Obesity is on the rise. Currently about two in three adults in the UK are classified as being overweight or obese (BMI 25-30 (overweight), BMI 30+ (obese)), and this figure is likely to increase unless we change our lifestyle and approach to food.
I’m sure you all know how hard it is to avoid food. You can’t walk down the street without encountering a shop full of endless treats and pastries, or a restaurant without the delicious smell of curry overwhelming your senses. Food is pretty much at the heart of everything we do in our daily lives – social gatherings, events, conferences, parties, going to watch a movie at the cinema etc. It’s on our TV screens, buses, billboards – our favourite celebrities are endorsing it and supermarkets are always promoting the unhealthiest products at the cheapest prices. Coupled with the sedentary lifestyles we live – being tied behind a desk 9-5pm, watching telly, driving (you get the idea) – it’s no wonder the developing world is struggling with this epidemic.
I know that most of my money certainly goes on buying food and eating out, and having a gym membership that I occasionally use. I love running, hiking, cycling, swimming and playing badminton, but with my increasingly busy schedule and growing to-do-list, it becomes easy to brush physical activity aside or not put it at the top of my priority list. Over Christmas, and the few months prior to it, I gained quite a bit of weight due to high pressure/stress and workload at work (which meant I would grab whatever to eat at lunch) and ‘not having time’ to go to the gym, as well as an abundance of parties to attend over the festive period, which all involved high sugary and carby food oozing from every table and plate. I realised it was the heaviest I’d ever been (although I’ve always been on the chubbier side of the scales since my early teens). I didn’t want to risk looking akin to a baby hippo at the tender age of 25 and so it was TIME TO TAKE ACTION. My sister told me that her lecturer had lost drastic amounts of weight on the Cambridge Weight Plan (CWP), and so after a quick bit of research and contacting a local Consultant, I decided I would start on the plan from January 2016.
I wasn’t sure about writing this blog post as I was unsure about whether I wanted to broadcast my experience of embarking on CWP to the world, but I’ve been on the diet for nearly 7 weeks now (and have lost 1 stone already woop!), and thought it would a) help keep me on track, b) keep me motivated and c) provide guidance and/or inspiration to others (as I have benefitted a great deal from reading blogs and watching videos of other people’s success on the plan).
The Cambridge Weight Plan
The diet was started by a Scientist – yep you guessed it – at the University of Cambridge, and has been helping people lose weight for over 30 years now.
It is essentially a meal-replacement VLCD (very low calorie diet), and starts as low as 440 calories per day (this varies depending on the Step you are on). CWP products have the right amount of minerals, vitamins, protein and fatty acids, so that you don’t lose the essential nutrients your body needs. The diet cuts out carbs and sugars and encourages the body to live off its fat stores for energy, resulting in faster, and greater, weight loss.
CWP has a range of products, including porridge, soups, shakes, meals and bars (the crunchy ones are my favourite!), and depending on which Step you start, you will need to have between 1 – 4 products and drink 3 litres of water a day. CWP has proven to be a very effective weight loss programme due to providing 1:1 guidance and support via a Consultant and its Six Step process, which helps people lose weight and maintain it in the long-run, by gradually reintroducing normal food into their diet after having been on meal-replacement products.
You can find out the full details of the plan on the Cambridge Weight Plan website.
Benefits of CWP
The promise of fast weight loss (CWP says that you will tend to lose on average 10-14lbs a month if you follow the plan 100%) within a defined timescale, as well as balancing out your sugar levels, higher energy, and not craving food and overeating.
The benefits of being on a low-carb diet I have found is that you don’t crave carbs/sugars as much, so you avoid have the sugar highs/lows and thus avoid the vicious cycle of eating carbs/sugars and then craving more and more of it.
CWP also teaches you to have more control over your relationship with food. Over the years I had grown to have a very poor attitude towards it (my student years did not help!), and so I didn’t want my emotions to dictate how I responded to food/how much I ate or let it have control over me, which is how I felt a lot during my teenage years.
Being on this plan has also helped me learn how to cook more healthily, think about the amount of crap I used to put in my body and about the level of energy my body really needs on a daily basis to get by – which is critical to maintaining the weight in the long-run as it helps you adjust your food intake. This mental shift in my outlook to food has so far been the most invaluable to me.
Weight loss thus far
I haven’t found the diet too much of a struggle as I started on Step 2 and prefer not to think about food too much, so the fact that I have 3 solid meal-replacement packs sorted for me already has been great. I only struggle when my routine is thrown off-course or I am surrounded by family who keep shovelling food in my face or if I am eating out and am unprepared. I also need to make sure that I don’t become too complacent about drinking 3 litres of water a day, as I strongly believe this impacts my weight loss greatly, as well as bowel movement. Sometimes I do feel like I am surviving on coffee however, especially post-lunch at work, when I tend to get drowsy. Apart from that, this has probably been the longest that I have ever stuck to a diet!
Week 1: -6.8lbs
Week 2: -2.6lbs
Week 3: +1lb (I went off plan a little bit this week due to volunteering overseas)
Week 4: -2.4lbs
Week 5: -3.4lbs
Week 6: +1lb (wasn’t on plan 100%, water-intake suffered because I was a bit complacent I think)
Week 7: TBC (watch out for my future blog posts 🙂 )
Not to mention the fact that I have lost several inches off my arms, waist and thighs!
I have also been fortunate enough to have found a really great award-winning Consultant (and lives just around the corner from me!) who has provided me with strong support, positivity and enthusiasm, and taught me a lot about nutrition and the importance of having lots of water (seriously, this is SO critical and the benefits are endless). She shares some great stuff on her Facebook page.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t over the moon about my 1lb gain last week, but a great piece of advice that my Consultant provided me with is that weight loss tends to work on a 4-week cycle, so it’s important not to be disheartened by a hiccup and to look at the overall picture and loss over a month. So stay focused!
Some motivational stuff
I read/watch a lot of content online and thought the following sources may be of interest if you’re looking for further guidance and tips.
Chanden’s ‘Change, Know, Smile’ blog – her journey and easy recipes on Step 2 and 3 have been absolute life-savers for me! They are a great source of inspiration for meals regarding the protein and veg allowance
Research suggests crash dieting more effective than gradual weight loss – studies have shown that ‘crash diets’ or diets that get you results faster are actually better for those trying to lose weight and doesn’t affect maintenance in the long-run
What 200 calories looks like in different foods:
Take a look at how much sugar is in food that Britons eat…:
More information on obesity epidemic
Partner more influential than upbringing when it comes to obesity – why not start CWP together with your partner?
As a final note, a good piece of advice that I have received from my Consultant and my friend is that it’s always good to be a little hungry – the aim is to shrink your stomach so it’s easier to maintain once you come off the plan and so your body doesn’t desire more food. You should only ever be 80% full. A great quote to finish this post off: “Stay Hungry. Stay Humble.” – credit to Dual Dynamics – whose videos on Youtube are VERY inspirational. I would highly recommend watching them.
I am hoping to write another post about my journey in another few weeks with hopefully more positive weight losses to update you on and tips of what I have learned along the way, so watch this space!