my hip. Let's see if I manage to avoid that this time out.


Nine pounds down and I've completely forgotten how to shop


STARTING WEIGHT: 13st, 10lbs/87.3kgs

When you are getting your meals delivered every day, you forget very quickly how to shop, what you are supposed to do in a supermarket. I was in London on my day off from the diet, and in Sainsbury's with the niece, I found myself completely overwhelmed. So many choices, so much bread, and I could eat it all if I really wanted to, because it was my day off. But I didn't know what to do. The other six days I know what to do. I eat what comes in the boxes. There are no choices to distract me. Breakfast is the muesli, which I now enjoy and indeed look forward to. I even enjoy the process of picking the raisins out, maybe because it is the closest I get to preparing food these days. I sift the muesli out of the little container and into a bowl, removing any pieces of dried fruit. It's like panning for gold, or rabbit droppings.

The soup is similar but different every day, but usually quite nice, and I get a piece of bread with it, onto which I spread half the hummus - though technically the hummus is supposed to be my morning snack. I don't find I need a morning snack. The dinners are tasty too. I am even learning to enjoy all sorts of things I wouldn't usually bother with. The main thing I have conquered is my aversion to the ubiquitous chicken breast. In my real life, I'm a leg man and a skin man, and I find the globulus, skinless breast quite disgusting. I don't tend to believe that they have ever been in touch with a chicken really. I imagine they just grow them in a factory out of tofu and water and snot. But Ken Taylor, the chef behind the Taylor Made diet, manages to make them tasty enough. And I have even learnt to enjoy them. Because hunger is a great sauce.

While the food is always tasty, the meals on this diet might sometimes lack the succulence that I demand of food (by which I probably mean butter). But when you're really hungry, you learn to enjoy whatever you are given. And actually, you enjoy it quite mindfully, savouring the textures and tastes of each bite. Because every bite counts.

You should see me. I pretty much lick my plate. I nearly cry if I drop a crumb of muesli. If there are too many raisins to be removed I grieve quietly on the grounds of Archimedes principle. I think of all the muesli that was displaced by those raisins. I also dust the raisins down to get back any muesli dust before I dispose of them. And there is certainly no question, ever ever, of anyone getting a taste of my dinner, though I will sometimes let the younger daughter have a few spoonfuls of muesli, mainly because it's hilarious to see how much she enjoys it. She thinks it's a treat, the poor thing.

In the evenings, I have a little cheat. I eat a bit of proper M&S spicy hummus on an oatcake. Doing that would normally be the precursor to eating the rest of the tub of hummus and that packet of oatcakes, but these days I just have one. It is a semi-allowed night-time snack because I told Ken I needed something to punctuate the evening. And as hard as this is to believe, it's like a party in my mouth. I go into ecstasy for the minute or two it takes me to eat it. And then, I will admit, I feel a slight emptiness when I realise the oatcake is gone and I won't be having another ten. But that's what I'm learning here. Eating is not a prelude to eating. Eating is the end in itself. The first bit of the eating is not a rehearsal for the eating you go on to do.

And, slowly but surely, I am learning and my habits are changing. And it's all about habits. Willpower is incredibly weak compared to the power of the subconscious. So better to change habits, change the subconscious and automatically do the right thing. My willpower has been taken out of my hands on this one.

So in the end, habit prevailed, and myself and the niece decided on wholemeal pittas, falafels, hummus and salad. On my cheat day! Habits are changing baby. The subconscious spoke and it wanted chickpeas in all their forms. Weird. Two weeks in I've lost 9lb.


Diets just don't happen if you are pre-occupied with other plans


STARTING WEIGHT: 16st, 5lbs/104.1kgs


MOOD: Black

WAIST: Still the same if I'm lucky


The two books are glaring at me like a pair of neglected maiden aunts in a nursing home.

A thin film has settled on one whilst the other has started to yellow ever so slightly from the thin glare of spring sunshine.

Still I am not feeling guilty.

The relevance of John Lennon to dieting might appear to be ... apologies ... slim. But the former Beatle made the observation that life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans. Diets, alas, can be a bit like that. Or to put it another way diets are what do not happen if you are pre-occupied with other plans.

In my case, the diet has been somewhat disrupted by an incubus called writing a book.

The nature of writing a book is that it is a little like training for an All-Ireland final. It is a solitary monkish discipline. There is one exception though.

The work, followed by reward - oh there's the kiddies' sweet stash - means that unlike our finely-honed athlete, every book adds half a stone to my big-boned frame. Anyway, happily or not, final draft of book, for better or worse, over now.

Perhaps it is time to adopt the Beckett philosophy of fail once, fail again, fail better.

John Drennan is reading 'The Fast Diet' by Dr Micheal Mosley & Mimi Spencer, €11.90, Short Books and 'Fast Cook', by Mimi Spencer, €10.99, Short Books

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