HOW TO MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS, BY ANNIE DEADMAN
SET SOME GOALS
Declaring, “I want to lose some fat” is good. Saying, “I want to be a size e 12 again” or, “I want to get into those trousers rs that have been too tight ht for three years” is better, tter, because these statements are more measurable and less vague.
WRITE THINGS DOWN
I’m a great believer er in getting it out of your head and on to a page. Whether you’re a pen and paper, parchment and quill, or finger and phone person, keep a note of how you feel, what food you eat, when you do your exercise. Don’t be tempted to think, ‘Oh those 10 almonds don’t count’. Yes they do. do They count as you your snack. snack Mindless Min nibbling nib is n not going goin to get you y into shape. s Keep a mood diary too, as well w as the food diary. d It’s about paying closer attention to how you feel.
STRIP OFF AND TAKE SOME PHOTOS
Look, I know it sounds like purgatory, but, really, a close encounter with one’s own flesh (wobble) is the best policy. You are investing effort and time into this and this is where it will show. So get your kit off and either photograph yourself in the mirror or ask a (very good) friend to do it. note of those measurements; you will take them again at the end of 21 days and there’s nothing like being able to say proudly and with attitude: “I’ve lost nine-and-a-half inches all over”.
DON’T WE WEIGH YOURSELF
Measu Measure your progress and success by how yo you look and how t things fit but not by how heavy you are. It’s a mindset thing. If yo you absolutely hav have to weigh, then do it once at the beginni beginning and once at the end.
“Afterwards you don’t have to continue doing the workouts or being so strict, but if the plan inspires you to cut down on wine during the week, and maybe start taking out your dog more often, then great!”
So, drumroll, did I lose any weight? I peep at the scales at the beginning of the second week – 7lb!
And then, nothing. By the end of that week… just one more measly pound.
I mention my frustration to Deadman, who doesn’t look surprised. “When anyone does any kind of plan you’ll probably be reducing your calorie intake in the first week. Your body will look for the stored carbohydrate [ glycogen] in your muscles and liver.” she explains. “Trying not to be too technical, glycogen is stored together with water, so you’ll find yourself weeing a lot. Basically, that first week you’re losing water weight.”
“People get so hung up about weight and really it’s leading you down a nowin path – I prefer to talk about losing fat, not weight. You’re toning up muscles, making them heavy. Always measure – not weigh – yourself.”
For the record, I find resisting the temptation to hop on the scales one of the hardest things about the plan and I fail, plus there’s no tape measure in the house, so I forget to measure myself. But I am happy with my 9lb weight – sorry, fat – loss, and even happier when I find I can fit into a few things I haven’t been able to for a year or more.
Thanks to the workouts I feel stronger – and quicker and lighter on my feet. But when it comes to the eating plan, willpower is needed, especially when your desk is like mine and right next to a table where co-workers dump cakes and treats. The first few days you get incredibly tired in the evenings as you adjust to the low carbs, plus you may have a headache as you get sugar and caffeine withdrawal, but providing you eat enough protein, you won’t get hungry between meals.
I find cutting out dairy difficult – coconut milk in decaf tea isn’t fun (my extensive research found unsweetened Koko milk from Morrisons is the most palatable brand). But the worst bit is the alcohol ban. I end up resorting to an alcohol-free gin and tonic at the end of one fraught Friday, confessing to Deadman the next day. “Ooh, what a good idea,” she says, to my surprise.
And then, before I know it, the 21 days comes skidding to an end. I’m dragged kicking and screaming back into normal life, or rather: a boozy girls lunch where it would be rude not to partake in a canapé or five, and real gin – oh, gin, how I’ve missed you!
The following day I wake up, make a cup of decaf tea, and start making an egg-white omelette before I remember the plan is over and I don’t have to.
And this is when it occurs to me: it is no longer about having to, it’s now all about wanting to. In my mind, that’s mission accomplished.