My Weight Loss Story - 2012
Reasons for weight loss NOW.
My weight has been up and down over the years but I realised that the overall trend has been more up than down! Seriously, in my 20s, I weighed 9stone something, in my 30s it crept up to a regular 10stone something and in my 40s – consistent if nothing else – I regularly weighed in at 11stone something. This year, I procrastinated for a long time before deciding, almost by accident initially, to do something about it.
When I say by accident, I mean it started when a colleague announced that she was giving up alcohol for Lent. I decided to do the same – this was quite a big decision because I really like my beer. And wine. And pina colada. I think you get the picture. If you don’t get the picture – here it is – complete with pina colada! That’s me on the right in the big red frumpy jumper.
I knew that laying off the booze for a few weeks would result in some weight loss (providing I didn’t substitute every beer with a donut) so I decided to use this as a kick start. I got weighed and found I was 11 st 8lb, the heaviest I’ve ever been. In the past, I’ve found that before I can make a change, it really has to get bad enough first. Seeing 11st 8lb on the scales was my “bad enough” moment!
I could easily list plenty of reasons to lose a few pounds: mainly fitness – I enjoy running and had a half-baked idea about completing a half-marathon before I’m 50 (I’ve just turned 49). Surely this would be more achievable if I carried less fat around. This picture (below) of me after a run at Binbrook was pretty motivating too. It reminds me of how that run just about finished me off! I only kept going due to the nagging – ahem, I mean encouragement and motivation – of my running buddy Sue. She knew I'd be pissed off with myself if I didn't finish. I blamed the heat and the hills and the fact that it was the furthest I’d run at the time. No doubt all those factors played a part, but I don’t suppose being a stone or so overweight helped.
I also enjoy cycling, but this was distinctly uncomfortable, feeling thighs squashing my stomach up. General health – I’m lucky to be pretty healthy, always having low blood pressure and low cholesterol, but perhaps as I approach 50, I shouldn’t take it for granted so much. And of course, how I looked played a part. I love fancy dress, but the last few of times I dressed up I was quite shocked about how chunky (I’m being polite) I looked.
Why I kept initially kept quiet about trying to lose weight.
I was very open about my alcohol embargo for Lent. I am a stubborn so-n-so once I set my mind to something, but I needed plenty of people to know about this so that I would feel accountable!
Although accountability helps to motivate me, I kept quiet for quite some time about actively trying to lose weight because I know from past experience that I have the tendency to become a diet bore. I didn’t want other people to be ‘sick of hearing about it’.... I didn’t want to be sick of hearing myself going on about it! So I joined a Slimming World group out of the area where I live and work, and just got going with it.
I don’t like the thought of ‘dieting’ although I believe that diets work. But the whole concept of being “on a diet” has with it the implication that at some point, we will come “off the diet.” I think this is why people say that “diets don’t work – you put the weight back on afterwards,” as though it’s some kind of surprise! It seems obvious to me: if I’m steadily gaining weight by eating pizza, chips and cake, and then I “go on a diet” of fruit and lettuce I will probably lose weight. It’s common sense that if I then “come off the diet” revert back to pizza, chips and cake I will re-gain the weight! Expecting to maintain weight loss whilst returning to unhealthy eating habits it just fighting with reality.
I don’t like the idea of anything that cuts out whole food groups (so Atkins and many detox regimes aren’t my choice). I don’t fancy the ‘liquid diet” / meal replacement approach (slim-fast / lighter life) – I love my food too much!
I needed something that would enable me to change my eating habits yet allow a wide range of foods, in order to lose weight. It also had to be a plan I could maintain with a few minor adjustments to keep the weight off.
I know all the principles of healthy eating; reduce fats, especially saturated fats, reduce sugars, especially refined sugars, and reduce processed food, especially anything wrapped in pastry or icing! Increase intake of fruit, vegetables and salad and make sure I’ve got a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates and fibre. If I just made these changes, I would lose weight slowly and if I maintained the changes, I’d maintain the weight loss. But knowing all the principles isn’t enough. I needed some kind of structure, and again, accountability.
I’d “dabbled” with Slimming World before; once using the Slimming World magazine and borrowing my brother’s books when he was a member. I lost weight, but then got into old habits and put it back on again within a year. I’d also used the Slimming World on-line membership, and on that occasion just didn’t really get going with it. It was my fault I didn't lose any weight - I can't have felt bad enough to get started! I knew that the Slimming World eating plan had worked for me before and is the kind of eating plan that suits me. A wide variety of food can be eaten in unlimited amounts (Free foods), a few foods that are essential for health (foods containing calcium and fibre) are eaten in measured daily amounts (healthy extras), and then the fats / sugars and other treats are limited – but importantly not banned – and given a rating (syn value) to enable quick and easy monitoring.
I’d given up alcohol for Lent – so I decided to take the plunge and actually join a Slimming World Group – that was in March 2012. I had my reservations. I estimated I needed to lose about a stone. I wondered if it would it be ok to join with this relatively small amount to lose. I’d seen the success stories in the Slimming World magazine and noted that many people were halving their weight or losing 5 or 6 stone. So I rang the Consultant at the group I planned to join and checked out that it would be ok. It was fine – basically anyone who has half a stone or more to lose is welcome, provided losing half a stone will not take them below a certain weight to height ratio (ie. into the underweight end of the BMI range).
Once joined, I lost 3lb the first week, 3lb the second week and 2lb the third week. The weight loss then settled down and varied from week to week (and occasionally I’d stay the same or have a small gain). I lost a stone fairly quickly, but didn’t look much different – not even dropped a dress size, but certainly running and cycling seemed easier. It was only when I’d lost a 1½ stone that I needed to buy the next size down. These didn’t fit for very long as my shape then seemed to change rapidly and I dropped a further size even though my weight had stabilized.
After that, I maintained for a few weeks then lost another half stone. I didn’t set a specific target, but felt comfortable when I’d lost 2 stone and was weighing in at 9st 8lb. This took 24 weeks, so it averaged out at a loss of just under 1lb a week.
About half way through this weight loss journey I had a bit of a set-back in that I fell off my cycle and injured my foot. This resulted in me being in a pot for just over 3 weeks and further 4 weeks of rest after this. This was really frustrating because I couldn’t exercise and I was quite concerned I might re-gain weight. Of course, I had to get weighed with my pot on and the first week it was on there was an ‘apparent’ gain of 6lb! Some of this, perhaps most of it, was the pot. It was great losing that amount and more when the pot came off! This was a very strange time; sometimes I lost weight, but when I started walking about a bit more, I gained. This seemed bizarre, but it could have been the result of water retention as my foot was swelling a lot at the time. It all steadied out in the end.
Trying to make the best of a bad job, I took to lifting dumbbells every day so at least my bingo wings got a bit of toning. I was gradually able to get some exercise – starting with swimming, then progressing to cycling. I haven’t been able to resume running – yet - (as at August 2012) ... but that’s probably another story! I have still got my mind set on running a half marathon before I’m 50; just haven’t worked out a plan of action yet.
Why I eventually told people how I’d lost weight.
It was weeks after I'd joined Slimming World and already lost over a stone that I ‘came out of the slimming closet’ (so to speak) to a couple of close friends. By the time I’d lost 2 stone though, everyone was noticing – especially people at work. I was off for 7 weeks with the foot injury. Most of them hadn't seen me for a while and so I probably looked very different. Quite a few people asked how I’d done it as they wanted to lose weight themselves. I know how much better I felt when I'd lost weight, so of course I wanted to tell them, if it would help. So I eventually just told people as and when it cropped up.
I reached 9st 8lb (my final target) 8 weeks ago. The deal now is that as a “Target Member” I can attend Slimming World free of charge (for ever if I wish!) to help with maintenance. It’s free provided I remain within 3lb of my final target weight (that’s +/- 3). This is a nice window and allows for natural fluctuation. In order to maintain this weight, I still broadly follow the Slimming World eating plan, but I include a few more healthy extras – a bit more cheese / other dairy or a bit more bread. I can increase the number of treats (AKA syns), but it’s not advisable to do that all the time or it could result in just going back to old eating habits.
I’m quite happy to keep on the eating plan. It’s impossible to get bored with it because there is so little restriction. Nothing is completely banned and the +/- 3lb window allows for to odd ‘over-indulgence’ or relaxed weekend.
I feel really well, have plenty of energy, cycling and swimming are easier and I look much better. So I have plenty of reason for maintaining this weight. I plan to continue to weigh in at the group weekly for a little while, and then drop to fortnightly and then monthly when I get to a point of being able to trust myself without the weekly weigh in.
Why did I decide to write this?
As much as I get concerned about being a ‘diet bore’ I am often being asked how I did it and a few people have said they’ve been inspired by my success (I’m blushing a bit at this!). So I thought I’d write about it so that I can share it if anyone's interested.
Latest photographs - hot off the press.
I was really pleased to get some weight off before my best friend's birthday party. It was a "Night at the Oscars" and the dress code was "Hollywood Best, or Favorite Actor, past or present". So here are a couple of photos of me, 2 stone lighter and all glammed up!
Facts and figures:
Starting weight – 11st 8lb - 27 February 2012
End weight - 9st 8lb - 07 August 2012
Total weight loss - 2 stone in 24 weeks