In 2008, I went from 69 kgs to 55 kgs. I am very short, so this was a huge difference. I felt really proud of myself.
People asked me 'how did I do it?'
Here are my 'secrets'.
1. Eat stuff you like.
Yep. I'm serious. Don't waste calories eating stuff you don't like or don't really want, out of politeness. Learn to say 'oh that looks lovely but I'm not really hungry right now' when offered biscuits, cakes, or even a giant steak. And don't just eat random junk because you're a bit peckish. How much do you REALLY like those chips? Really? Wouldn't it be better to eat some cherry tomatoes right now, that you actually enjoy and are better for you? Or eat nothing?
2. Don't feel bad about eating. Just eat in moderation.
There's no food that's really bad- it's just bad in certain quantities. You like chocolate? Eat two squares instead of 2 rows. Then put it away. You've had your chocolate pieces for today! Full? Stop eating that meal and put it away for lunch tomorrow. Want dessert? Go for it. Just don't eat five scoops of icecream. This way you don't 'miss out'. Don't feel you have to live a life just eating vegetables and nothing else. This is what put me off originally. It depressed me.
3. Save foods- understand it'll most likely be there for you tomorrow too.
I think I got a big possessive about my foods, I was thinking if I don't eat it now, it'll be ruined tomorrow, or eaten by someone else! Just because I don't eat it *now* doesn't mean I can never eat more of it again ever, even if it is ruined tomorrow- I'm full now, and had enough now. It doesn't matter if other people have had more. So, make use of doggy bags, of gladwrap, fridges, freezers, and leftovers for lunch. And that chocolate will still be there the next day.
4. Eat frequently but little.
This way your metabolism can keep fuelled, and you don't feel hungry. By 'frequently', I was eating a little every two hours. This totally stuffed up when I went back to uni though, this year. :(
Chewing something sweet actually convinces my body that I've just had some sort of tasty snack- but it's very very few calories.
6. Know calories.
Understand how calories and metabolism work. You don't just need to eat less than what you're eating now, if you're already eating way too much for your body size- that's still gaining weight, just less quickly. And understand that the fitter you are, the faster your body processes energy. I figured out how many calories my body actually needs. I ate about that, and then did more exercise every day. It was also illuminating to find out how many calories are in different foods. When I was in my first degree at uni I'd often eat two packets of dried noodles for lunch. I found out in 2007 that those noodles are about 400 calories or more a packet- I could certainly not afford to eat 800 calories just for lunch! Finding out some of the foods has now put me off those foods for life, and I don't even miss them.
Some people get too stressed about calorie counting- my mother for one. But if you don't have at least a vague awareness of it, I think that you're less likely to be successful.
7. Drink water
This hydrates you, which does all sorts of wonderful things for your body and metabolism, makes it easier to exercise (at least it did for me!) and also, most of the time when your body is saying it's a little peckish, it's actually thirsty. I'm really bad at remembering to drink water- it could be good to get into a habit (like I did) of tallying how much water you drink a day.
8. Food/drink diaries
Just for a few weeks, write down what you ate that day. Perhaps get a trusted friend to look at it. Just knowing that a friend will look at it, in combination with a promise to yourself not to cheat, can make you moderate what you eat, and how much water you drink.
9. Diet soft drinks and other low calorie options.
I don't feel like drinking my calorie intakes. So yep, 'diet coke, and a pizza please', if the pizza can fit in for that day. Coke has a lot more calories than you realise.
10. Home Made Foods
Home made pizza is soooo much better for you than pizza from Pizza Hut. And if you have my boyfriend's recipe, you'd be drooling. It also doesn't take that long to cook!
11. Find an exercise you like
I can't stress this enough. In late 2007, I took up ballroom and latin dancing with a group of friends. Decided I'd take the plunge and learn, I'd always been interested. That then moved to some of us taking up swing dancing, which I still do today, slowly rising through the ranks of abilities. I LOVE it. I love that I get to dress up, get to chat to all sorts of different people, that I'm feeling far more coordinated and less clumsy in day to day life, that it's all vintagey and feels wonderfully old fashioned that I can go out dancing with my friends and not have it involve alcohol and loud music, that I feel good and happy doing it, that I can help newbies out, and I'm proud of my abilities. I could have just gone walking on the treadmill alone.
Find an activity that suits YOU. You need to combine healthy eating with exercise- make it something you're NOT going to resent and put off. Don't just hit the gym, unless that is the activity that suits you.
12. Put signs up.
I put signs up saying "Do you really want these biscuits?"
"Are you really actually hungry? Drink some water".
It only works as long as the signs are 'fresh', but it does work.
Sadly, I think one of the things that made me lose weight was stress. It gave me more willpower somehow. Don't do that if you can avoid it. But I thought I'd be honest. Willpower however is important- people say 'oh, I couldn't possibly lose weight!'
But they CAN! If they have the willpower. (Well, 99% of people who say that could if they wanted to. But perhaps not with their current mental state).
11. Have a goal.
I wanted to be able to fit into pretty dresses. I also wanted to win a weightloss competition. It was fun competing against my friends, and also having a goal to work towards.
12. Go do things
Don't just sit around at home. Get hobbies. Go out walking. Walk to the shops. Get a 'life'. (not just a job). You're moving around more if you do, and are distracted from thoughts of food.
13. Don't be afraid that you're too fat to be seen.
You're not too fat to dance. Too fat to swim. Too fat to go to the gym. Too fat to find love. Too fat to do anything at all, unless I suppose you're housebound but even then you could dance with just your arms!
"Ugh, no one wants to see me in bathers"- you're not THERE to be seen. You're there to swim and have fun. "No one can dance with me, I'm so big". Well, I know two very large girls in my dance classes, and a few very large guys- it's no big deal. And we're not doing lifts anyway, you don't until you get muuuuuuch better than I might ever be.
If people laugh at you for being in your bathers, that is THEIR problem- you are out, getting exercise, doing what you want to do and having a fun time doing it. Force yourself into some self confidence, and go out and do it all.
A sad note though: I've gained weight back, because of university- university meant I was sitting still for longer, couldn't see friends as often, eating less frequently and worse foods, had to sit around and read and write a lot at home, and so on. I'll be trying to follow my own rules again from now on.
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