Last week I wrote a post about my fitness journey, you can read that here if you missed it. I thought I’d follow it up with some things I’ve learnt along the way.
Before I start, I don’t want to offend anyone who follows Weight Watchers or Slimming World, because I know they work for a lot of people. I am not one of those people.
I’ve followed Weight Watchers (once), I’ve also done Slimming World (four times) and I lost weight on both. When I did Weight Watchers I recall people in the class talking about saving their points up for alcohol, takeaways, McDonalds, other junk food and thinking ‘wow, this is a good diet’. If I had to use my points on fruit and veg or crisps… I’d choose crisps and other junk without a second thought. Needless to say, I didn’t stick to this for very long and quickly gained back any weight I’d lost.
My weight loss was very quick with Slimming World and I honestly thought this was what I’d been looking for the whole time; the solution to my problems, but after figuring out I could ‘cheat’ a lot each week and still lose weight, it was a slippery slope for me and I soon stopped following the plan and going to get weighed each week. I’d stop, gain back all the weight I’d lost plus a few extra lbs for good measure, ignore it for as long as I could and then I’d join a different class where nobody knew I’d done it before. The lure of SW for me was the fact you could eat LOADS of food without weighing, counting or measuring and still be following the plan… as much pasta/potatoes/rice as you want. One class leader told me I should never feel hungry when following SW. I think her words were actually “never feel hungry again”.
I don’t think it was Slimming World alone that created so much fear of full fat foods, but it definitely contributed to it. My attitude towards food back then is hard to describe so I won’t try… but I can 100% say the hardest thing since starting 5:2 was purposefully forgetting everything I’d previously thought to be true about food/nutrition. I’d gone my whole life without counting calories. This probably explains a lot, but how bad could it have been? I was eating all low-fat foods… Ha!
The first change I made was before I began 5:2 was on January 1st 2014 – I gave up Diet Coke. I’d been drinking at least 2 cans a day, the first one at lunchtime, sometimes one in the afternoon and without fail I’d have a big glass at home in the evening. I was a self-confessed Diet Coke addict. The first few weeks were tough but it’s been over two years and I don’t miss it at all. I drink tea, coffee and water. Sometimes I’ll have elderflower cordial/slices of lemon or lime and sparkling water/soda water/tonic water, but that’s as fizzy as my fizzy drinks are!
Once I’d started 5:2 (and with the help of my 5:2 guru) I started reading up more on food and nutrition, the Facebook groups I’m a member of were really helpful too. I learnt that on my fast days my meals were best off being plants and protein and that on non-fast days I should replenish my body with healthy fats and nourishing foods. I also started to learn (and pay attention to) how certain foods affected my body after I’d eaten them.
The biggest changes in my diet are that I no longer eat anything low fat and I cook more from scratch than ever before. At first I spent ages checking ingredient lists before things went in my basket and quickly learnt what were going to be no-no’s for me. No more artificial sweetener – I said goodbye to fruity sugar free squash (this was a bit sad) and no low fat fruit flavoured yoghurts (which my fridge was always full of). More green veggies, salad items, lean meat, unprocessed foods and full fat dairy (with the exception of milk… but oh my REAL BUTTER & CHEESE!).
After a short while on 5:2, my eating habit began changing, as my stomach was getting smaller I needed to eat less to feel full. I started serving myself smaller portions (harder than it sounds) and for the first time I can remember, I left food on my plate if I was full. I now only eat when I’m hungry and don’t fear the short hunger pangs on fast days. On non-fast days, I rarely snack between meals – I am sure this is due to eating real food that’s nutritious and filling. I bring fruit and nuts to work but hardly ever eat them as I’m full from my breakfast and lunch.
While I don’t deprive myself of anything (everything in moderation) there are some things I used to eat that I just won’t anymore, the prime example of this is doughnuts! I’d rather eat a slice of cake that I know I’ll enjoy, rather than doughnuts that are just okay to me (apart from cartoon doughnuts, I love those, so cute). Some things just aren’t worth the calories. Oh yeah, I count calories now. A lot of people who follow 5:2 don’t track their calories but it was really important for me to understand what a normal portion was and also be accountable for everything I was eating. I use MyFitnessPal, I love scanning the barcodes – if only it beeped, then I could relive my memories as a Safeway checkout girl.
Another thing I’ve learnt is to make sure I’m making the most of the calories I’m eating, e.g. recently I fancied some chocolate and knew that would be 230 calories gone pretty quickly, so instead I had this which was delicious and more satisfying than chocolate alone.
My friend gave me some great advice last year on a day I was fasting and someone in the office had brought in some delicious looking cake: “this won’t be your last opportunity to eat cake”. This really helped my mindset and I borrow this phrase often!
When I was planning this post I thought it’d be a great idea to include a list of food things I always make sure I have at home. Is this boring? PROBABLY.
Cauliflower (I’m a very recent cauli rice convert)
Sweet potatoes (for some reason I’m off them at the moment)
Full fat Greek yoghurt (I like Fage best)
Butter (I love Kerrygold)
Almond Milk (unsweetened)
Meat (mainly chicken, sometimes lamb)
Fish (usually cod and salmon)
Almond butter/peanut butter (the kind that is 99.5% almonds/peanuts)
Wholegrain bread (I tend to only eat bread on a Saturday/Sunday)
Seeds (flaxseed, linseed, chia, pumpkin, sunflower)
Almonds & cashews
I’m going to end with a comparison picture – I posted this on Instagram and wish I’d included this in my last post instead of the one I included last week!
Would love to hear your thoughts on this post, thanks for reading 🙂