It's going to be a weightloss/fitness/health post (I know, how original these days!) and, just to preface it, this is what has been working for me. I'm not an expert (though I am under the supervision of one) and I don't believe in telling anyone they should be eating this or doing that. However, I do firmly believe in this lifestyle for my body and I have responded so well to it that I don't mind sharing my story and advocating it.
This will be a long post as I wanted to cover everything you may have questions about but, if I omitted anything, please feel free to ask away in the comments and I will do my best to answer.
A Bit About Me
I've never been hugely heavy. I did go through a (very) chubby patch in my late teens/early twenties which, looking back now, was a direct result of a lot of heartache happening at once and turning to food to cope - isn't that the age old story?
I got a grip of myself and lost most of that weight, mainly through exercise, and stayed comfortably at around 141lb/64kg which my 5'3" frame could just about carry off. I blossomed in the gym so-to-speak, which is easy when you have a boyfriend who is a personal trainer but, my diet was shocking overall.
No one in my house really eats the 'white stuff' - you would be hard pushed to find bread, rice, pasta, potatoes etc., so, during the week, I ate low carb which I presume kept my weight stable. But, every Friday, Kev and I would have a Chinese as a treat and then, over the course of the weekend, dip into crisps, chocolate, Haribo. It was a counter productive lifestyle and it had to go.
The Road to HFLC (That's High Fat, Low Carb FYI)
The Road to HFLC (That's High Fat, Low Carb FYI)
Because Kev is in the industry, he's constantly reading and is privy to a lot of the latest studies regarding diet and training choices. After doing what I would call a high protein/low carb diet for a number of years, leaving aside the debauchery of the weekends, a lot of new information was coming out about why high protein might not be the best for weight loss and why high fat could be the key. There is also a lot of corresponding material about how healthy fats can reduce the risk of diabetes and reduce high cholesterol and blood pressure. I was intrigued and, not understanding his technical explanations, I bought a book. Enter Atkins.
I read the book and had Kev read it. And then his mam read it. We all thought it sounded good in theory and his mam embarked on the lifestyle change with gusto, to amazing results. I was a little more hesitant. Some of what I read didn't sit right with me so, I adapted it to suit what I wanted.
Cutting out the good stuff was what I feared most. And, it was genuine fear. I shocked myself that I had such an emotional attachment to food. I couldn't fathom the idea of having a good weekend without the takeaway or the sweets. But, again, it had to go.
We began little by little; trading Chinese for Indian (higher fat and no MSG which makes me ill), cutting back to two sweet treats for the whole weekend instead of two or more a night, moving on to eliminate rice with the Indian and splitting one curry over a spinach salad, going without treats altogether, until we became entirely sugar free.
This taught me two things; that food is just fuel and I shouldn't rely on it for my mental well being and that my body is highly, highly carb-sensitive. I'm at the point now where I don't eat fruit or high sugar veg because it stalls me. Oh, and we no longer eat takeaways!
My Personal HFLC Breakdown
In short, HFLC (I don't say Atkins because I'm not doing Atkins properly) is based off the principle of eating a diet high in good fats with a moderate level of protein and a low carbohydrate count. I already had the low carb thing down but, really needed to adjust to eating foods high in good fats like olive oil, olives, real butter, cream, coconut oil etc. It took weeks to adapt. Some people have great success just eyeballing it but, that didn't work for me. I needed numbers, specifics and accuracy and so, I roughly weigh everything that goes into my mouth and log it all into My Fitness Pal (You can view my diary at '5inead' if you're interested).
So, after much trial and error (and some tears of frustration), I found that 1,200 calories a day kept me more than satiated, provided me with enough energy for the gym and ensured that I was never tired, and that a ratio of 80:15:5 for fat, protein and carbs respectively was the percentage of calories that I needed to derive from each of those macro nutrients to keep me full, happy, healthy and losing weight.
For reference, I am in a rough version of what Atkins would call Induction. They recommend a two-week stint in Induction with minimal carbs to start the process and then you can move on, reintroducing more carbs, to Ongoing Weight Loss, or you can stay in Induction for a longer period like I have done.
But, What Do You Eat?
That's the most common question I get and it's understandable. So much of the Irish psyche towards food centres around the aforementioned white stuff; it isn't a meal without it, someone recently said to me. I, obviously, disagree.
Eliminating the small amount of white stuff I may have indulged in before was easy. The hard part was reducing my protein consumption and increasing my fats, especially as I hated eggs, avocado, olives, fish etc prior to this journey. However, you're either committed or you're not and now eggs scrambled with butter á la Jamie Oliver is my favourite breakfast and I no longer gag on avocado. Progress.
What I Eat: sausages, bacon, almond butter, eggs, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, spinach, rocket, mixed salad, onions, steak, chicken, salmon, hake, tuna, coleslaw, mayonnaise, duck, broccoli, coffee, ham, pulled pork, cucumber, aubergine, chorizo, lamb, pepperoni, burger pattys...
What I Don't Eat: fruit, nuts, sweets, crisps, bread, potatoes, pasta, cheese, rice, oats, cereal, porridge...and pretty much anything processed.
I would consider that a pretty full diet by any standard. The only thing you may argue with is cutting out the fruit, nuts and cheese and I do agree. However, because I track everything using My Fitness Pal and take a brilliant multivitamin, I know I am covered with regards to what nutrients those foods supply me with. Once I reach my goal, I will start re-adding those things to my diet (as Atkins followers do with OWL).
As I mentioned, Kev is a trainer and, thankfully, writes me new and harder programmes every three weeks. I train four times a week. By my understanding, I do a combination of power and strength training, made up of supersets that mimic the effect interval training has on the body. Each week I either increase the reps or the weight so that each workout is incredibly tough but, also, incredibly effective. I do no cardio.
However, I don't think you have to train with this lifestyle. I didn't for a week post-laser eye surgery and still lost weight. Kev's mam doesn't and has lost a bundle of weight. I do genuinely like it though and, ideally, if I can lose this weight, I would like to have a body with some definition at the end of the day. Also, the health benefits of regular exercise are important and this is as much about being healthy as it is about looking how I want.
109 Days In
As of today, I have lost 15.1lb/6.8kg and weigh 125.8lb/57kg. Honestly, I don't know my final goal but, I feel I am getting close. I have never had any desire to be skinny but, I am short, I am petite and I want to look healthier, more streamlined and less soft around the edges.
I'm going on holiday in six weeks and, ideally, I would like to lose another 5lb before then but, that may be reaching. I look and feel better than I can remember and am probably the lightest I have been in 10 years. My skin is completely clear, my sleep is deep, solid and uninterrupted and I am fit and strong. I'm also happy.
The last three and a half months have been a huge undertaking but, I am incredibly motivated to have found something that suits me. To have found a diet and way of life that doesn't feel limiting and that works is hugely liberating when you've felt self-conscious about your body for years. I will go on holiday and will eat to my heart's content but, some form of this HFLC way is my life now. I don't want to go back to bingey weekends, I like and enjoy living this way. So, as they say, I just have to keep on truckin'!