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

5 Effective Ways To Lose Weight With Intermittent Fasting

intermittent fasting for weight loss

I’m sure you’ve heard about what recently became a health trend: Intermittent fasting. It’s claimed to cause weight loss, improve metabolic health, and perhaps even extend lifespan, among other things. But the only thing I can personally confirm is the fact that it does help with weight loss. For me, it also improved my relationship with food in many ways. It’s important to mention it’s not right for everyone though. If you’re underweight or have eating disorders like anorexia, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, if you’re under the age of 18: this post is not for you. And if you have a medical condition like diabetes, it’s best to talk to your doctor first. Otherwise, you have no excuse not to give it a try and see what happens!

1. Choose the most appropriate plan for you

First of all, consider choosing an intermittent fasting plan that best matches your lifestyle and can be maintained for the long-haul. For example, some plans will be more or less easy to sustain depending if you have a 9-to-5 office job, if you’re working on shifts, or working from home, etc. It needs to be a plan that doesn’t prevent you from having a social life either (especially when lockdown is finally lifted). Among the most popular plans:

The 16:8 method

  • Eat only during 8 hours a day
  • Fast for the remaining 16 hours of the day
  • You can define your own “feeding window” (you could for example skip breakfast everyday or eat dinner really early)

The 5/2 diet

  • Eat normally for 5 days a week (i.e. your recommended calorie intake)
  • Reduce your calorie intake to only 500-600 for the other 2 days
  • You can pick which days of the week you want to fast

Eat-Stop-Eat

  • Fast for 24 hours, once or twice a week
  • You can pick which day(s) of the week you want to fast

Alternate day fasting

  • Fast every other day
  • An easier version would be to reduce your calorie intake to 500 calories on fasting days

The warrior diet

  • Eat very little during 20 hours a day (mostly small portions of raw fruits and vegetables)
  • Then eat what you want but only during a 4-hour window, at night

2. Drink a lot of water when you fast

No matter what plan you choose to adopt, remember to drink lots of fluid when you fast! Keeping yourself hydrated is extremely important. Water is of course the best option but you can also drink tea or coffee if you like, as long as you don’t add milk or any form of sweetener in it. Some consider it’s also fine to have calorie-free flavoured drinks but I would still avoid them, to guarantee a clean fast.

3. Dissociate fasting and starvation

The idea of fasting can be scary for some, but I think it’s important to remember fasting does not mean starving. The main difference being: starving is not a choice, it’s an involuntary absence of food that can lead to death. By fasting, you choose to avoid food (whether it’s for spiritual, health, or other reasons). It’s about taking control and learning how it actually feels like to be “hungry”. You’re unlikely to faint because you’re simply hungry… And hunger usually passes like a wave, you just need to learn how to ride the hunger waves. Don’t you think food tastes so much better when you’re hungry anyway, rather than when it’s simply “time to eat”? If done correctly, fasting shouldn’t cause suffering or lead to frustration. If that’s the case, pick another method or reduce your fasting window.

colourful fruit bowl vegan

4. Make the calories count

When you eat, do it well! Intermittent fasting is known to focus on when you eat rather than what you eat… But combining the two is always ideal. Binge eating junk food during your “feeding window” is not going to do you any good. It will only teach your mind that your reward for depriving yourself is to comfort eat. That’s why it’s so important to stay in control of what you put in your body.

When it’s time for you to eat, treat yourself to foods you like, preferably the ones packed with nutrients. Be sure to eat a balanced diet comprising fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Some foods will help you feel full for longer. Planning ahead will help you to achieve that: you’ll always make better choices if you’re well prepared. Remember to treat yourself too (not more than 10-20% of your total food intake) and you’ll be just fine!

5. Adopt your plan as a new way of life

Last but not least, the key to success is to adopt intermittent fasting as your healthy lifestyle, not for the short-term only. Personally I adopted the 16:8 method, which to me means I don’t have breakfast. I feel like I have more energy in the morning thanks to that, my body is not busy digesting a meal I don’t really need. I can focus more on my tasks, without feeling lethargic. Sometimes I extend the fasting period by a few hours (like 18:6 or 20:4 instead of 16:8) if I feel I can easily do it. Your body goes deeper into ketosis and focus on burning fat after 18 hours of fasting. I feel more in control, I have a better routine during the day and it prevents me from eating unnecessary evening snacks too.

Intermittent fasting gives me consistency and I’m now very close to reaching my weight goal! I’m sure it will help with weight maintenance too. If you find the idea too complicated, there is still the option of doing spontaneous meal skipping. The rule couldn’t be easier to follow: just skip a meal if you’re not hungry for example. I know you’ve heard all your life to never skip a meal but it’s just a myth! Simply listen to your body.

Big Girl x

Poll Results: Your Favourite Topics on the Blog

[Poll Results] Your Favourite Topics on the Blog

Last month, I asked you to vote for your favourite topic(s) on the blog, multiple answers were allowed. First of all, thank you to everyone who voted! It showed me that all categories and topics I love writing about are relevant to you and that matters a lot to me. It’s also interesting to see that no specific theme really stands out: the 5 of them received more or less 20% of the 134 total votes. Today’s post is the perfect opportunity for me to recommend my own top 3 articles for each category. Let’s go through the poll results below!

1. Mental Health wins with 21.64% of votes

I think this year has put a strain on mental health, which at least has had the positive consequence to make it less taboo – it has become a very important topic in our every day life! I have so much to talk about on the matter, how mental health changes our behaviour and how to prioritise wellbeing before anything else. Self-preservation is not selfish, it’s absolutely necessary to be happy and let go of what we can’t control. Within this category, I would recommend reading the 3 posts below:

2. Weight Loss is a close second with 20.90% of votes

According to the posts that received the most likes so far (featured on the sidebar as your favourite posts), this is the most popular category by far… It surprised me it didn’t have the majority of votes on the poll but it was very close! After reviewing the blog, I decided to put weight loss and mental health categories under a more generic one: health & wellbeing. It makes more sense as they can be very intertwined, one can influence the other and vice versa. The 3 posts below are my personal favourites:

3. Environment is just behind with 20.15% of votes

This is a huge topic for me as it’s probably the one which made me want to create this blog in the first place: how to help save the planet. I think 2020 has been the year many people started to open their eyes about how quickly we’re destroying our environment and how it’s still time to act before it’s too late. Good news is we have a lot more control than we think on all this, starting with our diet. It turns out both our own health and the planet are strongly impacted by our food choices. If you haven’t already, see these 3 posts for example:

4. Travel is next with 19.40% of votes

You could argue this category is less related to self-improvement compared to other topics but to me, it is strongly linked. My most recent travelling experience had a big impact on the way I see things now. I believe travelling unlocks new parts of our brain that remain closed if we never get to see the world with our own eyes. Being on the road for several months on the other side of the globe was an experience that changed my mindset forever. Throwback to my 2019-2020 adventure with my own top 3 below:

5. Relationships is last with 17.91% of votes

The fact that this category is slightly less popular didn’t surprise me as it could be a bit more niche, especially wedding-related topics. I fully appreciate that my followers are not all (if any) currently planning to get married so it’s more difficult to relate. But this is also about other sort of relationships: family, friends, the rest of the world… Below 3 posts that are personal but yet very relatable:

Are you surprised by the results? Is there a post (or several posts) you particularly enjoyed reading? Let me know in the comments!

Big Girl x

Various Health Benefits of Matcha Tea, a Powerful Ingredient

Japanese matcha tea

I don’t remember how I discovered matcha but I’ve been a huge fan since. Matcha latte, matcha tea, matcha pastries, give me matcha in any way, I just love the earthy taste of it. Talking about the many benefits of matcha will give me the opportunity to talk about Japan indirectly, as this is where it comes from. With my Japanese roots (thanks mum!), I went to a tea ceremony in Japan when I was a kid and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was matcha… but at the time I probably didn’t like it. Japanese have been making and drinking matcha for centuries. I’m not saying it’s thanks to this ingredient alone but they have the highest “healthy life expectancy” in the world. They must be doing something right!

Various health benefits

There are tons of health benefits associated to matcha. What I like about it is the fact that you consume the entire leaf, unlike traditional green tea when you discard the leaves afterwards. The plant is ground down into a very fine powder, which is mixed in hot water (you need a bamboo whisk to dissolve it properly) before consumption. Because it contains the nutrients from the entire tea leaf, it results in a greater amount of caffeine and antioxidants than typically found in green tea. I would say it’s an acquired taste though, it’s probably a good idea to try it with some sort of sweetener first, until you get used to it. Here’s a few things about matcha:

  • It contains a concentrated amount of antioxidants (good to help prevent cell damage and even lower your risk of several chronic diseases), so including it in your diet is a quick and easy way to increase your antioxidant intake!
  • It contains 70 mg of caffeine per cup (1 teaspoon of powder), which is higher than a can of Coke (and much healthier). Caffeine can boost brain functions with faster reaction times, increased attention, and enhanced memory.
  • It helps speeding up metabolism to increase energy expenditure and boosts fat burning.

And that’s not it! See below all benefits explained by Full Leaf Tea:

health benefits of matcha tea

A must-have in your kitchen

I personally like matcha products from PureChimp, delivery is free if you are in the UK but they do deliver worldwide. I also like the fact that they are part of 1% for the Planet and give 5% of their profits to charities. They only use natural ingredients and they’re environmentally friendly with their packaging. I love it when a company wants to give people the best quality and wants to do good for the planet at the same time. Matcha is a great ingredient you should have in your kitchen anyway, I have tons of ideas how to use it! I like to add it as a flavour in my protein shake for example. But you could also use it as an ingredient for:

  • a hot drink (latte…),
  • a cold drink (frappuccino, iced tea…),
  • baking (cakes, tarts, pancakes, cookies, muffins, brownies… possibilities are endless),
  • dessert cream,
  • a smoothie (with fruits like bananas, kiwis, strawberries… anything you fancy),
  • ice cream (probably my favourite),
  • chocolate (yummy),
  • skin care (it has anti-inflammatory benefits, especially good for sensitive skin),
  • …do I carry on?

Matcha tea has become a trend recently and you can find it easily pretty much anywhere. You just have to watch the quality depending on how you intend to use it (by itself or as an ingredient). Any other matcha lovers among you? As it’s Christmas soon, a matcha gift box could be a good idea for tea or even coffee lovers around you!

Big Girl x