Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Weight Loss Experiment – Take 1

In November, I did a case study. Of myself. After months of staring at massive bathroom mirrors and the reflection being exactly the same, I remained disgusted and could not deny the horrible truth anymore: I am (getting) fat. For months, I thought all the scales in the houses we took care of were wrong. Yes, I was that naive. Until recently, when facing – and admitting to – reality. It boils down to this: I am not all-around fat; it just has accumulated in certain spots. My body has been disproportionate for a decade: skinny on top, bulky on the bottom. Recently, the bulkier parts can be labelled fat and some new areas of concern have appeared.

People that have known me for a long time are probably raising their eyebrows reading a post about weight loss… coming from me! Most of those people have probably not seen me in a while either. Yes, I was skinny as a teenager and happy with my weight in my twenties and thirties. Sure, I was still OK wearing bikinis on our boat two years ago, ignoring the emerging belly fat, attempting to sit up straight when in company. And then, I turned 40. I like to blame the unruly weight gain on my age, but it might have to do with Mark and I swapping our challenging boat life for a more sedentary and comfortable house sitting life as well. Food is readily available in a plethora of varieties now. Sitting behind the computer all day and eating more western food probably didn’t help. Despite going for a decent walk almost daily, I gained 10 pounds in the last year… How do I get rid of that, at this age, with temptations everywhere?

The Realization:

I’m not someone who often looks in the mirror or scrutinizes herself from top to toe. On our Irie with its small mirror and poorly lit bathroom, I didn’t even bother looking up when getting ready in the morning. Imagine my surprise when, all of a sudden, I am forced to do so, say in a fitting room of a clothing store, or the big, wide mirrors of the houses we have been staying at, or… a yoga studio. The shock! After the visual realization came the physical one. My pants were not fitting anymore. The horror! That had never happened in my whole life. They must have shrunk in the dryer, I tried to convince myself. I refused to give in. Whether it was stubbornness or frugality, I kept wearing them with belly cramps as a result. Stupid pants!

Big bathroom mirrors

The Issue:

Being, or feeling, fat means different things to different people… In this particular case study, we are talking about massive fat rolls in various places of the body: about three layers on the belly (the kinds that bulge over the waistline of your pants), a few protrusions on the outside of the hips and thighs and an unwieldy overhang on each inner thigh. The last ones are those little cushions that rub each other when walking in a skirt (or bikini) in the summer. No wonder I like shorts much better. I won’t go as far as to say that’s why I like winters better than summers. Not yet anyway!

The Plan:

So, what was I going to do? I am not the dieting kind of person, let alone the trend following kind that reads women’s magazines and follows their advice. Actually, I did read one of those recently (it was called Health) and was appalled by its uselessness and commercializing approach. Most of the health “advice” was just common sense, nothing new or mind-opening. I think their market must be a younger female crowd. Ah, there is one advantage of being 40! Of course, the plan I came up with is likely common sense to many was well…

I never realized this before, but trying to lose weight sucks. It requires determination, exercise and discipline. Not really my thing when it comes to eating, but I had to do something. So, these were my humble intentions during the month of November:

  • belly and upper leg exercises for ten minutes first thing in the morning
  • not have seconds for any meal
  • drink at least 2000 ml of water every day
  • reduce my snack intake and have raw carrots or other healthy alternatives instead
  • walk at least 8000 steps every day, ideally 10,000
  • keep eating healthy food

Note: in regards to healthier food consumption, there is not much room for improvement. Since Mark’s illness in 2014, we have been eating extremely healthy, removing sugar and red meat from our diet (apart from the rare times we make chocolate chip cookies or are offered a meal containing these items) and cooking plant-based meals. When it comes to meat, I am mostly sticking to chicken (breasts). We only use and consume products with “good” oils (olive, canola and peanut oil – we don’t like coconut oil). High fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated soybean oil have been big no nos forever.

The Execution:

How did I do in November? Well, Thanksgiving and my birthday made the quest a bit more challenging. I did cheat a bit when buying those almonds covered in dark chocolate. And, how could I resist making this amazing dessert cocktail when having crème de cocoa, amaretto and vanilla ice cream in the house, all at the same time? I am no saint. But, all in all, I stuck to my tight and healthy plan. I did the morning exercises every day but Sunday, I never had a second helping, I usually racked up 8000 steps a day or more (walking the dog and to the mall for grocery shopping and yoga), we stuck to our plant-based diet and I mostly avoided the salty snacks I love. The easiest thing to do was drinking water, especially when hanging around the house all day. Keeping track was the hard part. 🙂

Appetizers on Thanksgiving

Note: I signed up for yoga classes about halfway through the month. I waited until the weather turned cold before jumping on the introduction offer at a local yoga studio: $30 for 30 days of unlimited access to the ten or so classes every day. The studio is a ten-minute walk from our current home. Great, extra steps! But, being called Body & Heat, it is a “hot” studio. This means that all the practices take place in temperatures of 100°F (38°C) or more and varying humidity levels!!! Yeah… Living in the tropics is one thing, exercising in it quite another, as my frequent excruciating headaches after every hike over there proved. No pain, no gain, right? I had no idea what I was getting into and after trying a few different classes, getting my fat butt kicked, sweating way more liquid than I consumed, being the only one who had no clue about anything and embarrassing myself endlessly (luckily, I don’t know anyone here), I discovered that 1) 100°F, while nice on a cold evening, is hot from the moment you enter the room, 2) you sweat, even when meditating or laying in the corpse position (my favorite “pose”), 3) I preferred the classes without cardio, without weights, without flows, without movements really, which was only one: Candlelit Yin, 4) I hated seeing my chubby, uncoordinated, funny angled body in all those mirrors surrounding me.

The Result:

I lost all of 2 pounds in November. 🙁 After the month of yoga classes finished in Mid-December (I went 20 times out of 30 days), I am still at only 2 pounds of weight loss since November 1st. All fat rolls and extra cushioning are still present. If I stare long enough at my profile in the mirror, I might be convinced of a 1mm reduction of belly fat. After my stomach was used to the smaller portions of food and I picked exercise classes I could handle, my body did feel better in general. And, my pants fit again.


  • it was a lot of effort for little gain
  • to really lose weight, I have to keep up with the plan longer than a month, or get a different plan
  • to generally feel better and make progress, you need a change in lifestyle: healthy food + small meals + regular exercises (just walking the dog does not seem to do much) – common sense!
  • to maintain my new weight, I think I have to stick to an hour walk and an hour of yoga or other exercise a day; very time-consuming!
  • I better learn to live with my chubby parts
  • the next thing to try is cutting carbohydrates from my diet
  • there might never be a take 2

Do you have any tips to lose weight?


  1. As I am also in the weight gaining boat, any suggestion must be taken in perspective. I am terrible at following my own advice. However, I once lost 40 pounds in three months (not a safe amount to be sure) by cutting calories and walking 1-2 hours a day. I went from a 3300 calorie diet to about 1600. It worked (fast) but it was hard and taxing on my body. I was hungry all the time.

    After failing to change my eating habits (beyond that three month period) I gained 20 pounds back. To lose that, I once again walked 1-2 hours a day, but this time ate a bit more food. Sticking to the 2000 calorie diet, I was able to lose the 20 pounds in about 4 months. That felt more sustainable and more healthy.

    Unfortunately for me, I came down with a mystery illness that has sapped my energy, reduced my muscle mass and made me despise exercise. It is a mental battle each day, and one I usually lose. Still, I think the advice is sound as it worked for me (twice). Walk hard and fast for at least an hour. You’ve already conquered the diet, which for most is the hardest part. Good luck.

    • I appreciate the tips, Ryan! Sorry to hear about your mystery illness. Have you tried to eat a scoop of powdered wheat grass? My husband swears with that and daily flaxseeds for health benefits. You sure have a lot of determination to lose that many pounds twice. Respect! And awe! I realize now that I have to stick to “the program” longer than one month to see real results. And, exercise harder (I am pretty lazy by nature, so this is commitment). The worst part to me, however, is the realization that when you finally see results, you have to keep with the effort and the exercises… It needs to be a change in lifestyle and something you perform every day, so it better be somewhat enjoyable. I’ll try walking the dog a bit faster today. If only me – and my knees – would like running! I hope you start to feel better soon and that you can get some cycling in this winter!

  2. Do I have any tips to lose weight? Yeah, don’t try. It’ll only make you miserable. Seriously, though, you’re not fat but I understand what you’re saying. I found that after I turned 40 I needed to start eating smaller portions to maintain my desired weight. Funnily enough, now that I’m approaching 50, I’m losing weight without any effort. Crazy! But I’m not complaining. Hang in there and good luck.

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

    • So I have something to look forward to when I am 50? 🙂 I agree with the miserable part if you try so hard and nothing happens. I was going to write in my conclusion: “It’s not worth it!” but for some people it is and maybe if I try to stick to the smaller portions and more exercise a bit longer, it might be for me as well. But, do I really care that much? We’ll see! Thing is, I thought the smaller portions would do it as well, but no such luck, unless I cut them down even smaller, but I barely eat 1800 calories a day, while I burn more, so I hoped it would do the trick. Lucky you having a metabolism like that! I’m sure you hear this a lot, just like Mark hears it from me all the time as well. He can eat what he wants and does not gain an ounce. And, the worst part: I am much heavier than him, even though he is a bunch taller. That in itself, might be my hangup…

  3. Well done for telling us about all this, I think that’s half the battle. I am in the same position as you, but quite a bit older. I live on a boat over the summer, and rarely bother with what I look like, but over the winter we are back in the uk and I am appalled by how I look and how much I weigh. About five years ago. I lost tons of weight, about three stone in six months, for my daughter’s wedding, and carried on afterwards. Then I put it all on again . I didn’t go to any slimming clubs, and barely exercised. The thing that worked for me was using a much smaller plate for every meal, and cutting out all junk food and alcohol. It was very difficult and I was hungry most of the time, but losing three or four pounds every week to start with, then a steady 1-2 lbs a week kept me going. I also find I need to be in the right mind set. I’m an all or nothing sort of person. Either I don’t diet at all, or I completely go for it. I really really love food! I’m not in that mind set at the moment, but hopefully I will be there in January! Good luck to you! Keep us posted.

    • Why is gaining weight so much easier than losing weight? 🙂 Well done on the commitment for your daughter’s wedding. That is a big weight loss from the beginning. I think your regiment makes sense, cutting out sodas, sugar, alcohol and eating less. Thing is, when you are already doing these things, there is not much more to take out, except carbs in my situation. I was hungry in the beginning of eating smaller meals. Now, all is fine, but no more pounds are being shed. I love food as well, but it is interesting to me that, after changing your diet to healthier food, your body adjusts and actually complains when you stray… When I eat a portion of fries (or even half a portion) now, my stomach objects and makes me regret it afterwards! 🙂

  4. Damn mirrors! It sounds like you are already doing many of the things (eating a healthy diet, getting exercise) most weight loss programs advise.

    I’m kind of an all-or-nothing person who hates keeping track of stuff – Weight Watchers, as good as many say it is, didn’t work for me because I had to count all those stupid points. I’ve found only one program that “fits me and, I’ve been on it for over three years. It’s called the 5:2 diet, or FastDiet and I first heard of it on my local public broadcasting station, believe it or not. I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but you can google 5:2 Diet or Fast Diet or Michael Mosley (I also did a post on it awhile ago). Dr. Mosley did three episodes for the BBC: The Truth about Exercise, Blood and Guts, and Eat, Fast, Live Longer. All three are excellent, but the last one is the one that changed the way I eat – and helped me lose weight. He also has a book, The FastDiet, that has a lot of good info.

    Anyway, it’s not for everyone, but it fits my personality well. Good luck!

    • When I think about it, I am kind of approaching my eating habits the same way as my spending habits, without any written rules or punishments or cut-backs. I eat as healthy as possible and stick to one plate, just like I spend as little as possible to live comfortable without excess. While I have heard about some other fasting diets (one day a week), I didn’t know about the 5:2 diet. I definitely could see that work: 2 days of fruits and vegetables and not much else, and on the other days you stick to a 2000 calorie diet. Maybe I’ll try this. It sounds more appealing than cutting out all carbs, since I love my pasta, rice and dark bread! You still have to keep track of calories, though! 🙂 Of course, it becomes habit after a while and you know how much everything is. Do you always pick the same two days, Janis, or do you alternate 2-1-3-1-2-1-3-1…?

      • After losing the weight I wanted on 5:2 (five days of eating normally, 2 days of 500 calories each), I am now on maintenance (6:1 – six days normal, 1 day of 500 calories). When I was on 5:2, I usually did Monday and Thursday; on 6:1, I pick the day of the week that I will have the most distractions. I don’t usually follow the plan when I’m on vacation or if I get sick (like right now I have a cold so I’m eating every day… just not a lot since I don’t feel well). If I see my weight creeping back up, I go back on 5:2 until I’m back at my target weight.

  5. dconnollyislandgmailcom

    December 19, 2016 at 18:34

    Sounds to me like you are on the right path, Liesbet. My guess is that you just need to give it more time. I believe that you have made a good sensible start and should be proud of yourself for this. Stick to it and I am sure that you will see more of the results that you are looking for.
    P.S. Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, dark chocolate is one of the best sources of antioxidants available. Research shows that dark chocolate (not the sugary kind) improves health and lowers the risk of heart disease.

    • Yeah… I guess I have to keep this up, right? 🙂 The only “candy” Mark eats is extra dark chocolate (86%), but unfortunately, our Belgian stock has been consumed. Just like red wine, dark chocolate makes up a small part of our diet. Thanks for confirming the benefits, Donna! Time for my parents to come visit! 🙂

  6. I did hot yoga once and felt very ill and wanted to pass out! Only once! It certainly seems like you are doing all the right things, I bet it will start paying off soon.

    • The heat and humidity was definitely an adjustment! While we had lived in the tropics for a decade, stepping foot in these rooms was like entering an oven. I felt nauseous in two classes and once I had to leave, because I almost passed out. After that, I tried to stick to the slower classes! It felt much better… Ideally, I lose another 8 pounds, but I am not sure whether it will happen. It would depend on how much effort that requires. Life is for living, not suffering! 🙂

  7. In the days when I cycled and swam a lot I was very slim (mid-20s to mid-30s). When I hit 40 I started to gain weight and I’ve never stopped. Of course, I know that I should eat less and exercise more but, but, but, but – there’s always a but! It wouldn’t be a huge exaggeration to say that approaching 60 I am half as heavy again as I was at 30 (honestly, I was far too skinny, that ‘s not quite as bad as it sounds). The moral is you are doing the right thing – nip it in the bud now is my advice.

    • I hear you about the “buts”! Although I am doing better with food excuses these days than with writing excuses. Maybe if I am strong and stick to a healthy writing schedule, my fingers will get as used to that as my stomach is to a healthy eating schedule. 🙂 I miss those days that I was playing competitive volleyball. No worries about weight back then either. 🙂 Now that my 30-day yoga trial is over, we are walking the dog at a faster pace to make up…

  8. Liesbet I have found over the past year or two that working from home and possibly my age has created more challenges in being fit and healthy.For me it really does come down to calories in and calories out. My advice is keep a food diary and exercise 30-60 minutes a day. Oh yes and stay away from mirrors. 🙂

    • Thanks for the advice, Sue. I have a pretty good idea about my calories going in and out (thanks to the Fitbit), but the first one being lower than the second does not do the job (anymore). I’m with you in regards to the exercise, just have to up the pace a bit. 🙂 Still hating those mirrors, though.

  9. I’ve discovered the same issue. Since I fought in the ring at the end of 2011, I took a long time off exercising and ate like crap. I was burnt out. Add in my sedentary writers’ lifestyle, and the girl who could “never gain weight” discovered that she could, in fact.

    Best ways to get weight off that I found are intense exercise, like running or kickboxing. It’s tough, but you have to do less of it. With just walking, it’ll take forever. Walking is best for overall health or to help maintain, I find. If you do a hard run for as long as you can in the morning, before you eat anything, you will start seeing a difference. (I know not everyone can run, and I hate it myself, but I’ve never known anything to burn fat faster.) I try to do a mile when I want to lose weight and get in shape fast.

    • The sedentary life does not help, for sure. One of my issues is the limited amount of hours in the day. As a writer, you understand that there is so much to do, so much to put down in words, so much pressure you put on yourself. I find it hard to take more than an hour a day off for exercise, which is needed to take the dog out. We are walking a tad faster the last couple of days and I hope that this maybe helps.

      Intense exercise is most likely the way to go, but I have so many excuses for that. I did some weight exercise classes at the yoga studio and I really liked them, the effort, the core exercises, the weight lifting… My month is up, though. For ages, I also missed my volleyball practices and games… the only way to make me run, jump and sweat without realizing it! 🙂

      Running is out of the question with my bad knees now. It is a good excuse, because I hate running (and my running shoes are not in this country right now). 🙂 I totally agree that your method would work the best. Maybe I can sign up for another 30-day class at the next house sit in February…

  10. Hi Leisbet! I read so much about me in this post. Even exercise wasn’t enough to lose weight, especially once I got to mid 40s. By mid 50s, I about gave up, trying nutrisystem and medifast, and losing some weight, but starving! I rejoined weight watchers in January 2016, and have lost 30 pounds! Putting me on a structure using points, weighing and measuring food and using the app to calculate sugar and fat, made a huge difference. I was fooling myself about portion sizes. I haven’t been at this weight since my 30s, and some of my knee and foot pain has disappeared. Winter and holidays can be a tough time to lose weight for anyone.

    • Wow. That’s a huge weight loss, Terri! Well done. I have a few friends who use Weight Watchers and they are happy with the system and the results. I guess, just like with gym memberships, committing to something tangible – and keeping track of it – creates the best results. I think in the winter time, you put on extra fat to guard yourself against the cold and such. The holidays are tough times for weight loss, but even then, we seem to lean towards healthier food options. In my case, I think I have to up the exercise… 🙁

  11. Ugh – I am feeling this way, too. Not just because it’s the day after Christmas and I ate 17,000 cookies over the last few days. Ha! For me, living in a small apartment in the city for the last 10 months has meant much less cooking and more grabbing things from the store and just nibbling constantly. I have walked much more (the car is useless in the city), and I thought that was enough exercise, but it turns out they tell you to get your heart rate up for a reason! With my upcoming changes, I hope to get back into a good eating and exercising routine. Hang in there! There are lots of us right there with you!

    • Thanks, Lex. I have a feeling that the older we get, the more there are “of us”. 🙂 I do think walking everywhere helps a little bit – it sure is better than taking the car everywhere, something I hate to do. Not as much as in losing weight, but as in feeling better mentally and physically, and apparently, it is good to maintain your weight. Walking in cities means collecting many steps! 🙂 Getting that heart rate going is much harder, also because then it is officially called exercising! 🙂 I am so curious about your upcoming changes!

  12. Hi Liesbet, What a topic, coming from an obviously active person who is currently leading a more sedentary life. I’m a few decades older than you and have had belly rolls for a good ten years – I don’t like them, they are not me! What helps? I’ll just pass on this one idea. Chewing everything at least thirty time. At first you have to count to get a feel for just how long this is, but after a while it gets normal and you find you are always the last one eating so you start cutting back so as to not be at the table after the others have all left.
    Actually, one more idea, not one I’ve tried, but a friend in her fifties recently lost twenty pounds with Weight Watchers. This give you buddies … she looks great (not that she didn’t before) and better still, she feels fit and is happy with herself. Good luck. 🙂

    • Thanks for swinging by, Diane. Belly roles seem to be part of life after 30! (Except for my skinny husband.) Although you seemed to have gathered them at a much later age, which is great. Thanks for the tip about chewing at a slower pace. We have often heard the comment from our moms that we eat too fast. I have been good sticking to one plate of food, but eating slower might encourage me to eat even a bit less in the future. It is interesting that the stomach adjusts itself to the smaller portions and that you are only hungry for a week or so. I have friends and family who did Weight Watchers. It might be something for when I get desperate (and live in one place for a while to be able to go to meetings and decide I want to spend money on my remedy.) 🙂

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