Weight loss is one of those things that can seem so over-complicated. There are so many diet books out there with wacky and wonderful diet plans, each choosing different food groups to cut out and avoid. Do you go low fat, full fat, cut out sugar, cut out meat, carb free, vegan, gluten free…. the list goes on and on and it can all a little bit overwhelming. Whilst attempting to lose weight I tried quite a few of these different strategies and never enjoyed any of them or found any long term success with them. They just weren’t sustainable and all in all a bit too complicated. They are all full of rules that lets face it, no one really wants to follow. It can be too easy to get fed up and sack it all in. For me, it is that feeling of having ‘failed’ a diet that is likely to make me go a little crazy and eat allll of the biscuits. I put on weight at university and my weight yo-yo ed around A LOT (something I will touch on in another post) but since graduating a year ago I lost 10 kg over a few months and have kept it off ever since. I wanted to share the three things that I have found to be key to losing weight. And it doesn’t involve cutting anything out of your diet.
I think this is the most important point and I can’t reiterate how key this is for weight loss and keeping it off. You don’t need to cut out carbs, chocolate, sugar etc. You simple need to eat these foods in moderation. A bowl of pasta won’t make you fat, but a humongous double portion with extra cheese 4 times a week is more likely too. Really try and hone in on your portion sizes. I fully believe that it is all about reducing the amount of food on your plate rather than the type of food on your plate. Reducing the amount really can make such a huge difference. Of course, I think it is important to make healthy choices and you need to eat a balanced diet full of fruit, veg, protein and carbohydrates etc but I don’t think you need to cut out whole food groups or sugar to be healthy.
Take note of portion sizes on food packets as these can be really useful. Another great tip for portion control is buying smaller plates. I am sure everyone has heard about how this will trick your mind into thinking you are eating more than if you ate the same amount on a bigger plate. If there are foods that you love, then incorporate them into your lifestyle but just in little bite sized chunks. I absolutely adore chocolate and I will eat a few squares of the stuff every day so as to satisfy my cravings without going overboard.
Portion control also means making sure that you are eating enough. You need to live a lifestyle that is sustainable. Forget the crash diets and instead eat normal sized portion of food every day. I was constantly ‘on a diet,’ but any weight loss was always short lived and I just put it all back on. The truth, I have found, is that diets do not work in the long run. The key for me, is to eat in moderation whilst making healthy choices and this is how I managed to not only lose the weight but keep it off.
I think that weight loss and keeping weight off is predominantly about what you eat and how much you eat. Regular exercise will not cancel out over eating. However, it important to keep active. Incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle is a really good idea. This doesn’t mean you need to slave away in the gym if you don’t want to. Simply walking that little bit extra and moving your body each and every day is so important. I use a footstep tracker and I will try and rack up a minimum of 10,000 steps each day. If you can, walk quickly too and get your heart rate up. Doing this every day can make a huge difference. Since starting work, I walk to and from work which adds up to an hours walk every day and I really think that this has helped me sustain a healthy weight.
I think that it is also important to see exercise/being active as something that you do so that you have good cardiovascular and physical health instead of being a way to burn calories. I found that exercising simply to ‘burn fat’ or lose weight can make it feel very much like a chore. I stopped pairing being active with burning calories and instead saw it as a way to make my body as healthy as it can be. I go to gym classes quite regularly. Not to burn off something that I have eaten, but because it makes me feel so good and I really enjoy it. Find something you love doing whether it is walking the dog, cycling, weight lifting, trampolining etc. and make it a part of your lifestyle.
There are a few things you need to ‘be realistic’ about. Firstly, you need to be realistic about your natural body shape. Everyone stores fat in different places, has different builds, different metabolisms and there are millions of different body shapes out there. I was obsessed with the idea of having long, thin, supermodel legs but this is just never going to happen. I do not have long legs in proportion to my overall body shape and when I gave up the desire for these I felt quite liberated and much more satisfied with my progress. If you’re aiming for something unrealistic, you’re just going to get demotivated when it doesn’t happen. When you see the results of your achievable goals you will feel fantastic and are more likely to keep living healthily.
You also need to remember life is for living and for enjoying. Eat the slice of cake, go out for the meal with your friends, have an extra glass of wine but simply do all of this in moderation. If you know you’ve got a birthday coming up and you want to enjoy a three course meal and a few drinks then just make sure you try and eat healthily in the days before it and for the rest of your meals that day. If you read my blog, you will notice I post many restaurant reviews so I just try and make sure that I eat well for the rest of the week. If someone offers you a slice of cake, eat it and enjoy it if you want to. Also don’t then feel as though you have had one ‘naughty’ thing and then go crazy for the rest of the day. This is such an easy trap to fall into and really makes no sense at all.
Finally, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Some days you will eat more than normal and some days you will indulge. Don’t let yourself feel guilty if you have a day or two where you aren’t as active as you normally might be and don’t let it make you give up on living healthily on the whole. Like I said, you are creating a lifestyle that is sustainable which means you need a duvet day with a pizza every now and again because let’s face it, who wants a lifestyle without that!
*Disclaimer – I am not an expert or nutritionist and I am simply writing about the things that worked for me and my personal weight loss.