I started this blog with a weight goal in mind and the determination to become the best version of myself. The pandemic opened my eyes to how important it was to respect my body and keep it healthy. Whilst many people understandably put on weight during lockdown, I decided to go against the flow and do the opposite. I didn’t just want to lose weight, I wanted to completely revisit my eating habits for good. I was willing to change whatever needed to change by playing the long game.
In the past, I lost weight by going to the gym every day, I didn’t pay much attention to my nutrition. I really liked the vibes of an intense session, with a trainer who made me sweat like crazy. But gyms were closed pretty much all year so it wasn’t possible to go to classes during lockdown. I could have kept active by simply following videos on YouTube but I need a “real” coach. And I’m not a runner either… So I decided to focus on what I put in my mouth instead! After all, it’s the very first thing you need to prioritise for a healthy and sustainable weight loss.
As good as exercise is for you, it won’t help much without dietary modifications. With this post, I’m not saying you don’t need to exercise to lose weight. I’m saying you can still lose weight even if you’re not really active. Because a good diet is key.
Throwback to beginning of August 2020
- Weight: 85 kg
- BMI: 31.2
- Body fat: 37.90 %
- Waist size: 94 cm (or 37 inches)
It pains me to share this but it’s necessary. Clinically speaking I was obese, at a high risk of developing type II diabetes or other health conditions. Worldwide, obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. This is due to an increased intake of energy-dense foods (high in fat and sugars) and a decrease in physical activity (sedentary lifestyle and changing modes of transportation). Being overweight or obese increases risks of developing diseases such as heart disease and stroke, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and even some cancers. In England, almost two thirds of adults are overweight (BMI between 25 and 30) or obese (BMI above 30). I didn’t want to be part of the majority anymore.
1. I started with a simple calorie counting approach
It’s not about becoming obsessed with the number of calories contained in each food you put in your mouth. But I do think it’s necessary to be aware of all hidden calories you consume without even realising. An extra spoon of oil when you cook, some more sauce added with your meal, one more glass of alcohol… It quickly accumulates and before you know it, you’re already above your calorie budget. The rule is simple (calories out must be greater than calories in) but you need to do the maths right with the correct information. If you haven’t followed my blog from the start, this post will give you more detail about My Weight Loss Journey: Past Failures & Current Plan. By just being more careful with meal portions and cutting out unnecessary snacks, I lost 7 kg within the first 2 months.
2. I then discovered intermittent fasting
It’s actually thanks to my blog, or should I say, thanks to one of my readers, that I first heard of intermittent fasting. I mentioned I didn’t need much for breakfast (just a cup of tea with some honey), so he suggested maybe I didn’t need it at all. Truth is I had “something” in the morning because I’ve been told all my life to never skip a meal. Now I realise I don’t need to eat 3 times a day. That’s the reason why adopting such a different habit was so easy for me! It felt right from the start and gave my weight loss a lot more consistency. Combining intermittent fasting with a healthy diet helped me lose another 10 kg in the next 3 months.
Read more about my experience with intermittent fasting and see if it could be right for you:
Weight Loss Journey: How I Overcame the Dreaded Plateau
Why I Decided to Adopt Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting or Why Skipping Breakfast Could Be a Good Idea
5 Effective Ways To Lose Weight With Intermittent Fasting
3. Finally, I decided to go vegan
This to me is the last piece of the puzzle. I wouldn’t say going vegan is what helped me lose the remaining 8 kg to reach my objective. But cutting out meat and dairy significantly helped reduce my calorie intake. Note: being vegan doesn’t mean being healthy. You can go vegan and have a terrible diet! What I wanted was to adopt a healthy plant-based diet and drastically increase my consumption of fruits and vegetables. It allows me to feel full for longer and naturally suppresses cravings. I also discovered many more delicious and healthy meals. Truth is I’ve never been more excited about food than since I made that decision!
Read more about veganism and see if it could be good for you too:
Veganuary: A Great Way to Start the Year
Surprising Things I Discovered After Going Vegan for a Month
To sum up what I’ve been doing since lockdown (and will keep doing from now on): keep a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables, replace meat and dairy with healthy alternatives for proteins and calcium, and no eating when not hungry. Intermittent fasting gave me more consistency throughout the day, I skip breakfast because I don’t need it and I stop eating after 7pm. This combination of things gave me the results below.
Current situation end of March 2021 (8 months later)
- Weight: 60 kg | Result: -25 kg
- BMI: 22 | Result: -9.2
- Body fat: 24 % | Result: -13.90 %
- Waist size: 70 cm (or 27.5 inches) | Result: -24 cm (or -9.5 inches)
I am now back to a healthy weight and reached my goal of 60 kg, no need to mention how good it makes me feel! You can accomplish anything if you’re willing to commit to it. No excuses, only results. But this is not over, it’s never going to be over. The part to focus on now is weight maintenance – Let’s keep the weight off! Learning from my mistakes, I am not going to go back to my previous unhealthy lifestyle. The changes I made in my routine are here to stay.
I usually don’t take many pictures of myself but I found a selfie from August last year that grabbed my attention… It was a selfie with our youngest cat Luna (she was a kitten by then) and I realised my face had a much rounder shape back then, compared to today. So I reproduced the same picture (obviously Luna has grown since!) and you can see the difference of my face before and after losing 25 kg:
Summary & Weight Loss Tips
What to keep in mind:
- The more overweight you are, the easier it is to lose the first kilos! You just need to make a start.
- Small changes can have big impacts in the long run: reducing alcohol consumption, skipping starters at restaurants, avoiding unnecessary snacks, etc
- It’s almost certain you are going to face a weight loss plateau at some point. Do not use it as an excuse to give up!
- It’s OK to ask for support to stay motivated, involve friends and family, or even social media if it helps keeping you accountable for progress.
- There is no one-size-fits-all solution, you will have to test and see what works for you.
- Remember all changes in your lifestyle need to be permanent, not temporary. Otherwise, your weight loss will not be sustainable…
- Focus on healthy food you already like and limit your consumption of unhealthy food. It’s not about suppression, it’s about moderation.
- Remember to stay hydrated and drink a lot of water!
- Hit the pillow. A good sleep routine helps with weight loss, as you will be more prone to make bad decisions if you feel tired.
- Your body is not replaceable, the food you give it is fuel. The better the fuel, the better it works (a bit like a car…).
- Eating well is the best way to show your body the respect it deserves, it will give it back to you!
What NOT to do:
- Don’t associate weight loss with frustration, or you will develop an unhealthy relationship with food. It’s OK to crave chocolate sometimes! As a general rule, try to stick to min. 80% healthy / max. 20% “pleasure” foods.
Related post: Why a Healthy Mind Is Key to Successful Weight Loss
- Don’t completely suppress your favourite foods from your diet. That would put them even more on a pedestal, so give in to temptation, just in smaller quantities.
- Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Weight loss takes time and effort, it doesn’t happen overnight…
- Don’t set a weight goal that is way too low for yourself. If your BMI is already close to 18, chances are you don’t need to lose much weight at all. Look at other metrics such as body fat % or waist size.
Related post: Is BMI the Only Important Metric to Measure How Healthy You Are?
- Never starve yourself. If you experience physical signs of hunger (stomach rumbling for example), it means your body needs fuel.
- Don’t eat when you’re not hungry. In the same respect, do not use food for comfort.
Related post: Bored? How to Soothe Yourself Without Food
- Don’t ignore hidden calories! Do you realise how many calories an extra spoon of oil contains for example? Calories in drinks are also easy to overlook (sodas, alcohol…), so don’t forget to take them into account.
I also previously shared some tips about how to stay motivated during your weight loss, because the journey will be full of obstacles. Focus on WHY you’re doing it: you make choices, not rules. If you’re not satisfied with your weight, I hope my story will inspire you. And if you know people who would benefit from reading it, don’t hesitate to spread the word! Health is a serious topic and very much a global issue worth fighting for.
Big Girl x
Congratulations! It is hard work. Thanks for the tips.
Thanks! It is not an easy journey but you can accomplish anything with enough determination 🙂
Great read and reminders!
That is awesome. Congratulations. I’m in the need now to shed a few pounds. I’ve never been overweight, but lockdown has definitely forced me to add a few unnecessary pounds lol. Great tips.
Interesting… I guess it proves anyone can put on weight when their mental health is affected! Healthy mind, healthy body 🙂 Good luck shedding the extra pounds, I’m sure you’ll do it easily if you’ve never been overweight before.
Wow I’m vegan too but I’ve put on weight and I really need to get back in shape! So impressive you’ve done this during lockdown!
Another lockdown victim? 🙂 I used the “stay at home” time to get back in shape and now I’m ready to see the light again haha
As a younger woman, I definitely had an unhealthy relationship with food and that only changed when I first became vegetarian. We have dairy allergies in the family and recently when I took a hard look at how we eat we’ve been following a vegan diet for a long time. It does help to keep weight in check and you do have a lot more energy because of it. I wouldn’t go back, I like not worrying about every mouthful of food. Lots of good advice in this post, thank you.
Thanks for this valuable feedback. I wouldn’t go back either… Especially now that I know how much my body benefits from it!
Well done! Some really great tips here. It really is a journey and not a quick fix.
Thanks! Yes exactly, it’s important to see it as a sustainable lifestyle. Unfortunately, there is no quick solution…
Wow! Your determination is such an inspiration! Your insight is so valuable!
Wow! good on you babe, that is amazing! I love how you mention that being vegan doesn’t equal instant healthy – haha! I am GF/DF but like you say, there’s still GF/DF junk out there! This is so inspiring though, I am home wiht kids and find it hard to get out to the gym so seeing someone get results from home really motivates me!
I’m glad it motivates you! I became a bit lazy with this lockdown, I find it harder to “move” so I wanted to show you can still lose weight without the gym 🙂 And yes, it’s probably wise to stay away from GF/DF junk… Focus on healthy foods you already love and you’ll be just fine xx
Hats off to your determination. It is not easy to not quit on your goals. All the best dear!
Wow! Well done! That’s an amazing transformation. I have had a similar journey to you – I started in January 2020 at 85kg. I’m now down to 65kg but I’ve been focusing on body recomp – losing weight and building muscle. I’m so glad I started and I have truly never felt better in my life. You took a really smart approach to counting calories and really focusing on what you eat. You should be massively proud of yourself!
Amazing! This is the next step for me: converting the extra fat remaining into muscle 🙂 It’s funny how your weight alone only tells a part of the story. What matters is that you’re healthy and feel happy in your own skin xx