Finding the right weight loss solution for you [AD]

Weight loss is such a controversial topic. It’s great to see the body positivity movement encouraging people to embrace the way they look at the weight they are. For some of us though, it’s not about looks but about health. I quite easily lost my baby weight after both pregnancies but then something changed. My husband had an accident and my usual routines went out of the window. Working until the early hours of the morning became the norm. I didn’t exercise for months and when I started again it was only once a week. Tiredness drove me to sugary snacks and the weight piled on. Since then I have written about several attempts at weight loss. Most of them worked temporarily but when I stopped the diet, my willpower stopped too. This time I’m determined to make it work, so I’ve researched a few options to decide which one is best for me.

River with autumn leaves on dewy grass in foreground

Weight loss through free diet plans, calorie counting and fasting

These days, all it takes to find a diet plan is a few clicks on the internet. Download an app to count calories. Follow a weight loss meal plan. Cut out different sorts of foods or eat at different times. It’s all there to read about with plenty of research and annoyingly, a plethora of conflicting opinions. Over the years, I have tried a few of these. I’ve been completely vegan for a time, which has stuck to some extent. I have always been veggie and I now only rarely consume dairy. I’ve religiously counted every calorie, which drove me absolutely mad. I’ve read about diets like Atkins and decided immediately that they weren’t for me.

More recently, I have become interested in fasting diets. There are many different types of these. Some vastly restrict food intake on particular days such as the 5:2 diet. Others give you a window of time to eat. The one that appealed the most to me was the 16:8 diet. You can choose how many days a week you do it and on those days, you give yourself an 8 hour window for eating. For example, you could eat dinner by 6pm, don’t eat in the evenings and your next meal would be 16 hours later at 10am. I’ve been giving this one a go, but more on that later.

Healthy vegan risotto with broccoli (from Mindful Chef)

Meal replacement diets

A huge number of companies make meal replacement diets of different kinds, so much like fasting it’s about finding the right one for you. I gave this a go using XLS meal replacement shakes. The shakes definitely helped me and I lost a stone, which I kept off for a while. Unfortunately though when I stopped, the weight did slowly creep back on and eventually I ended up back where I started.

What they are great for though is a kickstart. If you have a small amount of weight to lose, using these is helpful as long as you set yourself a target weight range to stick to. Taking action again as soon as you go outside of the range you’re happy with is key to keeping the weight off. I lacked motivation for this, so it wasn’t for me.

Medical intervention for weight loss

Medical intervention may seem extreme. However, for anyone who has reached a point where their weight is seriously impacting their health, it becomes a consideration. When I consider medical intervention, I think of surgery. For some people, this is absolutely the way forward and I know of a few people who have really thrived after surgery and it was absolutely the right solution for them.

Another option is trying non-surgical medical assistance. This needn’t always mean a trip to the GP surgery, a good online pharmacy may be able to help. For example, a weight loss drug called Orlistat is a prescription-only medication that prevents one third of the fat you consume from being absorbed. Whilst this can be prescribed by your GP, you can also have a medical consultation online at the point of purchase. A doctor will ensure that it is the right thing for you and give instructions on safe usage. 

My experience with exercise and 16:8 fasting

As mentioned above, I have been trying out 16:8 fasting over the past couple of months. I decided to do it Sunday night to Friday morning, giving myself Friday and Saturday evenings to enjoy a glass of wine and an evening snack. For me, this was important. The problem I have had with diets in the past is the longevity of them. Thinking that I have to be careful with what I eat for the next three months to achieve my weight loss goal is soul destroying. Keeping it going until the weekend seems a lot more bearable. 

Since starting 16:8 fasting, I have lost one or two pounds most weeks. There was one week when I didn’t lose anything and one when I lost three pounds. But on average, I lose a small amount each week. I do combine the 16:8 fasting with exercise, I run every dayswim outdoors at least once a week and try to fit in a pool swim or exercise class once a week as well. During the eating windows I eat pretty much what I want, although I am trying to avoid too many sugary snacks. At the weekends I eat and drink what I want, when I want.

dog activity trail in Cannock Chase Forest Staffordshire West Midlands
Running an obstacle course with my dog

I now see 16:8 fasting as a lifestyle change rather than a diet. When I hit the weight I want to be, I intend to adjust it to maintain rather than lose weight. I also intend to constantly monitor my weight so if I go above a certain number, I will up my fasting days again. Ultimately, the aim with any diet is to lose weight and keep it off. I am really hopeful that I’ve found my solution. If I haven’t, I’ll try something else because I am determined to stay at a healthy weight. Not because of the way I look, but because of the health benefits. I currently feel fit, strong and well. That is how I want to remain.

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