Hands up who’s put on weight during the pandemic, lockdowns and working from home? 👋🏼
Some people lose their appetite through stressful times. Not me. My daily exercise was regular trips to the fridge!
I often found myself standing at the fridge door, looking around blankly, waiting for inspiration and usually settling for more chocolate. Or cheese. Or leftovers. Or whatever was closest to me. I inhaled everything I ate then found myself back at the fridge door just minutes later.
So firstly, if you’ve been beating yourself up about the weight. Give yourself a break. There was a global crisis, our routines were upended, our lives full of fear and uncertainty and food was a brief, welcome, comforting respite.
But enough is enough! Let’s get these stubborn pounds shifted…
I lost over 40lbs around 15 years ago. And I’ve managed to keep it off, with a few little fluctuations here and there.
Naturally slim until my 20s, my weight had been creeping up gradually since my student days. Most people have a preference for sweet or savoury. I like both. In quick rotation. In big quantities.
I tried lots of diets. Slimming World, Atkins, calorie counting, bikini body plans, Blood Type diet, 5:2, 500 calorie days, Low GI, intermittent fasting… You name it, I’ve probably tried it.
And then finally something clicked. Or rather, quite a few things clicked. And here they are. The food lessons I’ve learned and lived by for almost 15 years.
1. FIND YOUR WHY
First, and most importantly, you have to actually want to lose the weight.
So do you really want to lose weight?
Yes? Then find your WHY. Why do YOU want to lose weight? Got it?
Okay. Any time you’re struggling, remind yourself of WHY you want to lose weight.
It will help you keep focus and motivation.
2. GET ORGANISED
Sorry to be the bearer of bad, boring news but there are no short cuts to losing weight.
Get organised. Plan your meals, buy healthy and prep plenty.
3. LEARN HOW TO EAT
Fad or lose weight quick diets might help you kick-start the weight loss, but they’re not sustainable, often not healthy and you don’t break your old habits.
To maintain your weight long term, you need to learn how to eat.
Find a way of eating that suits your lifestyle.
4. MOVE IT
Find an exercise you enjoy and get moving. It’s great for endorphins too which will help you feel so much better. But bear in mind, you can’t exercise away a bad diet.
5. DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. And it’s important to stay hydrated, helps with digestion too. But stick mainly to water, even fruit juices can be packed with sugar.
6. WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU EAT
It’s sometimes surprising how you’ve eaten so much more than you thought.
Writing it down helps you keep track. You might also spot patterns of when and what you eat.
I’m a grazer and snack constantly and eat throughout the day. That all soon adds up.
7. FOOD IS FUEL
This one was my lightbulb moment when it came to weight loss. Think of food as fuel for your body.
Would you put cheap, nasty fuel in your car? Nope.
Let’s treat ourselves carefully by trying to eat more fresh, nutritious, unprocessed ‘fuel’.
Read the labels, avoid high saturated fats, hidden sugars, high salts, E numbers and names of ingredients you can’t even pronounce.
8. DON’T CALL IT A DIET
It’s a way of eating that will enable you to lose weight and a new way of eating that will make sure you stay at a healthy weight you’re happy with.
My diet is how I eat, I’m not on a diet.
9. LEARN TO LOVE (AND TRUST) FOOD
Your body needs carbs, your body needs fats. No food is bad, in small amounts (unless it aggravates a medical condition).
Chocolate is good for the soul. Just not in the vast quantities that saw me through lockdown!
10. TRY SMALLER PLATES & PORTIONS
I don’t know about you but I was brought up to clear my plate. Whatever the size!
So maybe fill a smaller plate at first. Eat slowly, eat mindfully and stop when you’re full.
11. NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD AS SKINNY FEELS
That’s bulls*t. And whoever said that had clearly never tasted Lindt dark chocolate with sea-salt, or meringue with fresh cream, or cheesecake, or freshly baked bread with butter, or cheese, or… you get my drift.
HOWEVER, when tempted by your own tasty pleasure, just take a moment to reflect on your WHY.
Do you want that chunk of cake more than you want to lose weight?
The answer might be yes. In which case have a little.
Or CHOOSE to have it, and eat it with unbridled pleasure and savour each mouthful.
You’ve made a choice. Own it and enjoy it.
12. ENJOY IT
When you eat, ENJOY it!
Stop whatever else you’re doing, sit still and enjoy every last morsel.
Don’t ruin it by eating it with a huge side-serving of guilt.
Savour it with intention and satisfaction. Otherwise it wasn’t worth it.
So if you can’t resist the dessert menu, just have the cake / cheesecake / tart / cream filled pastry and enjoy it. Maybe you’ll share it with someone, maybe you’ll eat the lot.
But you’ve made a choice to have it, so give yourself permission to accept that decision, lean into that and enjoy it!
13. DON’T START AGAIN NEXT WEEK
If you eat the cake, don’t let that de-rail you. Don’t decide you’ll start your ‘diet’ again tomorrow, or the next day or after the weekend or whenever…
Eat the next meal as you had planned and prepped.
You’re making mostly ‘healthy’ food choices and sometimes you have treats.