Captain's Table

Mark Austen

2019.03.19 - Time to Change

I have been somewhat uncomfortable about my weight for some time, several years if the truth be told, but like most people, I lacked the motivation to do anything about it. Yes, I know that losing this bulge around my middle will drastically reduce the likelihood of a stroke, heart attack and cancer but these are nebulous concepts, until they happen to you, and, as such, are not the motivator that would spur me to do anything about my weight.

Strangely enough, it was several things coming together at the same time that finally did the trick. Firstly, I found that sitting inside Naiad is uncomfortable with this bulge. That's been going on for two years now. Secondly I watched an programme about exercise (The Truth About Exercise, BBC iPlayer) and the part that was interesting for me was High Intensity Interval Training since, with my damaged ankles, normal exercising is not really possible for me anymore and I needed a way to retain what fitness I still had.

That lead me on to a prior Horizon Programme by Michael Mosley titled "Eat Fast Live Longer" broadcast in August 2012 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01lxyzc). I found this extraordinarily interesting and many of the things that Michael said resonated with me, especially the part right in the middle of the programme (36:55) where he says:

"What I've discovered about myself is that the biggest problem about prolonged fasting ...... is me."

And that's me in a nutshell.

And it shook me.

I didn't realise until I watched this programme that Michael Mosley was the writer of the "5:2" diet book which I tried a few years ago and lasted less than a week. The 600 calories (for men) per day, even for just the two days a week that this diet requires, was far too hard. Still, greatly encouraged by this programme I began looking at more of what Michael has been doing over the last few years and it did not take me long to find the latest version of his diet called the "Fast 800" in which you eat just 800 calories a day, everyday, for a period of time during which the fat drops off like water going down a plughole.

Once you have get close to your weight loss target you can stop the 800 calories per day diet and change to a 5:2 diet, eating just 800 calories a day for two days of the week, forever, although 6:1 is an alternative if you watch what you eat for the non-fast days. This maintains the weight loss and the other benefits that this diet has been shown to give such as lower blood sugar levels, lower likelihood of a stroke or cardiac disease, lower cancer markers and even type 2 diabetes reversal. Once your target weight has been reached then ou can stop the Fast 800 diet and eat "normally" using the 5:2 diet to take off any excess weight that creeps on. Around Christmas, for example. Mosley also recommends that you switch your eating habits to a Mediterranean style diet.

800 calories doesn't sound that much more that 600 calories but it makes all the difference, if the stories are to be believed. Also, 800 calories per day is easily manageable, 600 is not.

One of the other recent findings that is now recognised as fact is that the best food to eat is what is known as a "Mediterranean Diet", full of a lot of the things that, for the last four decades or more, have been said to be bad. Like Olive Oil, eggs, full fat yoghurt and butter.

So, That's what I'm now on. Just 800 calories per day until I get back to my ideal weight.

The really, really encouraging thing is that I know this works for me as I inadvertently did this diet a few years ago, long before Michael wrote about it.

Back in 2009 I travelled from Malta to Bermuda on a friends ship via Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, the Cape Verde Islands, Barbados, Bequia, St. Lucia and Antigua. During the seven months of the voyage I was cook and, although I provided three meals a day for the crew, I personally ate just once a day. Porridge with lots of fresh fruit, seeds and a teaspoon of Golden Syrup. If I did have a snack at any other time it was more fruit. Tea and coffee were my daily drinks. During that time I lost a huge amount of weight. I can't say how much as I didn't weigh myself before and after, but take a look at these photos:


Here is a photo of me at the beginning of December 2008 just before I travelled to Malta to board the ship. I'm the one the Kilt, by the way.

And this is me seven months later aboard the ship in Bermuda. I had to take 8" out of that particular Kilt just before we reached Bermuda. It would no longer stay up as it was too big around the waist and buttocks.

So I know for a fact that this diet works for me. What I did not do once I returned to Britain was to modify my diet to suit the new, lighter body, I went back to eating three times a day and within a few years, the weight returned. Not this time.

Time to Change.