I haven’t blogged since November. Partly because I’m lazy, but mostly because I’ve been anything but lazy. I’m a bit single-minded actually, and when I get on a roll with a particular project or mission, everything else grinds to a halt.
Are you dying to know what I’ve been up to that’s been keeping me away from the blogosphere? The answer is… LOSING WEIGHT!! 11kg in fact. You may have seen my previous posts about the quitting sugar business, and getting myself a personal trainer, Natalie Stiles from Stiles Training. It’s been a huge (pardon the pun) 6 months. I’ve been seeing Nat pretty consistently 3 times a week since last July, but didn’t really get serious about the dieting situation until about the beginning of November. I’m not sure what changed exactly, but something switched on, and I decided there was no time like the present to get really serious. In some ways I feel like I’ve spent my whole life mourning that ‘other life’ that I was actually supposed to be leading – you know the one where I was glamorous, successful, wealthy and SLIM?
Well, enough with the mourning, because at least one of those options is absolutely within my grasp, and here’s how I’ve been doing it:
Personal training. That’s an obvious one. I started out with just seeing Nat, and slowly building up my fitness and getting over the fear factor of training until I want to puke (haven’t actually puked yet, mind you). More recently, in the last couple of months I’ve been supplementing the training sessions with my own workouts. I have access to three gyms now – Nat’s studio, the gym at work and the gym in the apartment building I moved into in January. The gym at home is literally down the hall and across the courtyard, so I have NO excuses. If I’m feeling lazy I’ll just go in there and sit on the bike for awhile, but most nights I will do one of the home workouts that Nat has set for me, or I’ll kill myself doing interval training on the treadmill or rower. Not everyone can afford a personal trainer, but comparatively, Nat is very affordable. It costs me $60 a week for one one-on-one and 2 group sessions with her, and I am getting so much extra value from her in terms of nutrition and general wellbeing advice, and moral support. This is my one big investment at the moment. I have few other hobbies and tend to live pretty cheaply otherwise, so I figure it’s worth every cent.
Diet. Well duh. This is the biggest factor in weight loss, and no amount of exercise is going to shed kilos if you’re still shovelling crappy food into your mouth. I shouldn’t actually use the word ‘diet’ because what I’m doing is not particularly drastic or difficult. My hope, and intention, is that this is a genuine lifestyle change. I want to ‘live lean’ for the rest of my life. Basically I aim for about 1300 calories a day, and within this prioritise high protein, low carb, low sugar and plenty of good fats. A typical days eating will now look roughly as follows:
- Breakfast: baked beans with some salami mixed through
- Morning snack: a boiled egg and some cheese, or a thin rice cake with hommus or peanut butter on it.
- Lunch: 1/2 a chicken breast with cucumber and tomato and satay sauce, or alternatively ham and avocado or tuna on rice cakes
- Arvo snack: I’ll have two afternoon snacks in order to ensure that I’m eating every 2 hours or so and that I have enough energy to go to the gym when I get home before having dinner. The first snack will be cheese on a rice cake, or some grain waves chips, or a (small) handful of nuts. The second snack will be a protein bar – I’m a big fan of the Aussie Bodies Super Fruit Slams.
- Dinner will be some sort of meat and vegies – often a stirfy with no rice, or sausages with steamed brocolli and sweet potato, or a spoonful of bolognaise sauce on a pile of zucchini.
- If I’ve got enough calories left at the end of the day I’ll have half a cup of frozen berries with some natvia smashed in, or a Jarrah fat free hot chocolate.
So, nothing drastic, or fancy. I take a whole bunch of vitamins every morning, but not any form of meal replacement. Almost completely absent from my diet now are bread, pasta and rice. I miss it of course, but this is where the next secret comes in…
Cheating. I have an evening a week off, where I eat whatever I want, and in fact, often just binge for the fun of it. Naughty but I figure it’s justified for 2 reasons: 1. Gives my metabolism a little boost, a kick along if you like, and 2. More importantly, it keeps me sane and helps with not feeling deprived. If I am really craving something, I tell myself, ‘just wait until Friday’. And because it’s my ‘night off’ I don’t feel guilty the way I do when I cheat in the middle of the week. For those of us for whom food has been a source of emotional angst, I don’t believe that super restrictive deprivation works. It’s unsustainable. Of course as Nat says, just because it’s your night off is no reason to throw yourself under a bus. And as the months go I’m less and less inclined to want to do that. I’ll still eat a whole packet of lollies, or a block of chocolate, but this is now more likely to follow a dinner of steamed dumplings, or salad, rather than pizza or pasta.
My Fitness Pal. I really can’t rave enough about this iPhone app. I’m sure there are others out there just as good, but this the one I use. Every day I log my food, and calculate the calories, and I can then fiddle around and adjust the serving sizes to come up with a day’s menu that is appetising, nutritious and will keep my blood sugar stable. My blood sugar is still an issue – last week for example I probably had 6 or 7 hypos – but having my food diary religiously logged in My Fitness Pal means I can look back and find themes or patterns that map to good and bad days. I also have ‘friends’ on there, including my trainer who can log in and see my food diary and comment on it. I also log exercise in there, and it gives estimates of the calories burned, so I know what my deficit is, which brings me to my next point:
Research. Everyone’s different, but I like to have at least a bit of an understanding of the science behind weight loss. There’s a balance between too little and too much research. Too little and you’re uninformed. Too much and it’s overwhelming. I try to cut out the buzz and ignore anything that promises I can “lose a pound of belly fat a week!” or “drop a dress size with this one little tip!” I’m no expert but I have a working knowledge know of why proteins are so important, why strength training is better for you than cardio, and why you need a caloric deficit in order to lose weight. This keeps me a bit on track. A caloric deficit of 500 calories a day ‘should’ (with all the usual disclaimers about the impact of stress, hormones and illness) equate to half a kilo of fat loss a week. At my current weight of 69 kilos, my base metabolic rate is approximately 1450 calories a day. This is what my body burns with just its usual functioning. So if I’m eating 1300 calories a day, that’s a 150 calorie a day deficit. I therefore try to burn at least 350 a day in exercise. It’s not a perfect science because I really only have estimates to tell me how much I’m burning through various exercise, but it’s good enough.
Realistic goals. My goal weight is 60 kilos, and I was 80 at the start of November, so I’m just over halfway there. HOWEVER, I’m doing a lot of strength training (and getting some pretty shit hot muscle definition if I say so myself) so there is a chance that unless I were prepared to drop muscle, which I’m not, I may not get to 60 kilos. So as an alternative goal I’ll be happy with 20% body fat, which will be about half what I started with. If you google it you’ll get a pretty good idea of what that sort of body fat looks like on a female body. It’s low enough to be able to see abs, and I love the fact that I HAVE abs now, and can’t wait for that last layer of blubber to disappear so I can actually show them off.
The last, and probably most important thing, is supportive friends and family. As this blog post might hint at, I’ve done nothing but live and eat and breath my fitness and weight loss endeavours in the last few months, and I’m bore myself by having little else to talk about. And my friends just keep putting up with my evangelical zeal without nervously looking at the door. Or at least, not where I can see them 😉
Almost every night either before I go into the gym, or after, and when I’m feeling in need of more motivation, I google for it. There are some fantastic resources out there. I won’t bother to name them here, but I do urge you to just start browsing and see what you find. It’s a veritable treasure trove of inspiration. In the meantime, here’s a ‘before’ photo for you: