You CAN eat chocolate and lose weight: How I lost 100lb by being smart with food

Many people think losing weight is all about eating salads and being hungry most of the time or that they’ll have to cut out their favourite foods forever. BUT, I have lost 100lb while still enjoying my favourite foods and treats because I am clever with my food choices.

I don’t believe in banning favourite foods because there is no way I could last without pizza, chocolate or biscuits. For the whole way through my weight loss journey from May 2015 to today, I have tracked my calories to ensure I am in a calorie deficit (apart from cheat days) so if I eat a donut (around 200 cals), I would look to see what I can adjust for the rest of the day, for example I wouldn’t eat the snack I had planned for later on or I’d have a smaller dinner etc. This can be done by using apps such as Samsung S Health, My Fitness Pal or even by reading food labels and using a pen and paper!

The best way to do this is by calculating your daily allowance in terms of your macronutrients (macros)*. Macros are the breakdown of the food we eat and includes carbohydrates, fat and protein – in order to follow a macro tracking approached diet you need to be eating a combination of each of these but once you have worked out your own macros, you can eat what you like if it fits into your daily allocation.

Let’s break it down. A typical 170lb 5ft 4″ female looking to lose body fat and is moderately active can have 1767 calories per day with a split of 177g carbs, 177g protein and 39g fat. For this approach to work effectively, you need to hit these macros every day consistently, but as this method is flexible it’s not that difficult AND you can still enjoy your favourite foods.

So how do I still eat my favourite food?

Let’s talk chocolate! Your body doesn’t eat a chocolate bar and think ‘oh I’m eating something naughty I will gain weight’ it recognises the macro breakdown of the food. For example, let’s compare a handful of cashews vs a small bag of malteasers:

  1. 30g serving of cashews: 174 cals, 14.3 fat, 9 carbs, 5g protein
  2. 37g bag of malteasers: 187 cals, 9.2 fat, 22g carbs 3g protein

The results here from both snack options show that they have very similar macros, so while you may be inclined to go for the nuts because they are the ‘healthy’ option, once you take a closer look into the nutrient breakdown you can see you can actually eat the chocolate instead. Of course nuts are still a good choice and they do contain a higher amount of protein and fibre which help to keep full for longer but don’t feel like you have to go for the nuts because they considered healthy. Which would you rather eat? I know I’d go for the chocolate.

Serving sizes

With a macro tracking approach (or even just if you’re calorie counting) it’s important to measure and monitor everything you eat. I bought a cheap electronic scale from Amazon and I weigh EVERYTHING! It’s so easy to eat too many calories if you don’t realise what you’re eating. For example, while nuts are considered a healthy option, the recommended serving size is 20-30g which is a small handful. If you grab a big bag and snack your way through it, you could end up eating 500+ calories of nuts in one sitting.

A typical day of food for me:

  • Breakfast – overnight oats made with 100ml almond milk, 10g chia seeds, 1 scoop of protein powder and 40g oats, topped with 75g raspberries – 350 cals
  • Snack 1 – arla protein yoghurt 140 cals
  • Lunch – 150g chicken breast with seasoning of choice, roasted veg, spinach 335 cals
  • snack 2 – apple or blueberries and Hartley’s 10 cal jelly 70 cals
  • Dinner – lean chilli made with 5% fat mince beef, kidney beans and black beans for extra protein and fibre, served with 125g long grain rice – 500 cals
  • Snack 3/pudding/post work out treat – Grenade bar or other protein bar/cookie, piece of chocolate of choice, biscuits/ice cream – up to 300 cals

Ok, so I don’t eat chocolate or cake every day, but if I fancy something I can make it fit into my daily macros and not feel guilty. My go to treat is a Grenade protein bar melted in the microwave for 15 seconds.

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What do I do if I go over my macros?

This does happen occasionally, particularly if I’m enjoying a bigger treat than usual on the weekend, but it’s OK, it’s not a big drama and it doesn’t ruin progress as long as a bad day doesn’t turn into a bad week…

Let’s say I have around 100 calories left for the day after I’ve eaten and logged all my meals so I plan to eat 2 Fox’s crunch cream biscuits with a cup of tea after dinner and end up eating 7 (easily done they’re the best biscuits ever invented!), that means my inital plan of eating 120 calories worth of biscuits actually means I’ve eaten 420 calories instead.

This means I will have gone over my daily allowance. In many instances when people overeat they tend to feel guilty and do excessive amounts of cardio to burn off calories. For me, I will adjust and monitor my macros for the following day (or few days if I go over by a lot), so if I’ve eaten 300 calories too many today, I will eat 150 less tomorrow and the next day to balance it out throughout the week.

This approach does work well for most people however it does mean you need to be consistent with measuring your food portions, logging what the food and drink that you have consumed and it means you need to be wary of serving sizes on packages. Like I always say, weight loss is a personal journey and there is not a right or wrong way to do it, it’s about finding what works for you and what will last long term – the most important thing to remember is that results don’t happen over night, it takes days/weeks/months of consistency so if you’re trying out a new method, give it time and keep going!

To find out more about macros and to work out your own, you can find some more info here https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutrients_calculator.htm

For more weight loss inspiration take a look at my Instagram page by clicking here

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Instagram: @healthyfit_chloe

*Source: https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutrients_calculator.htm

 

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My top ways to stay MOTIVATED!

Staying motivated can be tough! Here are my top tips to increase motivation:

Surround yourself with positivity

It’s easy to get disheartened if you don’t see results as quickly as you’d hoped, or if you think about how long it could take you to reach your end goal. What is important is to try and always remain positive and see the good in every situation.

  • Get rid of the word ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary – if you’re telling yourself you can’t do it, you will most likely give up because you believe that ‘you can’t do it’. Tell yourself you can and you will do it!
  • Rather than thinking how far you have to go, think about how far you’ve already come. Whether you’ve made the decision to lose weight/get healthy and you are just starting your journey or you’ve already lost X amount of pounds – be proud of where you are and how much you have already achieved.

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Set goals and write them down

Recent studies* show that those who write down their goals are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who do not write them down. I have written down my goals for a couple of years now because to me, if it’s in your head, it’s just an idea, if you write it down, it has become an action, something you’ve committed to and therefore you are more likely to achieve it.

Additionally, having a goal to work towards is important (even really small ones that may seem insignificant but you’ll feel amazing when you reach them). I usually set 3 big goals at the start of the year – often a mix of fitness/health goals but also career goals – and I also set monthly/weekly health goals which are smaller and somewhat easier to reach, e.g. be able run an extra km on the treadmill, drink more water, reach my daily steps, reflect on the week etc. I find goals really useful for self development and providing an extra push. For tips on goal setting read my blog Setting Achievable Goals.

Think about why you want it

Why did you start losing weight? Was it to feel good for a holiday or other occasion? To be able to wear whatever you want? To run in the park with your kids? Or just to improve your overall health? Whatever it was that got you motivated to lose weight in the first instance, think about that and don’t lose sight of what you really want.

I have a whiteboard in my bedroom where I write down my goals, stick a couple of motivational quotes on there that I like and also a transformation picture of where I started vs where I am now. I see this every single day and it gives me such a buzz knowing how much I have achieved since the very first day!

Enjoy the process

Part of the reason I have remained motivated for so long now is because I enjoy what I do. I look forward to planning my meals, doing my food shopping and cooking, I look forward to experimenting with exercise and trying new workouts and getting stronger and of course I enjoy all the results from the process!

If you are looking at weight loss as a chore you will find it difficult to stay motivated for long. The best thing to do is experiment and find what you like, if you get bored eating salad for lunch then try something tasty that you’ll enjoy like a chicken wrap with seasoning and low fat/calorie sauce or tuna pasta salad, or salmon and cous cous – you don’t have to always eat salad to lose weight! Similarly with exercise, find something you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to stick to it long term and look forward to it.

Use the journey to learn about yourself to continually improve and develop.

Remember that you won’t see results over night, keep going! Stay consistent, trust the process and believe in yourself! For more tips on motivation and reaching your goals, follow me on Instagram @healthyfit_chloe

*Sources: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellevate/2014/04/08/why-you-should-be-writing-down-your-goals/#3d67c1213397

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100lb weight loss! Instagram: @healthyfit_chloe

 

No Crash Diets, No Pills, No Wraps – Just a Healthy Lifestyle

As 2015 comes to an end, I decided to write a blog of my weight loss progress so far, since May I have lost 4st 2lb (26.2kg, 58lb) and I’d like to share my journey so far with you.

Why did I Start This Journey?

2015 has been an exciting and rewarding year, however the start of the year was not so great. In January I felt tired and sluggish all the time and had been suffering with terrible headaches on a daily basis, sometimes lasting all day with paracetamol having very little effect on the pain. After various tests over a 4 month period it was determined that my headaches were being caused by high blood pressure due to my weight.

On May 18th 2015 I decided it was time for a change, I was not particularly unhappy with the way I looked on the outside however I knew that I was very unhealthy on the inside, so I wanted to do something about it – since that day I have never looked back!

Food and Exercise

I have tried several low-calorie diet plans in the past and found them to be unsuccessful, I’d be hungry all the time and I’d often go back to old habits after several weeks, this time I knew I had to completely change my relationship with food. Before I changed my eating habits, I would normally eat for convenience rather than for health, at the time I worked Monday to Friday 9-5 in an office based role, meaning that during the day I had little opportunity to exercise but lots of opportunity to eat! Like most busy people I thought I didn’t have the time to make healthy meals from scratch or go the gym (although now I realise that time was just my excuse). When I got home from work I would usually have a microwavable ready meal, a takeaway or go out to a pub/restaurant. Most of the time I would skip breakfast, over-eat at lunch time, snack on some chocolate or crisps throughout the day and then over-eat in the evenings.

My new food plan consisted of a big breakfast (high in protein and healthy fats), a smaller lunch and dinner with chicken and veg/jacket potato/salad etc and 3 snacks throughout the day including unsalted almonds and fruit. I also aimed to drink 2-3 litres of water each day.

I found it really useful to log my meals on my Samsung phone, I use the S Health app (similar to MyFitnessPal) to make a note of all my meals and snacks, it would tell me the amount of calories, fat and protein that I had consumed that day. I aimed to eat between 1200 and 1500 calories a day (although this did change as time went on) and 30g or less of fat a day. Some people say when you eat less you’re hungry all the time however I found that eating a big, healthy breakfast and eating the right foods throughout the day kept me feeling full and less likely to snack on naughty food throughout the day.

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Before May this year I did very little exercise, I disliked being active and I would choose to drive somewhere rather than walk but I knew that needed to change. I started off small, I took the stairs instead of the lift, walked to the shop rather than drive and went out for a walk on my lunch break or in the evenings. As I got used to walking I started cycling as often as I could, aiming for 1 or 2 long rides a week, I attended to the gym 3 times a week, went swimming 3 times a week and in October I joined a bootcamp and now I exercise 5 times a week.

Weight Loss and Other Benefits

With the combination of healthy eating and exercise, I began to see the benefits very quickly, after 2 weeks I had lost 9 pound and this encouraged me to keep going. On average, for the first few months I lost 2-3 pounds a week, however it has now slowed down a lot with my weekly weight loss average being 1 pound or sometimes no loss at all. I’ve learned that it’s important to not let myself get upset if the scales don’t show the results I wanted as there are many other benefits to a healthy lifestyle. The benefits I have noticed are that I have more energy, I am more toned (so even if the scales haven’t gone down I have still lost inches and toned), my hair and nails have grown, my skin is clear, I am able to function better at University, my headaches have significantly decreased and most importantly I am the healthiest I have ever been!

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Motivation

I’ve been on my weight loss journey for almost 8 months, this is the longest I have ever stuck at it before! Between October and November I had lost no weight for 3 weeks in a row, that to me was disappointing because I had worked hard. Sometimes in that position, when motivation is low, it is easy to think ‘what’s the point’ and give up, this is why I surround myself with a number of motivators to remind myself why I started this:

  •   Instagram – Social Media is a powerful tool, I have used Instagram almost like a diary with my weight loss, posting updates of my results on a regular basis and I follow many other people who are also on a journey similar to mine. It is inspiring to see the results of others and it has helped me stay on track.
  • ‘Pounds’ Jars – I have 2 jars which are labelled ‘pounds to go’ and ‘pounds gone’, they are filled with small pebbles and each pebble represents 1 pound. I find this a great motivator to see how much I have actually lost.
  • Weight Loss Folder – I have created an album on my phone where I save photos of my progress, whether it be images of my food, inspirational/motivational quotes or selfies, I have found it useful to look back on when I need some motivation.
  • Comparison photos – I had lost 2 and a half stone before actually noticing any differences myself, however when I put an old photo next to a current photo I saw a massive difference and I was amazed. Since then I try to create comparison photos regularly to remind myself how far I have come rather than how far I have to go.
  • Weekly Weight Monitoring – some people weigh themselves every day, which personally I think is too much. I would recommend weighing once a week as weight fluctuates throughout the week so 7 days will provide a more accurate result. I also keep a log of my weight loss in a memo so that I know how much I have lost in total.
  • Think of it as a lifestyle not a diet – many people would say to me ‘how’s your diet going?’ or ‘are you still on that diet?’ but I don’t like to think of it as a diet, a diet implies that it’s a short term change, however a lifestyle implies it is long term which I think is more motivating.
  • ilostwhat.com – this website is really fun if you are losing weight, it gives you an idea of how much weight you have lost by comparing it to an object. For example I have currently lost 58 pounds which according to this website is the equivalent to 58,000 pennies! (Imagine carrying 58,000 pennies around all day – no wonder I was tired!)

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Although I may have made it sound easy on here, it definitely is not easy, it is a lot of hard work and dedication, but it is so worth it!

If you are starting a health journey in the new year, here are a few things to remember which have helped me:

  • Focus on being healthy not being skinny
  • Don’t skip breakfast!
  • You don’t have to eat less, you have to eat right
  • Drink lots of water
  • Believe in yourself – you can do more than you think
  • Don’t expect results over night but it will happen so don’t give up
  • Choose progress over perfection
  • Do it because you want to

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2016!

Learn more or follow my journey here – https://www.instagram.com/chloe.longstaff/