Dieting can be restrictive and boring - hence difficult to stick to.
No one knows this better than Valerie Orsoni - she tried over 40 diets in an attempt to lose weight as a young adult. When she had enough, she set out to create her own programme that would help her lose weight but also embrace modern life - that includes wine and chocolate of course.
Orsoni dropped five stone over the course of three years, and her eating plan LeBootCamp Diet has an impressive following - 1.2 million followers worldwide, and celebrity fans such as the Kardashians, Demi Moore and Jennifer Aniston.
So how does it work? Orsoni has split the programme into four phases.
Detox: In two weeks you incorporate 10 'detoxifying' foods into your diet: things like watercress, bananas and beetroot to rid your body of the bad stuff and leave you glowing.
Attack: This is about targeting the more stubborn pounds and achieving 75% of your goal. You'll introduce new foods and build tone.
Booster: This part lasts seven days and happens at the end of an 'attack' phase and every so often in the 'maintenance' phase. In the week, you abstain from meat, dairy, yeast, gluten and alcohol- sob, but definitely worth it for the cleansed feel.
Maintenance: This is life after LeBootCamp, when you can feel confident and in control with your views on food and exercise. Your weight is kept stabilised.
You can check out Valerie's top tips for happy, non-restrictive weight loss below.
1) I buy foods I don’t ‘like’
If you are, like me, a seriously insatiable gourmand; in other words, you cannot resist the temptations your house harbours, you need an infallible strategy so that you never fall prey to those traps that lurk in the cupboards.
My solution? When it comes to treats, I choose flavours I don’t like when I shop (or bake) for my family. Ice-cream? Orange; the only ice-cream flavour I don’t care for – but, luckily, my family loves! Cake? Coffee. I really don’t like the taste of coffee.
You know by now that I am a true advocate of delicious food and would never miss an occasion to thrill my tastebuds. But, I want to do so on my terms, not by falling into hidden traps.
And you? Which tastes and flavours don’t you like? From now on these will guide how you shop. Of course, this only works if your tastes are different from those of your family. If they aren’t … don’t buy treats in the first place!
2) I blog
To make sure I stay on the right path I keep a blog – a public one (myblog.lebootcamp.com) and a private, little one, where I jot down my weight, body fat, thigh circumference, waist, and so on. I encourage you to take your measurements regularly – you will be so pleased to see your results that this will make you happy!
I am frequently asked, “How often should I weigh myself?” There is no perfect rule but, apart from during DETOX where I suggest a daily weigh-in, I recommend you weigh yourself every week.
However, some people prefer to keep a tight rein on their weight. For them (and me) a daily morning weigh-in becomes part of our routine, just like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. As long as this does not become an obsession, you are fine.
3) I create a weight-loss photo album
Take pictures of yourself! This will do wonders if you have a lot of weight to lose. To make this experience as positive as possible, I suggest you take a picture each week, in the same place, in the same outfit. At the end of your journey you will be able to create a surprising slideshow of your figure’s evolution with time.
Make sure you take pictures of yourself from different angles (profile, face, back; zooming in on certain trouble zones) so as to fully appreciate your fantastic results down the line.
4) I use mint to suppress my appetite
This tip is totally empirical and stems from my personal experience, which I have shared with numerous BootCampers over the years. Chew mint-flavoured gum at the end of the meal, or brush your teeth with a mint toothpaste. You’ll be amazed at how you are no longer attracted by this piece of cheesecake or that big brownie.
When you need to attend a party or function with a tempting buffet, arrive (discreetly) chewing mint gum so that you spend your first few minutes doing this instead of jumping on the rich foods. Empirical studies have shown that this tip can help you curb your appetite by 25 per cent. Don’t forget to choose a chewing gum that does not contain toxic sweeteners.
5) I buy myself a nice piece of jewellery when I’m successful at losing weight
Do you love jewels? If the answer’s, “Yes!” then give yourself a bracelet, a pendant, a necklace, a ring, or even a nice ribbon to tie around your wrist. It doesn’t have to be expensive – it could come from the market, or be homemade. This will remind you of your weight-loss goals throughout the day.
If you need an extra prompt, choose a bracelet with charms that make a noise when you move. This noise will guarantee you keep your eyes on the prize: namely, your dream body!
6) I aim for one notch down on my belt
Write on the inside of your belt, “I want to get to this notch,” with a little arrow. Of course, nobody will see this motivational statement but you. Make sure you do this for the next notch and the one after that ... until you have reached your dream waist size.
7) Tea signals the end of the meal
If, like me, you like to end a meal on a sweet note, a square of chocolate, two spoonfuls of your companion’s dessert (my favourite solution!) does the trick.
The problem is that we very rarely stop after those two spoonfuls because we are also tempted to finish the whole plate, to polish off our kids’ desserts; and so on. Without realising it, we end up eating more than 200 calories. Remember that to produce one pound of fat you only need 3,500 excess calories; so at a rate of 200 calories per day, that would take only 17 days. Scary, isn’t it?
A nice cup of tea is my absolute signal that the meal is over. And to help keep a flat tummy I usually go for an infusion of fresh mint (with no black or green tea added, and no milk), which reduces bloating.
8) I leave my photo on the fridge
I often read in women’s magazines that nothing beats the picture of a very overweight lady taped on the fridge door, to prevent you from opening it and gorging yourself. I have a radically opposite approach: if you constantly see an overweight person (you or somebody else) you’ll soon begin thinking this is the new norm.
That’s why I prefer to do the reverse: find a picture of yourself when you had your dream body, or choose a celeb or an unknown person whose body looks healthy and simply amazing. Then glue a cutout of your face on top of her body and place this picture on your fridge. Each time you lay eyes on this picture you will subconsciously think, “I want to look hot, too. I can do it!”, or, “How about I go for a 30-minute walk?”
IMPORTANT NOTE: please don’t go for an unhealthy, skinny girl, ok? Your goal should, first and foremost, to be the healthiest that you can be – I’m not suggesting you try and turn into someone else!
9) I never, ever, wait for the lift
The University of South Carolina Aiken has conducted an interesting study, which concludes that, since lifts always take some time to arrive, if you take the stairs instead you will gain an average of 20 seconds. (In this study, the stairs were within view of the lift).
This amusing finding points to one conclusion: save time, tone your thighs, mould your calves and slim your ankles by taking the stairs. Those ‘gazelle legs’ are within your reach!