Diet Challenge

What I Learnt From This Challenge

So you are probably wondering two thing

  1. How much weight did I lose?
  2. What did I learn from this cut?

Lets start with the second question of what did I learn.

First thing to remember is that six weeks is actually not that long when you think about it, but I learnt and experienced a lot during that time. My main goal was to lose weight but on top of that I wanted to show that you could lose weight while still having a life and eating out. And I did just that. Every week of this challenge I ate out for dinner or lunch, some weeks more than others. I also had other obstacles that presented me with challenges; a business trip to London, a girls sleepover, a Eurovision party, a 1st birthday party, many a networking event, a spa day with afternoon tea and a weekend out with my boyfriend and his family. So here are the main lessons I learnt over the six weeks;

  1. Listen to your body
    When food is put in front of you, particularly snacks, always listen to your body. Sometimes just because something is put in front of us we eat it even when aren’t actually hungry. I learnt this most of the time at networking events and courses where they provided coffee with biscuits/cake. I realized that every time I was going for a biscuit I was just doing it out of habit even when I didn’t need anything to eat. I started to think about how the calories from those biscuits could have added much more to my lunch or evening meal that a quick snack. So next time you are handed a snack or extra portions, take just two seconds to stop and think “do I need this?”, “am I actually hungry?”
  2. We use food as a comfort and a reward
    When I went for my spa day with my mum this was the first time I realized this. Because we have had a pretty crazy few months my mum treated me to a spa day which included a boozy afternoon tea. This afternoon tea was my mum’s treat to me. I couldn’t not eat it as I knew the effort that my mum had gone to plan this day for me and how lucky I was to be in such a beautiful setting. The next time a similar thing happened was on me and my boyfriends anniversary where he gave me flowers and then all my favorite sweet treats from M&S. I thought this was so sweet but again all I could think of was “Oh no, I cant have that!”. He had gone to such a nice effort to find my favorite things but again this was a classic case of rewards and showing love through food. I think this is something we need to get out the habit of as we can show our affection or reward someone through actions rather than food.
    It’s not just a reward we use for, its a comfort too. We have all done it. It is the classic scene from Bridget Jones when she turns to the Ben & jerry’s after she breaks up with Daniel. We see food, mostly unhealthy food as a comfort when we are sad. I think this is something women often use as an excuse when in fact the tub of ice cream doesn’t make us feel any better, in fact more often than not it will make you feel worse and now not only are you sad but you are bloated. I experienced this when I got my first bad review for my book, my immediate thought was that I wanted ice cream, cake, chocolate, basically anything sweet as in my head I associated that with feeling better. Luckily, there wasn’t anything too dangerous in my house, instead I gorged on peanut butter and caramel rice cakes (I know so exciting and scandalous). but whatever the case I was looking for comfort in that food. Instead of thinking about all the positive reviews I had got all I could do was focus on this one bad one and the fact all I wanted was a cookie. After my binge I felt even worse. This was when it hit me. As a massive fan of the biggest loser I am used to watching the emotional scenes where the contestants realize that because of a family tragedy they use food as a way to comfort themselves. I never classed myself with being in the same boat as them, but that day I realized I was just the same. So I have decided that I need to change this association, next time I am feeling sad I will look to doing something fun like exercise or seeing a friend, rather than turning to Ben and his pal Jerry.
  3. Habits can be broken
    This was one I learnt when I went to the cinema. I have always associated going to the cinema with having a pick n’ mix. I have done my whole life. So much so I think I go into a state of autopilot when I get into a cinema. It was at the point where sometimes I would look forward to the pick n’ mix more than the movie. So going to the cinema in the second week of my diet I knew this was going to be a tough one. But I managed to walk right past, get into the screen and really enjoy the movie. I didn’t feel like anything was missing once the movie started. As we all know in the cinema we experience mindless eating, so mindless that I in fact did not miss the sweets while the movie was on. I broke the habit. And let me tell you, once you have broken it once, that’s you for life.
  4. What some people class as healthy is not!
    During these six weeks I have become much more aware of what restaurants constitute as healthy and in a lot of cases they are no where near. So many places count their light healthy options as bowl of creamy soup with a double cheese and ham panini. That is a lot of food and a lot of melted cheese, not particularly healthy! Also just because something has the word salad in does NOT mean it is healthy. The worrying part is that because so many of us know no better we believe what the menu is telling us and order what we are being told is ‘healthy’ and then wonder why we are not losing any weight. However, not every restaurant is like this I found that Nando’s, Zizzi’s and even Pizza Express have some great and delicious healthy options.
  5. Don’t be afraid of the phrase ‘on the side’
    When I think of that phrase I always think about the movie ‘When Harry Met Sally’, but I am not asking you all to be as extreme as that. Instead I want you to think, we pay so much money to eat out all the time yet for some reason we are scared to ask too many questions about the food or make changes to how it is served. We shouldn’t be. Restaurants would rather you enjoyed your meal and came bad than didn’t say anything and complained or bad mouthed the place. One of the biggest lessons I will take from this is not being afraid to ask to change the side or to get more detail as to what comes with the food. So many times on this diet I have order something which I think will be a healthy choice and then a side of chips ahs appeared from no-where.
  6. If we don’t have something we will start not to miss it
    For the first few weeks of this challenge I cut out all sweets, cakes, chocolate etc. I was strict on the meal plan and I was so focused on it I didn’t actually miss the all those things. I was feeling healthy from everything I was eating and didn’t want that to go away. But then came the weekend where we went out with my boyfriends parents for a Mexican dinner. It was great because I thoroughly enjoyed the dinner but then the next day all I wanted was that unhealthy food again. Then after my boyfriend bought me some of my favorite sweets for my anniversary, I started craving sweet stuff after I had a taste again. It was like out of sight out of mind, but the minute it was back in front of me I couldn’t stop. Sweet stuff became all that I craved, it was so annoying. When I do this cut next time I will know that this is the case and will not make the same mistake. The stricter you are the better results you will get and the less you will crave those treats.
  7. A treat is called a treat for a reason
    The minute you stop having treats on a regular basis they start becoming a treat again. This weekend I have been on my break from the cut as I am going to go back on it again next week. However, this weekend I have thoroughly enjoyed every bite of my food as I am enjoying them they way they should be, as a treat. So if there is something you truly love, like for me pick n’ mix, then avoid it for the six weeks and then have it when you are done. I can guarantee you will enjoy it more than you ever have and you will not binge on it as you appreciate the calories involved and know when to stop after the six weeks.
  8. Life gets in the way
    Sometimes we just have no control over the food options in front of us, wither that be a wedding, a set menu event or even a holiday breakfast buffet. That is life. Don’t starve yourself, just try to make smart choices and enjoy your meal. One trick I like to do is to eat all the veg on the plate first, then the protein and then take a small break. If you are still hungry then this is the point to eat the carb side. I can guarantee it will stop eating the whole basket of chips.
  9. Don’t beat yourself up
    If you do have a slip in the diet don’t view that as the end. Whenever I used to do yo-yo diets the minute I messed up the plan I would think “well what’s the point now, might as well have that whole pint of ice cream”. NO! This is not the way to think. Just log what you ate (trust me that might be shock enough) and then get straight back onto the plan. Don’t sabotage yourself. We can be our won worst enemies and so often we listen to that wee evil voice in our heads too much. Just get back on the horse and don’t let one small slip ruin everything. We are all human and have weak moments. I know I did during these six weeks and I will again, that’s life. But as long as we get straight back on the plan after then the damage will be minimal and we will feel better the next day.

So there we go, those are the nine lessons I learnt about diets, healthy eating and giving into temptation over these six weeks. I managed to lose weight and inches all while still having a life. I also never cut out alcohol which I know is something many people would frown upon when doing a diet but I love my wine so that was never going to happen. However, I did work out almost everyday as that is part of my work and something I love. I had a program from my trainer, attended bootcamps and went to a variety of gym classes.

The fact that the plan is six weeks and you know that there is an end in sight can be a great motivator and keeps you on track for the time. But don’t worry if you have moments of weakness, just take a moment and don’t be your own sabotage.

And trust me if I can do it, then so can you.

Now to the end results:

  • Weight – 142lbs – Total Loss = 8lbs
  • Waist – 28 inches – Total Loss = 2.5 inches
  • Hips – 38.5 inches – Total Loss = 1.3 inches
  • Thighs – 22.8 inches – Total Loss = 0.2 inches
  • Top of arms – 10.5 inches – Same
  • Mindset – bring on the next challenge

I am really happy with this result for only six weeks. I know that I could do better though as my willpower went down a little towards the end of the challenge. Below is a little before and after for you, there isn’t a dramatic difference but there is a difference. (I know I am more tanned in the after one and we all know a tan makes everyone look better, but that was not me trying to cheat the camera).


So what is the next challenge?
I am going to continue this cut after I have had the weekend off for the next 5 weeks. But my main next challenge is to be able to do a pull-up. I am going to be tracking my workouts, giving you little video updates and lets see if I can smash this next challenge.

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