MOST of us have a weight that we’re happy with. Mine has always been 9 stone 2lbs, but in May this year my weight increased to 10 stone.
I was running less and spending a lot of time working. I had a novel to write for my master’s degree in writing. I was working full time and commuting a long way. As a result, not only was I running less, but I also got into some bad habits with my eating. It was the usual things. Too much chocolate, too many crisps, takeaways becoming a regular thing.
When I ran, I could feel the difference the extra weight made. It felt like hard work. It may not seem a lot but 12lbs is a lot of extra weight to run with.
My energy was also quite low. I was already tired from the long working hours and three-hour daily commute but the unhealthy eating made it worse. I was the unhealthiest I have ever been. For someone who has always been passionate about health and fitness, I couldn’t believe I’d let it happen. I was disgusted with myself. This had an impact on my mood and how I felt about myself. I knew I had to make a change.
Here’s how I lost the extra pounds in a healthy way through diet and exercise. And how, if you need to, you can too.
Set a goal
Having a goal gives you something to work towards and helps keep you focused. It’s also a great way to monitor progress and something to celebrate when you achieve your goal.
My fortieth birthday was rapidly approaching and there was no way I was turning forty feeling unfit. My goal was to get fit for my birthday and lose the extra 12lbs.
Once I’d set a goal, I started running regularly again. I didn’t try to do any speed or interval sessions, my body just wasn’t up to it. I simply put one foot in front of the other, and ran. I increased my mileage gradually to avoid injury. Just being outside and running more made me feel better physically and mentally. I began to believe that I would get my fitness back, but knew it would take time. I accepted this and began to enjoy the journey back to fitness.
Focus on strength and conditioning
Being inactive was bad for my body. All the sitting at my desk at work, writing at home and driving on the commute destroyed my strength. Soon after I started running again, I picked up a runner’s knee injury, so decided to incorporate more strength and conditioning into my training. I prioritised this over the running. I did Pilates, Kettlebells and body conditioning classes to improve my strength and general conditioning.
Try to get a balance with your fitness incorporating all the components of fitness, not just aerobic training.
I love spin. It’s great for fitness and really good fun. Before I started running seriously, spinning had always been a big part of my fitness programme. It was time to make a spinning comeback. I did as many classes as I could, sometimes up to three a week. I soon noticed my legs getting stronger and my muscle tone developing.
In addition to running, spinning and strength work I was also enjoying longer walks with my dogs and more time with the horses. So I was much more active than I had been in a long time.
As well as the extra exercise, I knew I had to look at my diet and make some changes. I don’t believe in fad diets. I certainly didn’t want to eat less. I enjoy food. I needed a good diet to fuel the exercise and recovery. But I also needed to shift the 12 extra pounds.
I decided to follow the Slimming World extra easy plan, which is not so much a diet as healthy eating. The focus is on making lifestyle changes for the long-term, not yo-yo dieting in the short-term.
The plan worked for me because no food is off limits. If you want a chocolate treat, or any other treat, you can have it.
The plan works by choosing low fat options. You can eat as much low fat ‘free’ foods as you like. This includes fruit, vegetables, pasta, rice, fat-free yoghurt and lean meat. You are allowed a healthy ‘A’ choice which makes sure you get the right daily amount of calcium. For this, I chose 700ml of skimmed milk because I like having milk for my recovery drink after training. You also choose a healthy ‘B’ choice. For this, I chose porridge, two weetabix, or two Slimming world healthy ‘B’ bars.
My diet really improved. I was eating a lot of fruit and vegetables and felt amazing.
Menu options looked like this:
Porridge with skimmed milk
Two brown toast and poached eggs
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries with natural yoghurt
Tuna pasta and salad
Jambalaya made with quorn sausage
Salmon with rice and vegetables
Chicken stir fry with vegetables (using Fry Light to cook with)
Chicken and vegetables
Lean beef burgers and healthy chips (you cook the chips in the oven using Fry Light)
For snacks, I had yoghurt and more fresh fruit throughout the day.
The plan also allows syns (short for synergy) which allows up to 15 syns a day for extras including chocolate if you fancy a treat.
Weight loss is a slow process. It’s taken me eight weeks to lose the extra weight, which is healthy. Be consistent and as the weeks pass, the weight loss becomes more noticeable. I started to feel, and run, better. I was never hungry on the diet, allowed myself treats when I wanted them, and also started experimenting with new recipes.
Staying focused and motivated
Having a goal is a great way to stay focused and motivated. If you want something enough it will happen. It just takes time. But the great thing is that when you achieve your goal, it feels fantastic.
I am now 9 stone 2lbs and I feel great. I am fitter, stronger, leaner and healthier. I feel the best physically and mentally that I have for a long time.
A combination of healthy eating and exercise really is the best way to reach your weight and fitness goals.