Bloody hell, I honestly never thought I’d be able to say this…and I hesitated writing it because I don’t want to jinx it! What if I tell you all…then I put it all back on again? I worried I’d look like a right idiot.
Oh well. If I do, I do. I’m going to risk it.
I’ve lost around a stone in the past eight months…a stone and a half since my heaviest (which was ironically when I got married in 2013, usually when gals are at their lightest!).
Why did I put on weight?
I used to be a real slim girl (in fact, I think I was too thin in my early twenties). I think at about 26-ish I was just over 9 stone. I actually didn’t appreciate my figure at the time, you never do! I always worried my arms were big in photos. What an idiot.
I didn’t really ever try to diet, but I did go to the gym fairly regularly (I’d got into the habit when I had personal training before my first wedding at 26). I gained maybe a pound or two over the years, but nothing major.
My figure continued much like this until I hit around 29/30 and my metabolism finally caught up with my bad eating.
We’d stopped going out raving as much at weekends and I was getting older. I went from around 9.5 stones to around 10 stone n 2010 (when I was 30). Still not anything really…but it was the start of the weight gain and loss yo-yo-ing that would be me for the next six years.
Eating for sadness…and happiness
My first marriage collapsed mid 2011. The last year(s) or so of that marriage were a very unhappy time (for both him…and me) and I hadn’t really realised (at the time) that I was eating to try to make myself feel better. I did know I was putting a bit of weight on though and I was very aware that he preferred me much slimmer. He was making remarks about the weight I was putting on (yes that’s a crap thing to do, but I don’t judge too harshly, he met me when I was 17 and I looked very different to what I do now – we both grew into people we weren’t attracted to any longer). This really did make me stubborn about it…I wasn’t losing weight for any man! I hate being told what to do, I go the other way!
At the end of 2011, first marriage over with and dating again, my weight was just over 11 stone.
I did want to lose weight, but I wasn’t overly concerned, my weight had never defined my happiness or how attractive I’ve felt…I was just concentrating on being happy again. Plus, extra weight meant bigger boobs! That was pretty cool!
Up and down, up and down
In fact, I was so happy in my new relationship with James that I ate more…we ate out a lot and I didn’t really care for putting any limits on myself. That’s not to say I didn’t care about my weight…I’d have periods of feeling really sluggish with no energy and knew I probably should lose some weight to help this. I did some serious yo-yo dieting, trying everything from Atkins to Weight Watchers to the 5:2 Diet to the Egg and Grapefruit diet. I’d often lose weight, but I’d always put it back on.
By May 2013 I hit just under 12 stone. I did feel heavy and I was due to marry James in July…you’d think that would have given me a bit of an incentive, but I just felt very overwhelmed by the task in front of me. Before the wedding, I did actually manage to get a grip and lose around 3/4 of a stone…but still felt a bit heavy…
I can’t even remember how I lost that weight, but I put a good half a stone back on afterwards. Ya know…honeymoooon! We ate a lot in our lovely Italian honeymoon and I wouldn’t have changed that for the world.
After that I hovered around 11.5 stone…losing a bit sometimes…putting a bit on at others (I went back up to nearly 12 stone in 2014).
Here’s me in September 2014…see what I mean about not feeling all that bad about my weight? I felt bloody great in this photo! I can just see the difference in my face. A clever dress from French Connection hid the bits that I wasn’t particularly loving at the time.
Here’s me in July 2015…
…I didn’t feel so good at this point…I think I was relatively heavy for me and I was a bit concerned about fitting into the bridesmaid dress I had for one of my best mate’s wedding (the lovely Sally). As usual, you could see it in my face…and I was finding myself a bit harder to dress for with my usual clothes (although that Vera Wang dress is a beaut!).
By the start of 2016, I’d brought it down to 11 stone 5lbs. Not bad at all for me. Certainly good compared to 12 stone. I was doing more exercise (running) which was really helping and I’d started to change my approach to eating.
Showing you visually
Here’s a chart from MyFitnessPal, which I’ve used on and off to track my weight, from 2010 to the start of this year. I’m not one for weighing myself regularly (I prefer to use how my clothes fit as a gauge), but you can see the full delights of that yo-yo weight gain and loss across the years!
Back to my 2010 weight
After we moved into the new house March this year, we made a few changes which meant I’ve lost a bit more weight…
…and now? I’m finally back to my September 2010 weight – 10 stone 5lbs.
YAY!!! I *feel* much better, my clothes feel like they fit better and I’ve got tonnes more energy!
Some people haven’t really noticed…some have definitely noticed. Someone who hadn’t seen me for around six or so months saw me and exclaimed “oh my god! I didn’t recognise you?! you lost SO much weight!”. I was pleased at first, then bemused by such a strong reaction…then I wondered what on earth he thought I looked like before?! I think I still look much the same…just a little slimmer. It’s always hard to assess your own looks though.
So, how have I lost the weight?
There isn’t just one thing that I’ve done. It’s been a bit of a lifestyle change really plus figuring out something I needed to improve in my gut.
#1: I aimed to eat more veggies
I wasn’t, and still aren’t, eating as much veg as I should…so I wanted to improve that and be more healthy. Veg is full of all the good stuff, so makes sense to eat more of it. Innit.
#2: I haven’t denied myself anything or made myself feel guilty
I always used to think a diet was about being fairly strict. I really haven’t been at all….eating more veggies just meant I’ve eaten less carbs.
Around the end of last year for a few weeks I was using MyFitnessPal to track the food I was eating…not to focus on calories, but more to focus on the macro-nutrients. I wanted to make sure I was eating enough protein and fat. This only continued for a few weeks and I felt it taught me to be more balanced enough to make the right food choices without having to log my food everyday.
I’m not a fan of food tracking, I think it makes you focus too much on food. I’m happiest when I’m making healthy food choices because I actually want that food…not because I’ve told myself what I can or can’t have based on a calorie number.
In terms of not making myself feel guilty…if I ate some cake then I made damn well sure I enjoyed every minute of it. This meant I didn’t desire anything, because I could have anything I wanted. If I wanted cake, I had cake. Treats lost their shine…they weren’t forbidden to me.
#3: We’ve eaten at home more
This has definitely had a big effect. We were eating out a ridiculous amount before we moved house and eating in more has meant we’re eating more veg. I don’t particularly like cooking, mainly because I’m lazy. I’m fairly decent at it when I try…it just doesn’t interest me that much. James is a great cook thank goodness, so he’s been great at cooking us healthier meals with lots more veg to bulk it up and make us full. He’s been on his own health journey too…he’s discovering a real love of veg and has started replacing meat a little more often in our meals for fish or veg.
#4: I don’t drink much alcohol
In the past year or so, my alcohol intake has definitely reduced to very little. I’m allergic to some drinks (my beloved red wine, quite a few vodkas…) which is a real pain in the ass. I’ve had to take strong anti-histamines the day before and the day of and after I drink. If I don’t, it feels like I have incredibly bad hay fever and flu mixed together. I’ve also found that, depending on my mood, alcohol can really affect my anxiety at the time of drinking and most definitely the next day. I think some of this is cause by the slow onset of my allergy. I’d both look forward to and would dread drinking…wondering if I’d feel like death after just a drink or two…or if I’d be OK.
#5: I moved about more
Towards the end of last year I got into running. Very beginner-style I hasten to add! But I was enjoying running with my friend Kay on some evenings and the odd weekend. That did stop when I had to go to the podiatrist because I was getting some leg pain and he told me I had a ‘dangerous’ running style and had to stop and correct that before running again. I haven’t actually got back into running since because after I was told I could run again, I had to go back to the podiatrist because I’d managed to strain my achilles. ARGH! Doomed to never run really :-/
So, exercise took a lesser priority again until we moved house. Our new house is bigger and has more floors…this has meant I get more exercise on those stairs! I also walk to work…it’s not a big walk (just ten mins with a hill on the way there), but it does means I’m getting more steps in each day and moving more.
Recently, I’ve discovered I like spin! Honestly, I never ever thought I’d say that. The thought of a spin class made me want to throw up, I assumed I wasn’t fit enough because I saw girls who were super fit complain that they were too hard! Tweets and blog posts from Em Sheldon and Jessica Nelson helped to make me more curious, along with advice from the podiatrist that spin would be a great way to improve my fitness levels without hurting my achillies.
So, I tried a virtual class (by Les Mills) at David Lloyd (yep, I’ve joined a gym!) and realised I liked that it changed every few minutes…I liked the pumping music and I could push myself as hard or as little as I wanted. My fitness didn’t need to be amazing, I just needed to go for it as much as I felt I could.
It’s really helped that as I lost more weight, exercise and walking has become much more enjoyable. They do say it’s 80% your diet and 20% the exercise you do.
#6: Increased my gut bacteria
OK, so this is a big one. I can’t say for sure which of these six factors has affected my weight loss the most..but I’d put good money on this being a key one.
A friend of mine, Lyz, told me about a book called Gut. I bought it and found it very interesting. Actually, extremely interesting.
I hadn’t realised that so much was affected by our tummies! Turns out that not having enough good gut bacteria can affect your mental state (depression, anxiety etc.) and can affect your weight. Amongst LOTS of other stuff it affects. I highly recommend buying the book and having even just a skim read.
To improve my good gut bacteria, I didn’t bother with any of the sugar-laden probiotic drinks in the supermarkets (Yakult, Actimel etc.)…I increased my good gut bacteria through:
Kefir is, well….how can I describe it…pretty gross. I call it ‘fizzy milk’ because that’s how it tastes! It’s not actually fizzy, maybe ‘sour milk’ is more apt. It’s milk that’s got bacteria in it…good bacteria. It’s hard to drink neat at first, but you do get used to it. I have a small glass most mornings. Lyz showed me how to make my own kefir from ‘grains‘ which sit in milk in a dark corner of my kitchen. Every few days I get a new batch. You can read more about kefir in that gut book.
This is stuff that is ‘food’ for the good bacteria. I have a sachet of Bimuno when I remember (maybe once a week). You just add it to water and it doesn’t taste of anything. Way better than the kefir!
The reason why I think that the gut bacteria factor has helped so much is that when I’ve had a few periods of eating badly again (Deliveroo, you are my downfall!)…like when we just moved in and in the last few weeks, I’ve still lost weight. There’s been weeks where I’ve eaten REALLY badly (I didn’t judge myself, we all get periods of this) and I would definitely have put weight on in the past…but I either maintained or still lost weight (I’d stand on the scales dumbfounded, expecting at least a few pounds gain).
Everyone is different
What works for everyone is so different. I’ve tried many diets that worked really well for others that just didn’t do a thing for me…or didn’t suit my personality/motivations/lifestyle. What I needed was a lifestyle change, to move more and to improve my gut bacteria. I’m really glad I’ve found what seems to be working for me…and I bloody hope it continues. I don’t want to lose all that much more really…but a bit more would be lovely, thank you very much!
To be honest, I keep assuming that it won’t continue and I’ll put it all back on again…I’m scared this has all been a nice dream. I’m going to try keep it all up though and it’s actually been lovely writing this very honest blog post…it’s helped me to analyse what’s been going on with my weight a bit more.
Losing weight again hasn’t and won’t make me a better person. I’d just like to have as much energy as I can…and I want to fit into all the lovely clothes I kept from years ago that I’m starting to fit into again. If I maintained at this weight, my BMI would still be borderline overweight, but I’d be happy with the energy I’d gained…happy I’m enjoying exercise again. We’ll see what happens and I’ll keep you all updated.