It's January. Everyone seems to be on a diet. Or maybe you have cut something out for a "new you" for 2017. Even if you haven't told anyone I bet it's in your mind somewhere!
It was definitely in my mind last year. In 2015 I had been a bridesmaid for two of my best friends. Whilst I absolutely loved both wedding days, I was so sad when the photos came back to see me looking puffy and plumper than I really would have liked for such important milestones in our photographic lives together as besties.
Now I know I'm not 'fat,' please don't get me wrong. I am not overweight and I am absolutely not saying my size was excessive. But to me, I always knew I was carrying more pounds than really my body was happy with.
I had always wanted desperately to shed the weight, but my efforts through exercise (read 4-5 intense workout classes a week and then giving up after a couple of months seeing no results) or 'dieting' (read juicing periodically for 3-5 days or buying no food for the house to stop me bingeing) were having little to no lasting effect.
So 2016 was going to be a fresh start for me. And this was my plan of attack:
1. I took a food intolerance test
Firstly I had my test results showing my yeast intolerance (I did mine with York Laboratories). What started off as "well that's just bread" took me on this whole journey cutting out sugar, processed meats, dairy and wheat.
By far and away my intolerance test results were the most important factor in my weight loss. The process taught me so much about the food I was eating; what could be considered a 'complete' meal and what I should be focusing on or cutting out. I could actually eat food (more food in fact!), feel full and not deprived, and lose weight. Banishing the bloating and IBS symptoms as well was the icing on the cake.
There is a lot of evidence that these blood tests are highly inaccurate, but I'm still pleased I did mine, read more on that here.
2. I started counting calories
Please don't shout at me. I know a lot of people hate calories and think counting them is a completely ineffective way to manage weight. But I find the reminder extremely helpful.
Using an app like My Fitness Pal just kept me on track knowing what I'd eaten in a day and how much more I could have that evening or later that week if I wanted to keep low on calories. I didn't get obsessed. I just used it to check in each day and guide me.
3. I tried to walk 10,000 steps a day
My boyfriend bought me a Jawbone fitness tracker and this helped inspire me to make a more conscious effort to keep an eye on my step count and find ways to hit the magic 10,000 steps each day.
"Eat less, move more" is a fairly good mantra for weight loss, so rather than extreme exercise which wasn't sustainable, more walking felt like the right solution for me.
As well as taking the stairs, getting off the bus a stop early and walking to a tube stop further away, this target also meant going out for a walk every lunchtime. This is something I had never really done regularly in almost ten years of office based work!
Taking a break at lunch has so many other benefits besides your step count, like improving your concentration and improved creativity to solve that problem staring at you from the computer screen. It's something I've stuck to ever since, even if the time varies from day to day.
4. I started taking a probiotic every day
You may have read my blog post just before Christmas about the benefits of a daily probiotic; if not click here.
One of the many many benefits of probiotics, as well as improved gut function, boosted immune system and better brain functioning, is that they may aid weight loss. I don't think I put two and two together originally, but it makes sense that the probiotic I eventually settled on my well have been adding to my weight loss achievement.
5. I tried to get 8 hours sleep a night
I love sleep. My mum always told me even as a baby I was obsessed with sleeping and it really hasn't gone away. So the idea of sleeping away those pounds is heaven to me.
Getting enough sleep every night can help you burn more calories, boost fat loss and helps keep your brain focused, for those moments of weakness when you need that steely determination to not succumb to the cookies that your colleague bought for the department to share.
Later in the year I also read Arianna Huffington's Thrive, which I would thoroughly recommend. In it she talks about how important getting enough sleep is. It was such a powerful message to me to counter the endless stories of successful powerful women claiming they get by on little-to-no sleep. Personally I need sleep, and shouldn't be ashamed to admit that. I'm desperate to read Arianna's other book The Sleep Revolution now!
So over all yes. Eating a yeast free diet can definitely help you lose weight. But for me it was in combination with a few other factors too. All together I managed to achieve a sustainable weight loss of around a stone which has stayed off throughout the year, without any extreme exercise or calorie restriction.
DISCLAIMER: I am not 'thin' now I'm a year on! Maybe you can't even see the difference in the photos, and that's totally fine. Photos, as everyone knows on the internet, can tell so many different stories. For me it has been more important to know what I'm consuming is making both me and my gut happy, rather than a crash diet losing pounds and still feeling miserable.
So yes, sometimes I still see photos of myself with a double chin or lumpy stomach or love handles and think "sheesh, still some work to do there love." But over all I am pleased with the results I got from genuinely sustainable changes to my diet and lifestyle and know it's something I can keep up and build on. I am more mindful about what I eat and that's made me happier.
So now for some 2017 goals.... what are yours? And at Day 6 of 2017, are you still sticking to them? x