By: Claire Locking
Though a Paleo diet or gluten free diet is the latest rage, healthy diet plans for long-term weight loss, such as the Weight Watchers program, can be more effective.
When you meet Andi Dwyer in a Wan Chai café it’s immediately obvious that she is a lady who watches her weight. Three years ago, it was a different story. The 58-year-old mother of two university-age sons was working full-time as a medical technician at a hospital in her native Seattle. She also loved cooking and good food. And despite having been diagnosed with heart disease and congenital heart failure in her early 40s, to the extent she was on the local transplant list, Andi was oblivious to the fact that she was piling on the pounds.
“I honestly never felt fat until I saw a photo of myself at my son’s wedding in September 2010,” she says. “I was like a beached whale! It was then I decided it was time to lose the weight I’d been carrying for almost thirty years. I can’t explain why I hadn’t done it before; it just wasn’t my time.”
Within a month, Andi had joined her local Weight Watchers meeting. Six weeks later, she had lost an impressive 9kg. A move to Hong Kong with her husband followed but she stuck with the regime, joining a weekly meeting at the YWCA on MacDonnell Road.
“Joining Weight Watchers as soon as I arrived in Hong Kong helped me to make firm friends,” she explains. “Our meetings include people from all over the world; we swap ideas and encourage each other, and Mondays are now an all-day social event – after our meeting we go for lunch at the salad bar in Pacific Place.”
Despite the diet, Andi hasn’t lost her creativity in the kitchen. She still subscribes to six cooking magazines, but she adapts the recipes. “I use low-fat yoghurt for sour cream, all my oil comes from a spray, I use extra-strong cheese meaning I need to use less, minced beef is replaced with minced turkey, and we eat masses of vegetables with everything.”
Andi’s nemesis is wine, which she admits to drinking every night. She allows herself this one indulgence by visiting the gym every day at 5pm (her hungry time) for an hour. Andi also wears a pedometer, challenging herself to reach 15,000 steps a day, and she rarely takes public transport. She recently signed up for yoga for the first time, and she and her husband fit in a hike every weekend.
In two and half years, Andi has lost a staggering 30kg, going from a US-size 16 to a 6 or an 8. Not only that, her heart failure is almost totally under control, the daily regimen of six preventative drugs now down to one. Her doctor calls her his “miracle” and puts it all down to her weight loss.
“I used to be able to eat a 1kg bar of chocolate in one go; now that wouldn’t even cross my mind. Weight Watchers is now a lifestyle, not a diet. I no longer feel I’m denying myself anything as I’m so much happier being thin.”
Weight Watchers meetings are no longer being offered in Hong Kong, but you can learn more about Weight Watchers International and their online options at weightwatchers.com.
Andi’s top diet tips
- Watch portion sizes.
- Go to the meetings; they inspire and encourage.
- Swap shopping tips with other members
- Wear a pedometer; it makes you realise how much – or little – exercise you are doing.
- Take the stairs.
- Ditch taxis and public transport, and walk.
- Find a friend and diet together.
- Always carry a healthy snack.
- Occupy your mind and body during your “hungry” times.
- Eat carrot sticks or a healthy soup before going to a friend’s for dinner so you don’t feel starving.
Exercise is so important to your health and wellbeing. Why not join one of Hong Kong’s sports clubs and associations?