Robin Took Charge of His Diet and Lost 5 Stone

In the first photo taken pre February 2017 I weighed 16st 11lbs (107 kg), in the 2nd photo taken in March 2019 my weight is 11st 8lbs (73 kg).

Robin Took Charge of His Diet and Lost 5 Stone

Robin, Age 72, Height 5ft 10in
Start Weight 16st 11lbs (107 kg),
Current Weight 11st 8lbs (73 kg)
Weight Lost 5st 3lbs (34kg)
Working to Rate of Loss 1-1.5lbs per week
Time Taken 2 years

Robin is known on wlr as "Yourstr"

Hello fellow WLR user, my name is Robin and I’m 72 years old.

In the first photo taken pre February 2017 I weighed 16st 11lbs (107 kg), in the second photo taken in March 2019 my weight is 11st 8lbs (73 kg).  

I want to share my weight loss journey with you and the integral part WLR played in it.

Robin's Weight Loss Chart

You can see from my weight loss chart above that it is a bit of a yo-yo trip, probably not unfamiliar to many of you, that is until the last couple of years, where you can clearly see that the trend is down, that’s when things started to change for me and I want to share my wisdom on this journey and what changed to allow me to stop yo-yo dieting and  achieve not just my optimum weight but also a huge improvement in my health, energy and wellbeing. 

First some background about me. In the 1960s I Joined IBM as a Customer Engineer, fixing Computer systems, hardware and software.  I am now a Life Coach / Business Executive Coach, helping people change.  I have been a Coach for the last 25 year and one of the things Coaches do is ask questions, so there are a few in this article for you to think about.

I will start with my perspective on what this article is about:

  • How did I become the size I was and how did I become the weight I am now?
  • An approach to lose weight.
  • A way to sustain that weight loss.

As you will discover, it is all about habits, establishing them and sustaining them, however there are good habits and bad habits.

How did I become the size I was in February 2017?

Well along the way, I ate too much of the wrong foods ie the sugar, the carbs and fats. Why did I do this? Think about at night when you’re sleeping, how do you know you are dreaming? Well unless you can dream lucidly, you don’t know until you wake up!

So who’s in control when you’re dreaming? Is it

You?

Your brain?

Your body?

Something else?

And also who or what controls the following in your body:

  • Respiratory system,  Breathing?
  • Circulatory system, Blood pressure, Heart rate etc?
  • Immune system?
  • Digestive system?
  • Endocrine System (Hormones etc)?
  • Lymphatic system, with all its nodes?
  • Muscular system?
  • Nervous system?
  • Reproductive system?
  • Skeletal system?
  • Urinary system?
  • Limbic system?

That last one the limbic system, generates emotion. What about your emotions and their interpretation by the brain into feelings, who - what controls all that?

You?

Your brain?

Your body?

Something else?

As you can see there are quite a few systems involved in the business of being me and you and I have probably missed some!  

The point being, these systems and their processes run mostly without any conscious input from us at all. This is very efficient; the brain and these systems work together to enable us to survive and thrive.

Imagine waking up every morning and booting up each of these systems, checking they have what they need to get going and then having to keep them all going! But thankfully we do not need to worry as it’s all taken care of subconsciously, phew! However, we do become aware when any of these systems ‘need’ us to do something, if for example there is a ‘fault’ or ‘desire’.

It is important to remember that the fundamental driving principle within us all, is to survive and thrive

Let’s look at food processing? This is the main job of the Digestive System (DS). I put food in my mouth, chew it and then I swallow it, I learned to do this subconsciously when I was a baby, as I needed to survive!

Fast forward several decades to Feb 2017; what was happening in my DS?  Basically this ‘program’ of survive and thrive is running:

“Ok gut, and associated bacteria, prime thing is, we need to get energy from this food to run all the bodies systems.  Ok lots of incoming food, got all the energy we need but what about all this extra energy we don’t need, from all this sugar, carbs & fats?  no problem we’ll just store the excess energy we don’t need in the fat cells because we need to make sure we have enough energy in case the food supply runs out’

Really? Well yes, it’s as simple as that, the systems operating in the body are driven by the principle, ‘survive and thrive.’ That hasn’t changed since Homo Sapiens first walked on the earth, along with the other members of the tribe. 

What has changed, of course in our western world,  we don’t have to expel tons of energy hunting down a wildebeest to eat.

No, now we have Starbucks, Costa, Greggs, M&S Food-hall, Nandos, Pizza Hut, Deliveroo etc etc. How much energy do we need to order a Deliveroo or stroll into Starbucks and order that blueberry muffin, sadly not as much as the muffin and hot chocolate gives us!

The illusion of control. Who / What is in control of what I eat?

So in February 2017 it was not ‘me’ that was in control. I had relinquished responsibility for the size I was to the food industry, Starbucks et al. I had learned habits around eating.

Another brilliant thing the brain does to conserve energy is, it learns patterns / habits.

To learn a new habit does require us to pay conscious attention. Once it is learned e.g. playing an instrument, riding a bike, looking at my mobile, it takes no effort, I just do it. The cue appears, and I do it.

So, my eating was habitual, I was basically unaware of what was going in, apart from of course the reward of the taste, that was my reward.

The Habit Loop - Cue > Routine > Reward

Definition of a habit: Perceive the cue – do the routine, the behaviour – get the reward.

Definition of a bad habit? The reward is immediate.

Definition of a good habit? The reward is in the future.

Ok, the habits I had around food were in the main bad, going for the immediate reward, oh and justifying to myself that, well you know, I deserve reward.

My goodness, what would life be like if I can’t have the occasional glass of Prosecco, chocolate muffin, bag of crisps, chicken pie, bacon roll, fish and chips, pizza, the list went on and on.

I also want to introduce another term here you may have come across, Metabolism.

Metabolism is the term used to describe the chemical processes which go on inside your body, to keep you alive and your organs functioning. These processes, which include breathing, repairing cells and digesting food, require energy. The minimum amount of energy a person needs for this to happen is known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR). A slow metabolism is better described as a low BMR.

BMR gets measured in calories, it’s the basic number of calories required to keep us alive and organs functioning.

We all have a BMR and you can google to find a calculator for you as in your weight loss journey it is very helpful to know your BMR.

Back in February 2017 I didn’t know what BMR was. I had heard of BMI not BMR.

So here is the thing if we input more calories than we effectively ‘burn,’ we will put on weight,

Fact!  It is most certainly what I was doing up to February 2017 and then what? What happened?

I ‘woke up’, out of this dreamlike habitual state, well I was rudely awakened by a blood test, HbA1c (A long term measure, showing the level of ‘sugar’ in the blood)

The Doctor said, “your HbA1c is at a level where you are pre-diabetic”.

Well my Dad was a type 1 diabetic from the age of 28 back in the early 1950s and I observed first-hand what that was like. I suddenly realised that, as Buzz Lightyear might say, “what got me to 70 was not going to get me 90 and beyond”. What to do? Ignore and carry on as I was, or do something about it?

Thankfully my inner ‘Coach’ kicked in and I asked myself :

Who is responsible for the weight I am?

Who is most directly affected by the weight I am?

Who makes decisions about what I will end up weighing?

Who will benefit from lowering my weight? 

That would be ME!

Then I asked myself Cartesian Questions

  • What will happen If I do lose weight?(I will look and feel much healthier, I will reduce the risks of failure in my ‘body systems’ for example, circulatory system (heart problems / stroke etc), feel happier in myself and I will reach 90 and beyond)
  • What will happen if I don’t lose weight? (I will be sluggish, very unfit, suffer from Type 2 diabetes and risk losing a limb or blindness,  possibly have a heart attack, stroke, not be happy)
  • And the tricky last 2 questions
  • What will not happen if I lose weight? (Type 2 diabetes, possible issues with other body systems)
  • What will not happen if I don’t lose weight? (reaching 90 and beyond, feeling fitter, being happier in myself)

How did I become the weight I am in March 2019?

The approach.

After thinking about the above and the consequences, I resolved to lose weight for good this time. How?

Initially, as an engineer, I ‘worked out’ the culprits for me weighing 70 lbs too much, were carbohydrates and I moved on to a low carb diet, aiming for around 50 grams of carbs per day. That took conscious effort, paying attention to how many carbs everything contained.

I remember in a workshop I was running, removing the bread from the sandwiches and eating the fillings, mostly chicken.  This low carb diet had an amazing effect and the weight did fall off as I was motivated and did stick with it for about 15 months, there were some side effects associated with it though and then a revelation.

My wife who was also losing weight, doing keep fit had an app that tracked her food intake and I got interested in apps. My software engineer kicked in and it was then I discovered Weight Loss Resources (WLR) app, in April 2018.

Robin's Nutrition Profile on wlr

I now began to discover what BMR was and that it was important where my calories came from, that it was important to balance protein intake with fat and carbohydrate.

It was important to build good habits around a balanced diet and the number one important thing? Track  / monitor my daily intake, in terms of fat / protein / carbohydrates, calories. Weigh myself once per week to track my weight.

In other words the app (Weight Loss Resources) has enabled me to take control of my eating habits, modify them and keep me in control😊

Habits are, I have found, quite tricky to get established and sustainable, I’m sure you have found this out as well. When you look at the picture of my weight journey above, you can see that.

Our brains learn by repetition; thus we have to establish the new good habit, repeat it and repeat it and repeat it.

I have tried diets in the past e.g. 5:2 diet, low GL diet and a couple of others. They worked to some degree, again you can see from my yo-yo weight journey picture.

What I was unable to do then, which I have now, was establish new, good, sustainable eating habits. In the past I would fall off the diet, it wasn’t my fault of course, em it just happened and the stronger bad habits took over again, Starbucks et al were back in charge.

But something now had changed in me, switched in my brain.

Now I’m in charge!

There are times I consciously choose not to have a piece of food, Chicken pie, chocolate cake or another glass of wine, because I know when I digest it, store it in the app, it will ‘blow the calories budget” and ultimately contribute to weight gain.  

Conversely sometimes I consciously choose to eat these foods such as Christmas just past, my wife and I decided since it was Christmas we would relax our good eating habits and have a blow out and eat mince pies, Christmas pudding, steak pies, chocolates, but we had to stop. 

For the first time ever we felt our bodies couldn’t handle the bad diet habits of the past, my wife was even craving vegetables! It was all too much! 

Of course the weight did go up by 2 or 3 lbs from our initial Christmas blow out, but the brilliant thing  was, and this was the fundamental change, we knew we had really established good healthy eating habits because we no longer had any real desire to keep eating all the high carb processed foods and all that sugar.

Yippee this was no longer about will power, we just didn’t want the unhealthy food as we felt so much  better on the new and improved diet that was working for us on many different levels, not just weight loss! Turns out we’d being doing our healthy eating habits for so long they had changed us forever!

So this all seems pretty logical, for me now. Not true for all though perhaps, as sometimes there are other things going on in our relationship with food.

The other very powerful system at work within us:-

The limbic system – emotions – feelings.

This system is a major driver of food consumption, we associate strong positive emotions with eating and drinking.

We never remember events, we remember our thinking about events. As we reflect on the memories, thoughts about the event, the emotions / feelings present at the time are ‘tied’ to that memory.

Our brain works by recalling these tied memories when it finds a trigger in any present moment and the emotion appears also. It is known as an anchor.

The recalled emotion, may be positive or negative, e.g. the sound of a dentist’s drill, smell of a hospital, or more positively, a song, sun on your arm, or triggered by the look, smell / taste of a muffin or canapés, or Prosecco,  or beer, or chips, or steak pies, or pizza, or cake, or chocolate, or ice-cream.

In fact just thinking about eating is enough to trigger the ‘good’ feeling. We can also associate eating and socialising with friends, with family, where memories are triggered, and we ‘justify’ what we eat and how much we eat driven by emotion. What happens is, at some level we become ‘addicted’ to those feelings.

Addiction is a disease of denial, so we deny there is a problem with our eating and drinking. We just run the automatic eating habits we have ‘learned’ and ‘justify’ to ourselves that what we eat and how much of it we eat, is just fine thank you! But ask yourself is it, am I simply in denial?

Sustaining the weight loss

What has changed for me is that I now eat consciously, lucidly and have established effective good eating habits, to maintain my weight at a healthy level.

What has been integral in helping me do this is using the WLR app to track what I eat every day. I have established the good habit of doing that. A habit I no longer consciously think about doing, I just do it!

This is my breakfast:

Robin's wlr Food Diary Showing his typical breakfast

Important to point out that I do enjoy relaxing the ‘rules’ now and again, special days, holidays etc. where I will indulge in desserts, Prosecco, starters, even an occasional Caffè Nero croissant (they are the lowest calories)!

The weight of course does rise. 

I now know however, when I re-establish my normal eating habits, the weight will return to its normal balanced level, yay.

BTW naturally slim people do this process automatically their bodies know when they have overindulged and they pull back unconsciously on the foods they choose or stop eating before they are full so they appear to never put on any weight,  for those of us not blessed that way, we can learn these good habits by being mindful about what and how much we are eating to the point where our brain thinks like a naturally slim person.

To end:

What we pay attention to, we get good at.

The brain does not care which patterns it learns, it just learns patterns.

  • Are you aware of which patterns your brain has learned with regard to food?
  • Are they patterns that serve your on-going health and well-being?
  • Will those patterns / habits get you to 90 and beyond?
  • What would have to happen for You to learn and fully establish, sustainable habits that bring your weight and consequently health and sense of well-being, back into a balanced good place?

You can do this, you have nothing to lose but weight and everything to gain.

Try Weight Loss Resources' Tools for Yourself

If, like Robin, you want to stop yo-yo dieting, lose weight and keep it off -  the tools and resources from Weight Loss Resources can help. Try us free for 24 hours and see what a difference we could make - no credit card details required!

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* Note: The success stories published on Weight Loss Resources are written by wlr members, past and present, telling their own stories in their own words. As you will see if you read more than one or two of them, everyone's story is different and they have reached their success from a variety of starting points and lost weight at varying rates. Individual results may vary.

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