A lifestyle diet for the sedentary urbanite


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Practical Study on how to lose weight/tone body in a sustained fashion in mid-age and without resorting to drastic diets and ultra-strenuous exercise

By a Defy-Age editor

There are today countless books and websites offering practical advice on how to lose weight – a problem associated with developed economies and sedentary lifestyle which is exacerbated by over-reliance on modern technology.

The fact is, most of us spend a major proportion of the day in front of a screen and a major proportion of the evening in front of the TV.

It has occurred to me that, however much regular exercise and healthy diet is advocated, the practicalities of work and leisure time available mean many of us cannot incorporate the healthy options fully into their lifestyle.

I have resolved to attempt a modest change in my diet and physical activity to see if this will produce tangible results.

I will report regularly.

Firstly, a little about me:

I work as an editor contributing to different publications, including Defy Age. This means I spend an inordinate amount of time in front of a computer screen and often, most of my waking hours.

I am female, just over 40 and have never exercised but have led a more active life in the past.

Obviously, this is the worst time in life to embark on a totally sedentary existence as metabolism slows down and the body changes perceptibly. The midriff section is thickening, even though my diet hasn’t altered appreciably. I still enjoy moderate drinking and am a little more self-indulgent than in my twenties – because I am not competing with 20-somethings.

From experience, I know that mixing carbs and proteins overloads my system. I am not prepared to abandon either group of foods long-term and do not believe this is healthy.

I have seen people lose a lot of weight on the Dukkan diet but that is not practical for most and particularly punishing for people who enjoy socializing and having the occasional glass of wine.

I also do not believe in cutting out salads, vegetables and fruit.

I have, therefore, decided to eliminate a group of foods from my diet – FOR  SHORT PERIOD OF TIME ONLY – but keep the salads and wine in.


Over a period of a week, I have completely given up bread, potatoes, rice and other major staple. I have limited my alcohol intake to 2 glasses of wine and the very occasional vodka.

I have had small but frequent portions of food. This has included a lot of eggs (between 3 and 4 a day), lean meat, nuts, fully dressed salads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar ( a no-no in the Dukkan diet) and cooked vegetable stews with a tiny amount of olive oil and various condiments.

Cabbage is particularly good as a major source of vitamin C.

I have Vit. B complex, Vit. C with zinc and Vit D as I spend a great deal of time indoors.

I drink a lot of mate tea for its laxative properties and black tea which I like.

I start the day with a fresh lime juice in a glass of water. I have tried to increase my intake of water but still prefer the black tea which I sweeten with artificial sweeteners.

I have limited dairy products to a minimum, having a touch of skimmed milk in my coffee and a little feta cheese in my salads.

I have incorporated a 5 min. strenuous (for me) exercise in the morning, which includes a couple of minutes of weight lifting and a couple of minutes abdominal exercises and some stretching.

I have started taking half hour walks daily.

I have lost 1 kg which is modest but most importantly, my waist line has shrunk somewhat and the stubborn “spare tyre” is showing signs of shrinking.

I am reasonably happy with this as I haven’t had to alter my lifestyle dramatically and haven’t particularly missed carbs. I have missed not eating fruit but intend to make up for this in WEEK2 when I eliminate meat and eggs from my diet.


The salads, nuts and vegetables remain. So does the moderate alcohol intake.

I will start having sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, rice and some bread. I will include fruit salads in my diet.

Will report developments towards the end of the week.

Previous weight loss maintained but have NOT continued losing.


Have excluded all protein from my diet and having vegetable and “good” carbs only (potatoes, rice, porridge oats, bread).

This is a more satisfying diet for the winter months but, in the absence of any exercise, not conducive to weight loss. I am a little heavier than after Week 1.

Clearly, either carbs have to be eaten in great moderation or burnt off through activities.


The daily exercise routine I have adopted (no more than 5-7 minutes in all) is finally beginning to pay off. The abdomen is tighter and, although the weight loss is not amazing after trying this and that and just going back to old habits of snacking in front of the computer, clothes are fitting better.

Losing a bit of weight and recalibrating the metabolic rate from sluggish to 10% faster gives the complexion a bit of a glow and defines the jaw that normally slacks at this age. It also adds sparkle to the eye. A friend I see not very often asked me the other evening if I was in love.

So, much as I hate admitting it, exercise does help. Mine is never especially strenuous or committed but it’s better than nothing.

In terms of food, I have quit excluding this or that but have made an effort to keep away from sweet stuffs. This, I think, is essential for mid-age.


As winter sets in and there are countless launch events, combined with a natural reluctance to leave my warm flat, I am aware I need to step up my exercise routine at home. This is doubly necessary as I notice the beginning of loose skin under the arms and some new dimpling in the upper arm area.

The accepted wisdom is that 20 min. or so a day of strenuous exercise is better than prolongued low intensity work-outs. I try to adopt a different set of exercises every other day, challenging all parts of the body with an emphasis on stomach and upper arm/triceps muscles.

I feel better in myself, although results are slow in coming.

Ultimately, I am aware that decreasing the overall food intake and drinking less alcohol is absolutely necessary.

I have given up removing a particular group of foods from my diet – instead, I am avoiding fat as much as possible (removing fat floating on top of stews and soups when cooking with meat, for example) and sticking to a lot of vegetables, non-fried food and above all, LESS OF EVERYTHING.

Depressing, I know, but middle-age does slow down your metabolism. Being hyped up because of a romantic encounter only lasts a short time, which means that unless you have a hugely exciting lifestyle, you really need to work at it.

I will wrap up this experiment and will only post monthly updates from now on. I have lost 10 lbs in 5 weeks and managed to keep it off. It’s worthwhile because my face looks slimmer too.

If I stumble upon a miracle cure for excess weight and excess skin, I’ll share it at the top of the page. Otherwise, keep the exercise up and food down, with no fad diets unless you need a kickstart, in which case look at my WEEK 1 entry.


After months of not updating this diary, I am back. So, what has changed? Plenty, but most of all, this editor has lost a lot of weight on all the right places and looking toned too.

How was this feat achieved?

Well, firstly a very dedicated 2 weeks fasting – as in only drinking liquids throughout the day and having minimal amounts of food early evening. I must admit to cheating a little here – I did do it out of solidarity with someone who fasted for religious reasons.

Stomach shrank and food didn’t seem as important – certainly, not the focus of, or a ritual of regular meal times.

As the weight dropped, so did body bits unfortunately. At first, exercise routine did absolutely nothing. I despaired but persevered. After 4-5 weeks of dogged determination and daily 20 minutes specific exercises, lose flesh/skin started to convert to muscle.

Readers, beware: you need MOTIVATION to keep at it. Dating is the perfect motivation because, in addition to adding a certain imperative to the whole thing, the whole business of being romanitcally engaged burns calories. I promise it does. It’s also quite good fun, wouldn’t you agree?