I've had a couple of people asking me how I've achieved my goal - I'm not quite there yet but I'm pretty happy with where I am now, so here goes. I apologise for the length of this, it's very wordy!
I started my weight loss right after Halloween. I found myself going over the top of the acceptable range for BMI at some point last year and shocked myself, because I've always been chubby but never officially overweight. That was one catalyst. The other one was the fact that I'm getting married in August. Having an immovable deadline has helped me no end. I HAD to lose weight for this because I always promised myself I would do it for my wedding. Over the years this may have become an excuse for me to put off losing weight, but to be honest, it's been such a help that I don't mind if that was the case!
Anyway, over the years I have dabbled slightly in trying to lose weight, but it's always been unfocused and a bit slapdash. I've tried to eat less or not eat certain things, and I tried to go on long walks at the weekend to shift some weight, or use Wii Fit. I found none of this helpful until I found a website to help me track my calories and exercise. (www.foodfocus.co.uk
). So in November, I started trying to lose weight properly, and I've really succeeded since then.
I eat what I want, but I restrict calories. I find this very helpful because it encourages you to cut out bad food in a logical way without banning everything. I would rather have baked beans on my baked potato than cheese and butter because it's less calories. I'm in control of what I eat and why, and I find that when it's me personally restricting things it's easier to cope with. I don't know how I'd do on a diet where someone else was in control - but I think people should take this into consideration when they pick their weight loss plan.
I typically eat about 200 calories or under for lunch and breakfast, and then have a 400-600 calorie dinner. I drink tea with sweetner and milk, which does add up but I wouldn't ever give that up! I wouldn't say my diet is the best, but it's helped me to lose weight, so what can I say?!
I make sure to treat myself with things that are healthy that I love - cherries, blueberries, pineapple, etc, I have those around to snack on sometimes. But everything is weighed and measured so there are no slip-ups. When I pick food in the supermarket, I take the time to compare different types and brands until I find the one that has the least calories. You would assume that the 'light' or 'diet' versions would be lower, but that's not always true.
After Christmas, my saviour for weight-loss was, unbelievably, ready meals. I ate a ready meal every night that consisted of no more than 400 cals. You can get some that are as low as 250. Because they're pretty much a standard weight (400g) it helped me shrink my stomach a little bit, and control my portions. I knew that it contained enough food to keep me feeling satisfied, so I didn't have an excuse to snack after dinner. And because it was all in one pot there was no making extra or having leftovers or tasting while I was cooking. I know people rag on ready meals but they were total lifesavers to me. The only rules were the calories had to be low, and they couldn't be more expensive than £2 per day...
I've found that the best thing for me is to not feel trapped into any particular weight-loss regime. I get obsessed with one thing but gradually lose interest over a period of a couple of months. The trick is to anticipate that waning interest and replace it with something else.
Over these months, I've combined my trusty exercise bike with other cardio and weights. I try to do my cardio and weights regularly, and use my bike to burn off any extra calories I might 'accidentally' eat during the day. When I've had celebrations or special events this has come in very handy!
From November until Feb I would use EA Sports Active, as I found the time-based challenges gave me a great goal to work towards. I tried using Wii Fit in the past, and to be honest I really do not rate it as a useful tool, mostly because of the wasted time in between workouts, and because of the lack of hard cardio.
I had a bit of a lazy time from Feb to March and didn't do a great deal of exercise outside my biking. I just ate less. I had to go to Japan in March and I was in no way planning on dieting there, so I sort of gave up on my goals. But after I came back and only gained 1lb in spite of eating the whole country, it motivated me to think I was actually capable of maintaining my diet and lifestyle. And it made me happy to think I had lost weight and successfully impersonated a thin girl on holiday with people I didn't know. It was funny how they treated me differently (I was the only girl in my group) compared to how I might have been treated before. I'm not saying it was better because I was thinner, but maybe my happiness and self-confidence made me a little more fun to be around. I think I managed to stave off a lot of the weight gain by walking A LOT.
During April, I started Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. I completed the whole thing with six day breaks in between, and I also kept up my exercise bike. I really enjoy the shred because it's the most intense workout I've ever done, and I'm fairly confident that it works out all the parts I need. At the moment, I'm redoing it by completing the levels in order over three days, then starting again (so doing 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3). I was always a bit concerned about the effect of continually exercising the same group of muscles over a ten day period anyway, so this alleviates my fears there. Although it's hard cardio, I think I do this more for toning than anything, so I try to combine it with other things where I can.
I've also taken up running - I only go late at night and I borrow my boyfriend's iPod, which has an app to track my progress in distance and speed. I'm training for the Race for Life, which is a national series of running events to raise money for cancer research. This is giving me another goal to work towards and I actually love running, so I'm happy with that! I started off running 1k (around the block) and have increased to 3k over about a week, so I'm nearly at the target of 5k. Once I get up to that, I'll keep training to improve my time.
I've found on average that following my targets (reduced calories, exercise) I've lost an average of one pound a week and approx one inch from my hips and waist a month. I started at about 147lbs, and by the end of Nov I was 141. On New Year I was about 136, and thought I was pretty hot stuff, but after seeing some seriously unflattering pictures of myself at a party, I kicked the weight loss into higher gear and by the end of Jan I was 128lbs. Since then, I've slowed down considerably, but am on 121lbs, and hoping to maintain. I actually wanted to be 118, but we'll see. I have plenty of time for that in the future!
July 19 2006 (well before I started losing weight, but just an example of where I was)
May 18 2010
My advice to myself
I'm not really saying this is my amazing, never fail weight loss tips for everyone, but these are little sayings I say to myself to help me.
The only way you fail is if you give up.
If I stopped totally every time I ate something I shouldn't, or I skipped a day of exercise, I wouldn't be where I am. It's not about never making mistakes, it's about what you do afterwards. I've never let myself give up on my goal.
It's okay to slip up, but there are NO excuses for not correcting it. You CAN correct it, you just need to exercise more and eat less to compensate. It's possible, doable, and I've done it. I've eaten KFC, Indian takeaway, and Christmas dinner all in a three day period, and still lost weight, because I'm hard on myself and I don't give in or give excuses. I get on the exercise bike and peddle. That's a better way to deal with overeating than to let it get you down or depress you.
It won't get easy unless you do it when it's hard.
This is actually something I only really discovered recently. I could never ever do lunge jumps for any length of time. I hated them. Torture. But part of the 30 Day Shred is lunge jumps, and even when I'm screaming I used to work through them as best as I could. Now, I can do them all the way through. It's not easy, but it's not as hard as it was, and if I had never pushed myself when it was hard then I wouldn't be able to do them now. I think sometimes we get discouraged with exercises that we can't do right off the bat, but if you don't push yourself, you'll never improve.
If you've read all this, thanks very much. I hope a little part of it was of help. I don't think the secret to anyone's weight loss journey is to copy someone else completely, but to experiment until they find something that works for them. No two people's plans are the same, and equally, sometimes you have to shake things up in order to renew your success.
I don't have any photos to share, sadly, because I work in the media on a niche magazine whose users are very internet savvy and I don't really want them to find images of me. Sorry about that!