How I lost weight without much effort

A couple of years ago I got up to my maximum ever weight of about 17.5 stone (245 pounds to my American readers) and decided enough was enough. I had been drinking way too much for far too long and eating too much fancy food in fancy places around the world.

I now weigh 14 stone 4 pounds and feel oh so much better for it. So for those of you expressing interest on Twitter this morning - how did I do it?

First thing to go was drinking. As a Scotsman I had taken it as my cultural imperative to drink longer and harder than anyone else and had built up such a tolerance that I could pack away a couple of bottles of red most nights of the week and not appear to suffer - at least outwardly. I decided that I couldn't go on like this, at least not without paying a high price, and as I am approaching 50 it wasn't going to get any easier from now on.

So in October 2007 I decided I was going to stop drinking. Much like the actor Ewan McGregor "I decided I had drunk enough". I don't do moderation very well and knew that I had to either stop altogether or keep struggling on - so stop it was.

I started reading up on the subject and came across some good books and some not so good books. The best one, for me, by a long stretch, was Alan Carr's Easy Way to Control Alcohol. In it Alan walks you through a very effective process that strips away the conditioning that makes drinking seem clever and indeed pleasurable. The thing that did it for me was remembering my body's initial, natural aversion to the taste of alcohol and how cultural pressures and advertising had encouraged me to put that aside and "learn" how to drink.

Stopping drinking lost me a stone or so but I was still overweight and possibly even eating more to compensate for the lack of drinking. I began exercising every day, walking up and down steep hills in my local town of Chesham for about 6 miles each evening. This got me fitter but didn't lose much weight.

So I went back to Alan Carr again for advice this time in Allen Carr's Easy Way to Lose Weight. Again Alan's approach is to strip away our preconceptions about our eating habits to reveal just how much of our behaviours around food are due to conditioning. Seeing food as a treat, as a reward is something we learn. Our taste for sugar, although perhaps natural in our inclination to eat fruit, has been exaggerated and capitalised on by the food industry for decades.

The way to cut down on food consumption, especially the wrong kind, is to change the way we see it. This means that you are not constantly battling with yourself, feeling that you are denying yourself something. It actually begins to feel pleasurable not to overeat and to eat more of the "right" things. If anything my pleasure in food has increased and instead of wolfing down large quantities of stodgy, salty, sweet food I can't get enough fresh fruit and salads and start to feel really grumpy if I am somewhere where they are not available for any length of time.

So I'm afraid the short answer to how I managed to lose so much weight is that I read a couple of books that, while a bit cheesy for some, hit the right spot at the right time for me and helped me decide to "stick it to the man" and start eating less and doing more.