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Lose weight like Lucy

SHONALI MUTHALALY
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PASSING BY Lucy Doyle, U.K.-based trainer, nutritionist and motivational coach, transformed her body in two years. She believes eating right and getting enough exercise help shed those extra kilos

WATCH YOUR PLATTERLucy DoylePhoto: Paul Corkery
WATCH YOUR PLATTERLucy DoylePhoto: Paul Corkery

“Like most women, I got married, had children and put on lots and lots of weight, says Lucy Doyle. Over the next three years, I kept gaining weight till I was 82 kilos, and a size 16.” Desperate to lose weight, she started experimenting with popular diets. “The maple syrup diet, the cabbage soup diet. Atkins... I’ve done it all. I lost 30 kilos, but I reached a point when I didn’t even have the energy to do up the buttons on my shirt, because I was starving. I developed chronic fatigue.” Realising she was sick was the reality check. “I found out that although I was slim my body fat was really high. I had muscles. This is when I realised ‘I don’t want to be just thin. I want to be strong and healthy.’”

With a combination of eating right and exercise, this U.K.-based trainer, nutritionist and motivational coach who is currently working with Score Fitness says she changed her body in two years. The founder of ‘Lean With Lucy,’ an online support system for women, is now a 32-year-old mother of two girls. “I moved from 82 to 54 kilos… eating more. We are conditioned to believe that we have to eat less, so people cut down their food which is a mistake. They will cut the rice out, but won’t replace it. So they’re starving. You have to replace it with high nutrient foods.”

She adds, “Women usually don’t eat enough. They diet constantly, and in the end are so malnourished that their metabolism is broken. So you first need to fix it. I start by making my clients eat. And I mean really eat.” Talking about how the human body is designed to survive, she says, “If you reduce your food, your body will gradually change processing to adjust to the amount of food you eat. It’s like if you do the treadmill for 10 minutes and burn 200 calories, when you do it the 10th time you will only burn 140. The trick is to find out the maximum you can eat without putting on weight, and then take away just a little from that. Losing half a kilo a week is more than enough. It might seem like little, but think of how much it adds up to in six months.”

The ‘plate system’

Lucy tells her clients to follow the ‘plate system.’ “Half your plate should be filled with vegetables. One-third with protein. And a small amount of carbohydrate.” Living in India, she says, is an advantage. “You have access to such a variety of vegetables. In U.K. we get a lot of tubers, which are high carb. Here there are so many greens, and they are packed with nutrition.”

Her other tips include adding protein to every meal. “Have omelettes in the morning. Or egg curry. I know it sounds weird — but I eat steak for breakfast. My kids do the same. And they go to school bright and alert. Cereal doesn’t fill you up — I could eat two boxes of it in one sitting. And I’d be hungry soon after.” If you’re eating fish, she recommends fish like sardines, tilapia and prawns which have relatively short lives. “Tuna lives for a long time, so there’s more of a chance of mercury poisoning.”

She doesn’t eat bread because she believes “there’s no need for wheat or grain in our diet.” Reassuringly, she does eat chocolate every day though. “If I’m feeling naughty, it’s 70 per cent dark, otherwise darker all the way up to 100 per cent. Buy the whole range, and get used to it. It’s a question of training your taste buds.”

Sleep is important

It’s not always about cutting back on food and exercising, Lucy cautions. “Sleep is important. How many times do you wake up at night? At what time? If it’s 4 a.m., it could be because of a lack of antioxidants. So eat more berries. Take magnesium and zinc. If it’s 1 a.m., it’s your liver. You could train your heart out, but if you don’t sleep well, your muscles won’t recover.” She adds, “If you have a big stomach, it could be because of high cortisone, caused by stress. Meditation for 15 minutes a day could help. If you find it hard to lose weight on your arms and thighs, it could be excess estrogen. Add greens to your diet: broccoli, wheat grass, spirulina, spinach, green tea…

There are other unexpected reasons too. “You’ll be shocked to know how many chemicals seep into our bodies from the cosmetics we use. Perfume is a major culprit. So use it only on special occasions — and not directly on your skin. Then there’s the make up, washing powders, chemical cleaners, body creams… Our bodies are riddled with chemicals.” She smiles, “Of course I like looking pretty, smelling nice and wearing lip gloss, but now I save perfume for special occasion, and I try to use natural products. I don’t use face cream, because I don’t need it — I eat well. I use aloe vera and witch hazel. I just love coconut oil: I eat it, cook with it, put it on my hair, nails… I use it as a body cream.”

“There is no magic trick to losing weight,” she concludes. “Switch to coconut oil, remove all processed food — that may be all it takes. One good meal won’t make you a Bollywood star. One bad meal won’t make you an oompa loompa.”

SHONALI MUTHALALY

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