Five strategies for success
At the beginning of 2017, I decided it was time to get into shape, which meant getting fit and shedding a lot of extra weight I had been carrying. While every weightloss and fitness journey is a very personal one, and everyone will have different strategies that worked for them, I’m sharing my top 5 strategies in the hope they – or variations of them – will help you get, or stay, on track.
Get into the right head-space
I’m going to be honest: I have tried – and failed – to lose weight many times. And so, I have had many people who have known me for a long time, ask me how I managed to get it right this time round, and how I’ve sustained my training and weightloss.
I’ve thought about this many times, and unfortunately the only answer I have, is very difficult to define or explain: This time round I simply got into the right head-space.
To get into this head-space, I suggest you consider very carefully why you want to lose weight, how you plan to do so, what help you’ll need and how you’ll sustain it.
In my case, the push I needed was seeing a friend who looked absolutely amazing after having lost a huge amount of weight and taking up running. When I decided to start my weightloss journey, I spoke to her, arming myself with information about what she had done and how this could possibly work for me.
Flood your feed with positivity
I then signed up with the online support group she was part of, and got started with their 30-day reboot programme, which is based on the Paleo diet. Do not underestimate the power of an online support group. The more active I was on the Facebook group, the more member posts populated my timeline. I also started following like-minded people on Instagram as well as Paleo-focused accounts. This resulted in my social media feeds being flooded with positive, uplifting and useful information that helped me keep focused, and meal ideas in line with my eating plan.
Create a Paleo-friendly home
It was about two weeks into my first reboot that hubby and I decided that the Paleo lifestyle was one we could see ourselves continuing with – and sustaining.
We also decided that to commit to our new lifestyle, we would clear our cupboards of anything that was not Paleo-friendly. This meant saying goodbye to sunflower oil, chickpeas, lentils and other legumes, my beloved crackers, peanuts, cheese, milk, cake flour, our wide variety of sauces in the fridge, mayonnaise (ouch!) … well you get my point.
The Paleo diet excludes all grains, sugar, legumes and dairy. So all related products found new homes with our family members!
Yes, yes, I know what you’re saying: it sounds a bit extreme. I agree, but DAMMIT! The situation was extreme! I was 40kg overweight, and I was going to do whatever it took to lose that weight and create an environment in which I could be successful in reaching my weightloss goals.
I also have to emphasise how much it helped to have my husband commit to the same diet as I was following. It also got us back into the kitchen … not only eating meals together, but also spending time cooking and baking – together – and taking control of what we were putting into our bodies.
But, of course, we do not spend ALL our time at home, and so we had to find a way to ensure that we stayed on track even when we were attending parties or having meals with family members. What worked for me was ensuring that I never went to parties hungry because many a bad decision has been made on an empty tummy. I also tried not to drink too much, because when I’m tipsy, I’ll eat just about anything! Rummage through my handbag at any given time and you’ll often find some biltong, nuts or fruit, which really help when you get a snack attack. Beware of nuts though… they are high in calories, so stick to small portions.
When it comes to lunches or suppers with family, we always make sure we cook a Paleo-friendly meal and dessert to take a long. This way there’s always something for us to eat, without imposing on our hosts, or making them feel uncomfortable by declining everything offered to us.
I’ve also found that many of my friends and family become “Paleo-curious” when they hear about our change in lifestyle (and see the results) and enjoy trying out our offerings.
My three bags
My night-time packing routine is something I’ve joked about with a lot of friends, but seriously, it is one that has really helped me. Before bed I ensure my three bags are packed: my work bag, my gym bag, and my food bag. Of course I don’t literally pack my food bag the night before. But I do ensure that my meals for the next day are prepared and packed in the fridge so that I can pop them in my lunch bag before heading off to work.
While having my gym bag packed the night before does take away the spontaneity of deciding what to wear to work, it does ensure I don’t spend the morning hunting for a gym bra or socks or that skirt that I’d really like to wear to the office.
It may seem a bit extravagant, but I double up when I do my toiletry shopping so that I have extra which I leave in my gym bag. This means I don’t have to remember to take some soap from the bathroom, or pack in my facecloth or body lotion.
So much has been written about meal prep – and there is a reason for that. While it’s always more enjoyable to eat freshly prepared meals, sometimes this simply isn’t possible – particularly if you work until quite late. There is nothing worse than getting home after a long day at the office and still having to cook. There’s also that thing I said earlier about empty tummies and bad decisions…
I also prep meals so that I can pack in lunches for work and not be tempted to pop out for a take-away when lunch time comes. I plan to do a full post on meal prep so won’t go into too much detail at this point.
Keep it simple
Yep, I’ve saved the best for last.
When I switched to the Paleo diet my key strategy for success was to keep it simple, particularly while I was becoming accustomed to the lifestyle and getting comfortable with having excluded so many food groups from my diet.
What this means is that I didn’t immediately launch into baking Paleo-friendly treats or desserts, or making Paleo variations of dishes which traditionally contain sugar, dairy, legumes or grains. In the beginning my meals were very simple combinations of a protein source, lots of fresh veggies and salads. I also made sure that at least twice a week I ate fish instead of red or white meat, and planned and prepped meals so that I didn’t have red meat with more than one meal on any given day.
So, there you have it. These are some of the strategies that worked for me, and I hope they help you too!