My Not the Cambridge Diet

So I’m investigating the science behind the Cambridge diet and inventing my own version which is not based on me being sold vast quantities of miracle food in a cup. Then I’m going to base the summer around this & see how it goes. I’m not promising anything, but it can’t hurt to try. That and I can’t stand counting calories, syns and god know what else.

Before we went away, I was 86.9kg and convincing myself that I was fine with it (yeah, I’m not). In two weeks of reducing down the carbs and general size of meals (mainly due to the heat!) I’ve dropped to 85.5kg this morning after the long flight home. I’m at a stage where I’m ready to do something properly to drop the rest before I start the new school term.

This means I’m at a BMI of 27.9 (down from 28.4). To dip into the ‘healthy’ range of under 25, that number on the scales should read 76kg or lower. That’s 1st 7lbs (See? Imperial looks way easier than 9.5 kilos!).

The Cambridge diet works on the basis of reducing carbs, ingesting protein based liquid foods and massive calorie restriction in order to put the body into a starvation state of ketosis which means that it will turn to the body’s fat reserves to keep running. I’m going to be blunt. It’s a crash diet. It flies in the face of all standard information about slow weight loss and regular eating. It’s probably not that healthy, but then neither is walking around being twice the woman I want to be.

There are a number of phases of the diet which starts off at the extreme end and gradually adds in more ‘real’ food until you are eating ‘normally’ but with a reduced stomach capacity and an understanding of your actual eating habits (eg. Why you snack or eat until you hurt).

I’m still not totally convinced.

The phases are:

Sole Source: 3-4 Cambridge Diet meal products. 415-554 cals a day (1 week minimum, 12 weeks maximum) – only advised of you are clinically obese (I am clinically ‘overweight’ by 9 kilos, so no fortnight of crying from total starvation for me!)

Sole Source +: 3 Cambridge Diet meal products plus 200ml of skimmed milk. 615 cals a day – only advised of you are clinically obese

Step 2: 2 Cambridge Diet meal products plus protein-rich foods, skimmed milk and some vegetables. 810 calories a day. (1 week minimum) – this is where I’m starting

Step 3: 2 Cambridge Diet meal products plus skimmed milk, breakfast, salads for lunch and dinner. 1000 calories (2 weeks)

Step 4: 2 Cambridge Diet meal products plus skimmed milk, breakfast, lunch and dinner (2 weeks)

Step 5: 1 Cambridge Diet meal product plus skimmed milk, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack (2 weeks)

Maintenance: A healthy diet plus your choice of Cambridge Diet products. (Indefinitely)

Ok, so what’s so special about these particular food supplements? (More so, I am not visiting my own personal food salesperson – it seems way to much like a drug pusher for me!). Well, the calories are set, there are additional vitamins to help keep you alive and there’s no faffing with portions, cooking or weighing.

So the nutritional information of one of these Cambridge shakes is:

1 sachet + 230 ml water (+ ice if you’re turning it into a frappe)
Prices are estimated at £2.10 per ‘meal’ (but you have to sign up to the £44.10 per week price)

Main ingredients: soya protein & skimmed milk

146 kcal
14.1g protein
14.4g carbs
2.9g fat
3.3g fibre

Random vitamins & minerals

USN Diet Fuel low GI Shake
(1kg tub – we reckon around 20 servings…)
If we’re right on servings, that’s £1.40 per ‘meal’, although buying at 1kg costs £28 in Tesco

2 scoops + 250ml water + 10 ice cubes

Main ingredients: whey protein & soya protein

193 kcal
25g protein
16g carbs
2g fat
5g fibre

Random vitamins & minerals

With the higher protein content, no ‘diet consultant’, and no financial tie in, albeit slightly higher calories, I’ve opted for the low GI shakes. And it turns out I can’t actually stomach a whole one anyway – so instead I’m going for 3-4 half portions throughout the day with extra water in between as they’re really flipping filling! I’m then combining that with the usual evening meal which I won’t be counting calories on, just eating generally healthy food.

I’ve not included Slimfast in this as after seeing the 30g of carbs which are all pure sugar, I’ve disregarded them completely. That’s more sugar per serving than Cola!

Wish me luck!

Soy Borracho! And other inappropriate phrases I announce proudly in the car…

You probably know that I’m making the most of my commute back and forth to work by trying to learn Spanish.

Well, so far I’ve gone through all 12 hours of the Paul Noble course (more than once!) and am really starting to find my feet (¿Dónde están mis pies?) and it’s now time for me to move on so I’m using up all my audible credits on trying the first few hours of the Michael Thomas programme. It’s a very similar approach, but instead of the pauses for me to speak followed by a native speaker, I’m in a car with Michael who babbles on about grammar and emphasis whilst two inept people with weird accents try to learn Spanish badly. I think this is some clever ploy to make me feel ok when I cock the phrases up totally, and feel smug when I know what to say and the bloke on the audio thing is stuttering over simple words like puedo (that’s pwaaaaaaaydo). This audiobook is playing up to my ego, and it’s working. Even more brilliantly, the kids are already picking up phrases and using their dictionary to work out how to communicate.

It’s now t-minus 10 days until we jump in at the Spanish deep end and llegar a Villamartin! The bags are out and the packing has commenced. Mum and Dad are being instructed on how to feed the monster fish and I think they’re quite looking forward to us being out of the house for a while.

Greenpeace may need prior warning that I shall be snorkelling and have staunchly refused to go on a holiday diet. LSH however has just dipped below 100kg for the first time in a decade and is looking mighty hot after spending the last 6 months worshipping the treadmill and weight machines. Well, bollocks to that, I am embracing Health & Safety by becoming my own floatation device. Several family members are raving about the new Fast diet (you restrict your intake to 500 calories for 2 days each week), and their weight loss is quite impressive, but mentally I’m not there yet. I know I could do it, but witnessing the familiar rush that fasting is giving them I’m not willing to step into dangerous eating habit territory again. I’ve been skinny to dangerous levels in the past, and frankly I’d rather be fat and happy than skinny and depressed. I know what skinny feels like – it feels hungry. And for the record, chips taste better than skinny, especially with cheese and salad cream.

Back to the language course! I’m definitely enjoying the Michael Thomas course, and whilst it is more expensive (a lot!) than Paul Noble, the vocabulary is wider and I feel like I understand why I’m saying things now. With that said, I’m not sure if I would have stuck with it had I not done the Paul Noble course first with its clearer structure and native speakers. There’s so much out there to help you learn, and I guess it’s whatever works for you. But having reached 33 convinced I couldn’t learn a new language as I am crap at languages I’ve found that actually puedo hablar español, I just hadn’t worked put the best way to learn it!

Joining Fat Camp

Let me start this off by stating that I am reasonably happy with my size. I have very little desire to change my eating habits.

But the time has come to acknowledge that quite a few of my clothes are out of the muffin top pile and into the can’t do it up pile. Crap. Comfort eating this year has taken its toll and if I have any hope of trying roller derby for real (which means hot pants), or not being harpooned on the beach this summer, my arse needs to lose some of its gravitational pull.

I have tried lots of low carb diets before, and I can wholeheartedly confirm that these don’t so much make me grumpy, but more homicidal. It’s like having permanent PMT enhanced with extra rage, interdispersed with periods of total universal despair. Suffice to say, I am built to eat carbs.

I suck at diets. And this lack of willpower is only matched by the willpower I previously had when eating nothing. I have some lovely waif-like photos of me in my teens when I was a stick. People joked that if I turned sideways, I’d disappear. I took that as a compliment and dieted some more. But now? Now, I like food. There’s a LOT of food that tastes better than thin feels. I have very few vices; I don’t smoke, I don’t really drink (although I am quite partial to white rum if its been a really bad day), I don’t gamble. I do eat cake and lovely big chipshop chips, I crochet, I game and I skate.

I’m unlikely to become a gym bunny any time soon. I go when I feel guilty enough. But I dislike it. I dislike the air conditioning, the unevolved men who lift weights in packs making homoerotic gestures at each other. I dislike the teeny size zero women who bounce about flicking their hair at people. And I dislike the overly happy personal trainers who use the word ‘buddy’ with wild abandon, oblivious to me twitching at their irritating americanisms. I dislike being sweaty in a room full of other sweaty people who I don’t know and certainly don’t want to share sweaty seats with. And I certainly don’t want to witness just how much you like the gym man in overly tight shorts parading yourself around the cardio area. Ew.

So what does a girl who cries when she’s hungry (and is a little bit scared of going OTT and jumping back on the polo mint diet) and who frankly is going to go swimming and skating way more that the gym do when she needs to shrink a bit?

It seems she joins Slimming World.

They have suckered me in through their success stories (I’ve had several friend tell me about their amazing shrinking bodies) and their promise of eating copious amounts of food and this ‘free food’ stuff. The only issue is the meetings. I’m not keen on actual people at the best of times, but I am going to take a deep breath and arrive at one on Thursday. But all I can think of is this:


I’m going to be told to eat dust. Dust. Dusssst.

Helpfully, a friend of mine nicknamed her club ‘fat f**kers’ and I really hope there are some people there with the same sort of humour because the group thing scares the living daylights light out of me. I am a true teacher and need someone to be naughty in class with. Sadly, my two bestest of best friends are sickeningly thin – one because she breastfeeds her entire family and eats three biscuits per day and the other because she is mental and runs for actual fun (who does that?!). They know who they are, and they are half the woman I am. Literally. So sod the pair of you, I’m off to fatty camp and I shall return with various bits of me looking pert and fabulous (or more likely arrive on your doorstep in a carb deficient haze begging you for cake).