If you haven’t been following this series, check out these first
March had been a pretty stressful month and although my mum was home and doing well I wouldn’t find out if I was to be made redundant until May so there was still uncertainty to deal with. I needed to ensure where possible I kept my diet and exercise consistent and continued with my weight loss. I was however very aware of the importance of being kind to myself, there are going to be times where I don’t make the best food choice or struggle to be as organised due to other worries but that’s ok because for each meal things don’t go to plan there will be many more that do! I decided that in April I would just eat and exercise almost like I should to maintain my weight, I wasn’t going to start adding in more challenges but just try consistently to train and eat well.
My typical week looked like this:-
|Breakfast||2 eggs scrambled mushrooms and tomatoes||2 eggs scrambled mushrooms and tomatoes||2 eggs scrambled mushrooms and tomatoes||Porridge with berries||2 eggs scrambled mushrooms and tomatoes||omelette with veg stir fry||2 eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and pork mince|
|Lunch||Chicken Salad and pickles||Chicken salad with bulgur wheat||Chicken salad wrap||Left over bolognaise and veg||Hot chicken and bulgur wheat salad||Nando’s chicken, salad and corn||Roast Lamb with veg and gravy|
|Dinner||Sundays roast beef with veg||Homemade chicken fried rice||Bolognaise with vegetables||Chicken thighs marinated with salad and corn||Chili and basmati rice||Fakeaway fajita wrap pizza||None|
|Snacks||Fruit||Almonds + yoghurt||Fruit + yogurt||Almonds||Almonds + yoghurt||Frozen yoghurt||Fruit and custard|
|Exercise||30 Min Cross -Trainer||PT – John||30 Min Cross – Trainer||Zumba||PT – John||1hr gym –
30 min Row
30 min weights
|1hr gym –
30 min cardio
30 min weights
Although my breakfast and lunch menus probably seem quite boring I think this helps with forming the strong habits to ensure I can maintain the loss when I get to my goal. It may appear I eat a lot of chicken salads I do vary the spices I use on the chicken and also use lots of different salad vegetables and pickles to mix things up a little.
As this is the way I have been eating and exercising for the past 6 months it was easy for me to just carry on as I was before despite the additional stress I was feeling. I don’t eat bread or potatoes as part of my everyday diet as they are high GI and make me feel more hungry but I have found plenty alternatives that I can substitute in if I need to. Instead of bread I eat pitta bread (preferably whole meal) or tortilla wraps. Instead of potatoes I have low GI carbs which are pasta, basmati rice (only basmati – other rice types are higher GI including brown), noodles and grains like quinoa and bulgur wheat. I like celeriac as an alternative to potatoes because you can roast it and mash it but it does taste very different!
On 7th April I had been training with John for 6 months and achieved so much in that time. One thing that I had been working towards was a full proper press up on the floor. John had set me exercises to improve my strength and we practiced press ups in our sessions on a bar a few feet above the floor that was lowered as time went on. On 8th April I managed a new first, 1 full press up on the floor! After this press up I continued to practice in order to improve my form and by the end of the month I could do 3 in a row this was something that seemed a million miles away 6 months ago.
I had been thinking a lot about what it is that was keeping me on track losing weight and focused on my goal despite other stresses.
In previous attempts at weight loss I have reverted to old habits before reaching my goal – whether that is after 1 year, 1 month, 1 day or even in some cases 1 hour (it’s surprising how hungry you instantly become when you ‘go on a diet!!’) The problem for me is that to be ON a diet you will also at times be OFF a diet and therefore it’s only a short term thing. Being on the diet is good, you’re in control and losing weight; it’s seen as positive. Being off the diet is bad, you’ve lost control and it’s seen as negative. But this time I think I understand how I have managed to reach the point of no longer being ‘on a diet’ and the key is in my previous sentence – HABIT! In order to lose weight you must change your habits …… yeah I know I’ve heard it all before too but here is how I have done it!
Diet is defined as: ‘The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats’ If you habitually eat highly processed fatty foods as I did, you will be overweight. I simply wasn’t burning enough calories in my sedentary lifestyle to eat that amount of high calorie food and maintain a healthy weight.
Step 1 for me in losing weight was identifying the habits that were making me fat; there were 5 main habits I needed to change
- Eating takeaways 3-7 times a week.
- Eating desert after most evening meals.
- Overeating at meals.
- No exercise.
- Rewarding myself with food.
The things that are making you overweight could be completely different, there may be more things on your list or fewer but in order to change those habits you must identify them first. Be honest with yourself, unless you have an underlying medical condition the only reason you are overweight is that you are consuming more calories than you are using.
Step 2 was changing those habits. I could have decided that on July 5th I would no longer eat takeaways or deserts and I would start going to the gym every day and I would eat mouse sized portions of food only when I was starving but by July 6th I would be back to my old habits because it would be dull and restrictive and I would feel deprived, hungry and unhappy! Instead I decided to tackle it bit by bit.
Eating takeaways – This was the one habit I could cut out altogether. I could not remember the last time that I got a takeaway and thought afterwards that the food had been really enjoyable. I got takeaways simply because of the habit of doing so. I saw it as a quick and convenient way to eat, but actually its expensive and not very tasty most of the time! So that was it I no longer ate takeaways, I came up with my own ideas for quick and convenient foods that I could substitute in. Things such as a freshly roasted chicken and some salad from the supermarket or a premade frozen chili or bolognaise that just required reheating. I didn’t feel deprived because I had already established that actually I wasn’t enjoying takeaways they were mostly pretty disappointing! It’s now 1 year on since I gave up takeaway food, I don’t miss it one bit and in fact I feel a little repulsed by the thought of eating it. There have been times when I have used McDonalds for porridge if I am stuck for breakfast on the road or Subway at lunch time for a salad if I am out and about and it’s my only option but these are the exceptions.
Eating desert after my evening meal – I didn’t feel the need to completely eliminate desserts from my evening meal, I felt that I might feel deprived if I cut it out altogether so instead I decided if I wanted a desert to make healthier choices. I would generally have fruit or yogurt for dessert but I have looked up different recipe and experimented with roasting fruits and making low calorie custard. I weigh up whether I feel the quality of the dessert is worth the calories. I would rather have a small amount of the real thing if it is really tasty than having a larger amount of a low calorie version that is going to satisfy the craving. Now, a year on I do not have as much of a sweet tooth and I often don’t bother with dessert generally. If I am eating in a restaurant and something on the desert menu takes my fancy I may well partake but this is the exception, generally I choose not to eat dessert.
Overeating at meals – One of the reasons for my previous weight loss attempts had failed was because I felt hungry most of the time. I had to be careful when cutting down my portions because I decided it would be far better for me to eat a few more vegetables than I should than restrict healthy foods that could leave me hungry later and craving the high fat processed foods that I would then have to battle to avoid eating. Basically I made sure that there was plenty on my plate to eat but tried hard to listen to my body, half way through my plate of food I would think ‘am I still hungry?’ If yes I would continue eating. The aim for me is to eat until I’m satisfied (click to read WHY!)– around 75% full to ensure I am not too full and feel uncomfortable. I would also make sure that at least half of my plate was piled with vegetables, a quarter with a low fat protein and the last quarter a low GI carbohydrate. A year on my portion sizes have reduced without me having to think about it. The actual volume of food that my stomach can handle is far less and I have learnt to listen to my body and how full I feel. I also now try to only eat when I am actually hungry and I measure if I am hungry by asking myself if I would eat an apple. That is a really good way of telling the difference between and fancy and true hunger, if I feel I want food but wouldn’t eat an apple then I am not really hungry.
No exercise – I decided that I wanted to get my food habits embedded before I began to add in exercise. After a few months I began to jog but was quickly warned off this due to my weight. When I began exercising I hired a Personal Trainer that could guide me in the right exercises to do and the correct way to do them. My trainer John was keen to get me doing something every day even if it was just 15 minutes of jogging up the stairs. A year on I exercise a majority of days a week and always do something even if I’m not hitting the gym so I might go for a walk or do some body weight exercises at home. Everyone has 15 minutes in a day where they can do something to get your heart rate up.
Rewarding myself with food – this was a tricky habit to break, as a child I was rewarded with food and used it not only as a treat but as a comfort too as I grew up. I decided to make a list of things that I could treat myself with instead of using food. Things like a professional manicure, a new music album or a new item of clothing. I also set myself bigger goals to hit and more extravagant rewards for reaching those goals. A year on and I no longer have to replace food as treats because the habit has been broken and I don’t feel the need to treat myself. If I eat a high calorie food, let’s say chocolate fudge cake, I do it because it tastes good and is worth the calories not because I have been good or I’ve had a bad day etc.
On May 4th I was excited to step on my scales to discover I was weighing in at 16st 6lb. I had been concerned for some time about reaching this weight. Both of the times I had previously lost considerable weight I rebounded at 16st 7lb and lost control rapidly gaining weight to end up heavier than I had begun. I had been worried that when I got to this weight again the same thing could happen for a third time. I came up with a plan of how to ensure I didn’t rebound and it was simple, the number on the scale was meaningless if I wanted to lose more weight at this point I would just keep doing what I was doing!
At 16st 6lb – the lightest I remember since being a young teenager, I somehow felt much slimmer than the day before! Throughout this journey I have bought a size or 2 smaller in new clothes to shrink into. Feeling slimmer I began trying on some of the size 14 jeans that I had bought, I was over the moon when I get them on, fastened and they were comfortable! John has always been keen to steer me towards judging my size and weight loss by my clothes and it had really worked for me as some of the trousers I have bought would barely get over my bum and yet within 3-4 months I was wearing those very trousers! I emailed John the news and to thank him for his support and coaching and he shared it on his Facebook page.
Sadly the post received quite a negative comment – the comment took me a little by surprise.
It wasn’t a miracle and no I hadn’t misquoted. It made me feel like I needed to justify myself, get people to check the label in my jeans and the numbers on the scales to prove I wasn’t lying! But hang on a minute …. I had worked hard to get to that point and it wasn’t for the benefit of anyone other than me. The post was meant to inspire others, if I could weigh the lightest I have ever weighed as an adult and wear a clothes size which I have never fitted into before then your goals whatever they may be are also achievable! John devises programs to ensure I preserve lean muscle mass because this will help me maintain my weight loss and to have a nicer body shape as I lose fat. John had kept me motivated and focussed for 6 months and what I had achieved was astonishing to me but it’s sad to think that such a comment is the type of thing that would have made me question ‘what’s the point?!’ and give up on previous attempts. As John pointed out to me if I was not as mentally strong as I am today then things could have turned out very differently following such a comment!
All of the women in this picture weigh 154lbs (11st) and they range from a size 10 to a size 18 there’s also plenty of examples of women that have actually gained weight but are a smaller clothes size than they were before due to losing fat and gaining muscle. As John said we are all different shapes and sizes for our weights. For this reason my weight is only a very small part of the way I measure my success. I suspect that if we had added a picture of me to that post and changed the weight to 14 stone it’s unlikely anyone would have questioned my weight. We don’t walk around with our weight plastered above our heads and it’s hard to judge how much someone weighs, why should it matter anyway? A number on the scales does not tell the full story, not by any means! The point of the post was missed completely; it wasn’t about the numbers it was about the 2 new achievements that I had accomplished with John’s help.
So all in all, I’m going to take your disbelief as a compliment, John and I have worked hard to retain muscle whilst losing fat and at present I weigh more than you may expect for my clothes size … so what! I feel fantastic and that’s all that matters.
I had been training with John for just over 6 months and lost a total of 100lbs (7st 2lb) with John plus the 3 stone I had lost on the diet before meeting John. The numbers seemed surreal; I had lost the weight equivalent to another person. My body was changing rapidly and although I still struggled to see the difference when I looked in the mirror there were other ways of measuring my success.
Back in October 13th 2014 I decided to buy a pair of jeans that I wanted to fit into by the time I travelled to America on 31st August 2015. The jeans had a 31” waist (would equate to a size 13 UK size). When I first got the jeans I could barely get then above my calves and they sat below my Knees despite me trying hard to pull them on further. On May 8th I decided to give the jeans another go and was so surprised when they pulled on past my calves and past my knees……………in fact they pulled all the way up! They were still a few inches away from being done up but I still had a few months to get them on properly for my trip!
I was also still continuing with my 5k rowing and had been trying for a while to move up the rankings but I had to get my time under 19 minutes 17 seconds and I was struggling to do it. On 12th May I managed to hit 19 minutes 16 and it drove me to set myself another challenge I wanted to get my 5k personal best down to less than 19 minutes.
I wasn’t even sure if it was possible but I was still carrying lots of extra weight and there were still plenty of improvements to be made to my fitness so I added it to my list of goals.
Into June and almost 1 year down since I began this journey, 11 stone lighter and feeling so much fitter and stronger. On June 6th I went to Tunisia for a week holiday to recharge after a few stressful months. It was just what the doctor ordered and although I put on a few pounds whilst I was away when I returned I got straight back into my usual routine and those extra pounds melted away. I had been concerned whilst I was away that eating the desserts and high GI foods I might crave them when I came home but it wasn’t the case at all I just continued as I had before I went on holiday. While I was away on holiday I did take part in the activities during the day – dance class, stretching and I did a 30 minutes bike ride every morning in the gym. I am sure the exercise helped to balance some of the additional calories I ate too.
I had also got back into my rowing and on 18th June I completed a 5k row in 19 minutes 10 seconds that was another 6 seconds off my personal best and proved to me that I could get less than 19 minutes in the future. (CAMMISH EDIT: If you’re reading this and have access to a concept 2 rower.…realise how hard a sub-20min 5000m row is!!!)
Also on 18th June I thought I would try my America jeans on again, to my absolute delight I got them done up. I’ve probably made that sound a little easier than it was, there was some jumping up and down pulling and laying down to get the final button to meet but I got there. Next time I try them on in a month or so I won’t need to be laying down to get them done up!
I was getting back into enjoying my rowing following a bit of a break when I received an email from Concept 2 challenging me to a half marathon for the summer solstice on 21st June, I actually thought that could be fun!! I was a completely different person to the one that started this 11 months ago.
I was actually considering rowing 21,097 metres on a Sunday morning just because it would be a new challenge. I decided I would go to the gym as usual and start out on the rower and just see how it went. The furthest I had rowed to that point was 10,000 metres and I wasn’t completely sure that I would be able to double that! I started the row and it felt good 5000m went down fairly easily so I thought I would continue to 10,000m and reassess. Once I reached 10,000m I rowed to the half way point I felt committed I had come this far what was another 45 minutes! Then it got tough, my bum was numb and my legs were burning but I just carried on rowing. I had to take two breaks to stand up, stretch and adjust my position but I still managed to complete the row in 1hr 36 minutes 49 seconds. I was so proud of myself.
So coming to the end of June another 10lb lighter, July 4th will be my 12 month weigh in and I wanted to be 12 stone lighter that I had been the same day 12 months previous. It was going to be close to the 12 stone goal and in fairness that was enough I wasn’t racing anyone but 12 stone in 12 months had a nice ring to it! Below are my progress shots from October 2014 through to June 2015