Before and Afters are fundamentally flawed because if you're serious about fitness then an 'after' can, and should, not be reached. Fitness is a long term, lifestyle revolution, and not just a short term crusade to drop a few pounds. I for one still have a lot of work to do in toning and muscle definition. However, I would like to say that i am finished with "phase 1" of my new health driven lifestyle: the weight loss phase. These pictures are therefore not of a finished product but rather evidence of 8 weeks of hard work and dedication.
Results so Far
The above pictures are 8 weeks, 24lb and two dress sizes apart. Looking back now it feels like a lifetime ago and I barely recognize the girl in the first photo. What amazes me most is that when I first decided to get healthy and make a change for life, I never genuinely believed i'd be able to see any difference. Now, I cannot imagine ever going back.
Whilst before and after photos are hugely inspirational for any of us with challenging fitness goals, it is the stories and tips behind them which are of most use. I'm no fitness expert, no personal trainer and certainly not a doctor however, what I can offer is the truth behind my success in the hopes that it might help others.
So here is what worked for me:
1) Cut out junk food.
Yes completely! I used to practically live of pizza and if I craved a chocolate biscuit i'd go out, buy an entire pack, and eat it. When I removed the junk from my diet and switched to healthy food the weight became falling off without me having to make much more effort. Now, 8 weeks down the line, I allow myself the occasional treat because it's necessary to keep yourself sane. Most people fail in diets because they attempt to be too strict and then binge insanely on "cheat days". Better to have the odd, controlled treat in order to avoid doing more damage down the line. I learnt that one bad meal won't make you fat the same as one good meal won't make you thin, it's all about eating well 90% of the time.
In order to help with the junk food cravings I have sought out low calorie alternatives to the treats I crave. Fruit and nuts just weren't cutting it to satisfy my taste buds when snacking was a temptation. Ben and Jerry's Frozen Yoghurt has half the calories of the ice cream but tastes just as good, Snack a Jacks make a brilliant low fat, low calorie alternative for crisps and I satisfied my chocolate craving with either chocolate weetabix (combining the beauty of chocolate with the vital fibre in a 130 calorie breakfast) or a 35 calorie Options hot chocolate (mint is my absolute favourite). Check out my blog post on the top six low calorie snack alternatives I have found for more!
3) Switch to diet drinks.
I love coke and drink it on a daily basis. By switching from full fat coke to diet I easily cut out as much as 800 calories a day from my diet. It took some adjustment to get used to the reduction in sugar but now I can't imagine drinking the overly sweet full fat version! Clearly diet coke is still not particularly great for your health; its full of caffeine, bad for the skin and rots the teeth. My next mission is to cut it out of my diet almost completely, however, i'd far rather be drinking a bottle with 2 calories in than one with over 200 in!
I went from never exercising at all to hitting the gym every day. I got a personal trainer (Danny Doggett-Short whose website is listed in the places to visit on my homepage) who revolutionized my work out and made sure that my time in the gym was worth while as well as fun. I hadn't realized the importance of resistance training to weight loss before and incorporating this to my workout made all the difference. It also motivated me to change my goals from getting skinny to getting strong and athletic. It is far more satisfying to see muscle definition forming, and make gains on the weight machines, than to see the number fall on the scales. I learnt that if you aim to get fit and healthy the weight will look after itself. I definitely put at least 60% of my success on to Danny's shoulders as he changed not only my work outs but my attitude in general!
5) Have Fun
The most important factor in getting results for me has been in making this fun, and a part of my life, instead of a chore. I'm no longer aiming for short term goals and gains but want to make permanent changes to my life. Making exercise fun and learning tasty but healthy recipes to eat has made getting healthy another part of my day instead of a constant effort.
What I have learnt during this process is that there are no excuses for failure. It may be a difficult road at times, but the results are worth it, not just for appearance and confidence but for the chance to live a long and healthy life. Fitness should be central to all of our lives, our bodies weren't made to be sat in front of computer screens all day eating junk food. So if you're thinking about embarking on a new healthy lifestyle, stop putting it off till tomorrow and start today. If I can do it, anyone can.