Babs, my mum, weighed 1lb short of 18 stone back in mid-October 2018. It was the heaviest she’d ever been.
She then lost 3 stone in 5 months without dieting. She did it, and so can you!
This is how I helped her nail it.
To lose weight fast generally means having to starve yourself and go on strict diet regimes, some of which Babs has tried over the years. She has battled with her weight for as long as I can remember, going from one diet plan to another with limited success. Sometimes the weight came off… but then she put it all back on again.
Then in October 2018 my own life changed dramatically. I was forced to move back to the UK to Babs’ house and live with her. If you want to read more about that, you can do so here, but that isn’t the focus of this story. What I want to share with you are the simple steps we took to help her achieve such a turn around in her life – not only the rapid and sustained weight loss, but better physical health too.
Declutter your pantry and fridge
Step one: I went through the food cupboards and threw away bin loads of out-of-date food. She never really enjoyed cooking and had lots of ‘stuff’ in her pantry that she never ended up using so of course things were going to pass their use-by date. There’s no point having jars and jars of sauces and tinned fruit that will never get used. Plus, if like Babs you’re not keen on cooking, simplify your meal planning by only keeping in stock the food items you know you will need.
Ditch the junk food
Step two: THROW OUT THE JUNK FOOD.
The biscuits, the cakes, the crisps. And so the ‘diet’ started. But what a delicious diet: Cheese? Yes. Toast? Of course! And wine? Absolutely! Even occasional chocolate and mince pies? Those too. You must be thinking “how on earth could she have lost all that weight eating stuff like that?” Well of course, those things do not make up the bulk of what she typically eats, but she DOES still have them. My point is, we don’t prohibit all junk food but we do limit how much of it she eats and we don’t keep copious amounts of it in the pantry.
Very simply, we have her eat exactly what I eat, and fortunately I’ve been blessed with being slim so never needed to lose weight. Her new ‘diet’ was nothing more than normal, balanced food, smaller portion sizes, far less junk food and a lifestyle change.
It’s no surprise then that eating less junk food is an important factor in losing weight fast.
Step three: Reduce your portion size. This is key. If you only change one thing about your lifestyle, make it this. Since I was the one doing the cooking, and usually the one plating up, I put out much less food than she would. I still notice that when she plates up, she puts more food on the plates than I do. A really simple trick to help you with this is to start using smaller plates and bowls. They will make a smaller portion look bigger.
Reduce your portion size. THIS IS KEY.
If, like Babs, you don’t like cooking, but DO like eating, why not consider a ready prepared meal box plan? There are lots available these days, that cater to specific dietary requirements. This could help you avoid many dieting pitfalls.
Identify your danger zones
Step four: Identify your weak points and danger zones. If you can identify your weak moments, those times and places that lead you to eating too much, or eating rubbish, you can begin to plan how to manage them better. Perhaps it’s that bakery you walk past every day from the car park to your office – find another route. Or when you visit your friend and s/he always offers you cake with your cup of coffee…
Identify your weak points and danger zones. If you can identify your weak moments, those times and places that lead you to eating too much, or eating rubbish, you can begin to plan how to manage them better. Perhaps it’s that bakery you walk past every day from the car park to your office – find another route. Or when you visit your friend and s/he always offers you cake with your cup of coffee…
A friend of mine was telling me that her parents are really not helpful when she’s on a diet. It’s almost like they try to sabotage it. When she goes to visit them and they offer her a slice of cake, she says ‘no thanks, I’m on a diet.’ Their response is ‘Don’t be daft, have a bit, you know you like it’. If this happens to you with some people in your life, if they aren’t supporting you in your efforts, just don’t tell them you’re on a diet. Say you’ve already eaten when you turn down the slice of cake. Or that you’re not feeling that great today so won’t have any biscuits with your cup of tea. Say that so much beer is giving you gas! Whatever!
Change your (bad) shopping habits
Step five: Change your habits. Here’s an example: I looked at supermarket receipts for Babs’ weekly shops prior to my moving in with her. They were full of ready meals, biscuits, cakes, crisps etcetera. Going to the shops is really hard for lots of people because they can’t resist throwing in a packet (or 2…) of hot cross buns, or cheesy biscuits. There are lots of different options for avoiding this.
In our case it was mainly ME – we did the shopping together and I discouraged her from putting these things in the trolley.
Take a look at your last shopping receipt. What percentage of it was junk food that is killing your attempts to lose weight? Let’s suppose it is 40%. Try going to the supermarket with that same receipt and just enough money in cash to buy the necessary 60% – the food that’s not going to hamper your weight loss. Leave your cards at home. If you only have enough on you to buy what you need, you can start to retrain yourself not to buy rubbish.
Or do your shopping online, and only buy the items that fall within the 60% necessary food – avoid even going to the store where you know you will find it hard not to pop a little treat in the trolley.
Step six: Now of course, you’re not going to have me by your side, like Jiminy Cricket, telling you that those 3 packets of cupcakes won’t do you any good. So look for someone in your life who can help you with some all-important self control. It’s hard not to buy the cr@p when we’re on our own, but having someone support you and make you accountable helps enormously.
Accountability can really help – I don’t always go shopping with Babs these days, but she knows that she can’t come home with bags full of junk food. We have an agreement that I will support her in changing her habits, and when you need to answer to someone else it can give you that extra support you need to resist temptation.
Find someone who WILL understand your needs and WILL provide you with some support and encouragement.
Activity. Yes, exercise IS important, but not necessarily for losing weight
Step seven. Studies have shown that in trying to lose weight what you eat is more important than the exercise you do. However, exercise is essential for a healthy life and especially for people who rarely walk further than from the house to the car. So many of us these days spend most of our waking time sitting: in the office, at the wheel of the car, on the couch. This is not healthy or good for us.
Babs was in the habit of driving to the shop when she ran out of milk, even though it was just a 5 minute walk along the road. She drove to work, where she sat in an office all day, and then drove home where she generally sat and watched TV all evening. You might be thinking “so if exercise isn’t essential for weight loss, why talk about it here?”.
Here’s the thing: when I moved back in October she needed to lean on the trolley just to get around the supermarket. She used a stick to go from the car to just about anywhere else. She had become stagnant in her activity and the excess weight was putting immense pressure on her body. None of this makes you a happy person, at least it certainly didn’t make Babs happy. Losing weight isn’t just a physical process, it’s a mental one too. She felt like she’d already lost the fight against the flab and that she couldn’t do anything to make things better. She’d written herself off physically.
Change your (bad) physical habits
A change of physical habits was required, not only to improve her physical health but also impact positively on her emotional and mental health. It’s easier to stay committed to something (such as losing weight) when you feel happier and see improvements in your life.
We started to go for little walks, slowly at first. She took a walking stick to begin with, to help with her balance and lack of confidence. She had to stop regularly to catch her breath. But after a month she was doing short walks without the stick, and breathing easier. Now, 5 months after starting this gentle activity, she joins me walking the dogs and we are out for an hour and a half at a time. She is delighted with the results, and feels more confident about getting even better in the future.
Find your why
If you feel like none of this resonates with you, perhaps what might work for you is to find your WHY. This wasn’t Babs’ case. She still hasn’t found her ‘why’ and relies more on my influence and the accountability aspect to stick to the diet. But for some people the key to them losing weight fast and effectively is to find their why, their motive, their big reason to want to lose weight. You can read more about this here.
From here on in
Look for help in keeping to your weight loss plan. If it isn’t your family, try a friend, or an online support group. Band together with others who are also trying to lose weight and agree to an accountability plan: do your shopping together, even if it’s checking each other’s online shopping lists. Create a WhatsApp or Facebook group to buoy each other along.
Avoid the places in life that will lead you to fail in your weight loss intentions.
And most importantly, whatever you eat, EAT LESS OF IT. Portion size is key. It will be very difficult for you to lose weight fast if you don’t change how much you are eating.
Good luck with the dieting, I really hope you can nail it too.