Updated May 7, 2013
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and moved with my family to New Zealand when I was 16. My parents, specifically my mother, tried very hard to get her daughters to eat healthy foods, but we simply envied our friends’ Wonder Bread, Miracle Whip and bologna!
I used to eat ordinary foods plus whatever I could get to satisfy my sweet tooth. From a sedentary childhood with my books, I’d become an overweight adolescent for whom gym class was a real chore. It seemed impossible to change this as I grew older, no matter how much I went to the gym or tried to stick to a diet. And after University and landing the dreaded office job, I weighed about 220 lb., and hated it. I honestly didn’t know what to do. I felt ugly and trapped.
So when my sister talked enthusiastically about this new diet, although I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, I was willing to try anything. And I thought it made sense, and that I could do it. I was 25 years old.
I first started the McDougall 12-day program and tried to limit processed foods (MWL). At the beginning, the weight was coming off even if I did eat some white rice or bread sometimes. This diet was that much healthier than my old diet. I also found it easier to be strict on weekdays than on weekends. I made sure to exercise, at least walking, almost every day.
But my big weight shifts always came at the times when I consciously kept processed foods out of my diet. I could expect at least twice as much weight loss than otherwise.
And as I moved from being obese to simply overweight, I really had to avoid processed foods. If not, then any weight loss was so minimal that I couldn’t see it quickly enough to motivate me to continue. Remember, if you are dealing with a lifelong weight and eating problem as I am, it won’t disappear immediately!
After about a year, I weighed 150 lb. Quite satisfied with my progress, I stopped being so careful. Not only did I start eating more breads and pasta, I ate too much sugar and calories. However, even “binging” on breads and pasta only meant I gained back 10 lb. and stayed steady for about a year until I was ready to lose some more weight.
Six years after starting, I now weigh just over 130 lb. (a reduction of almost 90 pounds!). And best of all, I have no desire to go back to the way of eating that got me into trouble in the first place. You could not pay me any money to go back. Not only have I lost weight, I feel wonderfully healthy and energetic. I can run and rock climb, and I do, regularly. I took part in a relay marathon and an 8K fun run.
I have constantly battled self-esteem issues about my weight, and getting it under control has helped tremendously. Over the past several years, I have entered seriously into performance singing (on stage, in front of people!) I now am a regular member of the chorus singing with the New Zealand Opera. People who know me now hardly believe it’s me when they see my “before” picture. My husband is thrilled that I have lost that unhealthy weight. I can wear a much better variety of clothes and be happy with how I look.
This diet, although not easy, is simple, healthy and cheap. Most importantly, it works!
People struggling (and failing) with weight loss often ask me if my approach will work for them. My answer is, “There are no fat Chinese in China.” In other words, there are several billion people who are living in China on diets high in rice and vegetables (and exercising) and no one is overweight. Of course, all that changes when these Chinese migrate to your home town and start eating less rice and more meat, dairy, fats, and vegetable oils. These same people living in China have stresses, at least as painful as any of us suffer –poverty, infidelity, spousal abuse, loss of family members, etc. And with all these difficulties they still remain trim, active, and avoid diseases common to Westerners for a lifetime. This example does apply to you also in a therapeutic way. Consider, if you were to migrate to rural China, took a job working in the rice paddies, and ate with a local family, you would quickly lose weight and regain your health. So simple. Fortunately, you don’t have to move to China and your diet doesn’t have to be as plain as rice and vegetables to get the results you are looking for and deserve.
The reason you will be able to follow the diet I recommend for a lifetime is because you are only doing natural enjoyable, behaviors – you will no longer have to suffer the pains of hunger, follow bizarre, risky diets (like all meat diets), or make yourself nervous and sick with pills. All you have to do is eat unlimited quantities of delicious foods and walk daily. I realize you may not like some of the foods I recommend right in the beginning – but all that will easily change with a little effort. Start out with foods that are familiar – foods you already enjoy – like maybe oatmeal for breakfast, or bean burritos, pasta and marinara sauce, or mu shu vegetables over rice for lunch or dinner. Eat frequently – there is no reason to be hungry. Find an exercise you enjoy and do it daily.
If you want to push your efforts for faster weight loss, then limit your intake of sugars (even fruits and juices), flour products (like breads and bagels) and instead eat more rice, corn, potatoes, beans, and green and yellow vegetables. If you are thinking all those carbohydrates will turn to sugar and make you fat – think again – there are no fat Chinese.
The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss book will provide more information on effort- less, efficient weight loss and recipes. The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook may be the best recipe book investment you ever made. See www.drmcdougall.com if you need the motivation to get going then don’t hesitate to get the 6-video tape series, “Dr. McDougall’s Total Health Solution for the 21st Century.” This is $5000 worth of education – the very lectures Mary and John McDougall gave at their 12 Day live-in hospital-based program.
Even though these results do not occur with everyone, they are typical for people who make the diet and lifestyle changes recommended by the McDougall Program.