Trigger warning! I will be talking about weight loss, weight, exercise and diet habits. I am aware this may trigger anyone who may have an eating disorder so please be aware of this before continuing to read.
Let me start by saying this is not a ‘how to’ guide on weight loss, I’m simply going to talk you through my ‘journey’ and how I have managed to shed over 9st between October 2020 and now.
First of all, you can’t manifest this. If you want to lose weight then you need to work for it. Simple as that. That was the first hurdle I had to overcome; changing my mentality around it.
Back in March 2020 when the world was plunged into something that wouldn’t look out of place in a Sci-Fi blockbuster I, like many people in the UK, was put on furlough. As I work for a non-essential retailer my workplace was forced to close. Add to this the fact that the country was then put into a national lockdown, meaning we were placed under restrictions regarding leaving the house, I was in a very rare position. I had nothing to do. I saw this as a blessing at the time. Wall to wall Netflix, TikTok and snacking was pure bliss. The weather was incredible and I was fortunate enough to still be on full pay. What was not to like?
The weight gain. That was not to like. Now I’d always been overweight, I can’t sugar coat it, (because I’d have probably ended up eating that too) but I started noticing it more at the start of 2020. I joined TikTok in February 2020 and I really started getting into it whilst in lockdown. If you’re unaware of what TikTok is ARE YOU LIVING UNDER A ROCK?! For anyone who is unaware though it’s an app where you can upload videos of pretty much anything that are 15 seconds – 3 minutes long. I was doing this purely as a pass time, a bit of fun and the views and following I had varied from day to day.
Eat, sleep, TikTok, Repeat. That was my lockdown schedule and when I say eat, I mean snack. I’d pretty much always been around the 18/19st mark but the fact I was eating more and moving less, with not being in work, meant I put on another stone in lockdown 1.0. I distinctly remember looking back at one of my TikToks and noticing how fat my face looked but still I didn’t do anything to change it. I thought to myself that once I was back in work that I’d lose the weight I had put on and that would be that…and I did. When the world started re-opening and I eventually went back to work, I did lose about a stone and a half over a few months.
October time came around and I had lost the weight I had gained in lockdown and that got me thinking. I was so disappointed that I had lost weight but ended up essentially back where I started. If I carried on moving more and eating less then I could go further. Lose some more weight.
I’ve tried losing weight in the past, I’ve done on and off dieting and exercise but nothing has stuck because I’d never seen results. The reason I had never seen results was because I never gave it long enough and so I would just simply give up. This time though I had seen results. I’d seen myself drop over 1st in weight so I knew the method was working.
‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’ and it’s so true. I hadn’t put weight on overnight, it had happened over many years due to poor lifestyle and diet choices so why was I expecting an overnight transformation?
At the end of October (around my birthday) I took 2 weeks annual leave and made it my mission to go for at least one walk every day for at least an hour. I only went locally and it was just a walk but I did it every day. Now the fact I was putting in this time and effort got me thinking about the food I was eating. There is no point putting in the time on these walks to then go home and ruin it with half a packet of Jaffa Cakes and a bag of crisps. I needed to change my eating habits as well.
I started off small and didn’t expect to see any results. I’m quite a pessimistic person I put myself in the mentality of ‘lower your expectations and you’ll always be surprised’. I’d whack a podcast on and go for a walk around my local area. To my surprise I really enjoyed it and more importantly I was feeling better within myself. I started sleeping better and feeling more energised throughout the day.
The 2 weeks of walking had gone well, I was also noticing small differences in the mirror and that was spurring me on. I decided that I wasn’t going to weigh myself for a while. I didn’t want to demotivate myself if I hadn’t lost much weight. I didn’t want to send myself back into the ‘what’s the point’ mentality so I just carried on regardless.
I was starting to feel better and that was the big deal for me, it really motivated me to keep this walking going. In November the UK was sent into another national lockdown which meant, once again, I was off work on furlough. I saw this as an opportunity to carry on with the walking, increase the amount of exercise I was doing and hopefully shed some more weight. I felt so much regret that I didn’t use the first lockdown for this when the weather was better but I ploughed on regardless and was determined not to waste this lockdown too. In my head I was thinking this was the last chance. I’d never get a chance for 4 weeks off work again so I need to make sure I work hard whilst I can.
When lockdown lifted and work re-opened I got comments off my colleagues about how I looked like I’d lost weight and this was so uplifting to hear. I still hadn’t weighed myself at this point but I made sure to keep up with the walking and eating better. The walking did tail off somewhat, this was December and it was blooming freezing outside. That coupled with it going dark at around 4pm meant I was only really going for walks on my 2 days off a week. I was determined not to go the other way, not to put any weight back on (despite the fact I didn’t actually know how much I’d lost).
Towards the end of December when the UK was in tiers (in every sense of the word) and there were rumours of a third lockdown I was thinking it would be a real opportunity for me to get back into the daily walks. On New Year’s Eve it was announced that the UK would enter another national lockdown and this meant that once again I would be furloughed from work.
This time I was determined to do it properly. I wanted to track my exercise. I did have a FitBit at one point but I couldn’t find the charger so I decided instead to start using the Apple Watch I never wore. I was so easy to sync with my iPhone and helped me keep track of how far I was walking each day. Added to that, the Apple Watch sets you little goals. If you achieve 12 hours standing each day (meaning you stand at least once for at least one minute every hour), exercise for 30 minutes and burn a certain number of calories everyday then you close your rings. It’s little goals like that that helped to focus me.
I made sure to do at least 1 walk a day for at least 1 hour. This time round however I was going to also focus more on diet. I was going to eat healthier but more importantly, eat less. I knew that I needed to be in a calorie deficit if I stood any chance of losing any weight at all.
Being in a calorie deficit is what all these diet plans like weight world and slimming watchers use to make you lose weight. If you consume fewer calories than your body needs then you are in deficit and you will lose weight. It’s as simple as that. Ideally you want healthy foods making up your daily calorie intake but as long as you’re in a deficit you could eat whatever you want.
My diet was so poor, I will do a further blog around what I used to eat in a day vs what I typically eat in a day now, and that was what was holding me back. I needed to overhaul my diet and eating habits.
I’m a self confessed serial snacker. I could sit and demolish thousands of calories in snacks alone, all whilst leading a sedentary lifestyle and this is what led to the weight gain over the years. It was time to dramatically address this, reduce the snacking and increase the exercise.
I now eat cereal for breakfast (not a heaped mountain of cornflakes either, a roughly measured 40g portion), cereal bar or fruit for lunch and varying meals for dinner but with much smaller portions than previously. I do have the odd snack in the evening, especially if there’s a good program on TV, but I make sure these are low calorie and/or consumed in moderation. Popcorn is a saviour!
Here’s a breakdown of my typical daily exercise regime. Bear in mind I work 40 hours a week (5 days of work with 2 day off).
- I wake up at 7am, cereal for breakfast then walk 3km.
- Drive to work and do a 1km walk around the block.
- When it comes to break time at work I will grab a cereal bar or piece of fruit and then do another 1km walk around the block.
- I get home around 6/6.15pm and do a 4/5km walk before tea (or dinner if you’re from down south).
- After tea I go for another walk, this one being around 5/6km.
- I average around 18-20km per day on a working day which translates to roughly 22,000-25,000 steps and 1,200-1,600 calories burnt.
- On my days off I go for a larger walk, between 10-12km
- A 12km cycle
- A 5/6km walk before tea
- A 6/7km walk after tea.
- This works out at around 27-33km, 26,000-35,000 steps and 1,800-2,000 calories burnt.
I’d like to add that I don’t calorie count to the exact number. I started calorie counting exactly and found I was becoming far too obsessed with numbers. What I simply do now is know what is good and what isn’t. Don’t get me wrong I still look at the nutritional values on some foods but generally I have a good idea of what is good and what isn’t and stick to eating in moderation. This is a long term lifestyle change and there is no way I could live my life constantly worrying about numbers.
I still go out, still have the odd takeaway here and there and still have a drink if I fancy one. Again, all done in moderation. To offset any slightly un-healthy binges I will then plan more exercise in for that day and days that follow. You can’t go through life never eating chocolate again, just be disciplined with yourself and eat it in smaller quantities and if you have a bad day/couple of days, don’t let it get you down. We all have them. Don’t throw everything away because you ate a packet of crisps that you shouldn’t have or because you had 2 glasses of wine instead of 1. Write that day off and start again tomorrow. Get back on the horse and stick to it.
I have another couple of blogs planned focusing more in-depth on how I got started, clothes I wore, equipment needed etc. I started this completely in the dark and have pretty much stumbled my way through so I will try and provide as much guidance to anyone who might feel as clueless as I did at the start as I can.
Here are some more before and after pictures because I know that’s what everyone likes seeing:
I’d like to add that no filters or editing have been applied to any of these photos. The background blur is Portrait Mode on iPhone