Aisha Walker

Thinking onscreen

How I lost weight

Photo showing weight loss between May 2014 and February 2015

I accept that there is some ‘cheating’ in comparing these two photographs but, to be fair, neither was taken with the intention of showing off my figure. However, the question that everybody asks is “how did you do it?” Here is the answer.

Making a firm decision

The first photo was taken during a work trip to Jordan. I was really shocked when I saw the pictures from that trip and decided that the time had come to take action.

Joining Slimming World

I joined a local Slimming World group. I haven’t been following the Slimming World plan as such yet some of the ideas have been in the back of my mind and the weekly discussion of food and diet is helpful. The most useful part of the group, however, is the weekly weigh-in and being accountable. Getting little awards for progress is motivating too and being with other group members is supportive and shows what is possible.

Hitting snacks on the head

No eating between meals! If I feel peckish in the day I try to think if I am really hungry or if it is an emotional craving. If it’s real hunger (which is rare) then I have fresh fruit or a few nuts. Emotional hunger can be satisfied with a sweet tasting tea (liquorice tea, for example).

Eating more protein

This is a bit tricky for me as I am vegetarian and have been for all of my adult life. However, I make sure that I eat an egg every day for either breakfast or lunch. If I don’t have egg for breakfast then I have unsweetened full-fat yogurt. Eating protein and fat at breakfast means that I don’t feel hungry during the morning and can easily resist biscuits if they appear at a meeting.

Cutting out sugar

Generally speaking I don’t eat cakes, biscuits, sweets or puddings. If someone has made a cake or pudding for a special occasion then I will have a very small piece but this occurs only rarely. Apart from the odd (OK, daily) square of very dark chocolate, I do not normally eat any sugar except for fresh fruit. This includes alternative sugars such as honey, date syrup, agave syrup – I count them all as sugars that I don’t eat. I also don’t (normally) have fruit juice or dried fruit. I even make alternative ketchup with tomato puree because all commercially produced ketchups and sauces contain some form of added sugar. Cutting out the sugar seems to have reset my palate with the result that many foods are more tasty. I used not to like apples or herb/fruit teas but now enjoy the flavours of both.

Reducing bread

I love bread and in return it adores me so much that it sticks to my hips and tummy. I eat much less bread now – probably not more than a couple of pieces a week.

Taking lunch from home

In the summer I was making salads to take to work but as the weather became colder I started to take food to heat in the microwave at work. This is either leftovers from family meals or dishes that I have made specially and frozen in portions. ‘Veg box stew’ contains an assortment of vegetables cooked in the slow cooker with chilli and beans – flavoursome and filling! This means that I don’t have to buy sandwiches which is good for both wallet and waist.

Eating real food

I don’t eat ‘low-fat’ products and try to avoid processed foods in general. If I’m going to use oil then it’s olive oil rather than low-fat cooking spray and if I’m eating yogurt then it is full-fat rather than low-fat versions. If I wanted butter for spreading or cooking then I would use real butter rather than margarine or low-fat spread. This is because low-fat versions of food contain other ingredients (often sugars) to give the flavour and feel of fats. However, fat is filling, satisfying and tasty so I’m sticking with it. I have reduced the amount of cheese that I eat, though, and rarely eat butter because I don’t eat much bread. I also eat a lot of vegetables and fresh fruit (probably too much fruit, actually). I make sure that the food I eat is tasty so that, although I am eating less, I enjoy it more.

Listening to my appetite

I mentioned this above in relation to snacks but I also pay attention to feelings of fullness at mealtimes. I try to stop eating when I feel full even if there is food on my plate.

What about exercise?

I haven’t mentioned exercise and for good reason. It’s about a mile from home to the railway station and, at the other end, about a mile from the station to work. I had slipped into the bad habits of taking my car to the station in the morning and taking the bus from the station to work so I did get back into walking all of those journeys (about four miles a day in total). By coincidence, I subsequently started cycling (at one time was a very enthusiastic cyclist) and then bought a commuting bike that I now use for my journey to and from work. However, four miles on a bike probably uses less energy than the same distance on foot. I am not going to the gym or taking any other formal exercise. Of course I am fitter and because I weigh less then I have more energy to run up and down stairs. I am not convinced, though, that exercise has been a significant factor in the weight loss. I think that being more active is a result of being thinner rather than becoming thinner as a result of more activity.

To date I have lost 20kg or just over 3 stone. My next challenge is to find out how to maintain a healthy weight. Wish me luck!


Note: this first appeared on my personal blog