So many people asked me how I did it, how I lost weight, and usually at inopportune moments that my stock answer was
Concise, factually accurate, but I suspect hugely unhelpful. (Although, you may be the one who just follows the livestrong white rabbit to Nicky Holender , finds the wonderland of “stronger” videos and never needs to return here).
Signposting is great if you are already motivated and self-efficacious, but since I used to be neither here is the unvarnished truth:
1st January 2015
Weight 61kg height 143.2cm (no, it’s not a typo)
Alcohol 0 (amount of alcohol in blood from night before – off scale)
Husbands who cook food containing wine & cream 1
New Years resolutions – achieve normal body mass index (BMI)****
For years, 12 years, I had failed to be a consistent exerciser and for 6 years I hadn’t done any proper exercise at all. I ate what I wanted and drank what I wanted (I wanted!) and as a result at the end of each year I was inexorably a few pounds heavier, a dress size bigger and I felt uncomfortable, discomfited and miserable every winter. I felt a sense of inevitability that I would just get fatter, that my lifestyle was fixed, that there was no room for change. I hadn’t weighed myself for ages – denial is powerful and we’ll reflect on that on Friday. What finally jolted me out of complacency wasn’t the money I was spending on enormous clothing items, it was finally stepping on the scales, working out my BMI and being ashamed at the fag paper that stood between me and obesity.
Personality and planning
My personality is ISFJ (click here for an absorbing way to work out yours and what it means). Knowing that was helpful to target how I would best achieve my weight loss goal. Next Monday, Meg (who is ENFP) will share her journey to motivate those of you in the “E-P” camp. But I know that “I-J” personalities love a plan
They want to work things through quietly in their heads and act when they’re ready. So, rather than leaping in and trying the latest fad diet, I started reading. I started to work out why I was stuck in a rut and what I could do differently. Thank goodness for Pinterest – maybe it will have saved my life! Through “health and fitness“ boards I was able to read all the latest research and find loads of great (free!!) fitness resources so I could plan my attack.
Two major revelations about calories and exercise came out of my research. Firstly, with my fitness pal I worked out my basal metabolic rate (we’ll talk in depth about BMR on Thursday) and my goal weight (50kg) and hence my ideal daily calorie intake.
It was shockingly low and miles away from 2000kCal “they” say the “average woman” needs. I had clearly been kidding myself – being 4’8″ tall is not average! Secondly, hours of steady state cardio in the gym at “fat burning heart rate” were no longer hot exercise tips. 30 minutes of activity a day with one rest day per week was the way forwards. Within that, 2 workouts should be “strength” i.e. weights and 1-2 should incorporate H.I.I.T. (High intensity interval training). Suddenly, I realised I could find time in my day for 30 minutes at home, where going to a gym before or after work with all the associated palaver was never going to happen.
So I bought myself some home gym kit to last forever which cost less than a year’s wasted gym membership would have (cross trainer, Dumbbells, resistance band and ball – if you’ve got the money upfront). But I didn’t lose much weight – I was eating better and drinking less, I was working out 30 minutes a day (mostly) using a variety of resources I’d found, but in 3 months I had lost the sum total of 2.2lbs. (Ideal rate of loss is 1-2lb per week). This was frustrating and I wondered what I was doing wrong. I started to log my progress and found:
1st March 2015
Alcohol – still drinking
Husbands standing for parliament 1
Resolutions – change of tack needed for weight loss
It turns out I was doing it right, I had just underestimated the time it would take and the path it would follow. The weight loss depended on finally kick starting my metabolism to behave differently and it only did that after the 3 months preparatory work and when I then flirted with Michael Mosley’s 5:2 intermittent fasting plan for 2 weeks which did shift 2kg:
16th March 2015
Alcohol – not on fast days
Misery – high. 5:2 was not for me!
I then decided to stop grazing on different ideas from the smorgasbord of fitness resources out there and commit to livestrong “stronger”. An 8 week FREE total fitness plan needing no equipment, I followed it to the letter (TO THE LETTER no kidding myself, no cheat days like before, no alcohol) and I finally started to lose weight. I fell in love with Nicky Holender and I didn’t feel nauseated by the Americanisms.
It worked: a simple calorie tracker app which I filled in assiduously and 6 x 30 minute workouts a week with a rest day. 4 weeks at beginner level, 4 weeks at the next level up. The workouts are hard and they make you sweat. Unsurprisingly, this is what makes them effective!! But my goodness they make you smile, too – usually due to the hilarity of what you must look like in action. (enough reason to do this in the privacy of your own home….)
Suddenly the weight was going. And it kept going.
22nd May 2015
(finish livestrong stronger 8 week plan)
Weight 51kg BMI 25.5
alcohol – rare
Husbands who now cook healthy food 1
Resolutions – maintain healthy weight
Suddenly, a perfect rate of weight loss. I kept up the calorie monitoring and exercise to finally achieve my goal of 50kg on 18.06.2015 (nearly 7 months later – I want to stress how long it took!).
In a couple of weeks I’ll be back to talk about how I then maintained the weight loss, meanwhile, I hope this gives you some ideas to bring you one step closer to starting your own journey.
**** with thanks, an affectionate homage to Bridget Jones