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✨ 9 years ago vs 2 weeks ago ✨ This popped up on my fb and was a nice reminder on an emotional Monday morning. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with life lately and a few things aren’t as I’d like them to be. Sometimes you need to take a step back and see how far you’ve come. I may not be where I’d like to be, but I am still miles ahead of where I started. Baby steps are still steps. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, if you don’t give up, you will get there.
Update Dec 2016 – Ngozi is still going strong and maintaining her 120+ pound weight release.
How have you maintained your weight loss?
I’ve maintained my weight loss by continuing to count calories and monitor what I eat. I do this using an app called My Fitness Pal. I generally aim to eat around 1500 calories a day and try follow a low carb diet. I aim to mostly eat protein, fats and vegetables. If I do eat carbs, I’ll stick to oats or sweet potato. I also exercise every day for a minimum of 1 hour. Exercise has helped more with strength and toning than weight loss per se. I have made it my lifestyle, so I am now just used to eating protein and vegetables in my meals, which tends to be lower calorie by nature anyway.
I mostly do cardiovascular workouts, but I also do a lot of interval training which is a great way to burn fat. I find that going to exercise classes at the gym is helpful in motivating me to exercise. I workout at home as well, but I think the classes have helped me to stick to my fitness regime. I don’t have to think about or plan my exercises and there is an instructor there to push me if I am not feeling particularly motivated. My favorite class is called Grit by Les Mills. Its only 30 minutes but it mixes weight training with plyometric moves in a High Intensity Interval Training format. I would recommend these classes, but it is not for the faint hearted!
What lessons have you learned on this journey? What stands out the most?
I have learned that you have to change your entire mindset and relationship with food in order to successfully lose weight. Diets help you lose weight but they’re not sustainable. You have to decide to eat clean for the majority of the time… basically for the rest of your life. You have to accept that indulgences will not be frequent occurrences as they were before, otherwise you’ll undo your hard work. The best thing I did was to educate myself about calories. Once I learned about the number of calories in different types of food, and also how many calories are burned when exercising, it really changed how I look at food. Eating a muffin and knowing that it would be 600 calories, which is 1.5-2 hours of high impact exercise to burn it off, made me realize it was not worth it. It makes more sense to eat a large salad with chicken or turkey for 300 calories. It is more nutritionally dense and more filling than eat ‘junk food’ or snacks would be.
At this point, would you offer any new or different advice to others who want to lose weight?
You have to want to lose weight, and you have to want to lose it for you. If you do it for an occasion or because of someone else’s opinion, chances are that you won’t end up following through or it won’t stay off. Once you make a decision that you want to be healthier or want to feel better about yourself, you will have the necessary commitment to make the necessary changes. Without the right motivation, you will always struggle to stick to losing weight or maintaining weight loss. You have to want it enough that you don’t mind if the weight loss is slow or if it fluctuates. No matter what you will stick with it or get back on the wagon when you fall off.
I would also highly recommend adding exercise into your regime. Food is more important when it comes to losing weight, but exercise can help speed this up. It also helps to change your shape and helps with issues such as excess skin if you have a large amount of weight to lose. I have found exercise to be extremely therapeutic. It gives you a sense of achievement and also gives you an opportunity to have non-weight related targets. You can set goals, such as 10 full pushups, 10 burpees, etc., that will make you feel proud when you reach them. You can then move the goal post so you’re always working towards something. Even if my weight does increase slightly… if I am still feeling strong or stronger than I did a month before, I don’t mind as much. I am motivated enough to continue with my regime.
Sept 2016 – Ngozi lost over 120 pounds. Our sista from London has been on her fitness and weight release journey for 5 years. She received a lot of negativity about her weight over the years, but never wanted to lose weight to please others. After a clothing related wakeup call, she decided to change her lifestyle with low carb eating and lots of exercise. Check out her journey.
My weight loss journey began properly in 2011. Before this time, I’d already been going to the gym for almost a year and had tried and failed at diets like Slim Fast and Weight Watchers. In 2011, I started a new job that required more formal attire. I went shopping with my friend, who kindly picked up numerous UK size 16 (US 12) for me to try on, but I knew I was bigger than that so I pretended I didn’t find anything I’d like. When I went home, I went online and ordered some clothes from Dorothy Perkins in UK size 22 (US 18). When they arrived, I couldn’t get the trousers over my bottom. Realizing I had allowed myself to become a size 24, I decided to start calorie counting and trying to lose weight.
Throughout my life, I had received negative comments about my weight. I was often told that I had a pretty face but that my body could use some work. I tried to ignore it and didn’t want to lose weight because of what anyone said. Seeing that my clothes no longer fit me and not wanting to wear a dress size that matched my age, I was shocked into doing something about my weight. I decided to weigh myself and found out that I was 19 stone (120kg/266lbs). At 5 ft 6, this gave me a BMI of 42 which was morbidly obese.
I calorie counted successfully for two weeks, losing 7lbs (3kg). I met up with a friend for dinner and she told me about a diet she would be trying herself, called the Cambridge Weight Plan [popular in the UK]. It was a ketogenic diet that worked by putting your body into starvation mode by restricting calories and causing it to convert existing fat into energy. I contacted a nearby consultant the same night and within two days, I started the diet. I set myself a target weight of 10 stone (57kg/126lbs). I would lose between 2-5 lbs a week on this diet and within 10 months, I was down 9 stone (57kg/126lbs).
In addition to the diet, I would go to the gym 3-4 times a week, using the treadmill, bike and step machine to burn some calories. Because of the way the diet worked, I couldn’t over do the exercise so it wasn’t too intense. I aimed to burn 300-400 calories during my time there. I downloaded an app called ‘My Fitness Pal’ which allowed me to track my calorie intake and expenditure. Even though I was on a diet plan, I liked being aware of these things and it was something that I would continue to use up to now.
After getting to my target weight, I came off the diet and began trying to live with a low carb lifestyle. I continued going to the gym 4-5 days a week and would do 1-2 classes each time I went. The classes included spinning, aerobics, body pump, box fit and toning classes. This mostly worked but over the years, my weight was slowly creeping up. I would usually notice when I got to around a UK size 12-14 (US 8-10) and would try to cut back again to lose the weight.
In 2015, I realized that I was probably a UK size 14 and my weight was steadily increasing despite a healthy diet and regular exercise. I still used My Fitness Pal, but I would often not input all the food that I had consumed that day, pretending to myself that I was eating fewer calories that was the reality. I decided to be 100% honest with the app, even if it meant that I went over my preferred calorie limit for the day. Over the years I had worked out that I needed to consume a maximum of 1500 calories a day in order to maintain my weight. For most people, they would lose weight at that level but I had a very slow metabolism. I started using the app more efficiently and would also track my macronutrients, which allowed me to be more aware of the amount of fat and carbs I was having daily.
I decided to keep following a low carb lifestyle, as I know that this is the best way for me to lose weight or maintain. I put on weight very quickly when eating carbs (e.g. bread, rice, pasta etc). I also made a decision to exercise every single day. This meant working out at home on the days when I didn’t go to the gym. I started this in May 2015 and by October 2015, I was in a UK size 8-10 and had muscle definition that I could only have dreamed of. I became the strongest and leanest I have ever been. I was able to wear the clothes that I bought when I reached my target weight of 10 stone (140lbs/63kg) back in October 2011. But I found that most of the clothes were actually too big for me. Not only had I lost weight, but I had actually lost fat which changed the shape of my body. I still make a conscious effort to do a cardio workout every single day and in May 2016, I congratulated myself for going a whole year without missing a single day of exercise.
I no longer weigh myself as I developed an unhealthy obsession in 2011 which lead to disordered eating. I am still a UK size 8-10 (US 4-6) and do a high impact workout every day. I do at least 2 classes every time I go to the gym, which is 4-5 days a week. I never exercise for less than 1 hour a day and usually get up first thing to work out.
My daily food intake consists mainly of protein and vegetables, making sure I incorporate good fats from oily fish, nuts, etc. I will occasionally allow myself to have sweet potato or some rice, but not too much as it affects my body. If I want to snack, I will eat almonds, fruit, rice cakes or low calorie treats by Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers has an amazing range of treats that are good for satiating my sweet tooth, but they also allow me to maintain my low calorie and low fat options. I continue to use My Fitness Pal every day and feel that counting calories has been very effective in losing and maintaining weight. Being aware of how many calories are in what I am eating, and being able to picture how long it would take me to burn off when exercising, really makes me think more smartly about the food that I eat. I also have had a Fitbit for 18 months which encourages me to walk more whenever I can. I started going to work earlier so I could walk instead of taking the bus.
I would advise anyone wanting to lose weight to make sure they decide to do it for them. When I was doing it because of comments other people made or for an event, it never worked because the motivation was wrong. It wasn’t until it meant something to me that I finally found the determination to do it myself. I would recommend calorie counting and just being educated about food stuffs so you can make smart decisions. And regardless of how much/little you want to lose, I am a strong advocate for adopting exercise into your life.
Fitness has changed my body and my life. I find working out therapeutic, and I love how strong it makes me feel. Regardless of my dress size, when I am working hard in the gym or at home, I feel proud of myself and like I have accomplished something. Making myself stronger and healthier has been more rewarding to me than the aesthetic side of weight/fat loss.
Find something that suits you and decide to make it into a lifestyle rather than a diet. Find something sustainable and enjoyable so that your day to day living contributes towards your fitness/weight goals. Form good habits so that after a while, you won’t even have to think about what you’re doing, it will just become your new normal. Weight loss is a journey and most likely will be a lifelong one. There are no shortcuts or easy fixes, but if you know why you’re doing it, hold onto that reason and it will keep you going. I still have my struggles, but I know it is worth it.