I’ve recently had a lot of emails from readers asking me about how I lost weight and if I have any weight loss tips to help them get started this year. Although I’ve posted bits about this before I’ve never put it all down in one post, so here it goes!
I started my weight loss journey in January 2009. I had tried to lose weight several times in the past but had always gained it back. I had reached a point of just feeling sick and tired of being sick and tired! I saw a photo of myself at a friends party and it really made me realise just how big I had become. I was almost 15st (210lbs) at that point. I started exercising and just cutting down what I ate to start with. The first stone came off really quickly, then I joined a gym again and just continued to watch what I ate without following any set plans or thinking much about nutrition. Later that year I reached a bit of a plateaux and had came across a book called The New York Body Plan that advocated a low carb diet. I didn’t follow that plan exactly, but it inspired me to try protein shakes and strength training and I lost more weight.
In Jan 2010 I discovered healthy living blogs via an online forum and I shortly started my own blog to keep me on track and document my food and exercise. As I got more into blogs I learned more about nutrition and gradually moved away from processed foods to whole foods, high protein to more carbs and eventually became vegetarian. I lost even more weight then and progressed to an almost vegan diet which I enjoy now. My weight has gone down and then back up in the last year, and without weighing myself (I decided to ditch the scales and go off the fit of my clothes a month ago) I seem to be maintaining a weight loss of about 5st 7lbs (77lbs). I’ve never calorie counted or did any kind of plan like Weight Watchers or Slimming World.
I think one of the main reasons I’ve managed to keep the weight off this time is that all other areas of my life have been pretty stable – my relationships and job etc, where as in the past as soon as I faced any kind of upheaval – a new job or moving house, my healthy intentions went out the window. I’ve had enough time to develop all those healthy choices into die hard habits. I really can’t imagine not having green smoothies and salads in my life now. My husband James has also been very supportive – and even lost 2st himself. He eats a very different diet from me, but has vastly improved what he eats compared to what he used to eat. My palate has completely changed as well, the idea of McDonalds and Greggs pasties makes me feel sick – I’d much prefer a crispy pink lady apple!
Based on my personal experience, here’s a few tips for anyone embarking on a weight loss journey:
- Eat whole foods – whether your going high protein, low GI or whatever, always base your diet on whole real foods. Ditching the processed crap was the best thing I ever did! Processed sugar is particularly nasty. Switch to unrefined carbs like brown rice and pasta rather than their white versions.
- Drink water and green or herbal teas – stop drinking your calories and ditch the diet coke and milky tea. This made a big difference for me, milky tea just made me want to eat biscuits and diet coke left me feeling bloated. Try and reduce your consumption of alcohol too, it really is just empty calories! Drinking lots of water and green and herbal teas actually makes me feel healthier and I’m more likely to match my healthy drinks with healthy foods.
- Eat loads of veggies – veggies are full of fibre and nutrition, a win win when your seeking to lose weight. They fill you up for little calories, help to balance out your blood sugar levels and provide your body with nutrients. I try and fill half my plate at every meal with either veggies or fruit. Green smoothies and big salads are excellent ways to get those veggies in.
- Make small changes – Instead of having to make lots of changes at once, try making small changes and developing them into habits. One week you could try drinking more water, next week adding an extra vegetable to your plate, the week after adding in a workout and so on. Try and keep at it, it may be difficult to begin with but after a few weeks these things will start to become habits, your palate will change so that healthier foods taste better, and things will get much easier.
- Get rid of ‘trigger’ foods – I had certain ‘trigger’ foods that I could just not resist if they were in the house. Mine included muesli, chocolate and ice cream. It might be best to keep them out of the house until your healthy habits have become ingrained and you can enjoy these things in moderation.
- Don’t diet – Remove the word ‘diet’ from your vocabulary. Diets don’t work, you have to make lifestyle changes, i.e. changes that last a lifetime, not just until you’ve reached your goal weight! I eventually found that focusing on my health was a much better approach than focusing on being skinny.
- Meal plan / keep a food diary – This has really helped me stay organised and therefore have healthy meals prepared, stopping me from falling back on unhealthy processed convenience foods. I just use a simple word document on my laptop that I update, but use whatever works for you such as a note book or planner
- Discover your motivation and inspiration – Isolate what it is that is motivating you to lose weight. I have always loved clothes so being able to wear things from my favourite shops was a huge motivation for me. Now my motivation is about being healthy and happy and feeling vibrant. I make inspiration boards (see below) to inspire me and set it as my desktop back ground on my laptop to keep me focused. Try it! I also do visualisation exercises where I create images in my head of the person I want to become, then I can focus on that goal.
- Experiment with what works for you – At the end of the day we are all different and different approaches will work for different people. I’ve lost weight on both high protein diets, and eating more carbs on a vegetarian diet. When it comes down to it whatever approach you choose, to lose weight you need to create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you are expending. Its as simple as that. All the different approaches out there – paleo, vegan, high protein, low GI – are more about fine tuning an eating style that works for you and makes you feel your healthiest, so experiment and see what you feel drawn to.
I really hope that helps! I know how tough losing weight can be, especially if you feel you have a lot to lose. If I can do it, you can do it. Believe in yourself and know that you are worth it! No more excuses, be the person you want to be!
Are you currently trying to lose weight? How are things going for you? If you’ve lost weight before, what would be your top tip?