Tell us about your approach to your health before engaging with RMR.
I had a healthy childhood, played a lot of sport and spent a lot of time outdoors on my bike. However, during my teenage years life at home became increasingly difficult, and a series of events led to relationship breakdown. This triggered the start of an unhealthy relationship with food that has continued throughout my adult years. I started comfort eating as a way of dealing with unmet emotional needs. During my 20s and 30s I yo yo’ed between being super fit (and slim), and binge eating (and sometimes drinking), and not getting any exercise at all. However, in more recent years I kept on steadily gaining weight as I my attempts to lead a healthy lifestyle became more and more sporadic due to the demands of juggling a career with a busy family life.
How did you see food?
I had always had a ‘sweet tooth’, and enjoyed fruit, cake and desserts, but over the years found myself becoming more and more attracted to sweet foods. I tried to control this by cutting out cakes and desserts, but found that as a result I started to overeat high carb foods instead (savoury pastries, stodgy pies, crisps, chips – you name it!). High carb foods became a ‘reward’ for anything I did, and I became very creative in thinking about how I could earn ‘rewards’ and what foods I’d reward myself with. I became pretty obsessed and realised that at some level I had an addiction to certain types of food. However there didn’t seem to be any way out of it – after all, it’s impossible to ‘give up’ eating!
How did your health make you feel?
I coped with the stresses and strains of life by binge eating, particularly when feeling anxious or low (which was often), and just didn’t know how to break the cycle. I pretty much resigned myself to the possibility that I would always be obese with all the life-limiting side effects that came with it.
How bad was your health, your energy levels? Mention physical stats – weight, blood metrics, any other ailments.
At my heaviest, I was in poor health – until in 2019 I found myself being diagnosed as being severely obese (according to the NHS ‘healthy weight’ charts) and pre-diabetic (blood sugar level 42mmol). I found it difficult to exercise, and even stand, for anything more than short periods. I also struggled with back, knee and ankle joint pain. My mental health was also not great – I received treatment for depression, felt tired much of the time but didn’t sleep very well. I suspect I had sleep apnoea as during the middle of the night my (very loud) snoring would cease and I’d stop breathing for a few seconds – which terrified my family. After these episodes I’d wake up exhausted, with a splitting headache. I also experienced many uncomfortable symptoms while going through the menopause – hot flushes and brain fog, to name a few.
How did this impact your confidence and other parts of your life like your relationships, your career, love life etc?
My poor health and weight problems greatly impacted my behaviour – at best, I overcompensated by appearing to be super-confident and shrugging off my problems (whilst quietly dying inside), and at worst had a few periods of experiencing extreme social anxiety during which I found it hard to have conversations with other people. I became increasingly concerned about the impact on my family – particularly not being a good role model for my children, who witnessed my out of control behaviour around food.
What made you decide to make the change?
During summer 2020 pressures of dealing with family anxieties relating to the pandemic, a house move, added to which a working environment which became fairly toxic, caused my anxiety levels to soar. I woke up one morning in early September feeling as though I’d hit rock bottom. I had what I can only describe as a ‘lightbulb’ moment, and I said to my husband, ‘I can’t live like this any more, something has got to change’. He looked rather bemused, and probably thought ‘Here we go again, I’ve heard this before’, but to his credit listened and made a few encouraging noises as I told him I was going to take time out from work to focus on getting my health to acceptable levels. A few days later an email from Jonno popped into my mailbox inviting me to sign up for the 3 month RMR Online Programme.
How did you discover RMR?
In the past I had heard about RMR through a South African friend, and signed up for access to the website for a few months, during which I lost c. 8kg. However, I didn’t have the motivation and resources to sustain it and soon slipped back into old habits, putting on all the weight I’d lost. Knowing that the RMR programme had worked for me in the past, I resolved to take up the offer to sign up to the three month programme, hoping to lose at least a few kilograms before the end of the year.
What were you expecting?
I didn’t really know what to expect from the online course beyond knowing that I’d have access to the food lists, online guidance about the LCHF lifestyle and a whole lot of great recipes. I was aware that the programme was supported by weekly workshops, but certainly had no idea just how invaluable they would be.
What did you actually get?
For the first few weeks I didn’t pay much attention to the online material and workshops (after all, I was far too busy just being busy), but once I started to dip into them I soon realised what a source of knowledge and encouragement to me they were. For me, the workshops were the best part of the programme because of the wealth of knowledge and expertise that was shared. I very soon made attendance a priority, and always came away feeling freshly motivated and inspired. I also loved being part of a group of South Africans again – connecting with people from around the world.
After completing the 3 month online course, I joined the Heroes Programme. The great benefits of this programme for me were mutual accountability, support and encouragement within the group, access to coaching as well as information sharing. I now continue to access the Online Programme as well as attend the weekly workshops. Although many of the topics are a repeat of previous workshops, I’m still learning – and the presenters review and update material.
What are some of the significant changes in your life that you believe came from RMR?
There are many changes in my life that stem from participating in the RMR programmes. A big take-away has been to understand my triggers and how my unhealthy relationship with food started and developed over time. I now have tools and strategies to either avoid, or more appropriately deal with, these triggers if they happen. Most importantly I now understand that I am extremely insulin resistant – that my ‘sweet tooth’ has a physiological basis, and is not just evidence of me being ‘weak’. I have completely cut out sugar and sugar substitutes and have seen significant improvements in both my physical and mental health. This has been balanced by increasing my intake of proteins and ‘good’ fat. As my blood sugar levels stabilised, I realised I felt satisfied eating smaller portions, was able to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger, and now practice intermittent fasting. As I’ve lost weight, have been able to exercise more, and am now a keen Nordic Walker as well as wild swimmer!
How did your experience differ from other health or diet experiences you have had before?
Having tried many other ‘diet’ programmes in the past, what made the real difference with RMR was that the programmes don’t just focus on food and eating. The combination of exploring mindset, nutrition, as well as the psychology of eating, covers a whole range of topics and issues that need to be addressed in order to improve one’s health. The weekly workshops are delivered by qualified practitioners and the information provided is backed up by science.
Give us some physical stats. How much weight have you lost? What other physical or mental benefits are you experiencing?
I’ve experienced the following measurable health benefits:
In addition, I’m no longer experiencing mood swings and am generally feeling more positive. My anxiety levels have dropped, and I’m better at recognising the signs and managing the symptoms to avoid/prevent increased anxiety. I’m sleeping well – no more snoring and signs of sleep apnoea. I’m also feeling much more energetic and alert. Overall there has been a significant improvement in the quality of my life. Paradoxically, have been healthier during the pandemic, than I have been for decades!
What kind of people do you think would benefit from RMR the way you have?
If you’re the kind of person who is interested in improving your health and quality of life, then this is the programme for you. I believe that just about anybody could benefit from RMR, because of the holistic approach taken to achieving a healthy lifestyle.
How has this impacted your confidence?
I am much more confident in myself as a result of doing RMR. When I started out, all I wanted to do was shed some excess weight. However, I’ve found that the programme has delivered so much more than that. I’ve gained massively in self-awareness, knowledge, and my ability to improve my overall health.
And what has the impact been on your relationships, your career or your love life?
This has impacted many areas of my life. I finally now feel that I’ve been a good role model for my children, demonstrating to them that it is possible to break self-destructive patterns of behaviour that have been in place for decades. They have been a source of great support, encouragement and accountability for me throughout, and have also experienced some health benefits themselves. I have also surprised and delighted my husband, who was sceptical of my ability to follow this through, and he is also now a keen advocate of RMR – although still occasionally enjoys his fries!
Then, if you have any other comments, this is the freestyle section:
When I started with RMR, I didn’t really know what to expect – only hoped that this would help me in some way to lose weight. Reflecting back on my experience I can see that I’ve gained so much more than I could have ever imagined. It’s been quite a journey, but a thoroughly enjoyable one. Apart from a handful of occasions when I’ve ‘fallen off the wagon’, I have found the programmes compelling, great fun, and I’ve eaten well throughout. I honestly don’t feel as though I’ve been dieting, but learning how to make significant healthy choices which will last a lifetime.