Why a Healthy Mind Is Key to Successful Weight Loss

Why a Healthy Mind Is Key to Successful Weight Loss

If you think you struggle to lose weight because you’re a foodie, I’m afraid you’re just giving yourself excuses. Having to lose weight means you indulged yourself a bit too much in the past. It means the calorie intake was offset, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have eaten any of what you love. It may come across as a bit of a shock to some of you, but it is possible to love food AND keep a healthy weight at the same time! You just need to work on your mindset first.

Life is always going to throw challenges at you

Most people accept the idea of gaining weight during the Christmas period, with the idea of being “good” in January to compensate. It happens every year at the same time so at least you can rely on a community spirit to make temporary good resolutions. But what about other occasions throughout the year (birthdays, parties, etc) or unexpected moments when food is used for comfort (lockdown…)? You get it, temptation is around every corner and constantly threatens your weight loss journey.

How to deal with temptation

If it tastes great, it’s probably because it’s bad for you. Not fair, I know. And if it’s bad for you, then you feel guilty for eating it. You enter a negative loop: eat more of what you love, feel even more guilty, put on weight, let yourself go, feel even worse, etc. Unhealthy food can be like a powerful drug, extremely addictive. But is there a solution to this first world problem?

1. Embrace your cravings

There is only one caveat: moderation. It’s fine to crave for unhealthy food sometimes. After all, no one has ever desperately craved for some lettuce. We all have at least one guilty pleasure when it comes to food. If it’s not chocolate (which is probably the most common), it could be sweets, biscuits, pizza, cheese… No matter what rocks your boat, remember they’re not your real enemy.

2. Healthy mind = Healthy body

If you’re planning to use your guilty pleasure as a reward once you’ve reached your weight goals, it probably means your relationship with food is not healthy. This could be a warning sign that you’re going to put your weight back on very quickly when your diet is over. The key to losing weight in a healthy way is to avoid the word “diet” because it has a negative connotation, which is counter-productive.

Good news is you don’t have to suffer to lose weight! Restricting yourself too much is only going to make you lose motivation, and even make you question if it’s really worth it. So instead of forbidding yourself to eat that chocolate cake you really crave for, simply include it within your calorie budget.

3. Don’t ban the food you love

At the end of the day, you just need to find the right balance between what your body “needs” and what your mind “wants”. If you only listen to your head, you’ll have a healthier body but you’ll feel very frustrated. If you only listen to your heart, your bad decisions will eventually impact your self-esteem in a negative way. Every choice you make has consequences, whether you’re trying to lose weight or not. To find the right mix between health and pleasure, simply aim to limit your cravings to 20% of your total food consumption. You’re all good as long as the big majority of your diet includes what your body really needs.

I did it myself recently

My birthday was 10 days ago… I usually go to a restaurant but they’re all currently closed in London. So I had my first (and hopefully last) lockdown birthday! As a result I was desperate for some treats, I wanted to satisfy my sweet tooth. And you know what? I did receive plenty of brownies to celebrate my special day. All vegan and gluten-free, but just as “bad”.

At no point did I feel guilty though, I simply included them in my healthy eating habits. I limited myself to 2 bites a day (each bite contains more than 100 calories!), ate each piece mindfully and looked forward to the next day to treat myself again. I don’t think brownies ever tasted that good. What’s the point overeating what you love if you don’t fully appreciate it? Result: it didn’t affect my weight loss. I now only have about 3 more kilos to lose before I reach my objective of 60 kg. Was it worth it? Yes, 100%.

So tell me… What’s your guilty pleasure(s)?

Big Girl x

Surprising Things I Discovered After Going Vegan for a Month

Every year since 2014, some people commit to Veganuary by adopting a vegan diet for a month – in January. I would have never considered it in the past but this year I was intrigued… We all have preconceived ideas about the unknown, so why not try and see if they’re actually valid? And if it’s the most effective way to save the planet, it’s probably worth keeping an open mind. But not at all costs! Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life, I want to keep enjoying it. Sticking to what you know is always easier… So let me tell you the main 3 things I learnt after trying it myself for a month:

1. It’s actually quite easy to eat vegan every day

If your main reason for going vegan is the environment and/or the animals, then it’s not difficult to stick to it. First of all, many popular foods are already vegan (potatoes, rice, pasta, fruits…). Treats and things that are not especially good for you (like biscuits, sweets, etc) are easy to fit in a vegan diet too, if you read the labels properly. Secondly, more and more companies diversify their range to offer vegan options. Meat alternatives are everywhere nowadays (especially in big cities like London) so it’s really not difficult to avoid animal products. They’re not always the healthiest as some of them are highly processed, but they are a great way to help you while you’re transitioning. You won’t have to eat fries everyday to have a clear conscience.

Basically, if your health is not the main reason, the switch will be relatively easy. It’s when you want to have a healthy and balanced diet (as you should) that things can get a bit more complicated… Especially if you’re a fussy eater like me. But even that turned out to be a lot easier that I anticipated.

2. A vegan diet is very varied and not boring at all

If you asked me several months ago what I thought about a vegan diet, I would have said I wasn’t interested in eating lettuce everyday. I didn’t understand how you could enjoy life with “boring” food. I thought it was a sacrifice not worth doing. It was made worse by the fact I’ve always disliked vegetables (especially the green ones…).

Now I wish I did it sooner

Take it from someone who had a lot of negative opinions about veganism not so long ago. Someone who would never willingly put vegetables on their plate… I realise how ignorant I was to have never tried most of the foods available! Don’t get me wrong, it seems daunting to remove from your diet all products derived from animals. Because they’re literally everywhere. But I can honestly tell you I eat a lot more varied now than I ever have in my entire life.

I’m always looking forward to my next meal

I now feel I have almost too much choice when I prepare the food plan for the week. Before it was a lot easier to plan our meals, it was always the same thing (roast chicken, beef burger or salmon, with either rice, fries or pasta). Now I feel like I should do a food plan for the entire month, just so I can fit in everything I fancy. And my cupboards have never been so full of varied things!

In fact, I added so many things in my diet by going vegan. Things I didn’t even know existed. Things I’m now willing to try because I realised I don’t even know what it tastes like. It also forces me to play more with spices and sauces, giving amazing flavours to every meal.

3. Eating cruelty-free makes food more enjoyable

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that no animals have been killed to feed me… But something makes the whole eating experience very rewarding. You know when you feel guilty after eating too much for example? It’s usually because you know it’s not good for your body to overeat. But I wonder if it could also be because most of the time food industries control what you eat, not you. By cooking with plants I don’t experience that guilt anymore. And eating used to make me feel a bit lethargic after each meal… Like I would need all of my body’s energy just to digest it. That feeling is gone too.

Eating vegan also makes cooking more enjoyable, because I don’t have to deal with what used to put me off before: blood from a steak, nerves from chicken, fat from bacon, etc. When I cook with raw ingredients only involving plants, the smell in the kitchen feels a lot more “natural”. I eat more for less calories and feel full for longer, without any sluggish feeling afterwards. It means I have more energy and feel “lighter” at the same time. It’s a win in all aspects!

Other things I discovered:

  • Because I eat a lot more fibre than I used to, my digestive system has improved a lot (my guts are happier)
  • I haven’t missed meat at all, not once…
  • Cooking with tofu is actually quite fun, it’s such a versatile ingredient and an excellent source of proteins
  • I would pick a plant-based burger over a beef burger without hesitation
  • Cauliflower can be an amazing snack
  • Cashews are used a lot in vegan meals to give a cheesy flavour
  • We can “learn” to appreciate healthy food and even thrive for it
  • I get to be more creative with my cooking skills and it makes me feel proud when my partner enjoys a home-cooked meal – I can’t wait to invite friends & family to try
  • There is so much more to vegan food than simply tofu, cauliflower and cashews… These are my personal favourites for now, but I still have so much more to experience and discover (a month is far from being enough!)

Going forward

I considered Veganuary like a test and I passed it. So I’ve decided, I’m not going back to my previous diet! Why would I even consider eating meat again with all the benefits I discovered from a plant-based diet? Long term, the only thing I may find hard to never eat again is salmon. It’s difficult because it’s an obvious source of omega-3 and also it tastes great (I especially love salmon sushi). It’s still an animal product though! And if we don’t do anything, our oceans will be empty in the next few decades. It’s as simple as that. Making the wrong choice would be a way to contribute to this huge killing machine that is destroying our planet.

Would you not consider changing your eating habits if it meant saving the planet, the animals and yourself at the same time?

Big Girl x

Melbourne, One of the Most Liveable Cities in the World

Actually, Melbourne has ranked THE most liveable city in the world seven years in a row until 2017, based on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Liveability Index. Since, Vienna (Austria) has stolen the spotlight but Melbourne is still a close second. If it wasn’t that far away from Europe, it’s definitely a city I would see myself living in… It has a weather I can cope with and gives access to all sorts of Asian food due to its proximity to Asia. What’s more to ask?

A sunny day in Melbourne

Skyscrapers are rising everywhere in the city, we rented an Airbnb on the 62nd floor just to see what it was like. Maybe because of the height, we didn’t have any balcony – It would have felt quite dangerous anyway. This is the view we had from our flat:

View from our flat on the 62nd floor – We’re practically flying!

On top of everything that’s going on within the city (rooftop cinemas, high streets, artists coming from anywhere in the world… etc), I also love Melbourne because of its variety of food options. The iconic Queen Victoria Market offers tons of fresh products (it’s only the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere). It really is a paradise for foodies! There is a very strong Asian influence too so one of the things we miss the most is a Japanese chain you can find mostly in Asia-Pacific, a Pepper Lunch classic: beef, egg and rice that you sizzle yourself on a super hot iron plate…

Pepper Lunch

And if you want to find a place a bit quieter and further away from the vibrant city, Albert Park is the perfect place to go. You have a stunning view (probably the best view of the city?) and you can cycle around the lake in peace, away from the crowd.

We stayed in Melbourne during Christmas season last year… Which means we were able to attend the Test Match that traditionally happens on Boxing Day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). It was Australia vs New Zealand last year. I’m not particularly fan of cricket but it’s worth going just for the experience. And why not order a hot dog just to feel like a local?

Boxing Day Test 2019 at the MCG

What I want to tell you next is probably my favourite experience in Australia: driving along the Great Ocean Road. It’s the largest War Memorial in the world, dedicated to soldiers killed during WWII: 243 km of zigzag road along the South coast of Australia. We did 12 hours of driving that day. In hindsight, we should have done it over 2 days, it’s a very long drive and stopping somewhere overnight would have allowed us to visit more places along the way.

It took us 7 hours of driving to reach the most popular spot in the Great Ocean Road just before sunset: the 12 Apostles. They were actually never 12 but 8 limestone stacks, created by erosion due to the extreme weather conditions in the Southern Ocean. They’re now only 7 as 1 collapsed in 2005.

The 12 Apostles

A little bit further away, there is a stack which used to form a double-span natural bridge but the first span collapsed in 1990, thanks to erosion. It used to be called “The London Bridge” (due to its resemblance to its namesake in London), but it’s now called the London Arch. I wonder what they will call it once the second span will eventually collapse too…

The London Arch

It’s impossible for me to summarise our 2 weeks in Melbourne in a single post, I would have too many things to say. But below a few more places to visit and some additional facts about this awesome city:

  • Some trams offer free travel to city sights and attractions, with audio commentary on points of interest along the route. A complete journey takes around an hour, it’s a free and easy way to have a quick overview and decide what you want to visit!
  • Eureka Skydeck will give you a 360° view of Melbourne, the lift takes you at level 88 in less than 40 seconds. And if you feel silly – I mean, courageous – you can also try the Edge experience: a glass cube which projects 3 metres out of the building, 285 metres up, while you’re in it. I still don’t know how I convince my fiancé to do it…
  • One thing you notice in Melbourne is the variety of street art. Graffiti, drawing, posters, stickers… Hosier Lane is famous for its colourful pathway that made Melbourne’s urban art scene known across the globe.
  • If you like mini golf, don’t miss Holey Moley Golf Club where the décor is impressive, from the sweet candy walls to the spooky room…
  • We spent Christmas day at Sea Life Melbourne and it wasn’t a good idea. Not because of the place itself but because it was super crowded that day… We kind of expected an empty attraction but it was all the opposite, Christmas is apparently not a day people stay at home in Melbourne!
  • At the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, you have an attraction called Punting on the lake where you feel like you’re in Venice. It’s very relaxing and informative!

Melbourne is indeed a very liveable city, I can’t find anything I don’t like about it. But maybe spending 2 weeks there is not long enough to have the full picture. If you live(d) there, I would love to have your feedback!

Big Girl x