Monday, January 30, 2012

Guilty Pleasures

Day 1

Then: 216 lbs (15 st 6 lbs)

I crawled out of bed this morning feeling like lead. Izzy has been suffering from a virus all week that causes coughing and tears at odd moments throughout the night. We’ve taken it in turns to go to her and pour out sympathy and linctus. Poor little love, she’s bearing up with her smiles even when she can hardly draw breath from all the wheezing.  Jo has taken the brunt of it, as I was in Stockholm most of the week, eating cured salmon and smoked reindeer, so last night I felt obliged to take my fair share of sleeplessness. 

As I had a 9am meeting in town, we set the alarm early and I vowed to make myself a nice tasteless bowl of Dr Dukan’s cardboard (see my 2010 posts for the recipe) to kick off this diet. After a sleepless night, what I really wanted was a nice big chunk of toast oozing with salty butter and smothered with marmalade. But having slammed the alarm’s snooze button five times, I realised I had time only for Weetabix.

Dukan wouldn’t have approved of the carbs and milk, but the good doctor Sisskind is marvelously tolerant. He’d like you to follow his guidelines, and really hates processed cereals, but he isn’t proscriptive or dogmatic. Bearing in mind the agony of the 2010 diet experiment, where I had to turn a shade of grey-green before Jo made me see sense and start eating properly, this time I’m doing my own thing. I’m starting without bread or other white starchy products, potatoes or heavy carbs. I’m certainly not giving up wine – although I aim to abstain just twice a week, starting with tonight. Well, this was the plan. Unfortunately the day had other ideas.

The theory behind these little pills is fascinating. According to the blurb, they have four key ingredients.

The first two work to increase the body’s supply of adiponectin, the hormone that makes your fat cells burn fat for energy and which also decreases the body’s ghrelin levels. I was so sleepy, I didn’t really feel I needed any energy this morning, so there probably wasn't that much for the first two ingredients to do.  These were piper betle leaf and dolichos biflorus seed extracts.  Ghrelin is the hormone responsible for making people hungry. I guess I am ghrelin-dependent.

The next key ingredient is a sugar blocker. It’s a green coffee bean extract which is supposed to prevent carbohydrates from turning into fat. Let’s hope it works on Weetabix. Apparently it works by inhibiting glucose absorption, which helps reduce insulin resistance, the reason why people turn whatever they eat into fat.

Together all these ingredients are supposed to more than double your fat loss during a diet. To this cocktail of slimming elixir, they have added one more ingredient: Siberian rhodiola rosea, which attacks cortisol. In other words, it’s a stress buster. It’s certainly the case that the happier I am the less I eat, and that any form of anxiety usually takes its remedy in Green & Black’s chocolate ice cream. The label having been read, in went the first little brown capsule, and half an hour later the Weetabix. My diet was on its way.

Why the name RealDose? Because Dr Sisskind believes that it’s important that ingredients are sourced from the same places and used in precisely the same doses as in human studies which lie behind the science. It’s a strong marketing idea. How will it fare when faced by a man with absolutely no willpower whatsoever? Watch this space over the next few weeks.

Lunchtime came and in went another pill. Unfortunately the location was a little “greasy spoon” café we found in a gap between two very stressful meetings. The menu was limited to say the least. My colleagues had chilli, rice and chips. I had lasagna and chips. I think the other choice was chicken curry and chips - we are in the north east of England, after all.  The chips were soggy, dripping with fat, and totally delicious.  I am admitting all this with no small amount of contrition: my diet was derailed almost before it had begun.

After two hours of pitching to prospective clients and a 60 mile drive home, I arrived exhausted and starving.  That's my excuse for grabbing a fresh, soft, juicy blueberry muffin which was seductively waving at me from the kitchen table.  The guilt only hit me as I picked up the last crumb.  I generously threw it at Truffle and Mabel, who were sitting at my feet with doggy tongues hanging out.  This diet is going to be a long, tough journey.

Later Jo came to the rescue with an extraordinarily inventive vegetarian meal. She, too, is losing weight, but without the help of the piper betle leaf. Instead, she has vowed to eat just healthy, wholesome food.

Tonight she prepared butternut squash roasted with thyme and olive oil, which had been combined with chickpeas and juliennes of courgettes, lemon zest sautéed in garlic and chilli. On the side lay, eccentrically, a mound of cooked amaranth seed.  Amaranth is full of protein, apparently, and is really quite tasty when cooked with spring onions (which Jo still calls scallions) and a little parmesan.  Sitting atop this feast was a slab of fresh tofu, marinated with fresh ginger, lemon juice, and Jo's magic ingredient, Braggs Amino Acid (a more healthy alternative to soy sauce).  The tofu had been fried in garlic oil and finished with thin slices of fresh red chilli.

By now, the lasagna and chips were long forgotten: though I suspect I’ll remember them only too well when I weigh myself tomorrow morning. I wonder how much today's excesses will have added to my waistline.  Oh dear.  Let's hope Izzy sleeps through the night.

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