Fat to Fit: Stepping Up on the Cambridge Weight Plan

So it’s been a while. It’s been busy. Life has been a little crazy but I’m proud to say that I’m still going strong on CWP and have recently stepped up to Step 3 – even Step 4 briefly in the past few months – and I’ve still managed to lose weight steadily – exciting stuff!

I actually wrote a huge chunk of this blog post a few months ago when I was on the former CWP Step 3 plan but never managed to finish it;  I am now on the new – much improved – CWP Step 3! I find the variety of options regarding Step 3 + on the revamped plan very empowering in terms of making sensible food choices, reincorporating normal foods back into your diet and long-term maintenance.

I am VERY CLOSE to my goal weight – which is super-exciting and motivating in itself – and I have been uber-100% on plan these past few weeks (I had a bit of a slow loss on Step 2 on the new CWP plan – but suffice to say I don’t think I did a week where I was truly 100% due to family/social events). My Consultant recommended I go up to Step 3 as it may jig up my weight loss a bit, and also because I wanted to increase my exercise. I had gained a bit of weight during Ramadan in June 2016 (when I decided to take a break from the plan) – but that’s all gone now, so just the last stretch left! I have never been so focused on my goal, and knowing I am doing 100% everyday is probably the best feeling ever (I mark it off on a monthly wall calendar hanging in my room).

After the success of my previous blog post on top tips for staying on track on CWP, I thought a follow up post on survival tips for moving up the Steps on CWP would be most fitting. Stepping up on CWP from the lower Steps can take both a brain and body adjustment and it can be easy to veer of course. This post covers situations and questions that I have encountered since losing a huge chunk of weight, and my personal experience and tips on staying on plan and smashing it!

Questions

⭐ Will I still lose weight?

It can be a bit daunting going up the Steps – Step 3 allows carbs which got me unnecessarily worried – and this was one of my very first questions. The straight answer is yes! You will still lose weight on Step 3 and 4 but just at a slower rate than Step 2 e.g. averaging probably 7-8 pounds a month, but you must stay 100% on plan to expect these results. Do remember you are still only taking in approx. 1000 cals – which is very low and not a drastic leap from Step 2. I’ve lost quite a bit on Step 3, although it hasn’t always been a week-on-week loss due to me blipping occasionally and not giving the Step the stringent dedication it requires (this was more so the case when I was on the former Step 3 plan – whereas with the new modified plan, it’s been pretty smooth so far). My biggest worry is probably stepping onto the scales during weigh in and not having lost any weight – but this hasn’t happened so YAY, but you gotta stick to plan 100% people. It’s worth noting that Step 3 and 4 are usually for those who have reached goal weight and are moving onto maintenance and weight stability, unless you start on those Steps or are working your way down the Steps due to your personal situation or medical reasons.

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Damright

⭐ Do I still have to drink 3 litres of water a day?

YAAAAS. According to my Consultant, one of the things that tends to happen as people go up the Steps is that their water starts to drop, since you get some water from your food intake, and also tend to feel fuller because you’re eating more. DO NOT DROP THE WATER INTAKE PPL. This is really critical for good weight losses week on week.

KEEP THAT WATER HIGH.

Sometimes I even drink up to 4 litres if it’s really hot or if I go to the gym that day. You’ll end up peeing like a fountain but remember it’s all worth it. Great for clearer skin too. To make it easier for myself – I now carry a 750ml water bottle with me and make sure I refill and drink from this 4 x or more a day, everyday.

⭐ How should I decide what to eat and how much of it?

Step 3 now has a lot more flexibility in terms of food choices and the new plan also has a Green, Amber and Red coding system to indicate how often you should eat the foods. The advice that I have been given here is that as long as I stick to 1,000 cals per day, I can eat whatever I wish from the list. However, the rule here is not to go crazy on the carbs ppl – don’t forget the good habits built on previous Steps! There is a healthy plate diagram in the booklet for a reason – it’s important to make sure that your food is a) cooked in a healthy way, b) balanced – have a portion of veg, protein, carb and fruit a day, c) aligned to your activity levels.

The way I have managed to keep it simple for myself is by spreading my meals over the day:

  1. I have a bar with coffee or shake for breakfast in the morning;
  2. A low cal sandwhich (2 x Warbutons wholemeal bread (55 cals per slice), with low cal spread and salad – IT’S REALLY BASIC) and an apple for lunch;
  3. Half a bar in the afternoon with tea for my tea break;
  4. In the evening I stick to having my protein and veg allowance with some fruit if I have cals left over, occasionally incorporating carbs into my evening meal if I have hit the gym before;
  5. Finally the other half of my bar with another cup of tea or coffee as ‘dessert’.

I eat my carbs for lunch mainly because I need the energy at work and has the day to burn off  🙂 And in the evenings I tend to fill myself up on lots of veg as they’re really low in cals.

Honestly my meals are pretty much the same everyday – I like to keep things straightforward and am a creature of habit. I am no master chef so investing in a George Foreman grill has changed my life – takes about 5 mins to cook chicken and fish – not even kidding! Sometimes to make things a bit more interesting or if I’m spending time with my family at the end of the week – I have a burger or pitta wrap night! The food allowance on Step 3 + allows you to do this – just keep it healthy and don’t go crazy on the sauces (you can see my tiny squirt of mayo in the pics below 🙂 )

As you work up the Steps it is critical to stick to the daily calorie intake (1,000 cals on Step 3 and 1,200 cals on Step 4) as slight blips can increase the amount of calories you are taking in daily and this can have quite a big impact on your weight loss over the course of a week if blips keep happening regularly.

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Shaking it up

⭐ The weights/calories of foodstuffs in the booklet don’t always match the products/calories of foodstuffs I buy, which should I follow?

So I encountered this recently when I bought some sea bass; the book says 100g of white fish is about 75 cals, whereas the packet with the sea bass said it was a lot more – naturally I text my Consultant asking her what to do and she said to follow the guidelines in the book – so that’s what I’m doing! I’m not sure how it works, but if I stick the plan, and continue to weigh/measure everything, it works – so that’s all I need to know.

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Love my sea bass

Things that start to happen

⭐ Your clothes start looking frumpy on you

This is both a good and bad thing – a) you feel great that you’ve lost tons of weight, but b) you don’t fit into your favourite clothes anymore (well this was the issue for me at least)! My mate called me a ‘frump’ the other day because all my clothes were so loose, but I didn’t mind! For me it was a reminder of how far I had come and I love seeing my clothes baggy on me because it makes me proud of the dedication and commitment that I have made to myself to make a healthy change in my life. So I say enjoy it! Go out and buy smaller clothes, even if they don’t fit you right now, they will in a few weeks time! It’s such a great source of motivation. Although your bank balance might start to suffer lol… I have never really been a fan of shopping or counted myself among the fashionable in the world… but I have discovered a new enjoyment in this now that I know I can pick up a size 8/10 and fit into it – it definitely makes internet shopping a lot easier and enjoyable!

⭐ People start noticing that you’ve lost weight – you’ll have the haters, and you’ll have the supporters

The other day one of my sisters was like: “This diet isn’t sustainable and you should be able to eat what you want.” This made me really angry – it’s EXACTLY BECAUSE I ATE EVERYTHING I WANTED, WHENEVER I WANTED, WITHOUT A SECOND THOUGHT, THAT I BALLOONED IN THE FIRST PLACE. Dieting is hard, and I don’t need the people closest to me telling me that once I come off plan I will regain everything back. It’s probably the most disheartening, annoying, and inconsiderate thing anyone could say to me or anyone on a diet. She also gave me grief on my approach to keeping on top of what I’m eating – essentially saying that calorie counting is bad/unhealthy for me and that I should be living a healthy lifestyle and not calorie counting – backing herself up with “I can eat whatever I want and I don’t gain weight blah blah”. I have heard enough of this rubbish that I get a headache just thinking about it. The best way to deal with the haters is to respond with:

“I AM EATING WHAT I WANT – I JUST CHOOSE NOT TO EAT UNHEALTHY SHIT.”

“EVEN IF YOU EAT HEALTHILY AND YOU EAT SAY 4,000 CALORIES A DAY – YOU’RE GONNA GAIN WEIGHT. FACT. CALORIE COUNTING IS THE MOST OBJECTIVE WAY TO KNOW AND BE CONSCIOUS OF WHAT GOES IN YOUR MOUTH. YOU CAN EAT HEALTHILY AND ALSO COUNT CALORIES – IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ONE OR THE OTHER.”

I understand that calorie counting can become an obsession with some people – but it works for some and not for others. You have to find your happy medium. I personally think as an initial way of being mindful of what you eat and becoming more aware of the amount of calories in food it’s a really useful tool and something important to be conscious about – as I never was before starting CWP.

Another friend of mine also said: “OH I AM SURPRISED YOU’VE MANAGED TO STAY ON THIS DIET FOR SO LONG” when she saw me earlier this year. She doesn’t know the full story anyhow i.e. I haven’t told her that I have a Consultant etc. because I could sense her overall negative undertone and energy towards me. I didn’t tell her the full story because I knew I couldn’t rely on her for her support because she is a naturally jealous person and struggles with other people’s success/es (she openly admits this too…). She recently saw me and exploded at me over dinner: “HOW DO YOU EXPECT ME TO EAT THIS BURGER WHEN YOU’RE SITTING THERE EATING A BLOODY EGG?!” Going on to say that I made her feel guilty for eating… although she acknowledged that it wasn’t my fault she felt this way. Anyway, she’s started her own diet life thing now, but honestly, I didn’t realise me losing weight would have such a profound effect on those around me. I’ve found that when I was overweight people didn’t seem to comment on it that much – now that I have lost the weight EVERYONE SEEMS TO HAVE AN OPINION ON IT. I was really not expecting this.

I confided in a friend I trust when it all got a bit much one week and he said people find it hard to deal with change – so “give it time and once people are accustomed to seeing you in your new weight it will become normal”. Sound advice if I ever heard one. And it’s true, even for myself, when I catch a glimpse in the mirror, my brain doesn’t always recognise the change and I still imagine that I am the chubsy girl back in Jan 2016.

So my advice here is to be careful with whom you choose to confide in/surround yourself with or seek support from, because you don’t need negative energy in your life. It’s bad enough with your own self-sabotaging thoughts and demons that come up. Ignore the haters and/or let them motivate you, but don’t ever let them get you down or off-track! It’s not worth it. You know what this diet can do for you, you’ve seen the changes in your body.

The supporters are great though – they can see you’ve lost weight, they are complimenting you and hey, you can even inspire them to start a diet/embark on a healthier lifestyle! My colleague at work has started her diet and although not CWP, she has her own style and is gymming, and it’s through talking about my #dietlife with her that she has decided to do it. So there you go. Choose to share with the right people, and you can inspire each other and support each other.

⭐ “You’re so skinny!”

The compliments will come – and they will keep on coming for a while it seems. I get a lot of compliments at work from my colleagues – which is super lovely and keeps me motivated. The other day I was just heading out of the kitchen and a colleague cried: “You’re so skinny!” – I literally stopped and was like: “Are you talking to me?” – I am sooo not used to such compliments and would never have expected anyone to say that to me – it’s amazing what has changed in such a short space of time. Another colleague said to me this morning: “You’re just getting thinner and thinner”, Me: “That’s what I like to hear”. 🙂

A lot of people have also got in touch with me via my social channels who have noticed that I have lost weight and congratulated me on the achievement. Mind, I didn’t post any pictures of myself for several months at the start of the diet, and only recently started uploading them as I’ve been going to more events and things. So enjoy it. Enjoy shopping in smaller sizes. You’ve worked for it. You’ve #earnedit!

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lolz – but truf

Things to watch out for

⭐ Beware of the nibbles!

My Consultant warned me this might happen. When I started on Step 3 on the old plan, this happened quite a bit (I no longer have this issue with the amazing new plan but I thought this was a point worth mentioning anyway). AVOID THIS AT ALL COSTS. Remember, every time you put something in your mouth that you’re not supposed to, that’s just prolonging your weight loss journey. It’s not worth it! If it happens over the course of a week you’ll most likely go over your calorie limit and not get the losses you were expecting.

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lol.

⭐ Don’t forget that fruit has sugar – and lots of it!

I love fruit and was waaaay excited about the fact I get to have it on Step 3. But I have found that it’s easy to get carried away – especially with not having had it for so long and with smaller stuff like grapes and strawberries. Make sure you weigh them and stick to the recommended daily amount of calories for the fruit! Remember your body doesn’t know the difference between processed and non-processed sugar. I find it’s usually a lot easier for me to keep to the recommended amount with chunkier stuff like apples and bananas so I don’t end up mindlessly picking.

⭐ Always remember: CARBS ARE EVIL.

When or if I over-indulge, unfortunately it’s with the carbs. JEZUZ I LOVE BREAD SO MUCH. BREAD IS MY LIFE. I’m not one to encourage the demonization of certain foods/nutrients but everything in moderation! And unfortunately for me carbs = more cravings of carbs, so I keep my guard up on this as much as I can lest I fall down a slippery slope. My advice is to stick to the guidelines in the book and the healthy plate balance and it should all be A-ok.

Tipsss

⭐ Download My Fitness Pal

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This is a life saver.

This app is a great way to keep a tab on what you’re eating/no. of calories you’re taking in during the day – but you have to be brutally honest with yourself however and log everything. It’s actually quite fun. I think it’s also a great way to help with maintenance in the long-term because it really makes you realise how many calories foods have – even small items which you wouldn’t think twice about can have gazillions of calories.

⭐ Plan your meals

My biggest tip here is to PLAN PLAN PLAN and take the decision-making process around food on a daily basis out, by planning thoroughly in advance for the week ahead. When you’re hungry, or unprepared, you’re leaving yourself to the mercy of your stomach and not your brain. This is why planning is so important – it puts you in control and lets your mind mentally prepare ahead. I keep things simple, buy food for the upcoming week, make the food the night before or on the morning before I head to work, and have my evening meals planned out so when I get home I don’t think about it, I go straight to the kitchen and cook it. Once I have eaten my quota of food for the day – I don’t touch anything else. I also don’t buy anything I am not allowed to have from the list either – so that way it’s easier as I am not tempted by anything – out of sight, out of mind!

⭐ Celebrate your success

If you’re stepping up on the Cambridge Weight Plan, then you’ve come a long way and should celebrate your success, whether it’s in your head before you go to bed for staying 100% on plan or 100% on top of your water, celebrate it. If it’s buying a smaller dress size or going out for the evening to watch a show etc. Do it. Reward yourself (not with food though lol). It’s important as it’s easy to get complacent as you get smaller and sometimes you can lose sight of your goal if other things in life get in the way or you get busy. You need to remind yourself how far you’ve come – never lose sight of that – and that you’re in it for the long haul. This means staying motivated and positive :thumbs up:

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⭐ Exercise regularly

The best thing I have done in the past few months is get a Personal Trainer. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing in the gym most of the time. Having my PT has really helped in terms of toning and strengthening exercises and shaping up my body the way I envisaged it. Not everyone can afford a PT however, but you don’t really need one – just get your body moving by doing something you enjoy – whether it’s badminton or dancing or making the effort to walk more (10,000 steps a day can burn around 400-500 cals!). When I am not in the gym or having a session with my PT, I usually hula hoop for about 30 minutes with a weighted hoop at home, interspersed with strength-training exercises and try and make sure I exercise 5-6 days a week. Regular exercise is really important – helps to lose the weight, tone and maintain in the long-run – i.e. muscle burns more calories than fat does at rest.

⭐ Learn about nutrition

I have found that it’s been really useful to learn more about nutrition and understand how the body works and needs to maintain itself. I have used the NHS website for my research as well as undertaking a free course on FutureLearn (Nutrition and Wellbeing, and The Science of Nutrition). Knowledge is power! It’s also good to keep in sight that although food can be a pleasurable thing, it is ultimately a fuel for your body. See it this way and it will help to control your portions and keep your reaction/s to food in perspective.

It’s all about maintaining a healthier and positive lifestyle and approach to food in the long-run. Don’t listen to the haters who say that it isn’t sustainable. Prove them wrong. Show them that it is and that you didn’t work this hard to just pop back into your previous shape.

I will be writing a post once I get to target and maintenance so watch this space! Hope this was useful.

You can follow me on Instagram or Twitter to stay updated with my latest stuff.

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