Like many people, I started January feeling a bit … meh. A fun night out on New Year’s Eve, preceded by a few weeks of festivities had left me feeling lacklustre. My clothes were getting tighter and I’d noticed that each year, I’d been gaining 1 or 2 lbs here or there, meaning that I was at my heaviest. I don’t have a problem with weight in itself. I do Crossfit and I’ve built a few muscles. However, my TANITA body mass scales revealed that my body fat was over 36% putting me in the catchily titled “Overfat” bracket, with a Metabolic Age of 55 (I’m actually 50 and a half!). Hmmmm….. this was all going in the wrong direction.
Also, I wasn’t feeling great. I’m well in the thick of the peri-menopause. My sleep had been poor, I was feeling a bit blue, lacking in motivation and I knew I was just eating too much. I kept finding myself heading to my food cupboard and having a handful here and there of nuts, Medjool dates and handfuls of granola. A little bit of everything here and there was playing havoc with my energy, mood, cravings and waistline. I needed to re-group.
So, I took myself in hand, dusted off my Metabolic Balance plan from 2012 and started the programme again. I posted a couple of photos of my food on my social media platforms, but I thought I’d share some more detailed insights into the plan here. If you’re doing the plan, or thinking about doing it, I hope you find this helpful. Metabolic Balance is a considerable investment, but overall, if you’re fundamentally wanting to make significant changes to how you eat and your health, then I absolutely do feel it’s worthwhile.
I had forgotten how much I actually enjoyed this way of eating, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Here’s what I noticed:
a) After about 10 days, I really started to feel like a fog had lifted. My weight, and importantly fat mass was coming down steadily, but mentally and physically I felt better. My body was less stiff, especially in the mornings, and I had good energy throughout the day.
b) Again, after about 10 days, I was happy with the portion sizes, and I felt full after my meals. The 5 hours gaps in between meals without snacking, became easier and are now second nature.
c) I have really enjoyed my food. I am embracing my food list and have compiled a good repertoire of go-to meals within my plan that are easy to prepare, delicious and keep me full. I’m savouring my meals, rather than rushing them. I’m really appreciating the flavours because I’m making full use of spices, herbs and apple cider vinegar. Gherkins and chilli flakes are my new favourite things! Coffee is fabulous in the morning. I’m avoiding some of the choices that don’t work for me. I don’t think I’ll ever really enjoy chicken for breakfast, even if it is dressed up with apple and herbs!
d) I’m finding that food preparation is so much quicker than before which makes the plan much more do-able. I’m also making soups to last a couple of days, which saves even more time.
e) It’s working well. My fat mass is now in the healthy range, and after 3 weeks, my Metabolic Age is now 46! I have a little way to go, but I’m feeling so great that I fully intend to keep on going with the basic principles, whilst gradually increasing my portion sizes as I return to Crossfit, as well as the range of food I’m eating.
f) I am really enjoying not drinking! I had my first treat meal this weekend with a couple of glasses of wine. I didn’t enjoy the day after!
g) My sleep has been fantastic. I still wake in the night for the loo (as I have done for about 15 years), but I go straight back to sleep. This is after a period of menopausal night sweats before Christmas that had been playing havoc with my sleep.
a) Having got into a snacking habit over the last few months, I found the first 10 days pretty hard. I was ‘mouth bored’ and I was incredibly hungry after about 3-4 hours. I remember from my first time on the plan that this changes in the second week, so I stuck to it and in time found I was happy going 5 hours between meals. Whilst this is my personal experience, many of my clients seem to find this no problem at all! We’re all different.
b) You do need to be organised for the first 2 weeks. Food needs to be weighed in the Strict Adjustment Phase, so it’s important to embark on the plan when you have the time to do it. You do feel a bit crazy weighing your food to the last gram, but this does get easier. It’s also interesting to reframe your mind about portion sizes. I’ve find out I do much better with slightly higher protein and less carbohydrates. I also felt another boost of energy when I added in my oils in Phase 3.
c) It’s not very sociable in Phase 1 and 2. It can be tricky explaining to friends why you’re drinking hot water instead of coffee because it’s more than an hour after your meal. Also, it has taken a while to get used to not having herbal teas between meals. However, as with most things on this plan, after about 10 days you just get used to it. I’m quite enjoying hot water now. However, if I’m honest, I will start drinking herbal teas in between meals once I’m in Phase 4, the Maintenance Phase.
d) I am fortunate in that I have a self-sufficient and understanding husband. It’s good to be able to have your loved ones on side, otherwise you will find this is a bit of extra work in the kitchen, especially if you cook separately for your kids. I’m not brilliantly efficient with pots and pans and I’ve found I create a bit more of a mess than normal. However, if this doesn’t phase you, you’ll be fine.
e) I find that any plan that has different progressive phases works well for me. I am easily bored, so I need variety and change. This is one of the key aspects that attracted me to this plan in the first place. I find that my clients feel the same.
a) The Epsom Salt cleanse on Day 1 is not at all fun. Just make sure you are in the comfort of your own home!
b) Phase 1 Day 2. By the end of this day I was feeling pretty bored of eating just veg and was craving protein. Phase 2 Day 1 is excellent!
Here I am on Day 7 of Phase 3. I’m back at the gym, I feel lighter, healthier and more motivated. My skin is brighter and I feel like my old self, and my clothes fit so much better, which is making more confident. I have a bit of a way to go to reach my goals, but I’m looking forward to continuing on the plan for a while.
As I get closer to my goal, I will ease up a bit on the some of the rules. I’ll be reintroducing other foods that I know I enjoy and that are healthy. I’ll be increasing my vegetable portions and probably my starches, and I will probably start to drink herbal tea between meals. But I’ll be keeping an occasional eye on my fat mass and Metabolic Age.
I will keep on regulating portion sizes (although will stop weighing my food once I’ve reached my goal). I’ve discovered that my protein portions were a bit on the low side and that a higher protein, lower carbohydrate, higher healthy fat diet is what suits me. I will definitely avoid snacks as a rule. I’m also looking forward to much less habitual drinking of alcohol in my life, whilst still enjoying the odd glass to remain sociable and enjoy those special occasions.
I think that what this plan really brings is not only helping you achieve your goals, and fundamentally improving hormone balance and how it impacts on weight management, but it also gives you an insight into what works for you. You will learn so much about what works for you in terms of foods, portion sizes, meal timing, hydration, your cravings, your weak points etc.
It’s a really good re-set and I think because it’s an investment, you essentially don’t want to let yourself down, which builds you up for success. lf you have been thinking about embarking on Metabolic Balance, or would like to know more about how each of the 4 phases works, then please ask me for more information, or call me on 07909 732017.
MY FAVOURITE MEALS
a) Favourite breakfast – 190g of organic soya yoghurt with a warm stewed apple and cinnamon. Followed by 1/2 avocado mashed onto my rye bread.
b) Favourite lunch – Bean patties. Mash a portion of beans (150g at lunch for me) with bread portion, add cumin, turmeric, chilli flakes, salt and pepper. Shape into 4 patties and bake until warm. Serve with salad or veg dressed with apple cider vinegar and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
c) Favourite dinner – Mashed parsnips and carrots with light curry spices. Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil, spread the mash, make some holes, crack 2 eggs in and gently cook over the heat.