August 18, 2014

20lb Down and Some Things I've Learnt

Before I get into the bulk of this post, I just wanted to a huge, very heartfelt thank you for all your well wishes and support on my '15lb and Counting' post. I was abnormally nervous about posting about something as personal as my relationship with food and as divisive as health and diet but, you were all really lovely and seemed genuinely interested in my way of doing things so, thank you!

As I talked about in my last post, I don't have a final figure in mind. However, I did set myself an initial goal that I would like to get down to 55kg before my holiday. Last weekend I achieved that goal and I'm heading off this Saturday feeling rather accomplished! In 21 weeks, I lost 20lb through a combination of a 100% commitment to the High Fat/Low Carb way of life and weight training four times a week. I've lost over 10 inches since May when we started measurements. My whole lifestyle is different. I no longer crave sugar or sweets or chips - I crave eggs and chorizo and bacon! I feel so much more comfortable in myself - I don't worry that things "make me look fat" or feel self conscious over my belly which was always my bugbear.

This has definitely been a journey. Aside from the obvious work one must put in to change their body, the mental challenges posed by completely altering your relationship with food are huge and are not to be sniffed at. As with any great journey, you learn some things along the way and I wanted to share those with you because I think I would have saved myself a lot of frustration and dissatisfaction had I known beforehand. But, before we get into that and what comes next for me...I have some comparison pictures!

Someone on Instagram asked me for some before and after pics. Unfortunately, I didn't take any before starting this whole thing and I don't have many full body shots of myself, especially from when I was at my heaviest, but, I did find pictures from Bermuda in 2012 where you can see my body. At that point, I was the lowest I had been in my then-recent memory. I wasn't happy with how I looked but, I didn't hate it. I'm not sure of my exact weight then as I only bought a scales this year but, I'd say around 60kg if not a bit more.

And some shots from the last few months.

I still have a way to go in terms of firming things up and getting my belly flatter but, I'm quite pleased with how I look. I've dropped from a 28/30 in jeans to a 26, I'm firmly a size 6-8 now whereas before I would ping from one size to another. The numbers, both in clothes and on the scales, really don't matter to me long term but, they are a reminder that things are moving and that, in itself, is motivation to press on. And now, a few things I've learnt throughout this process...

Boredom and hunger are intrinsically linked. From very early on, I noticed that when I was busy, I wasn't thinking about food or my next meal but, when I had a lot of downtime, all I wanted was food. This was particularly prevalent on the weekends and it was something I had to address mentally, learning to differentiate between hunger-hunger and boredom-hunger to prevent a weight spike going into the next week. Which leads me on to...

Water is vitally important. Aside from the obvious reasons, staying properly hydrated ensures that your bodily functions are in working order, preventing false weight gain through water retention or limited/irregular excretion. You need to drink water in order to prevent your body from retaining water; it sounds counter productive but, it's true as the body will hold on to water if it feels it's not getting enough. And by not retaining water, excretion will be kept more regular. Similarly, a high salt day requires more water than usual to prevent your body retaining water due to the salt. I drink 5-7 litres of water a day now.

Study your body. This relates to the above point on water. I had to find what my ideal water intake was to stop me retaining water. Similarly, I had to learn that, no matter how diligent I was, my weight was going to go up in the week prior to my time of the month because, you guessed it, water retention. I've been able to better control this by knowing it will happen and adapting for it; less salt, more water in the days leading up. I also mentioned in my last post that I learned that I was highly carb-sensitive and I know now that even the smallest sugar indulgence, natural or otherwise, can stall my progress for 3-5 days. When you know, it's easier to say no!

Weightloss isn't linear. I'm still having to remind myself of this one and it's frustrating and disheartening to see an impossible spike on the scales. I weigh before bed and when I get up. I only log the morning weight but, I find that knowing my evening weight gives me a better appreciation of whether something I ate that day didn't agree with my body. Three weeks ago I "gained" over 7lb in from morning to evening in one day. There was no obvious reason and I was distraught even though I knew it wasn't physically possible that it was fat. But, of course, the next evening I was down those 7lb and then some and firmly back on track. Weight will fluctuate day-to-day; we need to accept that and move on!

The scales is a false mistress. It's a great way of tracking rough progress but, it's important that we remember that the scales isn't just weighing fat. It's also accounting for bones, fluid (retention or otherwise), muscle mass, organs, bowel contents etc. So, for instance, my weight is often up after going to the gym. It's not fat. Now I prefer to use it as a guide but, use it in conjunction with bi-weekly measurements to actually track inches lost and get a more accurate progress report.

People won't understand. We live in a society that is very newly consumed with health and fitness and everyone is an expert. I have long since realised it's not worth my time trying to convince anyone of why what I am doing works and I frequently keep quiet, just remembering the phrase "You do you, and I'll do me." What you do shouldn't affect them and vice versa. So long as you are happy, healthy and achieving your personal goals, it doesn't matter if people understand or not.

What's Next?

I'm off on holiday on Saturday for two weeks and I'm equal parts excited and scared. We cruise every year and the food is always a highlight so, I'm really ready and feel deserving of the bread, cake, pasta, pizza etc I will surely indulge in. But, I would be lying if I didn't say I'm fearful of the effects it will have on my body. Even though we train almost everyday on the ship, it'll only do so much and I'm already mentally prepping myself for the higher number on the scales when I return. However, I do feel that it is engrained in me to make better choices now - I instinctively eat HFLC so, I don't think I'll gorge myself as much as I have done previously and that is a comfort and a proud moment, proof that I have really changed my lifestyle - I'm not even dreaming about the desserts, more having someone to cook eggs for me for a fortnight!

When I come back, it will be back to normal and I'll plough on again until I reach my end goal, whatever that is. When that day comes (because, remember, it will come) I plan to loosen up on the diet aspect, reduce my weigh-ins to weekly and enjoy having the body I have worked so hard for.


  1. GURL! You look a-bloody-mazing! Well done you - very inspiring x

  2. Well done Sinead, enjoy the cruise trip, very inspiring, please let us know the how the next few months go.. :(

  3. Well done Sinead. I'm sure you always get people saying "you're a tiny thing sure why are you bothering" but you wanted to increase fitness and lose a few pounds to feel good in yourself and you did it in a healthy and controlled way. You looked fab to begin with and you look fab now. And absolutely- the scales doesn't tell the whole story. I'm running a similar series on my blog at the moment too if you want to compare notes!

  4. Well done Sinéad! That's an amazing accomplishment, especially since you did it the right way. Though you looked great already before, you look fab now as well!! x

  5. To be honest, i thought you looked great before the weight loss too. Nevertheless, well done! Ill always admire your motivation! x

  6. Your will power and motivation is on point Sinead. Huge congrats. Your last post gave me the kick in the butt that I needed to start back into my exercise regime and I feel so much better for it. My energy levels are the highest they've been in awhile and I'm starting to see results now. Hoping to have got somewhere by the time my graduation comes around in September! Enjoy your holidays, you totally deserve it!

    XO, G from grace'd

  7. I'm another one thinking you looked fab before and even more envious now!!! well done fair play to you
    it's so bloody hard sometimes. I haven' t managed to motivate myself yet to get back on track. Really need the head in the game :(

  8. Well done you're looking fab! I'm too on a weight loss journey (just over 2.5 stone lost so far, another 2 to go!) I agree so much when you say people won't understand, luckily, the ones closest to me DO understand and they keep me motivated! You're looking great!


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