When I started my journey back in 2008 I had so much drive, so much focus and the absolute desire to shed 40 odd kgs. So here I am almost 5 years down the track and while I’ve keep the weight off (give or take a few kgs) I will share with you why I think it’s much tougher to keep the weight off, ok I’ll rephrase that, things change and while it may not be tougher it takes a different set of skills.
The beginning of my journey started on October 2008, I had finally decided that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired…overweight, out of shape, unhappy and generally I just felt so unattractive and uncomfortable in my body. I didn’t feel like it was my body anymore, nor did I feel like the person staring back at me was me, it was as if I had a fat suit on and it didn’t matter what clothing I tried to wear to disguise how large I was or how long my hair got or how well I applied my make up nothing detracted from how I felt emotionally. When those comments of wow you have amazing hair were just far to frequent you start to realise that it’s the one thing people will compliment you on because they aren’t going to say how amazing you look because the truth is I didn’t look amazing. I was smiling on the outside but on the inside I was downright miserable and couldn’t wait to be rid of the extra fat I had acquired, I had let my body define “who” I was.
The first thing that I changed was my diet. After reading everything I could get my hands on I realised that to lose a substantial amount of weight you need to change the food, 80-90% of your results will come from your diet. While exercise will help shape your body and make you feel mentally amazing, it’s a pretty poor way to try and lose a LOT of weight. The old mantra of burn x amount of calories is not going to get you that far – well it didn’t for me. What’s the best way to work up an appetite? Go for a run! Simple answer is that high intensity cardio exercise will increase your appetite. Lifting weights is where it’s at; bodyweight exercise is also very effective.
I dove head first into it and threw out everything in my house that resembled unhealthy and loaded up with what I knew was going to work. I had done low carb in the past so I had a fair idea of what sort of things I could have but this time is was going to be a far more healthy version of low carb. In my mind low carb had worked a charm last time but I just hadn’t embraced veggies enough and lived off diet coke. This time I had the fridge full of fresh veggies, fruit, meat, chicken, eggs, high fat dairy and in the cupboard were a few cans of tomatoes, olive oil, nuts, soda water, herbal teas etc..
It didn’t take long to start dropping the weight and I soon figured out what my sweet spot was for weight loss….Higher fat, moderate protein and low carb. The weight was dropping off easily a kg a week and kept that momentum for just over a year, the lower in weight I got I would determine that I needed less food and just adjusted accordingly. I started blogging to keep some accountability as I was the ONLY one at the time I knew of that was doing this “crazy farfetched” style of eating. People around me thought I was nuts and honestly I just lived like a bit of hermit while my ‘job’ was to lose weight. I was unemployed for several months as I had just lost my job to a redundancy, it was when the recession first hit and it was a bit of a blessing in disguise.
I was very lucky to have the support of my loving husband who allowed me to focus on losing the weight while trying to come up with a way to start my own business. It only took one month to decide to start my business altering and repairing clothing with my 2 domestic sewing machines, I had a small sandwich board out the front of our house and during my lunch breaks I would flyer drop. I started to get a name for myself and plenty of long hours and hard work I can happily say that it’s been almost 5 years on am I’m going stronger than ever, I have 5 industrial sewing machines and a very steady stream of repeat customers, my business is what I would finally call successful.
Initially when I first lost all my weight I think I was just so bombarded with compliments of “OH MY GOD YOU LOOK AMAZING!!!” How can you not be on cloud nine with amazing comments like that? They lasted about a year and anytime I saw someone I hadn’t seen since I’d lost my weight. This is a very rewarding part of weight loss, however as time goes on people just get used to you and the comments stop and I guess well you are just normal. Now don’t get me wrong normal is nice but those compliments are a huge driving force to keeping you strict and after a while you need to find what it is about your “new you” that will keep you maintaining your weight? I can’t answer this question for you personally but I know for myself that while yes I have fluctuated a wee bit, I have kept most of my weight off. The biggest non vanity reason for that is because of my health, I have suffered with Anxiety, Depression, PCOS, Menieres Disease and all sorts of other issues that didn’t reduce until I lost the weight and ate Primal. I don’t know if it was the weight loss or the Primal eating that has been the driving force in keeping these health problems at bay but what I do know is that for 6 months while I wasn’t eating very primal and gained 5kgs the majority of my health issues came back with a vengeance. I’m finally back on track and the weight is slowly coming back off and my symptoms are starting to dissipate again.
Now 5 years on I have done my fair amount of experimenting with diet, what worked for me 5 years ago doesn’t seem to work for me now, I need more carbs to feel healthy and sleep well. That doesn’t mean that I subscribe to a high carb diet but I would say that having 50-100gms of carbs a day is where I feel best. For years I felt fine on below 50gms, now that amount seems to not have the desired effect. This is where I cannot emphasise enough about experimenting with your diet, calorie amounts, macro nutrients and only you will be able to figure out where you sit on the spectrum, we are all so individual and I see Primal as a template not a set in stone prescription.
One of the greatest things that has come from all of this is to realise how passionate I am about food, cooking is my therapy and without discovering primal I may not have realised this. It has reignited the joy I have to sit down to my meals and nourish my body, I’m not about deprivation hence why I could never do a regimented program, my personality doesn’t suit that kind of restriction.
The discipline it takes to lose weight is half mental, visualisation is powerful, it might sound cheesy but every night before I went to sleep I would visualise that one day soon I would wake up and be able to go to my wardrobe and pick out anything I wanted to wear for that day, hey I love fashion so that was a big driving force for me.
Don’t underestimate the power of visualisation, combine that with a way of eating that feels natural and relatively effortless and you having a winning combo. I ate to my hunger levels and it felt right, my body responded so well to Primal and almost 5 years on it still feels right.