My journey to losing 50lb in weight
Today I want to share my weight loss journey with you that started in 2013 just after I had left college.
I want my own journey to help guide you, inspire you and be your little comfort blanket as you strive towards achieving your own weight loss goals!
Most of all, I want to show you that losing weight doesn’t have to be a chore, battle or even a great deal of effort.
I want you to feel assured that you are perfectly capable of losing weight, even if you’ve experienced failure in the past (so have I and many, many before me!).
My own personal weight loss journey is a large part of why I started writing this blog and I hope with all my heart you get some inspiration from my trials and tribulations of trying to lose weight.
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my weight gain story
I am of a petite frame (5ft 3″) and had weighed around 120lb from being age 15.
In 2010 I started college, aged 20, still weighing my usual 120lb!
Up until I started college, I had generally eaten healthy food, drunk alcohol to a minimum and had maintained fairly good lifestyle habits.
Unfortunately – that all went to pot rapidly in pretty much the first 3 months of starting college.
I picked up all the typical bad habits you would expect, that were actually completely out of character for me:-
There was only one direction my waistline was going and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess which!
Yup, within the first year of college I had put on 35lbs, which was almost unheard of for me.
I noticed that I seemed to be hungry all of the time, I had much less energy and I felt completely sluggish.
I had gone up 3 dress sizes and was struggling to find clothes that suited my new frame!
I had been used to not really having to worry about my weight in the past but that had all changed and I felt like a different woman!
The worse thing was that I couldn’t even get motivated to make any changes or even start a diet.
turning a corner (not quite)!
Six more months past and I put on another 20lbs in weight.
At this point, I started to take action but in all the wrong ways.
I moved from fad diet to fad diet with a little bit of inconsistent exercise thrown into the mix for good measure!
I went through probably 4 diets in the space of a year. I also tried to starve myself throughout periods of that year!
I would make some progress where I lost a couple of pounds, which made me feel great, only for my will power and discipline to then crash and burn!
I can summarize my failures with this diagram:-
By the time I had finished college in the summer of 2013, I had put on around 60lbs in weight (in 3 years) and I felt completely demoralized!
My lowest (but quite amusing) point was when some guy I met asked me when the baby (I wasn’t carrying) was due.
Majorly embarrassing for both of us when I revealed that the apparent baby in my belly was in fact just 3 years of college taking its toll!
At this stage, I knew that I had to make some drastic changes and I set my target at 50lbs which I intended to lose within 12 months.
what I did to lose 50lb
My initial approach to losing weight was the classic all or nothing approach, which is one of the main reasons why so many people fail.
Essentially I had a short term mindset where I focused really hard on the fad diet I was doing for about 4 weeks and then drifted back into my old eating habits.
The problem was that I didn’t have a long term plan to keep me on the straight and narrow.
I therefore had a good think about what I needed to do.
At this point, I decided I would go back to basics. The ones everyone knows:-
- A good diet;
- Some exercise;
- Adopting good weight loss habits.
But this time I was going to implement these things properly and not half halfheartedly!
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the diet i chose to lose 50lb
I love food! I love eating it, I love cooking it and I love sharing it with people!
This was always going to be a problem for me because I think food is one of the greatest pleasures in life!
Probably not a great attribute when you want to shave off 50 pounds in fairly quick time!
I have such a varied palate and am probably the least fussy eater I know.
I therefore knew I needed to follow a diet that was varied, not too restrictive and super tasty – otherwise I would just fail again!
I knew I needed to get this right, not just for the above reasons, but because diet is the number one thing that will help you lose weight.
Diet is much more important for weight loss than exercise or any other thing you can change in your life.
Diet is numero uno when it comes to weight loss!
So I got busy and read lots of material about a diet that would suit me.
In the end, one diet kept ticking all the right boxes for me with what I wanted to achieve – that diet was the Mediterranean diet!
Related Article: 4 Diets to Lose Weight Super Duper Fast
what is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a diet inspired by the eating habits of people who live around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe.
It’s mainly comprised of foods traditionally eaten by Greeks, Italians and the Spanish.
One of the things I love about this diet is that it is extremely varied and doesn’t require total abstention from any of the major food groups! This suited me perfectly given my love of food.
This means that carbs, fats (the good ones) and proteins (the lean ones) are all still on the menu.
One of the key benefits of this diet is that the focus is on eating the foods that are part of the diet rather than being religious about counting calories.
That means it’s much less mathematical than some diets.
The diet is naturally low in calories so you can be a tad more relaxed than on some other diets!
what foods can you eat on the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is super varied and most likely has something for almost all tastes.
The focus is on fresh, natural and nutritious foods. Alcohol (in moderation) is even permitted.
The diet is comprised of foods as such:-
The big no, no for the Mediterranean diet is essentially anything that’s processed, high in sugar or bad fats. The aim is to avoid foods like:-
- Processed meats (bacon, salami, chorizo etc..)
- Baked goods (cakes, pastries, biscuits etc…)
- Refined grains like white bread, white pasta and white rice
- Sugar loaded foods like ice cream, candy and sodas
the Mediterranean diet for weight loss
The main reason for me adopting the diet was to lose weight so I had to be sure that it would do just that.
After doing further research, I was amazed to see how great the Mediterranean diet can be for weight loss.
The diet is so amazing for weight loss because the foods are mainly very low calorie, natural and filling – all things that are essential for losing weight.
Just by adopting the diet and doing nothing else (i.e. no exercise or changing my habits) the research indicated that I could expect to lose up to 22lb in weight in about 3 months.
Moreover, the research showed the diet can be just as effective as a low carb diet and even more effective than a low fat one.
I knew with that potential, plus exercise and adopting better lifestyle habits, I had a great chance of shedding the excess fat I had accumulated over the last 3 years.
So I jumped straight in and started researching and then preparing med style meal plans.
mediterranean diet meal plans
Finding meals plans was extremely easy thanks to the internet.
There is absolutely no need to rush out and buy expensive recipe books as most meal plans and recipes are only a Google search away!
The key to the Mediterranean diet is fresh produce!
Unfortunately this does mean you have to shop for groceries a little more often than you might otherwise but to me it was definitely worth it. I love fresh food!
The produce can also be quite expensive if you incorporate a lot of fish for example (depending on where you live) but it doesn’t have to be as many of the food types are just every day foods like eggs, oatmeal and avocados.
I think the Mediterranean diet can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be.
Furthermore, some of the foods like wholemeal pasta, couscous, lentils and other dried foods, can be bought in bulk and stored which can save tons money in the long run.
I want to show you the types of meals to expect on the diet so I’ve prepared the below 7 day meal plan for you to consider. This is very typical of the meals I prepared:-
Is the Mediterranean diet hard work?
One of the major advantages of the diet is that it’s super simple to prepare.
As you can see, most meals can be prepared with only a handful of ingredients which means you can prepare a nutritious and filling meal fairly quickly.
The diet is also great for lunch as the meals can be easily stored in Tupperware boxes and eaten hot or cold.
The cooking techniques are also super straight forward on the Mediterranean diet. Provided you know how to boil, fry and grill then most meals are really simple to make. The meals also lend themselves well to BBQ’s so if you love cooking outdoors, it’s the perfect diet.
The hardest part of the diet was probably having to buy the fresh ingredients which can become a tad tedious when you’re at the grocery 3 or 4 times per week.
But other than that, I found the Mediterranean diet fairly easy to get on with.
Not only that but I felt more energetic, slept better, had better skin and just felt like a cleaner more energized person! It felt amazing!
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I never really liked exercising growing up and wasn’t particularly sporty at school.
I am not a particularly athletic person and consider myself a bit of weakling if I am honest.
When it came to exercise, I wanted something that was going to be:-
a) cheap (I was fairly poor at the time);
b) convenient and;
c) easy to implement.
At the time there was a lot of publicity about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which seemed to meet the criteria I was looking for.
HIIT is essentially a form of exercise characterized by short bursts of anaerobic exercise where you might do one exercise for, say, 30 seconds, then have 15 seconds rest, and then start another exercise for a further 30 seconds and so on.
The benefits of hIIT
HIIT has some amazing benefits compared to conventional exercise and that’s what I love about it:-
- The sessions usually last around 10 – 45 minutes so they are super convenient and won’t take up hours of your day;
- It has been shown to burn lots of calories in only a short period of time;
- It is proven to help speed up your metabolic rate and burn calories after you’ve exercised;
- It is great for burning fat, especially around your waistline;
- It can be done without any specialist equipment;
- It can be done without any specialist knowledge – anyone can start doing it immediately.
Exercise routine to lose 50lbs
My routine was fairly simple and didn’t really feel like a chore at all, even to someone who doesn’t really like exercising.
My routine was to exercise for 4 mornings per week with two sessions lasting 45 minutes and two sessions lasting 20 minutes.
With this routine, I would burn approximately 250 – 400 calories per session.
As I was on a budget, I didn’t buy any fancy equipment and just used some old sneakers I had laying around.
I also didn’t buy any work out DVD’s, which again was completely unnecessary.
I simply went on YouTube, typed in “HIIT training” and had, pretty much, a new HIIT video to watch every day such is the breadth and volume of content on YouTube.
I didn’t go any further than that.
There was no planning which exercises I did on a particular day, I simply followed the exercises on whatever YouTube video I was watching that day.
The only real discipline I needed to apply was ensuring I did my 4 sessions a week, which I did manage to keep to for the most part.
I believe I was helped massively by the fact that HIIT sessions are so short and straight forwards.
In terms of exercise, that’s all there was to it during my weight loss journey. Fairly simple, huh?
Weight loss habits
Whilst diet and exercise are normally the main things that dieters thinks of, it is also vital to consider lifestyle habits.
I never actually thought about these things before I took dieting seriously.
Looking back, it’s no wonder I failed so miserably at first.
So, I did my reading and looked at other things in my life that were probably holding me back!
Related Article: 6 Weight Loss Habits to Lose 50lb in Weight
As a college student, I was absolutely terrible at keeping a proper sleep routine.
My sleep patterns were all over the place. I literally had no routine and sleep only 5-6 hours most nights when I generally need around 8 hours to feel normal!
Not only does lack of sleep make you feel like poop but it is also a dieter’s worst enemey.
In fact studies have shown that not having enough sleep increased the likelihood of obesity in adults by 89%.
Without enough sleep your body produces excess amounts of the hormone ghrelin, a hormone responsible for signalling when you are hungry. Too much and your brain tells you to eat. Not good for any weight watcher!
Lack of sleep also depletes the hormone, leptin, which is responsible for suppressing hunger. Too little of this hormone and your cravings spike.
Having sufficient and good quality sleep actually dictates how your brain functions.
With the right amounts of sleep your ability to practice self-control is improved and you’ll be much less inclined to make poor dietary choices and snack between meals.
Related Article: 13 Amazing Health Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep
Drink more water
One of the greatest enemies of losing weight is eating when it’s not at all necessary.
Amazing as it is, the body is prone to slip ups from time to time and what you think is hunger is actually just thirst.
It’s therefore vitally important to your weight loss plan, that you stay adequately hydrated.
Not only will hydration keep those hunger pangs at bay but drinking water has been shown to help you burn calories.
So, aim for around 2 litres of water a day and perhaps 3 if you’re exercising rigorously!
Control your portion sizes
In the western world, we pile our food way too high! Yup, we are gluttons and eat way too much.
More food = more calories = more weight gain!
It may seem difficult at first, but reducing your portion sizes is easier than it sounds.
Most people think that by reducing their portion sizes they will create a calorie deficit meaning they will then just eat more between meals to fill in the gaps.
In fact, studies have shown this not to be the case. Instead, small portion sizes can actually lead to significant weight loss.
So, fight the urge to pile your plate high and stick to sensible portions.
I found this fairly easy as I don’t think I ever went overboard with my portions beforehand but I know others reading this might be different.
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keep a weight loss diary
When creating a diary there is a temptation to go overboard and be constantly filling it in, meticulously tracking calories and recording stats etc…
For me, this was too much and just became counter productive after a short while.
I felt like I was being taken over by my diet, which just felt wrong!
In the end I stuck to a simple monthly diary where I recorded my weight loss for that month just once.
I found this worked perfectly as it wasn’t tons of effort and I could still keep track of my progress over a time frame where I was actually likely to see a difference.
What works for you might be different but I would definitely urge you to not let your diet take over your life.
It really doesn’t have to!
My goal from the start of my weight loss journey was to lose 50lb in weight.
I had put 60lbs on while at college but 50lb sounded like a nice round number and I wasn’t too fussed about an extra 10lbs.
I wasn’t really that bothered about how long it would take to lose 50lbs but I thought 12 months would be a realistic target.
It wasn’t just my size I felt uncomfortable with, I also felt sluggish and unfit.
Whilst weight loss was my main objective, I also wanted to feel great and have bundles of energy like I did before when I was younger.
My journey was a slow burner at the start and it wasn’t until month 3 in that I started to see consistent levels of weight loss.
I am still not sure why this was as I was fairly consistent with the above steps I took. Perhaps it was just my body adapting to a new lifestyle.
As above, I think it can be useful to keep a weight loss diary when you’re on your journey and I want to share my very rudimentary diary with you (I actually rounded my weight to the nearest 0.5lbs as my scales weren’t very accurate). Here it is:-
|Amount lost (lbs)
So as you can see, by month 7 I had lost a total of 51lbs and had beat my 12 month target by 5 months! 😊😊😊
I now weighed approximately 130lbs, which I was super happy with.
You will notice that the amounts I lost got less and less as I reached month 7 as I got closer to my optimum weight.
To be honest I probably did slack off a little towards the end given the results I had seen.
But I didn’t care! I had made it and felt extremely proud of myself!
I again felt sexy in my body, felt full of energy and just had a clean, rejuvenated feeling!
My old clothes fitted me again and I felt comfortable naked!
What I learnt from my weight loss journey
This was the first time I had succeeded at losing weight (in any real measurable sense) and I definitely learnt a lot from the ride.
Some of my main take aways:-
- A diet you are comfortable with, can put up with, enjoy eating and that can be realistically maintained is much better than any number of fad diets;
- A little bit of the right kind of exercise can go a long, long way;
- Exercise doesn’t have to be effortful, demanding or over the top;
- Weight loss doesn’t have to be stressful, expensive or even technical;
- Adapting the right habits that are conducive to weight loss definitely helps;
- Weight loss is a long term game and not necessarily a quick fix.
I really hope my weight loss journey can inspire you if you’re looking to lose weight!
I had all the doubts and reservations that most people have when trying to lose weight, which were compounded by my previous failures.
However, I found that setting realistic targets and losing weight on my own terms by eating the food I enjoyed, helped me so much!
If you are looking to lose weight and want a long term strategy to follow then I can thoroughly recommend the Mediterranean diet and the exercise regime I followed.
If it can work for me, it can definitely work for you too and I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments section below.
About the author
Catherine holds a bachelor of science degree and is a registered mental health nurse.
She is a self-confessed health and fitness freak, nutrition fanatic and mental health boffin.
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