Do you know what you eat in a day?
I mean, do you really know what you eat in a day?
Weightloss is not the only reason that people use a personal trainer for – there are many factors, but I know from my own personal experience that it is often the initial trigger when deciding you want to get fit and be healthier - you either see a number on the scales you don't like, clothes feel a little snug, things aren't as easy as they used to be.
You don’t become overweight overnight, in the same way that you don’t become fit overnight. One cake does not make you fat, one workout doesn’t make you a fitness fanatic!
I know firsthand that addressing the way that you eat is not easy. 5 years ago I was sat on a sofa for hours a day, eating cake every day, binging on Midget Gems, takeaways, chip shop dinners, chocolate – it’s not surprising that I saw 16 stone on the scales.
I didn’t get to 16st just from having a child, my school blazer was always a size 16, the only time I can remember not being a size 16 is when I lost weight back in 2011 to get married – I followed WW and got down to a size 12, but as soon as I started eating “normally” again, I put all the weight back on.
So how do you address it?
You have to be honest with yourself. You have to be honest about what you’re actually eating. And I mean really honest.
Whether you decide to write down what you’re eating or you start using an app to track your food (MyFitnessPal has been on my phone for years now), it is the only way that you are going to discover how much you’re consuming and you need to know this so you can find out how to make changes to help yourself lose weight. And please, do not be embarrassed or ashamed when doing this, it's the start of being able to make a big difference to your life.
Generally speaking an average woman needs 2,000 calories per day and 2,500 calories for men.
Calories are in everything – food and drink – a calorie is a unit of energy, you’ll find calorie contents on everything in your cupboards – check the labels, they’re even really good and tell you how many calories are in a portion.
By knowing how much you’re eating that’s when you can begin to see where you can make changes – because if you want to lose weight, then you’ve got to change something. You know, if you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got (another one of those clichés that's annoyingly true).
The basic maths of weightloss is that to lose 1lb of weight in a week you need to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories per day. That’s the maths – 1lb is equal to 3,500 calories.
Tracking your food will allow you to see where these calories come from.
I tend to find the obvious for a lot of people is cutting out some of the snacking – especially what I like to call “Crap Sugar” – sweets, cakes, biscuits…it’s not to say don’t ever eat them ever again, but if you’re having a 400 calorie Millionaire Shortbread every day and a small pack of Haribos…guess what? There’s your 500 calories per day without having to change anything else.
Look at your portions – all packaging has information on what constitutes a portion and if you measure your food out (pasta, rice, cereal, cheese) you’re likely to be surprised as to what your body actually really needs against what you’ve been putting on your plate.
This isn’t a criticism of what you have been doing. I never judge anyone for their eating habits because I’ve been there myself, but what I do want to be able to do is show that you can change. You really can change habits of a lifetime, you just have to be prepared to stick with it for a while and to go back to it if you slip up.
Weightloss should always be done in a measured and sensible way. I don’t particularly like fad diets simply because they aren’t sustainable, but I do appreciate for some people they’re a bit of a kickstart to a habit – which is fine if you’re then prepared to be more sensible when the fad stops.
By simply eating less and moving more you can make sustainable changes, changes that you end up not really noticing, changes that you don’t really resent and changes that soon become part of your new lifestyle.
It seems daunting at first, I can remember feeling really embarrassed at the state I had let myself get into – physically and mentally – even now I’m still an emotional eater because I always have been, I just have better ways to get on top of it and not sink into binging.
Give it a try – just a few days logging what you eat and drink, keeping the 2,000/2,500 calories per day in mind, I promise you’ll find really simple ways to make positive changes.
Here are a few that spring to mind for me:
* The chicken nugget you pinch of your kid’s plate!
* The extra half a biscuit you take when you have a biscuit in the morning, followed by the other extra half a biscuit you go for in the afternoon!
* The 2 sugars in your tea.
* The small handful of sweets you grab from the cupboard on your way out (4 or 5 times a day).
* The glass of wine with dinner and the top up.
* The odd mint that you take from a packet (every hour).
* The bottle of fruit juice.
* The big bowl of ice cream after tea every night in the summer.
* The handful of crisps you pinch as you open and pass them to someone else.
* The big dollop of ketchup on your plate – does it need to be that big?
* The cooking oil – do you need as much as you use?
* The 2nd bottle of beer at night.
* The handful of pasta that you add to boiling water – have you tried weighing it to see just how much you’re really having (bearing in mind the calories differ on the packet between dry and cooked pasta).
This is the thing…everything has calories in them – some a lot higher than you’d imagine and it’s often the innocuous ones that you can change, really quickly and easily without even really missing them.
I know on the list I didn’t include fruit and vegetables – they aren’t calorie-free, but I think we can all agree that they are good calories, they have the vitamins and the minerals your body needs. Sugar is in fruit, so you still have to be mindful of overconsumption.
So there’s the best place to start. Being honest with yourself. Seems really straightforward doesn’t it? Really obvious. I wish I’d twigged years before that it could actually be this simple, it was only through educating myself about food, making the changes and then seeing the results that it made it worthwhile continuing.
I don’t eat cake every day like I used to, I choose to have a Nakd Bar (a bar of fruit that tastes of cakes), I haven’t had a Midget Gem since 2015, I choose sweet potato chips instead of regular chips, I don’t buy big bars of chocolate to have in the fridge. I choose to do this because it makes me feel good.
I am happier (and healthier and fitter) being able to buy clothes in a size 10/12, I am more confident. I’ve learnt that it’s ok to say “no” just because other people are doing it. Ultimately I respect my body because if I give it better stuff I know it’s in a better position to keep me going and let's face it, that's pretty important!
So be kind to yourself. Don't let it overwhelm you, start small, even if it's a few changes to start with, allow yourself to make new habits and let the old ones phase out - see it as positive changes and that way you'll be more willing to make them and make them last. x