I have never been particularly skinny, but started putting on weight much more easily once I hit 30. Although I managed to lose 8kg with WeightWatchers in 2004, I have since piled those kilos back on – and more. Now with two young children, an almost full-time job and the big four-oh looming, I really felt I had to do something to get my weight under control and lead a healthier lifestyle.
I didn’t really know what to expect as I arrived at the Nutri-Style office in the grounds of Aileen Lane’s black-and-white home in Ridley Park.
We started off with a chat about my previous weight loss efforts, including my numerous (mostly failed) attempts at WeightWatchers. Nutri-Style’s Coach Approach programme is different. “This is more of a new way of eating than a diet – one that you’ll be able to follow for the rest of your life,” says Aileen. “It’s all about ‘real’ food.” That means no refined carbohydrates or sugars, where possible, and no artificial sweeteners. Instead, fruit and vegetables, whole grains and pulses are on the menu.
Aileen follows a mainly vegetarian or vegan diet herself and encourages her clients to decrease the amount of meat they eat and limit dairy products as they contain casein – a protein that the body sometimes has difficulty digesting – and hormones that are given to cows. She said many of her clients feel better soon after eliminating dairy and sometimes wheat from their diet. Those who have had difficulty losing weight in the past or getting rid of cellulite also find it easier once dairy and wheat have been eliminated.
The programme is realistic, though. “We live in the real world,” says Aileen. Alcohol is allowed in moderation, as are occasional sweet treats, meat and dairy. “I called it the Coach Approach because the responsibility to follow the programme is on you,” she adds, “I’m there to guide you.”
This week is something of an introduction to the Coach Approach weight loss programme. I don’t need to make major changes to my diet this week, but I do need to try to eat more healthily. Aileen says I should be able to lose six to 10 kilos over the 10 weeks and that I could probably lose up to 15kg if I stuck to the programme afterwards. To lose weight, I need to be on 1,300 calories a day, which is 1,000 calories less than the 2,300 calories I would need to maintain my current weight.
So that Aileen can see where I might be going wrong in my current way of eating – too many carbohydrates or protein and not enough fibre, fruit and vegetables – I have to track what I eat on a daily basis. It is a bit time-consuming as it’s done on the internet, but Aileen does say I won’t have to do this for the whole 10 weeks.
Miraculously I have managed to lose 1.3kg, despite going over my recommended daily calorie allowance by about 200 each day and having a few meals out. I have reduced my portion sizes and I’m trying not to eat refined sugars and carbohydrates. I’ve also cut most wheat and dairy out of my diet.
After the weigh-in each week, Aileen gives a little talk about an aspect of nutrition. This week’s topic is nutritional basics and portion size. She emphasises the importance of fruit, vegetables and whole grains and also talks about the number of servings of carbohydrates, vegetables, fruit, calcium-rich foods, protein and oil I should be having each day.
My homework this week is to really stick to my daily calorie allowance, try to have one all-vegetarian day and include more raw vegetables in my diet.
A rather disappointing 100g gain this week; I haven’t done all my homework. Feeling bit bloated at the weigh-in – possibly because I had some wheat and dairy at a barbecue over the weekend, which I had excluded for the past two weeks.
This week, Aileen spoke about carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbs like fruit, vegetables and sugar are digested more easily than complex ones like pasta, bread and grains. With complex carbs, particularly those containing plenty of fibre, I am likely to feel fuller for longer and also have fewer spikes in blood sugar. “If you can get your blood sugar right, you’ll be able to keep the weight off forever,” says Aileen.
My focus this week is to get 30g of fibre a day (adding a salad to my lunch and dinner will help), track my calorie intake every day and try to have one all-vegetarian day.
Although I didn’t manage an all-vegetarian day, I did have two meat-free days where I had seafood for lunch and a vegetarian dinner. I’m finding tracking my calories much easier.
Delighted with my 800g loss this week – a total of 2kg. My fibre intake has gone up to the required 30g per day thanks to all the fruit and vegetables.
My waistbands don’t feel quite as tight as before and there’s less of a “muffin top”. A couple of people have said that I look like I’ve lost weight. By the end of the week I managed to get into some clothes I hadn’t been able to wear for a while.
This week’s nutrition topic was on protein and how vegetable and grain sources of protein are better than animal ones. I finally managed to have a vegetarian day: leftover roasted pepper and feta pizza for lunch and lentil and chickpea burgers for dinner. I don’t mind eating less meat but I’m not sure my hubby will be so keen.
It took Aileen 10 years to fully adjust to being a vegan, she says. She grew up on a dairy farm in Ireland and her parents still find it difficult to understand why she doesn’t eat meat or dairy. She likes to give clients information about being vegetarian or vegan, but lets them make their own decisions.
Wow! This week I lost 1.5kg. No wonder my clothes are feeling looser. I’ve been trying on a few clothes in my wardrobe that I had become too big for and they fit now. It’s great being able to shop in my own wardrobe. My “bra fat”, as I call the fat on my back just under my bra, is disappearing and so is my tummy. I received another compliment from a colleague who had been away for two weeks.
What I’m most surprised about is that I’m not feeling hungry all the time like I used to, despite eating a lot less. I’m not craving chocolate, cakes or bread either. Tracking my calorie intake is becoming easier too, as many foods I eat regularly come up automatically on the website tracker.
At the weigh-in, Aileen spoke about going out for meals. “The best defence against overeating is a plan of action. Check if the restaurant has a menu online and choose what you’re going to eat beforehand. If you want a dessert, then have a lighter main or even soup and a salad.” This was timely advice as I had three dinners out this week: one with the gang from work, a pre-theatre dinner plus post-theatre canapés, and a barbecue.
Find out how I got on with the rest of my weight loss journey in next month’s Expat Living.
Call Aileen Lane at Nutri-Style on 6887 5220 or visit www.nutri-style.com for more information about the Coach Approach weight loss programme.