Friday, January 6, 2012

The Not The New Year's Resolution

This year the only new year's resolutions I made were:

  • to be happy
  • to be less stressed about everything

Not for me the give up smoking/drinking/eating/chocolate/anything enjoyable that most people put on their lists, because trust me, it doesn't work and you just end up miserable because you've given something up and then more miserable because you've failed and launched back into the smoking/drinking/eating/chocolate/anything enjoyable a few weeks later.

Every year I have muttered at one minute to midnight on New Year's Eve, "This year I'm going to lose weight!"  And I do, in a Bridget Jones sort of way. A bit off here, a bit back on there, with my weight typically being the same on December 31 the next year. This year I thought, "Stuff it!" instead.

And now here I am, reading The Clean and Lean Diet book. More on that later but honest, I wasn't looking for a diet.

Mmm... yummy Niigella!
It's amusing as how I found the diet was googling Nigella Lawson. I was blessed to get a copy of Nigella Kitchen from my Mum for Christmas; unlike some of Nigella's books this one isn't heavy on the fats and cream, and everything I've cooked out of it so far has been delicious. Put it this way, we've been living off the book's recipes since Boxing Day and haven't put weight on over the holiday season. However, we haven't been our usual sedentary desk-bound selves either, which helps. We have had plenty of walking and exercise and physical labour.

I like Nigella. Well, actually, that's not quite right. I fancy her rotten. She is sexy, warm and simply beautiful. And shit, she looks great for 51! I get the occasional crush on women (don't get me started on Sue Perkins or this blog post will run for days) and Nigella has been a crush for many years.

So I thought I'd do a search and see what the scrumptious Ms Lawson has been up to lately. Losing weight was the big one. She's gone from a size 18 to a size 12.  Obviously she hasn't been eating anything from Nigella Express, her fat- and preservative-laden fast recipe book! A little more prodding produced the Clean and Lean diet as the secret to her new slenderness (she looks even hotter now!).

I've been hovering around the 5kg-too-heavy mark for about a year, after losing 7kg the year before that. Given my usual life of stuck at the desk from 9 to 6 most weekdays and often weekends too, it's a minor miracle I'm not the size of a house but I try to ensure both of us eat pretty carefully. You know, fat trimmed from meat, no package meals, as many fresh ingredients as possible, organic when I can a) afford it and b) find it in Western Sydney. We rarely have biscuits in the house, don't do fast food, and only eat crisps if we're at a friend's place and they are put in front of us as nibbles because I have the willpower of a marshmallow when I'm hungry.

We both fall down when it comes to wine, chocolate and the occasional sugary thing though. My husband is much worse than I. He will have toast laden with butter and marmalade at breakfast regardless of whatever else I serve up, even bacon and eggs. I might have toast and marmalade once a year; I prefer my toast with a hint of butter, and perhaps some Vegemite, if I have toast at all. He has two sugars in coffee and tea, I have none. No matter how large and delicious our evening meal, he'll pull out the chocolate and put it on the coffee table for afterwards; sometimes just looking at it makes me want to heave. And we both enjoy wine every night. It was only last week I'd had my first alcohol-free night in months. I like white wine, and typically drink it over a lot of ice, quite slowly, so during the evening I might have 1 to 2 standard drinks. He likes to guzzle beer before dinner in summer.

To my horror - but not unexpectedly - the Clean and Lean diet bans all alcohol and sugar for at least two weeks. The sugar I don't care about but there goes my delicious evening treat, my reward to myself for a hard day's work, my lovely glass of pinot grigio/sav blanc/chardy/whatever.

My husband has dipped into the book and grumbled copiously. Being a Scot he was born with a sweet tooth and now in middle age it's showing. He's a good 15 kg overweight. I don't know how far down this Clean and Lean journey he'll go with me. Mind you the diet features quite a bit of smoked salmon so that's cheered him up as it's one of his favourite foods.

I started the diet yesterday afternoon. I'd like to say I started it in the morning but I didn't, because I'd baked a Nigella chocolate cake earlier in the week and we had to finish it. You know what it's like. :-) So it got eaten yesterday and last night I sipped on soda water with a lime squeezed into it. No chocolate for either of us after dinner (grilled chicken with steamed veg). I couldn't get to sleep because I was hungry; I find on alcohol-free days I do get hungry late at night even if I've had a good meal.

The diet is a low-carb one (surprise!!) and we both lost weight on something similar a couple of years ago - I lost my 7kg on the paleo diet and my husband dropped a few kgs too although he cheated more than I did so didn't get quite as good a result. This one is very varied on what we CAN eat and if my husband starts seeing a result he'll stick with it I think.

After two weeks you can introduce some carbs and dairy back into your diet, eat fruit again (as fruit of course is sugar on the whole), and have a blowout meal once a week and the occasional drink, apparently only one per week but I suspect I will end up drinking every second or third night once I've got some weight off. Gin and tonic is apparently better for you than wine as far as calories go. Luckily it's also a favourite of mine. :-)

Reading through the recommendations of what to eat however the 'best' is typically organic produce, to reduce the toxins we put into our bodies. This makes sense but it also makes it a very expensive way to eat assuming you can find the stuff.

It's no surprise that wealthy celebrities can brag about how much they lost on this diet or that diet. Eating well typically means spending more money on your food. Replace sausages with steaks, and not supermarket steaks packaged in plastic and sprayed with preservatives; steaks from the butcher and preferably organic ones. Suddenly you've gone from paying $4.50/kilo for your sausages or $9.99/kilo for premium beef mince to $33/kilo for your steak. Not a problem if you're wealthy; if you're a typical working family with two or more kids and a mortgage those sausages or mince are going to sound a lot more tempting.

So we'll try this diet and pretend not to notice the cost of organic this and that. It's not a new year's resolution so it may well work :-). I'm betting now that I reach my goal weight but my husband will cheat too much and not make the scales.

If the Domestic Goddess, with her self-confessed greediness for delicious food, can stick it for a bit, so can I.

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