I got a little bit of a mini-lecture off my other half last night…he said that I needed to do a ‘proper’ post instead of just rambling…so here goes!
In February last year, I weighed in at 43st 5.5lbs…and never for one second believed that I could shift my weight without weight loss surgery…but here I am, 16st lighter and no cutting or shutting going on! Along the way there have been ups and downs and I thought that I would revisit some tips that have helped me along the way. I get lots of lovely emails asking for advice and so I think that these tips will probably answer most of the questions I have been asked…
Before I get started though, please remember that it is incredibly hard to go from sinner to saint overnight – there will be those ups and downs that I mentioned, and it will be bloody hard and frustrating at times, but it is so worthwhile pushing through those feelings.
1. Enjoy your treats
Don’t try and lose weight by cutting out all of your favourite foods. If you like chocolate, enjoy it! If you like crisps, enjoy them! If you like wine then, yes, enjoy it! Obviously this type of food needs to be enjoyed in moderation…a whole carrot cake washed down with a bottle of Chardonnay does not a healthy diet make! This is why I love Slimming World so much; I can eat cheeseburgers and French Fries and still lose weight.
2. Complete a food (and mood) diary
Writing down what you eat can be really crucial in helping you to spot any eating patterns that are preventing you from reaching your healthy weight. Slimming World, and many other diets, encourage you to do this and it’s for a good reason. These patterns are easier to spot if you note the times that you eat, and also how you felt when you ate. Do you eat those crisps late in the evening when you feel bored, or that wine when you feel sad or annoyed? Tracking what you eat on both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days is crucial…if you only record the good, it will help spot any food you might be eating that you don’t think is sabotaging your goal. But keeping a record of those ‘bad’ food days can really help to stop you in your tracks…after all, who wants to see how many chocolate bars and packets of crisps they’ve just gorged on?! Write it down! It isn’t only weight loss companies that encourage you to complete these diaries – the peeps at the Eating Disorders Association that I met with a few times encouraged this, as did the psychologist I saw as part of the weight loss surgery team…as do all of the self-help books that I have read. There is a really good reason for doing it – it is like holding a mirror up to your eating. Better still is if you take pictures of what you eat…like your own version of ‘Secret Eaters’!
3. Have a mini target
Sometimes the end goal can be a little overwhelming. I know for me, the thought of having to lose over 32st felt insurmountable, so I broke it down! I had 3st interim targets and awarded myself little shiny stars for each pound I lost. I also have my horses who I’m obviously too fat to ride at the moment, but what a great motivator?! I cannot wait to get back in the saddle! A holiday, or wedding invitation may work just as well for you…the thought of fitting into a bikini two sizes smaller than you are, or toning your arms up to wear that slinky dress, may just be the thing to spur you on. Whatever works to motivate you; just have a goal in mind…that preferably isn’t always focused on the numbers! Regarding the numbers, my 3st mini goals were great at first, but I now just focus on the next shiny sticker, or getting into the next stone bracket…little things really do keep you going.
4. Weigh and measure food
I’m not talking about each and every morsel of course, unless you’re following a strict calorie controlled diet. But for us Slimming World followers, weighing and measuring your ‘healthy extras’ and ‘syns’ is really important. I used to love eating muesli and when I first started the diet I would weigh it out each morning. But then, in typical WLB style, I got lazy and started measuring by eye. A fellow Slimming World-er was struggling with her losses and our consultant couldn’t work out why…until she measured the portion of cereal she used to serve herself each morning and realised it was six times what it should have been. To put this into calorie terms it meant she was eating 720 calories instead of the 120 calories the measured amount should give her. When we saw the serving in real life, we all agreed that we could easily eat that amount for breakfast! Weigh what you need to!
5. Take before pics and regular updates with measurements
As it says really! It can be hard when you’re losing weight to grasp the changes and see yourself getting smaller, so take pictures. Have one, or many, of those awful ‘before’ pictures and before you embark upon your plan – or now, if you already have! – take a front, side and back view picture. Then take these same pictures each month so that you can see your progress, and celebrate it! Take measurements with each of these pictures too, just chest, hips and waist, and you will surprise yourself. I lost over 20cm from my waist in just three months! Go on, do it…scary, but worth it!
I’ve already harped on enough about exercise in previous blogs but it really is important! Just find something, anything, that makes you breathless (enough of ‘those’ thoughts thank you, but yes, ‘it’ does count!) be it walking the dog, vacuuming more vigorously to your favourite music, washing the car or the windows, or take up boxing, or try a new dance class. Exercising doesn’t mean having to join a gym – although I can’t wait to join one again as I love the buzz it used to give me – just do something fun, and try and do it daily! You will feel better as exercise releases endorphins – happy hormones, you will tone up, you will lose more weight – probably in the region of 1-2lbs extra each month, and you will be improving your circulation and overall health…what’s not to like?! You have to fall in love with feeling healthy…exercise and exercise alone is never going to shift your weight. What it will do though is boost your mood which makes you more able to deal with those moments when you might turn to junk food…so just do it for the feeling.
7. Don’t give up
If you fail, try, try, and try again! Nobody is perfect and you will have times when it all goes to pot! It does not mean that you are a failure, it just means that it wasn’t your time. Learn from the situation and understand why it went wrong, and try to avoid this happening next time. As a serial rejoiner of Slimming World (at least fifteen times, probably many more!) I will not let a fail knock me down. Get back up and try again! Treat the previous attempt as a practise run and get right back at it!
8. Don’t let one meal ruin a whole week
Quite a simple one really! If we eat three meals a day then why do you want to throw away a whole week when you still have twenty good meals left? My consultant always says that if you had a bunch of roses and one was dead, would you throw away the whole bunch, or just pluck out the dead one and throw that away? It makes sense…just deal with the fact that your meal didn’t go according to plan, forget it, and move on! One ‘bad’ meal out of twenty one will absolutely not ruin your week, or your weigh in, but guilt and subsequent picking at so-called comfort foods will.
9. Enjoy your calcium
A bit of a science based one. Recent research has shown that calcium actually helps rid a dieters body of fat cells. Apparently, the fat cells ‘cling’ to the calcium and leave your body…almost like taking a taxi all the way to the toilet!! (Urgh…too much information!). So, make sure you weigh and measure any calcium allowances you have – HEA choices for Slimming World people! – and enjoy them! I love cheese, and have spent many a night with my lovely Twitter friends lamenting over the loveliness that is cheese. If anyone tried to diddle me out of a bit, I think I’d chop their hands off! I loved it even more when I found out it has actually proper scientific dieting benefits – and managed to justify my cheese eating to a lady who was horrified at how much was on one of my dinners…maybe she was on a restrictive diet that didn’t allow dairy?! Shame – I’m not…so pass the fecking cheese!
10. Weigh yourself once a week
Not every morning, or each time you eat a meal like I used to. Your body weight fluctuates naturally throughout the week, with changes in water levels and hormones all contributing to this, yes, even you menfolk! By attending a group, or choosing a set time once a week, you are giving yourself the best chance of getting an accurate measurement of your progress. However, do not live and die by the numbers on the scales; take time to consider how much more alive you feel, how healthy you are becoming, and how much looser your waistband is. And, if you take the measurements as I mentioned above, you will see these changes too! Bin those scales if you cannot stick to one weigh in a week…or else you will drive yourself crazy! A good tip is to average out the previous four weeks’ losses – so my results have been 1.5lbs, 4.5lbs, 1.5lbs, 4.5lbs…3lbs a week on average. I don’t do anything particularly different, it’s just my body reacting differently. In fact, a number of personal trainers that I know have said that they encourage their female clients to only weigh in once per month for these reasons. I would struggle with this, as I like a progress report – but try not to get hung up on the 1.5lb weeks!
11. Reward yourself
You are not a dog, so do not give yourself food ‘treats’ unless they are within the realms of your plan. Even then, rewarding yourself with food can lead you right back to those old habits of over-eating and dealing with your emotions through the use of food. Instead treat yourself to your favourite magazine, a new nail varnish, a haircut, or a Lush bath bomb! Gents, you’ll have to find your own treats I’m afraid, as my other half does reward himself with food, but at over 6ft and only 13st I guess he can get away with it…for now! Reward yourself with little luxuries and take the time to indulge yourself…a five minute meditation or time out with a face pack means you can use this time to visualise the future you and how great it feels that you are working hard to get there!
I’m a bit strange in the fact that I don’t drink tea or coffee. I do enjoy the odd Options hot chocolate (2 syns each!) or a herbal tea every now and again…although they can smell better than they taste! Instead I drink water, and lots of it…at least two litres a day. I find it helps to deal with any thirst that can mask itself as hunger, it helps to keep my skin spot free and clear, and apparently it helps to prevent wrinkles by plumping your skin! I also learned, courtesy of Dr Ranj…my four year old nieces favourite program…that it helps to keep food moving through your system and prevents constipation! What’s not to like? Add low sugar squash if you don’t like plain water, but do try and drink more if you can.
13. Follow the plan
Another obvious one really! If you are following the Slimming World plan, then follow it properly. Weigh and measure your healthy extras – or use the ‘grab and go’ ones if you’re too lazy to weigh and measure like me! Make sure you put at least 1/3 of superfree food on your plate, before you dish up the other stuff. The superfree food is the lowest calorie value ‘bulky’ food on the plan and it is this that helps you lose weight by filling you up without filling you with calories. If you stick to the ‘rules’ you will lose weight. Yes, there will be weeks where you don’t get the results you expect, but this is just your body taking some time out to adjust. When you lose weight you don’t just lose fat, but you lose water, muscle and bone density too. So, sometimes your body needs to build this muscle and bone back up, hence those weeks when you stay the same, or even put a pound on, unexpectedly. Please, follow the plan and you will lose weight!
14. Parents…don’t pick at kids food
Another obvious one! As a non parent I didn’t really appreciate how hard it can be to try and lose weight around children. Their little packets of crisps, or biscuits, or even raisins and sandwiches, can be hard to resist, especially if they leave bits on the plate. That little bit of sandwich, or that stray chicken nugget, still contains calories and will not do you any favours. Little pickers wear bigger knickers! I always remember this as it was on a fridge magnet – of a pig in a pair of frilly pants – at my Nan’s house and it used to make me laugh…as I was opening the fridge to pick! And yes, I do now wear massive knickers…I wish I’d taken more notice of that fridge magnet!
15. Eat breakfast
Your metabolism needs to be kick started after a night of ‘sleep’ mode. The only way to do this is by eating breakfast. A piece of fruit will do it, but you’re likely to feel hungry very quickly again unless you have a decent breakfast. Breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and dine like a pauper is an old, but true, saying which highlights the importance of enjoying a hearty breakfast! I don’t believe all this nonsense that eating food after 6pm is not good for you, but I do believe in getting a good breakfast, or you’ll feel far hungrier later on and are more likely to pick at crappy food! If possible, eating some form of protein, an omelette perhaps, is a great option as it is proven that a protein breakfast keeps you fuller for much longer. I can testify to this…cereal has me reaching for a snack by 11am, yet I can easily go through until 1pm if I’ve had an omelette! Try and eat breakfast when it is possible, or grab a HiFi bar and some fruit for breakfast on the go! My consultant made a really good point yesterday about us eating more at night yet sitting and watching TV…we should be eating the bulk of our food when we need the energy during the day.
16. Find something that weighs what you’ve lost
I worked out recently that I’d lost over five huge bags of horse feed…something that I handle regularly, and I can only lift one at time as they are so heavy. It really bought it home to me! My Slimming World consultant also bought in a bag of cat litter that weighed one stone…it was amazing to see people in the group struggling to pick it up, yet they’d lost the equivalent of two or three in some cases, and most still had at least one or two yet to lose. Try it, you will surprise yourself…and will end up buying multiple bags of cat litter!!
17. Watch programmes like ‘Biggest Loser’
Okay, so here I am telling you to move more and then in the next breath telling you to watch TV! However, programmes such as ‘Biggest Loser’ can be really motivational. Not necessarily the killer workouts and very strict eating regimes, but just seeing the changes that people can make if they dedicate time and effort is really powerful. Do not however do as I do and watch Diners, Drive Ins and Dives or Man vs Food…these will tempt you into booking a holiday to America so that you can eat your way around the land of Stars and Stripes. And yes, I am planning on an American trip at some point – I have vision of me driving a muscle car across Route 66!
And I am not referring to the supportive knickers that I wear! Probably the most important tip of all is to surround yourself with supportive people. The major difference for me this time around is that I have confided in close friends and trusted people about my weight issues. They have shown me nothing but love and support. Nobody other than you can lose this weight, but a bit of a support goes a long way. We all have saboteurs in our life regardless of what we are trying to achieve, but you need to ignore them and get on with the task at hand – changing your life and moving away from the junk towards health. As I said in a recent blog, ‘we are all being judged by someone who isn’t even close to having their own shit together’, so just focus on you and get yourself a support network. The best support networks can often be found in groups such as Slimming World – mine is like a weird family! They really do help me out and I like to think that I do the same for them. I then have Twitter and Facebook and you guys that read the blog, along with some fantastic people that I have connected with along the way. Nurture your support network, but most importantly, nurture yourself – and ignore the plonkers along the way!
The funniest tip I have heard is to find someone that you don’t like and to do your cardio workout with them. The theory behind this is that you will try harder in order to beat them! I’m not so sure that I would want someone that I didn’t like seeing my bits jiggling around in Lycra, with sweat stinging my eyes…I think I’ll go it alone! To be honest, the most important person you can focus on is yourself…sod everyone else.
Right then – the usuals…
I was up extra early today for a mammoth babysitting session. It was good fun – my nephew is ace, even though I did get whacked on the eye socket with an iPad…bruise to follow I think! We played with his Thomas the Tank Engine toys, a noisy police car, a noisy fire engine…lots of noise – along with lots of Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly too. He is a bit clingy with his Mum at the moment, and so we had a few moments with tears and cuddles as he was missing her – as soon as he saw her, he burst into tears! It breaks your heart! After this, I headed home and we went to the shops and stocked up on a few holiday supplies. I then sorted out some emails for HOOP and started reading a book for my uni course…I am so excited about starting this course, I can’t wait to get stuck in and start working with people to help them achieve their goals! I am planning a fairly quiet night…we are holding off on watching the final series of 24 as we think it might help us get over our post-holiday blues!
Breakfast: Banana porridge (7 syns).
A good food day! Brekkie was nice – lovely porridge with chopped banana. As I knew I was having burgers for lunch, I used syns for the porridge. The burgers – what can I say about the burgers?! They are lush! Dinner was just a simple mix of Batchelors low fat Supernoodles and a big pack of stir-fry veggies with added mushrooms. No snacks…couldn’t find anything for 4 syns in the house and I wasn’t really that hungry anyway.
Exercise: Spent the day with my three year old nephew…need I say more?!
Thank you for reading
Weight Loss Bitch xxx