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30 March 2013

Having trouble losing weight? It's as easy as DDD

IT'S now 11 weeks since I started a sponsored slim, prompted by the double incentive of trimming my figure by at least 16 kilos (35 pounds) and raising £500 for research into Crohn's disease,  which has afflicted the lives of two of my grandchildren. To put myself under even more pressure, I decided to expose my progress - or lack of it -  in The Courier, the expat newspaper I edit on the Costa Blanca. 
Six weeks into my diet, my 13-year-old granddaughter Daisy had lifesaving (the surgeon's word)  surgery to remove part of her intestine after her weight dropped to five stone (70 pounds). I'm delighted to say she is making an amazing recovery whilst, of less significance, I have managed to shed exactly 20 of those 35 pounds. 
At the same time,  CICRA (Crohn's In Children Research Association) has so far benefited by over £600 - and if enough kind people stick with me, I'm confident we'll round it up to £1,000 well before June 30. That's my deadline to hit my goal weight of 77.2 kilos or 170 pounds. 
Meanwhile, I've been chronicling the action (or is that contraction?) in my Grumpy Old Gran column in The Courier. Anyone with nothing better to do can find my confused ramblings at www.thecourier.es  Even better, feel free to sponsor me at www.justgiving.com/Donna-Gee (I said 'feel free' not 'it's free'!) Anyone who donates £1 or more will be rewarded...albeit in Heaven.
If you haven't all surfed off somewhere else by now, the following is my latest update - published in The Courier on March 29, 2013.
Oh, and if you are wondering what DDD is, you'll have to read on.
Hey, it's suddenly gone very quiet. Is there anybody there? 

IN the fullness of emptiness (otherwise known as dieting), a stone and a half is not a massive amount of weight to lose.
I am not in the same league as those ‘Slimmer of the Year’ winners the formal diet groups use to promote their weighers (that’s a play on ‘wares’, you know I can’t resist a pun).
Anyway, I mean  those sylph-like ladies  whose ‘before’ picture portrays a bouncy castle with a moonface perched on it – and whose ‘after’ photo makes Kate Moss look like Humpty Dumpty.
At the start of this week, my official weight was 84.8 kilos (187lbs) – a far cry from the 205.5lbs I blubbered in at  11 weeks ago.
It’s now reached the stage where people are actually NOTICING  that I’m visibly less portly than when I began Dumpy Old Gran’s Sponsored Diet 11 weeks ago.
I’ve also been staggered at the number of strangers who offer me encouragement and advice – and ask me whether I am following the Weightwatchers, Slimming World or whatever diet.
My granddaughter Daisy...surgery saved her life
It happens  just about everywhere from supermarket car parks to Indian restaurants and even Wok Buffets.
Yes, believe it or not, Donna’s Delicious Diet allows me to dine out three or four nights a week – and still lose weight.
It’s all down to instinct. I have friends who keep telling me I am doing it the wrong way but I am losing weight and they aren’t, so there!
Anyway, I tailored my own diet to keep it simple. The basic DDD rules are…

  • Minimal intake of bread, potatoes, pasta and rice
  • Fry as little as possible - if you have do, fry it in its own juices
  • Eat lots of fresh veg and fruit
  • Avoid biscuits, cakes, sweets and gooey desserts (two squares of chocolate allowed each day).
  • And finally, as little alcohol as possible.

Fish and most meats are OK as long as grilled, oven-cooked or microwaved. I opt for chicken much of the time for health reasons, while steaks are reserved for restaurant forays. For me, a medium-rare sirloin accompanied by a nice salad takes some beating, even when I am not dieting.
At this rate, I’ll soon be the best judge of steaks in the Costas (all offers gratefully accepted!)
And those Indian and Chinese outings? Well, I can still get away with a Tandoori mixed grill, which was always my favourite Indian dish anyway – plus ONE poppadom. The difference is that I used to drown it all in curry sauce and top it up with a Peshwari nan. Fat lot of good it did me.
Until Sunday, I had a blanket ban on Chinese food because so much of it is fried. But since my three companions voted unanimously to stop off at a Wok Buffet  and I was in someone else’s car, my plan was to just sip a drink while the others poured oodles of grease into their digestive systems.
Had this been a traditional Chinese restaurant, I would not have eaten. But I had no problem jumping out of the frying pan, tempting as it was, and enjoying  a large prawn and tuna salad. That was  followed by a cocktail of fresh  strawberries, lychees and kiwi fruit, none of  which broke my self-imposed rules.
My friends tell me  I should drink eight glasses of water a day, that I can’t do it without lots of exercise and that I mustn’t eat after 7pm.
So what am I doing right?
Still, the way things are going, I’ll soon be a catwalk figure. Yes, I’ll be able to walk my cats that challenging 200 metres to the recycling bins and back without gasping for breath!
As well as my ongoing weight reduction, I’ve also lost a total of 55 centimetres in body measurements, including eight centimetres off my midriff. And that’s with very little exercise because of the danger of straining my less-than-perfect heart.
Going back to the diet itself, I never did eat a lot of carbohydrates, so it’s been no problem cutting out chips, pizza, pasta and potatoes, and minimising my bread intake.I’ve also developed a taste for fresh cabbage, cauliflower, carrots etc, which go down nicely with roast chicken, cold meats, salmon and tuna.
I’ve got into a routine that is rapidly becoming a lifestyle, rather than a food-deprivation experience. And I can’t imagine ever going back to my old greedy ways, which would have killed me.

23 March 2013

Halfway to paradise - thanks to Crohn's Disease!

THE worst part of dieting is sticking to it. Particularly when you have mega-blubber to shed.
I mean, how does a whale see the horizon when it’s submerged by its own vast weight?
In human terms, I’m referring to the poor souls who allow their girth to expand to the point that they face literally years of deprivation to regain anything like a normal shape.
That ever-more-distant horizon was an important motivating factor when I began my sponsored slim on January 10.
My target weight was so far away that I would soon have been hopelessly chasing it for the rest of my life.
 My sick granddaughter Daisy motivated me
Losing 16 kilos, or two-and-a-half stone, was reachable within a few months. Expand that to five stone and you are looking at a minimum of a year’s severe dieting.
In my case, I was eating myself to death - literally. I’d put on a good ten kilos in the previous 18 months, courtesy of Chinese and Indian indulgences, second helpings as a norm - and an insatiably sweet tooth.
It was clear I HAD to diet so I devised a strategy. By publicising my progress  in my newspaper column each week, I would put myself into a Catch 22 situation.
Imagine the humiliation if I had to tell all my readers: ‘Sorry folks, but I’ve started pigging again. Can’t do this diet stuff’.
Of course, I also had the powerful motivation of raising money for research into Crohn’s Disease, which has devastated my grandaughter Daisy’s life. I’m pleased to say she is vastly better since her recent surgery (see picture) and will hopefully soon be back in school for the first time in six months.
The incentive was enormous - and at 14st 9lb (93.2 kilos), my 5ft 5in frame was beginning to resemble an archer’s bow.
Even more worrying was that, as someone who suffers with angina, my heart was being seriously overworked.
Ten weeks on, I’ve not only passed halfway in my battle to lose 16kilos  (2st 7lb) - I feel like a different person. To be precise I've dropped 8.4 kilos (1st 4.5lbs) and I feel fantastic.
Gone is the breathlesssness I felt whenever I walked 50 metres at anything faster than snail’s pace. Gone are the worrrying angina pains. And gone is the lethargy that made the tiniest household chore a major challenge.
I now march rather than shuffle and I can actually manipulate a pair of tights on to my feet. Younger readers can laugh..but it’s a battle royal for us creaking OAPs.

Talkin of creaking, my bathroom scales must be fed up with me leaping onto them at every opportunity - something the dietary experts would freak out at. But I have my own unique strategy and it is working.
The dieticians reckon that there is so much fluctuation that I'd become disillusioned and give up.
On the contrary, nothing would disillusion me more than to go for my official weekly weigh-in, having studiously avoided checking my weight for the previous six days - and discovering I had lost zilch - or indeed put weight ON. I want to know how much I weigh every time I go into the bathroom.
  I am well aware that I weigh more at night than in the morning - and that readings can fluctuate wildly.
But after nearly six days in which I had GAINED a pound, it was a pleasant shock to see the digital display plunge by a whole kilo in the 24 hours before my official weekly weigh-in three days ago..
If that’s not an incentive to keep hammering the hell out of those scales, I don’t know what is.

If you'd like to donate to my fundraising for CICRA (Crohn's in Children Research Association), please go to www. justgiving.com/donna-gee  

Fortunately I was only in the When I decided to take the plunge back in January

1 March 2013

Gospel for the Jobless according to the profit Sugar

Alan Sugar: Lord of the Apprentice
I CAN’T say I like Alan Sugar – indeed, I can’t imagine a more ­unlikely marriage of sweet name and bitter sourpuss.
But you have to respect the Lord of the Apprentice, if only for his entrepreneurial nous.
I read old Grate and Lyle’s autobiography recently with mixed feelings. Admiration for the way a pimply working-class lad built himself a multi-million pound empire, to disgust at his innuendo in one chapter that gazumping is a noble trait. Gloat if you must, Lord S, but in my world, renaging on an agreed deal just to make more profit is both immoral and dishonest.
Maybe that’s why I’m a journalist rather than a businesswoman, but if business success means jumping into bed with the devil, then I’ll settle for bankruptcy any day.
Having said that, nothing would be more welcome right now than an injection of a few thousand Sugars into the Spanish economy.
Coming from the UK, a country where most of the unemployed youth are either workshy or short of a marble or two, it’s weird to encounter university graduates struggling to find work even in bars, let alone at the challenging level their skills deserve.
With 50 per cent of under-25s having no work – and little sign of the situation improving - more and more young Spaniards are joining the exodus to countries where their talents are in demand.
I know a number of well-educated Spanish lads in their mid 20s who speak four languages, yet when it comes to work, have only the odd summer shift earning buttons at a beach bar to look forward to.
Their obvious route to self-respect is to head for a country like France or the UK, where they can utilise their knowledge of French and English. Or to South America, where the cultural ties with Spain would make them feel more at home.
Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to puzzle out how young entrepreneurs among the unemployed could make themselves a few euros. The most original idea I’ve come up with would work best in the UK, but that should be no obstacle to Spanish youngsters prepared to travel.
So what is this great idea? Well, it’s linked to the fact that the refuse collection service in Britain has deteriorated in recent years to the point that in many areas it is, in a word, rubbish.
Example - in Bury, Greater Manchester, where my family live, the cash-strapped council only remove general household waste once a fortnight.
And for the vast majority of families, that is simply not enough. Enter the budding impresarios.
The gap week presents an open invitation for enterprising youngsters to whip superfluous rubbish down to the local tip for their neighbours at a couple of quid a trip.
The neighbours would welcome it. But the council would naturally try to put a stop to it, while the official binmen would go on strike in protest. Indefinitely, with a bit of luck.
And that would leave an army of youngsters with an open door to start their own refuse collection service.
It couldn’t happen, of course, because official  jobsworths would block non council employees dumping large amounts of waste at the local tip.
But wouldn’t it make a welcome change for British homeowners if they had a super-efficient daily collection service whizzing around the streets at night. You know, like in Spain.
But then, we Brits have had a lot more practice when it comes to bureaucratic  incompetence.