I've been told by a lot of people recently that I should do a proper thread about weight loss, because there are many who could benefit from some motivation. For a long time, I shrugged this off, because I didn't know who would want to learn from me- someone who was just another person trying to lose weight. But from posts that I made on another forum, I learned that for some reason, people seem to like my story, and it seems to encourage them to make changes in their own lives. I will use plenty of spoiler tags in this, so you can simply read the bit you're interested in, and ignore the rest of it.
If there is anything that you'd like to know that I haven't covered, please feel free to post your questions below and I will add them to the thread whenever I can. It's important to me that I answer everyone's questions, as I wish that I'd had someone to do that for me when I first started.
My name's Gemma. I'm 21, and live in a town near Liverpool. I had a perfectly happy childhood, my family are lovely, we had lots of holidays and fun times. I went to school, did well, got my GCSEs and A Levels, then went to University to study Psychology. I finished my degree in May 2012, and am now working from home as a freelance research writer for Prospect Solutions, whilst saving up for an MSc which I hope to start in September 2013.
My Weight Loss Story.
I've always struggled with my weight, right from being born. For some people there is a specific event that happens in their life that makes them gain weight, but for me it was a steady journey right from birth. I don't know if they have a BMI chart for babies, but from the second I was born I was overweight, and never experienced being a normal weight until I was 21 years of age.
I always liked food, and I suppose I would use that to make me happy. Of course I was never particularly unhappy as a child, but I learned that food was a reward and something to be enjoyed, and as a result of that got into the routine of eating rubbish. My family would always eat three square meals per day, with cakes for dessert after lunch and dinner, and always something to snack on in the evening. I wasn't always obese, but definitely overweight, usually weighing the same amount of stones as my age. I know that this happened up until the age of 18, when I stopped weighing myself.
My first year at University was awful for me. I put on a lot of weight because I ate that much food. I was suffering from binge eating disorder, which meant that I couldn't stop eating when I was on my own, and I estimate that I must have weighed 20 stones at some point. When I moved out of halls, I managed to lose a bit of the weight, but still had no idea how much I weighed because I would refuse to weigh myself.
In December of 2010, something snapped inside of me which made me realise that I needed a change. I was absolutely fed up of not being able to climb the stairs without getting out of breath. I would always hate going shopping, and would make excuses not to go out with my friends because I knew I'd have to get dressed up, which was something that I hated. I decided that I had to lose weight, and I had to make sure that I was going to stick with it this time.
I made the decision to do a sponsored slim for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, as both my best friend's daughter and a friend of mine have/had (my friend died in March of 2011) the disease. I aimed to lose 20lbs in the five months between January 2011 and May 2011, and managed to lose 26 pounds in that time, and earned just over £400 for the CF Trust, which I was very pleased about.
Although I was still a size 16 at this point, I'd proven to myself that I could lose weight, and I was happy that I had finally managed to succeed in something. I just knew that I wasn't going to go back to the way that things had been before. So, I set myself diet and exercise regime (covered in the next few sections) and decided that, quite simply, I was never going to stop until I had got to the weight that I aimed to be.
Other than a few occasions, such as Christmas and Easter, I have never had a week where I haven't either stayed the same weight or lost. I've never relapsed, and never given up. Of course, I've had days where I've thought that I might give up with it all, but then I remembered why I was doing this, and decided that I should definitely keep going.
Now, a year and a half onwards, I am 94 pounds lighter than my highest recorded weight although, as discussed above, I was definitely heavier than this at some point. I have gone from needing a size 22 (probably should have been higher, but was in major denial so refused to buy anything higher than this) to needing a size between 8 and 12, depending on where I'm shopping. I know you all want to see the comparison photo, and to know how I did it, so I'm going to shut up, and move on to the next section.
Starting Weight: 20 stones 3 pounds.
Current Weight: 11 stones 6 pounds.
Height: 5 foot 9 inches.
The first thing that I will say is that if you're looking for a miracle cure, I don't have one. I have never been on a "diet" as such, I have made changes to my lifestyle which have meant that I've been able to lose weight.
The first thing that I would recommend is that you sign up to MyFitnessPal.com. On there, you are able to record your weight, your diet, and your exercise; and you're able to set goals for your weight loss. It is an excellent resource, and you can find pretty much every single food in their database.
Losing weight, usually (and almost certainly if you're overweight) is a simple equation of calories in versus calories out. If you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight, and it is as simple as that. Of course, there are some foods that are better for your body, but it is up to you which health benefits you want to prioritise.
I started by eating 1,200 calories per day of the food I would eat before, but just in much smaller portions. Then I learned that if I changed the foods that I ate to lower calorie foods, I would be able to eat more food for the same number of calories (if that makes sense). I went from eating fry ups, sandwiches, takeaways and snacks to eating cereal, fruit, yoghurts, veg, meat and other healthy options. When I was more happy with my weight, I began to increase the number of calories that I was eating because I knew that I no longer needed to lose weight as quickly. Eventually, you should be able to gradually increase your calories to the extent that you're able to maintain your new and healthier weight.
I also cut out all drinks apart from water and a cup of tea in the morning. This was because I see liquids as a complete waste of calories. They don't fill you up, but could still make you gain weight. If you can't drink water on its own, then you can get squash that has no calories in it, but pure water is the best thing for you.
If you're struggling to think of how you can change your diet, you could make a diary of your eating habits for a week, and you should then be able to see quite clearly where you could make changes to improve your health.
A lot of people get a bit intimidated by the thought of exercise, because you don't know how to do it or where to start. The thing that I always remember is that ANY movement, no matter how small, uses energy. Therefore, adding small things into your every day routine can allow you to burn the calories that you need to in order to lose weight.
For me, I started by making sure that I did 10,000 steps per day. I bought a pedometer, which are available for as little as £2.99 on eBay, and started walking. A lot of phones have them built in as well, so that might be something that you could save money on as you already have it. NHS recommend that doing 10,000 steps per day is adequate to keep you healthy, with no other exercise. However, a lot of people don't manage to find the time to spare to do this, which is why they might try other exercises which would burn calories quicker.
Running is an excellent way to lose weight. I couldn't even WALK for more than a couple of minutes, let alone RUN, so I was nervous about starting. Initially, I would go on my Wii Fit and go on the "free jog" for 10 minutes, taking a few seconds to walk if I needed to every so often. I managed to build this up to 30 minutes by the end, but still needing to stop a few times. This is much better than walking, as it can burn the same number of calories, but much quicker. If you can, you should run outside as soon as possible, as you will then be able to record your own progress.
If you can't run, then the NHS Couch to 5K programme might help you. It's exactly what it says on the tin- you can go from being a completely couch potato to running 5K in as little as 8 weeks. If you find that you're struggling with the programme, there is nothing wrong with repeating weeks several times if it helps you.
Exercise DVDs are good because it means that you get a good workout without having to leave your front room. There are many workouts available on YouTube if you don't want to buy a DVD, and a quick search will tell you everything that you need to know.
I find that exercising with friends can be great. If you can, find someone who will run with you, and maybe sign up for a race together. Swimming is brilliant if you can do it, but I understand that if you need to lose weight then you might not feel comfortable in the water. This is something that I am still trying to overcome even though I'm now a completely normal weight.
You should also try to make healthier choices in your every day life. For example, if you're working in an office block, try taking the stairs instead of the lift whenever you can. If you take the bus, then try getting off a stop earlier each time. The calories burned will build up, and will make a difference.
A few months ago, I started making little "rules" to try and encourage me to be more active. For example, every time I wake up in the morning I have to do 10 sit ups, and every time I get to the bottom of the stairs I have to do 10 star jumps. It might not seem like a lot, but it's just enough to get your heart beating. I love using my stairs to do step ups on, putting my music on and jogging up and down on the bottom step. That gets my heart racing after just a couple of minutes, and you can go faster or slower depending on what level you're at.
Keeping Yourself Motivated.
Setting goals is hugely important. If you have a lot of weight to lose, it won't work if you don't set yourself somewhere to go. You should set yourself small targets of perhaps half a stone a time, and then reward yourself when you manage to reach that target. It's important not to use food as a reward though, as you're trying to train yourself out of that kind of mind set!
Taking photos of yourself is a good way of being able to see the progress that you're making. It's sometimes hard to tell whether you've lost weight or not, as the changes are so gradual in the mirror, but taking photos of yourself every month would help you keep track. You should also keep physical measurements of your body, for example your waist, hips and thighs, as you might find that you're able to track your progress better that way.
Search online for weight loss success stories, and you will find plenty to keep you going. There are lots on Tumblr and MyFitnessPal which are truly inspirational, and there have been times that I wouldn't have been able to get through if it wasn't for them.
If you struggle being able to exercise, then music can be a lifesaver. I find that when I put my music on nice and loud through my headphones, I am able to cope with exercise a lot better, and it can make me feel nice and upbeat when I didn't think it would be possible!
How long did it take you to lose the weight?
I started in January 2011 and am just losing the last couple of pounds now, so about 18 months from start to finish.
Were you left with any loose skin?
No I wasn't, but I was lucky. Many people are left with loose skin after losing weight. You can maximise your chances of avoiding it by losing the weight slowly and by exercising as well as just using diet control. Although you might not be able to avoid it altogether.
Do you never eat unhealthy snacks?
I'm only human, I eat unhealthy things all the time. If it fits in with my daily calories, I eat it. The difference is that now if I'm having chocolate I will only have a couple of squares instead of a whole bar like I might have done in the past.
If you have any questions, please post them below, and I will add them to this section as and when I have the time.
I understand that this might not appeal to everyone, but if you're not interested please just leave. I don't usually bother about being negged, but I spent quite a long time on this thread so it's bit annoying when people just neg and run (although obviously I can see who you are).