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Carol's so right, her detox diet changed my life...; One month on, Lou reveals a new look and fresh goals.

Byline: By Lou Pendergast

OKAY, so I didn't shed the stone I pledged to lose about a month ago. But who cares? I lost seven pounds and I feel fabulous.

By following Carol Vorderman's 28-day detox diet, I didn't just lose excess weight I gained a healthier lifestyle and a more positive outlook.

So the number on the scales is far less important than it was when I started.

Shedding pounds brings a confidence boost, and I love my slimmer figure and clearer eyes and skin. But another benefit is my increased energy levels.

Working full-time and looking after the kids and house is hard enough, but the extra work and excesses of the festive season really wore me out.

But after a couple of weeks detoxing, I found myself staying up until midnight, instead of 10.30pm, and still waking up before the alarm went off.

I can fit in more exercise and don't dread it any more. And I've developed good habits such as drinking loads of water and eating breakfast.

But it hasn't been easy. The diet took a lot of discipline and there were some hairy moments along the way.

Carol's Detox For Life book inspired me to swap food and drink containing sugar, dairy, wheat, additives, colourings, caffeine and alcohol for fruit, vegetables, pulses, grains, seeds and nuts.

But I believed that exercising while sticking to the permitted foods plus a little chicken and fish would soon have the fat falling off me. Wrong.

The diet is about health. Losing weight is an added bonus, but you'll only detoxify your system if you stick to the recommended foods.

So I ditched fish and chicken and soon began to feel starved of anything with taste.

I missed tea, as I feared. And I missed gravy. I couldn't slosh soy sauce in stir-fries, add mayonnaise to salads or melt a knob of butter on vegetables. I'd never been keen on vegetables and suddenly my life revolved around them.

I was either out buying them you need to shop more to get fresh supplies standing at the sink peeling them or making them into vegetable stock.

I bought a steamer boiling vegetables reduces the nutrients and a chopper blender contraption that became my best friend.

So imagine my horror when I was hit with a terrible cold.

I was prepared for caffeine withdrawal headaches they stopped after four days but I didn't expect to get ill.

It seemed a cruel irony for someone who'd never had so much vitamin C.

But apparently this can happen when detoxing something about the shock to the immune system and I also got a nasty cold sore.

As if puffy eyes, a streaming nose and a deformed lip weren't bad enough, I couldn't even console myself with a hot toddie, hot chocolate or a cream bun.

But it passed, and like a butterfly from the chrysalis, a new me emerged, determined to see it through.

I even began to enjoy it.

I TURNED into Nigella Lawson, scooping home-made guacamole into labelled jars on a Saturday night, instead of being in the pub. And I discovered marzipan balls. This little treat made with Manuka honey, ground almonds and cinnamon got me through my PMS cravings for sweet foods.

But work was tough. Colleagues tucked into sandwiches, ready-cooked microwave meals or takeaways and sniggered at my humous, cruditAs and aubergine bake.

One day the delicious smell of a mate's chippy was driving me crazy, and in a moment of weakness I lunged across the desk and took a bite of his deep-fried hamburger. What a sensation. It was better than sex.

Another time, a box of Quality Street was making its way round the office and when I heard the papers rustling, I started salivating like a pet dog.

And on Burns night, despite demonstrating stoic resolve by ordering a sauceless crayfish cocktail, a small portion of vegetarian haggis, and skipping dessert, I drank half a glass of white wine.

The alcohol brought on a fierce nicotine craving, and I relented.

But for my sins, the menthol ciggie I mooched gave me a headache, and I didn't smoke or drink again for the duration of the diet.

I'll be reintroducing fish and chicken to my diet now the strict detox is over, but I'm amazed at how my tastebuds have changed.

I actually look forward to a cup of hot water with lemon every morning and may never drink tea with milk again.

I've discovered some very tasty vegetable creations, enjoy the taste of fruit, and don't mind brown rice any more.

At first I cooked convenience food for my family and separate meals for me, but now I make healthy meals we all enjoy.

Cooking meals from scratch is more work and takes time. Also, you can't be a party animal and a health guru.

Cutting out all the rubbish for just one month is entirely possible and, believe me, the benefits far outweigh the hardship.

Carol Vorderman's Detox Recipes is published by Virgin Books,priced pounds 11.99.

Lou's dietBEFORE: Breakfast Cup of tea. Mid-morning snack Roll with fried egg, bacon or potato scone and tea.

Lunch Chips and gravy or cheeseburger or microwave meal and tea.

Afternoon snack Tea and biscuits. Dinner Meat and potatoes with butter and bread, tea and a sugary dessert.

Supper Tea and biscuits. NOW: Breakfast Cup of hot water with fresh lemon juice and organic porridge oats made with rice milk and sweetened with fruit.

Mid-morning snack Piece of fruit and glasses of water.

Lunch Crisp bread, hummus and crudities or a vegetable dish with lots of water.

Afternoon snack Nuts, dates, seeds and water. Dinner Vegetable stew with brown rice or stir-fry and fruit salad with water.

Supper Glass of water.

CAPTION(S):

HEALTHY OUT-LOOK: Lou's now feeling better than ever; PARTY GIRL:; Black dress, pounds 180, red shoes pounds 45, both from Jasper Conran at Debenhams Bracelet pounds 9.99 and necklace, pounds 12.99, both from Bliss at Debenhams; WHITE DELIGHT: White halterneck dress, and jewellery are stylist's own; TOUCH OF CLASS: Necklace from River Island, pounds 50 Pink corset, vintage skirt and bracelet are stylist's own. Sandals, model's own
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 20, 2004
Words:1037
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