Tuesday 16 January 2018

Tales from the scales updates

Weighting game: Pat Fitzpatrick, John Drennan, Triona McCarthy, Eleanor Goggin, Brendan O'Connor and Aine O'Connor before their weight-loss programme.
Weighting game: Pat Fitzpatrick, John Drennan, Triona McCarthy, Eleanor Goggin, Brendan O'Connor and Aine O'Connor before their weight-loss programme.
Aine O'Connor
Triona McCarthy
Pat Fitzpatrick
Brendan O'Connor
A man needs his beer, and then there are higher powers like Tayto and the Keogh brothers
John Drennan

The challenge continues, and our columnists are fighting hard to resist temptation.

It was a voice I didn't recognise

Eleanor Goggin

STARTING WEIGHT: 13st, 7lbs/85.9kgs

There have been moments in the last few weeks that I have felt sane and able to cope with no steak and kidney pies and chocolate in bed. And there have been moments when I have been far from sane. Like the other night at a party. I have my own take on dieting which doesn't include drink deprivation. More like depravation. I just decrease my food intake and stick with the alcohol. I had been very good all day. Stuck fairly rigidly to the plan.At the party I had a small portion of curry and salad.

And then at about one o'clock they started up the barbeque. And I saw the sausages and something outside my control came over me. I found myself saying in a voice that wasn't mine "sausages". A booming voice full of desperation

They were still uncooked and I found myself standing at the elbow of the chef chanting the word sausages over and over again. I assured him they were cooked enough for me. At this stage I would have eaten them raw. I could see he was getting edgy about me. He had never seen me before and while it was evident that I was a demented older woman who wouldn't go away, he didn't realise the extent of my deprivation or the amount of wine I had consumed. When they were cooked, I became like the starving contestants on the Island with Bear Grylls. I shovelled them in and devoured them without chewing. He put on a second lot and the whole vile performance started again. Me hassling him and he remaining calm but clearly getting more scared by the minute.

That was my only real blip in the week. The Motivation clinic provide me with bars and snacks that I can have between meals and by trial and error I have found the particular ones that I love and I can now honestly say they are a treat. Some of them are bites that taste like crisps and the others are bars.

So I weighed in with the sausages in my mind and hopefully no longer in my stomach and I had lost four pounds! That's twenty pounds so far!


The dreaded plateau despite no gateau

Aine O'Connor

STARTING WEIGHT: 12st, 3lbs/77.7kgs

My father has been heard to lament that should anything newsworthy befall him he will be described as an "elderly" man. He hears reports of events befalling elderly people on the news and he thinks, "Ah, God love him. Oh, hang on..." I have a horror of getting lost, like in a crowd or on a beach, my phone battery dead - no phone is just too great a stretch of the imagination - and my family having to describe me as "heavyset."

There is nothing I can do about the descriptors "middle-aged", "pale" or "short-sighted" but I'm working on the "heavyset." I've been working on it quietly since February and hardcore with the hypnosis and diet and exercise for six weeks now. And, with less than my usual exaggeration, several hundred treadmill kilometres later, I like to think I have it down to "medium build." Averagely chunky as opposed to full on fat. If I'm lost on a beach they'll be telling the life guards to look out for a "Middle-aged, pale, short-sighted woman of medium build." And this, as I hear the late Paul Goldin tell me twice a day, is good.In terms of weight loss, not much has happened in the last week according to the scales.

Circumstances beyond my control induced six days without exercise which, even without going mad on food, translated as a one pound gain.

A pound up on top of no loss is a three pound gain in my glass half empty worldview but Mary, the saintly lady who guides me through this journey, tells me that I must not focus on precise weekly poundage. She says the focus must be instead on how, although my routine was interrupted and there were some of the triggers I might usually have used to cheat the diet, I didn't. And it's true. I am also still genuinely repelled at the notion of a bar of chocolate and I do stop eating when I'm full. So, hopefully this and raising the running distances will beat the dreaded plateau. Because while "medium build" is progress, I have a dream that if I get lost in a few months I'll be down to "slight." "Middle aged, pale, short-sighted but slight. So slight. Birdlike."


As the song says, it's all about positivity

Triona McCarthy

STARTING WEIGHT: 13st, 2lbs/83.6kgs

A week in Istanbul and I had fallen com-plete-ly off the wagon. In fact I jumped right off it. If only that damn wagon was bloody bigger and had seatbelts to strap me in! I arrived back into Dublin last Sunday and had to go straight from the airport to work as I was MCing the Face of Tempted 2015. I grabbed a copy of the Sunday Independent in the airport and read Tales from the Scales in the back of the taxi on my way to the hotel.

I read Eleanor's piece first and got an awful dose of The Fear. F*uck. Everything. And. Run is how I felt! For years The Fear feeling only came when I drank too much the night before, but being a busy mum of two under two now, I just can't be bothered with hangovers anymore, so I don't drink like I used to. Yeah, when I was Party McCarthy, I was able to party all weekend long. Now, a night of drinking requires more recovery time than minor surgery! So I just felt so bad about myself and hated myself for not having more control, as I could feel the waistband of my jeans digging into me. Thank God for John Drennan's piece! At least I wasn't on my own. Hey John, call me ok?!

Anyhow, it was straight into the event where Rosemary Kearns of Tempted Boutiques was full of positivity and enthusiasm. As always. It was just what I needed. The 'Face of Tempted' is all about celebrating body confidence to find new plus-size modelling talent. Entrants from all walks of life and all ages across Ireland, who are a size 16 plus and love style and fashion enter. The competition was first introduced when Rosemary realised the difficulty in sourcing professional plus-size models for her curvy clothing collections, to represent the majority of Irish women, who don't actually relate to the mainstream fashion trend of size 6-8 models. It has since become an annual celebration of gorgeous, proud, curvy women, and has helped many finalists to fulfill their ambitions to work as a model, or within the fashion and styling business.

One of the judges was international plus-size model and award-winning style blogger, Louise O'Reilly, of the very popular 'Style me Curvy' blog. Louise is all about being confident even if you aren't a size two. She was the perfect person to mentor the girls and me and help select a winner given her experience in the industry. For those of you reading who are sick of feeling less than, just because you've got a lil' more body to work with, check her out. It made me realize life shouldn't be about fitting into some kind of society driven image of beauty. Although it is about taking responsibility for your life and living life to the fullest. And while I love chips, chocolate and cheese, they taste so good but they only bring temporary pleasure. I would actually rather be fit, energetic and healthy and inspire others to do the same.

Gourmetfuel.com has taught me how nourishing my body, not poisoning it, is the way to go and that with Steph's training, I can tone up, but I'll never be a size 2. And that's fine. Whether you've got curves, some serious junk in the trunk, lots of love handles, that's no reason to feel like you can't see yourself as beautiful.

So it was on stage as DJ Conor started belting out songs like Mika's Big Girl (You Are Beautiful).

"Walks in to the room

Feels like a big balloon

I said "Hey girl, you are beautiful."

Diet Coke and a pizza please

Diet Coke I'm on my knees

Screaming, "Big girl, you are beautiful!"

Then we had Meghan Trainor's super-catchy All About That Bass body-positive bubblegum pop song. Meghan, a curvy girl herself as well, encourages other girls to feel good about themselves, The song is about loving yourself and loving your body, because Ms Trainor thinks girls really don't love themselves as much as they should.

"I see the magazine workin' that Photoshop

We know that shit ain't real

C'mon now, make it stop

If you got beauty, beauty, just raise 'em up

'Cause every inch of you is perfect

From the bottom to the top"

So it was all about body positivity.

Monday morning I was filming first thing so I hadn't time to think about anything only work. I was back on my gourmetfuel food and felt great again. Then on Tuesday I was off to London for the Chelsea Flower Show and managed to stay on track, although I've been too afraid to weigh myself. All will be revealed next week.

Maybe John wants to call over and we can do it together!

www.babybodyfit.ie; www.gourmetfuel.com

The lasting change is occurring in the last place I expected

Pat Fitzpatrick

STARTING WEIGHT: 13st, 7lbs/ 85.9kgs

At this stage, I'm fairly sure of the physical benefits of eight weeks under the guidance of Pat Divilly. I'll probably lose a few pounds, and that's without paying much attention to the diet side of his regime. There's no getting away from it - I'm a fool for Custard Creams.

I'm also going to get a bit of muscle tone. That will do nicely given that we're heading for Spain in early June. You don't want to look like Rab C Nesbitt in front of the Dutch and German muscle-men. My wife has started making positive comments about my legs and my shoulders. To be honest, I think she fancies me.

Those are all good things. But they could easily be undone with a summer of booze and ice-cream. Particularly in Spain, where you can fool yourself by drinking a gallon of beer a day because it comes in those tiny glasses. "Ole" says you, with a couple of scoops for breakfast.

The real, lasting change is going to occur in the last place that I expected. This course has had an effect on my mind. Or, at least, in my attitude towards mindfulness. Up until six weeks ago, I thought that mindfulness was some kind of crackpot scheme to extract money from people looking for a fresh take on Buddhism. Now I know differently. Why? Squats and lunges. These exercises form part of my warm-up before I head into the strength workouts every week. I hated them at the start. Now I look forward to them. I love the way my knees creak and crack during the first couple of squats. I wallow in the throb of pain in my glutes after ten lunges. I shut out the world for 30 minutes as I get in touch with my body. (Not in the way that would get you kicked out of a cinema.)

In short, this course has released my inner hippy. I'm not sure if this is a good thing. But I'll definitely keep up the squats and lunges for a while, just to see where it goes.


I'm fighting 'Big Food' with a bag of crisps in one hand and a glass of prosecco in the other

Brendan O'Connor

STARTING WEIGHT: 13st, 10lbs/87.3kgs

It's not all plain sailing. I get bored. I get so bored. The only thing that keeps me going is that this is not forever, that there is really only a week to go. I will not be doing the full eight weeks together. Next week, after seven weeks, I am going on holidays and no doubt I will run riot, eating and drinking like the little piggy I truly am. I think I will do my final week of the Taylor Made Diet when I come back, to ground me again and to try and lose the holiday gut.

I've been breaking out all over the place. But in a kind of a healthy fashion. Well, healthy enough. My Sunday day off has become a few drinks on a Saturday night and maybe a bit of extra food for energy for the TV show, then a relaxed Sunday with some treats and maybe a nice bite of tea in a casual restaurant, and maybe a few more drinks. I am also having a little snack in the evenings, some crispbreads and a nice bit of hummus, or maybe a bowl of healthy cereal. It's hardly going crazy, but I suppose I am easing myself back into some normal eating patterns.

What I am discovering is that I have no huge desire to go back to carb and sugar binging. I have found that it doesn't really agree with me. I actually think I don't really like bread anymore. It feels dull and heavy and my stomach doesn't feel right after it. This is very weird for me. I thought I liked bread.

I am also becoming an expert in low-sugar treats. In fact, I am becoming slightly boring and sanctimonious on the whole sugar thing. I spent half an hour pottering around Donnybrook Fair last Sunday with the head of a big international food conglomerate pointing out various products that he should be buying - I mean buying the company. Things like Rude Health Nutty Crunch muesli, which only has 5g of sugar per 100g, unlike some other cereals. Or Peter's Yard Crispbreads, another one of my little expensive treats. I was just in the middle of holding forth to him about the Nordic methods of making bread that could be preserved through winter, when he called his wife to see them, and said, "Now. Give her the lecture." That's when I realised I maybe needed to calm down a bit.

In fairness when I get into something for a little phase, I get quite into it. I have decided my wife should open a nice Wholefoods-style shop. (It is always my wife who has to do the hard slog on my little obsessions. She was going to be the driving force behind the roll out of the omelette van franchise and the seafood shacks too). The worrying thing is she is quite keen. This time could be the time we actually follow the daft dream.

Even when I do calm down and get over this, I think I will have learned a lesson for life, or for the time being anyway. And that is that binging on sugar does not really agree with me or anyone else.

This is going to create some issues obviously. The main one being beer. Beer is the devil in wheat and sugar terms. Right now, I am confining my boozing to prosecco, which is the lowest sugar option next to, like, gin. But a man needs his beer. I'll need to work some beer back into my life. Crisps are the other issue. A man needs crisps. And my problem with crisps is that I am powerless over them. That's just one of those things I need to accept. People say you should seek the help of a higher power, but unfortunately my higher power is Mr Tayto, and the Keogh brothers are the holy trinity. And with crisps, for me, one bag is too many, and a thousand isn't enough. Recently I have found that I can actually eat one bag of crisps without sticking my face into the whole six pack. But I will need to always be conscious that I am only one lapse away from opening that second bag and going into a frenzy. I think the trick will be to binge on healthy enough stuff. It will be slightly more expensive than binging on crisps but ultimately it will still give me the illusion of abandon.

In the meantime, I watch documentaries on Netflix about the evils of sugar and so-called 'Big Food' while vaguely toying with dropping out to fight the food industry. But let's face it, I won't. It's more likely that I will join them than beat them. I should start looking for a premises for my food shop before I lose interest and move onto my next hobby horse.


A bell of righteousness is tolling and there is no getting away from it

John Drennan

STARTING WEIGHT: 16st, 5lbs/104.1kgs

Of course even for the wiliest salad dodger eventually the moment comes where procrastination must end.

That is to say that decisive interventions must eventually be made. The time for talk is, almost, over, but, not just yet.

Still we are very close to the sticking point; that moment where the talking around things, the champagne football style excuses, the equivocation, mortification, rodomontade, verbal (rather than real) gymnastics and elusive hiding in full view must end. The time to light the dietary Olympic torch with the flaming arrow of zealous dieting is upon us.

A bell of righteousness is tolling and there is no getting ourselves away from a decisive moment.

It is in short, that is to say putting the case with brevity rather than loquacious linguistic extremism, time to do or diet. So it is that we have our first experiment with Granola this week.

You see if we are to lose weight the sausage and the rasher must now be expelled, for like the snake in the Garden of Eden this is the starting point of our corrupt desires.

So what is to be said of Granola?

Well, even though it resembles the sort of thing that should be fed to an admittedly pedigree horse it is not bad. Indeed once you put four spoons of sugar into the Granola to take the healthy taste off it is quite the success.

The diet books by the way have gone missing. I suspect the diet fairy has stolen them and that they will never be seen again.

John is 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

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