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Progress Not Perfection – First meeting with Claire

After our conversation on the phone I booked an appointment. The office sent me some paperwork to fill out so that Claire could understand my eating habits etc.
I was asked to make a list of my favourite foods as well as a list of foods I do not like. Because of this list I am happy to say that Claire has never asked me to eat spinach. I was also asked to write down the meals I would eat on a good day and the meals I would eat on a bad day. I knew I had to be honest which was hard. I had been lying to myself and others for a long time.
My lists looked something like this…

Good day
Breakfast – Toast, butter and Bovril.
Lunch – Toast, butter and Bovril. Or cheese and ham on toast. I really love toast.
Dinner – Chicken, beef stew or curry, pork sausages or chops, rice or potatoes and sometimes veggies. I can’t believe it but there was a time when Carl would hide veggies in our food to get me to eat them.

I did drink water but only when I was thirsty.
I drank about 3 – 4 cups of coffee a day

No exercise.


Bad day
Breakfast – Usually nothing
During the day – Chocolates, chips, cold drinks or whatever other yummyness I could get my hands on.
Lunch – Toast at home but also whatever the children were eating at work such as home made burgers, mac and cheese, chicken pie, spaghetti bolognese or we would eat out at Spur or some place for pizza.
Dinner – Take aways like pizza or burgers or Chinese food or I’d buy rolls and viennas with cheese or I’d buy ready meals from Woolies and not the healthy ones.

Definitely no exercise.

What I liked the most about Claire was the fact that she had a kind way about her. In our first meeting I cried quit a lot. Claire did not just hand me a tissue over her desk. She came over and put her arm around me. I apologized for crying and Claire said that it was just fine. That’s what she was there for. That’s why she had a big box of tissues. I felt like this was a woman I could relate to and I knew I could be honest. I was right.

At our first meeting Claire spent 80 minutes explaining what happens to my body when I eat badly. How it affects my insulin and how eating bad carbs and sugar increases my cravings. We spoke about the triggers that I have. We spoke about my goals and expectations. When did I want to reach my goal? My goal was to get down to 80kgs which seemed like a fair and obtainable number. I said that I did not mind how long it took me. It could take me five years. I just want to get there and stay there. No more up and down on the scale. I got onto her scale. It said 142.8kgs. I was actually happy with that number. My scale at home was closer to 147kgs the last time I had stepped onto it. I had 62.8kgs to lose. That’s a whole person! I did not know how I was going to get there. I could see just how exited Claire was to work with me and help me reach that goal. I think she could see it more clearly than I could. Her confidence and excitement helped me to believe I could do it. Claire also took my measurements. My right arm – 46cm, stomach – 149cm and hips – 143cm.

We spoke about my good days and bad days. Claire explained how my good day was actually rather terrible too. I was not getting nearly enough variety in my diet. I was not getting the vitamins and nutrients from veggies on that good day. Then she looked at my bad day. She explained how eating one burger from Mc Donnalds was around 800 calories and then she started to rattle off loads of foods that I could eat for 800 calories. Healthy foods that sounded delicious too.

I had always thought I understood everything there was to know about dieting. I had done pretty well in the past. I had lost loads of weight many times. The problem was keeping it off. I knew that you must restrict calories or cut out whole food groups and definitely cut out all sugar and fat. I also knew that you should never cheat! So imagine my surprise when one of my new rules was to have two treats a week. That could be anything. “What about a Mcflurry?” I asked. Yes, I could have two Mcflurrys a week. I could not comprehend being on a diet and eating two Mcflurrys a week. Claire said that two Mc flurrys would be better than what I had been eating each week, and I would still lose weight. She was right. I was very concerned about Mcflurrys back then but I don’t eat them anymore. There are better treats to be had.

Claire said, “You have to stop calling this a diet. You are not on a diet. You are going to change the way you eat and live. It has to be a lifestyle, otherwise you will gain it back again as soon you go back to eating as you did before.” She said, “Life happens, there will be birthdays and celebrations and bad days where you will turn to food. You will eat things that are not great for you, but that’s ok. So long as you keep going.” Then Claire said two things that have stuck with me. No two bad meals in a row. That can often lead to the snow ball effect and before you know it you’ve eaten badly for a week and gained weight. The next statement she made was… It’s about progress and not perfection. I had always tried to be perfect on a diet. I would be 100% good all the time. When I failed and cheated I was very hard on myself and then kind of let go. It was like a flood gate opening. Before I knew it I would have gained back all the weight. Usually with a few more kgs added. Throughout this whole process I have had those words in my mind. Progress not perfection.

I made another appointment and it was at this appointment where Claire gave me my eating plan. She had used my list of favourite foods to compile an easy to follow menu. I am not going to write out my menu because everyone has different tastes but below is the list of portions.

Daily portions and options
Breakfast – 1 cup All Bran and ½ cup of low fat milk or 2 small bananas, ½ cup of plain low fat yogurt and a sprinkle of slithered almonds or 2 eggs and 4 provitas.
Snack – 1 fruit
Lunch – 3 units of protein which can be 1 tin tuna, 1/2 tub low fat cottage cheese, 1.5 rounds of feta, 90g beef, 120g chicken, 6 slices lean cold meat, 210g grilled white fish, 3 eggs or 1 tin of any beans or legumes. With a 1 unit of starch – 1 slice toast, 3 provitas(I always have 4), 1 small potato, 1 small sweet potato, ½ cup of rice, couscous or corn. Every lunch needs to include 2 cups of veggies.
Snack – 1 fruit and 1 unit of protein which can be ½ cup of yogurt or 30grams of biltong or ham
Dinner – 2 Units of protein which can be 60g beef, 80g chicken, 4 slices of lean cold meat, 140g grilled white fish, 2 eggs, 2/3 tin of any beans or legumes. Two cups of veggies. (NO STARCH AT DINNER)
4 units of fat per day. 1 Unit of fat is – 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp mayo, 1 tsp peanut butter or 1 tsp butter

I do not drink my calories besides 2 cups of coffee per day if milk is added.

No more than 2 glasses of wine per week. (I have since decided not to drink alcohol. My reasoning is that I love my wine. So when I have two glasses it always feels like I want three and then four and so it goes on. It is harder to resist that third glass when I’ve already had two. If I am tipsy it’s hard to resist food. If I am hung over the next day then those cravings for greasy foods are extremely hard to resist. While I am getting to my goal it’s just easier not to drink.)

After more than 1.5 years I know my portions. I cook up meals and freeze them. It is easy to think of different foods to eat. I have good days and bad days. I also have great days :) Where I eat perfectly and I exercise for 1.5 hours. In the beginning it was harder. The portions were small to me. Now there are times when I dish up my portions and I think how can I fit all of this in? I enjoy my food. I play with flavours and spices. I use condiments when I cook to add flavour. I enjoy my treats too. Sometimes its a burger at Dukes or pizza at Toni’s. Sometimes it’s a delicious meal Carl has cooked for me, a braai at a friends or a chocolate in the evening while watching tv. Recently I was with Carl and some friends and we were talking about meals we were going to make and restaurants we were going to eat at. I said, “Isn’t it wonderful how many naughty things we get to eat in our life time. Even when it’s only twice a week.”

Some have asked me when I will stop seeing Claire? I get that. They want to know why I still need her. I’ll tell you but that will be another post :)



Progress Not Perfection – Introduction

It was a day in June 2014 at around 4:30am. I had just brought my 13 month old nephew into our room. We had had a slept over and it was time to,“Wake up Aunty Kezzie!” After we played for a while Carl, my boyfriend, turned to me and asked me when we could have a baby. I was surprised because it was the first time he had asked me that question. “When I have reached a healthy weight.” I replied. We both want to have the most healthy baby and give that baby the best chance in life. I know that being obese while pregnant can cause issues for mom and baby. I have also watched a documentary which showed how babies of obese mothers are often born overweight. Being a mom is what I want most in life and I felt like I was making us both wait now. I felt guilty and frustrated with myself.
I had been thinking about my weight for a long time. Of all the times I had tried to lose weight. All the successes I had had. Then I would gain back all the weight with extra. I needed more than a diet. I needed help. I called Carl one evening, very emotional because I had to tell him. He knew how hard I had tried in the past to lose weight. I mean he had been on every diet I had been on during our 7 year relationship. He asked “What kind of help?” I said, “A dietitian or a psychologist. I need someone to help me with the reasons why I keep losing weight and then gaining it back again.” I knew it was a cost that we would need to bear but it was for our future. Carl said “OK, let’s try something new. Let’s start with a dietitian.” I agreed.

I hit google and searched for a dietitian in our area. I called the very first number that came up. It was a very friendly lady. She said “I’m sorry, I’m based in Bloemfontein but I can give you the contact details to my colleague in Sandton. Her name is Claire Julsing – Strydom.” I called and spoke to Claire directly. I told her that I was broken. I cried. There is something very wrong with me. I am not sure if I need a dietitian or a psychologist. She said that I should come in and see her. If she felt I needed a psychologist then she would refer me. Her voice was gentle and calm and I felt like I could tell her anything from that very first conversation.
I made my first appointment and I know it was the best decision I have ever made. I have lost 42kgs so far. I have not had to see a psychologist. In fact, I have learned that I am not broken. I have bad habits and I am working on them every day.

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