Last year, about this time, I decided I needed to go on a diet. I was very overweight (over 170 pounds/13 stone!!!*) and feeling very out-of-breath when I went for walks with Lola. I had a whole wardrobe of clothes I couldn’t wear and was fed up with looking at the large stranger in my mirror. I signed up, again, with Weight Watchers with whom I’d been pretty successful before, and had to spend some time working out their new points system.
Slowly but surely the pounds started falling off. Whether on a diet or just eating normally, I tend to find something I like and stick to it, and so for breakfast almost every day for a year I have had a small bowl of bran flakes with a bit of semi-skimmed organic milk followed by half a grapefruit, preferably red. I always finish with a nice hot cup of Nescafe instant Black Gold.
At first I had some sort of salad with a bit of bread and light butter but I found a recipe on the WW website for a bean soup. After making some minor alterations to their instructions, I came up with something so wonderful (to me) that I have eaten it almost every day since! The recipe is as follows:
1 onion, chopped; 1 x400 g tin chopped tomatoes; 1 tin 3 bean salad in water; 1 tin kidney beans; 2 Knorr vegetable stock cubes; loads of chopped garlic (I use frozen for speed and because I’m lazy); around 1/2 tsp each of hot chili powder, chili flakes and cumin.
If the 3 bean salad, which I buy from Tesco, isn’t available I use 5 bean salad in water and, because of recent shortages, had planned, if necessary, to buy a dried selection and soak overnight before cooking for however long was necessary. Fortunately, so far, I’ve been able to source the tins. Or, I could have made a bigger pan of soup by using 3 more tins of various beans (cannellini, adzuki, navy etc) and used more of everything else – after all, it’s my recipe!
To make it – chop onion and fry gently in a small amount of vegetable oil. When soft add spices, garlic and stock cubes, put a lid on the pan for a few moments and then stir everything together. (It doesn’t seem to matter if the ingredients burn a little!) Then I add the tomatoes and beans; next I add as much previously boiled water as the pan will hold and bring the whole lot to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for a while. I can’t be definite about times as I’ve eaten the soup when it’s simmered for a couple of minutes or half an hour….it doesn’t seem to matter.
When I deem it ready, I ladle out a good portion into a bowl and devour it! The remaining soup – about 4/5ths of it – goes into the fridge and I heat up one portion a day for the next few days.
With my soup I have usually had some thinly sliced toast, some light butter and, for afters, raspberries and yogurt – not that sour white stuff which I dislike but 50 grammes of full fat heavenly raspberry yogurt made by The Collective. It adds a few points to my daily total but I seldom use them all.
I’ve recently started making my toast from Tesco’s baked sourdough rye bread to which I have become greatly attached. At the beginning of my diet I was using their wholemeal bread and after a few months, their corn bread – which is totally unlike the corn bread of my childhood. This cornbread is made with wheat flour mixed with, I assume, a little flour made from maize. All of the breads made in-store by Tesco are so good!
For our evening meal I have had to branch out a bit as I cook for Julian as well. During the past year we’ve mainly had loads of fish, both white and red, seafood and chicken with at least two fresh veges and a small (for me) portion of potatoes. Normally, in non-diet times, we would have pasta at least once a week, and possibly go out to a restaurant or get fish and chips two or three times a month.
On Mondays and often another day or the week, Julian goes out to various functions (singing, art group, life-drawing) and I provide him with a ready-meal which he can shove in the oven or microwave, then I have a nice bowl of porridge or a couple of poached eggs on a bed of freshly wilted spinach and some cherry tomatoes. I looked forward to these evenings which were very useful for my diet. (During lockdown, I have tried to continue but it hasn’t been easy.)
A year has passed – a year during which I have slowly but steadily lost weight and am now around 10 stone (140 pounds). I would prefer to be at least half a stone lighter but, at the beginning of March, I gave in and ate several foods I shouldn’t have – more than my allowance of bread, the occasional piece (or 3) of chocolate, and half a lemon meringue pie! I haven’t gained any weight but certainly haven’t lost any.
Earlier this week I made the decision to (more or less) stick to my diet plan in the hopes that I can get that last seven pounds off, but I’m not being terribly strict and it may take some time. I’m wearing my ‘thin’ wardrobe, am really enjoying looking at my (clothed) body in a full-length mirror and have had loads of compliments from friends and neighbours about how the weight loss – and the clothes – suit me.
The whole point of this whole blog post was to tell you about something I discovered, as an old lady who has lost lots of weight. (I was 77 the other week which makes me pretty damn old.) When I was younger (in my 50’s) and lost a good deal of weight, my skin was still stretchy and I didn’t find loads of wrinkles. This time I have seen how my skin is no longer stretchy – just s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d. I have wrinkles where I didn’t know wrinkles could be – arms, both upper and lower; inner thighs; bottom edge of bottom. Luckily, I wasn’t planning on wearing a bikini or strapless evening gown and I feel the cold enough so that I’m unlikely to want to bare my upper arms in public, except in the hottest weather.
Let this be a warning to all my readers who are still young (under, say, 65)!
* Until I was in my mid to late 30’s I never weighed more than 8 stone (112 pounds)!
PS. I’ve mentioned several companies in my post. Because it is the shop I use, I’ve specified Tesco but there are many more which I’m sure make delicious bread. The Collective yogurt is wonderful but I’m sure you will know of others equally as good – or you might like that white, sour stuff! And, Weight Watchers is my chosen diet provider because I don’t have to go out once a week – I just refer to it and keep accounts of my weight and my food intake, online.
No one has paid me to use their name.