My mother, Babs, has been battling the bulge for as long as I can remember. Now, at 1lb under 18 stone, she’s the heaviest she’s ever been. She would LOVE to get down to 10 stone – that’s her dream target. How to drop 8 stone? This is the Babs diet: sure and steady weight loss.
We should probably call it the Amanda diet really, since I’m the one who is calling the shots and I am going to get her to her target. She’s lost all hope. I have no doubts at all.
I’ve been living in Argentina for the last few years. Every time Babs came out to visit me, her weight had gone up from the previous year. Here’s a photo of her from her last visit in 2017
However, in the 2 to 3 weeks she was on holiday with me, she always lost half a stone or so. She didn’t count calories, she didn’t cut out carbs. I knew that she had a tendency to pile up the plate when she served up food. And I knew she had a very sedentary life. But those 2 things are not true of me, so when Babs came to visit, she ate the same food that I ate, had healthy sized portions and was much more active.
The problem is, once she returned back home to the UK, she would snap back into her normal routine, and the weight would go up again.
She’s tried lots of different diets over the years, some with more success than others, but like so many other people, Babs got bored of the diet. Or of the calorie counting, Or of the strict “You can’t eat that” regime.
A change of plan
Suddenly, in late October 2018, my situation changed and I had to leave Argentina and move back to the UK (if you’re interested you can read more about that here). This meant I was around to put in place a plan to sort out her weight problem, once and for all.
Babs told me she wanted to get down to 10 stone, ideally dropping 1 or 2lb per week. A total of 112lb at 2 lbs a week would be a little over 2 years, best case scenario. She was super happy with the idea. And so it began: How to drop 8 stone. The Babs diet: sure and steady weight loss.
Lots of diet plans suck
Why sure and steady? Because this wasn’t go to be a diet plan that involved only eating 2 cereal bars and a diet shake each day. She wasn’t going to be starved to death. And neither was I: since I was living at her place when I moved back to the UK, and she would be eating the same meals as me, I certainly didn’t want to have to eat cereal bars and diet shakes.
Everyone wants to lost weight fast, of course, but thankfully Babs very reasonably saw that losing weight too fast, apart from being a torture, didn’t mean keeping it off afterwards. What she needed was a lifestyle change that could be maintained and sustained in the future. And she didn’t want dieting to suck. That’s why most people hate it, right? Most diets are a nightmare of checking rules, counting calories, avoiding various food types and feeling guilty about secretly scoffing anything that doesn’t figure on the OK foods list.
On day 1 of the Babs diet she was a UK size 24 in clothing. Ultimately she wanted to get down to a size 12. I asked her when she was last in size 12 clothes: “when I was 29, she told me. So, 40 years ago. She still had her doubts, but I knew it was totally do-able.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Plan of action
For any plan to work, you need to prepare it well and monitor it.
We began by ‘decluttering’ the pantry which was full to overflowing. Much of the food was out-of-date, so it went straight in the bin. She never really enjoyed cooking and had lots of ‘stuff’ in her pantry that she never ended up using so of course things were going to pass their use-by date. There’s no point having jars and jars of sauces and tinned fruit that you’re never going to eat because you don’t cook. I also got rid of most of the junk food – the biscuits, cakes and crisps.
Organise a weekly meal plan
I would be organising the meal plan each week. The Babs diet is not punitive. Remember – I have to eat the same stuff and I’m a foodie, so I want to ENJOY my food. What can we have on the Babs diet? Cheese? Yes. Toast? Of course! And wine? Absolutely! Even occasional chocolate and mince pies? Those too.
You must be thinking “how on earth can Babs lose weight eating stuff like that?” Well of course, those things will not make up the bulk of what she typically eats, but she CAN still have them. My point is, we won’t prohibit all junk food but we will limit how much of it she eats. We won’t keep much of it in the house either, that way she won’t be tempted to snack and over-eat…
Reduce your portion size
What all diet plans have in common is that they make you eat less. Most of them achieve that by prohibiting certain food types from your menu. However, there is a simpler, more effective and less boring way to do this: Reduce your portion size.
This is key. If you only change one thing about your lifestyle, make it this. Since I am usually the one doing the cooking, and also the one plating up, I put out much less food than she does. When she serves the food, she piles it up high. A really simple trick to help with this is to use smaller plates and bowls. They will make a smaller portion look bigger.
Use smaller plates and bowls.
Now I don’t intend to live at Babs’ home forever more, so what will happen when I’m not there any more? Since she doesn’t like cooking, there is a greater risk of her slipping back into old habits of buying take outs and eating junk food. The recent boom in ready prepared meal box plans are perfect to resolve this. There are lots available these days, and they cater to specific dietary requirements.
Change your lifestyle
Babs’ physical health had worsened significantly since her last visit out to see me in Argentina in 2017. On that last holiday there she was mowing the lawn and helping me with garden chores. But when I moved back to the UK she was using a stick for general walking, and in the supermarket needed the trolley to lean on for support.
Like I said, I am naturally an active person. I enjoy walking, I do yoga 2 or 3 times a week, and I’m always up to something. Babs didn’t do any of these things before. We started to go for short walks, for which she needed her stick of course. After a couple of weeks, she’s already relying much less on the walking stick, walking for longer, taking fewer rest stops, and breathing much better.
We also tried some gentle yoga but she really didn’t take to it. Each person will find something that works for them. Instead of driving to the local shop when we ran out of milk, we walked. Ditching the car and walking short distances is such a simple way to inject more activity into your life.
Success from the very start
After the first 2 weeks Babs’ weight had gone down from 17 stone 13 to…
17 stone 4. Yep, she lost 9lb in a fortnight.
she lost 9lb in a fortnight
As you can imagine, she was over the moon with her success! She started to think that her doubts about how to drop 8 stone were unfounded. She could now see how the Babs diet, a sure and steady weight loss, was completely viable.
I’ll be posting an update every couple of weeks about Babs’ continued weight loss and related lifestyle changes. Next time I’ll describe a typical week’s diet to give you an idea of what kinds of things Babs is eating that allows her to lose 9lb a fortnight!