Diet blog: fat chance

Judith Wills / 11 December 2015

Our diet expert on why nagging never makes anyone want to lose weight.

Sometimes I'm really glad I live in the middle of nowhere. Well, obviously it's somewhere, but somewhere quite remote, underpopulated and quiet. Put it this way, if you go out for a walk, you rarely meet anyone else wandering around.

You don't walk to the shops or to catch a train (there isn't one) - if you're out walking it's because you want to or because you have dogs.

So, unlike many people in London, I am unlikely to bump into a person who will give me a card with the word FAT written large on its front. And for that I am grateful. While I am not exactly fat, I  am certainly somewhat heavier than I was at the end of my Saga diet and fitness challenge four years ago.

But for certain, being made to feel bad about myself is not going to get me off the sofa and into the gym, or away from the mince pies and onto the chia seeds. Indeed, while Husband has never actually handed me a card listing the reasons why he dislikes my body, he has from time to time over the vast number of years we've been together (44) suggested that it might be time to start a walking programme or cut back on the alcohol or do something, anything, to lose some belly fat.

Related: How to get rid of belly fat

And my reaction, every time, has been to feel annoyed and guilty and stroppy and stubborn, and to avoid doing any of these healthy things even more strenuously than before. Like many people, I hate being coerced into stuff. It's my body – I'll decide what I do about it and when and how.

The Overweight Haters group, responsible for those FAT cards in the city, claim they are doing it because fat people cost the NHS loads of money. That is undeniably true, but their methods are going to achieve nothing. Overweight people need quiet encouragement mostly in the form of motivation, not hate and ridicule.

At the time I got fit and lost 22lbs, my motivation was regularly appearing in the pages of Saga Magazine. A main motivator for others is a life change – a wedding or holiday coming up, or a new start after a divorce – or finding a group of like-minded people to provide a bit of support as well as friendly competition.

That’s the reason slimming clubs are so popular and have some of the best weight loss results but a group of like-minded friends would achieve equally good results.  A spouse of partner, even, could be the support you need – if you both need to shape up and lose weight and agree ‘no nagging’ before you start!

Well fancy that!

A new study from Cambridge University finds a novel way to help us lose weight. Eat smaller portions.

Excellent advice but not, I fear, the cutting edge research results we expect from leading scientists from our top academic city after several months of hard graft.

Listen, profs – every other diet expert in the world (self included) has been giving this advice since the year dot. If you'd just asked, we could have saved you a great deal of time.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.