Oh hey, another diet post! I’m not even sorry…
It’s fair to say I’ve been pretty successful on the Cambridge Weight Plan, having lost four and a half stone in eight months! But, I’m no stranger to diets – I’ve tried both Weight Watchers and Slimming World in the past, though neither worked nearly as well as the Cambridge diet.
So, I wanted to reflect on what made a difference this time and offer some general diet tips, whether you’re embarking on the Cambridge plan or giving another one a go. Of course, I’m by no means an expert or dietician or consultant; I’m just someone who has found something that works for me and would love to help others if I can.
Drink lots of water
Seriously, I cannot stress this one enough. I didn’t realise just how little I drank before starting the Cambridge plan. It’s recommended you drink at least 2.25 litres a day on it, as you’re not getting as much water intake from your food on a meal replacement plan. But, it’s crucial for losing weight in general.
Not only does it help you feel full, it also prevents water retention from dehydration (that’s why drinking on weigh-in day is particularly useful). While you may be nipping to the loo more often, this is actually a good thing – you’re flushing out toxins from your body and helping to keep your digestive system in shape. You’ll also have much healthier skin, which is always a plus!
To ensure you’re drinking enough, adopt a few habits. I have an 800ml water bottle at work that I ensure to drink at least two of every day, as well as cups of tea and coffee (yes, they count!). I also track my water intake on an app, which you can set to remind you to take a drink if you’re likely to forget. Cut back on the number of fizzy drinks you have by replacing them with water (you can add sugar-free flavouring) and try to have more glasses of water when you’re out, especially if you’re drinking alcohol.
Don’t weigh yourself every day
This is so important, but admittedly hard to resist! Something you learn very quickly on any diet is that weight fluctuates. It may seem obvious, but you’ll always be lighter in the morning and you’re guaranteed to put a few pounds on throughout the day, no matter what you do. So, don’t hop on the scales every single day, it’ll just drive you crazy! There’s also a risk of losing all motivation if you’ve worked hard, only to find you’ve put on a pound or two. Just trust what you’re doing will work and try to weigh yourself at the same time every week, instead.
Though it’s been said a thousand times before, I’ll say it again – it’s not all about the scales! The number you’re seeing could be anything from muscle gain to good old hormones. I’ll even admit there’s been times when I’ve ate way more than I intended that week and fully expected to put on weight, only for it to go down! So, it really does have a mind of its own sometimes. As long as you’re steadily chipping away at it, you’re doing the right thing.
Have a goal
Another crucial step to success is having a goal. While losing weight is a goal in itself, it’s helpful to have something specific to aim towards. I started the Cambridge diet in January with the goal of looking and feeling great in my bridesmaid dress come September. Knowing I had something to aim for really gave me the drive to keep going.
Now the wedding has been, I’ve set myself a new goal to tone up for my holiday to Lanzarote in March 2019. It’s important to continually set yourself new goals to ensure your motivation doesn’t disappear. Weddings and holidays are pretty obvious examples, but find something that means a lot to you and use it.
Use comparison pictures
It’s hard to take pictures of yourself when you’re not happy with how you look, but trust me, they’ll come in handy to track your progress. Sometimes it’s not obvious how much you’ve changed until you compare before and after pictures. It’s entirely up to you whether any of these pictures see the light of day; I’ve shared a few of mine, but there are others that are just for my benefit.
Even just comparing pictures of your face can show such a difference. My face is always one of the first places I lose weight from, which I think is common for most people, so get taking some selfies! It’s also a fantastic boost to try on some of your old clothes and snap yourself in them to reveal how much you’ve shrunk. Keep all these pictures to motivate you along the way.
See it as a journey
Another thing that’s been said countless times before, but worth reiterating – a diet is not a quick fix, you have to make long-term changes to ensure the weight doesn’t just pile back on. In fact, most people will make a point of telling you this as soon as you mention you’re on a diet… Of course, you’ll put the weight back on if you just cut calories for a little while, then go back to your old habits. A diet can help kickstart your journey, but you have to be the one to keep it going.
It really does come down to exercising and making sensible food choices. Notice how I didn’t say “healthy”? If you get into the mindset that you can never eat anything unhealthy, you’ll lose all motivation entirely. Let yourself have some chocolate, enjoy a takeaway, go out for some drinks… just do it in moderation. I wish I could have realised this years ago, but that’s really all there is to it.
Don’t beat yourself up
Speaking of, please don’t be hard on yourself for not sticking to plan every now and then. It can be so tempting to throw in the towel when old habits rear their ugly head, but take a moment to think rationally. This is when it helps to think of it as a journey – a few bumps in the road can be expected, but it’s up to you to keep driving forward.
I made a list of reasons why I wanted to lose weight when I started the Cambridge Weight Plan, which I’ve kept on my phone for moments like this. These range from wanting to feel confident, healthy and pain-free to finally being able to get tattoos and wearing whatever I want. It’s helped me massively to look at this list when I feel like giving up. It goes back to having a goal – these are all little things I want to achieve and I can do so if I stick to it.
Find exercise you enjoy
I can wholeheartedly say I would not be where I am now without getting into classes at the gym. Discovering a love for the likes of Body Attack and Body Combat has made getting fit so much easier than if I’d hit the gym alone. I think this is where I was going wrong before – I was always too scared to attend classes, so would just do my own thing in the gym. Classes have helped me work out every muscle in my body, which doing endless cardio on my own wouldn’t have.
As exercise is crucial not only for losing weight, but maintaining that loss, you have to find something you enjoy. For many, this won’t be the gym and that’s okay. Even just walking is good exercise. All that matters is you get moving regularly!
Be proud of yourself
This cannot be understated! While I may have made it sound super simple, losing weight is one of the hardest things in the world to do – if it wasn’t, we’d never have any issues with it. Every single pound you lose is an achievement and you should be so proud. Don’t be afraid to share your success, either. For every person that criticises you, a dozen more will support you.
Often that support will make it all worthwhile. But, the biggest piece of advice I could give is to lose weight for yourself. If you want to change yourself for someone else, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Don’t underestimate yourself, either. You’re capable of achieving anything if you want it enough.
Until next time,