maggiealderson

Seven Days of Positive: Day 99

In Diets, health, Weight loss on January 1, 2015 at 9:57 pm

Eat. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer

There’s something I’ve been dying to tell you: I’ve lost loads of weight. Hurrah!

I haven’t mentioned it sooner because I wanted to be sure it was working first. Would have been very embarrassing to say, hey, I’m going on this regime and I’m going to be really skinny… then not.

But now I can reveal that in the last two months I’ve lost 17 pounds, which is nearly 7.5 kilos. Yee haw! I’m thrilled.

How have I done this? With the help of the brilliant nutritional therapist Amelia Freer.

I first heard about Amelia after I saw a very old (as in I’ve known her since the 80s, she’s my age) friend about 18 months ago and she looked ten years younger than the last time I’d seen her.

Not just wonderfully lean – she’s never been what you would call fat, just a bit rounded in a normal way – but incredibly well and vibrant. Her skin really glowed, that thing we’re always reading about in beauty pages, but don’t often see.

I didn’t see her after that for nearly a year and when I did, she looked exactly the same. Not a pound of weight, or a mark of stress appeared to have returned.

In that same year I had put on a terrifying amount of weight as a result of a lot of ill health in my 2013 hell year.

I’d been on multiple courses of steroids and the strongest antibiotics there are, to stamp out repeated infections relating to a health issue from twenty years ago.

The drugs prevented me from having an ear amputated, which was a relief, but seemed to do something terrible to my system and even eating normally, exercising a bit (never enough) I was gaining a pound (nearly half a kilo) a week.

I just couldn’t stop it piling on. And I hardly recognised the puffy face looking back at me from the mirror. Practically none of my clothes fitted me.

So, while I would normally refrain from such an intrusive question, I had to ask my friend how she’d done it and that was when I heard Amelia’s name for the first time.

‘Who is she?’ I asked.

‘Google Boy George,’ my friend replied.

George 3

George before

I did and my jaw just about hit the deck. And what I was really interested to see was that he isn’t just mahousively slimmer, he has the same peachy youthful look that’s so striking in my friend. I think he looks even better than he did in his 20s. OK, George wears a lot of make up, but you can still see that glow.

images

I immediately got in touch with Amelia and she agreed to take me on as a client, which was thrilling, because she has a waiting list now.

So what is her secret? It’s a mixture of things, one of them being that she is as lovely a person as you could ever meet and you want to stick to the regime for her.

She’s also been there, struggling with her weight and stress-related health issues symptoms herself, which was what prompted her to train as a nutritionist in the first place. She made herself better by changing her diet and is now devoted to helping other people do the same.

I knew she was the one for me when it came to the tricky question of my tea addiction. ‘I couldn’t possibly give up tea,’ has been my mantra for years. I’ve been drinking it since I was three and that’s that.

When Amelia told me she used to drink ten mugs a day, strong with plenty of milk, just how I like it, I knew I was talking to a kindred spirit.

Guess what? I gave up tea (I did it very slowly, before I started the regime). Well, I now have one a day, with my breakfast, that’s it. And if I need another boost I’ll have a black coffee with lunch, but I try not to.

Amelia chopping credit Ali Allen

Amelia doesn’t promote a one-size fits all regime, each programme is tailored individually to suit the client, after discussing a very detailed health history and lifestyle questionnaire, but there are certain principles she has learned from her years of study – and applying them to her own life – which she believes can improve everybody’s weight and wellbeing.

These have now been gathered into her first book Eat. Nourish. Glow. (published by Harper Collins in the UK, £16.99) a compendium of all the knowledge, advice and tips, she has gathered from her years of research and practise, broken down into ten easy to absorb key steps, with a section of her great recipes.

Some of them are as simple as the need to drink water rather than endless tea and coffee, juices and carbonated drinks (diet or otherwise), others more radical, but they are all explained in Amelia’s warm and calm voice, none of that Change Your Life Now! frenzy that makes ‘diet’ books so enervating.

Amelia is very against the concept of diets, which are always short term both in the time we can stand to be on them and their benefit. Instead she recommends making small, but permanent changes to the way we eat, factoring in some room for human nature.

Which is why my friend has managed to keep the benefits of Amelia’s coaching in place for eighteen months and counting. She’s no longer on the stricter weight-loss regime, but some of Amelia’s basic tenets have become part of her life.

As Amelia puts it: ‘Create healthy habits, not restrictions’.

If you make these part of the way you live, you don’t have to be in a permanent state of steamed fish and sugar snap peas (no oil) deprivation which some high-profile women exist in. (Ooh, is that Victoria Beckham I see in the palm trees?)

Probably the new healthy habit that has been the biggest change for me, is to stop eating between meals. Amelia believes snacking, even the healthy carrot sticks and nuts kind, is a big no no – especially the post-dinner, pre-bed mini-munchies.

This is a radical shift from the long-held belief that we should eat ‘little and often’ which Amelia says was the accepted wisdom when she first trained as a nutritional therapist.

Her position changed after she went to a lecture about insulin management – and its relation to our old friend blood sugar spikes, familiar to many of us from forays into the Atkins, GI and Dukan diets – in 2008 and first heard the suggestion that the human body did not evolved to eat a constant supply of food, but rather to function perfectly with an entirely random supply.

This is now one of the cornerstones of Amelia’s advice: consume nothing between meals, not even cups of tea, coffee, diet drinks, or sugar free gum. Even the serial dieter’s old companion the celery stick (gag), is banned.

I thought I would find this very hard, as one of the ways I keep my bum stuck to the seat during the hard parts of the writing and editing process, sitting alone in a room all day, is to have a nice little array of snacks to graze on.

Type, type, type – nuts, rice crackers, cup of tea, oatcake, Diet Coke… I also grazed freely while cooking and cleaning up. Child leftovers are a delicacy familiar to all mothers.

But now I eat only my three meals, everything weighed, with five hour breaks between, no food after 9pm and after a short period of adjustment, I don’t miss the snacks any more.

In between meals I drink a lot of hot water, which is much nicer than you’d think, when you get used to it.

To my utter astonishment, it has filled the hole left by tea. (When meeting friends in a café, I now order a sparkling mineral water, with a pot of hot water on the side, as some places can be a bit funny about you occupying a seat with a free drink, which is fair enough really.)

Other cornerstones of Amelia’s philosophy include keeping the tempting rubbish out of your kitchen, eating the best fats (olive and coconut oil, and the odd bit of yummy fat on your steak mmmm) but chucking out sugar, taking supplements if you need them, and exercise.

On the latter, I love this line: ‘If you’ve got time to go on Facebook, you’ve got time to exercise.’ I think I need to pin that on the wall over my computer.

For some clients Amelia uses an additional tool called Metabolic Balance, a trademarked system invented by a German doctor, which analyses your blood and gives you a very specific list of what foods you can have, how much of and when.

I find it a bit bonkers that I can have cabbage, but not Brussels sprouts, but with the weight falling off the way it is, I’m not going to argue with it.

Boy George gave an excellent precis of his Amelia-directed regime on Twitter:

“Portion control. 5 hour gaps between meals. No coffee or tea, except at meals. Water & fizzy water between meals!”

George after

He had Amelia’s full service, where yummy meals adhering strictly to his plan were delivered to him, whereas I’ve gone the do-it-myself route, which I prefer, because I love a cooking challenge.

Amelia gave me some recipes when I started my regime, but now I have lots of fab new ones to try from the book.

 

Chicken Nuggets_030

I made the Chicken Nuggets (above) for dinner tonight and they were delicious, (although I couldn’t have the accompanying salsa, because my daughter had eaten the last avocado, dammit…).

So for anyone thinking about a New Year weight loss and detox, I can’t recommend Amelia’s advice highly enough.

And I’ll keep you posted on my progress over the weeks to come. Perhaps I’ll even put up some before and after pictures of my own… (The pics of Amelia and the food above are by Ali Allen.)

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  1. Excellent Maggie…thanks so much for this advice. Looks like the key to my future wellbeing and slimmer self.

    Ciao

    Robyn

  2. Good on you Maggie, you’re an inspiration. I was wondering how your 5:2 diet was going, I’m yet to try that. Not eating between meals sounds so simple, if only I could do it!! Would love to see before and after pics. Well done – what a great way to start the year!

    • The 5:2 did work for me, but it was incompatible with having to take loads and loads of medication as I had to. I tried taking my antibiotic on an empty stomach and immediately threw it up… I also found it hard to stick to at the crucial part of writing the first draft of my book. Five hour mini fasts are much more manageable.

  3. Thanks Maggie, I have been looking for some inspiration the last few days. I followed the 5:2 with great results and by the end of 2013, had dropped to my almost ideal weight, which I hadn’t been for about 7 years. But an injury spanning a few months last year saw me add 7kgs to my little frame in 12 months…aaarrrggghh!!

    • I think the 5:2 is great and I felt really good on it, but it didn’t work when I needed to take medication. Then once I’d taken all that, I needed to kick start my system and this regime seems to have done that. You get some of the fasting benefit with the two 5 hour fasts between meals and then a 10 – 11 hour fast overnight.

  4. Yes, how does it compare with 5:2? I have friends who still swear by it, though in their case other health issues rather than weight loss were the impetus. Have been afraid to try it!

    • It’s much easier to do than 5:2 although I did lose weight brilliantly on that. This is less extreme. Plus I have given up the diet Coke and sugar free gum, which is good because I think those sweeteners are poison.

  5. Well done! Would love to see before and after shots. Bet you look great! Sounds like you’ve found a sensible, balanced, healthy regime. I lost 3 kilos when I stopped eating processed food (still have 4 kilos to go) and I’m planning on taking the next step now and getting really healthy. I have three good healthy meals and then graze on fruit and veggies throughout the day; I’m not sure how I’d go cutting those out, but would love to eat and then not think about it again for 5 hours. It will be a challenge, though. I love the title of the book – is it available in Australia? (Going on google immediately!) Are you doing anything else? Yoga? Walking? Mindfulness? It all seems to be connected; Eat/Sleep/Move………. Keep us up-to-date on your progress, Maggie xx

  6. what happened to the 5:2 that you were following? Personally I found my body adjusted after a while and stopped having any weight loss effect, so now I just tend to do it periodically if I want to lose a kilo or two.

  7. Hi Maggie, its so great to get a daily update from you. Just a few weeks ago I was thinking how I hadn’t seen a post from you in ages and then Bam! here you are every day.
    I’ve just started a similar programme called Whole30…eat 3 meals a day, protein, veg, fat and fruit at every meal. No sugar, no grains, no dairy etc etc. I did it last year and loved the energy levels more than anything. Oh, and the clear skin and eyes.
    Well done, look forward to seeing your photos.

  8. Yes, there should be no snacking between meals. I’d be interested to learn more about the foods that Amelia eliminates. The book that the Whole30 is based on is called “It Starts With Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.

  9. I did a search and there are Metabolic Balance coaches in Australia, but would you believe Not One in Sydney!!!! An opening there for a good nutritionist to get in on this ideal way of eating. I followed links and Amelia Freer has written articles on the e-mag called Get The Gloss. Very interesting. I will buy her book.

  10. Done! I’m in! Just bought the book!

  11. That’s really interesting and inspiring Maggie. I’ve been following the ‘nothing but hot water after 8 pm regime’ for years because of problems with night time indigestion (and the resulting migraines), and it certainly seems to help with keeping the weight off for me. And I agree, hot water is actually quite nice once you get used to it, and so simple. Great tip of yours re. ordering mineral water with a pot of hot water on the side in cafes. Will buy the book.

  12. Maggie….reading your post today has been a sign!

    I am currently 10 kilos overweight following a bout of secondary cancer at age 47. Steroids and now early”ish menopause have made my little 150cm frame a little podgy. Now I have strength back I am about to start a real push towards a healthier and lighter me.

    Amelia’s ideas sound very similar to something I did about 10 years ago in Sydney – Sureslim – worked a treat but after a few years old habits crept back in.

    Thank you for sharing and will be buying that book tomorrow!

    Lisa

    • Hi Lisa, sorry to hear about your cancer re-visit. My state was also caused by steroids and monster doses of antibiotics, needed for a condition caused by tumours removed twenty years ago, so we are on similar tracks… The ‘cleanness’ of Amelia’s system feels like it has cleared out my whole system. I didn’t recognise the face in the mirror, which was the weirdest feeling. Now I’ve got my old face back, give or take a few wrinkles! I hope it works for you. Keep me posted xxx

  13. I think the trick with sticking to any lifestyle change is in having like-minded people around. Finding your tribe, as someone I was just reading suggested. If you shop in local organic shops, eat at paleo or vegetarian cafes, find people on Instagram, follow a few clean eating blogs, keep reading books about it, and demanding respect for your decision to make the change, then hopefully you’ll be encouraged to stick with it. Also, feeling 100% better, fitter, motivated, enthused, positive, and healthy is a deterrent to slipping back into old habits. good luck with it, Lisa.

    • My best friend is a great support because she made a similar lifestyle change three years ago. Her regime is slightly different but she 100% supports me in mine. It makes all the difference. Most of the time it doesn’t matter because I just don’t talk about it, just quietly do my own thing. I have one ‘treat’ meal a week and save that for when I’m going out with friends as I am today, then there’s no explaining and – the really maddening one – JUSTIFYING to do!

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