You might be wondering why I’m writing this post? Well because I get asked this question pretty often when people find out I used to be very overweight and unhealthy. Before I get started I would like to point out that although I lost a lot of weight in a healthy manner, it’s important to be aware that whilst losing weight I was healthy and it was only after I had lost the weight that I realised that I’d developed an eating disorder. By following what I did to lose weigh should not cause you to develop an eating disorder; for me, I’ve always struggled with my weight and food so it was just one of those things that happened to me. I would also like to point out that I am not a professional and I am not a nutritionist, dietitian or in any medical profession; I am simply sharing my story. If you are planning to change your lifestyle then I suggest you visit your GP and discuss it with them first.
Also, I would like to say that being bigger is not a bad thing. And neither is being smaller. All that’s important is that you love your bodies because they’re all beautiful in different ways. They carry us through all walks of life and keep us alive. After all, you only get one body so it’s a good idea to love it!!
So, with all that out of the way, lets start at the beginning.
“Why did you want to lose weight?”
Well for me, I have struggled with my body image and size for a long time, when I was younger and carefree I loved it. But as I got older, not so much. I never truly liked how I looked, and I was very unhealthy.
Something people are probably wondering is – “Well, were you always fat?”.
Short answer – no. Well, I didn’t think I was, I have always been pretty short and my posture wasn’t great so I did look a bit plumper when I were younger. Here’s some old photos of me that I’ve dug out so you can have a look for yourself! If I’m completely honest, I think my weight gain started when I was getting to the end of secondary school. Being able to buy and make my own food didn’t help, especially since I’m a naturally fussy eater. I think my weight rapidly went up over the course of a few years from about 2012-2017, which funnily enough was round about when I got into my relationship with my boyfriend, Matt. (Here we are on my birthday).
“Did getting into my relationship cause me to gain weight?”
Well, yes and no. I think this one is something that happened partly from going out to dinner probably too often and we’re both fussy eaters (me more than him). But I do think that during our time together I started working so I had my own income which I would spend the majority of it on takeaways. Sometimes I’d have 2 takeaways in a day everyday for a week!!! So, although I’m in a relationship, I don’t think that’s really to blame as much as my own lifestyle choices at that time. Also I would like to put right here that Matt has been a true gem through it all, and even on my bad body image days he still tells me I’m beautiful, and that he thought I was when I were bigger too and just as much now that I’m smaller. (he’s a keeper I know).
“When did you decide you were going to lose weight?”
This one was something I’ve thought about for a while and to be honest, I constantly wanted to lose the weight over the course of about 5 years. But it wasn’t until I woke up one morning that something must’ve gone off in my head like a lightbulb that was just like ‘that’s it, from today I cannot be like this anymore. I will change and I will love myself again’. And if I’m being frank, I had sort of decided that if I couldn’t lose the weight and be healthier this time then I would just give up trying.
So, the all important how? How did I lose 42lbs and how long did it take?
Well for starters it took from the 8th July 2017 – January 2018. I know what you’re thinking if you’ve been in the same boat I was in, that’s not long at all! You must’ve starved yourself! How did you lose weight at Christmas?! Well you’d be surprised at how quickly the time actually went once the pounds started coming off. And something you’ll be happy to know if you’re not a big fan of exercise is that when I was actually losing weight, I did little to no exercise at all outside of walking(which was all done at work as I worked in a shop and did around 10,000 – 20,000 steps a day).
I lost the weight through using slimming worlds methods but with my own twists. And I will admit, when I went through the doors to sign up to slimming world I actually felt a bit of shame. Maybe that’s weird, maybe that’s normal for people going there for the first time, I don’t know. But I think the reason I felt shame was because I was basically admitting that I can’t do it on my own, that I’d failed. But in actual fact, even though I’d turned to help for losing weight, they didn’t make me lose the weight. I did that myself, with determination, will power, and A LOT of meal prep. And I mean A LOT.
Does trying to lose weight mean you can’t ever eat treats? No. I allocated myself a treat day every week (usually my weigh in day) where I would typically go to Cineworld for a huge ice cream sundae and/or have a Chinese takeaway. It’s weird, but Cineworld actually have the best ice cream flavours out there and certainly stopped my sugar cravings! Here’s me taking my little sister for ice cream and slushies!!
What could I eat? Where there any rules or restrictions?
I generally went by the rule that if I’ve made it from scratch, it’s usually okay to eat. Slimming world goes by these rules:
Free food is unlimited. Free foods are fruits and vegetables, meats cooked without oil or butter(or I cooked them with fry-light), dried rice, pasta, lentils, eggs, fat free yoghurts and other things like cooking with spices, and drinks with water like tea and coffee.
You tend to get a ‘Healthy A’ and a ‘Healthy B’. You are allowed one of each a day. Your ‘Healthy A’ is things with a high amount of calcium in, like milk, cheese (yes, you can have cheese still!!!). A ‘Healthy B’ choice is food that is high in fibre, so things like dried porridge oats, wholemeal breads and certain cereals. I would like to note, with these I had to measure them out. I’ll list a few typical meals I had in a week for you and a week menu for you to try out a little further below!
If you have been to slimming world before, or know someone who has or is going to slimming world, you’ll know about syns. Syns are things that are usually processed in some form. These are things like chocolate (obviously duh!), crisps, ready meals, butters, sauces, pre-made pasta sauces and basically anything you haven’t cooked yourself in my eyes. It might seem doom and gloom at this point but it really isn’t that bad, with syns you’re allowed 5-15syns per day, and this is because if you deprive yourself too much you’ll just binge. And no one wants that. I know what you’re thinking, but we don’t know how many syns are in everything?! My answer to that is to google it because someone somewhere will have put it online, also I go by the rule that if its something small and in moderation, it won’t be too bad. And anything that is ‘low fat’ will generally not do too much harm. My personal favourite treats were ‘Metcalfes skinny sweet & salty popcorn’ (half of a big bag is around 7.5 syns from memory) and any of the ‘Halo Top’ or ‘Breyers’ ice creams. The ‘Halo Top cinnamon bun’ ice cream is literally liquid heaven (and it’s only 360 calories for the ENTIRE tub). Virtually guilt free!!
So what sort of things did I eat in a week?
Let’s give you a run down of breakfasts:
- Strawberries with Tesco healthy living fat free fromage frias (with some low calorie non aspartame sweetener in) with 1/3 cup of porridge oats, I would usually add cinnamon in the oats and on the strawberries which made breakfast taste like a dessert. (I would pour it all in a bowl or make these insta worthy pots shown below!)
- Simple marmite on toast with 4 teaspoons (they’re smaller than you think when you use measuring spoons! haha) of Tesco’s butter me up low fat spread on two small wholemeal slice of bread. For the small loaves of bread I’d recommend the Tesco ones (they seem like bigger or thicker slices?)
- Quaker oats big bowl of porridge original with semi-skimmed milk.
- Sweet French toast with strawberries and 2 teaspoons of sugar. (let me know if you want a recipe post!)
- 2 Weetabix with semi skimmed milk and 2 teaspoons of sugar.
- 2 Weetabix with fat free yoghurt on top and sliced fruit. (it is a bit like how you’d prepare a crisp bread? Warning- it gets messy when you eat it but tastes really good!)
- 2 Scrambled eggs on 2 slices of small wholemeal toast.
Lunch and dinners can be difficult for some people to eat healthy as you’re not always at home to make it, so I’ll write down a list of at home and work lunches for you! I will suggest now that meal prep will likely be needed so get yourself some value tubs for storage!!)
Let’s move on to typical lunches and dinners:
- Plain rice or egg fried rice with stir fried bean sprouts, broccoli, baby corn and pak choi in soy sauce. (you can make prep the veggies in the morning or night before and use microwavable rice for in the office).
- Homemade chips (fry-light cooked) with a chicken breast (add spices here so it’s less boring) and veggies or salad.
- Jacket potato with tuna, cheese, butter and salad. (jacket potatoes are great if you’re eating out!)
- Pasta with tuna (or you can use homemade pasta sauce) and veggies.
- Roast dinner. Which is my absolute favourite! I’m a northern girl so gravy, yorkshire puddings, roasties (fry-light obvs), meat and veggies is absolute heaven!
- Cod or fish cooked with mash or chips and peas. (if you go out for dinner you can have fish and chips and by not eating the batter, it makes it free, and then you’re only having syns for your chips!)
- Roasted new potatoes with steak and veggies.
- Wholemeal sandwich with low fat spread, wafer thin turkey and lettuce.
- Roasted new potatoes with chicken and salad.
That’s just a handful of meals that I would eat in a week. If you’d like to try a meal plan you can download it here! For snacking, I would have loads of fruit, fat free yoghurts, cereal bars (generally the healthy living or brands own healthy ones as the big branded ones are usually worse than a bar of chocolate!) and things like cooked meats and small bags of popcorn.
It’s important to note that things will not happen overnight. I’ve learnt this the hard way. I would recommend weighing yourself ONCE and only ONCE a week, at the same time. Weighing yourself everyday will not do you any good mentally trust me, I know!). You might be thinking, but how much weight did I lose in the first week? For me it was 4.5lbs, and there on out it was around 1-3lbs per week pretty steadily. Here’s some photos I took along the way. (It took a lot to post these but I hope they help some of you out for visualising transformations!)
I’d definitely recommend taking photos, when I had a bad day it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come, so looking back it’s a great feeling. Also, find the worst photo of yourself for your before. It sound’s silly I know, but for me, it just gave me more motivation and was a great reminder. I thought it was important to add in a bikini photo because I never wore bikinis before, and taking that photo was a big thing for me to do. So here’s my before and afters:
Losing weight is a hard thing to do. So never tell yourself that you’re a failure if you slip up at any point. I slipped up several times and a still do now! But you can easily get back on track, just start as soon as you realise you’ve gone off track rather than saying ‘Oh, I’ll start again on Monday’.
Finally for me, this wasn’t a diet. Diets restrict everything whereas this didn’t take anything away I just had to eat smarter. And I would definitely recommend you keep checking up on your own mental health and attitudes towards food if you’re going through a transformation, it’s easy to get lost in it all like I have!! (See my ‘What happens when you realise you’ve developed an Eating disorder’ post). I would also like to point out that what you eat should not make you feel guilty, and by doing this method of eating shouldn’t. I know that that sounds a bit like a contradiction because I suffer with an eating disorder now, but that is due to myself having problems with food throughout most of my life. And whilst eating like this I’ve actually nourished my body the best it has ever been in my entire life.
I’ll leave you with this. If you’re trying to lose weight, make sure that it’s for the right reasons. For yourself, to be healthy. NOT because you feel like you need to in order to fit in. Because you’re beautiful no matter what a number says on the scale, and that number is unique to you. Everyone is built differently. And we’re all perfectly imperfect!
If you’re going to try any of this then please let me know!! And if you do try any of my meals then let me know what happened and how you found it!! And remember; everyone transforms at their own pace, so don’t compare yourself to others and their transformations. For me, it took around 6 months give or take a few; but for someone else it may take a year or two. Your own journey is valid and you should be proud of any victories, big or small.
I hope you have a great bank holiday weekend my lovelies! I’m off walking in Wales with the bf and can’t wait, fingers crossed it’s sunny!