George Hinton had high hopes of a healthy 2013 but falls off the fitness wagon early on – but learns a comforting lesson on the way down
It is now nearly mid-February and for most people who attempted to have a healthy January after the excesses of Christmas the idea of a detox is a distant memory.
This year I pledged to get through January without an alcoholic drink. The detox was not just about the alcohol; I was doing less exercise and spending more time sitting at my desk than ever before, yet still eating as much, if not more, than I did when I was an active teenager.
The simple science of it is often stated: consume more calories than you expend and your waist will expand.
So middle-age spread had come early for me. Not only did I look a bit out of shape but I also felt a bit lethargic.
I intended that the detox would give my body a rest from bad eating habits, such as too much sugar, fat, bad (or simple) carbohydrates and red meat. And hopefully in turn lose a bit of weight.
On New Year’s Eve I weighed in at 14st 4lb; I had a waist of 35in (although strangely all my jeans are 34in or less and fit fine) and a chest of 42in. I am 6ft tall.
In a bid to turn over a new leaf in 2013 and push myself to get fit I signed up for a bike ride to Edinburgh. I also intend to walk up the Yorkshire Three Peaks in spring. A friend is even trying to persuade me to do a small triathlon but I’m wondering if that’s a step too far.
Halfway through January I received an email offering me the chance to try a detox plan called Clean 9 by a company called Forever Living, which is an international network marketing company. This area is covered by Lindsey Jackson and Mike Butterworth, from Wetherby.
I hadn’t heard of the company before but had managed to stay abstinent so far and thought I would take the opportunity to try a proper detox.
All the products for Clean 9 come together in a smart box, which includes three litres of aloe vera, nutrition shake powder and some supplements.
It is a nine-day plan with the first two days fasting except for one protein shake a day containing vitamins and minerals. A big focus is on a fairly large consumption of aloe vera gel.
To combat hunger pangs there is a supplement called Garcinia, which is from the fruit of a tree of the same name. The supplement also contains the mineral chromium, which is supposed to help keep blood-sugar levels more stable.
As a snack I got to chew on bee pollen tablets.
I realise this probably does not sound very appetising but I found the aloe gel reasonably pleasant (it tasted a bit like grapefruit juice) and the pills and bee pollen seemed to help stave off some food cravings.
The aim is to do 20 minutes of brisk exercise a day.
As well as the products Lindsey is also very supportive and encourgaing, sending out a daily email of different helpful tips. There was also a weekly support group meeting for people who were on the Clean 9 plan on a Monday night in Wetherby.
The first two days were really tough. I’d never thought about gorging myself on unhealthy food so much. There were moments when I thought I was in a Desperate Dan cartoon sketch when I looked at a cow and it morphed into a steak and ale pie.
Also among the contents of the plan was a booklet containing advice and a scoring system each day for hunger, energy, motivation and confidence about finishing the programme, as well as space for a daily diary entry. At the end of day one I wrote: “Cold and shattered.”
I was really surprised by how cold not eating made me.
The first two days were by far the hardest and at the end of day two I’d almost got used to the feeling of hunger and was beginning to feel lighter on my feet and healthier.
The detox really seemed to be working.
Days three to nine of the plan followed a similar structure except you are allowed a 600-calorie meal in the evening or at lunch, depending on your preference.
I found this fairly easy to stick to, although I may have consumed more than 600 calories at meal times.
In the end I lost 7lbs and knocked two inches off my waist. Perhaps unsurprisingly I also felt much healthier.
So the Clean 9 definitely did its job. At nearly £120 it’s probably not for everyone but I do think the products it contained did make a difference, particularly the aloe vera gel, which was preferable to others I have tried from health shops.
However, it is a calorie controled diet and it’s eminently possible I could’ve lost the same amount of weight by just eating 600 calories a day and drinking lots of water.
I thought my effort was good going but I couldn’t keep it up for ever. Barely a month, in fact.
Not being much of a disciplinarian I came off the wagon on January 26 and got back to eating too much. Most of what I eat I would generally view as reasonably healthy food. I just don’t burn off what I eat. That’s the main problem with the modern office-based work lifestyle.
It’s now Monday morning and I am sitting at my desk slurping a strong black coffee and scoffing a Mars bar after skipping breakfast due to struggling to drag myself out of bed after a weekend of excess, which started after wanting to wind down on Friday after a hectic week at work. A scenario I am sure many a reader can relate to.
Stress is often used as an excuse for opening a bottle of wine. Deep down I know it is probably counter-productive. I legitimise it by never having a drink mid-week. I just need to stop the weekend excesses.
Making admissions like this in America I would probably be deemed a raging alcoholic and shipped off to a Betty Ford clinic before I could say: “Another glass of Malbec, please garçon.”
Maybe next January I will have another go at becoming a teetotal, fasting, exercise disciplinarian, but I doubt I will succeed. It will not stop me trying though.
Just as I was writing this article I saw a Tweet pop up on my screen. It was a picture of self-styled health guru Gillian McKeith looking rather haggard and another of a very attractive, healthy-looking Nigella Lawson. The caption basically said: “One is keen on self-cleansing and a diet of raw, organic food; the other drinks alcohol, smokes, likes red meat, butter, chocolate and cakes. Which one do you think looks healthier?”
I suppose the moral to the tale is that a little of what you fancy is not necessarily a bad thing.
l For more information on Clean 9 and Forever Living contact Lindsey or Mike on 07884 315 096 or go to www.healthylife.myforever.biz/store