Now I weighed myself rigorously every day and, instead of panicking if the needle looked like it was heading the wrong way, I would simply take a deep breath and adjust my behaviour accordingly. Restricting my intake to within an eight-hour period effectively meant only two meals a day, which had a huge impact. It also made me more conscious of when and what I was eating. I even kept a food diary.
But if you write down everything that passes your lips, it makes you think twice about it — and allows you to make a conscious choice about whether you are truly hungry or whether you can manage without. I made slow, but steady, progress. By spring, I had managed to shift a further 5kg — a total of 10kg, around 22lb. Now I weighed 95kg 15st , still a great deal more than I needed to be. But it felt like a huge achievement nonetheless. My clothes fitted me again, my joints no longer ached and I had more energy.
Walking and exercise in general became a pleasure once more.
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Best of all, I dropped a shoe size. A shoe size! Who knew you could get fat feet?
And then I hit a brick wall. Between April and June, I stuck to my regimen, but the needle on the scales hovered stubbornly between 94 and 95kg.
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I became incredibly demoralised and the old demons returned. It will make you feel soooo much better. Had I listened, might have been just another year of failed resolutions. Instead, in July, I sought professional assistance. That was my plan: a gastric sleeve. It had worked for a friend and I was convinced it was my best chance of permanently reducing my weight.
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Instead, he prescribed something called Saxenda. Initially used to treat type 2 diabetes, liraglutide was also found to induce slow, but gradual, weight loss in patients. The net result is that I now eat about a third less than I used to. As I write, my weight is around 88kg 13st 12lb , so still not exactly sylph-like, but moving in the right direction. My aim is to get to 80kg around 12st 8lb and stay there.
MORE IN LIFE
So, dear reader, if you are staring down the barrel of obesity-related illness as I was this time last year, take courage. If I can do it, you can, too. Just be honest with yourself, take your time and get as much help as you can. From my mobile phone to my mascara wand, from the soles of my shoes to my hair clips, from the pens that littered my desk to the plastic keyboard on which I type, it filled much of my car, kitchen drawers, bathroom cabinets and more.
But saddened by the images of oceans being turned into a toxic plastic soup, I vowed to give it my best shot. I had misgivings. Would cutting back on plastic require me to adopt full eco-warrior mode, forcing the family to go vegan and shunning gas-guzzling foreign holidays? Louise Atkinson pictured revealed how she was able to reduce her annual plastic waste pile to 47kg by making a series of conscious decisions throughout The more I read, the more impossible it seemed to pick plastic out of the mix.
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Yes, you might carry your plastic water bottle around for a few weeks, refilling it from the tap, but what about those toxic plastic residues leaching into the water? And would driving the car an extra few miles to a shop with a plastic-free aisle be considered an unnecessary waste of fossil fuels? And should I prioritise the unwrapped avocado from Mexico over the plastic-swathed one from southern Europe?
A weekly supermarket shop is stressful enough already, when it requires the typical working mum me to sprint around in under an hour, making on-the-hoof decisions about family meals, while keeping an eye on budget and nutrition. Wholegrain or white? Must I now marinade in a heavy dose of environmentalism, too? I was concerned the only true path to plastic redemption would be one of muddy brown food, organic cotton smocks and rope-soled shoes — all while wearing the furrowed brow of a woman frozen at the check-out trying to compare the air miles travelled by the unwrapped avocados vs the plastic-wrapped ones.
I set myself a mission to see how far I could go without being forced to make dramatic eco lifestyle changes I knew would embarrass my children. Louise pictured with her husband Jon, 54, and their sons says despite her children squirming she has put her foot down to use solid soap instead of liquid varieties. Bonus: it turns out a bar of soap lasts far longer than the liquid variety. My daughter, 21, was persuaded to switch her disposable razors for waxing, but refuses to be wrestled from her toxic, unrecycleable make-up removing wipes. My persistent plastic-nagging is the background hum of our lives now.
Louise was able to reduce the number of plastic bottles used for household cleaning agents by using concentrated refills. To my amazement he brought home a wooden washing-up brush, plus replaceable heads, and he loves the fact I use prettily packaged plastic-free loo rolls from whogivesacrap. Plastic bags drive me to distraction. I refuse them even when buying clothes and shudder at the thought of pulling a flimsy bag off the roll at the supermarket using reusable fruit and veg bags instead.
So it saddens me that the contents of our supermarket trolley are still depressingly shiny: salad, pasta, hummus, coleslaw, scones, bacon, fishcakes. Louise pictured says she's ashamed to still use a plastic dental brush because she finds it more effective than a wooden tooth pick or silk floss.
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Yes, I might get a small thrill of virtuous satisfaction every time I drop off my plastic bundle, but I need a bit of credit in the plastic bank to offset the recommended reduction moves that have so far stumped me. Take the recycled paper compost bags sold to hold food waste — it turns out they dissolve into mulch when moist, splitting and scattering potato peelings and tea bags all over the floor.
Neither can I get on with the cling-wrap substitute — the nicely patterned beeswax-infused cloth which is supposed to cling to the sides of a bowl and keep food airtight and fresh. And I find plastic inter-dental brushes more effective than a wooden tooth pick or silk floss.
But one step at a time, and these are now on my resolutions list to tackle in Louise pictured revealed being plastic-free can be expensive but she's been able to cut costs by avoiding liquid soap and using products that last longer. And when I look back over this year and add up the volumes of plastic that I no longer use, the figure is actually pretty impressive.
Louise pictured aims to get her children's school to go 'plastic free' in The statistics show that a heavy user of plastic — ploughing through a water bottle a day, takeaway drinks and containers, liquid soaps, traditional plastic-packed detergents and beauty products, shopping bags, ready meals think of the plastic trays — might throw out more than kg of plastic waste each year, enough to fill a bathroom. If everyone took a few extra steps to reduce their plastic consumption, that could be a kg of plastic trash saved from landfill, incineration or the sea per person, per year.
For a family of five, that could be kg plastic saved — enough to fill a double garage. If everyone makes one change, then adds another, and perhaps inspires a loved one to follow suit, we can effect positive change — one plastic bottle at a time! They are thinner and much more malleable.
Once able to move, I headed back to my minuscule, rented apartment stuffed with books, scent, slap and clothes. There was no one to remark upon my whereabouts, no one to answer to, and I could wallow in solitary domestic bliss until felt bearable some time round about March. In contrast, next year — tomorrow — I will be forced out of bed at the crack of dawn by a tall, energetic man and a small, still more energetic dog, both of whom will be expecting exercise. Indeed, as I write, this dashing chap is waving from the garden, our garden, as he plays with a puppy, our puppy, and picks me a winter rose.
To say that my life has changed in the past year would be understating it. Moreover, this has happened not at 25, nor even 35, but at 47 — after an extended single period that I was cheerily convinced might last for ever. Coupledom, a state that I have always professed to despise, has hit hard. Who is this woman and what has she done with the real Hannah? Because I adored being single. Indeed, one could say I was professionally single, celebrating the lone state in a series of newspaper articles until I became its ageing poster girl. I loved the swaggering camaraderie of this reckless existence, the drama and narrative potential: from the highs higher than any high should be, to the lows that made one feel eviscerated, yet alive.
If anyone asked what I was doing that evening, or with whom, I considered it the height of impertinence.