Losing It

My mad, crazy journey to health and beyond

How to lose 15kg in 8 weeks

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  1. Stop drinking alcohol. Have minor nervous breakdown. Get talked off the ledge by sister, friends, and life coach on an almost daily basis. Drink enough sparkling water to sink the Titanic.
  1. Train every day. Squeeze into gym pants that are two sizes too small but refuse to buy new ones because A) you don’t have money, and B) YOU WILL NOT BUY LABELS THAT SAY XXL! Start weightlifting again. If 40kg squats can ever be considered weightlifting. Go back to Adventure Boot Camp. Wear black T-shirts so no-one can see how drenched in sweat you are after the warmup. Sign up for trail runs. Reconsider the run part about 30 seconds in. Do trail walks instead. Push, push, push. Don’t stop. You can walk slowly, but you can’t stop.
  1. Eat actual food. KFC, McDonald’s and Mr D do not count as actual food. Go grocery shopping. Buy stuff that expires. Eat it before it does. Cook meals. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. Lean protein, healthy fats, vegetables, complex carbs. Make the best choices you can when you go out for meals. Say no to dessert. But eat the chocolate cupcake that your boot camp buddy gives you, because life is short and chocolate is sent from the gods.
  1. Talk to life coach. Your head is a fucking mess. Adulting is hard. You need help. Remember that survivors ask for help; victims sit back and blame everyone else for their mistakes. So go get some help. You badass surviving bitch you.

 

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  1. Get out of the house and do things. Apparently there’s stuff to do in Cape Town other than sit in bars every night and get hammered. So go do it. Play bingo, take part in pub quizzes, go to the cinema, paint clay pots, go for hikes, cook dinner for friends, sing, dance, go to plays, concerts, parties, eat out in restaurants, say yes to anything that gets you out of the house and gets you living again. And then come home exhausted to a big comfy couch and a hard drive full of series. Because, balance.
  1. Connect. With family. With old friends you haven’t seen in ages. With new friends who are now part of your posse. With acquaintances who become friends before you know it. With women in your Facebook group. With yourself. Not with Tinder. Good Christ.
  1. Track your progress. Take before pics. Take before measurements. Try to fit into jeans. Think ‘fucking hell’, and pretend that you’re wearing a skirt because you want to, not because your tubby butt is now too chunky to even fit into your fat jeans. Keep at it, keep tracking and weighing and measuring, and keep remembering that even though it feels like a waste of time and effort, you will get to wear jeans again. Track your progress after 8 weeks and realise that you’ve lost 15kg, 50cm, and that your smallest pair of fat jeans is now too big for you. High five everyone you possibly fucking can. Feel like a rock star, because you are. Write this blog post, and get back to it. Life is too good to miss out on.

 

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Food for thought

Skinless chicken breast, 100g. 23g protein, 2g fat, 0g carbs.

Egg, large. 6.3g protein, 4.8g fat, 0.4g carbs.

White potato, 100g. 2g protein, 1g fat, 17g carbs.

And on, and on, and on, and on.

 

For almost four years now I’ve followed this way of eating. IIFYM. If It Fits Your Macros. A lot of very clever people on a lot of very good sites can explain it far better than I can, but I’ll give it a shot. Essentially it involves you tracking all the food you eat in a day, adding up all the protein, fat and carbohydrate values of every gram of food you put in your mouth, to ensure that you don’t go over the collective total of protein, fats, and carbohydrates (also known as macronutrients) that you’re allowed to eat in a day – a total usually worked out for you with an online calculator, or preferably, by a professional nutritionist. If that’s confusing, then Google is your friend.

 

The point is that it works. It works like gangbusters actually. It helped me lose 55kg in the space of 3 years. The fact that I gained a shitload of weight back isn’t the fault of the eating plan, it’s the fault of my damn self. Not enough self-control, not enough self-care, not enough self-love. My water bottle says it best I think. Zero fucks given.

 

Before IIFYM there was moderate carb. Before that there was fat free. Before that there was eat as little as possible. Before that I can’t remember, but there was most definitely something, as I’ve been on one eating plan or another since I was 16 years old. As have most women I know. Being female is awesome.

 

But back to the here and now. January last year I was at 80kg, which sounds like a lot, but looks like this:

 

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I’m smiling in that pic, but my head is going a million miles a minute. I had just run 5km into Knysna from the white bridge (my shirt is soaked through with sweat if you look closely) and I’m wondering how to track the breakfast I just ate, and what kind of oil my mom will be using to cook dinner that night so I can enter it in MyFitnessPal to make sure that I’m not over my macros for the day. And then I have to figure out who’s driving into town tomorrow so that I can catch a lift to the gym I signed up with so I don’t miss out on a weightlifting session. On my fucking Christmas holiday. There was no keep calm and carry on, there was only plan and track and work and sleep and plan and track and track some more and run and lift and push and pull and PRESSURE SO MUCH PRESSURE.

 

And eventually I cracked under all of it. All that time, eating right and tracking and training and making good choices and not drinking and being completely, totally, 100% focused on my health journey and nothing else. I cracked. And then I did the only thing I could do – I went 100% the other way. And ate and drank and ate and drank and did as little training as I could get away with. Because when I fuck something up, I do it good and proper. No half measures here.

 

I had the occasional glimmer of hope. I did the SleekGeek challenge in October last year and lost 12kg. Gained it all back. I went balls to the wall in February and lost 10kg. Gained it all back. And then somewhere in March or April this year, I came to a realisation. I just did not give a fucking shit. I didn’t care about being healthy, I didn’t care about losing weight, I didn’t care about eating right. I just didn’t care. It was too hard, and too much work, and too much effort, and I didn’t believe that I could do it again anyway.

 

At the same time though, I didn’t LIKE being overweight. I didn’t like that I couldn’t fit into any of my jeans, even the fat ones. I didn’t like that I was huffing and puffing like a stampeding rhino after climbing the one flight of stairs to my flat. And I didn’t like that I felt bloated and tired and lethargic and just plain crap. So even though I didn’t give a shit about being healthy, I WANTED to give a shit about it. Which meant that I had to ask for help. So I did.

 

I usually hate asking for help. I’d rather struggle on my own than inconvenience someone else. I have zero issue admitting that I have a problem, it’s not about that. It’s about imposing on other people, having them go out of their way, and thinking less of me for asking in the first place. So when I say that I asked for help, trust me that it was a big step.

 

But ask for it I did, and it came in the form of a health coach, who I’m still seeing. And I won’t bore you with the details, but we’re looking at a lot of stuff. Why don’t I value my health, why do I drink like a sailor on shore leave, why am I so stressed and anxious and worried about EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME??? I also began consulting with her partner, a holistic health practitioner, not about how to eat healthily (dear God I should bloody well know by now) but about how to adopt healthier habits, and to find physiological balance and healing through the help of natural supplementation. I am paraphrasing like a champ right now, but hopefully you get the picture.

 

What I also did, was make a promise to give up alcohol for six months, which you can read more about here, and to focus less on any kind of stress or trigger and fixation, and to focus more on living.

 

Which is what brings us to this. Five weeks of no alcohol, healthy eating choices, regular training, and an 11.6kg loss to show for it.

 

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BUT OHMIGOD NICOLA, HOW ARE YOU DOING IT?

 

Simple. I’m not obsessing. I’m living. I’m not making healthy living THE ENTIRE FOCUS OF EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s important, sure, but it’s not my whole life – it’s just part of my life. I’m not following any type of structured eating plan. I’m eating all food groups, and following the basics that I’ve learned from IIFYM along the way. More carbs on days I lift weights, fewer carbs on days that I don’t. Big, low-calorie nutrient-dense meals, with no snacking in between. Food bursting with colour, taste and texture. Starch at night, if I’m eating any, so that I sleep better. Simple, sensible, easy-to-follow guidelines that I stick to without much thought. And I’m able to stick to them because after years of IIFYM I know the types of foods I can eat and the portion sizes I need to get the right kinds of nutrients for my body, while creating enough of a calorie deficit in order for me to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable, consistent way.

 

Here’s what I had to eat yesterday, if you’re needing more than that. I did an hour of weightlifting in the morning, so I got to eat more carbs, to give my body the fuel it needed.

 

  • Pre-workout: Fitchef green smoothie with apple, spinach and other stuff (I didn’t look at the label, sorry)
  • Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs on rye, with smoked salmon and mushrooms
  • Lunch: Homemade vegetable stirfry with chicken strips, and 1 tbsp of soya sauce
  • Dinner: Sirloin steak (with the fat cut off), garlic baby potatoes, and steamed vegetables

 

It was delicious, and eating tasty food like that, without stressing about it and tracking it and making it my one and only focus – that’s what’s helping me lose weight in a calmer way this time round.

 

As for training, yes, I’m doing it. Right now I’m doing four weightlifting sessions a week, three boot camp sessions a week, and one trail or road run. If you can count, that adds up to eight (well done you!) because I train twice on Fridays, purposefully. By the time I’ve finished my Friday night boot camp, I’m so exhausted I can barely walk, let alone drink. Which means instead of fantasising about drinking 12 bottles of wine and 90 tequilas at my local, I’m on my couch in my pjs, trying to lift my fork to my mouth while watching MKR. If you set up your life in a way that helps you succeed, that’s exactly what you’ll do.

 

And what else am I doing? I’m living, in a way that brings balance. I’m going out but I’m also staying in. I’m meeting friends and reading books. I’m eating out and I’m cooking at home. I’m weightlifting in the morning and going to pub quizzes in the evening. I’m crying with my coach about all the work stress I’m under, and I’m laughing with my friends and loving every moment. And while I’m doing that, health is becoming a part of my life, not my entire life. Will I fall down? Yes. Will I drink too much again? Absolutely. Will I become angry and frustrated and want to smash an entire lemon meringue pie in my face? Almost certainly. But there’s one thing I won’t do, and that’s make the same mistakes again. Life’s way too short to keep making the same ones anyway. Time to make some brand-new ones, and hopefully learn some brand-new lessons along the way.

 

*Disclaimer: While I may not be following any structured eating plan, the way I’m eating is very much based on IIFYM principles. So that doesn’t mean I sit around all day in my pajamas eating cake and drinking wine. It means I make healthy choices and eat healthy food. And I train every day. If you want to lose weight, those are things you have to do. What you don’t have to do, however, is obsess over them every second of every day. That’s all that’s changed. Just so we’re clear…

 

 

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