Weight Loss NHS

How do you do it????

Okay I have a few issues with most diets - firstly I HATE salad and there's very little fruit I really like because it just doesn't taste the same any more now they are force grown. I like cooked (hot) veg - well some - I don't like cabbage or Brussels, etc. unless they are cooked with butter and no water. I mostly like Mediterranean veg. I also dislike most fish and I cannot stand tuna in particular

I have to work full time so can't cook at lunchtimes. I am left with sandwiches which, lets face it, get boring very quickly! I've tried thermos flasks for soup, etc. but again I need bread with that.

I cook a lot at home and make cakes for others as a hobby/part time business on top of my full time job.

I suffer from stress and depression and am an emotional eater.

I can't afford the gym, plus with my son having Aspergers, on top of the amount I work, going to the gym is nigh on impossible.

I also have to go away with work sometimes and so at least a couple of times a month I have to start at 5am and get home at 9pm or even stay in a hotel overnight - usually a travelodge. When away the only 'healthy' choices are salads, which I don't eat.

I need to lose 4-5 stone - what do I do??????

6 Replies

You do need to make sacrifices there is no magic cure unfortunately, you have listed all the reasons you CAN'T lose weight. You need to focus on ways that you can. If your mind set is as it is at the moment you will struggle to succeed. Good luck with your goals :)


First off, are you receiving treatment for the anxiety and depression, preferably including talking therapies? It doesn't sound as though there is currently room in your life for you even to really *want* to lose weight (as opposed to telling yourself you *should*) and almost everything you have said is about what you don't like or can't do.

You sound as though you have very fixed ideas about what weight loss programmes have to include - you're not alone in that of course. Yes, there are lots of prescriptive diets which tell you what to eat and when and of course they don't suit you (and probably don't suit many people as a healthy lifestyle as compared with a hobby) A healthy weight losing lifestyle does not have to include 'salad' (whatever that means - can be anything from pasta cheese salad to nothing but iceberg lettuce) and going to the gym if that doesn't suit you.

You could consider changing one thing at a time and I'd suggest focusing on increasing your activity levels because that will help your psychological state and thus help you make the other changes (and whilst you are exercising you are not eating!). Keep it simple and something you like or at least don't hate doing - don't waste your time coming up with a list of all the activities you don't like, don't have time for and can't afford. A few suggestions: swimming, NHS C25K running podcasts (lots of structure), NHS Strength and Flexibility podcasts (again structure and these you can do at home), yoga (lots of free yoga on YouTube - I like Ekhart Yoga) and going for a walk. You might also get on with NoExcuses on YouTube - you can do that at home.


The fact that you have even come on here and asked the question shows that you do want to do something about it, but we can all look for reasons not to do something (I found every excuse under the sun not to run this morning but did it anyway and felt so much better afterwards!). I too work full time, and I bake. I now get up an hour earlier and run before work. Perhaps you associate 'salad' with being on a diet more than it just being fuel - do you really not like lettuce (loads of different types!), cucumber, carrot, sweetcorn, beetroot, onion, peppers .. all very different flavours and textures. I don't cook at lunchtimes, I make a batch up on a Sunday night and again on a Wednesday, takes about 20 minutes and I just pile it into a sandwich box and into my bag. I know fruit doesn't taste the same, I agree, but its fuel and I rarely even think about the taste anymore, its just a means to an end to get some energy to deal with the day. I used to work away, any restaurant will serve you 'without sauce' etc. Any restaurant would cook you a piece of steak or chicken with some new potatoes or veg, it doesn't have to have sauce, you don't have to have what's on the menu. Or pick the vegetarian option. Imagine you've just been told you are allergic to wheat, you would find an alternative. Sandwiches do nothing for me, they are gone within a few bites and I always found I needed a bag of crisps or something to go with it, a salad takes a lot longer to eat and with some prawns or chicken keeps me full for a lot longer. Plus, it has saved a fortune not eating fast food (I include sandwiches in that!)! Do you have a bike? Go out for rides with your son, or walks, involve him in things that you can do together so you don't have to spend time away from him and get some exercise in too. You have to make time for you, you have a lot going on and something has to give to give you the life you want/need. I work full time, with long hours, and I bake. Take on one less cake a week (I just do one order a week now) and use the time for you. I've lost 17lb doing the C25K and it has involved just considering what I eat a little and getting up an hour early 3 times a week. I don't belong to a gym, I just walk a bit more than I used to. Oh and I stopped making excuses, I put my health first because now that I have, I'm much happier, I sleep better, and I'm far more useful to those around me because I have. Seriously, you can do this, if you put your energy into making a few small changes you will be amazed at the outcome. Use that emotional energy planning how you can changes things for the better for you, and you will see the results. You will be calmer (because you are more in control), less tired (yes, by doing exercise you genuinely will feel less tired because you will sleep better) and you will be less emotional. Get on the bandwaggon and join us, its a fabulous roundabout that will have highs and lows, but many more highs than lows. Keep in touch, let us know how you are doing, we are here to help (although right now you are probably thinking I'm just harsh!) but we have ALL been through it so we actually DO know how you feel! xx


Oh how I agree! I can hear your annoyance, anger and I can feel the heels digging in. "I don't want to do this, even though I know I need to do something!"

What changed my attitude to salad and various other healthy foods along my journey, was learning what is good about them. Over the years I have read various books, and read articles via google, watched videos on healthy food, and I am amazed by what I have learned. There are tremendous healing properties in most natural foods that are not found in processed foods. Many of these have been known for thousands of years. I find it much easier to cut out rubbish, processed foods now I understand far better how unhealthy, both in the short term and long they are for our health. I still have blips and fall off the wagon, but I can get back on pretty quickly again.

Look upon this as a voyage of discovery, a long slow learning curve. I think it is better to take it more slowly as your brain and digestive system have a easier time to accustom themselves to your changes. If it's too sudden, it is easier to rebel.

Understand what is good about salad, fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and legumes. At the same time understand what is bad about processed food and why we think it tastes so good and why we want it more and more. You will start to realise that we have been brainwashed by the food and advertising industry. When you understand better, the answer to the two sides of the equation, then eating more healthily becomes easier. Unfortunately we have been let down by our government in terms of what is tolerated in the food industry, regardless of what it does to our health.

Finding out the answer is a bit like an extended, historic, detective, novel with very many twists and turns. If only it was as simple as eating the correct amount of the correct foods, then we would all be in super shape!

Having said all that, do one step at a time; add in something positive and then remove something negative. Add in as much walking as possible, it is easy, accessible and free. You can always do weight training with a couple of cans/jars in the kitchen!

Keep a journal, or do a mind map, why do you think you over eat, then ask what lead to that, and what lead to that. By understanding your motivation, you will eventually get to the answer. Good luck.

1 like

Hello JaneR66,

I've never replied to one of these forums before, but I clicked your plea and somehow felt compelled to spend ages writing all this :s! I'd like to help and hope it does.

I think it's important to try to focus on what makes you happy, rather than what you can't do and don't like. Clearly you lead a very busy and, I can imagine, stressful life, but I can still see many positive aspects from what you describe. Changing habits and viewpoints is complicated and can take time and reflection, but I'm certain you can do it. You ask how we do it, I'm not sure if I've done it yet, but here's my story...

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2007 after years or depression and turmoil. I saw many counsellors and tried different medications, but eventually I found a Cognitive Behavioural Counsellor through my GP who helped me see my future and history in a different light, and allowed me to take control of my life little by little. Food played a very valuable role in me finding something 'mine', to look forward to and have a kind of faith in. I started to feel better, and this helped me to become less anxious and more emotionally stable. I no longer require meds and haven't had a depressive episode for 4 years. I met a supportive partner...but I put on lots of weight too :(

Now, as a university student I don't always get time, money or choice for eating well, and it was hard not to be tempted when the canteen and my friends were filling up with naughty tasty stuff. Like you, I get bored very quickly by sandwiches and blandness, so I focussed on healthy foods I liked, and experimented with things I hadn't tried. I bought myself a lovely new lunchbox, took in pots of hummous and carrots sticks, cous cous with mediterrainean veg, baguettes or rolls (the tasty part baked ones if time allows). I started to hang around with people who were positive about this and found that encouraging. But I get sleepy in afternoons, and used coffee and chocolate to pick me up. I wasn't keen on fruit, but took dried fruits such as mango slices, banana chips and sultanas (brilliant in situations like lectures where I was starving but had nothing else to eat!) and water...i soon found they gave me more of a boost, concentrated on how much better I felt, and eventually became more inclined to eat fresh fruits, even bananas, which I used to hate!

I still wasn't losing weight though :'(! I now have a six month old son, and inadvertently, he has provided more motivation and routine for me to base my healthier lifestyle around. I've started to exercise o.O! He has a musical bear which plays 10 minutes of nursery rhymes, so I choose a time when he can settle with that on the floor next to me, while I do some yoga/pilates stretches- nothing too strenuous, just whatever feels good. In 3 weeks it's gone from an 8-10 min session every other day, to 30 minutes a day- I even felt the urge to do it on Sunday in front of my fella :o! I've only lost 2lb. But I can feel my thighs and tummy getting tighter already. Is there any way you can involve your family in activities, however small? ie dancing/being silly to music, gardening, cycling, bouldering or walks. Or maybe make the most of your Travelodge time by drinking some water, doing some relaxing stretches, focussing on the things you want from life, or searching for exciting recipes or ingredients- don't beat yourself up for eating steak and chips in the brasserie, when you're working hard and away from home?!

Time and cost is always an issue for me. But I invested in a slow cooker off Ebay, so I can pop the ingredients for a soup in (tinned tomatoes/mixed beans/lentils/potatoes/veg,etc), go out all day while it cooks, and there's enough left for lunches too. I got a little bread machine, make up a simple mix in tubs once a week, then shove the ingredients in every other morning (250g wholemeal flour, 1-2 grated carrots, 1tsp dried yeast, 1tsp sugar, add 150ml warm water). Breads and soups have loads of fibre, this fills me up for a good few hours so I don't think so much about food or snacks. Fresh fruit and veg can be expensive, and I hate wasting things because I haven't had time to eat them quickly. So I buy dried fruits and nuts which keep for ages, tinned fruits which I put in a jelly or fruit salad pots, and frozen veg, which I steam to maintain nutrients. Things like peppers always go off quickly, so I cut them up and freeze them (lovely in a baguette with feta cheese, baked, or stuffed).

...7 months ago I'd have said there was no way I'd have time to do many things I now do daily, but the more I did them, the more I felt the benefit, the more I wanted to do it, and the less time it took. Now, like brushing my teeth, I do them without noticing- they become habits.

To me, it's like a ball that's difficult to get rolling, and all sorts of obstacles like time, money, roles and responsibilities can get in the way...but once you start shifting it a bit at a time, it will keep going on it's own, pushing the obstacles aside and soon enough you'll look back and be amazed at how far you've come.

....Sorry for waffling! Best of luck X

1 like

Thanks for all the replies and encouragement. I know I have to do something but it's the first step that is always the hardest I guess. Doesn't help when my partner is not exactly a 'slim Jim' himself and thinks I'm gorgeous the way I am (plus loves my cooking!). To be fair when we are at home we eat quite healthy meals, all of which are cooked from scratch. However, a recipe for 4 only serves 2 of us!

I don't eat a lot of bread - I like bread but it has to be really fresh and preferably wholemeal. I do use a slowcooker a lot to help with midweek meals and I buy in bulk and freeze lots. My mum is a vegetarian and I cook lots of veggie stuff too so that she has some. I have been analysing what I eat and really do think it is more the size of the portions I have, coupled with lack of movement. At work I sit down at my desk (if I'm in the office) at 9.00am and, apart from going to the loo a couple of times and possibly making a cup of tea, don't move from that seat except to sit on another one in a meeting room! I'm too busy - time disappears and I have far too much to do and right now the company is in crisis so it is so much worse than usual! When I'm away I am usually visiting some of our clients, most of whom are Indian or Asian and their culture is that they feed you the whole time you are there! They offer you lunch and it's not a sandwich it's a whole Indian banquet! Refusal is an insult to them. I usually try and tell them that I can't eat spicy food or something but then they come back with cakes and pastries! I'd have to tell them I'm allergic to food - it's crazy! Plus, to quote Oscar Wilde - I can resist anything except temptation.

At home I don't generally cook with much fat, other than if I'm doing some veg like brussel sprouts for my son and I as the only way we will eat them is cooked in butter, no water, so the outside leaves get all caramelised (yum!). I have tried all other ways to cook them - chopped and stirfried with pancetta, boiled then sauted in just a little butter, with chestnuts (found out I don't like chestnuts) and with various different herbs and spices, but to no avail. This way at least my very fussy 15 year old will eat sprouts like sweets and, because they are only cooked for 7 minutes, they are full of the nutrients - as well as the butter!

The cakes I make are the sort of fancy decorated birthday cakes, etc. so it's not so much that I'm doing them every week, just that when I have one, there is normally a minimum of 6 hours work involved in the decorating.

The Travelodge just don't do fresh veg much. I usually order the grilled chicken, which is okay, but they only did chips or mash. I once got mash but it was the instant stuff - disgusting! I once asked for a salad and it was the bagged salad with beetroot in - that and celery I cannot bring myself to eat at all. I tried picking it all out and smothering the rest with mayo, but ended up just eating the chicken and waking up in the middle of the night because I was so hungry! I literally cannot sleep if I am hungry.

I don't know how I am going to get more exercise in except on weekends (providing I'm not working overtime as I am this weekend and it's not pouring with rain).

Oh, and I have exhausted my NHS allocation of therapy and so have to be re-referred which will mean at least 6 months before I get another slot to continue. I tried CBT but that did not work. Psychology seemed better, but I exceeded my sessions before I was finished. I came off the meds about a month ago when prescription charges rose.

As for putting myself first - I cannot pretend that will ever happen. My son will always come first, then my work as that supports my son, then my partner, my mum and our dogs. So I am 7th on the list at best. That won't change - ever! It's not my nature to allow to change.

I do play daft games with my son (just bought a cheap kids tennis type game we played on Sunday with our Border Collie acting as ball boy), but exercising in front of the TV would have to be done when everyone else was in bed as the lounge is the only place big enough to just about lie on the floor (I'm only 5'4" tall so even then that's not much room!). We have bikes but it's too dangerous to ride on the roads and my partner's car is the only one with the cycle carrier on it to get somewhere else to ride. Oh, and I won't do anything that means I get dirty - I have a HUGE phobia about mud and muck! Even had my garden completely paved so I wouldn't have to touch grass or soil! Weird, but there you are! It does mean the only place we can ride the bikes is the canal tow path.

I do like the idea of dried fruits - I love dried fruits! I do eat nice fruits when they are in season, but the seasons are short and I have to look for the locally grown produce so that I am more likely to get fruit that tastes like it is supposed to. And I have to disagree that food is just fuel - it's so much more than that! It's happiness, love and comfort.


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