...Little servings of thoughts coming your way...
Just what is it that I did to lose weight? I am often asked this so apart from resetting my mind-set, working on my habits like drinking water, listening to my body which I have already covered I will tell you some of the things I did over the months to lose weight. Before we talk about what I did I want to highlight some things that I consider important to remember.
Weight gain and the way we get ourselves into this position.
When we are young we are often not alerted to and not taught about the fact that throughout our adult life we gain on an average estimate about 0.5kg per year and so by the time we are in midlife we could have often gained at least 5 to 10 kg; when we reach 60 years old that adds up further… and so on.
Normally it is not because we are gluttonous or don’t have self-control so it is not about guilt tripping ourselves. It is a subtle flaw of our lifestyle and no body warns us about it. We have access to energy rich foods that outstrip our needs and so we gain weight continuously from when we are young adults onward (or when we become more sedentary and our metabolism slows down). Gaining weight is inevitable unless we are cognizant of the problem. Until we have the mental shift of recognizing the problem that we have to eat consciously to make a difference we will continue with the weight battle as it is problem that is always going to be around – there is no cure. Our supply of food beats our demand for energy.
We train our children by sending them to the tuck-shop to buy lunch (most often it is unhealthy processed foods) and we grab a quick pre-made meal or sauces from the shops on our way home because we are too busy or too tired and we go out to restaurants, most commonly, eating rich meals for entertainment. There is no chance of avoiding all the hidden sources of unhealthy fats and sugars. Ironically when we eat unhealthily we are guaranteed to be more tired, have less energy and end up being sick and burned out. It is in treating our bodies well that it will be able to support us through life.
We are all vulnerable to gaining weight if we are not aware that what we eat matters. The quality of our food and how we eat is as important as how much we eat. We all know about eating less, counting calories, exercising, and diets in general but my most important changes were: (1) when I eat and (2) the quality of my food, by which I mean: eating non processed foods made in my kitchen. “Clean and whole foods” is a term for it if you are looking for terms. You can have a look at Dani Spies Clean & Delicious for inspiration. She has many tips and recipes for people who are wanting to eat like this and lose weight. In many cultures we have become accustomed to refined sugar and grain flours; and also processed proteins (vegetable or animal matter). The cultures found in the Blue Zone* and the Mediterraneans can be researched for inspiration.
So it is important to limit what you eat but more importantly what you limit and this brings me finally to how I lost weight.
Small achievable steps.
It was in small steps that I achieved losing weight. Here are the steps.
- Reducing refined carbohydrates and sugars:
At the beginning of the year I first cut out refined carbohydrates and sugar; I continued to eat fresh vegetables, fruit and a small amount of protein (Eggs and fish) and avoided processed oil but ate nuts and seeds. The only reason for this at the time was because I had become very ill and I felt most able to eat these foods. I then noticed over the two weeks that I had lost 3 kg so I was inspired. I continued to listen to what my body wanted and needed from my food.
- Introducing Intermittent fasting:
Soon after that I added intermittent fasting or time restricted eating. (This is a huge topic which I will not attempt to cover but if you are interested it is well worth researching). My decision after researching was to use 16/8 approach where for 16 hours of the day I aim not to eat and for 8 hours I eat healthy, clean and unprocessed food of no more than a certain amount of calories (I do this most of the time). I eat a whole food healthy breakfast consisting of berries, seeds, nuts and oats and a main meal for lunch and then I finish with a healthy snack (or a tiny portioned supper). I try to stop eating by 6pm and resume eating again at 10am the next day. The aim is to not even have milk in my tea or coffee after 6pm and then the next day not before my breakfast at 10am. The times can be modified and if you are interested in intermittent fasting I encourage you to research the topic for yourself and make up your own mind.
- Increasing Fiber
Another very important change I made was aiming to eat a daily amount of 30 grams or more of fiber. We, as modern humans, have the opportunity to eat much more refined oil, fats, sugars, and carbohydrates that contain little fiber. Our ancestors ate much more fiber than us and I believe for a healthy gut microbiome (fungi and bacteria) we need to feed our gut microbiome with fiber. Something I recommend you research too. I get my fiber mostly by consuming vegetable oils in the form of nuts and seeds; fruit and vegetables; and whole grains and pulses.
- More Oily fish
I eat a lot more oily fish such as rainbow trout, kippers, sardines and salmon and less red meat.
Once I had been confirmed that I was pre-diabetic I was advised by my doctor to cut the carbohydrates down to between 50 to 70 grams of carbs a day. To achieve my aims I use the app fatsecret where I can track my weight and what I eat. It works out how much carbs, fiber, protein and fats I eat. I never used to eat chocolate but now I eat high quality low sugar chocolate every day (like 85% dark chocolate Lindt). I limit myself to a ration per day.
To sum up when I used the intermittent fasting I lost approximately 100g a day and when I added lowering the carbs to 50g to 70g a day I began to lose between 200g and 400g a day but I found it was not sustainable for too long so I did it for 6 weeks and then went back to intermittent only and I alternated these two steps over a 4 month period. Once one has lost the desired weight the next step is to learn to maintain ones weight. I am currently at a point where I have attained my short term goal and I am practicing maintaining my weight and in January I plan to lose more weight until I am at my end healthy weight goal.
I view food as giving health or taking it away. It is our choice as what we put into our bodies. I believe in small incremental steps and education through research. Knowledge is power. Preparation is half way to succeeding. I will be posting on planning and preparation in the future. When one’s life is curtailed by weight issues and you are told that your life will be shortened because of your pending illnesses (which might be avoided through a healthy lifestyle) it becomes very important to change ones way of living. Understandably it isn’t always as easy as that though; otherwise we would all change our ways overnight. It is attained through patience, persistence and self-respect.
Much love, Morag.
*More about Blue Zone:
You can view my other posts on Weight Matters: healthy living and weight here: