Dieting (I don’t even like this word!)

For as long as I can remember I have had a battle with my weight and body confidence. I’ve never been naturally thin and never been keen on sports. A weakness of mine (& no doubt others) is comfort eating and snacking. I’ve tried numerous diets over the years from Slimming World, Weight Watchers, meal replacement drinks, low calorie and most recently Keto.

Now I appreciate that diets can serve a purpose and give people a kick start to weight loss, however, in my opinion diets don’t work unless you’re permanently on a diet because as soon as you stop your diet at least some of the weight will go back on. I also feel they can be hard especially when you’re not allowed to eat certain things. We call know if we’re told we can’t have something that all we think about and crave is that thing!

I believe that ‘diets’ shouldn’t be a diet but more of a lifestyle. I think they are also a very personal thing, and some will work better for you than others. Out of all the diets I have tried I lost the most weight when doing the Keto diet despite the fact I was eating more fatty foods. It wasn’t easy for me as I don’t really eat a lot of meat added to which carbs are in so many foods. When you go out to eat, you’re incredibly limited with what’s on offer and how many snacks and meals are full of carbs. Bakeries are completely ruled out! I used to always have a tea cake when going to a cafe but obviously couldn’t anymore. You can’t help but notice that you’re faced with menus consisting of toast, sandwiches, paninis, tea cakes, cakes, biscuits, pastries etc. It took a lot of effort, but I started to get in the swing of things and liked the fact I lost weight. However, whether it was coincidence or not, I had a continual spell of tonsillitis which went on for more than 6 months and I also had a spell where I was quite ill, despite having numerous tests the Drs couldn’t find anything wrong. I know there is such a thing as Keto flu, but this was more than 4 months in, and I’d never felt so ill, so I decided to stop the Keto diet.

After doing lots of research I discovered that dairy intolerance could cause tonsilitis. This isn’t a well-known fact at all but after suffering with it so much despite taking vitamins, having manuka honey, gargling salt etc I was desperate to try anything to stop getting it. I didn’t see the point in asking for an intolerance test as I knew the Drs were most likely going to suggest that I try removing dairy from my diet for 6 weeks and see if I noticed a difference. So even though I am a huge cheese lover and drink an abundance of tea with milk, I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go. Within a couple of weeks, the tonsilitis was clearing up and within a month it had gone completely for the first time in months. I was pleasantly surprised and still a little sceptical, but I kept going.

Well, it’s been exactly one year now since I went dairy free and I don’t regret it at all. I’ve been less tired and touch wood (touching my head!!) I’ve not had a bout of tonsilitis since! Some people have asked whether I’d consider reintroducing dairy now to see if I get tonsilitis again or have said surely, I can have a bit of dairy but for me it’s honestly not worth it. One time I had some coleslaw with a meal without thinking and within hours I could feel my throat hurting.

It’s not been as hard as I thought because fortunately dairy free products have drastically improved and increased in recent years. It’s definitely been trial and error and I still miss some things such as eating cheese and crackers. There are lots of alternative cheeses, but I’ve not really found any that I can just eat a chunk of on it’s own so I tend to use them more for cooking. It’s taken awhile to find certain everyday products I like such as milk and yogurt and of course I’ve had to test a fair few chocolate alternatives – some are very nice and you can’t tell they’re dairy free whilst others are not so good. One of my favourite foods is pizza which is a bit of a challenge but it’s doable – either by making your own or finding the right one out there. The main thing is that generally they are so much more expensive with the average decent dairy free pizza being around £5. I have discovered that Pizza Hut and Papa John’s do dairy free pizza which is lethal!!

I was very sceptical to begin this journey and thought going dairy free would also help with the weight loss but now that I’ve found some delicious alternatives that’s not the case!! Ben and Jerrys do scrumptious dairy free ice cream and Galaxy have now brought out some vegan chocolate which is rather tasty! However, I do miss Maltesers and my all-time favourite – Lindt truffles. I’m very lucky that there are so many alternatives available and some are excellent.

What’s even better is having such a wonderful vegan cafe in my village – although dangerous!! I was craving a hot chocolate not long ago and decided to treat myself – well it was certainly indulgent, and you honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell it was vegan. It even had squirty cream, marshmallows and a chocolate on top! So, going dairy free hasn’t helped with the weight loss but I definitely feel better for it!

I like my food and I need to be able to eat everything so what works for me is just being careful and watching what I eat. I sort of follow the lines of the 80/20 rule, knowing I can have a ‘naughty’ day if I’ve been relatively good for the rest of the week. My weight has always fluctuated depending on time of the month and if I’m stressed etc.

Unfortunately, the key for me to lose weight and maintain it is exercise which as I said I’ve never really been a fan of. I don’t enjoy getting hot and sweaty and as I’m larger on top I’m always conscious of this and often feel I’d need scaffolding to keep them in place!! I’ve got better with exercise over the years and even had a spell of running before I fell pregnant. I try to keep active but prefer walks and dancing.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I started doing the PE with Joe workouts to try and encourage my girls to join in but then started strangely enjoying them. I think it was partly because during the first lockdown it gave me some structure to my week and really helped with my mental health, I liked the fact it was live and the fact that Joe didn’t appear to be afraid to act like a big kid! I lost weight when I was doing his workouts 5 days a week even though I wasn’t really watching what I was eating.

I then had a blip when he stopped his live workouts even though I knew all of them were available on YouTube – I think the motivation disappeared. It can be hard to fit a workout in when you have two little ones running around after you and when you still are determined to do a workout you are constantly disrupted either because they’re suddenly hungry or need a nappy change etc. However, I was bought his Body Coach app for Christmas, so I have been doing his workouts again. I have to be realistic with myself and know I won’t always do 5 full workouts a week so instead I aim to do them when I can. Some days I only get 20 minutes done but I tell myself it’s better than nothing.

I’m not obsessed with weight, for me it’s more how I feel about myself and feeling comfortable. Only being 5 ft 3 means that a few pounds can make a difference in terms of clothes size and of course I hold my weight around my waist!!

When I first signed up to the Body Coach app it asks you for your weight and measurements and then this is repeated every month. I was disappointed after the end of the first month that I hadn’t lost any weight despite trying but I had lost quite a few cms around everywhere other than my waist which had stayed the same! However, I know that I feel fitter and that if this is to be a long-term thing it may take longer to lose those few pounds.

With the Body Coach app, you also get access to some of his recipes – unfortunately none of them are a greasy takeaway or a chocolate bar! All of his recipes use fresh ingredients which we all know is best, but it all starts to add up, on top of that I tend to cook meals me and my girls can all eat, to save time and money but with them only being 2 and 4, not many of the recipes I have access to are really suitable.

I did however try making his low carb lasagne the other day which is pretty much a standard lasagne but instead of using pasta sheets it uses sliced butternut squash. (I altered the recipe to make it dairy free). I was pleasantly surprised, we all enjoyed it and wolfed it down!

I know that Joe hasn’t always had money, but I don’t necessarily feel the recipes I’ve seen so far reflect the budgets of families on a lower income or benefits. Therefore, I haven’t been able to stick to the plan which requires only eating meals from the recipes provided. Instead, I’ve tried to stick to lower carb and healthier meals where possible but without breaking the bank.

Oh, to be offered the chance to work with Joe to come up with some recipes that are more budget friendly whilst being healthy and tasty! Even 1% of what he is worth would-be life changing! Dream on!!!

So, whether you are on a diet, considering going on one or diets not being your thing, do what’s best for you. Don’t be too hung up on scales and remember that depending what time of day you weigh yourself or if it’s time of the month the scales could be mean and give you an inaccurate number! If you do weigh yourself try and stick to the same time each time you do and try to leave at least a week in between each weigh in.

I often think that if I’ve eaten at least 5 fruit or veg a day I’m allowed a little treat! Another thing worth thinking about is breakfast – I’m surprised how many people avoid breakfast, but it is the most important meal of the day. Even if you just grab a banana or a relatively healthy breakfast bar it’s better than nothing. I personally would be a grumpy grouch if I didn’t have my morning cuppa and breakfast!

I think portion control can be a big issue especially when eating out. It’s very easy to naturally fill a plate or bowl and for me it’s certainly not satisfying to have a large bowl or plate and then have a measly portion on it. Psychologically it feels like a diet and will no doubt make us feel as if we haven’t eaten, whereas if we choose a small bowl or plate and fill it, it makes us think we are eating more. It does work, certainly for me! So, I have made a conscious effort to have smaller bowls and plates.

Another thing for me is when I get peckish…raiding the cupboards to fill that space. (This is also true when emotional, tired or bored!) So, what I do is make sure I have snacks in for me that aren’t too bad and having a treat box. I have oatcakes, rice cakes, healthier crisps, popcorn, Nakd bars and of course some dairy free chocolate. When we get peckish it’s very easy to reach for anything or go and buy a treat but when we are hungry, we are more likely to buy something ‘naughty’. 

I’d just say that whatever ‘diet’ or exercise regime you follow, be kind to yourself, maybe set yourself goals but realistic ones, allow yourself treats and consider making a small change such as using smaller bowls and plates.

I admire those who are body confident whatever shape or size they are! I was getting there not long before I was pregnant with my first born, but now both pregnancies have left their marks the confidence has slipped away. I’m curious what makes people especially women feel body confident or sexy? Does it come from what others say? Is it how we feel? Is it an inbuilt confidence?

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