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Wednesday 13 September 2023

Weight Struggle Update


& #WowOnWednesdayTwo pictures of style blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton showing her at her largest and slimmest.

Dear friends.  You may wonder why I'm referring to my "weight struggle" but to me, staying slim and fit after years of being overweight is a daily battle similar to that faced by recovering alcoholics.

I've managed to shake off - somewhat - the counting calories mentality that I've had since I was 12, but I still fret if I "over eat", afraid that at any moment my self control might go, and I'll pile the weight back on.

I also have a bit of body dysmorphia because I usually think of myself as plump, and am surprised when people tell me this isn't the case. 

Sound familiar? Or am I a worse case than you?

I like to check in with you every now and then on my latest approach to diet and fitness. My last post was in January, when I went to a boot camp refresh.  

A few things have changed since then. I had a shock with some blood tests and am trying to eat more healthily after two years of a very low carb diet. And I've been looking into what my DNA can tell me about my propensity to put on weight and more. 


I was at my heaviest a year after I returned from 18 months working in Munich, in 2001. There, I had cycled and gone to a gym, and lost weight. Back in the UK, I was living on my own in Swindon and didn't have much of a social life. The weight piled on.

At my heaviest I was 12 and a half stone  (79kg, 175 pounds). I'd been a relatively slim child but from teenager onwards, I was always a little overweight, and felt inferior to slim girls. I never had that gung- ho "love me as I am" mentality. Below: in Corfu in 2003, at my heaviest. A UK size 16. 

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in 2003 at her heaviest weight

Blood Test Shocker

By 2019, I had got to a good weight and was sustaining it, thanks to a low carb diet and exercise including forest walks, weights and yoga. Earlier this year I had some blood tests and was horrified to see my triglycerides (and cholesterol) were off the scale, thanks to my low carb diet! I'd been eating far too much fat in the form of Greek yoghurt, cheese and butter, and scarcely no carbs except vegetables. 

I quickly changed my diet and had more blood tests done a few weeks later.  These were showing normal levels of triglycerides;  cholesterol still higher than it should be.

What I Eat Now - example

Breakfast: 2 poached eggs on toasted sourdough with Marmite not butter, or porridge with cacao and berries.

Lunch:  Tinned red salmon and cucumber on toasted sourdough or sourdough crackers with cheese and tomatoes

Dinner:  Falafals with houmous and Greek salad, or salmon fillets with a jacket potato or puy lentils and plenty of veg.  Occasionally: a couple of chocolate biscuits, an ice cream, crisps, strawberries and cream.

I take a high dose of Biotin (vitamin B7) which has dramatically improved my nails, plus omega oils capsules and vitamin C (low dose). 

Exercise Revamp

I've swapped Pilates for yoga - it's much better for my middle, which I need to keep an eye on.  I still walk 2-3 times a week, and at a faster pace than I did during lockdown. This gets the heart rate up nicely.

Walking in all weathers: Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton

In May I got an ebike and we are cycling 3 times a week.  Last week we cycled in the Lake District. The cycle paths are spectacular. Below: by the canal in the Lee Valley country park. 

Cycling to keep fit:  Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton

What Does Our DNA Tell Us About Diet & Fitness?

I was intrigued to read an article recently that said if you have a DNA file, via Ancestry or one of the other geneology sites, it can be used by Fitness Genes to tell you how your DNA stacks up for dozens of markers of health, muscle strength and fitness. 

They provide a wealth of information and it's still evolving, so every now and then I get a new report on a different aspect of fitness or nutrition.  They don't provide info on susceptibility to genetic illnesses. 

The challenge is that there are so many markers that some of them seem like duplicates, so it's hard to get a real sense of how much your DNA holds you back, or helps you.  My overall genetic score for fat and weight gain is poor.  But the lengthy questionnaire I completed on my diet and fitness offsets it, to a large extent.  

Interestingly I have an increased risk of weight gain when consuming a diet high in fat. I'm also at high risk of over eating, and I carry gene variants that impair my fat taste sensitivity, which can lead to over-consumption in fat.  (And very prescient when you look at my blood test shocker!).

But I also have good genes for NOT over eating on fat, and I don't carry the APOA2 genes linked to weight gain with high saturated fat intake.

Now you can see why it's confusing! It's obviously in the early stages, and will become incredibly exciting as more knowledge develops.

Fitness Genes give you literally dozens of tips to offset bad results. 

If you're on Ancestry, they now offer for an additional cost some "new" DNA results on your health/ appearance traits, but it's so general it really isn't worth doing  (I have a strong likelihood of blue eyes for example.....). 

Holiday Habits

During the low carb period, 2019- 2022, I rarely over indulged, even on holiday. I felt I had to maintain a rigid grip at all times.  Now I am more relaxed. On holiday last week, I had a large breakfast, small lunch and then a normal dinner  (starter and main course) with a pudding on one day because it was one I really like. We also had ice creams, shandies and crisps during our bike rides. Bananas would probably have been better but on holidays you can let your hair down!  I didn't drink alcohol. I'm not that keen, and it just adds empty calories.

When I weighed the day after we got home, I was at the low end of my usual weight, which is between 8 stone 13 to 9 stone 1. 

How are you with your weight? Is it a constant battle or do you feel happy with where you are? Do share your experiences in the comments.

Do pop back tomorrow as I'm sharing a book I loved by best selling author Ann Cleeves. 

Sharing this post with: Weekday Wear at Away from the Blue, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Hello Monday at Sunshine and Books, Tell it to Me Tuesday at Perfectly Imperfect, Rena at Fine WhateverTurning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Confident Twosday at I Do Declaire, Style with a Smile at StylesplashTalent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling BoomerCurated by Jennifer (Wednesdays), Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness  and #Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge,  Thursday Fashion Files at Doused in Pink, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey BrunetteFancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style,  Traffic Jam Weekend at Marsha in the Middle Senior Salon Pitstop at Esme Salon Crafty Creators at Life as a Leo Wife,  Unlimited Link Party at Grammy's Grid 

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