How We Really Need to Think about Weight Loss and Other Weekend Reading


Why are we scared of feeling hungry

The other day I was talking to a client about weight loss.  She mentioned how she was in the process of losing weight, using a system of pre-packaged foods, but she felt hungry all the time, so was finding it really hard.  Given that this company advertises that you won’t feel hungry, as do many others, who promote their weightloss systems, when people do feel hungry, that promise is broken, so they tend to give up.

When I was telling her about my experience with the 5:2 diet that I’ve been following now since last November, she said she liked the idea of it, but didn’t think she could cope without eating, that she just wouldn’t get through the day.  The fear of being hungry consumed her thoughts and made her scared to even try.  I remember when I was there, but fortunately I’ve moved on.

What I have discovered doing the 5:2 diet is that I am no longer scared of hunger.  I have lost that fear of feeling hungry.  I know that I can eat what I like tomorrow, and it’s only 2 days a week that I need to feel the hunger.  It’s that feeling of hunger that means my body is doing that complicated biochemical process that turns the fat on my butt into energy to keep me going when I haven’t eaten.  I have changed my relationship with that feeling, and it no longer worries me.

I know that I live in a world where food is abundant, I appreciate how lucky I am that lots of good food is available to me.  I am aware that it’s the ancient cave woman in me who consumes too much for the fear of there not being anything tomorrow.  Times have changed, I don’t have to forage and hunt for my food, so I don’t need that survival instinct to keep me alive.  There will be more food when I choose to eat it, but being hungry a couple of times a week isn’t going to kill me, in fact it isn’t going to really affect my performance.  I’m still eating 500 calories that day, so I’m not actually starving myself .

Being able to ride out those hunger pangs on my ‘fasting’ days has made me stronger.  It helps me make better decisions about eating the rest of the week when I’m allowed to eat what I like.  I make overall better choices. Knowing that I can go without means that I know I don’t always have to give into a craving, whatever type of craving that may be.

When we behave from fear, we act irrationally.  We overeat because we are scared of an uncomfortable feeling that will pass.  That I’ve been able to reframe my relationship with hunger and food has made me feel stronger and has freed me from the fear that is peddled by all weight loss companies.  Feeling hungry, it’s actually not so bad, in fact, if you need to lose weight, it’s a good feeling.

Now some other articles I’ve red this week that are interesting:

Really interesting reading from a former Biggest Loser Contestant, what she learned after putting the weight back on after the show finished, and then taking it off again.

Here is a great article about how using a password can change your life for the better, to a more positive experience and can help motivate you to achieve your goals.

Where does the fat go when you lose weight?  The reality of physics is that nothing disappears, so what happens to the weight?  Watch this fascinating video.


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  • The article on passwords is very interesting. I’m going to try it. I can’t get to the Biggest Loser article–there’s a problem with the link.
    Thanks so much for sharing! The thing I don’t like about being hungry is that my stomach growls so loud! Is that ever a problem for you?

  • Imogen, you’ve almost convinced me to try your 5:2 diet. Last summer I put on 20 lbs during the process of getting off anti-depressants (on a side note, I finally realized/admitted I had postpartum depression and got help thanks to one of your blog posts, THANK YOU), and I HAVE NOT been able to lose it this past year. I have watched my calories, I have exercised myself to exhaustion, all with no result. Multiple physicians have told me “at your age [age 41], your metabolism has changed, you need to come to grips with the fact this is the new you.” Well, I refuse to. I’m a planner, so I need to feel like I have everything together before I start, but once school starts for my kids, I think I will.

    • Stacey – glad that you’ve dealt with your PND, I remember being there. And coming off anti-depressants is hard. I remember feeling so raw when I did it. For me this is the only diet that both works easily, and easily works for me. The older you get the slower your metabolism sure, but also it’s about having some balance, and depriving yourself all the time takes the fun out of life!

  • Imogen, You really inspired me! I am on my fourth week and have found everything you are saying to be so true. I have had a fear of hunger too and now it’s gone! It’s very empowering to feel this way. I don’t weigh myself, but can see and feel a difference. My face is thinner and my stomach is flatter. I’m 59 and don’t believe age is an issue with this way of eating. I do work out 4 or 5 times a week with weights. Thank you for sharing your story and I love your blog.

  • I am a stay-at-home mother on a slow weight loss journey. I have lost 45lbs over the past 4 years. I have 30lbs left to lose, and I expect it to take at least 3 years more. I agree that there is nothing wrong with feeling slightly hungry some of the time. However, I would think there would be something wrong with a diet if a person was feeling really hungry or ravenous all day long. I have chronic low blood sugar, and I am scared of becoming too hungry. Not consuming enough calories during the day has caused me to wake up at night. There have been times when I was out and became very hungry very quickly to the point of weakness and confusion. I have 3 young children and a busy lifestyle. Going on an extreme diet which might result in endangering my life or others. I have learned to always bring along water and a snack (beef jerkey or a banana), which has allowed me to get home safely many a time.

  • I’m so glad you found a program that works for you! I get extremely edgy and weak if I ever eat that little in one day. But I lost weight this summer by brisk walks every night and using My Fitness Pal app to not only track my cslories consumed and those burned, but also to see how my nutritional needs were being met. Now that I’m maintaining, I find I eat more healthy even without the app because I’m more deliberate anout my food choices.

    I also found it incredibly helpful to stop watching cooking shows. Seriously. I still refuse to watch them anymore because they make me head for the fridge every time, especially in the evenings.

  • I am a 5:2 convert as well, following your story and a couple of others. I started this way of eating in May and despite having a few weeks eating 7 days due to a minor health scare, I have lost over 5 kilos, with so little pain I can’t believe it! This included a period of work travel which required weeks of entertaining clients, hotel and restaurant food.
    I always thought eating 500 calories on 1 day would ensure overeating the following day, but if anything I believe my stomach has shrunk, I need less to feel full and an attitude of “there’s always tomorrow” means I never need to eat like it’s my last meal. I also like to track with My Fitness Pal and I exercise 5 days a week (but I’ve done that for years)
    Thanks Imogen for raising the mindset issue, I do believe this must be where changes have to occur for anything to stick long term.

  • Glad you found a plan that works for you – eating is such a hot topic for so many of us.
    I agree that people shouldn’t be afraid of their hunger (assuming there isn’t a health condition). For me learning to pay attention to my hunger and fullness signals resulted in a substantial weight loss 9 years ago. I never would have guessed that for me the key would be eating slow and paying attention to my body/hunger/fullness. I discovered that 3 bites of cake were my max for enjoyment. No need to eat more – better to stop eating so I will get hungry again in time for my next meal. Being hungry for that meal or snack means that I will enjoy it more.
    This has taken a lot of practice with being mindful, and being brave enough to stop eating before my plate is empty, but it has also been much more delicious and satisfying.

  • Imogen’s posts on the 5:2 have been inspirational. I started the day she first posted about it. The first day was the hardest but I subsequently found that soup for lunch (with only veg, no fat, not much salt) allowed me to lose weight quite well. Green tea is also very useful for hunger pangs.
    The reality is that on many occasions we eat too much so it makes sense to eat too little sometimes and it really does retrain the appetite.
    The only thing I would add is that if you live in a tropical climate you
    need to keep the fluid balance up.
    I would never have tried this before Imogen wrote about it as it looked extreme but it really does work and I’ve felt much better and now eat less overall.

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