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.

IMG_20171011_215403_128

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

IMG_20170919_192742_585
Instagram: @healthyfit_chloe

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

 

Advertisements

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.

img_20150917_093520

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

IMG_20170730_095915
100lb weight loss! Instagram: @healthyfit_chloe

 

100lb weight loss: How did I really do it?

How did I do it?

Since May 2015 I have lost 100lb naturally (7 stone 2lb/45kg). I have not had any weight loss surgery, taken any ‘magic’ pills or shortcuts, I have lost all of my weight by following a healthy balanced lifestyle consisting of lots of healthy food and plenty of exercise. I count calories and log all of my meals in a food diary to ensure I am in a calorie deficit over the week (meaning that I make sure to burn more calories than I consume, allowing my body to be burning fat resulting in weight loss).

As well as leading a healthy lifestyle in terms of food and exercise, I also firmly believe that a healthy mind is just as important. Even 2 years ago weighing 250lb, I believed in myself. I knew I wanted to lose weight and I knew I could do it! Having self belief makes you far more likely to stick to your plan and achieve your goal. Additionally, having the ability to pick yourself up after a bad day is important, as an emotional eater myself, I understand the temptation of going home after a bad day to binge eat in order to feel better, however this is a temporary solution with both mental and psychical damages in the long term.

This journey was not easy so I won’t position it as all fun and smiles. In two years I have faced many challenges, had several setbacks, laughed and cried (sometimes all in one day!) Some of which I will explain throughout this blog.

What do I mean by balance?
I’ve mentioned before in other blogs and on Instagram that I follow an 80/20% lifestyle and I always have done since the beginning, this means that for 80% of the week I eat healthy and for 20% I enjoy a treat. This works for me as I still like to enjoy meals out and sweet treats and lets be honest we can’t be 100% all year round.

What balance looked like for me 2 years ago when I started losing weight:
Saturday was my weigh day (at home) and also treat day so I ate whatever I wanted on Saturday evenings (literally anything I fancied) sometimes a meal out but usually a takeaway pizza, bottle of wine and a bar of chocolate and I wouldn’t log it or feel guilty. I’d make sure to get straight back on plan on Sunday morning or occasionally I would sometimes have a small treat on Sunday night like leftover chocolate from Saturday or tea and biscuits. From Monday I would then be 100% on plan for the duration of the week. One night of eating a lot of food didn’t ruin my progress as long as I didn’t continue to over indulge for the next few days and I ensured that I was in a calorie deficit for the rest of the week.

What balance looks like for me now:
I still follow an 80% 20% lifestyle but I am more strict with food (mostly because I have been good in the lead up to my holiday but also because I’m trying not to use food as a reward so I’m having less cheat meals). However, these days I don’t plan my cheat meals so much, I just have them when I fancy them usually every few weeks or so dependent on my social plans. I try to opt for ‘clean’ cheat meals where possible such as homemade burgers or protein pizza, then I save my remaining calories for puddings such as pancakes, protein bars, protein cookies or homemade protein ice cream.

Even now I am quite flexible – If I over eat on my calories on a meal or treat, I will simply adjust my calories accordingly, for example I won’t eat the snack I had planned for later on in the day or I will eat less the following day to balance out my calories.

I currently track macronutrients (macros) to monitor my daily food intake which means that I try to stick to a set amount of carbs, fat and protein each day. I have been eating around 1600-1700 calories, 180g carbs, 50g fat, 150g protein and I aim to burn 500+ calories a day – meaning that I’m in a calorie deficit. My exercise routine is based on 5 weight training sessions per week, daily walks to reach my steps and 3-4 short cardio sessions a week (e.g. 15-20 minutes of interval sprints on treadmill 30 seconds sprint 30 second rest at the side). Find out more about macros including how to set your own by clicking here.

Now I have reached my overall weight loss goal, my next goal is fitness, muscle building and strength so I will be increasing my calorie intake and reviewing my general food and exercise plan in order to reach my next goal.

Why I don’t like ‘diets’

I hate the word diet! To me, a diet gives the impression of a short term fix, possibly before a holiday or other occasion when people want to feel good before going away. While a quick-fix diet may provide you with a quick weight loss in a short amount of time, it’s likely that all the weight lost will be gained very easily and very quickly. A diet also has a negative stigma attached to it, for example I often hear people say ‘I can’t have that I’m on a diet’, or ‘I have to eat salad because I’m on a diet’ restriction or banning of your favourite foods can lead to a relapse and binge eating. My advice is eat healthy, get active, drink water and enjoy your favourite treats in moderation – again going back to the 80/20 view – so eat your veggies and protein but if you want a cookie, have it!

My biggest obstacles and how I overcame them

As I mentioned above, a weight loss/fitness journey is not easy. I’ve had several challenges to face and it really is a complete mental battle. That being said, it’s how you approach these challenges and overcome them that is important. I’ve listed below the biggest challenges I have faced over the last 2 years and my ways of overcoming them.

1) Binge eating

I previously had a very bad relationship with food. I could eat a pack of biscuits, large bag or block of chocolate, large bag of crisps all in one sitting just as a snack and I would often secretly eat in private (looking back, I’m not even sure why I did this). This was the biggest factor for me in my drastic weight gain throughout my teens and when I decided to lose weight I knew the binging had to stop. Even in the early stages of weight loss I had episodes of binges, often when I would be having a ‘cheat night’, for example I would have a pizza for my cheat meal sometimes with a side of fries and garlic bread, but then I would ‘need’ something sweet afterwards so would often have a bar of sharing chocolate then raid the cupboards because I thought ‘I’ve started eating now I may as well continue’. This is still something I am working on, even today, however it is a lot more under control now and I manage it with positive thinking and self belief.
Overcoming binging:

  1.  Move on – the worst thing to do is dwell on what happened and overthink about the situation, it’s already in the past so move on and leave it behind you.
  2. Drink water – stay hydrated the following day by ensuring you drink plenty of water, this can also help to reduce psychical hunger and reduce the chance of further binging.
  3. Be kind to yourself – you’ve had a binge but that’s ok, it was one day, it doesn’t define you and it won’t hold you back. Tell yourself you can overcome it because you are strong and do not put yourself down or punish yourself.
  4. Focus on getting through that day – don’t worry about tomorrow or the next day or next week. Think about that day only and do this daily.

2) Thinking ahead too much

2 years ago at a weight of 250lbs I desperately wanted to be thin as soon as possible. Realistically, weight loss takes a long time as it is a journey not a race, however, being overweight was tough and as soon as I decided to lose weight, I wanted to lose it immediately. I originally had set an overall goal of 66lb to lose, but I didn’t set a time limit, the time will pass anyway so I thought I may as well work hard and reach my goal despite how long it would take. The process can’t be rushed and sometimes the longer it takes isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it helped me to learn a lot about myself including my ability to pick myself up and keep fighting through the tough times.

3) Working in an office

Working in an office means I am often surrounded by cakes, biscuits, sweets and other tempting goodies. Sometimes I will have a small treat but most of the time I resist and stay on track. What I find most difficult about this is the comments I receive from others. For example, if they notice I haven’t eaten a treat they will say ‘Chloe why haven’t you had one?’, there is almost peer pressure to eat something just because everyone else is (which sounds crazy but it’s true!) Don’t fall into the trap of eating something for the sake of it or due to peer pressure, if you don’t want it then don’t eat it – in 5 minutes other people won’t even remember if you have eaten their cake or not! Another tip which I find useful is to say ‘no thanks I don’t eat that’ rather than ‘I can’t eat that’ which implies you’re not allowed or your restricted, saying ‘I don’t’ implies that you are in control.

4) Social life

Life is constantly moving and we are all busy – this can sometimes be an issue if you’re trying to lose a few pounds however you can’t sit inside all day every day avoiding the outside world! You can still lose weight and have a social life. At the start of my weight loss I still went out for meals, drinks, parties etc, I just monitored what I ate and adjusted the days calories accordingly. 2 years on, I don’t have meals out as much, however if I do I will opt for high protein low carb meals such as a chicken salad, fish and veg, etc and drink water. Sadly I have lost touch with several people throughout this process as I don’t spend all my weekends in pubs/bars/clubs anymore, I don’t go out for meals as much and I will spend most evenings in the gym because I enjoy it. Other people may not understand your goal and therefore might not appear as supportive as you would like them to, don’t let this stop you from doing what you want to do. If you want to go to the gym rather than go out for a meal, your friends will understand, at the same time don’t give up your social life to lose a couple of pounds, life is all about balance.

FB_IMG_1465561339482

My biggest tips for weight loss

  • Don’t over complicate things – weight loss and fitness is a process, but there isn’t really a right or wrong way to do it – it’s a personal journey and it’s about finding what does and doesn’t work for you
  • Be consistent – I didn’t lose 100lb in a week, it takes time, work hard and be patient and the results will come
  • This is about being healthy not ‘skinny’ – I do not agree with detoxing, juice diets, low calorie plans etc (believe me I have tried them all in the past and they don’t work), this is about fuelling your body right in a healthy way to lose weight safely and naturally
  • Don’t compare yourself to others – all of our bodies are different, some people can lose 4lb a week, some will lose 1lb. Focus on your own journey, every pound adds up.
  • Don’t rely on the scales – our weight fluctuates daily therefore the scales can read heavier but it’s unlikely that you would have gained weight. Use other methods such as before photos to use in 4, 6 or 8 weeks time to see the changes that the scale won’t show. Additionally, a pair of jeans is also a good way to measure weight loss – try to listen to your body and the way you feel rather than relying on what the scales are showing
  • Write yourself a plan – set a plan for the week for your meals each day and your exercise plans, this way you’re fully prepared for each day
  • Set small goals – even weekly goals are useful and can help to push yourself and continually improve. This could be to do with weight loss or non scale related such as improvements in the gym, feeling more confident, etc.
  • Reward yourself – I always reward myself for reaching my goals, this is a big motivator and keeps me on track to reach the next ones. It could be a new pair of trainers or a new outfit etc, be careful using food as a reward, as much as I believe in treating yourself, you don’t want to celebrate losing 1lb by overeating.
  • Be positive – this also helps to stay motivated! (read my tips on staying motivated on another blog – Motivation: Positivity is Key)
  • Don’t give up – it can be hard, you might get disheartened if you don’t feel any different, you might want to give up and go back to old habits, but stop, take a breath, remind yourself why you want this AND KEEP GOING!

I hope this is useful if you’re just starting your weightloss journey or if you just wanted some insight in general. Find out more tips, healthy recipes and workouts on my 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.

Screenshot_2015-12-31-11-49-25
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!

IMG_20151203_141226

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!)

Screenshot_2015-08-12-20-04-38-1

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/