How I lost the weight (Page 1)

I was a little over seventeen stone at my heaviest. I lost four.

Jean at 17 stoneJean today

It’s a running joke that if I wrote a book on weight loss, it would be two pages.

Page 1: Eat Less.
Page 2: Exercise more.

Perhaps three, if I decided to put in a page about how I managed to get to where I was.

Page 3: Food.

I have always adored food. This adoration did not quite extend into actual appreciation. I ate too much of it, all at choking speed. Pairing this with my natural propensity for laziness was a recipe for an extremely unfit Jean.

I was not unhappy and I didn’t simply ‘decide’ one day to change my lifestyle. My weight did not make me sad, I could not have cared less about my BMI – I still don’t. My happiness, my friendships, my self worth, my successes and failures are not dependent on my weight. My health, however, is a different story.

I’ll never know what the original spark was that started the slow burn but, over months, there was a progression, a change in my attitude towards exercise, food and therefore my health.

My changing attitude did not make it in any way easy so I can expand, ever so slightly, on the first two pages of my weight loss book over the next couple of blog posts.

Page 1: Eat Less

I love Burger King’s XL bacon double cheese burgers. I would happily eat one for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They taste insanely good, are cheap, fantastic after a few beers, and close to one thousand calories a pop.

Each burger equals a ten mile walk – two and a half hours of plodding one foot in front of the other.

Like I have the time – I have TV to watch, and a couch to lie on.

Sleeping
(Attributed to Pyry)

The slow change in lifestyle included considering calories – a small amount – but thinking about them nonetheless; In my mind is always the question, “Is this worth the calories?”

Before, I didn’t think. I didn’t taste, I didn’t appreciate. I ate all foods, at all times, equally. When I started questioning, I realised that some things are worth every single last calorie – cheese, bacon, a take away on the weekend – these are essential, integral to my happiness. A bag of midget gems, coke every day, sausage rolls for breakfast, the entire tub of rice with my Friday night korma? Nope.

The breakneck inhalation of food, mostly, stopped. I started to listen to my stomach, pause during eating, pile my plate with vegetables, and quickly realised I had never actually needed as much food as I was taking in. My portion size shrank dramatically – from a baking tray of pasta, smothered in melted cheese with a roll of garlic bread, to half a plate of pasta (with a similar amount of cheese, to be honest), and a couple of pieces of garlic bread.

The quality of my food increased equally as dramatically – I started to cook again, as opposed to always falling back on quick, greasy meals. I remembered how good home cooked meals were and the smug sense of satisfaction I got from being able to provide for myself, like a proper adult.

I was hungry. My stomach rumbled a lot for the first couple of weeks. My body was used to vast quantities of fuel; sausages with butter and ketchup on a roll for breakfast, a full dinner for lunch, and then a second in the evening – and now I was feeding it normal amounts of food. It took time to adapt. Then, it had to adapt again when I started jogging. Learn from me – I didn’t increase my intake, even though I was burning extra, and ended up faint and tired for weeks. I wasn’t able to push myself on my jogs and had no energy. Not a good feeling or situation, but easily remedied by raspberry and yoghurt smoothies, and handfuls of nuts on my jogging days when I realised the correlation.

So, if you are thinking about changing your lifestyle to get fitter or lose weight, start slow, and keep eating almost everything in moderation. If I denied myself foods, I would crave them, and my willpower is already all used up with getting myself off the couch and into runners.

Think of it as a lifestyle change, not a diet. Diet implies an end point, a specific date, or goal. I do not have an end point; I will be fitter and healthier and attempting to increase both as time goes on.

Start cooking, learning your favourite restaurant dishes, and get in the kitchen. Once you know the recipes, you can adapt the serving size and ingredients to suit your needs. Few things are as satisfying as that first mouthful of a new dish, and realising it will become a dinner on the regular rotation.

Spend a little time looking into the calories of your everyday foods. I automatically compare treat foods to the length of a walk that it would take to burn them off. This helps me decide whether it’s worth it or not.

Branch out. In an attempt to eat healthier meals, I started selecting different dishes in restaurants, and discovered a world of foods I had never eaten, never gotten to enjoy because I’d asked for steak and chips every time previous.

Know what you are taking in. Use your new found knowledge of calories to keep an estimate of your intake in your head, or you’re going at the thing blind. What goes into the mouth is more important than how much exercise is taken.

Eat three meals daily, eat properly. If you’re increasing exercise, increase calories – what’s the point of getting fitter if you feel terrible? If you’re losing more than two pounds a week, you are pushing too hard.

It has to come from you. You have to want to change, you have to hold yourself accountable, and you will not fail.

Stay tuned for Page 2 from the best-selling book, “Sure why would I go for a walk?” by your fearless food blogger.

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13 thoughts on “How I lost the weight (Page 1)

  1. I so agree with everything you just wrote. I’m on a different diet now than I was, but to me the word diet is a word for the food based side of my lifestyle anyway. My original diet was the “see food diet”, my current diet is the “don’t eat all the foods diet.” Like you I’ve cut portion sizes, though not drastically or with my health I WILL drop whole dress sizes in a week. Like you I’ve exercised more. But the main thing I learned was to listen to my body.

    I hate breakfast. LOATHE IT! I always feel wrong after I eat breakfast, kind of sickly and weak for hours afterwards. So when I did eat breakfast I used to eat something large, hot and sugar filled to make up for how much I hated eating at that time.

    I listened to what my body had to say. I stopped eating breakfast. I now eat a very late, slightly early lunch instead. A good dinner. And a maximum of two snacks in any day, one snack to be a single small bag of airpopped popcorn. And it’s worked. I lost about half an inch off of my waist every two weeks for months. Then it slowed down as I reached the point of my calorie intake balancing out my energy needs but without the excess needed to carry around the fat etc. I lost a stone and a half since last November.

    So I guess if I have anything to add it’s that popcorn rocks! Snack food of the gods.

  2. Jean says:

    I can’t eat first thing in the morning either – it has to be about an hour after I wake up. I think I mean more along the lines of “Eat regularly, and the right amount”. I know 5 smaller meals works well for some people too!
    Popcorn is amazing. However, I tend to cover it in butter!

  3. Rosie says:

    I would buy the three page book… Maybe you should make it a poster rather? Something 1950’s B-movie style? I’d put it on the wall of my gym.

  4. Frapple says:

    I’ve been doing something similar for the last few months but kicked it up a gear (from vague awareness to actually trying) last month. It was less portion size that was the issue for me though and more to do with the fact that I ate all the time. All. The. Time. Meal times just meant sitting at a food designated table rather than on my feet/at my desk but I’ve finally cut it down to three separate, defined meals and have swapped vending-machine raiding with fruit and yoghurts. Bleugh – fruit is way less filling or satisfying than a snickers! I keep repeating your “is it worth the calories” mantra though so that helps too! And the thought of getting back into all the clothes I used to wear pre thesis/moving.
    But rambling, I started typing for a reason. Oh yes, running! I keep using the rain/heat (and the fact that the running-crazed locals keep lapping me on the track) here as a reason not to run but after reading your post this evening, it kicked me in the rear and I went out for a real, proper, actually running, run, woot. Now dyyyying on the floor. If I never post again it’s ’cause I died of exercise. But ever so slightly healthier nonetheless 😉 So thanks! Go healthiness

    (Also, popcorn, agree completely, it’s awesome and filling and nom)

  5. Jean says:

    That’s fantastic to hear Frapple! Yes, definitely being more aware of what you’re eating has a massive effect. It’s way too easy to tune out the niggling voices of “Should you REALLY be eating a THIRD bag of crisps.. really?”
    Stay tuned for next week, when I talk about my introduction into the world of movement, which includes walking AND jogging.
    Don’t forget to stretch down, and drink a pint of water, so you don’t actually die 🙂

  6. Mary says:

    That’s a really nice post, very well written. I got here because a friend of mine shared your blog over Facebook. I was curious, so I clicked over, and I’m glad that I did because I like your style. My problem with diets is slightly different though. I’m only slightly overweight – more or less 1 stone – and no matter how hard I try I never manage to shift it. Or better, from time to time I manage, and then the weight piles up again. I cook all of my food, I follow a mostly vegetarian diet and eat all sorts of food (hmmm, vegetables), I never fry anything and use only very tiny amounts of fat while cooking, I keep quantities under control, I check calories when I’m not sure, I avoid fast foods and ready meals. On the other hand, I exercise three times a week. I talked to dietitians and nutritionists and followed all of their advice. And STILL, somehow, this isn’t enough. It’s very frustrating, because I know that even when I manage to reach a milestone, next week or month, for no reason at all, my weight will get back to the starting point. I’m not seriously overweight so a lot of people tell me I should just live with it and just make sure I don’t get any fatter, but it kind of bothers me, no matter what. Uh, end of rant, sorry 😀

    • Jean says:

      Really appreciate the compliments Mary, and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the post!
      Personally, I absolutely wouldn’t say “just live with it”. Why should you settle for something you’re not happy with?

      Our bodies naturally hold onto some weight – me personally, I’m never going to be a size 10, even if I cut out all my favourite foods. (The fact that I can’t see how life would be enjoyable if I were that thin, but didn’t eat nice food also comes into it!). Anyway, your body will hold onto some weight, and it is REALLY tough to get that off, and keep it off. It certainly takes a lot more devotion than I have to give to get past that plateau! If you are willing and able to put that time, determination and long term commitment in, then absolutely fair play, and congratulations!

      To me, it sounds like there’s no more you can cut out of your diet, and it’s the exercise where you need to look. Have you tried different kinds? More high intensity, increasing your frequency, different forms of exercise?

      I find the people over here http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=252 and http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=982 extremely helpful, and nice. And they know their stuff! They’ll be able to point you in the right direction of what might be going wrong with your diet/exercise.

  7. seany boy says:

    Fantastic attidude to have towards food and exercise!! I know a few people who i work with who go on these extreme crash or fad diets that are completly unsusanable and only work for a certain amount of time. Its totaly about lifestyle and that age old saying a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips;) I write this as im piggin out on chocy chip cookies so a little of something you love isnt gona tip you over the scales!!

    • Jean says:

      Ah, cheers Seany boy! Glowing with all the compliments today!
      Yes, the only method for healthy weight loss is a lifestyle change – diets just lead to yo-yoing of weight, which is very damaging for the body.
      And everything in moderation, my dear – I had a lovely Mizzoni’s take away today 😉

  8. Jay says:

    “Branch out. In an attempt to eat healthier meals, I started selecting different dishes in restaurants” What kind of meals did you find yourself liking? Do you recommend regular change of routine in meals? How difficult was it for you to ‘branch out’ and start really experimenting? Love the blog!

    • Jean says:

      Well, some examples i can think of off the top of my head would be salads as main courses (other than chicken Caesar, which does not count in my head), jalfrezi instead of korma for Indian (tomato based, rather than cream based!), chicken dippers rather than pizza in the chipper, chicken main courses in general rather than beef, and I’m trying my best to find more Thai food I like because it is so fabulously healthy and tasty! I do find the less carby food I eat, the better I feel, so that is helping me in my push towards more healthy dishes.
      I must confess, I do tend to find one dish I like, and stick with it – my friends find me terribly predictable. But I’m doing my best to continuely try new things and discover new tastes 🙂

  9. […] Welcome back to my diatribe against unfit Jean! […]

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