Be a size HH: ‘healthy and happy’

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Eleanor McKenzie
A mature woman adjusts scales

I must start by admitting to a shock on Boxing Day when I stepped on scales at my brother’s home – I never keep scales in my house for reasons I’ll reveal in a moment – only to discover that I weighed a bit more than I did when I used them last, which was about six months previous. As always, my first thought was: “the scales are wrong/broken” but then I recalled that having successfully shed weight during spring and summer, I’d started treating myself to increasingly larger bags of Haribo Pick n Mix. As these weren’t chocolates, they couldn’t have that many calories, could they? Apparently, they do. I decided to do something about it and fortunately I was gifted a copy of Size HH: The most enviable size to be by Eva George. This set me on the right road to weight loss.

Swerve the scales

Are you wondering what Size HH is? Yes, it’s ‘Size Healthy and Happy’, and Eva’s book is a welcome antidote to the numerous diet books lining the bookshop shelves. Search for ‘diet books’ in Amazon UK and 135, 941 results come up. It’s a massive industry, and it’s one that Eva would like us to pay less attention to. Eva want us to focus more on taking a rational and educated approach to eating habits and lifestyle that will improve health and any weight issues without causing misery. And one of the first things she tells her readers to do is to get rid of the bathroom scales. They are instruments of torture.

And that’s precisely why I don’t keep them in my house, I just use them occasionally at my brother’s. Eva suggests that you buy a good old-fashioned tape measure instead because changes in your measurements are a more reliable way of judging your progress. Alternatively, Eva says use an item of clothing that’s a bit too tight as a measure of your success. Clearly, she doesn’t mean you should go out and buy an item several sizes smaller and starve yourself until you fit in it. Choose an item in a size where you feel good and aim for that.

A mature couple eating healthily

Change your mind – change your body

Although Eva’s book is aimed primarily at women, there is no reason that men can’t use any of her Size HH tools and strategies. She explains the downside of fad diets and the yo-yo weight loss-weight gain that we know comes with these, yet we’re still sucked in by the “Lose 10lbs in 5 days” headlines. I know that I certainly get as far as reading them before deciding it sounds just too awful. Where we need to focus is on altering our mental attitude to diet and to appearance, and where our minds lead, our bodies follow. Eva makes it sound so simple, and she’s right, it really is when you consider the whole issue in a common sense manner, and don’t buy into the “thin culture.”  Eva says, “Size HH is about finding and maintaining the right weight for you, accepting the shape you are and learning to love living in your body.”  Focusing on the right weight for you is the key to happiness and I have to say that after reading this book, I have seriously rethought my own eating and exercise habits.

Advice for the menopause

There’s so much great advice packed into Eva’s book that I couldn’t review it all here, but I did call her and ask her if she had any special advice for women who are struggling with the body changes caused by the menopause. Personally, I am still trying to come to terms with the belly fat issue, and I’m only consoled by the thought that just about every other woman I know post menopause is in the same boat.

Here are some pointers Eva has written just for us:

  • Menopause is not a great time to start calorie counting or cutting back on food, quite the opposite. Focus on finding a great balance of foods including good carbs such as wholegrain products, fruit and vegetables, proteins such as lean meat, oily fish, nuts, seeds and pulses. A variety of protein is also important because, among other things, it helps to build muscle mass which also decreases through menopause. More muscle mass means a faster metabolism, making it easier to find your natural balance of body fat and maintain good energy levels
  • Eat the right foods. If you supply your body with the right foods containing enough nutrients, it won’t have to take what it needs from anywhere else in the body, meaning everything can do its job properly. There are lots of demands on your body during this time
  • Eat three satisfying, balanced, healthy meals per day and drink water in between to keep blood sugar levels balanced, which in turn helps you lose excess weight and alleviates irritability
  • By only focusing on optimum health for yourself, rather than dieting to lose weight, the results will be better and your body will be much happier and healthier.

So, to return to the ‘evil’ bathroom scales, what I learnt from Eva’s book made it clear to me that what the scales told me didn’t matter as long as I felt healthy and happy with my body. Now I’m doing yoga to help build muscle mass as well as rethinking my larder (no more Haribo!), and feeling confident that following Eva’s approach will maintain my weight in a wholesome, healthy way. Next time I’m asked what dress size I am, I’ll smile and say “I’m Size HH.”

by Eleanor McKenzie

Eleanor McKenzie is a Northern Irish writer with a passion for art, literature, and red wine. She's worked at advertising agency JWT, edited a journal for a European social policy think tank and tried to teach teenagers the difference between "there" and "their". Being 50+ has not significantly changed Eleanor's life, although she finds it a handy excuse when she wants to avoid anything too energetic.