There is a big movement on social media at the moment around body positivity. Accepting yourself as you are, being confident and embracing your curves. And it’s great to see. It’s the perfect counterbalance to awful trolls fat-shaming people who are just trying to get on with their lives. And I wholeheartedly agree that we should all be confident in our own skin. But the body positivity movement is not for me.
Why lose weight?
Weight loss, for me, isn’t about looking good. It’s not about feeling more confident and it certainly isn’t anything to do with what other people think. Because when it comes down to it, none of that is important, particularly as people are very aptly demonstrating that you can look and feel amazing whatever size you are.
My reasons for losing weight are different, and they revolve predominantly around health. Last year, I had a health check. The only reason I did it was because the opportunity arose through a client I was working with. At the time, I fell into the ‘overweight’ category. There wasn’t much in it, I only needed to lose a couple of pounds to be within the ‘normal’ weight bracket. But my weight wasn’t the only concern.
From a fitness point of view, my results were great. But my waist to hip ratio put me at very high risk of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes. My cholesterol was high, I wasn’t sleeping or drinking enough. And according to the NHS, just being overweight put me at higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
After the health check, I intended to start losing weight. But life got in the way, as it always does. I broke my toe, so my exercise levels decreased. Christmas happened and I can’t look at a mince pie without eating it. So instead of losing weight, more and more ended up creeping on.
On New Year’s Day, I entered a triathlon that would take place in July. I knew I’d have to lose quite a bit of weight to get into my wetsuit, so it seemed like a good incentive. Plus, Libby was getting increasingly interested in sport and I was aware that it was a long time since she’d seen me do anything more strenuous than a 10k.
Then, XLS-Nutrition got in touch and asked if I’d like to work with them, trying out some of their meal replacement shakes. I wasn’t sure. Had I really got to a point where I couldn’t sort my weight out with good nutrition and exercise? Then I thought back to the health check and my plan to lose weight. And all the other plans that have fallen by the wayside over the past couple of years. So, I said yes.
Using meal replacement shakes for weight loss
I signed up to an eight week programme called Boost Buddies. I was to replace two meals a day with XLS-Nutrition shakes for four weeks, then replace 1-2 meals for the second four weeks. Throughout that time, I had to eat a balanced, healthy diet and do at least two hours of exercise per week.
That exercise was nearly my downfall. Not because I wasn’t doing the two hours a week, but because I was doing far more. When I started the programme, I was often doing up to three hours of exercise in a day. The meal replacement shakes weren’t enough to sustain me and I was losing weight extremely rapidly and feeling terrible.
Under advice from the XLS dietician, I dropped to one shake per day if I was doing a large amount of exercise. And continued with two on days when I wasn’t doing so much. This suited me much better, and I settled into a rhythm of eating less, eating better and using the shakes.
The way they work is that they contain 250 calories when taken with milk. I was using oat milk because I don’t drink dairy milk. The shakes give you all the vitamins and nutrients you need from a meal, but their low calorie value means you should lose weight as long as you also maintain a healthy, balanced diet for the meals you do eat. The shakes are easy to make, convenient and taste pretty good. They also keep you full for a few hours, so I wasn’t getting too hungry.
Changing my attitude towards food
During the time I worked with XLS, I lost 10 lbs. In terms of measurements, I lost 8cm around my chest, 10cm around my waist and 8cm around my hips. But more importantly, I started to feel differently about food. I was making better choices, not because I wanted to lose weight, but because I was listening to my body more and eating when I was hungry.
My portion sizes decreased and I didn’t automatically say yes every time I was offered cakes or biscuits. I stopped snacking on rubbish during the day when I was working and reduced my carb and processed sugar intake. It was a gradual process that I didn’t even really notice, but it’s one that has continued since I finished the programme in mid-June.
In fact since finishing, I’ve lost another 5 lbs. I’ve completed the triathlon – it wasn’t fast, but I finished it. And I was able to get into my wetsuit, although I chose to swim without it because it wasn’t compulsory. Now, I can realistically see myself losing more weight, and reaching my ultimate goal of being the weight I was when I got married.
More importantly, I am healthier and more active. My risk of chronic illness has decreased, I have more energy and I’m setting a better example for my children. I know meal replacement shakes aren’t for everyone, but they really did give me the kick I needed to start losing weight and keep that weight off.