Kate, 45, the reformed yo-yo dieter"I've lost 28lbs, and gained confidence and 15,000 Facebook friends! 5:2 has changed my life."
October 2013 Photo (c) Chris O'Donovan
Name: Kate Harrison
Where do you live? Brighton, UK
Diet history: I've been dieting on and off for more than 20 years, all my adult life. My weight's varied by two and a half stone. Most successful was veggie low-carbing, but it just wasn't sustainable as I love baking. By the summer of 2012, I'd pretty much given up.
5:2 history: Before I began 5:2,I felt my weight was out of control. Worried about diabetes and cancer in the family. Then I saw the BBC's Horizon show in August 2012, and decided to try intermittent fasting. I realised very quickly it was working – and then set up Facebook group to share experiences.
Weight loss: I weighed 11 ½ stone, way too much for me at 5ft 4. Now I am nine stone seven, so that’s 28 pounds lost. I now take a UK dress size 10-12 (that's 6-8 in US sizes). I feel brilliant about it – mainly because this feels so sustainable. I celebrated my Fastiversary - a year of doing it - in August 2013, and plan to do it for good.
Positive health changes: I normally get quite grumpy in the winter, but for two years running, I've felt more energetic than ever. I am confident this is making a real difference to my mood and my health.
Fast Day Routine? I skip breakfast and tend to wait as long as possible before eating. So I might have lunch but more often, now, I wait till dinner and have some home-made soup plus a salad and Ryvita, or a great veggie dish. I like cooking but I also like the Kirsty’s Moroccan Veg & Quinoa, really filling.
How do you deal with the hunger pangs on a Fast Day – and how often do you fast? I fast twice a week, but not at all on holiday, and perhaps three days before and after holidays, to keep my weight stable. I don’t get that hungry any more, not since my first couple of fasts, but I drink fizzy water or black coffee or herb tea if I get peckish, and the hunger goes after 15 minutes or so.
What’s the treat you enjoy on Feast Days? Where do I start? I love cheese, chocolate, and baking. I am a real foodie. But though I still enjoy everything I love, this approach has changed my attitude. I am likely to eat smaller portions without thinking about it, and to enjoy my treats without guilt. I think it’s how skinny people eat naturally but it feels revolutionary for me.
How have your friends and family responded to your new lifestyle? They’re really pleased though some were sceptical at first. My boyfriend is now trying it, and other friends too. The lovely thing is that the forums and Facebook have also created a fantastic new community of people, which has been so great to see.
Will you be carrying on once you’ve reached the weight you want? Definitely. I plan to stay on a version of 5:2 for life. For the health benefits as well as fitting into my favourite jeans!
What else has changed for you as a result of 5:2? Well, I set up the Facebook page with 6 members, and now there are 15,000! Plus I've had the chance to write three books themed around the idea that small changes make a big difference, including 5:2 Your Life, The Ultimate 5:2 Recipe Book and the first book, The 5:2 Diet Book, which brought together the experiences of our original group back in 2012. Now it feels as though we're part of a global revolution!
Food lover Fiona’s 5:2 success"I eat out at least twice a week, sometimes more, but with 5:2 I can still lose weight."
Name: Fiona Maclean
Occupation: Marketing consultant & food writer
Where do you live? London
Diet history: I do a lot of restaurant reviews and eat out far too much. My Dad and Uncle both had heart attacks and my Mum had diabetes. And I’d put on a lot of weight! I’m only 156cm (5 feet 1 ½ and weighed 72kg (159 lb) when I started 5:2 (ouch!).
5:2 history: I started in September 2012 after realising that I could have health problems in the future.
Weight loss: I’ve lost 9 kg – that’s 20lbs – and am aiming at the healthy weight zone, just three more kilos to go.
Positive health changes: I have hypothyroidism, so that makes losing weight even harder, but I feel much better. My feet and ankles were getting swollen and uncomfortable but not anymore. I haven’t had a cold all winter and I generally have more energy after a Fast Day. I also don’t ache as much (that’s connected with the thyroid problem) and my asthma seems better.
Fast Day Routine? I generally don’t need to eat anything in the morning, but if I’m feeling hungry, I’ll have a small portion of fat-free Greek yoghurt with half a teaspoon of clear honey. I eat lunch at 1 p.m. when I’ll have homemade veggie soup – spinach, tomato and lentil, broccoli or celeriac and leek. Supper is at 7 p.m., and I’ll usually have a vegetable stir-fry with shirataki noodles and chicken or prawns, or a vegetable curry. I drink green tea in the mornings and coffee with milk in the afternoons – I allow for some skimmed milk in my calories on a Fast Day.
How do you deal with the hunger pangs on a Fast Day? I find miso soup or Japanese rice crackers are excellent to ward off hunger pangs.
What’s the treat you enjoy on Feast Days? Steak, which I really shouldn’t eat! Venison and game are a good substitute for the steak for me. I also love fresh, well-cooked vegetables. And afternoon tea!
The Best Thing About 5:2? 5:2 lets me lead a normal (for me) lifestyle when it isn’t a Fast Day and still seems to work! If I have a really OTT week then I don’t lose weight, but as long as I do two Fast Days, I seem to stay the same weight. If I am not out every possible night, then I seem to be losing weight steadily. And, having had the thyroid problem for a few years, that is quite remarkable in its own right.
To try Fiona’s gorgeous recipes, go to her London Unattached blog.
And you can read much more about her story, and other people’s successes, in The Ultimate 5:2 Diet Recipe Book.
Simone’s wedding – with a little 5:2 help"It's made me re-examine my relationship with food – and take control of my body."
Name: Simone Baker
Occupation: I worked as a secretary and then helped to set up a national charity, but I haven't worked since 2002 following a serious road accident.
Where do you live? Reading
Diet history: I have always been overweight, since the age of nine. My mother took the drug Thalidomide during pregnancy, which affected the development of my arms and legs, so they are shortened and I have fingers and a thumb missing from both hands. My weight continued to increase once I got married and had my daughter, Lois. Then I was involved in a really bad car crash in 2002 and sustained a serious injury that further reduced my already very limited mobility and my weight increased further. I'd had many other (failed) attempts at losing weight by attending diet classes, but I'd get fed up or bored and would put all the weight back on and some more!
5:2 history: I’m getting married in August 2013 – I’d started losing weight in February 2012. At the age of 50 it was time to take control of my body and what I was unintentionally doing to it. I didn't fancy having high blood pressure, diabetes or any other weight-induced illnesses on top of my existing physical problems. I calorie-counted and lost weight but I was struggling to stay on track and the weight loss stalled. Then I heard about and started using 5:2 and it seemed to work.
Weight loss: I started at 14 stone (exactly) and I am now 11st 3lb (as of last weeks weigh in), so very almost 3 stone loss in total. I’m aiming to eventually get down to 9st 7lb, but I'll see how I feel and look when I get there, and may try to lose a little more. I can now fit into the dress I've bought for the wedding, which is a size 16!!! I used to be a size 24!
Positive health changes: I've changed from doing absolutely no exercise, to over an hour a day, including walking for 25 minutes on a treadmill. Whilst I will always need a wheelchair for distances, I am now much more mobile. I also used to get occasional asthma, and I no longer do. The ankle that I injured in the accident was constantly swollen and painful and has been like that for ten years, but the exercise has reduced the pain and it isn’t swollen at all now. My physio has been incredulous at the difference!
Fast Day Routine? I either save all my calories for one meal at the end of the day, at around 5 p.m., or I have a very low-calorie meal at midday (usually homemade soup or a salad for around 150–200 calories) and the remainder of my calories for my evening meal. I try to avoid teas and coffees and stick to fruit tea and water. I exercise on Fast Days and actually enjoy my exercise more than on non-Fast Days!
How do you deal with the hunger pangs on a Fast Day – and how often do you fast?
If I feel hungry (which is really rare) I will have a drink. That's usually enough! To start with I got hunger pangs all the time, but now I don't get them at all, although I sometimes get a bit of a tummy rumble going on! I fast two days a week, and just recently have been doing my two days fast back to back. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do this, but I'm finding it easier than splitting the fast days away from one another.
What’s the treat you enjoy on Feast Days? I love all foods. I am lucky because I love vegetables and it really isn't any effort to make sure I have my five a day! I love a roast dinner, but tend not to have much meat but around five or six vegetables (and it has to include roast parsnips!).
The best thing about 5:2?
I actually enjoy a day off from thinking about food!. It's made me re-examine my relationship with food and come to terms with the fact that I can skip meals and feel OK.!
I love that I can let the reins out over a weekend or at social events, but fasting before or after keeps me on track.
You can read more about Simone’s story – and other successes – alongside delicious calorie counted recipes and 5:2 tips, in The Ultimate 5:2 Recipe Book.
Simone supports the Show Your Hand Campaign for Thalidomide survivors – read more about it here.