The 5:2 thing.
I think it is better to not call it a diet or a fasting programme. That makes it all too easy to be dismissed by those that haven't done it or have failed on previous diet plans., whilst fasting equates to starving oneself.
All I can say is that it just works. I'm not saying it is easy as it is changing the habits of a lifetime, but it is a different approach and once you get your head around it and feel the benefits then that mental connection means it is easier to maintain. For me anyway.
It's not for everyone though, this is purely my own view and experience.
What's different? Well, unlike other diets where you need to keep on top of your daily intake 7 days a week, this approach just means two days a week is all you need to work on. The rest of the week, you can eat anything and as much as you like.
The ultimate source for information on the 5:2 programme is this website by Michael Mosley: 5:2 Fast Diet
It can be tough to get started. Getting used to 600 calories a day is tough. There's no skirting around it. It takes willpower and discipline. However, keeping busy and good recipes help. Heck, you can eat what you like the next day if you wish.
I normally do my reduced calories days on Monday and Wednesday. You can do them consecutive if you wish, or change them in line with a busy changing week. The eye opener for me was how less bloated I help on Tuesday and that in itself was such a positive feeling. Even after a year, I look forward to reducing my intake on the Monday so there is no guilt from any excesses from the weekend.
I use an iPhone App (MyFitnessPal) to track the two days. I don't usually bother to track the other days but it was another eye opener to actually see what calories I can consume over a weekend. Take what used to be a normal Friday of crisps at 11am, then a big carton of last night's leftovers of rice and meat, or pasta and sauce, then throw in some Haribos and the 4pm bar of pick-me-up chocolate and all that is before the getting back home. Once home the bottle of wine would be opened before getting down to the evening's feast: starter of smoked salmon or parma ham, meat and carbs main course, then a sweet dessert or cheese. More wine, Baileys or spirit and no doubt I have rocked over 3500 calories on an enjoyable day but often repeated, maybe even on the Saturday.
Pure and simple, we eat far too much, fullstop/period. No real point in eating more to excess only to have to exercise more.
So, there was no wonder that my weight jumped to about 94kg a couple of Christmases ago. I recall arriving back home on New Year's Day after being away at the in-laws, feeling completely bloated and feeling sick from all the indulgence over the festive period that even though we pulled onto the drive around 9pm I got changed into my running gear (not that I ever run, more of a leisurely jog) and went down Southbourne beach to expel those ghosts once and for all. I vowed never to get to that point again in terms of weight or feeling.
That was two years ago. For the first year, I did a bit more jogging and exercise and it helped to reduce my weight. For the second year I started on the 5:2 approach. The weight literally fell off. I didn't do any more jogging or exercise as the weather was atrocious but the downward trend simply continued over 3 months and then it plateaued and even went up a bit. But, it was easy to recognise that was due to the summer and the fact that Hotel Fong gets umpteen visitors who need wining and dining. So, after the summer, the average came down further, probably to what is most comfortable now, hovering around 80kg.
It has come at a cost though as I've had the pleasure of buying new clothes so less of the big baggy check shirts all year round!
By tapping into the positive feeling of being more trim means you can connect that with your actions that caused it, which it turn helps you make the right choices. It makes ditching that 4pm bar of chocolate easier but it also means you can have it if you want it.
The notion of having to eat up everything on the plate is a nonsense if you have stacked it up high in the first place. Better to go for better quality and bigger flavours than bulky carbs. It's all a learning experience still...
What do I eat on my two days? I might have a black coffee or two in the morning but try not to have lunch until as late as I can, although I might pick on some seeds or salted peanuts to reduce the hunger pangs with some salt and protein. For lunch I would usually have a cup of instant soup and two rice cakes. Even going out for a walk or to the shops helps as it keeps the mind and body busy instead of thinking of the hunger. After the soup and rice cakes it's a matter of holding out until I get home. I then have a meal of a small piece of chicken or fish and lots of vegetables. One little secret that really helps are the zero-calorie noodles, konnyaku. Making a spicy stir fry with it means I can have the meat and the noodles help fill you up.
What do I do the other days? Having the control to do the 2 days means that the other days are easy. Easy to think do I really need that, does it bring any nutritional value and then to make the right choices. Is it always like that, hell no! That would be a boring life. Anyone who sees my Facebook timeline can see that I still enjoy enough nice food and drink, but as a whole, it all seems to be working together.
Aside from weight loss there are the general health benefits such as lower cholesterol levels, reduced BMI and so on. One big thing I found for myself is that fact that I used to overheat very easily. I would sweat after a short walk and was even worse in summer, so much so that I would have to stand in an airconditioned room before I could get back to my desk. Now, with less fat surrounding my vital organs and around my core, it must mean that I don't retain that excess heat and so my body doesn't need to deal with it. It was a much more pleasant summer for me.
As you can see from the graph, when I started on it, the weight just continued to fall away. It plateaued when it got to a more natural level for me. It went up during the summer, back down lower during autumn, up again over Xmas and back down again afterwards.