WHAT TO AVOID
NOTE: You don't necessarily have to avoid these! Overnight oats can be as healthy as you make them - click here to find the original photo alongside lots of recipes to try.
After last week's weight loss post, I thought it might be useful to share with you some of my thoughts on how I gained the weight in the first place. I know, I know....in a nutshell I was eating too much of the good stuff.....but there was more to it than that. I picked up bad habits that I didn't even notice myself doing and I wasn't in a good place mentally. I think it's important to identify these factors if you want to make changes.
I'll start by saying that this weight didn't pile on overnight. From my lowest weight, it took me a couple of years to put on 9 or so lbs and in all honesty it didn't bother me. I was eating what I wanted, exercising moderately and my body had just evened out. But in the last 18-24 months, I realised there was a problem. I was putting on weight faster than ever and feeling pretty unaware as to how it was happening. I wasn't happy with how I looked, clothes didn't fit right and I couldn't seem to get a handle on things.
So how did I gain the weight?
My mental state | There are two strands to this. Rewind back to late 2014, early 2015 and I was really struggling mentally. I felt stressed and out of control across so many areas of my life, and my eating was one of them. I've always been a comfort eater - whether it's to comfort myself emotionally or even just to make me feel better if it's cold! - and I think I was eating to compensate for that. I never gorged myself or binged, but I definitely wasn't making good choices. Which leads on to the other component here. You have to have your head in the game to lose weight....wanting it and moaning about it isn't enough. No matter how badly I thought I wanted to slim down, subconsciously I just didn't feel ready, mentally, to make any positive changes.
Buying treats | For a while this was my biggest downfall. We'd quite often skip weekly shops so I'd pop in to the Tesco Express round the corner a couple of nights a week on my way home from work. And on 90% of those trips, I'd pick up some sort of chocolatey treat simply because they were on offer. But the worst part of this was....I'd hide them once I got in. I was telling myself it was so Nick didn't scoff them all in one sitting, but in reality it was so I could eat them all myself. I also think a little bit of shame comes into it here, too. With packets stuffed in cupboards and drawers I never really held myself accountable to how much I was consuming because I never actually looked at the packet to see: I just ate until it was empty. Again, there was no binging and it would take a couple of days to finish off a pack, but it's definitely excess calories that I was eating mindlessly.
Exercising with no purpose | I'm not sure I've described this one properly, but throughout the past few years I've always been a gym-goer. So why no results? I'd start by sitting myself on the bike for at least half an hour 3-4 times a week and refuse to leave until I'd burned at least X-amount of calories across a host of machines. Or I went through phases of following Kayla Itsines' workout plan (religiously for 4 weeks, with no change in my body) or sweating it out doing the 30 Day Shred to find I'd lost nothing. And to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I didn't see any changes. I've never been one to pig out on takeaways and have fatty, heavy meals but I know that my bad diet and snacking certainly wasn't helping. My exercise and food consumption didn't complement each other - I was eating badly and hoping the workouts would cancel things out; they may have slowed my weight gain down, but it didn't lead to a deficit and loss.
Bad diets | So besides the snacking I've mentioned, I've done some pretty silly diets as well. My main one is restricting calories and for a while last year I was having protein shakes twice a day and eating two plain rice cakes for lunch as a way of keeping my calorie intake really low. Which is ridiculous, and no wonder I didn't lose anything! I've also dabbled with other diets and although they're not 'bad' necessarily, they just didn't do anything for me. I tried both Weight Watchers and Slimming World but think the idea of "free foods" was a problem. Oh, I can eat all the rice and pasta I want you say.....? Without realising it, I was eating more than usual just because it was 'free'.
Avoiding the scales | Any time in my life that I've gained weight it's been, in part, because I haven't been weighing myself. I went years without stepping on the scales and that's when I hit my heaviest. Now I weigh myself everyday and although some people tell me that's unhealthy, I really don't think it is for me. I have to feel accountable for my weight and see when things are starting to go the wrong way in order for me to nip it in the bud and change things before they become too much of a habit. You might be someone who prefers to measure their body using a tape measure....whatever works for you, but I think burying your head in the sand is a big no-no.
Until I sat down to write this post I don't think I'd realised quite how many factors came into play with my gaining weight. It's so easy to say "I need to eat less" or "I need to move more" but I truly believe that all the pieces of the puzzle need to fall into place for dieting to be successful. If I hadn't managed to get all of these things in line, I'm not sure I'd be sitting here 21lbs lighter for it. So if you're wanting to make changes to your body, I'd really recommend having a think about the reasons and choices that have lead to where you are now.
Hopefully this helps!