You might have read about me announcing a couple of months ago that I was fed up with the circumference of my waist and that I was going on a strict diet. The diet that I started can be added to the long list of previous diets that I have started over the years – and to nearly as long a list of diets that I started but which failed. I have practically lost no weight (or inches around my waist). We are going back home (i.e. to England) for Christmas and I am not looking forward to seeing my friends and looking like I’ve spent the last 9 months with a spoonful of Häagen-dazs permanently attached to my lips.
I suppose, the positive thing is that even though I haven’t lost any weight during my diet, I haven’t put on any either. Does this perhaps call for a celebration? I might have to open a bottle of wine and have some crisps to celebrate. Who the hell am I kidding here? Let’s face it – this diet has been a bloody disaster. Soon enough I will have to start shopping for clothes in ‘Size World’.
My analysis of the reasons resulting in the failure of my diet (this time) include the following:
1) Lack of discipline and/or motivation
This is my biggest overall problem with dieting, not just with reference to my most recent diet, but in fact with most of my diets. I am sure many of you who, like me, in an average year spend roughly as many days dieting as Madonna spends shagging some 21-year old, find that discipline/motivation is your biggest enemy. I can only speak for myself, but weakness is my middle name. I see food and forget that I was not supposed to eat it. I think I suffer from some weird condition in which temporary amnesia is induced by low blood sugar levels.
It’s not only that I forget that I was supposed to be on a diet. I also suffer from the same overall problems as many other dieters’. Namely, (a) if I eat it while standing up it kind of doesn’t count – and this isn’t because I think that the extra calories burned while standing up relative to sitting down would counterbalance the newly acquired calories. And (b) if I eat something quickly (preferably while standing up, straight out of the packaging) it doesn’t count either. The latter is similar to the Japanese with their gift giving. The Japanese like to give and receive gifts that perish quickly, so that every time the receiver of the gift walks past the mantelpiece on which the permanent gift is sitting they don’t feel like the object is eyeballing them and reminding them that they are indebted to the person who gave them that object. The good thing about a box of chocolates is that once it’s is gone, it’s gone. The chocolates won’t be eyeballing anyone from where they are at, and so there is nothing to remind you that you were given a gift (apart from your bulging waistline).
I have also been extremely lazy with reference to exercise. In England, I did zumba, step-aerobics and went to the gym. In Japan, I’ve practically done nothing. Guess how many times any local gyms here have seen me within their walls. If your guess is: ‘Once’ you are ever so slightly overestimating the frequency of my gym visits. I know, things will have to change.
2) Amazing Japanese food
The food in Japan is delish. I will not attempt to describe the food here as writing that description would inevitably result in me rummaging through the kitchen cupboards for something to eat. So, I will just quickly add some photos here while keeping my eyes shut.
3) portion sizes
Anyone who’s ever been on a diet knows that one needs to keep an eye on the size of their portions of food if they plan to eat anything other than perhaps cabbage, celery or ice-cubes. The rule of thumb is that one should try and not eat in one sitting as much as the whole competitive eater team would in a week.
In Europe and America food manufacturers are creative and tap into markets with big bucks – like diet foods. Many food products there have greatly reduced calories, fat and/or sugar content. Not that I am a loyal consumer of these products but I do know that much that sometimes you can practically empty your cupboard from food and all you have accumulated (apparently) is about 10 kcal, i.e. you can eat nearly as much as a team of competitive eaters but you’ve only acquired the calorific equivalent of one grape.
In Japan this doesn’t quite work like that. Although, Japanese food manufacturers do produce low calorie options, overall I feel the Japanese have a better understanding of how to lose weight with controlling portion sizes. I mean, check out the ‘normal’ size of ice cream below. We’ve struggle to find anything much bigger than those tiddlers.
The diet size of ice cream however does not do it for me. Having only one of those barely visible portions of ice-cream (below) is as satisfying as watching only the first 5 minutes of my favourite TV program instead of an hour. So, I tend to eat for the hour’s worth.
I’ve also attached a photo of some ‘low’ calorie noodles below. I don’t think there are any gimmicks here. The reason why there are only 49, 55 or 59 kcal per bowl of these noodles is because that bowl is the size of something you would use in your doll’s house. I don’t know about you, but those 3 strings of noodles did not fill me up.
All you have to do is to have a look at the reference point in the ice cream photos above. The corkscrew-bottle opener was the object I automatically went for when going through the kitchen draw for a reference point for the miniature Japanese ice creams. This automatic behavior gives you a clue as to why my weight-loss program has been as successful as Charlie Sheen’s rehab program.
5) I discovered caramel coated pretzels
These are sooo good! I never had them until about a month ago when I mistook them for crisps and accidentally bought them from an imported foods shop in Osaka (they were cleverly positioned next to the crisps so that any distracted mother with two kids in the shop might pick them up and become a lifetime addict in just one mouthful). Until then I was as keen on pretzels as a dog is on having its anal glands emptied. But one piece of those E-number coated bad boys and I was addicted. A word of advice: Never try these!
6) Fatty meat
Meat in Japan tends to be quite fatty. This combined with our poor Japanese language abilities means that we need to try to estimate the fat content of mince by looking at the colour of the meat (red is good, white is bad). But regardless of our best attempts to buy low fat mince, every skilletful of mince looks like the photo below. The layer of fat on our Bolognese sauce after having spent the night in the fridge is hardly any more attractive (see photo below). This kind of meat is likely to make anyone’s weight-loss program as easy as trying to push your child in a stroller that’s missing one wheel.
I don’t think the list above contains any amazing discoveries – dieting is dieting. I just need to get my ass in gear and within the next two weeks shed that 5 kg that I’ve put on since March so that I can go back to Brighton and pretend that this weight gain never happened.