Hello there!

Welcome to the confessions of this former fatty. If you’ve opened this blog expecting it to be a quick fix, answer to everything, all knowing guide to losing weight , then I think this blog will disappoint you, sorry! There is no quick fix, there is no holy grail and there is no magic to losing weight.

This blog is simply my story and the summation of the years of dieting, failing and researching that have finally got me back into shape and healthy. I have gone from amateur enthusiast to fitness professional during this journey. All advice here is my own from my own experiences, both amateur and professional, and where professional/journal/medical information is used I cite all references giving those who did the graft their due. Please feel free to have a look around and also check out the Official KrissieKirby.com blog

Monday, 21 March 2011

Slacking off and picking back up, Say goodbye to negative excuses - part 1!

Ok so I've been a little remiss these last two weeks. I've been lazy in recording my daily intake and have been to the gym four times in the last two weeks. Not good! However, I have been a very busy bee. Still that is no excuse, and that's very much the theme for these next two blog entries.

So on with my self imposed weigh in and 'excuses' for being rubbish this week. I have gained two pounds... oh shock horror!

No I jest, it's not that bad, it really could have been worse. Afterall I have gone from 13 stone 6 (the weight I was the week I started writing blog one, I weighed again before I published it) to 12 stone 13 since starting to share the blog with you, a full half a stone which is no small thing. I was 12 stone 11 two weeks ago but the last 2 weekends have been rather hetic, so I'm cutting myself a little slack.

The weekend before last, I was at one of my Live Action Role-Playing events and although the event was catered my portion sizing went out the window, I consumed a few ciders and I did nowhere near as much running about as I normally would. I also didn't drink enough water.... in fact I think I had a 200ml bottle once the entire weekend so I was also dehydrated. I gained 3 pounds. I felt deflated after the event as usualy I lose weight at LRP.

But I looked at the things I did or didn't do, and when I got home I readdressed the balance. I noted what I was eating, I weighed myself on the Monday and then again on the Thursday, and I had lost 2 pounds (now weighing in at 12 stone 12). So all in all I was more or less back to where I had been. And how did I do that, I hear you ask? Simply by ensuring I had enough water each day, stayed within my calorie allowance, and that I hit the gym twice that week. *pats self on head*

This past weekend, I was at a festival from the Thursday through to late on the Saturday night. I was there with the band as we were performing on the Thursday night and although this time, as I cooked, I maintained a firm grip on potion control, I didn't maintain such a firm grip on my alcohol intake. But the other thing that I did ensure I continued to do was to drink plenty of water. On returning late on Saturday I was rather dispondant at how I was going to fayre on the scales this week. Last year at the same festival, when I arrived home I had gained 7 lbs in weight, so I was not looking forward to weighing in but it's all to easy to just think 'Oh one week won't hurt' and then not get on the scales. It's a slippery slope backwards and I'll be the first to say I'd be devestated to go back over 13 stone now.

Sunday I had a lazy day but I kept all nibbles to a minimum, had a late brunch (due to sleeping until 10:30am), had a roast chicken dinner in the early evening and lots of water. I got on the scales and had only gained a pound, which I know I can shift this week with lots of cardio and going back to accounting for my food again. I'm not happy that I've sort of stayed in the same area for the last few weeks but I have managed to do some damage limitation. I'm not excusing myself as I could have done a damn site better, and I should have stayed off the fermented apple juice (or at least had a better grip on how much I was consuming - as it's not healthy whatever way you look at it) but I'm not going to beat myself up about it.

So I'm picking myself back up and getting back into the sadle, here is the plan for this week: I will ensure I maintain my diary, work out more than twice - that's covered as not only do I have my PT session with Peter but I am also booked in for two sessions of BodyCombat this week for the first times since January (I have missed my combat sessions), I shall continue to follow the regime of drinking 2 litres of water before I leave work and I'll leave the cider alone for a few weeks.

Instead of seeing the last two weigh ins as failures, and instead of clinging to the negative excuses of 'But I'm so busy, I have no time' etc, I am accepting that I have been lax and that's OK. I know what I need to do to get that pound back off and hopefully it'll take another pound with it as it goes. That little voice in my head is getting quieter it seems. A year ago I would have been depressed and angry about it all, swearing that I was giving up and never trying to lose weight again as what's the point? Amazing what tiny little affirmations you make can lead to. It's the whole, 'out of tiny acorns grow great oaks' saying I suppose. I guess what I'm trying to say is, the more you tell yourself that' it's OK you can come back from this, you can do something about it', the more you will believe that it is true. And belief is one of the most powerful tools we have. Once you start to believe that you CAN do this, you will do it.

Anyhow, enough of my wibbling away today. The next part of this blog will be up soon and it will look at the very negative excuses I have used in the past and how I changed my thinking to make them work for me in a positive way.

Until then, be kind to yourself and have a fantastic week


Thursday, 3 March 2011

The not-so-mystical formula to Weight Loss

Thank you for all the wonderful comments and feedback from the first post in this blog. I was quite overwhelmed at the response. Thank you, I’m stunned. What was interesting were the private messages that I received from people who I thought were confident and happy in themselves saying that it was almost as if it was exactly what was in their heads that was on the screen in front of them. It goes to show that we aren’t alone in our thoughts on how we view ourselves. Again, thank you for sharing that with me, as I know it’s not easy to say these things out loud.

So end of another week and in my self imposed online weigh in (I’m still wondering if this blog was a good idea) I’m another 2lbs lighter at 12stone 12. I’ve not been in the gym much as I’ve had a horrendous cold that has meant I have been at home for the last few days. However, I have been very good at cutting the unnecessary high sugar snacks out these past two weeks.

So what is the secret to weight loss and why is it not rocket science? Why is nothing I’m doing working?

I asked myself those same questions. I asked them before I threw away lots of money on registrations at fat clubs and after I had failed at the same fat club. The answer was simple. I was eating too much and not moving enough. The mystical formula is simply:

Burn more calories than you consume.

That’s it? That’s the magic formula? Well ...yes. Simple when you think about it eh? Although, as I discussed with a friend over twitter the other night, that’s just the basic science behind weight loss. There is also that demon in your brain that you have to contend with too. The weight loss journey for everyone is different. Yes the science of burning of calories may be the same for everyone but the mindset of each person is unique and it’s the mind that is the thing that has to be told how you want to feel and think about yourself. I will discuss that in the next blog, but let’s concentrate on the maths for now.

Eating fewer calories than you burn is easily said, but how do you know that you are eating less calories than you burn. Well that’s when you have to do some simple sums and that’s where keeping a food diary comes in handy. Yes, I who scoffed at mood and food diaries two/three years ago now don’t go a day without writing in one. It’s an interesting exercise and forces you to take a few minutes out of your day (possibly up to four/five times a day depending on if you write in at after each meal or not), and in those few minutes you get to sit, relax and concentrate on you. It’s only a few moments but it’s worth its weight in gold and reaffirms why you are doing this. All you do is account for your food and make a small note about how you feel that day. So on with the science bit...

So the basic premise is this. Your body needs a set amount of calories depending on your age, current weight and height, to maintain your current weight. This is your basal metabolic rate and it changes as you get older and/or lose weight.

There are two equations in use that give a rough guide to how many calories you will burn in a neutral state of being awake, i.e.: sitting up awake and not digesting any food. (Told you I’d been a researching stuff). They are the Harris-Benedict equation devised in 1919 and the Mifflin et al revision in 1990. As I tend to work in imperial measurements I’ve utilised the earlier Harris-Benedict model here and it’s the one I’ve been using since August 2010. But if you want to be all new fangled and metric, this online calculator will give you the Mifflin version as well http://www.bmrcalculator.org/

So working out your basal metabolic rate, you’re going to need a pen, paper and calculator for this:

For the girls: 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years) then multiply the combined total by 1.2

For the boys: 66 + (6.23x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years) then multiply the combined total by 1.2

So taking myself as an example

I weight 12stone 12lbs (that’s 180lbs), I am 35 years old, and I’m 5ft 7 (and a half as I’m gaining my height back from the stoop I developed whilst fat but I’ll not use that half in this example) in inches that’s 67. So my calculation is:

(655 + 783 +314.9 – 165) x1.2 = 1905.48 – so I round it down to 1905. That’s my basal metabolic rate and what I need to eat to just let my body function if all I did was lie in bed doing nothing all day.

Ok but how do I use that to lose weight?

Weight is converted into calories and that gives us the basic amount of calories per day we can eat to lose one pound of weight a week. It’s approximately 3500 calories for one pound of weight. So to lose 1lb a week I’d need to reduce my calorie consumption by 500 cals per day. My new basic total is 1406 calories per day. But I’m active so I’d actually need a few more than that. This article linked here again will give you more information on the multiplier at the end of the equation that you use to give a more approximate reading. http://www.bmrcalculator.org/ There are more links at the bottom of the page and for the scientist amongst us, links to medical sites where abstracts are free – alas the articles have to be purchased.

WARNING: if you sit at a desk all day you are not moderately active, you are classed as sedentary. Don’t do yourself the injustice of over estimating how active you are. You’ll only hit that wall of why isn’t this working again. I know, I’ve done it myself.

It is simple for the most part, and yes there is maths involved, but I only change my calorie base rate once every 6 weeks. I don’t see the point in me changing it every time I drop a pound as long as I expend more calories than I consume. If in the 6 week period I’ve dropped more than half a stone, then I can revisit the BMR calculation.

Once you’ve worked your BMR out then you have your benchmark to work to. I set myself a personal aim of no less than 1400 calories a day and no more than my BMR. If I can stay within that then I know I am on to a winning week. Why? Because the calculation I’ve used is sedentary, and I try to work out 6 hours a week if I can. It’s all about getting up off your arse and moving.

So remember I said a good Heart Rate Monitor in the first blog? With a heart rate monitor you can now see how many calories you burn in your workouts and you can adjust your diet accordingly. But remember working out doesn’t mean you get to eat more, it just means that you give your body a boost to burning more fat and using up those calories that you’ve consumed. It does also mean that nothing (unless you are allergic to it) is restricted. You can eat everything you want to eat. BUT, and it is a big but, when you start to keep a diary put ALL the nutritional information in, the fats, sugar, carbs etc. This will give you an indication at the end of the week of what your eating pattern is really like. Mine was shocking, it contained so much sugar and carbohydrate it was little wonder I was at a plateau. Now I strive for an even balance between protein and carb (they usually take up no more than one half of my plate combined) and try to have as many vegetables and salad as I can. Also if you want a McDonalds, bloody well have one. There is no point restricting yourself in what you can or can’t eat, just be sensible, that’s all there is to it. What may happen for you (and it’s what happened to me) is that you start to go off the taste of fast food. A friend had said she cut carbs out of her diet for an entire week… I was horrified. Not all carbohydrate is bad. Learn what carbs your body needs and then cut the rest out. Don’t deny yourselves, that’s not what healthy eating is about.

Anyway I digress…

So the basic science of weight loss is all that weight watchers and slimming world really do. They work out the BMR of average people in a weight and age range and give a ball park figure for that, then convert it into a diet that is low in saturated fat and based on a points system. But it’s a one figure fits all scenario, and alas, that’s the prohibitive part of it. Plus it’s costs a bomb, so this is all something you can do at home. Save yourselves the money and buy a food diary.

There is another issue that you have to be brutally honest with. How many calories are you burning? I’m active outside of work, in work I sit behind a desk all day. I know that to count the calories I would use walking up and down the stairs to the bosses office wouldn’t be worth counting. I probably burn about 80 calories doing that. I had a shock when I wore my HRM to rehearsal with the band. I would have thought that singing alone would burn lots of calries. Nope, 150 tops for a 3 hour rehearsal. Ballroom dancing – foxtrot I burn about 200 cals in a hour, Jive 400 cals in an hour. But when I relate that to proper gym time. An hour with my personal trainer can be anywhere between 400 and 700 calories depending on what exercises he has me doing. BodyCombat I can burn on average 750+ in the hour, BodyJam and Zumba about 600 cals in the hour. Are you noticing the pattern? You really do have to work at burning the calories if you want to see results. It's not all about food, exercise is vital and toned muscles burn calories efficiently meaning that you continue to burn calories after a workout while the muscle repairs itself and tones. Niffty eh? The body is amazing.

I am now aiming to lose that 1lb a week by being in deficit of 3500 calories at the end of the week. If I’ve ‘saved’ more then woop I’m on a good run and I might just drop another pound. But again I’m not beating myself up anymore if I don’t lose any weight that week and I stay the same. I may have lost half an inch off my hips instead. But what I will do is re-look at my calculations and then continue. Oh and if you have an iPhone or iPod touch - the My Fitness Pal app is wonderful and is a great alternative to a hand written diary... and it works the BMR out for you too. http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

Be kind to yourselves as you go on your journey.

With love