For those of you that have been following Smaggle for a while, you’ll know I’m a massive self experimenter. I’m constantly researching self improvement ideas, introducing healthy changes and finding ways of eating and exercising to find the best thing that works for me.
There are a few things I’ve tried that I’ve stuck to quite religiously over the years. For example, I don’t generally drink alcohol during the week and I exercise in the morning because that’s just what works for me. Otherwise if I wait for the afternoon I’m very likely to talk myself out of going. I’m too woozy and useless to bargain with myself in the morning, so AM classes have been my thing for about 10 years now.
Despite having the metabolic speed of a dying elephant, I somehow lost 20kgs in my early twenties and kept the weight off for ages but as you get older your metabolism slows down even more (yay!) and doing the things that kept my weight off for years stopped working so I had to up the ante and make some changes. I’d gained back about 10 of those kgs and I was keen to get rid of them. I’ve been working on this for most of the year, going to the gym, changing the way I eat. I went on a dietician approved eating plan and I didn’t have a drop of alcohol in the first three months of this year and NOTHING HAPPENED. Mr Smaggle and I both went ketogenic/low carb high fat. I lost a small amount of weight but then plateaud while Mr Smaggle dropped two pants sized while eating literally a cup of whipped cream every night. Bastard.
Finally, thankfully, blissfully, in the last few months, I’ve found a formula that’s working. I’ve had a few people ask about it and I need to be very clear and say I’m not a doctor, I’m not giving advice on this, these are just some healthy changes I’ve made that have worked for me. I know people who have lost weight and maintained on juice fasts and I shit you not, the last juice fast I went on, I gained 3 kilos. Not every lifestyle plan works for everyone. This is just some stuff that’s been working for me.
1. I’ve cut back on cardio exercise
I can’t be sure if this was a huge player but I did some research on weight loss and exercise and there’s some solid data that suggests keeping your heart rate under around 130 (based on my resting heart rate, age and height) you burn fat. If you just go hard and let your heart rate go up to 170 plus, you’re burning glucose. It makes perfect sense – I want to burn fat so I need to keep my heart rate in the fat burning zone. This just means I’ve modified my F45 classes on cardio days so I do regular squats instead of jump squats or I plank instead of doing mountain climbers. I’m currently in a two week phase of doing the full cardio classes to see if it makes a difference though. If I can do the full cardio, I will because I actually really enjoy it. There’s something about being so physically engaged with your own body that you forget who you are and I love that feeling but if it’s stopping me from losing weight, it’s got to go.
2. I fast for 16 hours every day
I can say with a shit tonne of confidence that fasting has made the biggest difference in the last eight weeks. I did the 5:2 years ago with a lot of success but after a while, I just hated it. Having a productive day on 500 calories was fucking impossible and really not very fun. With the 16:8, I stop eating at 8pm then I go to bed at 11. I’m at the gym at 8am the next day, at my desk working by 9am and then I only have to fast for 3 hours and I can eat ‘breakfast’ at 12. It’s so incredibly manageable. On weekends, I’ll be a bit more relaxed but only if I’m out and about. If I’m at home, I stick to it. My body responds very well to fasting and I’m thrilled I’ve found a decent way to do it without making myself miserable. Oh and before you ask, I’m totally fine working out on an empty stomach, I always have been and I only have to wait 3 hours to eat after a work out and I don’t struggle with this at all. It’s a mind over matter thing. I find my fasting morning quite sharp to be honest but I’m very for ready for lunch by the time it rolls around.
3. I eat very low dairy
This one makes me sad but it’s made a massive difference. I suffer from horrendous period pain and I read somewhere if you cut out dairy, it lessens your period pain. I’ve done this about six times in my life and it’s been true every time. I experimented last month and ate dairy and my period pain came back. So disappointing because I love cheese and yogurt but what can I do? I find if I eat dairy during my period and then cut it out in between, it’s quite fine. For me, goat’s cheese doesn’t have an effect which is great. I have coconut yogurt every now then too.
4. I’ve pretty much stopped eating sugar
This happened by accident because I increased the amount of fat I was eating and because I was just more satisfied by the food I was eating, I craved sugar a lot less and now when I eat sugar it kind of tastes like coppery blood. I know that sounds so bizarre but I don’t even really think about it. I’ll occasionally have something amazing like my beautiful friend made me ice cream sandwiches with home baked cookies for my birthday and I ate every mouthful and loved it but that’s probably the 3rd time I’ve eaten something like that this year. I’ll occasionally have some 92% dark chocolate or one of those low carb chocolate bars but they’re both kind of lame and I’d rather have a glass of wine. I’m not crazy weird about it though, if I go out for dinner to a mate’s place and they serve me something with a sugary sauce, I don’t care and I don’t think about it. I’m very strict in my own home though so I can be a bit more relaxed when my food choices aren’t within my control.
5. I’ve cut out caffeine
This was another weird accident but because I gave up dairy, I couldn’t have milky coffees. I’m not a fan of black coffee and almond milk in coffee is actually just kind of gross. I tried but it’s just too easy to get wrong so I just naturally stopped having it and I don’t miss it. I think it also makes me sleep better. I’ve had a few coffees in the last week or two because I relaxed on the whole milk thing but I just don’t think it meshes well with me.
After eight weeks of doing the above, I’ve lost eight kilos and my waist is officially under the recommended guidelines for good heart health for women in Australia. My F45 studio runs eight week challenges every few months and I’m definitely doing the next one. I’ll let you know how I go.
This week on Straight and Curly, Kelly and I talking about food, what we eat and how we feel about particular demonised food groups.
We also talk about what we eat in a day. Here’s my day on a plate. This is a Monday to Friday day. On a Saturday there will be a takeaway bun-less burger, a few glasses of wine and some dark chocolate.
12pm – Spinach omelette with goats cheese.
2pm – 10 almonds or celery with peanut butter.
4pm – Salad with salmon in oil and avocado.
7pm – Grilled fish with baked broccoli and cauliflower.
7.45pm – Sugar free hot chocolate with coconut milk.