Robyn's amazing transformation: "I lost 25kg on the Mediterranean diet!"
- Health & Wellbeing
Before Robyn Sharron Lee, now 70, started the Mediterranean diet she was 97kg yet today she is a healthy 72kg and has kept off 25kg for six years!
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Now retired and divorced with two adult children Robyn is delighted with the Mediterranean lifestyle and diet. She shares her story and how you can do it too!
“I feel great! And the best aspect, apart from the initial 25kg weight loss and the obvious health benefits, is how easy it's been to keep the weight off.”
Q. What was life like before you discovered the Mediterranean diet? In terms of your diet, exercise routine and weight? What weight and dress size were you before and what after?
Ugh! I hated myself, especially when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a window or a mirror. I exercised. . . sporadically. I ate a lot of vegetables and fruit but I also ate a lot of junk food, chocolate and drank too much wine. I was a food addict and I knew I was heading for trouble.
My blood pressure was through the roof, my cholesterol was out of control and I had fatty liver (too much drinking). One day, I gritted my teeth and hopped onto the scales and immediately wished I hadn't. The scales registered my weight at 97 kg! I was mortified and vowed there and then to do something about it.
“Lunch was my main meal of the day for the first year or so.”
I stopped eating junk food and cut my wine intake down to one glass a night for no more than three nights a week. I'd always eaten a healthy breakfast of fruit, cereal and yoghurt but I improved that; to fresh fruit rather than canned. Bircher muesli from the health food store rather than the more popular cereals touted on TV, and changed from branded yoghurt to certified organic Greek yoghurt, which I bought from a stall at a weekend market. I also added half a teaspoon of cinnamon as I'd read it helped to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, plus it tasted pretty good too.
Robyn's amazing transformation over the years. Her healthy eating and dedication has kept it off for six years!
Lunch was my main meal of the day for the first year or so, consisting of meat or fish which was baked or grilled along with fresh cooked vegetables or a Mediterranean salad, without the olives (which I don't like). I used organic extra virgin olive oil if needed for cooking or dressings. Dinner was a large plate of varying fresh fruits.
“I’d have a handful of raw almonds which helped the hunger pangs.”
For the first couple of weeks, I'd be hungry when I went to bed but not so that I couldn't sleep. Occasionally, if I knew I would be too hungry, I'd have a handful of raw almonds which helped the hunger pangs. I didn't eat bread, biscuits, pastries or sweets at all and I have since stopped eating red meat, which I'm certain has helped my cholesterol. I started walking for 30-45 minutes each day then I discovered yoga!
At first I wondered what I was letting myself in for, but our yoga teacher used a combination of yoga and pilates which was very gentle. As I'd never done yoga before I was cautioned to listen to my body and if a pose started to hurt to stop immediately.
I grew to love the class, not only for the benefits, but for the other participants. We all clicked. After a while, I found myself doing two to three classes a week and reaping the benefits of toning up, increased vitality and positivity and better health.
“My cholesterol has dropped to 5.8 without medication, my blood pressure is 130/80 and I no longer have fatty liver.”
Before I started my new eating and exercise regimen I weighed 97kg and was heading for size 20 clothing. I'm not very tall. I’m 165cm, so you can imagine what I looked like! I'm now 72kg and wear size 14 clothes, sometimes size 12, depending on the brand. My cholesterol has dropped to 5.8 without medication, my blood pressure is 130/80 and I no longer have fatty liver.
Olive oil, nuts, oily fish, some poultry, a little meat, plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains are key ingredients of the Mediterranean diet
Q. How did you find out about the Mediterranean diet?
I'd heard about it through magazines, TV and friends and as I like Mediterranean food decided give it a go.
“Something clicked in my brain that I had to take control of my eating or end up very sick or worse.”
Q. Why did you decide to try it?
I had to do something about my weight for the sake of my health and self esteem. As the Mediterranean way of eating contained foods I enjoyed, I thought it would be an easy and tasty way to eat, although I don't make my own pasta. That's too much like hard work!
Q. How difficult was it to change your diet? Was there an unexpected aspect to it all?
I was amazed to find it wasn't too difficult at all. Apart from the fact that I loved that cuisine, something clicked in my brain that I had to take control of my eating or end up very sick or worse.
Q. Did anyone else do it with you?
No one did it with me, in fact, I didn't say anything about changing my way of eating. I just did it because it was for me. It didn't matter what anyone thought. It was what I was finally motivated to do.
“Even my feet lost weight. My shoe size dropped from a 9 to my normal 8.”
Q. What is the best thing about the Mediterranean diet?
The best thing was how quickly I saw results. The first effect I noticed was that I put on my usual size 20 clothes one day and l looked as if I'd delved into the rag bag and put on the first thing I'd laid hands on.
The worst thing? Having to buy new, smaller clothes. . . not! Even my feet lost weight. My shoe size dropped from a 9 to my normal 8. Shoes and clothes shopping, what bliss! Seriously, there was no worst thing about changing my way of eating. I loved tossing out all the crap from my pantry and replacing it with good healthy food.
Q. Any other healthy lifestyle changes?
I changed my exercising in that I started to take it seriously. I always went to bed about 9.30 pm because as I was still working, I'd wake at 5.30 am, having a long commute into the city for work.
I've always drunk plenty of water but I also added green tea and cut down my coffee intake to two cups per day before lunch. Wine is still now only one glass 3 or 4 times a week.
“Wine is still now only one glass 3 or 4 times a week.”
Q. What does your doctor think?
My poor GP had given me up as a bad job, I think. He'd tell me what my results were and warn me I'd have to make the effort to do something about it. I heard him but I didn't listen, if you know what I mean. Once I'd decided to do something positive about my health, I had nothing but support from him and at my last visit, a few weeks ago and with the great result of my lowered cholesterol, he was as delighted as I was.
Q. What do family and friends say about your fabulous transformation?
After a couple of months of my new eating regimen, I had a few quizzical looks and the question, "Have you lost weight?" I'd be rather vague with my answer and no more would be said. As time went on, I was getting comments such as, "You're looking so good! What have you been doing?" In fact, one friend whom I hadn't seen for about a year, didn't recognise me!
“To anyone out there wanting to lose weight, go for it!”
Q. Most importantly how do you feel?
I feel great! And the best aspect, apart from the initial 25 kg weight loss and the obvious health benefits, is how easy it's been to keep the weight off. Every now and then I treat myself to a packet of Tim Tams or some chocolate but it's a treat and once I've finished those, I don't worry about having any more for a while.
Q. Take us through a normal day or week in terms of what food you choose now compared to what you used to eat.
Breakfast every day is fresh fruit, Bircher muesli and Greek yoghurt. Lunch is a salad sandwich or maybe scrambled eggs with mushrooms or poached eggs. In winter, I eat a lot of chicken soup, made with dried lentils, rather than soup mix, lots of vegetables and a can of diced tomatoes thrown in for good measure.
Sometimes I'll make pumpkin or potato and leak soup. Another luncheon meal is nachos, quick and easy. Sardines and tomato on toast is also a tasty lunch. I adore sardines … and so do my two cats! Dinner can be zucchini slice or pastry-less quiche with mixed salad, a pasta dish of some sort or chicken or fish with salad or steamed vegetables and a baked potato.
I'll often have a fillet of salmon, quickly pan fried in a little organic extra virgin olive oil so the skin is lovely and crispy. So yummy with a salad and/or a baked potato with a little low fat sour cream. I'll also coat a chicken breast in olive oil and garlic or sea salt and depending on the size, have a half or third for dinner and the rest the next day as a chicken, avocado and salad sandwich for lunch or a chicken salad for dinner that night.
Q. How does alcohol work with this? If you drink when do you drink and what do you drink?
As mentioned, I have one glass of red wine before dinner three or four times a week. I used to drink gin and tonics a few years ago but apart from the weight thing, it's an expensive way of drinking, especially if it's two or three glasses a day.
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Q. What is your best advice for someone thinking of trying it?
I don't like to give advice to other people. We're all different and what appeals to one may not appeal to another. Having said that, I feel that it's a damned good way of losing weight, easy, tasty and I didn't measure anything although I did cut down on portion size.
As for being better than other options, I don't like anything regimented such as weighing everything I eat, counting calories or anything like that. I'd give up before too long. The Mediterranean way of eating is simple, fuss free and is not a fad. I've never been interested in the various fad diets that hit the world every now and then.
The Mediterranean way of eating covers all food groups, has obvious health benefits and doesn't involve a lot of fuss which suits me down to the ground. To anyone out there wanting to lose weight, go for it!
I'm actually quite astonished at myself for sticking to this way of eating and keeping my weight at a stable 72kg for the last six or so years. Considering I was addicted to junk food and eating, it's a great result.
Have you ever tried the Mediterranean diet? How did it work for you? Join the conversation.