"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
August 6, 2008

If I’ve Learnt Anything About Weight Loss

I’ve lost 8 kilos since the start of the year. It’s not something I did with a clear goal, it’s more of a consequence of some “lifestyle” (boy I’m starting to hate that word) changes. To be honest, I’ve always struggled with my weight, well, since I became an adult I’ve struggled with my weight. […]

I’ve lost 8 kilos since the start of the year. It’s not something I did with a clear goal, it’s more of a consequence of some “lifestyle” (boy I’m starting to hate that word) changes.

To be honest, I’ve always struggled with my weight, well, since I became an adult I’ve struggled with my weight. As a teenager I was very active in sports at a pretty serious level. But, illness and injury right at the end of my teens meant I packed on weight. In my mid twenties I got fit enough again to play football, but then the weight crept, then hurdled on in my late twenties. I moved to London and the change was brilliant, my weight shot down to ideal for my height/build/age and I celebrated my 30th in good condition. In the first year in India I was unhappy and inactive, but my weight started to go down fast once I took up golf and became adjusted to life in Delhi. The last months of my time in India, the weight crept back on again because of injury and the stresses (and temptations) of Hong Kong meant it kept going up.

That biography teaches me two important things – first that my eight fluctuates in relation to exercise. Second, that it fluctuates in relation to happiness. I say happiness, rather than stress or busyness, because this year, for example, I’ve been quite stressed and busy. My life is also much less cluttered now, which is another interesting factor as I look back on the last years.

I write all this because it seems important (and maybe obvious) to me to connect weight, health and feelings about life. The patterns may be different for all of us on this issue, but for me there are clear patterns. Unhappy and inactive, weight goes up, happy and active, weight goes down. It’s not genetics, it’s not voodoo, it’s right there if I’m courageous enough to admit it.

Beyond that there is also a question of food and here I must be blunt. Without portion control, healthy choices and a willingness to feel hungry from time to time, the weight never comes off. I’ve written already about Michael Pollan’s test – only buy the things your great grandparents would have recognised as food. Well, this year it has worked for me. I was reminded of this looking at yesterday’s shopping basket – fruits, vegetables, raw meats, ham, milk, cheese, butter, bread. Enough for four meals.

I’m not casting stones or claiming to be some health guru. For me, weight is a struggle. But, if I’ve learnt anything about weight loss it is all rather simple and homespun, nothing to do with diets or fads. Eat well, eat less, exercise, don’t fear hunger, watch your emotional well-being, clean up the clutter.

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Ed Jones 16 years ago

I absolutely agree with your sentiments and that is why we have a whole department headed up by our highly esteemed Claire Harrigan called Lifestyle Therapy. Decluttering one’s environment and decluttering one’s mind leads to weight loss. Clean up the clutter! So true! And yet so few see it. Lifestyle & Declutter! and I hope we can make this simple and effective method proof in the pudding. Ed Jones at http://www.get-fit-at-home.co.uk

Toni 16 years ago

There’s one you’re missing, and it’s not widely talked about – yet.


Sleep affects many things, including moods, well being and obesity. I have a friend at a local university who has found a mechanism where sleep affects weight and appetite, among other things. If you want to stand a chance controlling your weight, make sure you sleep adequately. And too much isn’t necessarily better either.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

There’s a few people writing about clutter and weight and offering solutions. It’s not the whole story, but I’m fairly convinced there is some connection there between clutter, state of mind and health. Clean and tidy isn’t the answer as much as being ready to focus on things we need to do and having a system that allows us to trust that nothing is “missing” or “lost.” I see the kitchen as a great case study in this. A kitchen that looks fit for a designer photoshoot, but hides clutter and loads of unhealthy food is of no help. A slightly messier kitchen that is ready to cook healthy food in little time and is designed to store good food is much better.

And sleep, my goodness yes! On the simplest level, when I have a lot of late nights, I invariably end up sneaking another meal in, which adds up over time. Moreover, I find it is clearly harder to deal with stress and distraction when I don’t sleep enough.

As for over sleep, well I’m not an expert, but I understand there are some connections here with depression, though I don’t know what the cause/effect relationship is.

spike 16 years ago

Hey Fern,

Just dropped by to have a read.
Thanks for you thoughts on eating and food.
We found that the only way we could really eat the way we wanted to was to grow our own food. And the only way to do that was to move out of the city and to the country.
Now that we are here we grow, and make, most of our own food. Apples, limes, oranges, guavas, avocados, pomegranates, peaches, strawberries, plums, olives, macadamias, beans, peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, garlic, capsicums, tomatoes, lettuces, chillies, some others I cant think of, and over a dozen herbs.
It has meant a complete change of “lifestyle” – simpler, slower, and less cluttered. I suppose before we made the change we had hoped that it would impact our lives in a positive way, but we never could have imagined how positive it would be.
Even after a few years we are still so excited about each new food that pops out of the earth and we are a source of great amusement to our neighbours. (who have lived in the country their whole lives)
We say silly things like, “Its so amazing growing your own food.”
And all of their answers could be condensed to, “Well DUH”.
Anyway, just some excited (farmer) ramblings.


ps – check out this book on a similar subject – https://www.kitchenliteracy.org/

pps – The other big positive life change for us was getting rid of the TV five years ago. I now believe TV is the scourge of our society. Since it went in the bin I’ve spent so much more time with my wife, my girls, my friends, myself, and my God.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Hey Spike, thanks for the comment. I will add that book to my shelves. My next read is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which chronicles of the author’s family living with only the food they could raise or what was produced in their local area.

Good story my friend. I hope you write about it some more.

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