Dieting part 5

So, this is the time of year when a lot of people decide to set a goal to lose weight after the festive period. Sometimes people opt for crash course diets or they set unrealistic goals, both of which are asking for failure as a crash course diet may well help you loose weight quickly but as soon as you started eating normally again the weight will creep back on and by setting unrealistic goals it can be all too easy to feel despondent by what you deem to be lack of progress and so it is easy to give up.

As you know, I am not a fan of diets as such but rather a healthy lifestyle that allows for food that you like and treats otherwise again, not allowing yourself these things will no doubt result in temptation and then giving up.

Of all the diets I have tried the most useful tool I have found is becoming aware of what I am eating which may sound simple, but you would be surprised how much we may not be aware in terms of what ingredients are in ready meals, how big our portion sizes actually are or how many calories we really are consuming. It’s all too easy to guess how many calories we think are in something or how much we’ve really eaten but that is setting yourself a trap.

Aside from Noom getting me to rethink my relationship with food and body confidence it has really helped me know how many calories I am consuming; how many I should be consuming and what types of food I am eating (they use a traffic light system).

To begin with it can be time consuming and tedious to enter everything you’ve eaten and figure out the portion size, but it definitely opens your eyes. It makes you think and often reconsider eating that extra slice of pizza or adding more green foods to your diet or having an extra cup or tea or water before you decide if you’re really hungry.

I never thought I would be saying that I have got used to this way of living but I certainly feel like it is now engrained in me. I feel as though I am much more knowledgeable about food and nutrition which must have contributed to me maintaining my goal weight for nearly a year now.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a health or fitness guru and never will be as I love my food too much and have never loved exercise.

I do however feel healthier and fitter than I ever have been and despite having had 2 children this is the first time in my life that I quite like my figure and feel comfortable in my own skin.  

I still allow myself to have treats and do not rule any food out of my diet. There are days when I know I eat more calories than I should or when I eat more red foods than I should, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I think that I would have an inkling if I thought I was putting on weight again just by how I feel or by how my clothes feel but I still weight myself quite often just so that I don’t start piling the weight back on again. The main reason for this is because I have always found it incredibly easy to put weight on but a lot harder to lose it.

My weight does fluctuate by a couple of pounds and sometimes a little more but that is when I am a little more controlled about what I eat. I don’t want to get back to being a size 18/20 and still to this day can’t believe that I am a size 12, because I have always had curves, I never thought I’d get below a size 14.

I have got into the mindset of generally trying to make healthier choices without depriving myself and this can be down to something as simple as do swaps such as having sweet potato instead of potato or making pizza from scratch rather than buying one from the shops. I try and fill up on salad or fruit or if I want a pizza I’ll try and have ½ pizza with salad instead of eating the whole pizza but then again sometimes I will eat the whole pizza and that’s ok.

I’m also a firm believer that it’s important not to skip meals…I know if I did I would no doubt end up reaching for something to keep me going which is unlikely to be the healthiest choice. It’s hard to grab something healthy on the go as we are surrounded by pastries, cakes, and chocolate at all the convenience shops. This is also a reason that I try to make sure I have a snack with me whenever I go out as I know what I am like. A good tip is to try and keep a couple of things in your car and at work to stop temptation.

Another thing to be aware of is boredom, when we can think we are hungry but we aren’t or if we are fidgety so it can be worth taking a minute to be aware of this before reaching for something. This can be a time when I try to do something instead or make a drink first.

If you do try any diets or a change of lifestyle, allow for hiccups and don’t beat yourself up if you have a wobble. Keep in mind your goal and your reason behind your goal and don’t get too het up about what the scales say as weight does fluctuate which doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t on the right tracks.

Dieting Part III…

It has been three months since my last post about dieting and this is when I first signed up to Noom. I was pessimistic about how successful Noom would be and did not expect to lose much (if any) weight by completing their articles about the psychology of weight loss, our relationship with food etc, logging my meals and tracking exercise. I chose to try and lose weight slowly, so it gave me three months to lose 9 pounds. I had been desperate to lose half a stone since the beginning of the year and struggled to get the weight to budge despite watching what I was eating and trying Joe Wicks workouts. I was starting to feel despondent as my weight has fluctuated throughout my life…. however,… drum roll please!!!!

I have achieved my goal of losing half a stone and more!

In fact, I have lost 9 pounds in three months! I am now the slimmest I have ever been, and I am so happy! Yes, I still have a stomach and wobbly bits, but my clothes are falling off me and my confidence has grown in how I look. I no longer think of myself as fat and still like my curves. I know that I need to keep up with everything that Noom has taught me as I know only too well how easy it easy to pile on the weight so this is something that needs to become habitual rather than as a ‘diet’.

I now need to see about getting some new clothes and realise that I am no longer a size 18 or 16 or 14 and that I do not need to wear baggy, shapeless clothes. Part of my frugalness makes it hard for me to buy new clothes and feel that I should wear clothes until they fall apart!

Moving forward, I know that I will need to keep Noom or find an app that will help me keep track of what I eat as well as counting my steps. Otherwise I can see myself not keeping it up, even though I know I could google the calories in what I eat and write it down, it’s just not the same.

I like that Noom tracks your weight, and you can see the graph from the day you start, including the ups and downs, but it is a positive reminder of what you have achieved, even if there have been times when weight has fluctuated or stubbornly remained the same!

Noom also breaks down food into the traffic light categories automatically and shows you what proportion of red, yellow, and green foods you have eaten every day.

For me, the trickiest part of logging calories is when you are eating out, be it at a friends or a restaurant and you don’t know how much something weighs or how many calories are in something, so you end up guessing. I don’t want to kid myself so I always try to overestimate but it can be hard, especially if you are still hungry but daren’t eat anything else in case you go over but in fact you do not know for sure.

What I like best about Noom is that there are no restrictions…. I have managed to lose the weight and still gone out to eat, enjoyed cocktails, pigged out on ice cream, home baking etc. Although obviously not every day! I have tried, when possible, to get into the habit of planning ahead, so if I know that I am going out to eat or fancy that pizza for tea then I try to budget it into my daily calories. I never thought that I would get into the habit and expected to find it tedious but that hasn’t been the case, Noom has made it so easy.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been plain sailing and there have been days when the scales have not been my friend and that can be tough especially if I have felt that I have been really trying to eat healthily and stick to my calories. However, I have learned that my weight does fluctuate for a variety of reasons and so I have tried to almost forget what the scales say and carry on, which has paid off. Not long after I first struggled with the scales, the subject came up on Noom and it recommended that you take a break from weighing yourself every day, which I did.

Noom has really become that annoying parrot on my shoulder but in a positive way so for example I am someone who can find myself reaching for food in an evening regardless of weather I am hungry or not. So, if having a drink or distraction does not work, I find myself automatically turning to Noom to find out if I have any calories left. On most occasions I will have either no calories left or a maximum of 200 calories left, therefore it really makes me think about what I am ‘allowed’ to eat.

I am not too strict with myself otherwise it would not work for me, but I do want to feel good in my own skin so knowing how many calories I have left really makes me think. So now I will choose to eat fruit, have a cup a soup, a boiled egg, or my go to filling ‘treat’ which is sweet potato wedges or my recent discovery… cauliflower nuggets. (Cauliflower florets dipped in low fat mayonnaise and then dipped in a spice mix, breadcrumbs, or both). Who would have thought that I would genuinely enjoy eating these things?! (Particularly before going dairy free my evenings would have consisted of cheese and crackers or chocolate).

I now want to keep the weight off and try to tone up a bit, so this is my next challenge.

I am proud of what I have achieved and hope my new figure will help my confidence to grow.

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?