I am a person who has struggled with her weight throughout her adult life. I have never been over weight, but owing to my polycystic ovaries and insulin resistance, I have always been advised to be conscious of how much I weigh. Also, I have always appeared to be the chubby one surrounded by my four skinny sisters and one skinny brother. Most of my siblings are voracious eaters but have amazing metabolisms. Two of them didn’t even look like mothers when they brought their babies home from the hospital. It was as if all their pregnancy weight magically disappeared in labor. I am aware that this is no reason to get conscious of one’s body, but I am a flawed human after all. And I wonder why it isn’t as easy for me to shed the weight as it is for them? Why couldn’t I get the good genes? (I look too much like my father, so I ruled out adoption a long time ago).
Having said that, I have never met anyone in my life who enjoyed gaining weight in pregnancy as much as I did. I was eating however much I wanted, maternity wear looked good on me and I felt stronger and healthier than I had ever did. For reference, I am 5’5” tall and when I got pregnant I weighed 58 kgs and reached 78 kgs by the end of it. I gained a whopping 20 kgs in my pregnancy, out of which babyZ only contributed 3.5. When I left the hospital, I weighed 72 kgs. All of a sudden, I wasn’t pregnant but extremely over-weight. Honestly speaking, in the first three months I had so much to deal with that I didn’t have the presence of mind to think about my weight. When I did think about it, I started cutting back on sugar and reduced my portion size. I was losing weight but very gradually. There is a common saying among new moms: Nine months to gain and nine months to lose. So here I was, 8 months after my baby was born, 10 kgs above my ideal weight. I wanted to do something about it for my health concerns and also because I wasn’t happy with the way I looked.
One day, the Husband, who was also overweight, mentioned that someone in his office is losing weight quickly by following the Dukan Diet. I am quite wary of diet plans but on the Husband’s insistence, I decided to read about it. Apparently, this diet plan has been around for quite a while now and many celebrities have claimed to follow it (Princess Catherine did it? Say no more. I am in!) I felt that it is do-able and the promised results were quite amazing. So here’s what I learnt:
Dukan Diet is a protein based diet designed by a French Doctor, Pierre Dukan. This diet plans claims to be different form the thousands of other plans out there by promising that it will re-program your eating habits, help you achieve your target weight and then maintain it for the rest of your life. This diet is divided into four phases: Attack, Cruise, Consolidation and Stabilization. How long you will have to be on each phase of the plan will be determined by the amount of weight you have to lose. You can pay and subscribe to the online coaching or use the free calculator on the dukan diet site to calculate your true weight. The website also gives a list of 100 allowed foods that you can eat in as much quantity as you like during the diet. The secret weapon of this diet is oat bran, which if you commit to the diet, you have to take for the rest of your life.
The first phase of the diet is the Attack Phase. It can last from 5 to 7 days depending on the amount of weight you have to lose. This is a pure protein phase which means that no vegetables can be taken during this phase of the diet. In my experience, this was more difficult than it sounds. I was craving vegetables for the first time in my life. Our meals mostly comprised of boiled eggs, grilled chicken, fat-free yogurt, oat bran and coke zero. I replaced sugar with splenda in my tea and thankfully didn’t get the after-taste people complain about. I made sure that I drank 2 liters of water every day. The diet also includes exercise, but honestly, I didn’t do it. I stayed on this phase for 10 days which is more than advised but the Husband was not ready to move on to the next one, so I stuck with him. I am glad to report that I didn’t cheat a single time during this phase and the results were amazing.
- Number of days on Attack phase: 10
- Starting weight: 64.5 kgs
- Weight at end of the phase: 59.5 kgs
- Total weight loss in Attack phase: 5 kgs
The second phase of the diet is the Cruise Phase and the timeline of this phase is: 7 days for each kilogram you want to lose. This is the phase in which you will achieve your true weight. Vegetables are introduced in this phase of the diet on alternate days. So one day is a pure protein day and the next is a protein and vegetables day. This phase was slightly easier because we got to eat salads during the day and we also mastered a pizza recipe using oat bran for the base! I cheated twice during this phase when I felt I would die without a molten chocolate cake. I took slightly longer to lose weight in this phase but I am over the moon to have achieved my target weight. I must mention that according to the Dukan Diet calculator, my true weight is 57 kgs, but my doctors have always advised me to lose as much as I can without feeling weak. That for me is 55 kgs. Here are the stats:
- Number of days on Cruise phase: 42
- Starting weight: 59.5 kgs
- Weight at end of the phase: 55.5 kgs
- Total weight loss in Cruise phase: 4 kgs
I am currently on the third phase of the Dukan diet which is the Consolidation Phase. This is the phase which will help you maintain your true weight and is extremely crucial. If you skip on this phase, all the lost weight will return very quickly. The timeline of this phase is: 10 days for every kilo lost. So I have to stay on this phase for 3 months considering I lost 9 kgs. Now I am allowed to eat 2 slices of bread, some cheese and a fruit every day and a portion of starchy food once a week. Moreover, I can have a celebration meal every week. But I have to have a pure protein day once a week and never to skip oat bran. I have already completed a month of cruise phase and have managed to stay on 55.5kgs (even though I have been celebrating more than I am allowed.) I feel very healthy and active throughout the day and I am also very happy that I have lost my afternoon cravings for crisps and late night cravings for ice cream.
The last phase of this diet is called the Stabilization Phase and is meant to last for the rest of your life. The idea is that in the first three phases of the diet you have developed good eating habits and are conscious of the choices you make in your meals, so you are meant to follow this pattern for the rest of your life. But you have to keep taking oat bran daily, exercise and stick to your one pure protein day for the rest of your life.
Here are a few of my observations and lessons learnt on this diet plan:
- It helps a lot if you have a partner on the diet. There were days when I was terribly tempted to indulge in something naughty, but the Husband made me feel guilty and that stopped me. We also motivated each other to stay on the diet by constantly mentioning how good the other person looked and how we will definitely need new clothes soon. So buddy up if you plan to do it.
- Weigh yourself regularly during the diet. I was doing it daily on the Attack phase and every three days on the Cruise phase. The difference of a few grams each day kept me motivated.
- The key to losing weight is not starving yourself, rather it is to make the appropriate food choices. You may have to deprive yourself of, let’s say, pizza for dinner every night, but I am quite sure that it is a habit you want to get rid of anyway. Use the diet not just to lose weight but also to improve your eating habits.
- Eat home cooked meals as much as possible. Leave the take aways and eating out for special occasions. By doing this you know exactly what you are consuming and when you do indulge yourself on the weekend or a special occasion, it is more likely to make you happy than guilty.
- I have noticed that I do not have cravings for junk food like I used to. I believe this is because I am constantly feeling full on this diet. I eat a little something before the hunger pangs kick in and in that way I control what I put in my body. So never let yourself go hungry because then you are bound to reach for the things you crave.
- Since it is just us two adults at home, it was fairly easy to only buy things that are allowed on the diet. The lesson here is, eliminate all foods from your kitchen that might tempt you in a moment of weakness and have lots of options for healthy snacks.
- The diet has made me very conscious of how good or bad a food product is for me. For the first time in my life, I was looking at labels when buying products. This is a habit I plan to stick to for the rest of my life and make better decisions about what I consume from now on. And I have noticed that if you actually look, there are healthier alternatives for everything. So I suggest that you should make an effort to read and understand food labels.
- If you plan to start the Dukan Diet, try to avoid going out and socializing for the entire Attack phase and the first half of the Cruise phase. Believe me, it is far more difficult to resist food than you would imagine.
- Water and exercise can do wonders for your weight loss speed. The reason our weight loss has been slow is because we weren’t exercising. I really want to work on this aspect of my health but I have a serious case of laziness.
- The Air fryer is a great invention! I think that the only reason that people like me and the Husband, who love their food, managed to stay on the diet for so long, is because the air fryer makes great tasting food without oil. I have mastered a few recipes using the Philips Airfryer and I keep them on rotation throughout the week. Works like a charm!
It took me a little less than two months to achieve my target weight, but the lessons I learnt in the process hold more value to me than the weight loss. I intend to make a conscious effort to choose more natural foods and avoid eating overly processed products as much as I can from now on. Most importantly, I hope to instill the habit of clean and healthy eating in my daughter and teach her that feeling well and strong is a lot more important than being stick thin. I will enter the stabilization phase of my diet at the end of August, so let’s see how successful I am in keeping the weight off. Fingers crossed!