Like many women, I'm a serial dieter and have yo-yo-ed over the years. But now I'm done with the baby-making, I've got no more excuse to get healthy and lose weight. I'm looking for an eating plan I can adopt for life and keep the weight off.
I am a foodie. Plain and simple. I love cooking, eating and discovering new flavour combinations. Masterchef is on the box, my BBC Goodfood on-line binder brimming with recipes I may never have the time to try. The Hairy Bikers are my nemesis, always waiting to lure the lbs back onto my tummy and thighs. During pregnancy, I lost weight through constant nausea and morning sickness. Plus my metabolism is performing at an ideal rate, seemingly burning off 200g bars of chocolate the moment it leaves my tongue and nestles happily into my belly.
Whilst breastfeeding, I forget about food laden with fat and scoff away on the same pregnancy diet, which isn't particularly recommended for pregnant women, just to be clear, I'm naughty. By the time baby was three months old, I had gained 1st since giving birth. Many women lose weight while breastfeeding, as it can burn up to 500 calories a day. Obviously I had eaten way more than body could cope with. Although still breastfeeding, something had to be done, I had to change my diet not only for weight loss but to look after my insides and boost my energy. After all, I have two small kids to run after now.
If you saw my earlier post on New Year's resolutions, you'll know I don't do them. I seized the moment and joined my local Slimming World group before Christmas. My strategy was to limit the damage by familiarising myself with the foods causing me the most issues. It worked. I still put on weight over Christmas, but only 2lb in three weeks. Considering I had already lost 5lb, I was still a little lighter and on the path to a more healthy me.
The idea of joining groups has been marred by the Majorie Dawes image of Fatfighters from the hilarious Little Britain. While she intimidates her group members, we ask ourselves why they continue to show up. Its healthy to see the funny side of losing weight but important to remember for many people, it's a crucial, life-changing, emotional journey. I personally need the structure and motivation of a group. I need to be around those who understand my attitude to food and lack of willpower. I've been extremely lucky that my group are brilliantly supportive and fun.
Like most effective healthy eating plans, Slimming World, when broken down makes sense. Low fat, low sugar, carbs in moderation, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly. They don't need me to do their PR, they are already a weight loss sensation with a successful doctors referral scheme. The reason they are a success with food lovers is the 'food optimisation' plan is easy to follow with a long list of foods you need not measure. It takes a bit of time to learn but I found after a bit of bossing up, I don't worry about getting caught in potential food trap situations i.e. you're out and about, hungry and need to grab a snack. What I like the most about this plan is you are constantly thinking about food and encouraged to eat, the theory being you need to fuel your body with low energy dense foods but still make your body work to burn off fat. I am almost eating to lose weight!
I've lost 12lb so far, and have 14lb more to lose to reach my target weight. It's about 1lb a week, which is steady and I feel amazing already, so absolutely do not mind paying my £4.95 a week to be weighed on someone else's scales. For those of you who don't understand this concept, then admirably you must have more willpower than me but at least I'm trying to change my attitude to food.
Follow Claire Jones-Hughes on Twitter: www.twitter.com/contentedmummy