All About Exercise and Weight Loss
Losing weight is hard. There is no doubt about it. You will need to be dedicated, determined and focused. There will be times you will feel utterly miserable, but also times you will feel completely inspired and sure you will succeed. This article is aimed at the average person, with no underlying health problems such as hypothyroidism, cushings etc which may affect your weight.
I have been there. I went through a phase of needing to lose over 3 stone (I was 12st 12lb/180lb/81.8kg) and I tried and failed for a good couple of years to loose weight before I finally knuckled down and got on with it. I was feeling pretty miserable, tired, and struggling to keep up with my small kid who just wanted to run around and play. I eventually was inspired by a friend who had lost a huge amount of weight and fallen in love with exercise and I thought, if she can do it - so can I.
Where to start though?
Me before and after
There are literally hundreds of diet options out there which all claim to be the ‘best’ way to lose weight. Whether you choose the Keto diet (high fat, no carb), Slimming World, Weight Watchers or a shake based diet, they are all successful due to the fact you eat less calories than you burn.
What Are Calories?
Ultimately, losing weight is simply about calories in vs calories out. You need to eat less calories than your body burns. The amount of calories people burn depends on a lot of factors such as your; current weight, activity levels and general health. Personally, the amount of calories I can eat and remain the same weight is around 1800 a day, this includes an hour in the gym three or four times a week. To lose weight at a rate of 1 or 2lb a week, I would eat around 1500 a day. Everyone burns calories just surviving, even lying on the sofa and watching a film burns calories, but that calorie burn increases significantly when you exercise.
Calories come from foods and drink, with sugary drinks such as coke and lemonade and alcohol being very high in calories. Calories from foods are made up of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. A calorie is a calorie, but some foods offer more substance for your calories. For example, you can eat 100g of carbs or protein for 400 calories, but 100g of fat is 900. It doesn't matter if your calories come from McDonald's or salad, 1000 calories is still 1000 calories but the plate of salad will be ten times the size of your buger.
I can’t afford a diet plan
Unfortunately, this is a big obstacle for many people. So many diet plans involve a sign up fee or lengthy subscription, not to mention the concern that you will be forced to eat rabbit food and spend a fortune on fresh fruit and veg which will go brown and wrinkly before you get chance to eat it.
I massively recommend downloading My Fitness Pal. It is free, and there is no need to pay extra for the Premium Features. This app will calculate your recommended amount of calories per day based on your height, age, weight, sex and activity levels. It has a handy bar-code scanner allowing you to enter foods eaten and showing you how many calories you have eaten and what you have left. I love this way of losing weight because no foods are banned or 'syned' (I hate that term) and it is more about portion control than changing your foods.
I’m not going to lie, tracking calories is a bit of a ball-ache initially. It can be pretty time consuming, and if you don’t weigh your food, you will not be accurately estimating your calorie intake. But once you do this for a while, it honestly becomes second nature. Eventually you will learn how to use the recipe builder to easily input and track calories from your favourite home cooked dishes such as lasagne, spaghetti bolognese and stir-fries - again working this all out is a complicated headache initially, but once you have the hang of it, its a godsend. **Check out my post here, for simple step-by-step instructions how to use the recipe builder**
Using this method, in my opinion, is a pretty easy way to get started once you get the hang of it. Furthermore, when out and about for the day and you need to grab a lunch from a garage, or if meal-prep has gone out the window, it is great to know that no foods are ‘bad foods’. You can grab a sandwich, a ready meal etc, and just scan the bar code.
I absolutely love chocolate, it is my biggest weakness. Throughout the 8 months it took me to loose the weight, I ate a decent amount of chocolate every night. I would rather scrimp on lunch and eat more chocolate in front of the TV at night-time. Weigh out your chocolate an hour or two before you want to eat it and stick it in the fridge. Choose small items like chocolate buttons or smarties that you can suck on one at a time.
I also found that eating protein bars were a godsend for me. Especially when having a busy day or even when I just couldn’t be bothered to prepare a proper lunch, I would just grab a 200calorie protein bar. Containing around 20g of protein, these bars really keep you full until dinner, and some (not all) of them are absolutely delicious and feel quite naughty. I personally love Grenade bars, Fulfill, Mo-Protein and Battle Bites (If you’re in the UK these can be purchased at a really decent price from B&M and HomeBargains).
Even 20 minutes a day will make a difference.
I have a military husband who has always been quite active, whereas I have never been interested or motivated to exercise. I remember once many years ago thinking I would try running and honestly I thought I was going to die after about 2 minutes of slow jogging. In my opinion, exercise is only of 10% importance when trying to loose weight with the other 90% all being down to diet.
However, I decided to give the Couch25k a go. I downloaded the free app, went up to my local field and completed week 1, day 1, which I believe was a 30 second run, followed by a 60 second walk for about 15 minutes. Christ it was horrendous, but I stuck to it. Gradually over many many weeks, with much determination I finally ran my first 5k. I found some great little running routes around my house, and eventually even got up to a half marathon distance (this was over an 18month period). Obviously exercising burns a significant amount of calories, and makes you feel fabulous, but it also increases your appetite which is why exercise alone will likely not make you loose weight, you need to be food conscious also. I would like to point out, I had already lost a decent amount of weight before I bothered to introduce exercise.
Start with walking, it helps with calorie burn a massive amount. Even just stepping around the house, while you do the dishes, make a coffee, cook dinner etc, just walk even if it is on the spot. Find something you love, pole dancing, running, golf, walking, weight training, netball, something!! Do not feel disheartened that it is hideously difficult at first. It is for everyone. Once exercise becomes part of your routine, like counting calories, it becomes the norm and you almost do it without noticing (almost)
I love to bake, and must have treats or I will never stick to it. A life without cake is miserable!!
For some people, doing this alone at home is not enough, they need to feel they are accountable to someone for that extra motivation, which is why many choose to join weight watchers and slimming world for the group weigh-ins. I am similar actually, but can’t commit to regular weigh in days due to my strange working hours. I found Team RH on facebook, and downloaded their app. The online community on facebook was fantastic and they have regular weigh-in posts to upload your losses/gains. Their advice is utterly honest (some find it slightly brutal), but they won’t fill your head with utter nonsense and sympathy when what you really need is a kick up the ass.
I also found buying a fitness watch really helped. Now the accuracy of these gadgets is really debatable, and I don’t want to get into that right now, however what they do show you accurately are trends. You can see if you stepped less or more than normal, if your heart rate has been higher for longer than normal. They often have inbuilt GPS which is fantastic when exercising outdoors and you can download apps like Strava where likeminded exercise bunnies upload their activities and routes. I personally love my fitness watch.
How long is this going to take?
How long is a piece of string? Honestly there are a lot of factors here such as -
- Your starting weight - if you have a lot to loose it will take longer for clear results
- Your calorie deficit - higher the deficit the more weight you loose
- How much you move - the more you move, the more you burn
A good rate of loss is around 1-2lb a week. As I said, I managed to shift nearly 4 stone (56lbs/25kg) in around 8 months. This included a takeaway most Friday nights, and quite a few weekends off plan for various events. But I worked hard, felt crap at times and felt elated at others, particularly when people started to notice. I have said no to temptation more times than I can remember, fallen off the wagon nearly an equal amount of times and binged until I felt like I could explode, and I’ve mourned my poor boobies when they vanished into nothingness - see my post on breast augmentation.
You can do it! Do it for you! Do it for your kids! When it comes to your health, be selfish and only think about yourself.
Please use my forum if you want any support, further advice or a kick up the arse!
The UK Government has decided to make LSD legal as a drug for weight loss.
It makes sense if you think about it. It’s kinda hard to get to the fridge when there’s a dragon guarding it!