Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Joanna Cake's Secrets To Achieving A Healthy Body Weight

As a recovering anorexic, I could tell you the most successful fast diets, but they won't help you to stay slim unless you have the willpower to continue with ever more restrictive regimes, until finally you have beaten the sensation of hunger and are eating virtually nothing.

In other words, you're an anorexic too.

What happens with most people who diet is that their weight yo-yos. This is because the the initial weight loss is achieved through the body using up its fat reserves, but then it goes into siege mode.

So, as soon as you've achieved your goal weight/got fed up with going to the gym five nights a week, and you go back to your normal eating patterns, the body will start to store some of this food as fat because you have alerted it to the possibility of another potential famine.

You start to put weight back on...

And so the cycle begins again.

What I've discovered over the years is that the best way to achieve a good body weight is to eat smaller amounts little and often, combining foods from the three major food groups to ensure that the body's metabolism can process it correctly. If you start counting calories by cutting out carbs or proteins or fats, your body can't do its job properly because it needs elements from all of them to maintain the optimum levels of glucose and insulin, which allow the body to function without being tired or hyperactive.

In addition, you have to get out and do some exercise every day: a brisk 20 minute walk or a yoga class - or, better still, don't take the car, walk to the yoga class. Don't exercise solely with the idea of losing weight, do it because it is all part of achieving a healthy lifestyle.

If you choose something like yoga, you will discover that it helps to keep your mind in shape as well as your body. Focussing on the body's physical movements in the various postures and the breathing techniques means that your mind cannot run off in all directions, planning the day's activities and the shopping list. It has to become still and just think about what the body is doing and the effects of that action. And, at the end of every class, is a short period of relaxation, where you just lie down and try to empty your mind totally.

This de-stressing is hugely beneficial and, done regularly, you will notice that you are much calmer and more relaxed about every area of your life.

Exercising is the best way to get your metabolism working, but it's no good getting into the habit of saying, I can eat two biscuits today because I will work it off tomorrow. The trick is not to eat the biscuits at all. In order to stop yourself from even thinking about sweet things after dinner you need to find something to keep your hands busy.

That's how I discovered knitting.

My Nan used to knit everything - socks, jumpers, hats, scarves. You name it, she could produce it from her two busy needles. As a child, she tried to teach all of us 'grands', but all I could make was a very uneven scarf in plain knit - I couldn't even manage to purl. I was always adding in or losing stitches so the width tended to vary dramatically throughout its length and there were often holes!

However, when I became an anorexic, I decided to learn how to knit, just so I could focus on something other than food. I worked with a group of girls who had formed a knitting club and so there was always someone who was an expert to show me how to get started and sort me out when I made a complete hash of it... or just to explain some of the hieroglyphics and shortforms that seem to crop up in a lot of knitting patterns.

I grew to love it, knitting and purling and all the other more complicated stuff, especially cabling and colour changes. I knitted for myself and then I started branching out to family and friends, even designing my own pictures for the front of jumpers - well, it was the '80s. Pretty much anything whacky went.

It's an extraordinarily relaxing pastime with a worthwhile end result and, once you have the basic skillset, it's very easy to progress onto the more advanced stitches and designs.

As part of my new internet business, I'm always on the look out for ebooks that I can market and, recently, I found this easy-knit book.

The site includes a free email beginners course which takes you through how to cast on and knit a simple scarf. After that, everything else that you need to know about the different stitches, yarns and patterns is included in the book, which you download onto your computer. It even helps you to understand all those abbreviations you get in the more advanced knitting patterns.

So, for anyone who wants something useful to keep their fingers away from the biscuit tin whilst they're working on their new eating strategy, then this is a great skill to learn and a quick and simple way to acquire it.

For those of you who are already adept in the art, there is also a book on Knitting for Profit. This is a carefully researched plan that guides you through everything you need to know to make a successful business out of your hobby.

How to get free patterns and free yarns, how to choose which garments will sell and the best wools in which to produce them, as well as how to market and to whom.

Knit Easy!


Dee said...

It's true. I used to do the five times a week at the gym years ago and got fed up with it, but it wasn't just about the gym. It was also about the personality types at the gym, as well as the love-me-do instructors. It just wasn't me, but still, I had to compromise because it's not as though I've got a flash fast metabolism, but this year has been a bit slow for me but exercise is definitely important and diet on some level (no junk food). There's so much information out there. I recently overheard an instructor go on about the merits of dieting, as it's "all about the diet" and it made me feel low. Their definition of diet is eating canned tuna seven days a week!
The outlook of eating biscuits to work it off is seductive. I still have relapses! lol
My current plan is to save enough to get myself a treadmill to have at home for the bad weather as well. The only thing that gets me with exercise is when social events back me into a corner and it's difficult to stay on plan. No kidding, since a few weeks before Christmas, I've only been able to get myself to the gym once a week because of last minute relatives, last minute interstate visitors, and I try to make up for it by walking to short destinations but it just doesn't feel the same as a steady exercise session, but maybe that's more about me.

Dee said...

That's what I forgot.
I've tried knitting and had a horrible aunt who'd yell at me for not holding the needles properly and that has always been the difficulty for me.

Joanna Cake said...

Dee - Our gym also hosts yoga and pilates classes. Get yourself to one of those and get a holistic workout! Since I started six months ago, I have felt better than I have in years.

As to the knitting, things are different when you dont have someone standing over you shouting. I have always found it a very fulfilling hobby, although I dont pursue it much these days because my fingers are too busy typing :)

Ro said...

That seems like a very sensible approach to weight-control and, in general, a more healthy outlook.

All except the knitting. My Mum was a knitting fanatic and, oh, I learned to knit once. When I was, oh, twelve or so. For a day. As the raven quoth, "Nevermore" ... but I guess we all have the right to choose our own perversions!

Yoga is far more attractive to me than knitting but I'm looking at going back to Tai Chi instead. It requires much of the same discipline, and delivers many of the same benefits ... but requires less flexibility!

Thanks for a very interesting piece :-)

Joanna Cake said...

Ro, Im actually doing yoga AND tai chi and thoroughly enjoying both of them :)

nitebyrd said...

I don't like knitting but I sew. Your advice is really good. Tell me, though, how can one motivate oneself to exercise? Do you have any tips?

Joanna Cake said...

Nitebyrd - I always used to exercise as a way of punishing myself. I would push myself to the limit and glory in the weightloss. But this is a very negative and destructive attitude.

Yoga has helped me to focus on the areas of my body that dont work properly. The atmosphere in the room is very peaceful and positive and I enjoy my classes, glorying in the way that my body is returning to how it should be.

If I need any incentive, it's remembering how hunched and drawn I was.

Now I look with wonder at my HNTs and remember the expression on Ruf's face when he looks at me naked.

That's more than enough to encourage me to continue with my exercise programme.