Yoga and Less Sugar
In August 2011 I started with cutting out desserts. Somehow my husband and I had gotten into the habit of having desserts, daily, after our dinner. I guess it happens in a lot of relationships, you are comfortable with each other, you are happy, and you spoil each other. I loved to treat my husband to cake, and brownies, and cookies I baked. I decided that I could not indulge daily in sweets, and would save dessert for occasions when I wanted to treat myself. I started buying sweets that I did not like too much, so my husband could still enjoy them, but I would not feel tempted.
I also started watching how much I was eating. It had become a habit to eat two or three servings of a dish I had cooked, just because it tasted great. So I started to listen to my body more. I did not want to starve myself. I just needed to stop eating when I was actually full.
Exercise had been missing in my life since I had my children. I wanted to get back to the gym, but with a toddler and a baby, that was difficult. The only free time I had was in the evening, and I was just too exhausted then. In hindsight that may have been an excuse, but I was also very self-conscious of the way I looked and did not feel comfortable going to the gym.
Luckily, there are a lot of workout DVDs on the market these days, and I decided to ease back into it with a yoga DVD. Pre-children I had been more of a Pilates and Les Mills workouts type of girl, but I did Pregnancy Yoga, and I thought the meditative and calming aspect of a yoga routine would also help with the stress I was feeling. I bought Kathy Smith’s yoga DVD and started doing it almost daily, while my children had their nap. I felt great doing it, it was me-time, it was relaxing, but at the same time it strengthened my body and gave it some flexibility back.
Elliptical Trainer and Tracy Anderson Method
We also bought an elliptical trainer, which we put in our living room, so I would be able to do some cardio workout at home, while the kids were sleeping. It was shocking to see how unfit I had become. But it felt good to move my body again.
Then a friend of mine recommended that I try the Tracy Anderson Post Pregnancy workout. I quickly ordered the DVD and was hooked. It took all my willpower at the beginning to get through them, the exercises seemed very hard. But they seemed very efficient. So I kept doing my DVDs and my cardio workouts.
After about 5 weeks I went shopping and was very proud that I could squeeze into some clothes size XL of a high-street brand shop. They were still skirts and dresses, and not trousers, but nevertheless, I saw progress and was happy. With some shapewear underneath I felt quite attractive again!
I started browsing through home workout DVDs on amazon, reading reviews, and comparing workouts. I ordered more online: Dance workouts, Tracy Anderson workouts, Ballet Conditioning workouts, more Yoga. I loved how I could do these workouts in my living room at any time that suited me, with no spectators (except my children on some occasions!) and at my own pace.
I still paid attention that I did not eat too much, and not too many sweets, but I did not want to go on a diet, I wanted to lose weight long-term and not fall into the yoyo dieting trap.
However, I did not dare weighing myself. I was scared to see black on white how heavy I was. First, I wanted to feel better, I wanted to fit better into my clothes, wanted to lose some centimetres around my belly, hips and arms. I wanted to lose the chubby cheeks.
At the end of October 2011 I finally had the courage to step on the scales. I weighed 87.3kg. That is what I weighed at the beginning of my pregnancy with my son (88kg). Being 178cm tall, that resulted in a BMI of 27.6. That means I was overweight.
Having finally weighed myself, I started using an online journal, www.fitday.com. I would weigh myself regularly and record daily what I ate and what workouts I had done. It helped me immensely to see how many calories I was consuming, and how many calories I was expending. I was very motivated now, because I wanted to look great for Christmas. We were going home to see my family, and we would have my son baptized. I wanted to be on the photos and look good in them.
Having started the online journal, I decided to make the month of November alcohol free. I had always enjoyed a cold beer, a nice cocktail and most of all champagne. I loved to have a few drinks with friends, or in the evening with my husband. So it was not easy, but after a couple of weeks I got used to not drinking. And I felt so much better! I slept better, I felt fitter, and I felt lighter. And of course I was eating better, since without alcohol I did not crave crisps, or salty nuts, or a huge bowl of spaghetti!
I felt great. I felt so great at the end of November that I bought a pair of flare jeans in size 16. They did not look good on me, but I was so happy they fit me that I had to have them.
When we travelled home for Christmas, I was very proud. I felt much slimmer. Although nobody at home commented on my shape, and neither my family nor friends said anything about the way I looked, I felt much better. Only the following summer did I learn from my grandmother that she had thought I looked big. Luckily she had not told me during the Christmas holidays, or I would have been devastated.
I tried to eat well despite the Christmas feasts all around, and not to overindulge in sweets. But of course I had champagne.
Detox and Adoring Yourself Slim
In the New Year my husband and I followed a detox diet. My husband and I do this every year, but that was the first time we did it according to Patrick Holford. I was excited to read his books, I learnt a lot about detoxing, nutrition, and the Glycaemic Index. I also read Jillian Michaels’ books about boosting your metabolism after I had seen her on the Biggest Loser US show.
The Christmas photos were definitely better. Not great, but better. Thanks to detoxing, and renewed motivation after indulging over Christmas, I went down to 78kg at the end of February 2012.
I started to understand that in order to live a long, healthy, and “slimmer” life, I needed to do more. I would have to eat cleaner, drink less (alcohol), and exercise more intensely.
A book called Adore Yourself Slim showed me a new path to healthier living. Lisa recommends self-hypnosis and I found the visualisations very helpful. The book also gets you to measure yourself, to keep a journal, and to write down compliments you receive on your journey. I think the book is an excellent motivational tool, and I have read it many times.
It was motivating to see progress in the regular measurements, and it was very helpful to write down my goals, my inspiration, and even the occasional compliments I got from people commenting how good I looked. The self-hypnosis sessions were very soothing, and I must admit I fell asleep a few times during these visualisations, but I enjoyed them. And writing down the compliments showed me that people were noticing a change, and that motivated me to continue on my journey.
Running and Plant Based Diet
On February 27, 2012, I stepped onto the treadmill in the gym, which was located in the apartment block where we used to live. I did ten minutes of walking at a ten degrees incline. I hated it. Then I went on the rowing machine and did twenty minutes. I liked that better. The pace had been slow, but I felt accomplished, finally I had started going back to the gym and had even stepped on the dreaded treadmill.
While I was ‘adoring myself slim’, I started reading the China Study, The: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health. I read it front to back within a few days. I thought it was interesting as it promotes a plant based diet for health reasons. I had always thought that I would not be able to live on a vegan diet, that it would be very hard to cut out animal products. I had tried for a while to live on a vegetarian diet, because I think it is wrong how we treat animals. But I had failed, since all vegetarian food seemed to include cheese. And I have never liked cheese. Never. But having read the China Study, The: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health, I decided to give the plant based diet a try, maybe for just a month, and my husband was keen to try as well, and wanted to support me.
Right from the beginning the plant based diet felt perfect for us. The vegan cookbooks I had ordered were simply brilliant (thank you Isa!), the food was delicious, family friendly, healthy, and with simple ingredients easy to make. We felt better, had more energy, and we looked better. My husband suddenly lost his excess weight easily. He was amazed.
Eating a vegan diet and using self-hypnosis, I had a new goal now: I wanted to look fabulous for my 40th birthday in August. I wanted to be the best version of myself at age 40.
I got more and more compliments, from teachers at my daughter’s school, from other mothers and from friends. I wrote them all down. I even somehow learnt to love the treadmill, which was a really very unlikely development, but I did, and I have even run a few 10km races and trained for a half marathon.
From the start, when I had decided to cut down on sugar, and listen more to my body, I had been buying new clothes regularly to motivate myself. It was so rewarding to gradually try on smaller sizes. Sometimes I bought a pair of trousers or dress just because they fit, although they did not necessarily look good on me. Sometimes I did not buy anything, but just occupied a change room for half an hour, trying on various outfits. I also kept pushing myself by buying clothes that were slightly too small. And every few weeks I would try them on and see if I had made any progress. And every time a piece of clothing fit, I was ecstatic.
I felt that measuring progress with clothes was more motivating than looking at the number on the scales. As we all know, weight can be tricky. We all have different builds and different body composition. When you work out and try to lose weight, you may even gain weight, although you become slimmer! This of course is due to the density of fat and muscle, i.e., a pound of fat takes up a lot more volume than a pound of muscle. So for me, clothes were a better indicator of how I was going, and I highly recommend this strategy if you are frustrated with your scales.
In those 6 months leading up to the summer holiday, starting beginning of July 2012, I did not drink any alcohol, except on a couple of special occasions. I ran on the treadmill. I did my workout DVDs. And I ate a healthy, plant based diet. By the time the holidays started, I was 71kg and fit into size 12. I felt great. I had bought a fantastic outfit for my birthday, skinny white jeans, a silver armless top, and high heels.
That summer, all my friends and my family commented on how good and slim I looked. So many people told me that I looked younger than 40 years old. I felt wonderful, and confident.
After my 40th birthday I started doing Jillian Michaels workouts. I already owned some of her DVDs, and finally I had the courage to do them. I thought she was so intimidating, I had huge respect of her workouts! But to my surprise I discovered that I was ready for them. Then I ordered Tony Horton’s P30x programme. Together with a friend we both did our daily workouts independently and sharing our thoughts, progress, struggles, and frustrations. I had started participating in 10km runs. I had become a runner. I was addicted to it. Running was my time. The time to think. To dream. To let go.
I was not a different person. I was still me. The girl that likes to party a lot. That loves champagne and delicious food. That has an all or nothing approach to most things in life. But I had changed my lifestyle to achieve more balance. I changed some habits to become a healthy, and happy me. Someone who is smiling into the camera on family holiday photos.
I decided to become a Personal Trainer, because I want to inspire and help others who might feel the way I did in 2011. Who feel as lost in that vicious cycle as I did. Who look at themselves, and their life, and decide it is time to make a change.
I also started this blog so I could share my story, my experiences, my tips for working out, and cooking healthy plant based meals.
I hope you find inspiration.