Cambridge Weight Plan: Month One
You may remember in my Highs & Lows of 2017 post, I said I was going to take drastic steps to lose weight this year. I didn’t quite know what those steps would be at the time, but it didn’t take me long to decide. On 3rd January 2018, I started the Cambridge Weight Plan.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Cambridge Weight Plan is an intensive six-step weight loss programme. Formerly known as the Cambridge Diet, it uses specially-formulated replacement meals to help you on your weight loss journey. Depending which step you’re on, your calorie intake can be anywhere between 600 and 1,500 calories a day. Crucially, it involves weekly meetings with a qualified consultant, who provides you with guidance, support and the products you’ll need for the week ahead. It’s an extremely strict diet, but it’s proven to work in a relatively short space of time – when I said drastic, I meant it!
After researching the Plan, I found a consultant near me via the Cambridge website. I emailed her and she arranged a call with me to ensure I knew exactly what to expect before I signed up, as well as checking I was eligible to do the diet. As a result of its severity, not everyone can go on the Plan for medical reasons. Thankfully, I was fine and met with my consultant soon after. Before diving straight into the Plan, we got to know each other a little better and discussed my reasons for wanting to lose weight. My primary motivation is one of my best friend’s wedding in September this year, which I’m a bridesmaid for. I also want to feel good about myself again and regain some of the confidence I’ve lost recently.
My consultant then gave me the booklet which explains the Step Plan in more detail, including the science behind it and what you can and can’t eat on each stage. The Cambridge Weight Plan consists of six steps: 1A, 1B, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Step 1 is known as Sole Source, as you live purely on Cambridge products. 1A is the strictest and involves having only three products a day, which equates to around 600 calories. 1B allows four Cambridge products a day, which is around 800 calories. My consultant thought it would be best for me to start on Step 2, as I’ve got until September to get to my target weight and don’t necessarily have to lose a dramatic amount quickly.
Step 2 involves having three Cambridge products a day and a 200 calorie meal. The meal should consist of a portion of protein equating to around 180 calories and a small helping of vegetables to make up the rest of the calorie allowance, roughly 80 grams. The booklet details which foods you can consume on this step, which excludes carbohydrates like pasta and potatoes, as well as dairy products like cheese and butter, and all fruit. Even some vegetables like red peppers, onions and carrots aren’t allowed on Step 2. There is absolutely no snacking between meals and drinks are restricted to water, tea and coffee. It’s essential to drink over two litres of water a day on this diet to avoid dehydration and help your weight loss – the more you drink, the better.
To say this was a shock to the system is an understatement. I went from easily consuming over 2,000 calories a day to just 800. The first few days on the diet are understandably the hardest, as your body has no idea what’s happening. I felt extremely lethargic and headachy, as I wasn’t used to trying to drink so much water. I even took a migraine on the second day, as I went too long without eating or drinking. My consultant assured me that around the day five mark I would start to feel better, as my body starts to settle into the new routine. Admittedly, it took me longer to start feeling more energetic, well over a week. I now use an app to track my water intake and record everything I eat in notes on my phone.
My weigh-in day falls on a Wednesday, so I go to my consultant’s house straight after work. I was anxious to step on the scales after week one was done, but was absolutely gobsmacked to have lost seven pounds! That’s half a stone in just one week – if I was lacking any motivation to continue, it was reignited when I saw that result! I put it down to losing the excess Christmas weight I’d piled on and any water I may have been clinging onto. With such an amazing weight loss in my first week, the second week was always going to struggle to live up to it. I lost two pounds, which seemed like nothing in comparison but is actually still a healthy amount to lose in a week. Week three saw me drop another three pounds and I shed four pounds in week four – hopefully week five will be five pounds, but I don’t think it works like that!
So, in just four weeks I’ve lost an incredible 16lbs on the Cambridge Weight Plan. The best part is, I’ve still managed to go out for lunch and dinner a few times. The trick is to ask for a bunless burger, whether that be beef or chicken, and ditch the fries for some salad, preferably green leaves. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol, fizzy drinks or milky coffees since I began the diet, which has undoubtedly helped my weight loss. Sadly, I haven’t dropped a dress size yet, but I’ve definitely lost weight from my chest (the one place you don’t want to lose it!) and my face is slimmer. I know the diet is working, so I just have to keep going and it will show in my clothes eventually.
It’s amazing how quickly I’ve gotten into a new routine. I usually start my day with a Cambridge porridge for breakfast – there’s three flavours to choose from (apple and cinnamon, maple and pecan, and original) and I enjoy them all. I’ll then alternate between a product and my meal for the day at lunchtime, depending on whether I’m at work or not. Then, I’ll do the same for dinner depending on what I’ve had for lunch. My treat is usually one of the Cambridge bars with a cup of tea just before bed. My consultant encourages me to eat before I go to sleep to avoid waking up ravenous!
There’s always a stigma attached to diets that use replacement products, but there’s a surprising amount to choose from on the Cambridge Plan. There’s shakes, smoothies, soups, porridges, bars and meals like macaroni cheese, spaghetti bolognese and more. I haven’t tried a shake I didn’t like yet – the toffee and walnut one is to die for, while the cappuccino one could pass for an iced latte. The bars are deceptively filling and it helps to chop these up into little pieces to make it last longer. I’m a creature of habit when it comes to food anyway, so I don’t mind eating the same meals most days. The spaghetti bolognese is currently my favourite, as it looks and tastes just like the real thing. The only products I haven’t liked so far are the Thai green curry (too spicy for me) and the rice pudding (weird texture).
As with most diets, the cost can often put people off. The Cambridge Weight Plan relies on you buying their products, so there’s no getting around that if you want to do this diet. The amount of products you need to buy depends on what step you’re on, so the price will vary from person to person. Personally, I pay around £50 a week for everything I need. This may seem pricey, but considering it’s almost everything I’m eating, I’ve actually saved a lot of money this month. I haven’t had to buy much at the supermarket, I haven’t been eating out loads or getting takeaways, and I haven’t drank alcohol once – all those pennies add up.
I was in two minds about telling people I had started this diet. Whenever you mention that word, there’s a risk of eye rolls and claims it won’t work or you’ll pile it all back on. But, I wholeheartedly believe this is what’s best for me right now. I’ve never been more focused to achieve my goal in my life and want to look, and feel, amazing in that bridesmaid’s dress come September. There is always the risk of putting weight back on whenever you lose it – I know this better than anybody. But, this diet is already reeducating me about just how little food your body actually needs to function and the harm a lot of stuff out there can cause it. So, a month down and I’m still feeling motivated, driven towards becoming the best version of myself I can be. Wish me luck!
Until next time,