Now that I’ve reached my goal weight, a question I’ve been asked a lot recently is: “so, how did you do it?” Well….
..In short, it was a combination of diet and exercise – sounds extremely obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people try to lose weight by doing one without the other (tip: you have to do BOTH).
One thing I didn’t do, was join a slimming group – not because I believe they’re bad, as demonstrably they’re not and I know they work for a LOT of people, but for me I decided that it just wouldn’t suit.
Basically, I paid far more attention to the calorie content of food and how much I was consuming. The calorie intake for the average adult woman is a recommended 2000. I tried to eat at or slightly below that.
These days (in the UK at least), most food packaging carries explicit information about the amount of calories/fat/saturated fat/sugar and salt within. It really pays to read those labels properly! Additionally, there’s plenty of other information on food calorie amounts out there, so really there’s no excuse not to know!
I didn’t cut them out completely (you’re not really eating a balanced diet if you do), but I did particularly cut right down on certain things such as: pasta, bread (both of which I’d been eating too much of), rice and potatoes. Now to re-emphasise, I didn’t cut them out, just down. Your body uses carbohydrate for energy so you do need it, however there are “good” and “bad” carbs, just as there are “good” and “bad” fats. A banana is a “good” source of slow release carbohydrate for instance.
Again, there’s a wealth of advice out there about all this stuff, so get reading!
Basically, I started eating more of both. The official advice in the UK, is to eat “5 portions a day” of both fruit and veg. I’m not sure that I keep strictly to that guideline but fruit-wise, during the week, I have a glass of orange juice before cycling to work, then I eat a banana once I get there. My employer provides free fresh fruit baskets around our office, so I can usually help myself to a pear/apple/orange etc., later on if I need a snack. For breakfast at the weekend I typically have some low fat yoghurt with some sliced fruit (usually banana & strawberry).
With the veg, although I’d cut right down on potatoes, I began eating more of other things like: peppers, squash, carrots, parsnips, mushrooms, tomatoes and leafy salad veg. The veg is usually roasted (in a small amount of olive oil) and eaten with whatever source of protein I’m having.
Protein is important for muscle development and repair. Again there are good and bad sources, so it’s important to know the difference. Unprocessed meats (in limited quantities and cooked healthily) are good. Eggs, fish (especially “oily” fish) and pulses are all good too.
I’ve been eating lots more fish (especially salmon and tuna), but also eggs (typical weekend lunch for me would be 2 poached eggs on toast).
Basically, I cut this out completely. Not absolutely necessary, but I needed to remove the temptation!
Apart from fruit, if I want something savoury, I keep some bags of these crisps at work (ready salted variety). I allow myself no more than 1 bag a day. They’re 100 calories per bag and much lower in fat than “regular” crisps because they’re not fried.
Some good advice I learnt is, that whatever exercise(s) you do, don’t do the same thing all the time or it’ll become less effective as your body adapts. Learn to push yourself and mix it up a bit!
Wii Fit Plus:
I can really recommend this. I began regular weekly sessions on it, lasting about an hour each time and burning around 200 calories per session. It’s great for tracking your weight and BMI and you can choose from a range of exercises covering: balance, aerobics, muscle and yoga. The exercises are meant to be fun and you compete against yourself. As you get better you can unlock new levels.
Just after Christmas, I got a programme for the Wii called Zumba Core. I’d never tried Zumba before (lots of people do live classes) but this gives you a proper workout for your core muscles. You earn stars as you dance and the better you get, the more bonus content you can unlock. It’s great fun and if you’re not ready for a full hour long class, you have the option of doing 20mins, 40mins or single songs.
I already cycle to work every day (a round trip of 11 miles) but I’ve begun to use the bike for doing other trips such as going into town (a 45 min ride).
I’ve blogged a lot about this (what do you mean you haven’t been reading it?), so I won’t say much else. Running is very new to me though and it’s a great form of exercise.
If you do decide to start running, make sure you get fitted for a proper pair of shoes to help stave off injury. Incidentally, while I’m not intending to enter any races, I am doing the Race for Life in Cambridge in July and I have a sponsorship page, so if you’ve read my blog and enjoyed it, how about a donation?! 🙂
Oh and I have my own pre-bedtime routine (exercises borrowed from Wii Fit):
- Overhead arm bends (with 3kg weight): Stretch arm straight up above head, holding weight. Bend arm backwards at the elbow and then back up again. Do this for 20 reps and change arms.
- Horizontal waist twists (with 3kg weights): Hold a weight in each hand and stretch arms out horizontally to each side. Feet slightly apart. Twist laterally to one side, then back to the front, then to the other side for 1 rep. Do 6 reps.
- Diagonal waist twist (with 3kg weights): As above but this time you twist diagonally at the waist for each left and right twist (don’t stick your bum out as you do it).
[Edit: I forgot one…]
- Sun Salutation (Yoga – Wii Fit Plus version): Bit difficult to describe in words so…. watch this
- Grounded V: Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched. Support your upper body in an upright position and bring your legs up, straight, in front of you (so you form a ‘V’ shape). Hold for 30-40 secs.
- Jack-knife: Basically a type of sit-up where you begin flat on the floor on your back (with your arms stretched out above your head) and end up in the above ‘V’ position with each rep. Do this for 10 reps. Don’t let your hands and feet touch the floor between each rep.
- Plank: Lie face down, flat on the floor. Put your hands and forearms flat on the floor (elbows beneath your shoulders). Stretch out your legs behind you and push up using your toes and hands to raise your body into a flat, horizontal position (don’t raise your hips/bum so you’re in an inverted V shape). Hold that position for about 30 secs (or longer if you can!)
So, this is what I’ve done! Whatever you choose to do, make sure you enjoy it!
I’ll need to work hard to maintain where I’ve got to, but I’ve got a new discipline now that I’m determined to stick to. Onwards and upwards!!
Change of Scenery
I went for my run today. Another 3 miles but this time I eschewed the rec and cycled to our local country park instead. The terrain was different (ie: not flat) and there were lots of woodland paths and paths alongside large lakes. I almost didn’t go for a run as the prospect of plodding round the rec felt too boring but when I decided to cycle to the country park, I felt more motivated. I did get lost a couple of times (paths that led to dead ends) but that was part of the fun! Changing my route was definitely a good idea!