Thursday, 15 January 2015

My Big Fat Weight Loss Journey - Part 2

If you haven't already CLICK HERE for part 1. You'll find a little bit of background on why I decided to lose weight and the gruesome before pictures that haunt me! They also serve well as a reminder of what the old me looked like, I won't ever go back to that!

In my first post I told you that I wasn't happy at the weight I wasand I knew I wasn't healthy but didn't care enough, until I was going to be a wife and mother, to do anything long term. This is all true, but that's not to say I've never dieted before. I've dieted since I was around 15 and I've tried everything! There was slimming world, weight watchers, slim fast, I signed up to the gym, counted calories and I've even done those 'Drop two jean size' magazine diets. Although the numbers on the scale would drop by a stone, sometimes two, I'd soon get disheartened that I'd eaten well for two weeks and wasn't a size 8 yet. I'm one of those people who want everything yesterday and I was exactly the same while dieting.

I would try, sometimes harder than others. I'd stick at it for a few weeks or even a month. But it wouldn't be long before I'd go back to my old eating habits, the diet diary would be binned and the gym membership would be cancelled.

What was different this time?

Apart from everything in part 1, I started to really be bothered by my appearance. From the age of 16 I've hated every photo in existence of myself from the neck down. I hated ALL photos of me once I was in my 20's. I looked like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka only not quite so blue.

What Diet did you use?

I started out in July 2011 using the Cambridge Diet. In basic terms it's a low carbohydrate, high protein diet where you are limited to shakes, soups, meal bars and some more recently added meals that weren't available when I was on Cambridge. It works by getting your body in to Ketosis, i.e. you don't eat enough carbohydrates for energy so your body has to burn off the fat stores instead.

You work your way from Step 1 through to Step 6. Step 1 is obviously the lowest calorie diet and step 6 is the maintenance step. As you loose weight you adjust the amount of products you have, introduce more foods and eventually carbohydrates in to your diet. Essentially I was too fat to start at the beginning on Step 1. It would have been too dangerous for me to cut down to the 440 calories a day that diet required. So I had to start out on Step 2, 810 calories a day.

What did you eat on an average day?

Breakfast - The Apple & cinnamon porridge or a banana shake
Lunch - Vanilla shake
Dinner - Chicken, Prawns, Egg or Quorn Sausages with cauliflower & broccoli
Desert - Chocolate Shake
Drinks - 3 Litres of water a day. 2-3 cups of coffee.

How much did you lose?

Initially I lost just over 5 stone. However by the time I quit the Cambridge diet I was at a 4 stone 3lb diet. So some of the weight lost was regained.

What were the hurdles you faced?

  • Christmas. I took a few days off and quickly gained over a stone. It became apparent to me that if you didn't work your way up the steps and off the diet that even a tomato would affect your weight loss. I lost the weight I had gained and more, but my faith in the diet had been shaken.
  • Surgery. I had surgery in February and had to come off the diet for a short while during my recuperation. Although it was only for three weeks I regained two stone. I had been off the diet long enough that I found it very difficult to return to such a strict diet.
  • The cost. It was costing me £40 a week at a time I was saving and budgeting for our wedding. I decided to call it a day on the Cambridge and find a cheaper way of loosing weight.
  • Negativity. I had a lot of people whispering in my ear that I would be carrying my excess skin down the aisle if I lost much more weight. That I was loosing too much. It got to me. Enough to eventually stop the diet.
How did you lose the rest?

As already mentioned I'm currently at a 9 stone loss. As I lost 4st 3lb it's clear I lost the rest in some other way. I did that by downloading My Fitness Pal. It's an app that has a huge database of different foods and their nutritional information, not just calories, but protein, salt, carbohydrate content etc.

I input my height, weight, goal weight and how much weight I wanted to loose a week. It told me how many calories I could eat a day and I set about inputting my meals each day. For the last 804 days (as of 11/1/2015) I have input every single item of food, every calorie I have consumed in to the app. I've allowed myself treats and days where I have gone over my calories a little, but every day I keep track of what I've eaten. 

Why don't you take a day off?

I'm often asked why I don't take a day off from inputting all my meals in to the app. Especially when I continued to do so through pregnancy. There are two reasons I don't stop tracking my food.

  1. Even if I have a day off, or a treat I want to be honest with myself. For many years I told myself I was just unlucky, I only had to look at food and I'd gain weight. Obviously that wasn't true. I was in denial. So if I keep track of what I've eaten even on my off days I can't pretend I've "been so good this week and not lost any weight". 
  2. By keeping track I am learning about portion control. I am learning what a normal sized portion of virtually every meal I have ever and will ever eat looks like. It will help me when I reach my goal and hit the 'maintenence' stage of this new lifestyle. I will be able to stop using the app with full confidence I know what I can and can't eat.
What does an average day look like now?

Breakfast - Honestly I forget breakfast way too often these days. But on the days I remember I have either two pieces of toast with clover or mornflakes porridge oats made with semi skimmed milk.
Lunch - Either scrambled egg on toast (not if I had toast for breakfast) or a tortilla wrap with chicken and a garlic salad dressing, a banana and some yoghurt. 
Dinner - Fajitas or meat filled pasta or meat of some sort with vegetables, potatoes or rice.
Snacks - fruit, yoghurt, the occasional packet of crisps or sunbites 
Drinks - coffee, juice, coke zero
Treats - On rare occasions I allow myself a bag of wine gums, marshmallows or a bar of chocolate. I eat the bar/bag slowly portioned out over a few days until it's all gone.

Hurdles Faced
  • Pregnancy #1. I increased the amount I was eating but continued to log my meals. I was determined not to eat for two. However sadly the pregnancy didn't progress past 12weeks and I had a little battle with my self to keep on track. Copious amounts of Ben & Jerrys were consumed. I got back on track by continuing to log every item of food and found it gave me a sense of control at a time where I felt a total loss of control. This taught me to adopt a sensible attitude to food that I will be able to maintain for a lifetime.
  • Pregnancy #2. The first 12 weeks were full of scans and scares. It was very stressful and although I didn't diet, I found it very difficult to find the balance of eating well. I wasn't hungry due to the stress and for the first time ever had to force my self to eat! 
  • Breastfeeding & having a newborn. I was constantly hungry and ate ALOT of food which my midwife assured me was normal for a breastfeeding mother. However sometimes I would forget to eat and drink in the foggy early days where your head is full of questions like, when was his last feed, when is the next feed due. Resulting in a bit of a binge when I did finally remember... it was difficult to find the balance but we got there in the end.

Weight Loss?

Since using the app I have lost a further 4 stone 11lb, putting me at a total loss of 9 stone so far.

Would you do it differently if you had your time again?

That's a tough one. I am by no means bashing The Cambridge Diet and in some ways I think it's a good diet. Especially if you don't have as much weight to loose as I did. I don't think, knowing what I know now, that I would opt for Cambridge again. For me personally it was too restrictive.

That being said Cambridge gave me my life back. Although I didn't stick to it until I reached my goal it taught me self control I'd never had before. After such a strict diet, calorie counting was easy peasy! It gave me a kick start and my consultant was amazing. She gave me confidence to believe in myself, and if it wasn't for her I think I'd be sat here probably fatter than before, crying in to a tub of ice cream.

As for Myfitnesspal. Yes I would do that time and time again. I've learnt portion control and gained an awareness of what I put in to my body. I don't know why calorie counting never worked for me before, but I'm assuming the combination of the kick start Cambridge gave me and the ease of finding any food I eat in the app was what made it work this time. 

How is dieting going at the moment?

It's not coming off as quickly these days but I'm genuinely OK with that. No I don't have the time to worry over every food choice I make, I'm busy enjoying being a mum and making the most of what's left of my maternity leave.

That being said I am determined that by the end of 2015 I will have reached my goal weight and the additional 2st 6lb will be gone, and gone for good. I think once I'm back in work this will actually be easier. In work I found it so much easier to drink large quantities of water (which I'm a firm believer definitely helps with weight loss). 

So what is the plan?

  • Continue to use MyFitness Pal. It's worked so far and it's really teaching me portion control.
  • When I get to my target weight I will use it for a while to help me adjust to maintenance but then I need to stop relying on the app and learn to trust what I'm eating without counting every calorie. 
  • I plan to reduce the treats. Over Christmas I didn't gain any weight, but my calories were made up of a lot of treats and not a lot of nutritious food. 
  • I'm useless at eating breakfast so my immediate goal is to make sure I have breakfast every day.
  • Increase my water intake. I drink little to no water most days. I need to get back to my 2-3 litres a day.
  • Reduce my coffee and carbonated drinks intake.
  • Increase my exercise. I get out and walk with Baby R in the pram quite a bit at the moment, but want to start doing something to tone up. Also when I'm back in work I won't get to walk as often so will need to make an effort to walk around the local area in my lunch break where possible.

So I guess this is kind of a New Years Resolution. Beat the bulge once and for all! I will keep you updated on my progress and hopefully sometime soon I will be happy to announce I hit my goal weight!

As always, thanks for reading! xoxo


  1. Wow, you're a real inspiration. I read your other post with the photos as well, I'm so impressed! I agree that my fitness pal is great. I've used it before and may well do so again if my current healthy eating doesn't work.xx

    1. Thank you for reading both posts and for the kind comments! I love myfitnesspal. Its just changed how I think about food xx have also asked hubby for running shoes for my birthday eek! Me run!? Crazy talk :) lol xx

  2. Rachel - completely with you when you say "I'd soon get disheartened that I'd eaten well for two weeks and wasn't a size 8 yet". This is me! I am currently in week 2 of my #drop30 challenge and I am actually doing alright this time. I think having a clear goal is helping me.
    Really great to read this post. We are the same - I have around 6-7 stone I want to lose. Really great reading your post and I hope you get to goal by the end of the year xx

    1. I think it's definitely helpful to have a clear goal, a motivation and the right frame of mind is key. You have all three in check so I'm sure you will keep going and definitely hit your #drop30 goal!! Thank you for reading and leaving such a lovely comment! I hope I get there too! So far I am just lingering on the same weight I've been for about a month. Better than gaining but not quite what I hoped for!! Need to up my game plan and chuck in more exercise I think! xx

  3. Hun, you have given me that extra push I needed to actually physically start making the changes I need to make to lose all this excess weight that I've actually been too afraid to even admit I was carrying. So thank you so much.

    I used to use MyFitnessPal before I was even married, before any of the babies because it is the only thing that was effective in helping me stay focused and fit. Personally it is the only thing that would work with me because all these other diets and things just wouldn't suit my lifestyle.

    I am happy to report that as of Monday I have been using it (secretly...I am just so ashamed to admit I'm losing baby weight from baby 1!!!!!!!!!!) and I have increased my physical activity to work alongside it, so thank you (and Mummybexm for her amazing progress too) for inspiring me to get back to getting myself back!

    Sal xxx | UmmBaby

    1. Sal, wow! I'm really glad my post has helped you. I know it's hard to admit sometimes that we aren't fully happy with our weight, but you should be so incredibly proud of your body for giving you three beautiful girls. Now is the time for you to take some time to make you feel better and if that involves myfitnesspal great, I will be eagerly following your progress!!

      I too find myfitnesspal the only thing that works for me. Everything else feels too temporary and I'm not able to keep up with. In to my third year with the app and still going with logging my daily food intake. That's remarkable for me. I used to give up so quickly.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. It really means so much

      Rachel xxx