I was asked a while ago to write a guest blog on the Safefood website. (Link Here) This is what I came up with, sorry it has taken me so long to post it, but I’ve been neglecting the blog. I’ll try to rectify that as much as I can…
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time” – Thomas Edison
One year on, 35kg (about 5.5st) lighter, 1 marathon , 4 half marathons and over 1000 miles run in training, that’s a complete lap of Ireland!
Nobody would have thought any of those labels would apply to me when I first stood on the scales back in January 2012, least of all me. But they do apply to me and there is no reason why they can’t apply to you. I’m not saying you have to get up and train for a marathon, what I am saying is that I passionately believe that everyone has the power within them to make a change.
My success isn’t a secret, I’m happy to tell anyone that listens; I lost weight on Operation Transformation and afterwards due to commitment, honesty and hard work. I have my struggles, every day presents a new challenge, but the main consideration is that with the support of others and the knowledge I have collected throughout the year I continue to live by 4 simple rules.
1. Be honest
This is rule number one, and the most important one. I have to be honest about my motivations to lose weight, be honest about what I eat, be honest about the effort I put into my training and especially, to be honest to my family. I want to turn off the light at night knowing that I can look anyone in the eye and say I gave 100% today.
2. Understand the issues
I worked on finding out where I ate the most, what I ate and why I ate it – this is where a food diary comes in very handy. It’s not a huge exercise, but just write down everything you eat and when you eat it. I was astounded at how many calories I consumed through constant snacking or grazing throughout the day. Then at night, I would attack the treat box like there was no tomorrow. Only by understanding when and why we eat can we work on fixing things.
3. Understand food
We are bombarded daily by mixed messages of what’s good & not good for us in our diet. We don’t need to get scientific over things but we do need to use some common sense. Learn to read the back of the packet. My first evil is sugar and I try to avoid this wherever possible. Fat is not all bad, you will find that many low fat products are high in sugar so by learning to read the packets I can balance out the two. Know where your calories come from and control your portions, both really important.
4. Understand exercise
This one is simple – you cannot lose weight without exercise. It is a simple balance of calories in, calories out. Your exercise must be strenuous enough to make you just out of breath. That can be taking the stairs instead of a lift, jogging for 1 minute and walk for 5 or whatever, but just get your heart and legs moving. If you’re going to start an exercise plan, consult your doctor first and then start slowly, you will be much more likely to keep it up.
Finally, I’d like to bust a few myths we’ve all heard around the whole weight loss lifestyle.
1. Eating healthy food is expensive
I’ve seen no difference in my weekly shopping bills whatsoever; in fact I’d say they have decreased. I find it essential to make a meal plan for the week and buy for those meals only. I buy my fruit and veg twice a week to make sure they are fresh and I’m not throwing them out. Cooking your dinner from scratch using fresh ingredients means you know exactly what is in your meal.
2. It takes too long to cook healthy food
Having a meal plan means I know what I have in the cupboards and I know what I have to eat. Each morning before work I get all the relevant ingredients out and they are there ready for me to use when I come in; there is no waiting around, wasting time thinking what’s for dinner. From closing the door to dinner on the table is never more than 45mins.
3. Healthy food tastes bland
I have discovered more tastes, flavours, herbs, spices and different vegetables than I knew existed. Curries, lasagnes, bolognaise, stews, fish pie, the works – none of them can ever be classed as bland.
4. I’m always hungry
Part of the issue of weight loss is that sometimes people cut down on their food intake in order to cut down on calories. I’m probably eating more now than I ever did; but I’m eating the right food. If you restrict food so much, your body will start to store everything it gets as it doesn’t know when it will be fed again. If your body understands that it will get fuel every couple of hours, it burns it off and doesn’t store it. Snack on healthy food, I’ve eaten an apple and a pear in the time it has taken me to write this!
5. Exercise is hard
Yes it is, but it gets easier. I promise. My first ‘training’ session in January 2012 was a 30 minute walk. And I agonised over it. Now, I run 10k in my lunchtime.
That’s about it. It’s not hard, but it’s not easy either, I still snack & I certainly still eat fast food, but it certainly is in moderation and I balance it with exercise; I wish everybody the very best with your efforts, there are huge amounts of resources available to us all on the safefood website, and the Operation Transformation website will have the recipes and exercise plans online for the year so there is no excuse!
Thanks for reading!