How I Lost 25kg During Lockdown Without Hitting The Gym

drinking water for weight loss

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.

No action, no change

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:

weight loss - before
August 2020
weight loss - after
March 2021

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

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

Is BMI the Only Important Metric to Measure How Healthy You Are?

BMI stands for Body Mass Index, it gives you an indication if your weight is healthy compared to your height. It’s really easy to calculate as it only uses your body mass (in kilograms), divided by your height (in metres squared). It doesn’t take into account age and gender, except for young people under 18. If maths is not your thing and you want to know what your BMI is, just type “BMI Calculator” on your search bar and you’ll be spoilt for choice. An adult is considered healthy if their BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, underweight if it’s under 18.5, overweight above 24.9 and in the obese range above 30. Now, I’m sure most of you already know this, but I would like to have a closer look at why you shouldn’t rely on it by itself.

Update on my own weight loss journey

I started to write about my weight loss journey in one of my very first posts on this blog. By then I was at 78 kg and had already lost 7 kg. Since this post, I’ve carried on with my new healthy lifestyle and I am today near 68 kg, which means I lost another 10 kg. In terms of BMI, I went down from the obese range to just overweight and I’m now on the verge on being back to healthy. Hallelujah. I’m 165 cm tall so a healthy range for me means between 50 kg and 68 kg. I was aiming at 60 kg (in the middle) to have some sort of exact number in mind but I know by experience I’m starting to look very skinny under 60 kg, so that would actually be my absolute minimum! What would still be considered “healthy” for me (between 50 kg and 60 kg) would probably look underweight as I would start worrying people around me. That’s why I say BMI is a great tool to give some sort of indication but no one knows your body better than you.

BMI by itself has its limits

If BMI only uses people’s height and weight to indicate their healthy range, you can see why it would have its limits. It cannot tell the difference between excess fat, muscle or bone. Even though the range is quite big to take into account natural variations in body shape, some athletes with a high muscle mass could easily be within an overweight or obese category while they’re actually very healthy. Ethnicity also matters: according to the NHS, Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups have a higher risk of developing some long-term conditions (such as type 2 diabetes) with a BMI above 23, so even if they’re within the healthy range (which is between 18.5 and 24.9). Pregnant women should obviously not use BMI as an indicator as it wouldn’t be accurate either.

What other metrics should you watch out for?

If BMI is pretty straight forward to tell you if you weight too much (or not enough), it won’t tell you if you have too much fat. Ultimately, that’s what you want to focus on because that’s what puts you at greater risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke or even cancer. Basically, you can have a healthy BMI and still carry too much fat around your stomach. One way of finding out would be to invest in a smart scale that will give you more detailed information about your body composition. Another one is to take measurements of your waist size to check if you need to lose dangerous fat. Regardless of your BMI, you should try to lose weight if your waist size is more than 80 cm (for women) or 94 cm (for men). This is not easy but necessary, my waist size was 92 cm for a weight at 85 kg back in August. More than 4 months later, I lost 17 kg and 13 cm around the waist. I am now only starting to be healthy in that area too with a waist size at 79 cm, which translates into significantly less risk of developing a long-term disease.

The bottom line

In conclusion, I would say BMI gives a good indication about how healthy you are, but only if it is used in combination with other factors. If you’re way above or under the healthy BMI range, you should definitely act. But don’t necessarily aim to be right in the middle to have the perfect body, as everyone has a different body shape that doesn’t always reflect their weight. If I’m aiming at 60 kg now, I know my weight will increase again when I focus on toning up because my muscle mass will increase, which is heavier than fat. By then, I’ll replace my objective with a more appropriate one! I can tell you I already feel the positive impact this journey is having on me. I hope January will see more people making good (and lasting) healthy resolutions.

Do you consider being the best version of yourself already or do you need to make a change?

Big Girl x

Possible Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight & Tips to Regain Control

Possible Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight And Tips to Regain Control

If you’re on a weight loss journey, December is probably the worst month of the year to stay motivated. It’s getting cold, days are shorter, and it’s more difficult to stay active… Switching to “couch potato” mode and watch your favourite shows instead (with some comfort food?) seems like a much better idea. Plus it’s Christmas soon so why bother losing weight now, let’s postpone to January when everyone will be making good resolutions, right? Well I don’t want you to give up now! There is no one-size-fits-all solution but if you feel demotivated because you’re doing everything by the book and still don’t lose weight, then let’s go through the most common reasons why it’s not happening and how to overcome this phase.

Possible reasons why you’re not losing weight

It’s important to know losing weight and losing fat are not the same thing. Losing fat is ultimately what you want… And if you’re not losing weight, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not losing fat. So before going through the list below, ask yourself if your new lifestyle is making positive impacts on your body and soul. If the answer is yes, then you have nothing to worry about, just carry on!

  • If you recently started to exercise, then you can gain muscle (which is heavy) and therefore think you’re doing something wrong. As it’s fat you want to lose anyway, this is actually a good thing.
  • Have you been keeping track of what you’re eating? Sometimes the difference between what you think you eat and what you actually eat can be huge… You could be eating too many calories without even noticing.
  • If you “drink” your calories, it will jeopardise your efforts of eating healthy and won’t even fill you up. A can of coke contains 140 calories, a glass of wine 80 calories, a pint of beer 200 calories. Remember than water is what you really need to stay hydrated and it contains 0 calories.
  • Sleep deprivation can not only lead to mental health issues but could also be a risk factor for obesity. Have you been getting enough sleep lately?
  • Maybe you’re not eating when you’re really hungry. You could either stop and think if you really need food right now, or you could try intermittent fasting to limit your feeding window during the day (but do not starve yourself!).
  • Have you already hit your healthy set point? Your body will naturally go towards its ideal weight if you have a healthy lifestyle. Question is: do you and your body both agree on what your ideal weight is? Have realistic expectations.
  • Some medical conditions can make weight loss a lot harder. If you think it could be your case or have any doubts, speak to a doctor about your options.
you can win if you want

Tips to regain control of your weight loss

I can’t tell you exactly what you should eat (or stop eating) to suddenly lose weight, but I can give you some tips to stay focused on your healthy goals. If you’ve ever been promised to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time by eating a specific food, your chances of success are very slim. Dieticians would agree it’s more about a lifestyle change and building a long-term habit! So play the long game.

  • Focus on your wellbeing – How do you feel?
  • Remember why you’re doing it – Think long term. For example: “I want to be a healthy person and live a high quality life. I want to feel good about myself too.”
  • Create a food plan when you’re not hungry – Know in advance what and when you eat (even better if you eat at the same time every day), it will give you control over your food choices and make impulsive unhealthy meals less frequent.
  • Eat mindfully, enjoy each meal and focus on your food (no distractions like TV, phone, etc).
  • Make sure you accurately estimate food portions and be wary of hidden calories. Sometimes you don’t realise the impact of small additions to your meal: an extra tablespoon of olive oil is 120 calories, an extra tablespoon of mayonnaise is another 100 calories, etc. Sugary drinks and alcohol are also very high in calories (as mentioned earlier), so it’s best to avoid them completely or at least reduce your consumption in your day-to-day routine.
  • Remember you make choices, not rules. If you have too many food restrictions in your diet, it will eventually frustrate you and make you subconsciously want them more. Focus instead on healthy food you love.
  • Sleep well and drink more water (and stay consistent). The right amount of sleep and staying hydrated will help you manage your appetite better!
  • Don’t focus only on weight – it’s just one indicator among others – and track other healthful changes that may have happened, like your waist and hips circumferences. You can also use a smart scale to get more information on your body composition (% fat, % water, muscle mass, etc).
  • Don’t compensate your boredom with food and distract yourself – I give you a few ideas how in this post.
  • Be patient and realistic, things won’t happen overnight.

I think it’s pretty normal to experience a weight loss plateau at some point. The key is to not give up, weight loss will eventually resume, unless you’re doing something wrong without knowing… This is why I wanted to list the most common reasons why you’re not losing weight and how to overcome it. And if you constantly remind yourself of how far you’ve come, it should definitely keep you on track. Not everyone can succeed in changing their lifestyle for good, because it requires dedication, self-discipline, perseverance and resilience. Do you have what it takes? I know you do!

Big Girl x

Weight Loss Tips: How to Stay Motivated

you got this motivational quote

Yesterday I went just under 75 kg on the weight scale, which means I lost 10 kg since I decided to be healthier, 3 months ago. It’s an achievement in itself but it’s always easier to lose the first kilos when the motivation is at its peak. How do you stay motivated all along? It’s too easy to give up before you reach your goal, and even when you reach it, it’s quite hard to maintain your healthy weight in the long term. Look at me, I failed at it 3 times already. This time I won’t, but I still need to get there first.

1. Keep in mind why you’re doing it

It’s ok to want a slim body but a “healthy” body is more important in my opinion. Do you want to decrease your risk of getting type 2 diabetes? You know someone who suffered severe health conditions because of their weight and it made you realise how important it was to take back control? Do you want to achieve something that requires you to be fit, like running a marathon for example? Are you getting married and you want to look good in that dress? List all reasons you want to lose weight and write them down, keep them in mind at all times.

2. Have realistic expectations

If your goal is “I want to lose 10 kg in a month”, it would not only be unhealthy but you would go straight to failure. You can make small changes in your diet and lose easily a few kilos without making much effort. But if you want to aim to lose 1 kg a week, it will require more substantial changes in your routine so you need to know if they are sustainable in the long term for you. Losing more than 1 kg a week is probably not recommended anyway as you would put your health at risk.

3. Break it down to smaller goals

If you have a big amount of weight to lose, it could seem a bit daunting at first so it’s better to break it down to smaller goals and achieve them one by one. Look, if Adele did it, so can you! My ultimate goal is 60 kg but my next step is being under 70 kg by the end of November. I’ll focus on that mini target first as I know the ultimate goal is still a few months away.

4. Involve your partner

Or a friend, a roommate, a family member… Anyone who would support you and make sure you stick to it. When you’re in a relationship and you’re the only one who needs to shed some weight, it could be trickier. He eats breakfast, I don’t. He needs roughly twice the number of calories I need just to maintain his weight. There are other ways to support you than sticking to the same weight loss journey.

My fiancé is terrible with gifts for example… Rather than being upset about it, I choose to have a laugh and use it to keep me motivated in this journey. I like useless stuff anyway, so we agreed he would buy me a small gift each time I lose another 5 kg. It’s a bit like when I was a kid at school and the teacher gave me a gold star sticker when I did something good. It’s not about the quality of the reward, but the fact that you’re getting one. I still have 15 kg to lose, which means another 3 rewards to look forward to!

rewards for weight loss

My rewards so far: Bath bombs, Bear Hugs photo holder, “How to be British” guide *

* Slightly out of topic but this is an interesting and funny little guide, I will most probably come back to it in a future post to share some tips about “How to be British”. This culture fascinates me and clearly my fiancé still thinks I have some efforts to make in that area…

5. Document everything

Personally I keep track of everything, every week. I record not only my weight but also other important data such as: % body fat, % body water, % protein, muscle mass and metabolic age. I measure all this with a smart fitness scale that logs everything into an app (I use VeSyncFit but there are plenty of options out there). Finally, I also measure my waist and hips every week as they are also good indicators I’m heading in the right direction. Sometimes I look back at these graphs and it helps me realise everything that I’ve already done so far!

6. Choose the best way to achieve your goal

It’s probably a good idea to list all the things you’re doing wrong and what you think you can change easily. Sometimes it’s not about eliminate some foods or drinks completely but just limit their consumption, or find a good alternative. Based on your answers, consider what’s the best diet for you and commit to it. I’ve decided to go for intermittent fasting because it suits my lifestyle very well, I can stick to it easily and it’s also something I can keep doing permanently thanks to its many health benefits. This is absolutely not for everyone though, I’ll go through it in more details in tomorrow’s post.

7. Talk about it

You may think people don’t care about anyone else’s achievements but you would be surprised how many people are going through the same thing at the same time. You will also find a valuable source of information online by talking to people who will give you interesting advice. Don’t keep it to yourself, share it, talk about it positively and embrace it. If you were running a marathon, would you keep it to yourself? Well this is also a serious commitment that requires the same qualities to succeed: determination and discipline. And if you feel like you can’t do it all alone, seek professional help.

8. Be kind to yourself

Even if you fail, don’t be too hard on yourself. Failure is often part of the road to success. My Japanese mum raised me with this proverb from Japan that says: “If you fall down 7 times, get up 8”. It says it all, what matters is the final result. If one day, you really crave a big fat burger that contains more calories than your entire daily allowance, don’t punish yourself with low self-esteem. If you’re changing your lifestyle with the aim to better listen to your body needs, chances are your brain is going to deter you from the idea anyway. But remember it can take some time to adopt a new positive habit.

Do you have any other tips? How do you stay motivated yourself?

Big Girl x