Okay, this will be a pretty boring post for those of you who don’t like hearing about weight loss/getting health etc. etc. My apologies, but I figured I should put some of this information out there for others!
For the past few years, my better half and I have been trying to lose weight – mainly because we both knew we were overweight but also because we wanted to be healthy. We knew it would just get harder and harder the longer we waited, so we decided to get stuck in. I should say, *HE* decided to get stuck in and dragged me along for the ride. Between the two of us, we’ve both had our share of successes and failures and we’ve tried many different things. So I’m here to share a few of the things we tried and a few of the things we’re doing right now that do appear to be working.
Things tried…that didn’t really work
- CSIRO diet – this was good…sort of. I personally found it limiting and very difficult to keep tabs on what I could have and couldn’t have, how much of each “thing” I was allowed and what my targets were for the day. The recipes, however, are absolutely amazing. We’ve got three of their books and we still use them (they have a cauliflower thing that’s TO DIE for!) in our day-to-day cooking. This isn’t something that I would personally try again – with my life being as busy as it is, I just found it to difficult to work it all out
- Gym – I’m against the gym, to be honest. I don’t like being in a room full of preening twats who like to pose in front of mirrors. I also don’t like personal trainers who’ve taken a 12-week crash course and think they can tell me what to do with my body. The last one that did that made it so that I couldn’t walk/sit down/move for close to 4 days. I find it to be a horribly depressing place, it doesn’t motivate me at all and the music is just shocking. This did not work for me, and I’ve now tried three different gyms.
- YAYOG – Also known as “You are your own gym”. I just wasn’t fit enough for this at the time I tried it. This may be something that I’ll move back to once I get my fitness level to a point where doing crunches/lunges/squats every day doesn’t make me feel like I’m 80 years old.
- C25K – I’ve now tried to do this program 3 times, and I’m still yet to pass the 4th week. I don’t think I’m a runner. I think I’m a brisk walker, but probably not a runner. Maybe that’s due to the amount of “jiggle” and that may get better with time, but at the moment…not a runner.
- Lite’n’Easy – we both did this for a while and it was fabulous. It was great to not have to think about food and to know that what you were getting was healthy and good for you. But it just wasn’t sustainable for us long term. I LOVE to cook. I was dying inside from having to constantly reheat food. Not only that, but while they do have a large selection of dinners, it doesn’t seem that large when you’ve been eating them for 6 months. I can understand how this would help with portion control (and it did help us a little in that regard) but the whole three meals a day, 7 days a week – it just wasn’t for us. I should point out that we do still buy their Mini Meals and Meals in Bowl, because they are insanely delicious and great for lunches – and cheaper than eating out at work!
There are however, a few things that *are* working…and they’re surprisingly simple.
- Calorie counting – I count calories on everything I eat. This may sound like an enormous pain, but it truly isn’t. That’s where Calorie King comes in. Made for Australians with Australian foods and in metric measurements, it’s extremely easy to use. As long as you remember what you’ve eaten, it’s simple enough to put it in. Once you’ve been using it for a while, you’ll get the idea of how much things are worth so you wont’ need to check your food choices as often. And after that, you may not even need to use the website to count calories, you’ll just *know*
- Regular exercise – yeah, there’s no way of getting out of this one. You need to move. You need to burn more than you consume. While you can limit what you consume, you’re not going to lose much weight (or that last little bit of it) while you’re completely stationary. It’s just not going to happen. We’ve taken to walking every day for about an hour for roughly 4.5-5km. It’s nice. It gets us out of the house. It’s a way of getting us away from our computers for a while and actually being OUTSIDE (a scary thought for some, I know!). It’s very rewarding – and if you do it regularly enough, it will become habit. I think my habit has formed now – I get sad when I don’t get to go for my walk, feel a bit…lost.
- Allowing “cheat” days – you can’t always be good. You can’t always stick to the stringent 1600cal diet every single day. You have to have some days where you can enjoy a slice of Nutella Cheesecake or have a few alcoholic beverages with friends. This doesn’t make you a failure, this doesn’t mean you’re “failing” in your journey towards health and happiness. It means you’re human and you enjoy the odd naughty (and sincerely tasty!) thing. Just don’t do it every day and you’ll be fine!
I’ve been doing these three “things” for the last four months – and I’ve already lost nearly 8kg. That’s pretty good for someone who enjoys sugar *far* too much 🙂 However, there are a few things I’ve learnt during my last 4 months.
Things that I’ve now learnt
Weight loss is a LONG process…getting to my goal weight is going to take at least 6-12 months. I’m still a long way off (at least 13-15kg) off where I want to be, and that’s going to take some effort. I’ve been ‘plateauing’ for the last two weeks or so, stuck on the same number and unable to budge, no matter what I do. I know there will be other hurdle weights like this that will take a few weeks to push over, in some cases it might take months. I just have to keep pushing.
You don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight, you just have to be sensible and smart about the food you eat. I still eat a mini-packet of Maltesers every damn day. Those 60cal are definitely worth it. They’re delicious and tasty and it means I get a small amount of chocolate. It makes me happy. It also makes me more likely to stick with it, knowing that I’m still able to eat some of the things I enjoy!
You eat way more than you think you do – if you’re interested in losing weight, try this. One an average day, write down or use CalorieKing to mark down every single thing you eat. You will honestly be gob-smacked by the amount of calories you consume and it will soon become very evident as to why you’re putting on weight. The first time I did it, I was consuming, on average, 2700 calories a day. EVERY DAY! No wonder my weight was going up and up and up! This was a massive eye opener for me and made me look at my food in a totally different light.
Comfort eating is a killer. Turns out I’m a comfort eater and a boredom eater. I’ll eat when I need comforting because I’m sad, upset, or sick. I’ll also eat when bored. Learning to recognise this will help you ask yourself the question “Am I really hungry?”. Most of the time I’ve found a drink of water helps.
Fad diets do not work – full stop. There is no “They sort of work”, “they work if you do this”. They don’t work. If you want to lose weight, you need to put in the hard yards. If you take on a fad diet, all that will happen is, once it’s over, you’ll go back to your old eating habits and then you’ll just put all the weight back in. As much as it sucks, losing weight comes down to two things: eating less, exercising more. That’s it.
Don’t feel bad if you slip up – you will have days where you don’t stick to your calorie limit, or you just don’t feel like doing those 60 minutes of exercise. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just make sure it’s not a regular occurrence. Also make sure you’re not making excuses for yourself: “I don’t feel well”, “It’s raining”, “I’m feel upset, so I just want some comfort food”.
Finally, if you want to have a really good read about losing weight, one of the biggest eye-openers for me was this post – If Everyone Knew This, No One Would Be Fat. Seriously, take the time it’s worth it!
And that’s it. That’s where I’m at now. I realise this isn’t tech, but hopefully others will find this useful…particularly with the proportion of those in IT who *are* overweight.