Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Monday 8 September 2014

The Harcombe Diet and how it has helped me.

Following from my visit to Sue at Our New life in the Country, she published a blog post about my visit, where she mentioned my recent weight loss as a result of following The Harcombe Diet (THD).

At the end of June this year you may recall I had a major health scare involving a stay in hospital. I got a septic arm, due to an infected insect bite, and my BP also went sky high (220/140) as a result. I was rushed into hospital; a few days on an iv antibiotic drip helped the septicaemia and I was also put on medication to try to get the very high BP figure down as it was in the stroke or heart attack range.

As part of the admission process I was asked my vital statistics - height, weight etc. I then got a friendly but very serious talk from a consultant about how much my weight was affecting my health - all stuff I knew but had chosen to go "la la" and cover my ears about in the past.

This time, I took note. I was very ill and very frightened and I was in an acute admissions ward where there were some seriously unwell people around me, some much younger than me. I spent a lot of the first night awake, in pain and thinking very hard thoughts. During my second night in hospital  I had to listen to a crash team working for many hours on the lady next door - it was not pleasant and I had even more reason to have a good hard think about my life and the way I was treating myself.

I was discharged from hospital and spent a week in bed at home, recovering and being looked after by Compostman and Compostgirl. I was really very unwell and I had lots of time to really think about my life, rather than rush around working and being too busy not thinking. My BP had been ok before the insect bite but was not dropping back to pre bite levels. The BP medication was making me feel even worse and I did not want to take it forever, which is what I was being told I would have to do.

I was very unhappy with how fat I had allowed myself to become and the impact it was beginning to have on daily life (and those around me). I was also very concerned that I might not be around those I loved much longer, if I did not do something about it.

I had a copy of The Harcombe Diet book by my bed and had read it and thought it made sense and had actually tried it in autumn 2012 - I lost a few pounds but found it hard to do in real life (I obviously did not want to do it enough!) This time it was summer, I had unlimited organic salad growing in the garden and polytunnel and a lot more motivation (I did not want to die of a stroke or heart attack in the next few months!)

I had not had any alcohol since the day I was admitted to hospital and so I did not start drinking again  as I was aware my alcohol consumption was a bit high (red wine lover here!). My diet was on the face of it very good - wholemeal home made bread and wholemeal pasta, organic meat, dairy and veg (lots of the veg home grown) but looking back my food was very heavily carbohydrate laden, especially wheat (even though it was organic and wholemeal!)

As you may remember I have CFS so although I had lots of symptoms of Candida and Food Intolerance, I thought they were just the CFS symptoms, and although I did not eat many sweet things my savoury choices were still carbohydrate laden. I think my food choices were probably making me feel worse.

After two weeks of illness and bed rest/light duties, where I did not eat as much or drink any alcohol but also did very little activity,  I got on my scales and I had lost 16 lbs !! I thought "ok this is good" but I knew I needed to lose a lot more weight to get my health back on track. And I had been very ill so had not had much appetite etc.

So, I decided to do things properly. I signed up for The Harcombe Diet 30 day Blitz package and got started on Phase 1 that day - I was going to sort myself out this time!

As per the Phase 1 instructions I cut out

all caffeine and alcohol;
all dairy apart from Natural Live Yoghurt;
all grains, seeds, nuts and pulses apart from 50g of  brown rice/oats per day;
all fruit (apart from tomatoes and olives).
I could eat unlimited eggs/meat and have olive oil and butter and any other veg apart from potatoes.

Even cutting out bread etc I did not feel hungry at any point and I piled my plate high with beautiful salads and cold meats; fish and green beans and roasted vegetables; roast chicken, roast parsnips and four different garden veg.

Despite not feeling hungry I did feel pretty dreadful for the first few days without caffeine and wheat - at one point I could have killed for some toast, butter and marmite (my comfort food of choice) but I figured that, as I still felt dreadful anyway due to recovering from illness, I would just keep on and stick to what the book said. And then...I started to feel livelier, more clear headed, less achy and sluggish and my sleep was deep and refreshing. Each day, I felt a little better.

Since than I have stayed on THD doing the 30 Day Blitz. I got to Day 30 and just carried on from the start again. At the start of September I moved to Phase 2 where the rule becomes "eat a fat meal or a carb

I have only strayed once, when I had lots of some red wine and a couple of squares of dark chocolate when I went to see Sue and her LH for the first time in two years - my choice, they didn't press me to eat it but I took some and really enjoyed it but then have not had any more since

I can honestly say I have not felt this good for years. I have lost 4 stone  in weight since 28 June 2014 and I have dropped 2, nearly 3 dress sizes. That is 4 stone in 9 weeks!

I can wear clothes I put away years ago as "too small" . I sleep well and wake up raring to go, keeping active all day until I go to bed, to sleep soundly. My BP is still a bit high but now is within the bounds of normal and I have stopped taking the medication.

Friends have commented on how good I look, how clear my skin is, how bright my eyes are etc etc. I used to bite my nails and they looked terrible, I stopped doing that when in hospital and in two months they have grown so strong and long I have had to cut them a number of times to keep them at finger tip length! And I have started varnishing them for the first time ever :)

I have a lot more weight to lose (another four stone would get me back to a natural weight for me, that I know I am comfortable at) but I now know if I carry on doing what I have been doing the weight WILL come off.

July 2013.  photo Sue by from Our New Life in the Country

Me snd a friend July 2014

Aug 2014.  photo Sue by from Our New Life in the Country
My clothes are much loser than before, this is the same t shirt make as the July photo above, but a  size smaller and now quite loose and flappy!

I honestly think THD has maybe saved my life


  1. Replies
    1. Desperate times and all that...but thank you :)

  2. My nephew had been really big for years but one day, he saw his reflection and said no more. He saw a personal trainer, was put on the paleo diet and lost 5.5 stones. He looks and feels great.

    1. Paleo is very similar to what I have been eating I think - well done him for taking charge and doing it :)

  3. Well done on your weight loss and health improvement! It's very encouraging for all of us that could lose some if not, a lot of the fat!

    I wish I could make myself lose weight. I have been losing about 7-9lbs gradually over the last 2 yrs, prior to that, I'd lost 3.5 stone in a few months. I'm stuck at the moment, not going either way. Being on no income other than benefits means I eat more fruit and veg, mostly home grown although apart from runner beans, it's been a dire year for growing my own veg this year.
    I have Arthritis, Diabetes type 2, fluctuating blood pressure, sometimes high sometimes low. I try to walk a little most days, the fresh air helps my periodic depression. But if you can do it, so can I!

    1. Try THD - it really works and involves eating real food and in any reasonable quantity. I am honestly amazed by how good I feel

  4. Wow well done on your weight loss so far... I have high blood pressure and am on tablets which has now resulted in normal pressure. I'm trying to lose weight but have stuck at 9lb loss and just keep going up and down the same odd lb or 2. You have inspired me to keep going as I would love to come off the meds as they make me so tired all the time..one of the side effects!
    Well done again :o)

    1. Thank you Julie - hope you can lose some as well as it really does help with all sorts of medical conditions.

  5. I am intrigued by the amount you have lost, and so fast. Well done. I do hope it has knock on benefits for your health. Did you stay on Phase I all the way, or only for the first few days? Have you begun reintroductions yet? I hope you go from strength to strength:)

    1. Yes I stayed on P1 until the start of September and am on a pretty strict P2 now - am losing 3 - 5lb per week :)

    2. And yes I have started re introducing stuff - dairy I am fine with, pears and apples are fine as well but wheat not so much and even a slice of wholemeal bread makes me feel bloated and quite achey and also makes me crave more. Interesting stuff.

  6. What can I say that I didn't say when you were here with us, nothing really but I would like to get down in print that we both think you looked amazing and had done so well to have achieved what you had done. You do look healthy and vibrant, and you were motivated.

    We felt guilty after you had gone for even tempting you with red wine and dark chocolate, but Zoe Harcombe would have approved (as a one off treat) as they are her favourite treats in the world.

    Keep on going, and guess what .... starting tomorrow I am joining you. Another bash at Harcombe for me too and this time I will stick at it.

    You are truly inspirational. Well done. xx

    1. *Blushes* Thank you, Sue - and don't feel bad about the wine and chocolate! No one made me eat it or drink it and I really really enjoyed both it and the company I ate and drank it in :)


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