Walking away from faddy diets helped me lose 2 stone: Step by step, this is how one woman finally made her weight problems take a hike
21:05 GMT, 23 June 2012
Best foot forward: Christine Palmer now walks every day to keep trim
It was a milestone moment. For the first time since I’d bought it years earlier, I was thrilled to find that my beautiful white, silk, size 14 designer top fitted me perfectly.
After a lifetime trying faddy diets, in the end it had taken just five weeks to finally shed the two-and- a-half stone necessary to wear it – and I felt healthier and sexier than I had done in decades.
I’d taken the drastic measure of walking almost 500 miles from St Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain – otherwise known as The Camino, or Pilgrims’ Route.
That was nine years ago and now at 67 I still walk every day. I have never returned to my old eating habits and have gained only half a stone.
At the time I had just retired from a 20-year career with the BBC, latterly as a documentary-maker. Juggling my job with three children, I’d neglected myself and I’d ballooned to a size 18 to 20.
I loved cheese and crisps and could happily polish off the leftovers from a dinner party.
Although, at 6ft, I could carry it off, I didn’t feel healthy. I would half-heartedly join gyms and try crash diets, never losing more than a few pounds. /06/23/article-2163679-0E00F3D300000578-356_634x401.jpg” width=”634″ height=”401″ alt=”All-round benefits: Leading mental health charity Mind also advocates walking to relieve stress, improve sleep quality and fight depression” class=”blkBorder” />
All-round benefits: Leading mental health charity Mind also advocates walking to relieve stress, improve sleep quality and fight depression
‘Thirty minutes of brisk walking a day, five days a week offers good protection for your health and there’s no plateau in terms of the health benefits.’
Leading mental health charity Mind also advocates walking to relieve stress, improve sleep quality, and fight depression, since physical activity causes the brain to release endorphins – chemicals which improve mood and reduce anxiety.
In 2003, I took five weeks to walk The Camino, covering ten to 15 miles a day over mountains and through valleys, vineyards and cities. I stayed in hostels and my essentials were contained in my rucksack, making it the perfect opportunity to also overhaul my eating habits.
There was no room for the coffee, wine, eggs, cheese, meat, bread, biscuits, pasta, desserts or chocolate I had over-indulged in.
'There were moments during the first ten days when I could have devoured a ploughman's… but the more I walked, the less I thought about food'
Food was now fuel to provide energy. I devised a regime of yogurt and tea for breakfast, snacks of oranges and bananas, and lunches and dinners of tinned sardines and tuna, tinned vegetables such as sweetcorn, fresh and dried fruit including avocados, nuts, salads, rice, and rice cakes.
There were moments during the first ten days when I was exhausted and could have devoured a ploughman’s lunch and a glass of wine. But the more I walked, the less I thought about food.
Then in week three something magical happened: I was no longer craving cheese, bread, or chocolate but instead hankered for the fish, salad, rice and fruit that were now my staple diet.
My energy levels soared and my skin glowed. As the pounds fell away so did my shorts and I had to create a makeshift belt from a piece of string.
‘Evidence shows that to lose weight and maintain that for life, a holistic approach is needed to incorporate physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing,’ says Prof Gately. ‘Physical activity such as walking is a great time to think, something which many of us with busy lives don’t get enough of.’
Every day I hear overweight people talking about which diet they’re following and they remind me of the old Christine. I find myself wishing that they could take five weeks out of their own lives to learn to enjoy exercise and healthy food.
Walking Back To Happiness, by Christine Palmer, 7.99, amazon.co.uk