I've pretty much always been over weight - certainly from around 9-10 years old - I don't remember ever buying children's sized clothes (although I obviously did!) and remember having to buy a size 14-16 at around age 14.
Cue embarrassing childhood photos of me...
Don't you just love my fashion sense (lack of) and glasses!!
Over the years I piled on the pounds, until I reached my heaviest (dress size 20) 2 years ago. Enough was enough. I was so unhappy about my weight, and was eating in order to comfort myself - I'm sure lots of people can relate to that nasty cycle! I had recently got engaged and was determined to be a lighter and happier bride.
It was hard work - I had to try to change the way I thought about food - I had to educate myself about calories in, calories burned, Body Mass Index, and Basal Metabolic Rates. My friend Charlie and I would sit and talk for ages all about how best to lose weight, and keep it off long-term, how its all a scientific equation, a balancing act ... burn more calories than you consume and you WILL lose weight.
I used the calorie counting App on my iPhone My Fitness Pal - I really can't recommend this app enough - you input your height, weight, gender, activity level and the amount of weight you'd like to lose each week, and the app calculates how many calories you should consume each day to achieve that loss. You can then input what you eat each day using a barcode scanner or the apps extensive food lists, and then pop in any exercise you do - and it will calculate your day for you. It's a fab way to educate yourself on how calorific foods are, and will soon have you making healthy choices by default.
Finally, it clicked for me, and I began to see the results in the mirror and on the scales. I dropped 4 stones in 11 months - just in time for my wedding day- and went from a large size 20, to a size 16.
A year and two months on, having just given birth to my first child 6 weeks ago, here I am again with weight to lose, and a new determination to achieve my weight loss goals. I wrote here about how I intend to lose the weight, and wanted to write an update, with hopefully some nuggets of advice for anyone trying to achieve weight loss (post-baby, or not).
I have been calorie counting religiously this week and here is how my week has looked....
Under my calorie goal each day - plenty of walking, one swimming session, and healthier food choices - still with some lovely treats though!
Beginning to get the balance right... only a few adjustments to make - 11% more carbs needed and 6% less fat, 5% less protein over the week. Not bad.
I think the things that are helping me stay on track the most are:
a) the fact that my husband is calorie counting too and so we are supporting/encouraging each other, and there are no bad foods in the house to tempt us.
b) I look every day at inspiring images of women with figures I aspire to have, and images of clothes I'd love to wear but don't have the confidence to yet.
c) I play the 'what I would have eaten' game - this is where I look back over my day and identify the things I would have eaten if I hadn't have been calorie counting/the 'temptations' I resisted...this not only helps me realise where I go wrong when not calorie counting, but also encourages me and spurs me on because I realise how well I'm doing, and how much I am resisting.
On Thursday this week:
- I weighed out my toast toppings instead of slathering on the jam/peanut butter or whatever I would usually choose - it made me realise that ordinarily I'd put two or three times more on my toast.
- I went to Pizza Express for lunch and chose a bruschetta to start, and a superfood salad with chicken for my main course - both of which were thoroughly delicious, and not too calorific. Ordinarily I'd have chosen dough balls with garlic butter, pollo pesto pasta, and a pudding - which would have been triple the calories of what I ate this time.
Pizza Express Bruschetta
Pizza Express Leggero Superfood Salad with Chicken
- I used a Jamie Oliver 30-minute-meal recipe to make Macaroni and Cauliflower cheese using low fat creme fraiche, low fat cheddar and half the pasta I'd usually use (due to the cauliflower providing 'bulk') - it was so scrummy & you'd never have known it was a 'lower fat' version.
- I genuinely didn't feel the need to snack at all. I drank 4 cups of tea, with sweetener and a dairy free milk alternative (Alpro Coconut) which is 10 calories less per 100ml than skimmed milk.
What did I resist?
- Getting a lift into town and back - I walked instead, burning 480 calories.
- Sweets - I was offered chocolate buttons (milk and white) and refused, as well as not being tempted by a big bag of sweets offered to me - I genuinely didn't want them because I knew just how many calories they'd be and how they'd undo all my hard work.
- Prosecco - we had a voucher for a free bottle of prosecco at Pizza Express, but instead swapped the voucher for free soft drinks instead, so I drank diet cokes (3 calories in total) rather than 2 glasses of Prosecco which would have been 200 calories.
Evaluating my days like this really really helps, and keeping a food diary using My Fitness Pal definitely keeps me more on-track.
The thing I love most about calorie counting....I really can eat whatever I want. I just have to make sure I balance it all out. Luckily for me, I love all sorts of foods, not just the 'bad' stuff, so I don't find it too horrendous to balance out my days with fruit and veg, some lean meats and healthy whole wheat carbs. The key for me as a greedy eater is to do more so I can eat more - the more exercise I do the bigger dinner I can have - thats the way I look at it!
Here are some of the foods I've eaten this week:
- garlic bread
- hula hoops
- halloumi cheese
- macaroni cheese
- peanut butter
- Bruschetta at Pizza Express
- a cheese scone with real butter and onion chutney
- a Costco cottage pie
- a bacon sarnie
Not your typical 'diet' foods, huh?
The truth is they were all within my calorie count, as I did plenty of exercise and ate proper portions rather than the gigantic ones I would eat if not paying attention. So no matter what your favourite foods, you can achieve weight loss, you can become a healthier you ... I'm not saying it is easy, but it really isn't impossible...just be prepared to put the work in, and you'll see the results.
As an adult, and with every fad-diet under my belt, I am finally able to embrace my love of food, and not hide it. I find myself married to a man just as passionate about eating as me, and I have friends who enjoy food just as much as I do. As a greedy woman, I'm clearly drawn to people who I can level with - who won't judge me when I eat a big piece of cake or slice of pie, but who similarly will understand when I decline, or make a healthier choice. Are you surrounding yourself with the right people? Do your family and friends have a positive influence over your food and exercise choices? It's definitely something to think about.
Last week I lost 4lbs.
It's weigh-in day tomorrow...I wonder how I will have done?
Bye for now