Life Health & Wellbeing

Thursday 14 November 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'My 10 rules for losing weight in middle age'

Brendan O'Connor. Picture Andres Poveda
Brendan O'Connor. Picture Andres Poveda
Brendan O'Connor
Brendan O'Connor
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

OK. So by week three I'd dropped another four pounds and am nearly back where I want to be. This is my last word on the weight loss for now. Here are ten observations about middle-aged weight loss...

* You can lose weight

I had started to think that as I hit my (very) late forties I had lost the ability to lose weight. Did I have to accept that from now it just inevitably piles on? I would 'take it easy' on the rubbish and the pints for a while and then wonder why I hadn't lost weight. It's because we fool ourselves. Unless you have some plan and a strict regime, you are probably eating way more than you think. For me, the Taylor Made Diet made it really easy. The only hard bit is not eating outside the provided meals. But that's the only rule you have to keep to. So I reckon a couple of simple rules or a strict regime enforced by someone else is your best bet. Don't make it all too complex. The simpler it is, the easier it is to stick to.

* The rewards make it all worth it

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In the next week or two I'll have lost a stone. That was all I wanted, to get rid of that stubborn stone I'd put on around the middle. I feel much better in myself. I feel healthier, I can wear all my clothes again, and I have more energy. I won't say nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, but trust me it's well worth cutting back for a while.

* It has a roller-coaster effect

When your body gets used to less sugar and smaller portions, it will practically regulate itself. After three weeks, I don't crave sugar as much - though I still love a chocolate treat - and my stomach seems to be used to smaller portions. For now anyway.

* Booze is probably part of your issue

I won't lie. I'm not one of those people who feels much better and gets a whole new energy when they don't drink. I'm happier when I can have a few pints now and then. But having not had any drink for a few weeks, it has definitely helped to lessen my gut. It's not entirely responsible for my spare tyre, but it doesn't help.

* Carbs are probably part of your issue too

The first time I lost weight, I had to lose a good bit. The single most effective thing I did was to try to avoid refined sugars and carbohydrates, which only make you hungrier, and make you crave sugar. If you can stop eating refined carbs for a while you'll possibly experience dramatic weight loss.

That's the basis for the diet I'm doing now, which is based on glycemic load. I'm eating less but I am not starving between meals. I think bread is the main offender. It is obviously the nicest thing in the world but maybe try and give it up for a while. Pasta's not great either. Have a reasonable portion of spuds instead.

* You may be doing snacking all wrong

Recently I got into this habit where I would decide I wasn't going to snack between meals, but invariably I'd get too hungry and crash at some point and then eat chocolate to get me back up. Then I'd be on a sugar rollercoaster for the day. On this diet I've been eating snacks between meals, but it's an oatcake or carrot sticks with hummus or pesto. You don't get too hungry and you don't start craving sweet snacks. A few nuts are actually nice too.

* Drink lots of water

I forget to most days, but it does work.

* You can get past the moment of a craving

We get all kinds of crap sent into the office, like doughnuts and pizza. I never turn down a doughnut or a pizza, or chocolate if it's going around. But I did for the last few weeks.

And you know what? Once the moment is gone, you don't regret it and you no longer feel the need of it. Just get past the one moment of temptation and you'll be fine.

Brendan O'Connor

* You don't have to get involved in extreme exercise

Diet is the main driver of weight loss. I have been exercising, but just the usual: a half-hour swim most mornings and walking/cycling in and out to work etc.

I'm not doing triathlons or anything but I still feel I'm getting plenty of exercise, and it's largely built into my life so it happens automatically.

Never drive when you can walk.

* Your diet habits will bleed into your non-diet lifestyle

My last cheat day I had some Lily O'Brien's giant buttons with crispy butterscotch and a cup of tea. I loved it. I was very happy for a few minutes. But I didn't feel the need to eat the whole bag as I normally would.

I had some O'Donnells cheese and onion crisps, but again, I didn't feel the need to eat the whole bag. And I almost felt I enjoyed them more in moderation, rather than just stuffing junk into me unthinkingly.

OK. That's it for now. I swear.

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