When it comes to leading a better quality of life, we all have a journey, a story to tell, one that most can relate to… including mine. I am not searching for empathy or a pat on the back, nor am I trying to be your go-to health-nut guru. I’m just trying to express my views, my personal account of the pitfalls and harsh realities of weight loss and healthy living; an account that not everyone is capable of or willing to divulge. So, before you judge a book by its cover, let me tell you about some very candid personal truths.
I too can empathise with you…if you’re trying to lose weight…trying to find a balance of diet and exercise, or mindlessly eating without reflecting on the contents of your food. You may not believe it to look at me now, but I too have overcome my own personal demons and moved on with my life.
I’m someone who could put on and lose weight fairly easily- if I put the effort into it; whether it is eating too many snacks, having frequent/large portions or exercising 4-5 times a week with sensible meal planning. Genetically speaking, I am predisposed to a number of ailments….but so is everybody else…but this doesn’t mean that my health or future is completely mapped out.
Avoiding type two diabetes, heart disease, stroke and obesity is in my hands; I do not wish to live a life dictated by chronic illness and prescribed medications.
As our blog has mentioned before, we all have to take personal accountability; there is always a price to pay for lack of awareness and ignorance. Obviously one shoe does not fit all… but we can all take similar steps to lead healthier lives; as we’ve mentioned in a previous article in January.
There were periods in my life where my weight yo-yoed. I’ve never been clinically overweight or obese, but my BMI was 24.5kg/m2; the cusp of being overweight. Some may think that it’s not that significant, but the revelation of deciding to change is the same…no matter what weight you are.
The truth is a bad diet, lack of exercise, or trying to out exercise a bad diet wreaks havoc on mental and physical health…and I was caught up in this vicious circle like all the other serial dieters…up until about my mid-twenties.
During this time I tried these types of diets/ideas:
-A Very-Low Calorie Diet (VLCD)
-High protein, low carbs (or more commonly known as ‘Atkins’)
-Loads of exercise, low calorie but a high protein intake
-A Smoothie/juice cleanse
I don’t need to tell you that these types of fad diets are all rubbish and some are potentially dangerous… and for good reason. Obviously this was before I saw sense, took responsibility and of course when off to university to study human nutrition.
I took a dogmatic approach towards health, an all or nothing view, and I could never find a healthy and happy medium; a common mind-set I’m sure.
I am not even going to try and justify why I attempted any of these regimes… because I can’t and equally I know the reasons why these diets did not work; I didn’t and couldn’t comply with them (especially long term) and I did not educate myself on portion sizes and general healthy eating. I just bought into the same hype a lot of young health-enthusiasts do, e.g. carbohydrates are bad, don’t eat after 5pm, everybody juice! and your body needs to be detoxed; nonsense. These types of myths and poor insight still exist which fuels similar diets; check out our article on gluten free diets.
I also bought into media images; this was before the massive trend of social media and the dreaded skinny selfies…and perhaps there was less fat shaming and instant victimisation of those that were not a size two as a result, perhaps not? But I think that seeing any picture of yourself (fat or thin), or of a thin celebrity, when your mindset is that skewed can bring it all home and produce black and white thinking; creating distorted body images and a shit storm of dieting. It’s funny though, when I look at some of those pictures now- I wonder what I was complaining about?!
None of these types of behaviours or drastic thinking sat comfortably with me, and taking my health into my own hands without being properly informed only meant one thing, doomed to start again! Whether that be in a week, a fortnight or in a month’s time….and I don’t know about you, but I was tired of it and completely aware that it was my own fault. I needed to take a step back and analyse ‘what was the driving force behind my behaviours’… what steps did I need to take in order to change… and who do I turn to for some sound advice?
When it comes to weight loss, there are some that say “I’ve tried everything and nothing has worked”…well it’s because they are going about weight loss the wrong way and potentially they’re not dealing with any underlying (personal) issues. The dynamics of weight loss and good nutrition isn’t complicated, but humans are… by nature we can over complicate everything! If more of us would just comply with our healthcare professional’s advice, we would see results…this might sound trite, but it’s true; sadly (healthy & permanent) weight loss won’t happen overnight, and it takes complete compliance and most of all patience…so don’t be too hard on yourself.
As I have mentioned in a previous article, there are too many reasons to be fit and healthy, but ultimately it’s just easier to take the whole healthy lifestyle approach and just run with it! No more fad diets, no more excuses.
From June last year my husband I started to adopt a vegan lifestyle, but we still ate fish on occasion; that aspect has now diminished. Doing this really helped give my whole outlook on food (ethically and medically) and my health a ‘full 360°’; I never thought my digestion would improve so much, or that I would be able to get off the unpleasant ‘sugar-train’… and now I have. If you’re worried that your vitamin and mineral levels will decline, then don’t. A recent blood test showed my iron and Vitamin B12 levels were thriving; plant-based lifestyles are sustainable! Check out our article on Plant-based proteins for more persuasion and read our articles on Supplements and ‘Superfoods’ before you part with your cash! I’m not saying that this type of approach is suitable for everyone, but countless studies offer evidence to support it. Check out our article on veganism to help you digest some further reasons why people might adopt this type of lifestyle. As always, everybody should consult with their health care professionals before making any drastic changes to their health.
As far as healthy eating goes and what foods to buy- everybody has their own individual considerations. Social media, time, cooking skills and affordability can all dictate and influence what we will choose to buy, e.g. buying ground flaxseed may be expensive to some but not for others…and that goes for just about anything on the supermarket shelves.
…But I’m telling you right now, everyone can eat healthily on a low-income. We did it when we were students and we do it now because we’re frugal and trying to prevent food wastage! The ‘frugal diet’ can put everything into perspective. Try checking out some of our recipes!
Plant-based diets are relatively cheap; on average, we spend £50-70/week (and I’m sure we could reduce it further if we tried). This feeds two people (three meals and one a snack a-day/ 7 days a week). As long as you meal plan, then there really isn’t a problem…and hey, anything to prevent food wastage right? BBC1 has recently started a miniseries on healthy eating & food wastage (Eat Well for Less?); assisting families with how much they spend on the weekly shops by encouraging them to do more of their own food prep (and therefore improve their health), eliminating brand biases (sometimes value brands are OK!) and reducing their food wastage through meal planning; very apt and things everyone should reflect on. It’s also worth checking out thecountyfare.net, they have written a great article recently that touches on meal planning; definitely worth a read. What’s in your supermarket basket? Are you making the most of you pennies? Do your current choices depict your current health status? That reminds me of a post the Life is Good blog put out last year; check it out!
I know, sometimes jumping through these hoops is quite mundane, especially when it comes to chopping vegetables and potentially spending a chunk of your Sunday prepping for the week ahead…but it is worth it in the end.
It’s the same with exercise, it’s something that we should all partake in…but do you opt for more sitting and serial munching or walking and eating healthily? Your waistline and your overall disposition will reflect your choices. A recent article I saw on the blog ‘The Zeit‘, emphasises how we all should have a healthier relationship with exercise; don’t use it as an escape from your problems. By doing this, exercise can fast turn into a chore and a military style punishment…but I was guilty of this. Guilty of pounding the pavement to forget or suppress unpleasant feelings or events…. Pounding the pavement (at times) to try to out exercise a bad diet! I started running when I was nineteen and quickly clocked up a lot of mileage. Unfortunately my knees aren’t built for long term running, but that’s besides the point. I have now developed a healthier relationship with exercise too.
We should all remember, the three P’s: patience, persistence and a positive attitude, along with having the ability to stay motivated and applying/adapting realistic expectations into our health and well-being. This outlook will carry you through to help you meet your weight loss goals and guide you into that permanent healthier lifestyle that you desire.
We have to remember that were only human and we’re all fallible; even those with health credentials smoke, drink and can be generally hypocritical with the health advice they supply us with.
Life is there to be lived and we all need to find a healthy balance; negative thoughts and filling our heads with nonsensical information isn’t living. We just end up punishing ourselves through gruelling exercise and nightmare eating regimes, making life a lot harder than it needs be.
- Don’t set yourself up to fail…
- Don’t torture yourself over small mistakes (this journey is not perfect)…
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help (especially if you feel a bit blue or recognise that you are an emotional eater)…
- Don’t give up too easily. It can take time to develop a permanent and healthy relationship with food and/or exercise again… to be able to ‘trust your body’…
- Don’t take everything at face value, whether that be about what you read about health or how you feel; people can be quite good at suppressing emotions…stiff upper lip and all…
…just follow attainable and informed/accredited health advice and remember to embrace life.
This may just be only one person’s opinion and personal account… but I am offering you some informed advice that will hopefully set you up for life and prevent you from making the same mistakes that I’ve made; some of my thoughts and experiences may resonate with you…or you may choose to ignore them…
Just remember though that healthy living and healthy weight loss is achievable, and there is nothing to be ashamed of; I got there and so can you.
Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Katherine Of Chicago (Flickr)