Sunday, January 13, 2013

Eat, Fast and Live Longer

Now that I have got to the bottom of the second box of Christmas Quality Street can you guess what my primary New Years resolution is going to be this year?

Like many people around the world I am carrying a little more weight than I would like. I'm not very overweight. My BMI is 24 and falls into the green "healthy" range but only just. Another couple of kilos and I would find myself in the yellow "overweight" range. I would ideally like to lose enough weight to see my BMI drop to 21-22.
(Click chart to see it close up)
I feel that as every year goes by it becomes harder and harder to maintain a healthy weight. Instead of accepting this I really want 2013 to be the year that I make some long term changes. Changes that will see me celebrate turning 40 in August in as fit and healthy a body as I can.

I eat fairly healthy meals but have a weakness for chocolate, muffins and all things home baked. I don't exercise as much as I should. I have the equipment but like many other mums who balance running a home, caring for kids and part time work there just never seems to be the time. I find that when all the essential parts of my day are accounted for there is only ever the smallest time window left for extras. For me extras involve writing this blog, trying to make home-made cards, reading, exercise, keeping in touch with family and friends overseas, spending time snuggled on the sofa with Byron and...sleep zzzzzzz.

It was while snuggling on the sofa the other night that I watched an episode of Horizon. It is a BBC documentary series that has been running for many years. Made in the UK it was being shown on the satellite channel BBC Knowledge. This episode was about the UK obesity epidemic. It talked about exercise and what types are best at actually losing weight and boosting health. Many of the findings were a bit outside the box and not what I expected.

The next evening I had a long overdue phonecall with my friend Cathy in the UK. We drifted onto the topic of health and she asked if I had seen any of the recent Horizon episodes. She talked about an episode called Eat, Fast and Live Longer. It radically challenges the concept of healthy eating and suggests that drastically cutting your calorie intake on two days a week to 500 calories then eating normally for the other five days can not just lead to weight loss but can halve your risks of cardiac disease, stroke, cancer and dementia.

You really would need to watch the one hour documentary to make your own mind up. I have done a lot of on-line research and have bought the book The Fast Diet to learn all the science and read the research before I dare start. I'm really not a person for fad diets. I know I need to eat less and exercise more so that my jeans can be buttoned easily. But protection from cancer? Heart disease? Stroke? Dementia? That's a whole different ball game. As a nurse I see tangible examples of the negative impact of these diseases every shift and it scares me.

I'm not scared of turning 40. I don't mind the fine lines that are etching themselves on my face. But I am scared of growing old, of loosing my health. I think that this lifestyle change is worth trying. I know it will be hard but I am looking forward to growing old in a healthy body....and hopefully the bonus of squeezing back into those skinny jeans again!

Have you heard of this? (It's also called the 5:2 diet) What do you think of the claims? And if you have tried it have you any tips or advice for a novice? I'll hopefully let you know how I am getting on as the weeks go by...

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