I don’t know about you, but I’m sick to death of those dodgy ads that appear in my sidebars with expressions like “eat this fruit and lose 5 lbs!” or “the ancient secret to instant weight loss” I mean, not only do they look like a virus click magnet but they are a load of bullshit. There is no quick fix to losing weight, nothing permanent anyway, and putting your body through the wringer trying out every fashionable diet may end up causing you harm, not to mention the grief! I have tried out a few different diet plans over the years with varying results, but for the last 2 years I have settled into a great routine and have lost almost 30kgs over that time. I am not a health professional, but I have successfully dropped 2-3 dress sizes using only safe, healthy and natural methods.
My first point is yes, 2 years is the best time frame to lose 30 kilograms. Health experts do say that when it comes to weight loss the slower the better. If you’ve been watching reality TV shows where they race to shed the pounds, then come back to actual reality… it doesn’t work like that and it shouldn’t. You need a lot of time to adjust your life food balance because it is a permanent move. The problem with temporary plans is that you stick to the diet, great. You stop and all your hard work is undone in a bagful of doughnuts. To reach your body’s happy weight zone you have to eat well, forever. Seeing as that’s a pretty long time, you need to find the balance slowly and not hop on the scales every day hoping to see a smaller number. Weighing yourself, if you must, shouldn’t be more often than once a week. Set long-term goals to be happy with how you look and feel rather than aiming for some arbitrary number.
Probably the most important catalyst in losing weight is diet. Everyone is different, and no I have not got a cure-for-all, but I’ll tell you what worked best for me. I tried a low-carb diet in the beginning, and not a stranger to this it was pretty easy to hop back on the band wagon. I’m not a calorie counter or anything like that, I have a much more relaxed system of avoiding white food after 3pm. By that I mean rice, pasta, bread, potato – the carb-loading favourites. But the more exercise I do the more easy I am with diet, I want to be healthy not dead! I have used shake meal replacements which are only a temporary fix, with the aim of course to reduce calories but more importantly, to reduce appetite. I have also attempted to fast once or twice a week like a very loose 2:5 fasting diet. As I say, I’m not strict. And some of the days I have ‘fasted’ have kind of been an accident. However I’m no angel – I’ve just come back from lunch with a friend, a nice light frittata – followed by a gingerbread man and two macarons. A bit naughty but I think you should give yourself a few allowances (infrequently if you want to be serious) because it is better to do that than to put pressure on by constantly playing “you can’t have that” over and over in your head. I feel that strict limits make you focus on food so much more than usual, which takes up precious mind space. Unless medical, allergy or otherwise seriously related, very strict diets are great for a ‘detox’ but I feel they are unrealistic and can set you up for failure.
Exercise of course is up there on the list of how to drop a couple of chops, it is essential for healthy bodies. Personally I require regular high impact activity for it to be of any help, but whatever works best for you. I found as I ramped up the intensity of my workout I lost more kilos. Finding the time is the hardest part, in between kids, hubby, work and life, but I began to walk home from work 2 days a week, just over 3kms. The aim was always to try to run it – and I can already hear you crying out “but I’m not a runner!” well I wasn’t either 2 years ago, but I worked my fitness levels up and can now run the whole way home. It’s not easy but it IS doable. Yes you can! Get a backpack and take whatever you need to change. Gym it if you like that sort of stuff. Yoga is great and gentle if high impact isn’t right for you, swimming too is awesome for getting the jiggle jiggling. Bothering to stick to (or at least walk along side) a good diet is essential but so is exercise to make it worth your while. Start with achievable benchmarks and work from there. Get in and play with the kids, dodgeball on the trampoline was requested of me today and why not? All the extra jumping around adds a little bonus to my day or at the very least makes me feel better about the second gingerbread man I had for afternoon tea after the first, and the macarons. And the better my fitness the stronger I feel, it’s so nice to be able to keep up with the kids.
Balance is the key to life ‘they’ say, and losing weight is no exception to the rule. All diet and no exercise doesn’t strengthen your muscles nor encourage the excess to burn away merrily. And the reverse doesn’t work either. Find you perfect balance between food and sweating and don’t worry if it takes you a while, it took me over a year. Keep an open mind to try new things, but always have your fallback plan to go with what works.
Small Tips – Small changes over time can change your food lifestyle
- Cut the snacking – tough I know but paint your finger nails or brush your teeth, distract yourself and leave that pantry alone. But if you must, try to make healthier choices like swapping icecream for dessert with a bowl of yoghurt and fruit or muesli.
- If your family can’t live without chips and bikkies, then try to choose flavours that you don’t like yourself. If I’m hungry and in the mood to snack, seeing BBQ chips and peanut butter biscuits will not make me want to eat them!
- Loose the juice (and other sugary drinks) and switch to water.
- Try to cook as much as you can with fresh produce to reduce unforseen sugars and salts. I’m sure the extra stirring and chopping helps the tuckshop lady arms.
- Set realistic goals to challenge yourself for a lifetime. So best you find recipes and exercise plans that you really love, because they’re here to stay.
- Keep motivated. If you miss a few runs, just get back in the sports bra and keep at it. Don’t lose heart.
Set a goal to be happy with what you see in the mirror, I have found the good feeling I get from fitting into a dress that I haven’t been able to wear for over 10 years is reward enough to encourage me to carry on. It sure is a battle, but with a balanced life and being kind to yourself you can be happy AND feel healthy.
Emma Eastman 2015