I’m by no means an expert in weight loss but as I’ve just lost the equivalent in weight to 240 small Lindt bunnies (that’s two stone for those of you who don’t measure weight in cute woodland creatures), I wanted to share what worked for me. It took me a year of whining about clothes no longer fitting (while shovelling chocolate cake in to my mouth) to finally accept that I wasn’t going to wake up two dress sizes slimmer purely as a result of having a good night’s sleep. Two little children and a whole lot of sleep deprivation can be blamed for a lot of things but eating too much and exercising too little are not two of them.
Here are my ten top tips.
1. Start as you mean to go on: I started early on a Sunday morning with an attempt at a run using the Couch to 5K programme. I knew it would be difficult and I knew that I probably wouldn't enjoy a single minute. I also knew that I’d be lucky to run a couple of hundred metres without having to walk for a bit. However, I was sure that if I dragged myself out of bed to pound the pavements, I’d be unlikely to undo my efforts and reach for the biscuits.
2. Be honest: I counted every single calorie that entered my mouth. Every. Single. One. I used MyFitnessPal to record everything that I ate and drank. It sounds silly but I honestly didn’t realise how much I was eating and drinking on a daily basis. Around 2,500 calories when, for my height and weight, closer to 1,800 is the recommended amount. No wonder I was ballooning.
3. A helping hand: MyFitnessPal and the Couch to 5K apps are like my best friends now. There’s little I do without them. We’re a team of three. I'd definitely recommend trying them, or if you want a firm hug rather than a little helping hand, give Kigplan post pregnancy workout plan (Goodbye Baby Bump) a shot.
Goodbye Baby Bump is a digital weight loss coaching plan that promises to change the way you look and feel in 12 weeks. The programme is designed to help women get back into shape after giving birth and find ways to fit in exercise, eat better, and sleep more.
Kiqplan uses information from your activity tracker, smart phone or app about the number of steps you take or calories you eat to design a weight loss plan, specifically for you. You’ll be sent weekly health tips, workout videos, progress reports and easy-to-make recipes (but no chef that pops round to help you make them, sorry). It’s like having a trainer, nutritionist and lifestyle guru all rolled into one. The service costs £19.99 a month (less than 67 pence per day) and you can get a week’s free trial if you download the app.
4. Simple math: Basically, the fundamental principle to losing weight is eating less than what you burn. On an average day, I burn around 1,800 – 2,000 calories. When I wanted to lose weight, I tried to stick to around 1,400 calories a day, between 400-600 a day less that what I was using. This is roughly the gap that you need to lose a pound a week.
5. Meal planning: I analysed all of my favourite meals, totted up the calorie content and worked out how I could change the recipes slightly to make them healthier but keep them tasting amazing. It mostly involved not using so much cheese, if I’m honest. I love cheese a bit too much.
6. Shop for what you need: I don’t have the greatest willpower so I had to remove nearly all the temptation from our kitchen cupboards. I drew up (and still do) a meal plan for the week and ordered our shopping online (I’m also not that great at walking past the buy-one-get-one-free biscuit offers on the end of every aisle). If you don’t want to eat it, don’t buy it!
7. Portion control: Some meals are just too good to try and find a healthier alternative. You know, we’re only human. If there are things that you really, REALLY want, just have smaller portions of them. Pizza is one of my very favourite things but I stopped having a whole pepperoni one to myself and instead had a smaller slice with a whopping, great, big salad. I still get the taste that I love but without the horrendous fat content.
8. Treats: In my opinion, a life without any treats at all is a very, very sad one. But a few slices of cake a week is not going to help rid you of your jelly belly … no matter how many fitness classes you attend. I actually allowed myself a small piece of Kinder chocolate per day. I need a daily sweet fix to stay sane and at just 65 kcal, a small bar was the perfect accompaniment to my afternoon cup of tea (15 kcal). Rewards are good!
9. Water: Drink more water. Drink more water. Drink more water. You will not find a single guide to a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t tell you how important water is. Not only do you need it to maintain the balance of fluids in your body, but it helps keep your skin looking good and also makes you feel fuller … so you don’t eat as much … so you potentially lose weight. Drink more water!
10. Track your progress: On that very first day when I went for run, I also took photographs of myself and noted my weight and measurements. And I did the same thing every week after. I knew from the fit of my clothes that I was losing weight and inches but I’m someone that needs to see progress on a spreadsheet. It motivates me to carry on. Yes, I was a bit deflated on the weeks of no improvement but the downward trend kept me going.
So there you have it. Ten tips to get you started. I lost two stone in just under five months and am now happily maintaining that weight. I'm still not sure whether I'll brave a bikini come summer but I feel (and look) so much better. Good luck!
Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with Fitbug.