I’ve seen the scales go up and down over the years, and, like most people, I’ve tried numerous diets in an effort to keep my weight down. I’m 5″9 and according to the NHS Choices website a healthy weight range for my height is anywhere between 9st – 12st.
The heaviest I have ever been is 12st 4lb. I felt absolutely enormous at that weight though, really uncomfortable. Looking back I had gotten to that size during the few years I was trying to conceive. I was comfort eating in an attempt to fill a void that was waiting for a baby. I am very much ruled by my emotions, and food is my crutch. I’d sooner reach for a bar of chocolate than a glass of wine when I’m feeling low.
I never really lost the weight when I did fall pregnant though, but luckily didn’t put on too much more. Partly because I felt sick for the first few months so didn’t eat much, and then I had the most horrendous heartburn for the rest of it so had to really watch what I was consuming. I did drink a lot of chocolate Nesquik though! Since having Molly I have pretty much stayed the same weight (around 11st 10lbs), but I have been desperate to get under 11st again.
After seeing photos of myself in a bikini on holiday in May, I was absolutely determined to shed the excess baby weight (well she’s 2 now so no excuses anymore)! While I know I’m not obese, I still felt uncomfortable, frumpy and unattractive.
When I came back I went on a massive health kick, and I’m pleased to say that I am now 10st 6lbs and feeling leaner, healthier & happier than I have done in years. The best part is I haven’t been on any faddy diets, or set foot in a gym. I’ve done it just simply by eating less and moving more…all with a toddler to look after 24 hours a day!
Before and after pictures
Little changes, big impact
About 12 years ago I got down to just under 10 stone, but I did it by essentially starving myself and eliminating certain food groups from my diet entirely. I wouldn’t eat bread, dairy, processed food, junk etc, and managed to get there quite quickly. I soon put it all back on though, plus extra. This time I wanted a lifestyle change I could stick to, and also one that could fit in with my family/toddler.
I love carbs. Bread, pasta, rice, mashed potatoes…heaven. I tried the Atkins diet once and lasted a day before feeling faint & giving up. However, I am well aware what too many carbs do to my body, especially eaten at the wrong time. So I adopted a ‘mini Atkins’ style plan…I only eat carbs for breakfast, sometimes for lunch, but NEVER for dinner. And the weight has dropped off without me even trying.
Remember that old saying ‘eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper’? Well there’s a lot of truth in that, and I took it on board. I realised that I was scoffing down huge portions of carb laden dinners in the evenings, and then just sitting on my ass doing nothing once Molly went to bed. So what was happening to all that food? It was turning to fat (mainly on my tummy, hips & thighs) because I wasn’t burning it off. It’s simple mathematics…if you put in more than you take out, you will gain weight.
A typical day
So here’s what I eat in a normal day:
Breakfast (9am): Muesli with natural yogurt and blueberries
11am: Tea or a latte if we’re out
Lunch (1pm): Soup with a few crackers & houmous/or a sandwich occasionally
3pm: Fruit (usually an apple/orange/pear), and a handful of nuts
Dinner (5.30pm): King prawn stir fry with butternut squash noodles
I drink a lot of water throughout the day, and find that if I am peckish then usually the water sorts me out as half the time I’m dehydrated not hungry.
I have been very strict in not having carbs in the evenings, but I don’t go out of my way to cook myself special dinners, I just omit the refined carbs for myself. For example:
Chilli con carne: swap the rice for slices of avocado
Chicken curry: usually just a bowl of curry, but sometimes I use cauliflower rice
Spaghetti bolognese: swap normal pasta for courgetti spaghetti
Stir fry: as above, I use butternut squash noodles
Sunday roast: I usually just load up on more veg instead of roast potatoes, or occasionally I’ll have sweet potatoes. No stuffing or Yorkshire puddings either. Gotta have gravy though!
That’s pretty much it. Easy peasy, I’m not eliminating any food groups, I have the occasional biscuit/packet of crisps/chocolate bar, and I don’t feel like I’m on a diet.
In addition to changing my food habits, I have also stepped up the exercise. I can’t afford a gym, nor do I have the time to go there being a stay at home mum, so I workout in my living room. Not even every day, I do it every other day as some days we have playgroup/music class etc.
Before I have breakfast, I stick on my workout DVD (usually Davina Intense), get my dumbbells out and off I go. Molly loves doing it with me (although she gets bored after 5 minutes and goes off to play), and I manage to get a really good exercise session in. It takes about an hour which is nothing really, and I’m done by 9am to start our day.
We’re always out and about in various parks/soft play centres too, so I get more exercise in later on.
Exercising with mama!
I’m quite happy with the weight I am now, but I would say the hardest part is maintaining it. I have a few little rules that I stick by to make sure I’m not eating any extra calories and to keep my weight down:
- I only eat between the hours of 9am – 5.30pm. Even if Molly has gotten up at 5am I never eat breakfast until 9am. The same goes with dinner, once I’ve eaten that I don’t eat anything else later on. Just water.
- I’ve stopped eating Molly’s leftovers. Before this I found myself finishing off all of her food…half a packet of crisps/half a round of toast/the rest of her dinners…before I knew it I’d consumed hundreds more unnecessary calories.
- I’ve stopped snacking. I try to just stick to 3 meals a day. Just remember little pickers wear bigger knickers!
- I don’t have a slice of cake with my tea/coffee. I went through a phase of always having a sweet treat with my drink whenever we were at a cafe/supermarket/soft play etc (which was all the time), so I put a stop to it.
- I control my emotions better. Prior to this I would scoff down all sorts of high fat, high sugar foods in an effort to comfort myself when I was feeling shite (usually when I had PMT). Now, however, I take a few deep breaths before reaching for the biscuits and ask myself “do I really need to eat these”?
- I hardly drink alcohol. This is mainly due to the fact that getting up at 6am each day with an energetic toddler is brutal enough without the extra torture of a hangover. Also, we don’t have the luxury of babysitters so my social life is confined to a handful of nights out a year!
- Balance – if I do have a bad day food-wise then I make sure that I am extra careful the next. I try not to have ‘cheat days’ as I think that these can be dangerous, I just eat well 90% of the time, and it works.
Clearly these rules have gone out of the window over Christmas because, well, it’s Christmas…but I haven’t gone too far off track. I deliberately didn’t buy any huge boxes of chocolates for the house because I would’ve ended up eating the lot, and most of the stuff we had bought for us is safely packed away in a carrier bag ready for John to take to work with him to share out with his mates when they’re on a night shift.
Do you have any tips on weight loss? What works best for you? Do you manage to fit exercise in while being busy parents?