It’s coming in to week four of the Fit Factor competition and the “fit six” will be starting to feel much better. The weight is coming off and the sense of achievement will give them all a boost.
At this stage of the competition they may start realising making some significant changes to their every day routine and eating habits can have a huge positive impact and if they are of a strong will they will hopefully continue to incorporate what they have learnt throughout life especially when they know it works.
Here I have listed some rules and tips that I still live by on a day-to-day basis. Some are specific to weight loss and others just make good sense! Most of them you will have heard before, but that’s because they are true and are effective!
1: Water...lots and lots of water
We have all heard it before, drink lots of water when dieting .. erm you need to drink lots of water ALL the time, for the rest of your life, which by the way will be extended considerably by ....drinking lots of water. It’s totally true that often when feeling hungry you are actually just thirsty. Drink water when hunger strikes and soon you will learn the difference between hunger and thirst.
Many people are dehydrated and just don’t realise it. They are putting a huge strain on their organs, they will often have regular headaches, poor concentration and tire easily. The human body is over 70% water and all our organs need water to survive and work at their best. The recommended amount of water per day is eight glasses, I would suggest between two - four litres drank in small but regular amounts throughout the day, more when exercising and when it’s humid or hot.
Fill a large jug with council pop, aka water, add some lemon and fresh mint leaves and make sure you drink the whole jug throughout the day. Fruit teas are a good way of having more water but drinking more than three standard teas or coffees a day will start to have the opposite effect as caffeine drinks can make you lose water.
Alcohol will dehydrate you further and don’t get me started on fizzy drinks ... full of sugar and sweeteners - really bad for you.
You can get free ‘apps’ to help you remember to drink water more regularly. It takes a bit to get used to it. I used to drink dilute juice but now I just drink plain water. I love a large cold glass of council pop with ice and a slice!
2: Portion Control
Ahh that old chestnut, we hear it all the time yet for some reason we tend to ignore it and head on down to the ‘All you can Eat’ buffet and proceed to eat four plates of food! Why? Because we can! But can we? Our stomachs are roughly the size of your own fist (make a fist and look at it) that’s how much food you should be eating in one sitting once chewed.
Some foods have a high water volume like cucumber, mushrooms, tomatoes and many fruits, so they break down easily, but choosing the right foods means you stay fuller for longer. Plenty protein lots of vegetables, salad, fruits and other natural ingredients should be enough to fill your boots and your tummy. I use a smaller plate and eat till I feel satisfied and not a mouthful more. Again this is something you can retrain yourself to do.
3: Be mindful and aware
One of the biggest problems many people have is mindless eating. Popping a biscuit, a small bit of cake, a mini donut or a chocolate sweet in to your mouth on the move or when passing in the kitchen. In your head they don’t count ... but they do!
Even if you only ‘pick’ once a day with an item that’s only 70 calories that’s 490 calories a week or 25,480 calories over a year which is 7lbs of pure fat just from one biscuit or so called low fat treat a day! So easy to do. Be mindful when around food. A treat is OK now and again but regular ‘treats’ will lead to weight gain even if you have a good balanced diet at all other times.
4: Failing to plan, plan to fail
Being organised is probably the most important of all the rules/tips. As the title suggests if you fail to plan your weeks food and activities you are setting yourself up to fail before you begin. I never go shopping hungry as this can lead to impulse buying. I always imagine people are looking in my trolley and judging me (especially when I was really big) so unless for a special occasion and often always for someone else, I very rarely buy anything naughty!
I always have a list and a plan of what I’m going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and even plan my snacks and factor in any times I’m eating out (see point 5 below) for the whole week. I try to buy the best meat I can, free range/organic is best and I often buy meat when reduced and freeze it for another day. I often do batch cooking on a Sunday (see below) so I always have something healthy for lunch through the week.
I like to buy the individual steam bags of frozen veg (some people aren’t keen on frozen veg but it’s actually better than fresh as it’s picked, bagged and frozen within hours so therefore better for you!) I always have plenty eggs in as I can whip up an omelette if I’m hungry! Planning will help you succeed in weight loss.
5: Don’t be afraid to eat out
During the Fit Factor I placed myself in a bubble and cancelled all social events. I knew it was only temporary but I did worry about going out to eat.
Don’t use eating out as an excuse to eat everything because it ‘comes’ with the meal. Most places will accommodate your needs. Again being organised comes in to play, pick where you want to go, get on their website and check out the menu, pick a meal which is good for your diet and anything that isn’t fitting in with your plan, pick a substitute from the extras.
I always order a steak and ask for a side salad instead of chips. Call the restaurant or pub before you go to ask how things are cooked if that concerns you!
6: Cut out the Carbs
Now this one is slightly scary, the most asked question I get about losing 5st is ‘what’s your secret?’ And I say...”I don’t eat bread, pasta, rice or potatoes, sugar, salt or anything processed” their face falls and they look very disappointed.
I’m eating what my body is designed to eat and THAT is why I’m losing weight (check out last week’s blog). It’s a no brainer, cut out starchy carbs and do more exercise and you WILL lose weight. I don’t have a carb free diet, all veg, salad and fruit contain carbohydrate, an apple has 40g of fibre! The best thing about cutting out carbs is after the initial first week you never feel hungry again...carbs make you hungry! The other plus side is less flatulence...win win situation then!
7: Do what makes you happy
Now this one is a double edge sword. We all know someone who is overweight and will always declare that life is too short to diet and just do what makes you happy...meaning eat and drink lots of unhealthy, fatty foods and calorie laden drinks because that’s what makes them happy.
Now, I do know some larger people who are genuinely happy with their size and in truth I’m pleased for them. It’s hard for anyone, no matter their size to be happy with themselves so if they are truly happy then I take my hat off to them.
But and it’s a big but (or literally a big butt) there are some people who say this but in reality are deeply unhappy with their size and fitness and will daydream about losing weight and how they will look and what they will be able to do and how being smaller will make them feel... (ok, I’ll admit, this was me...I would say to everyone “I know I’m big but I love good food and I love good wine and dieting makes me depressed and I don’t have time to be faffing on in the kitchen...) excuses, excuses, excuses.
But the truth is, I would indeed get happiness from eating a chocolate smothered donut, but it would last about 1.5 minutes (the happiness, not the donut, that would have been devoured in minus 12 seconds) then guilt would engulf me and I’d feel sad then the sugar would boost me and then the high would be over and I’d need something else to ‘perk’ me up! An endless, self destructive cycle.
If I’d had the guts to be honest with myself at the time I would admit that being thinner has made me happier. I’m not saying losing weight means I’m the happiest person in the world but other areas of my life have improved, my confidence in dealing with life, my coping mechanism of difficult situations used to end up with me comfort eating but now I go for a run, I feel better when I’m out with friends (all my mates are gorgeous!!!) and I now feel that I do belong on my husbands arm where as before I always wondered if people would think “what’s he doing with her??”
I enjoy clothes shopping 100% more, which any woman will tell you clothes shopping can often be a traumatic experience even at the best of times, I have loads more energy to play with my little boy, a new zest for life, rather than being wedged on the couch, feeling like a failure and too tired to do anything about it!
The buzz I get when standing on the scales knowing I’ve worked my butt off and being told I’ve dropped 6lbs is immense and the happiness lasts way longer than 90 seconds. Now, I don’t lose 6lbs every fortnight but a loss is a loss.
So the question you need to ask yourself is ‘will that chocolate cake make me happy or do I want to be happier with myself??’ When you get to where you are going and you are happier with your size that chocolate cake will still be there but you may choose not to have it!! Choosing to be happy is the best decision I ever made!
Kerry’s top cooking tips
Pre-planning and batch cooking can save you money and time!
I often buy big packs of meat when on offer, chicken is one of the best meats to eat as it’s lean and a great source of protein.
Take four or five chicken breasts and lay on a large sheet of foil, season with black pepper, paprika, five spice and a good squeeze of lime or lemon (these are optional), seal the chicken inside the foil, scrunching the sides together so completely sealed.
Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 or gas mark 6 for about 40 minutes. Carefully open the package (beware of steam) and cut the middle chicken breast in the centre to check there is no pink (cook longer if still pink.)
Leave sealed and to cool and place all the chicken and juices in a sealed container. These will last three days in the fridge. Great for chopping up into salads, stir fry’s, omelettes or reheat as part of a chicken dinner! This technique can be used with Turkey, meaty fish like cod, salmon or haddock or pork loin.
Chopped quick dry fried chicken with mushrooms and avocado makes a fab lunch.