Weight Loss – Are We Overthinking This?

Could Less be More When it Comes to Weight Loss?

Having decided recently to address a couple of extra pounds I’d started piling on, two weeks ago I came across the NHS Weight Loss Plan that is a 12-week weight loss programme that now comes as a handy and completely free app (find it here: Start the NHS weight loss plan – NHS (www.nhs.uk). I’ve just started Week 2 of the programme and I’m already seeing some positive progress.

Fortunately, I’ve always been within what’s described as a “healthy” BMI range. That being said – I’d also like to keep it that way! So as I began to notice that I was creeping up towards the top end of the healthy range, I wondered what I could do to reverse the trend. I noticed that there were no limits to the fad diets and fasting cleanses/detoxes out there but none of them seemed particularly healthy which was my only real stipulation aside from losing those extra pounds and inches. Looking into the NHS Weight Loss Plan, I discovered that it’s really created with those above or below the healthy BMI range in mind, however, I still found it packed with helpful information and features that really resonated with me so decided to embark on it anyhow.

What It Is

In essence, it’s a basic calorie counting feature along with weighing yourself at the start and end of the week and measuring your waist. After inputting your personal information, it will give you your daily calorie maximum.

For me, it just said stay eating at 2000 calories because I was within the BMI range. However, that was what I had been doing and it clearly wasn’t working or I was miscalculating somewhere. I had to adjust my daily diet to around 1400 calories to see positive changes.

So although it is helpful, it is also somewhat limited. I took the view that everyone’s body is different and, at the end of the day, a computer programme can only do so much. I was also going to have to listen to my body as well and take my cue from how I was feeling to see if this would be enough for me or if I would have to up my daily intake.

How it Has Been Going

Currently at the third day of Week 2, I’m still very much in the early stages. Week 1, however, did see me lose around 4 pounds and a centimetre of my waist which I took to be an auspicious start. What did I do to achieve this? Well, firstly I told my husband that I would make my own evening meal through the week as I used to do most nights before lockdown hit and he started working from home. When it was just me and the kids eating, I’d often have more of a supper for tea, a lighter bite, and certainly not the big meals I’ve gotten used to over the last 12 months.

This has been going really well so far. No one is complaining that they are being force fed healthy foods as they get to eat just what they normally do. The only complaint I’ve heard so far is that mine looks nicer than theirs! I get to portion control, which I think has been the overwhelming factor in the increase in weight anyway for me and to get a bit more creative. The other night I had a salmon pasta (which I can’t normally have as my husband hates fish), there’s been quinoa and couscous salads, jacket potato with feta cheese, carrots and peppers and even scrambled egg, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes on toast. I’ve snacked on (and had to share with the dog!) apples and carrots and made us all a fruit cocktail after our evening meal to which my 9 year old declared, “We should do this more often”!

Week 2 is when you’re encouraged to get moving more. I’d already been trying to do more of this by walking more and using my phone’s pedometer to beat last month’s personal best which I’m proud to say I’ve already smashed. Week 2 also coincided, unintentionally, with a week off work before I start a new job. I’ve used this time off to up my structured activity time too by simply sticking on You Tube every day and completing a 5-minute warm up and then a 10-minute cardio before rounding it off with my usual daily Yoga with Adriene as my cool down.

You’re encouraged not to weigh yourself daily – I do anyway as it’s a habit I’ve practised for years. Somewhat discouraging is to notice that I’ve managed to put 2 pounds back on already this week but I’m not too concerned about this at the moment. I’m willing to keep the faith and see where I am at the end of the week to hopefully see results as part of the bigger picture. Our weight fluctuates daily to some degree so I’m hoping this hiccup will be rectified by then.

Week 3 & Beyond

With starting a new job where I’ll be sat down most of the day, I’m very aware that I simply won’t be able to keep up Week 2’s pace from next week. But I’ve already got a plan. Every work day, I already get up at 6.15 a.m. and practise yoga so I’ll keep this going. I generally then have kefir and fruit for breakfast and pack my lunch and snacks. At my new role, I get an hour and 15 minute lunch break – I plan to then take at least a 15 minute brisk walk every lunch time, 5 days a week. That would total 75 minutes of moderate intensity cardio a week. I can then use my weekends to try and get active either alone or with the family to get up to the recommended 150 minutes per week moderate intensity cardio or mix this with a shorter, more vigorous intensity cardio workout on these days.

As someone who has tried gyms and sports clubs and really does not like them, I have to find ways to get active at home. Hoping that this might be a good start – we’ll see!

Obviously, it’s far too soon to know whether this basic calorie based healthy eating plan works in the longer term but I do think it’s one of the more sensible plans out there. Focus on fuelling your body with good quality calories (not all calories are created equal), and not taking in more than you can reasonably burn off in a day. No restrictions on what you eat, I have eaten crisps if I’ve wanted to and even chocolate, but do it mindfully. Take your measurements at the start and end of the week and assess and tweak your progress as needed.

For me, there have been days when I’ve snacked on unhealthy foods like crisps or chocolate because I haven’t taken in enough healthy calories. No guilt, no judgement because rarely in life does that help! I try to just get up and try again tomorrow, spacing my meals out so that I’m less hungry the next day and upping my calories to keep the hunger pangs at bay.

I think the trick is going to be to pace myself – there’s a long way to go and this is going to be a marathon not a sprint if I’m going to not only lose those couple extra pounds but keep them off by implementing all of these healthy lifestyle choices in the longer term.

Maybe I’ll add an update in a few weeks when I should have a better idea as to how it’s all working. Until then!

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