Life is what you make it. I recently moved from a quiet town in the country to chase my big city dreams. Nothing ever goes smoothly, nothing is ever what it seems, but everyday I am getting closer. I am yet another slightly less-than-average girl trying to find her way in London, and in life.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

5 fundamental weight loss tips to live by.

I am sick and tired of spam websites claiming to hold the key to weight loss - there is always some magical potion or that 'one old trick that will turn you into Kate Moss'.

I'm really sorry, but there are no shortcuts. Trust me, I wish to God there were.

I spent ages googling how to lose weight fast, tried the different teas ("a miracle discovered in he the depths of the rainforest!"), I've tried all of the mumbo jumbo keystones and diet pills that I can get my hands on. The truth is, IT DOESN'T WORK. ANY OF IT. And you knew that already, you were just holding onto some hope that something, somewhere would finally prove to be the miracle you'd been searching for.

Now, if you're still reading and haven't slumped off into a pit of depression (life's a bitch, I'm realising that I am too), I'm going to tell you my story. So far. My journey will never be complete, I will be fighting for the rest of my life. I'm a fattie. I love food. I hate moving. Unless it's to the kitchen cupboard, and even then I'll complain about it and contemplate moving my bed into the downstairs so it's less far to walk.

Since I can remember, my mum and I have always been on diets. Since I was about 10, probably. But I got used to the way I was and it didn't really go anywhere. I was never fat, I was just a bit bigger than anyone else and I never seriously tried to do anything about it. Sure, I'd cry that I was so fat and 'couldn't' lose weight, but I never seriously tried. Not properly. I didn't try as much as you need to try if you actually want to do something.

I suppose I've had a pretty easy life and most of what I wanted was just handed to me on a plate. My parents gave me everything I wanted. I was naturally good at school. I didn't study. So finding that I had to work to lose weight was a shock to the system. I wanted it to happen like everything else had. Having to try and for something to be hard was just alien.

So I coasted through life, getting fatter and not really realising. I didn't weigh myself so I had no idea how much I was putting on. You don't see the changes because you see yourself everyday. Everyone around you loves you for who you are, and they see you too often to notice any changes either.

When I was 22, I finished my final year of university. After months of constant sitting, stress eating and general panic of doing my dissertation, something changed. I realised I was an adult. And not the adult that I wanted to be. I went out to celebrate my final day of uni which also happened to be on my birthday. Obviously I drank, had a great time and got involved in a foam party that was on. Then the next day I saw the pictures. And I realised I was fat. I've always hated photos of myself and had a problem believing that's what I actually look like, then a friend said to me 'In real life, you always look like your worst picture'. That was the most horrible thought I've ever had. So I started looking back through old photos, and for some reason, that time it worked. I realised I had to stop kidding myself and accept what I'd become. And I'd be damned if I was going to stay like that any longer.

So I started the hell of the process of losing weight. I wanted a quick fix, I wanted desperately to wake up 10 years younger and do it all again. I wouldn't east all of those crisps and mini rolls and pieces of toast. If only I could do it all differently.

Well, you can't. There are no shortcuts in life, and there are definitely no shortcuts in this either. I'd spent 23 years creating the body I had, realising I couldn't change it overnight was one of the hardest things I've ever had to accept.

Now, aged 24, with a completely different lifestyle and a completely different life, I am so much happier. I am not done. I don't know if I will ever be done and reach that state of happiness and contentedness that I've longer for.

But over the last year, I have lost 3 stone. And damn, does that feel good.

I'm nowhere near perfect, and I still want to lose another 1-2 stone, but now I'm not disgusted with what I see when people show me a photograph of the night before. I look like I think I look. Or, more than before anyway.

So, here's how I did it. It's not rocket science, but it's the reality check that I needed, and it might just do the same for you. The key thing to remember is that this really is not a diet; if you're serious about this, then this is going to become your life. 

1) Enough is never enough.
I started by walking to and from work everyday. In total that's 7 miles. But, after a painful realisation, that wasn't good enough. Begrudgingly, I brought some weights and started following workouts on YouTube, doing about 20 minutes a night. But that wasn't good enough either. Next, I bought a skipping rope. I remembered how I used to love it as a kid, so I thought it would be easy. I was wrong. Skipping is so hard! I don't know how I did it or ever enjoyed it. But I was determined, so I kept walking to and from work, then alternating nights between weights workouts and skipping. Every day. But that still wasn't enough; I wasn't getting my heartrate up. So, after trying to resist it for so long, I decided to go for a run. I've hated running since school - I was so slow and wobbled too much when I ran. It's hard work carting this mass around, never mind having to jump and lunge and bounce with it. But, I tried it, and then it turned into a habit of every night. I'm not fast at all, I barely get 10 minute miles, but it's good for me. I also bought a FitBit to track my steps, and became obsessed with beating yesterday's record.

The moral of the story is, you will never be doing enough exercise. If you can keep going, then you damn well keep going.

2) Kick start your day
I am not a morning person, or even a midday person. I am the mot anti-mornings you can get, but I since I've started working out, dragging my tired, miserable ass out of bed in the morning isn't *quite* as painful. I have changed into a new person recently. I could easily sleep all day long. But now, on even on the weekend, without setting my alarm, I'm up by 9. And that is bloody early for a girl like me.

On weekdays, I get up at 6am. I do 20 minutes of skipping, in my pyjamas before breakfast (I live in the centre of London, I am sure people watch me). Then I walk the 3.5 miles to work. Then I walk 3.5 miles home. Then I go for a 5 mile run, and come home and do some casual weights. Then I go to bed and wake up the next day, doing it all over again. It's intense, it's crazy, but if you want results, it needs to be done. I started losing a pound a day. Of course, this will fluctuate and you have to stop yourself screaming if you suddenly gain a pound, but it will even itself out.

If you can, exercise as soon as you wake up, before breakfast. It will make your metabolism go crazy and keep it up for the entire day. It's worth it, I promise.

3) Eat breakfast like a king, lunch I've a prince and dinner like a pauper

No matter how much you work out, if you have a kebab and a pint every night, you're not going to get anywhere. You do need to fuel your body to put up with so much exercise, but still sometimes (read most of the time) I feel like I'm going to drop. And when I feel like that, then I'll eat. I have a strict (read boring) schedule. Every day goes as follows:

One bowl of plain porridge with skimmed milk, no sugar, at 8am.
Water constantly throughout the day, averaging about 3000mls in total.
A fruit breakfast bar around 11 if I need to.
Salad at lunchtime, consisting of lean ham, lettuce, tomato and beetroot, or a slimming soup. One cup of tea with skimmed milk and 2 sweeteners.
If I get home in time, I'll have tea. Quorn pieces stir-fried with cabbage and beansprouts. If I get home past 7pm, I won't eat anything. Never eat after 7pm.

'Experts' say that women need roughly 1500 calories a day, and I generally consume under 1000, but I make damn sure that I burn over 1000 through exercise.

If you're not burning more than you're eating, your weight will go up. It's simple.

4) Weigh your food
One of my biggest troubles was portion sizes. I didn't think I ate that much junk, and I didn't. I just ate a lot of big meals. I love my carbohydrates. But I love myself and the body I deserve more. I thought I would miss toast and potatoes and bread in general, but I don't even care anymore. One thing you do need to do is weigh your food. Look up how much a "per serving" size is and stick to it e.g. 30 grams for cereal - I was unknowingly having more like 60 grams. You need to be compulsive, anal and meticulous if you want to do this, track all of your calories and do not cheat. At the end of the day, you're only cheating yourself and you've been doing that your entire life. You deserve better than that.

It only takes a week for your stomach to shrink - so if you are hungry then get over it. It will pass. Food is fuel for the body, it is not meant to be enjoyed. Consumer culture and gluttony have told us that junk food is yummy and we need it, but we don't. It's hard to change the habits of a lifetime, but it is possible. And whatever you do, do not eat before bed. Please, I'm begging you.

5) Allow yourself a cheat day
This life can be depressing. When you're exhausted, lonely, frustrated and just want to cry, it is okay to cheat. This is probably the most important lesson that I've learnt. Nothing is worth your mental health, happiness and wellbeing. After about a month of going hellfire crazy with this lifestyle, I sat on my bed and could not move. I desperately wanted some chocolate and a glass of wine with my girlfriends, and I felt so, so, so guilty for even thinking it. I weighed up the pro's and con's of how much exercise I would need to do to compensate, but in the end I didn't do it. I was in such a frenzied emotional state that I couldn't let myself give in. But it is important that you do. I'm not saying every week or every month, but once in a while on special occasions it is okay (see above the picture of me in Mexico with a cake and champagne. Cor blimey). Just don't make a habit of it, and make sure you prioritise. For instance, I'd much rather have a pint of cider in the sun than a chocolate bar in the office. Choose your weakness and stick to it. If you don't, then you will fall back into the habit of having it all.

And when it comes to weightloss, you really do not want to have it all. 

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