From the age of 20, I lived on takeaways and fried food. I knew I wasn’t making good nutritional choices, and I didn’t like how I looked or how I felt. I was getting out of breath climbing stairs or during any form of exercise. New Look was my only local clothes shop and eventually I couldn’t shop there anymore as the clothes didn’t fit me.
Then a friend and I had some professional photographs taken together and I took up about three quarters of each shot. Good value for me (!) but it was a shock to see how I really looked, no filters, no clever angles. It was a wakeup call and I realised I had to do something about who I really wanted to be.
Why did I choose LighterLife?
I’d tried all sorts of diets before, from practically starving to calorie counting… with no luck, they just weren’t structured enough. Then I read about LighterLife in a newspaper and how effectively and quickly it worked. I didn’t want to spend years and years losing a pound a week, I wanted faster results to motivate me. I thought seeing results every week would give me the momentum to maintain my mindset and stick to the plan.
My LighterLife journey
I started TotalFast in March 2007. Tracey, my Mentor, had told me what was going to happen but it’s one thing hearing about it and quite another living it. I did feel hungry during my first week, but I think a lot of that was just wanting to taste something. It was a habit, like automatically opening the fridge when I came home from work and eating food without actually being hungry.
I committed to 100 days on the plan, which at the time was just soup, shakes and 2 bars a week. Hard work, but it took away the problem of having to make any decisions around food. Mixing the chocolate and banana shake packs into a yummy chocolate banana mix got me through a lot of the tough days. Although I did once accidentally mix a chicken and chocolate pack – horrific!
But I didn’t need to cook or even visit the supermarket. And I left my partner to cook his own food (so he had a learning curve all of his own as well) as I wanted to concentrate on sticking to the plan and losing the weight.
The importance of Mentor support and CBT Mindfulness
Having a Mentor and joining the weekly CBT Mindfulness sessions was really, really useful while on plan. I loved having the lemon magnet to stick on the fridge. It’s still there now, 16 years on, reminding me to consider whether I’m actually hungry or whether I’m opening the fridge out of habit. And it was great being part of a private group and being able to share our journeys and stories in confidence in a safe environment.
Committing to the group sessions, knowing I would see the same people every week, was a big part of what helped me to succeed with LighterLife: the structure, the mentoring, and the team feeling in our group meetings.
It was a mixed bag with regards to support from friends. Some were super supportive while others weren’t at all. And it was interesting how much of my socialising involved alcohol. Not being able to drink for 100 days really showed me how much I was drinking, I think I saved a packet!
Was it all worth it?
And it was wonderful going to the ‘wrong’ end of the clothing rails – heading towards the large sizes and then realising, “Hang on… this isn’t my size any more.” My work trousers were hanging off me within a few weeks of starting, which was a wonderful feeling. Hello new smaller sized clothes!
A top tip I’d give to anyone losing weight is to get rid of all of the clothes that don’t fit any more. It‘s too easy to slip back into old habits but when you realise your new clothes are getting tighter, and you don’t have your old bigger sizes to put back on, it gives you the nudge to do something about it.
My new lighter life
But it’s more than new clothes. I went to the gym a bit before losing weight and it was SO interesting how differently the gym instructors treated me. Before, if I couldn’t do something it was because I wasn’t trying. Now, it’s very different.
I started running on the treadmill to maintain my weight loss, progressed to running outside, and eventually joined parkrun, which was a revelation. A whole new world of friends with a shared interest, and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve raced for Great Britain, run 100 mile races, and I’m an ambassador for several incredible fitness companies. My life has changed in the most incredible ways!
Before LighterLife I wasn’t practising mindful eating and had far less awareness of nutrition. So, when I had my daughter, I was concerned I’d slip back into old eating habits. However, being aware of this helped. Yes, I gained pregnancy weight, but I was able to lose it again in a healthy way by understanding how I should eat and exercise.
My key LighterLife takeaways (pun not intended)
- Mindful eating and being aware of whether I’m eating from hunger or habit.
- Leaving a little something on the plate gives a sense of control.
Are you thinking of joining LighterLife too? Because if you’re willing to put the work in, it will change your life. And I’d really recommend going to the Management group sessions afterwards as just losing the weight isn’t the end, you need to learn to maintain your health and weight as well.