First an important caveat: I’m obviously not a doctor, so before you make any drastic changes to diet or exercise, talk to yours.
It all started with the results of a health check. I was really overweight after years of sitting behind my computer every day, not exercising, eating biscuits. I learned I was “pre-diabetic” with an HbA1c of 43 mmol/mol but I could turn this around completely if I lost a lot of weight.
For some reason, that’s all I needed to hear. From the next morning I decided to do something about it. Fast forward 9 months and I’d lost 110lbs/50kg! If I can do it, anyone can. Read on to learn what worked for me and hopefully get some ideas and inspiration if you are on the same page!
None of these items are essential, but this is my toolkit that has served me well and I believe key to my success in losing weight:
- Withings Body Scale
- iPhone 12 Pro
- Apple Watch Series 7
My toolkit, clockwise from top left: Withings Body scale, iPhone 12 Pro, Apple Watch Series 7 and the MyFitnessPal app.
1. Withings Scale
Every day I weigh myself as soon as I get up with the Withings Scale. I love this it syncs with my phone and gives a really clear indication of progress day to day. I feel this is essential so worth the investment, although a traditional scale and a spreadsheet would work just as well. It’s not so much the tool but the habit of recording this every day.
I’ll admit, I’m an Apple fanboy no doubt, but the iPhone is fantastic mainly due to HealthKit and its integration with so many tools.
I have to say, this app isn’t much fun to use at all, but once you have a few days of meals added its easy to copy from previous meals, or add meals or recipes you regularly make. I still find it a bind to use this, but I’ve added every meal, every day for over a year, so can’t be that bad.
4. Apple Watch
Despite being an Apple fanboy as mentioned above, I really didn’t understand the watch or why anyone would want one. I received one as a gift a few years ago and never used it. I do like watches and wear a vintage Speedmaster, which also probably put me off the Apple watch. However… about half way through my journey I tried the Apple watch again. And its AMAZING. For tracking runs, walks, exercise it’s fantastic. Now I finally get it. And yes, now I wear two watches
It’s obvious. To lose weight we need to reduce the amount of calories we take every day. After some research I determined 1500 calories per day was my goal. (* Please talk to your doctor to see what’s right for you. )
When you look at calories closely, you really think.. wow.. 1500 is not much!! How on earth can I do this? It’s impossible I hear you say. I did too.
My general strategy was:
- Cut out carbs and snacks
- Plan ahead add cook my own meals every day
- Don’t eat after 8pm
- Track everything.
I’ll share my recipes and plan in a later post, but here’s an example of a typical weeks meals
A selection of lunches and dinners I ate this month.
1. Cut out carbs
This is pretty straightforward. I stopped eating any bread, pasta, rice, potatoes. I said “straightforward”, not easy as I really love all of those foods, but in fact its pretty easy to follow when its a simple clear rule like this.
2. Plan ahead add cook my own meals every day
This is the key to it all. It’s CRITICAL to plan. I know it sounds like a pain. I thought it would be, but very quickly you get into a rhythm and now after a year, I can’t even imagine not planning ahead. It’s amazing.
When you don’t plan, there’s that “whats for dinner” moment, and you may not have healthy things to hand and its so easy to slip up and eat something that you shouldn’t.
When you DO plan, its so great, you just go to the kitchen, and make a healthy meal. You have all the ingredients because you planned for it. As I type this, I’m about to go and make dinner. I’m excited because I know I have some salmon fillets and fresh vegetables. Honestly, this “just works” but you have to commit!!
3. Don’t eat after 8pm
This was my worst habit. Cup of tea, some biscuits or unhealthy snack. Every night pretty much. It’s so easy to just eat for the sake of it. I found it really helpful to get into a routine - maybe you’re seeing a pattern here, it’s really all about routines.
I was initially eating 2 boiled eggs for breakfast around 8am. A light lunch at 12 noon, and then dinner at 6pm. I’d also have coffee and tea through the day
After a few months I decided to try 16/8 intermittent fasting, so cut out the eggs for breakfast. It sounds crazy, but in fact, 16/8 means you only eat in an 8 hour window each day. It’s quite easy when you consider you’re asleep 7-8 hours. I still have a coffee first thing, and tea in the evening and technically breaking the rules - it works for me. Water is also your friend. When you feel a snack pang coming on, have a glass of water.
4. Track everything
For me this was key to a) getting me started and b) keeping me on track. You have to be tracking calories consumed, burned with exercise and weight to be able to understand your progress.
The good news is, if you’re really overweight and just starting like I was, the weight literally drops off! In my first week alone, I lost 4kg. This was so motivating for me it was impossible to ignore. When you really see impact its amazing. I’d lost 11kg in the first month, by which time I’d settled on maybe 7 or 8 different dishes I could cook really quickly and really enjoy.
I’ve never enjoyed exercise, and the pandemic was an excuse for me to rarely get up or go anywhere. Walking is easy though, but I usually need a reason or a destination in mind to get up and do it. I started to walk to get coffee every day. Then went to a further coffee shop. This really helps with the weight loss and is close to zero effort.
After a few months planning meals I started the couch to 5k, and have even become a regular runner, but I have to say walking was a major help on my health journey.
Initially I thought it would be almost unthinkable to lose just 20kg, so that was my goal, but as I blew past that I raised it and settled on 50kg as the “impossible” goal. Once I hit it, I celebrated with a pain au chocolat with my morning coffee, and the odd bit of chocolate, but I’ve really found since changing my eating habits, I don’t have the urge to go back
As I type this I’ve added 6kg (13lbs) back, but been stable at this weight +/- 1kg for the last 4 months. I’m still eating the same meals, still running 3 times a week, and still doing the 16/8 fasting.
If you want to know more, ask some questions or just chat feel free to email to DM me. My contact details are here