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It's That Time Of Year...

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Is anyone else already thoroughly bored by adverts for fitness videos, diet clubs and those stupid flipping yoghurt drinks? I may scream the next time I see Martine McCutcheon. I also want to burn every single magazine featuring a revoltingly skinny soapstar with the headline "OMG I was a size 12 heifer! Don't I look amazing now?" Err no. You were perfectly normal sized before and if I can count your ribs now, you need to put some weight on.

Here's my attempt at some weightloss tips from the perspective of someone who was properly fat and has now got down to a reasonable weight. I'm not skinny but I have no wish to be. I discussed it before here but for further details, read on.

As a mini disclaimer, I don't want to perpetuate the horrible idea that you need to be skinny to be happy/attractive/successful. I wish more people were comfortable with themselves as they are. But if you want to lose some weight, best of luck to you. I'm not setting myself up as any type of expert here. None of it is rocket science. I wish the diet industry didn't bullshit so much - all you need to do is eat a bit less and exercise a bit more. This is just what worked for me.

- I'll start off by saying that it's not hard. Really it's not. Trust me. It's boring but it's worth it.

- Get some willpower. You really won't get anywhere without it. If you're not properly committed to doing it then things will go wrong and the diet won't work.

- Speaking of which, I don't actually like the word diet. I calorie counted because I needed to lose weight and it seemed like the most sensible way to go about it whilst still eating properly, but really it was about learning to eat healthily and looking after myself better. It's just sometimes easier to say "diet" than it is "healthy eating and exercise plan".

- Do whatever works for you, as long as it's not one of those meal replacement diets. I'm sure they get results in the short term but it's not a healthy way to start things off and what happens when you start eating normal food again? So if it's Weight Watchers or Slimming World, portion control, exercise or good old fashioned calorie counting, pick your method and stick to it.

- Think about what you eat. I'd been kidding myself for years that I didn't really eat that much but that was absolute crap, I was clearly overeating. Just be honest with yourself. Do you snack too much? Eat giant portions? Can't resist any passing cake/chocolate/beer? If you want to lose weight then something will have to change.

- Be sensible. If you're anything like me then you need to retrain your brain and your body about eating healthily. Sticking to your calorie/points limit by just eating cakes isn't a wise move and neither is eating porridge all day so you can get mortal on wine later on (not that I ever did this, oh no). Restricting yourself too much is not likely to turn out well.

- Allow yourself some treats. I need puddings in my life so mini meringues were an absolute godsend.

- I found it really helpful to take over the cooking myself. I went for the calorie counting option and I was far from obsessive over it but it's much easier to know what you've had if you've cooked it yourself. It was for the same reason that I pretty much gave up takeaways. Eating out is do-able, just pick the sensible options where possible.

- Swap things. I think my biggest help was switching from full sized bread to the mini loaves. 120 cals per slice in the former, 50 cals per slice in the latter - it's quite a difference! You could of course just eat half the amount of the full sized bread but my brain doesn't quite work that way. Similarly with crisps. I didn't stop eating them, I just started to buy Walkers Baked (lower cal option) instead.

- Booze. I didn't cut it out completely but I took the approach that it was pointless calories a lot of the time. Don't get me wrong, life without wine and cider would be dull indeed, but I didn't really need to be drinking at home during the week, so I stopped. As with anything else, I'd have it if I wanted it and I could fit it into my daily calorie allowance.

- Ride out the first few weeks. You may well be so hungry at the end of the day that you want to eat your pillows but just have a snack and go to bed. If you eat a lot and then cut things down, you will probably be hungry for a little while till you adjust to it. It gets easier very quickly.

- Work out what your weak points are. I am a sweetie addict and if I have a bag in the house I will eat them all. Even now I can't resist them. I'm just not the sort of person who can put an open packet back in the cupboard. So the answer is simple, I don't buy them. Or I buy myself a Sherbet Dip-Dab or a mini pack of Haribo every now and then as a little treat.

- Do some exercise. I am extremely lazy and don't enjoy exercise so I often have to force myself into it but it is important. I started off with walking at lunchtime, just a half an hour stroll around the grounds at work. When I'd lost enough weight not to feel mortified in a swimming costume I started swimming again. I try and go at least twice a week. Another handy thing was the Step function on the Wii Fit. Set it to 30 minutes and it runs in the background so you can watch tv whilst you're relentlessly going "1,2,3,4" up and down on the board. More productive than loafing on the sofa!

Let me know if you want some moral support. I'm perfectly happy to shout "STEP AWAY FROM THE BISCUITS" at you if needed.


  1. Have you read the Dietgirl blog at all? I went to school with Shauna and she is lovely, her blog is full of excellent, honest tip and she also brought out a book (more an autobiography really) as few years ago. It is an excellent read and very funny too.

    I don't calorie count but I try to have a sensible routine. I have fruit for breakfast, make my own salad for lunch, then have something with plenty of veg for dinner (with nuts and dried fruits for snacks). Then at the weekend I give myself time off so I don't get too bored with the whole thing.

    Re: dressing like an Edwardian. I don't know what your shirt looks like, but I suspect you could wear it with an a-line midi skirt in either black or tweed or a dark block colour. Then pair with knee high heeled boots and put your hair half back - up would be too formal but I think for that look it does need to be set back a little. Like Bobbie in the Railway Children but without the poufiness. And a midi skirt I think would be your best bet as a maxi would seem too costumey, but anything above the knee might be too short. Heeled boots will smarten it up and make it more modern. Then you could wear it with a satchel or a Kelly-style bag. Do you think that helps? xx

  2. I hate the assumption that we all want to lose weight and get fitter- I am what I am, and I've had enough of trying to be anything else. I know I'm exercising enough because I'm following a military PT programme, and I eat pretty much as I like so long as I've had at 6 portions of fresh per day. So sick of advertising making me feel bad that actually my BMI is over 25 and being a size 10-12 is bad?! WTF when did that become unhealthy or "fat"?

    Nicely put on your tips too, nice to see an advocate of long term changes and sensible living!

    Hope you're feeling better.

  3. I wondered when you were going to get around to the exercising part! Last year I decided that I wanted to lose a little bit of weight, so I started swimming 2-3 times a week, then later joined a gym and switched from swimming to the gym. I preferred the gym, but I had a motivation problem. It was fine when the gym was on my way home from work, but when I changed jobs I stopped going. Luckily at around that time I got my bike, so I ride my bike around these days instead. Riding my bike is my favourite form of exercise, and because I ride it to and from work/the shops anyway, going the long way home isn't a big deal and doesn't take any extra effort or special clothes.

    Another added bonus of exercising isn't just the exercise itself, I found that if I had exercised that day when I got home I didn't want to stuff my face and undo all my hard work. So it encouraged me to eat better too.

    I can't say I've ever felt like I HAD to lose weight, and I've never lost a lot, just 10 lbs. last year. But that's how I did it, and now I keep my weight steady, so if anyone is looking to lose a little bit of weight like me I'd recommend finding a physical activity that you enjoy.

  4. Thanks for this post Alex, it's really useful to see how others coped with it. As someone who has 'dieted' on and off for over 25 years now (since I was 12!)I know what to do, and like you say it's so simple, eat less and eat the right stuff and excercise more, but it's the willpower thing with me. I do great for a few weeks then it just dwindles away, I need to get my head in gear to crack this!
    Kandi x

  5. If ever there was someone who is qualified to give out sensible weightloss advice then it's definately you, Alex.
    You are a real inspiration. xxx

  6. I did have a passing fantasy that the polly-perfect Matine drowned in a vat of yogurt - but it was a healthy low fat yogurt!!!

  7. Very wise words here. I lost over a stone in 2009 and it was easier than I thought. The tip about swapping things is a good one - I started having low fat Philadelphia on ryvita instead of a cheese sandwich for lunch, or some couscous and roast veggies instead of pasta and sauce, just being aware of how many calories are in your choices really makes a difference.

    But yeah, I'm sick of the sight of Tummy-Loving Martine too!

  8. These sound like very wise tips Alex. I am so thankful that I've never had to worry about dieting, I'd be completely useless at it. x

  9. Fabulous tips Alex,
    I've long admired your sensible and healthy attitude to weight loss.

    All the diet ads, and celebs can fuck right off.


  10. Hi Alex,

    Thank you so much for this post... :)

    You have done a great job, and are well qualified to give some tips out :)

    I started on tuesday, and although have slipped a few times (an open bag of sweeties is too much of a temptation)

    but I'm not throwing the towel in, just carrying on.

    I'm lucky to ave a friend joined the gym with me, 2 sessions down, 1 booked for tomorrow so we're off to a good start.

    Would love some moral support if your offering, I felt inspired by your journy, and seeing someone do it for real make such a lot of difference.

    Thank you



    I'm just starting a diet and although all what you said was common sense it's good to be reminded and everything you said is so true, plus I'm so bored of all the adverts too!

    Well done on your weightloss too, you look fantastic! :)

    Happy New Year Hun! xxx

  12. I am loving this post!

    I am in need of shedding a few stone, not because the adverts tell me so, but because I know what size is right for my body and this isn't it! I lost alot of weight a few years back by doing all the things you have listed. I only put the weight back on because I started working in an office. Lots of sweets, boredom and buses to work are to blame. Feeling a bit more inspired now however! Thankfully I also have a supportive boyf who has pointed out specific items in Topshop he will buy me when I hit specific targets! Repeat: Pretty shoes are tastier than cake....

    Well done on your sensible weight loss over the years, you should be very proud! :) xx

  13. Hey Alex

    Ace post. I think I may bookmark your weight loss posts and read them for inspiration from time to time. Your approach is just so simple and sensible and completely lacking in bullshit and I love it.

    And, yes, I too would like to drown MM in yoghurt. I saw an ad for Kerry Katona's workout DVD. Weirdly there was no mention of the possibility that she lost the weight by ingesting only crack or the fact that she looks like a haggard wench now, but that's by the by.

    Thanks for a great post xxx

  14. Thanks for this post. I just found your blog recently and hadn't realised how much weight you had lost. I am just beginning my efforts to lose the 20kg I've gained over the last few years. It was very inspiring to read this!

  15. Dear Alex, you have a brilliant attitude.

    People should learn to be happy with themselves and not aim for something unnatainable. You can only change your natural body shape so much.

    I have no problem with myself but I haven't watched what I've eaten for ages, especially over Christmas so I currently look a bit pregnant. I will cut down on rubbish and definitely give the Wii step programme a go. I like the idea I can watch TV at the same time!

    All these faddy things and there is one simple rule to lose weight - eat less and exercise more!!

    Hope you're having a lovely weekend xx

  16. It is thoroughly depressing the amount it is rammed down our throats in Jan! And it always seems to be about the quick fix.

    I like your take on it. Very sensible and can be maintained. I totally agree with treating yourself as well, it's easier to continue if you're not just depriving yourself.


  17. This post is spot on, I couldnt of said it better myself. Thanks so much for sharing! I loved reading this!

    Im so sick of magazines EVERYWHERE screaming weight loss,weight loss, weight loss!! Get over it already!!

  18. This is both sensible and encouraging advice. I too am fed up off seeing and hearing about diets, gyms and fitness videos, the doom that is January!

    I think I would like to be able to cut down a little bit, the snacking part is probably the worst thing for me x

  19. Great tips, Alex. Liked the one about willpower - so important, after all you can only do it for yourself. xx

  20. Great tips. I started to lose a little weight before Christmas, not because I'm particularly unhappy with my size, more because I was so ridiculously unfit. I went to the gym once a week and stopped snacking at work. These small changes made a great difference, but then it was Christmas and I firmly believe that diets at Christmas are sacrilegious. So now I'm back on it... it's going slowly but I know I'll soon be fitter again!

  21. Could not agree with you more. I started to read this post thinking to myself "Ah yes I'll say I agree with that one...and that one...oh yeah definitely that one." and realised pretty soon that my comment would be of a ridiculous length.

    You are absolutely bang on. Especially about getting to grips with yourself and kidding yourself about what you're consuming, I was exactly the same and I know someone who is in total denial about just how much they eat. It's scarily easy to convince yourself that everything's fine.

  22. Great post - and I need all the motivation I can get! I did it once, and now I can't get it back. Do think exercise is the key though!

    Plus, I really kind of hate Mccutcheon. What does she DO?

  23. Fab post, v motivating. I'm not overweight as such but I do eat far too much sugar/junk in general. I did stop once before but this year I'm really gonna go for it, thanks! :)


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