In 2015 I returned from a holiday with a suspected broken toe.
I visited my doctor and she told me I was suffering from gout. To my horror she also added I was overweight, and possibly suffering from type-2 diabetes.
I insisted she was wrong.
I am Â 6ft 6in tall and at the time I only weighedÂ 18stone 2lbs.
My doctorÂ had to be wrong, or at least, that is what I wasÂ telling myself.
I insisted my doctorÂ referred me to the local hospital for an x-ray for my broken toe.
She obligingly did and off I headed for an x-ray.
Upon arrival in the imaging department at the hospital the senior imaging technician took one look at my toe and told me he thought it wasÂ showing signs of diabetes or gout and not a broken toe at all.
I was flabbergasted.
The x-ray subsequently confirmed my doctor and the imagingÂ technicican were correct.
I had been in complete denial.
I hadÂ been regularly telling myself I was not overweight and that I was fit and healthy.
This wake-up call led to me making a complete lifestyle change, overnight, from that moment forwards.
MyÂ visit to the hospital was just two years ago.
I am currently fit and healthy, some 3 stone (42lb) lighter and living a completely different lifestyle.
The changes I made to my lifestyle can be summarised in three simpleÂ steps I have outlinedÂ below.
The plan that works for me really takes a simpleÂ two-step approachÂ of Move More, Eat Less and the tweaks I added to make this workÂ for me.
This is not a fad diet.
This is not a portion or calorie controlled plan.
This is a lifestyle change.
1) Get Up, Get Out
I start every day eating breakfast (everyone does, right?).
I then get up and go out walking, every day, for at least 30-45 mins and sometimes an hour.
Every day without fail.
I breathe the air, feel the rain, embrace the wind and bask in the sunshine.
Okay, I can already hear a lot of people saying âI donât have time for that, I have to take the children to school or I have to get to workâ.
My answer to that is,Â Change your Lifestyle.
You need to look after yourself so you can do all those things you need to do and to be able to do them well.
Starting each day with breakfast and then getting out walking kicks off your metabolism and increases heart rate.
Fresh air and time allows you to process your thoughts, plan your day, prepare your mind.
You will return from your walk ready to start your day.
If your lifestyle doesnât allows thisâ¦.
Change your Lifestyle.
2) Replace Refined Sugars with Natural Sugars
No cakes, sweets, biscuits, fizzy pop or ready-made sauces.
That’s right, from this day forward, no cakes, sweets, biscuits, fizzy pop or ready made sauces.
All of these foods (and others) contain refined sugars.
Refined sugars make your body work harder to process them, leaving less energy for burning fat.
This in turn makes it easier for your body to keep fat which is the exact opposite of what you want.
After an overload of refined sugars your body startsÂ to close down as it is tired from processing all of the refined sugars.
This can leave you feeling tired and sleepy (sometimes when you know you are not).
Refined sugars also speed up your metabolism in the very short term, making you appear hungry, which in turn encourages you to eat more.
You have to break the cycle.
No cakes, sweets, biscuits, fizzy pop or ready-made sauces.
It sounds horrendous but after weeks 3-4 you will no longer crave them.
Thats right, you will no longer crave foods containing refines sugars.
But you will need to replace refined sugars with natural sugars.
I get my natural sugar intake eating raisins or bananas with my breakfast, natural yoghurts, honey, apples, more bananas, grapes, rice, nuts and wholemeal breads.
We also make all sauces for cooking from scratch, replacing refined sugars with honey, or nothing at all.
It is not easy.
It takes 4-6 weeks to get refined sugars out of your system.
Thatâs 4-6 whole weeks of mood swings, sugar-cravings and lulls in energy levels.
Initially every day is a challenge, you will experience highs and lows.
Suddenly, almost out of the blue,Â your body no longer wants refined sugar.
Allelujah, just when you are about to give up, your body no longer wants refined sugars.
And guess what, refined sugars actually start to taste horrible.
Can you believe it?
All of the foods you used to crave you can no longer bare to eat.
This is true.
All of the foods that cause you to pile on weight, your body no longer craves.
I used to regularly eat a whole packet of biscuits per day, followed by cakes, sweets and endless other snacks between meals.
I can no longer stand to tasteÂ them and my body no longer enjoys them.
Which leads me nicely to Step 3.
3) Join a Yoga Class
Seriously, join a yoga class.
I very sceptically attended my first yoga class two years ago.
I expected to hate it.
I expected to find myself laughing throughout the whole experience.
What I actually encountered was a life-changing experience.
Yoga is a proven lifestyle choice for better living.
Along with lowering blood pressure, yogaÂ can help keep weight in check, reduce symptoms of diabetes, as well as slow the rate of diabetesÂ andÂ lessens the likelihood of further complications.
Sun salutations and other common yoga poses really can help youÂ lose weight.
Yoga alsoÂ takes you out of the house regularly, gets you moving, helps you relax and can also help reduce the level of sugar in the blood.
Regular practice of yoga body postures, pranayama breathing exercises and a few minutes of daily meditation (on your daily walk) can reduce stress in the mind and body, which in turn, can reduce glucagons and help improve insulin action.
A few minutes of regular meditation practice acts as a stress-buster for the mind and body.
Yoga asanas, such as the Corpse Pose, Bridge Pose, Child Pose and Yoga Nidra are all helpful in controlling hypertension.
Regular practice of meditation can help also reduce cravings, particularly if it is synchronised with following a reduction of intake of refined sugars, described in Step 2.
So yes seriously, get yourself off to a Yoga class.
You never know you might just enjoy it.
These 3-steps I have described have caused a genuine change in how I see food.
I no longer crave refined sugars.
I no longer find myself snacking between meals because I think I am hungry.
I no longer find myself experiencing mood swings or becoming hangry because I think I am hungry.
Following these simple and low-costÂ 3-stepsÂ make it really easy to maintain weight.
I no longer crave foods stacked with refined sugars and I feel so much healthier, mentally and physically.
I feel better and remain motivated.