It has been just over a year since I begun my weight loss journey, one that I never thought I would be able to pursue. Severely overweight, unhappy and verging on the border of constant depression, losing weight was the only option I had left; do it, or face a number of diseases in my early twenties.

When I was younger, food for me was a way to enjoy the sweet things in life. I loved ice cream, cakes, chocolate – a sweet tooth’s heaven in a basket. It wasn’t until I turned 18 that I realised how much damage I was doing to my body, to the one thing that would get me through the rest of my life.

It took me 18 years to realise that my body was an engine that needed healthy food to keep working at its optimum level. I rarely had energy, exercise was a walk around the block once a week, and a “healthy meal” was a kebab wrap with lots of fat and simple carbohydrates. I was digging myself into an unhealthy food hole that I never thought I would be able to get out of, but one year on I have become a completely different person, and here is how. 

Eating

The serving size was reduced, increased in number of times per day and diminished to chicken and salad. I ate three eggs (no milk OR toast) scrambled, then on occasion I would eat a bowl of porridge with chocolate whey protein powder. 

At around 10:30am I would have a protein shake which was something to keep me going for the morning. I was busy running around university so it was great to have in between lectures. 

“…losing weight is all about setting yourself up for success, planning meals ahead of time will make it convenient and easy.”

Lunchtime would be 150gm of chicken, a little bit of wholemeal cous cous, lettuce, tomato, red onion, capsicum and spinach. After my gym workout at around 4 or 5pm I would have another protein shake and around 7pm I would have the chicken meal – minus the cous cous.

That meal plan went on for approximately six months, and combined with enough exercise (weight lifting and cardio) I lost 30kg. This will not work for everyone, as everyone is different – an overused term but when it comes to losing weight, it couldn’t be more true. What worked for me, or your friend, or your sister’s friend’s mother, may not work for you.

The first eight weeks really hit me hard, I was constantly struggling with conflicting emotions and not believing in myself. I was tired, worn out from gym and inevitably hated what I was doing. I don’t know what happened this time, or why I kept going, but once I and others saw change to how my body looked, I just kept going.

Cravings were a big thing for me, I sometimes snacked on “bad food” whenever I was bored, so this time round I knew I had to stop myself. Shoving things down your mouth because you’re bored is probably one of the worst habits to break out of. But sure enough, for some reason I did, something kept me going. 

Meal planning

Cooking three days in advance and putting all my meals in plastic containers made it incredibly convenient and easy for me. Wherever I was I could usually find a microwave to heat up my chicken and add my salad to mix it up. 

“…if I ever was feeling down about my progress or how I looked I turned to family and friends for support and words of encouragement. I needed that support to keep going and pursuing my goals.”

What I’m eating now

Though my weight sometimes jumps up and down by a few kilos as I haven’t lost all the weight I want to (I have lost 40kg and plan to healthily lose 50kg) I am still eating healthy and nutritious meals that give me lots of energy.

By losing weight I have changed my whole perspective on life itself and the wonderful food I am so grateful to be able to consume on a daily basis. I am incredibly lucky to have been born in a part of the world that allows me to purchase clean, nutritious food that gives me energy, vitamins and minerals that help my body function daily.

“…never, ever give up. You are stronger than you think and you have more willpower than you know. If you put your mind to something, create smaller, achievable goals with one large goal in mind, things may become easier.”

Now I am able to appreciate the food around me and the different flavours the world has to offer. Vegan and vegetarian meals that I never thought I would eat have become appealing and fun to make at home. 

Often I have very large breakfasts, 3-4 eggs, a glass of juice every third day and a wholemeal piece of toast every second day. For lunch I have gone back to eating chicken, a serve of cous cous, salad (including lettuce, tomato, brown onion, spinach, broccoli, peas and corn) with soy sauce and lemon for flavouring. Dinner is the same with a little less cous cous, (I have found that eating a lot of carbohydrates in the evening tend to slow me down and leave me feeling groggy in the morning). 

“…a fit and healthy body isn’t going to happen overnight. Cliché as it may seem but good things take time, you have to be willing to put in the hard yards to reap the benefits much later down the track. Trust me….It’ll be worth every minute of it.”

Eating healthy & exercising properly will achieve results

Exercise for me was always something I would dread. I played netball and surfed a lot as a young girl but it never really stuck with me. I would struggle to run 500m without puffing myself out and giving myself an asthma attack. Now I am to walk our local hiking trails three times a week, which averages to around 21km if I’m feeling energetic.

Going outdoors and not being stuck in a gym all week has been a perfect break from weight training and something that I felt my body really needed. Though I still do weights, my regime isn’t as repetitive and only do 15-20 minutes every second day.

In a few weeks I will be going back to weight training for another 6-8 months of pursuing my goal of losing 50kg, something I hope to achieve either by the end of this year or the middle of next. Breaking a larger goal down into much smaller goals has helped me significantly.

Saying to myself, ‘I want to lose 50kg’ was a goal I wasn’t willing to tackle. However, saying to myself ‘I want to be able to lose 2 kg this month’ is a more achievable goal for me, as it’s not an overarching goal that feels like a noose around my neck. The big goal is there but I rarely look at it, it’s the smaller steps that I am most proud of. 

I compare this goal setting and achieving to little pebbles on a big hill. Your big goal is to get to the top of the hill, but you need to walk and climb over the little pebbles to get there. Goal achieving is all about having the right mindset, and as humans we tend to work better with things on a smaller scale. 

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