In February 2012 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, 21st 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 which I shared last year. I think it’s great to refresh your mind when it comes to the things that lead to success. 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 burgers and cheese 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. Once that mini-goal has been hit, set another one – quickly! – to keep you focussed.
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 calorific 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 – just do something fun, and try and do it daily! You will feel better as exercise releases endorphins – happy hormones, you will tone up, 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. I adore the gym…and am fast becoming fixated on buying a bike – fitness is addictive!
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 thirty 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. I liken it to seeing your car has a flat tyre and stabbing the other three…you wouldn’t sabotage your car like that, so don’t do it to your health!
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. 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…or, in my case recently, the 0.5lb 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 12st 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 herbal tea every now and again…although they can smell better than they taste! Instead I drink water, and lots of it…at least three 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 five year old nieces favourite doctor – 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. The caveat is that if you absolutely know that you are following the plan and are still struggling, get your doctor to check you out and make sure all is well!
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! Today’s temptation was leftover crumpets with butter on that my nephew left on his plate…I bloody love crumpets…but they went in the bin!
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 or egg-based start to the day. 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 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 seven 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!!
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…that’s the preaching over!
Today has been good. The alarm went off at 7am and Mr WLB headed out for a 50 mile bike ride…whilst I stayed in bed. I couldn’t sleep, so got up and cleared out the under-stairs cupboard, tidied the kitchen and the lounge, and put some of my fitness equipment away as it was lying around tripping us up! Then I had a good coaching session – I am so pleased for this lady…she had made some fantastic changes and is really getting out there and living life now, and enjoying her recent promotion. I then went to visit my sister and the kids and meet their new puppy, a cockerpoo called Coco! She is so cute. My Dad was there, so I caught up with him, and then my Mum arrived so I got to spend some more time with her too. Mr WLB had arrived home by this point, but was pretty popped from his ride and so stayed at home relaxing. I then headed back home and cooked dinner…and am hoping to read a bit this evening.
Today’s food looked like this…
Breakfast: Eggs, turkey bacon, cherry tomatoes, spinach, red onion, and mushrooms.
Lunch: Rye toast (2 x HEB), spinach, and lightly smoked salmon fillets.
Dinner: Chicken, roasted butternut squash, red onion, broccoli, and cauliflower with cheese sauce (2 x HEA).
Snacks: Nakd bars (13 syns).
Exercise: Just a bit of housework today…which I rarely do so am counting as exercise!
Thank you for reading,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx