Sounds like click bait doesn’t it? But I 100% believe it to be true. So ‘What’s your secret?’ It’s a question I hear a lot these days. Well here it is! But I can only tell you the secret by letting you in on the journey of my transformation first. The transformation that lead this once obese and unfit, sugar junkie, exercise dodger to become a fit and healthy, disciplined, food loving, good example to my family. And as with everything in my life, it starts with food…lots of food!
‘I’ll never be thin, I love food too much’ This was my favourite phrase. And I believed it. And I liked it, because it excused the fact that I had a BMI that was over 35, and was touching 17 stone. So I hid behind the fact that I work in a food shop, ran a bakery, and had always been over weight, so I was never gonna change was I?!
But then once your eyes are opened to the fact that your size puts you in danger, there’s no option left but to change is there? So this is the story of a girl that learnt discipline and control, and in the process replaced obsession with a genuine love of food.
It started with exercise. I’ve never really exercised. I’d tell myself I didn’t really need to because I worked on a my feet a lot so that’s enough. But now I was at the point of needing to lose weight for my health and the health of my family, I needed to properly exercise. The thing is it’s very hard to start the process when you are very unfit, very over weight and basically a gym-o-phobe! I tell myself that I don’t go to the gym because it’s hard to get child care. But really I was scared to death of exercising in front of strangers, with machines that I didn’t know how to work, and wearing tight fitting exercise clothes. It’s my vision of hell. So I decided I’d see what the home workout scene had to offer. I’m lucky to have quickly found an excellent company, and really the cornerstone to my success. You know I love those business’ that are personal, where you deal with real people and not automated responses. Well I found this in the world of fitness. Team body project. Run by a husband and wife team, who are, via a bank of multi level workouts and plans they have made, your very own personal trainers in your living room. They may be over the waves of the internet, but they are there in your living room, by your side, kicking your bum onwards. They are also available to answer you questions, and there is a great community that provide unlimited support and loveliness!! So it took me a little while to get into exercising everyday, but I really took well to doing it at home, and followed plans to gradually build myself up. Whereas in the beginning I relied on motivation to get me doing it, now I’ve got to a place where I don’t rely on motivation. I’ve learnt the discipline to do it everyday, because it matters to me and it’s ultimately rewarding. Daniel, our trainer, says it’s like brushing your teeth. It’s not always fun but you just gotta do it everyday because you care about the outcome, and he’s right isn’t he?! So I’ve avoided the gym, and found the thing that suits me, and fits in with my day. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, heck some days it still isn’t. But the way it makes me feel and contributes positively to every aspect of my life is worth it. They say exercise only accounts for a small percentage of your weight loss, but it’s accounted for 100% of my focus.
So the diet? I’m actually really good at dieting. I’m even better at putting it all back on again. But this is a change for life, it’s not a ‘diet’. And here are the things that have helped me…
1. It’s about maths
It’s calorie in versus calories out. That sounds miserable on the face of it, but actually it has set me free. Because once it sinks in that it’s about eating overall less calories than you burn, it’s opened up the playing field. I’d always heard about magic diets that cut out one food group or another, and I’ve tried them. And I’ve had success until I couldn’t take cutting that thing out anymore and then gorged on it. But the realisation that all these diets do is attempt to control your calories within a framework that suits your lifestyle has lead me to a place where I can control my calories myself, without the rules of that diet. And in doing that, no food is off the table. But instead my table doesn’t have ALL the food on it at once! It’s lead me to really think about what foods I enjoy, and the ‘value for money’ you get out of things. This means I have cooked more, and I’ve been more creative about what I cook. It means I’ve enjoyed the process of cooking more. It means I’ve cut things that I’ve realised aren’t that important to me. For example I love poached eggs on toast for breakfast. Just skipping the spread on my bread (which I don’t even notice with a beautifully runny egg anyway) buys me a whole strip of my favourite dark chocolate to enjoy before bed. A whole strip! And if I want to go out for a meal and have a pudding? That’s fine! Just track the calories and eat less calories another day to compensate. Or do an extra workout. And what about the fact I love cake? Just fit it in to the plan, and don’t eat the whole cake! Nothing is out of bounds. The problem before is that I had no limits. So I was probably overeating by 1000 odd calories a day. I had no perception of that fact I wasn’t burning anywhere near that amount off. But the knowledge that you just need to balance it against what you burn has really set me free to choose the foods that take me to my calorie limit as I want. And with that I have had a sigh of relief and it’s lead me to the next revelation…
2. I love healthy food
Although I’ve just been banging on about not restricting any food group, when I first changed to this new way of life I did have a spell of restriction. For a few weeks I cut out sugar altogether. And then reintroduced it under my own steam. I also started to cook more. I’ve always loved cooking anyway, but I’d got a bit in a rut. Cutting the sugar and getting fit really helped give me the clarity and enthusiasm to throw myself into food again. And it’s amazing how much I found my love for cooking again! Cooking and loving food are as essential as exercise to a healthy lifestyle, for me anyway. Because I’m never ever going to stick to something that equates food to misery. But when all day I’m thinking up things I can cook tonight, I’m in happy land. And then there is no reason to leave! I’ve learnt that I’m happier dreaming of a new type of curry I can make with loads of vegetables and maybe trying a coconut rice to go on the side, than I ever was just eating the same old thing with no thought and then sitting down with a cup of tea and demolishing a whole packet of biscuits. Variety is the spice of life after all, and the habits I had got into did not promote variety. But cooking a new thing everyday opens the door to a world of variety, balance and most importantly, sticking to it!
3. There’s no time pressure
Once I decided this was a transformation for life, then it didn’t matter how long it took. When I have been on miserable restrictive diets before, it was a race to get to the goal so I could end the misery and get back to ‘normal’. Which in turn meant the weight went back on. But this is about life long habit change and not a race to the finish line. So if it’s not a race, you can actually eat a bit more! Where I had basically starved in the past, which was unsustainable and unhealthy, but fast. I found I could keep a steady 1lb a week coming off by still eating 1800 calories a day. For me that’s 3 good meals and a decent snack. Well that’s no problem I can live like that. On a diet before I’d have been gutted with just 1lb a week. But when I feel like I’ve eaten pretty happily and comfortably and a pound comes off…well that to me is a major win.
4. There’s no place for guilt
Guilt is the killer of joy isn’t it. So get rid of it. Why feel guilty because you’ve had a piece of cake. Tell yourself ‘I’m going to have a piece of cake, and I’m going to enjoy it’. Then afterward think ‘I really enjoyed that, I’m going to eat my dinner without the roast potatoes to balance the calories’! Or ‘I’m going to switch my lattes to a cups of tea’. Or a million other ways you can swap things for the cake. Guilt has no place. This one thing has made me enjoy my food. Decide you are going to have it. Fit it into the plan. Enjoy it. The end!
5. There is no wagon
This is the best lesson I have taken from Team Body Project. You see it’s not just a home workout plan. Everything that I’ve passed on in this post as messages relating to my success, have actually originated from them. I might sound like a person that’s been brainwashed by a cult, but really I’m just over the moon that I’ve had my eyes opened. I found a company unlike any other in the fitness industry. A company that tell it like it is, that get rid of the myths and bizarre diet rules that I have blindly followed my entire adult life. And this is the best one. I said to Daniel, our trainer, that I’m good at diets until I fall off the wagon. And his reply of ‘Vicky, there is no wagon’ is like the bullet that smashed everything I thought I knew about eating and dieting, and blew it wide open. Of course there is no wagon. Eureka. In a healthy life, following a balanced diet, there is no wagon to fall off. There’s just life, and a path that you keep walking. If you have a day where you eat more than you intended, oh well! Get up the next day and get back onto that healthy path. And walk it. It’s better for you to walk anyway!
So that there is my secret. I didn’t suddenly have a wand waved and fall in love with only eating raw vegetables. And I didn’t grow to feel like the very idea of cake was now repulsive! I didn’t take a mystery shake. Or only eat carbs on a Sunday during a thunderstorm. I did learn the value of moving, and the benefits of exercise. And that could be done without ever crossing the threshold of a gym (or lining their palm with silver!). And I did learn that balance in my calorie intake was crucial. Not everything I could balance on my plate like before. I learnt that there’s no place for food guilt, and also no place for restriction. I did however have to be honest with myself and not “forget” things I’d eaten! And that my friends, is how I had my cake and ate it, avoided the gym and have lost 4 stone!
Last but definitely not least, I must pay tribute to my wonderful husband, who has not only helped me, but had hopped on the journey right by my side and had now also lost a whopping 4 stone (at least, I’m sure it’s more), well done Ben!
Check out http://www.teambodyproject.com if you are interested in health and fitness at home, as well as support and advice!