One Year On… #weightloss #healthylifestyle #positivechange

At the Bloggers Bash June 2016 (photo credit: Suzie Speaks)
Getting there: At the Bloggers Bash June 2016 (photo credit: Suzie Speaks)

I began my new healthy lifestyle – falteringly – exactly a year ago, on Wednesday 26th August 2015. The day before, I’d had my first of eight lifestyle coaching sessions. I say falteringly because I note, with a degree of embarrassment, that my first few days of so-called healthy eating weren’t oh, you know, actually all that… healthy. They included:

  • 50g bowls of sugar-loaded Honey Nut Shreddies for breakfast
  • Leftover spaghetti carbonara (white pasta, shop-bought carbonara sauce, leftover chicken pieces and a dollop of double cream)
  • A meal of crackers loaded with butter and seafood cocktail

Clearly I had a lot to learn about healthy eating, and many, many adjustments to make.

On my first day, I managed two 15-minute slow walks on my treadmill. The second day, I noted a 20-minute round-trip walk to the post box – a circuit which would take me half that time today, if I ever went on a walk which was quite that short (it is, literally, just to the end of the road and back).

Screenshot 2016-03-28 11.22.46 copy
Same event, different body: One year earlier, Bloggers Bash summer 2015 (photo credit Geoff le Pard)

My lumbersome weight on that first day was 270 pounds, or 19 stone 4 lbs (that’s 122.4 kilos in new money). Yet despite the Honey Nut Shreddies and spaghetti carbonara, I must have done a few things right; I lost 6 pounds in my first week, and a further 8 pounds over the next 4 weeks, which was a big boost.

Think Positive

I see from the notes alongside my food diary (which I have kept in detail every day since then – it helps to keep me accountable to myself), that in those first few days, in addition to my coach, I drew support and positivity from a variety of sources:

  • The encouragement of several lovely friends
  • Positive feedback on my work from a couple of clients
  • Some time spent reflecting on the comfort and calm of my home and garden
  • My Pilates habit and the gains I’ve seen from embedding this in my life, and sticking with it even when I got very overweight
  • A personalised hypnotherapy/relaxation tape given to me a couple of years ago by a hypnotherapist, whose help I had sought with my menopausal/health anxieties
  • My twin nephews, so happy, positive – and very, very active
  • A few days on a writing retreat in France; restful, and abundant with good, healthy food.

Sweet enough: Kicking the Sugar Habit

I didn’t go sugar-free until the middle of October 2015. I gradually stripped away the more obvious treats (biscuits, confectionary etc), but until mid-October I was still making my breakfast Bircher muesli with Rachel’s Coconut Yoghurt, which is very, very highly sweetened.  Pranita had visited my home and we’d done a helpful store-cupboard and fridge audit, which had made me think about why I was holding on to this last sweet-treat.  My rationale – that it was an organic yoghurt, and therefore healthy – was all wrong. Yoghurt of the right kind is indeed healthy, but sweetened yoghurt, bio/organic or not, is… dessert.

That was a huge turning-point for me, finally acknowledging and then laying my sugar compulsion to rest. Once I replaced the sweetened variety with natural Greek yoghurt – bio, full-fat and proud, since you ask – I didn’t even miss the sweet taste.  And the die was cast. Today, at a guesstimate, I would say I am 99% added sugar free.  The odd microgram creeps in here and there, usually when I don’t read a label carefully enough. That’s about as much of a success as I can claim – but I’m more than happy with it.

Giving up added sugar was… massive. It freed me from hunger pangs, insulin spikes and a mass of barely controllable temptations, requiring extremes of willpower which I struggled to muster. In the weeks and months since then, I have read voraciously about the sugar-free and LCHF (low carb healthy fat) approaches. Whilst I haven’t gone 100% for LCHF, I totally bought the sugar-free message and I’ve succeeded in abandoning not only added sugar in all its many guises, but processed ready meals (where the sweet stuff hides in quite astounding volumes) and big stomach-stretching bricks of simple carbohydrate – bread, pasta, white rice and potatoes. I’ve lowered my general carbohydrate intake very considerably – and I feel so much better for it.

Not only that, but it’s extraordinary and thrilling to me that the sweet stuff is now… too sickly sweet.  My taste-buds rebel when in the vicinity of anything remotely sugary. And unless you’ve been released from sugar addiction yourself, you’ve no idea how truly magnificent that feels!

Exercise is… Hard Work

Ah… exercise. I have tried hard to exercise more often, but even after a year, I still struggle with this. Simple walking, the odd bit of swimming and of course, my Pilates, form the lion share of my exercise habit – but even now, I have to push myself out of the door.

I’m told there should be a joyous shift towards actual enthusiasm for exercise at some point, but all I’m experiencing so far is an ebb-and-flow. Some days or weeks are better than others. I hired a Personal Trainer to come to my home for a few weeks, and that has propelled me into episodes (whole minutes at a time!) of laboured jogging, and some more constructive cardio and strength exercises. I swim, usually once a week, with a friend. I enjoy walking more than I ever have before, but it’s still a big heave-ho to get myself out of bed for a walk at 6:00am, and I don’t always manage.  I make that effort more frequently, I seek out opportunities to leave the car behind and walk instead, and I’m definitely more active than I was; but exercise is something I fear may never come easily or naturally to me.

I do it though, I do it – and it’s helping me become fitter.  My resting heart rate has dropped more than 10 BPM, as my stamina, flexibility and general energy level has improved. All these are great rewards in themselves, and they contribute to a significantly diminished experience of health anxiety, which was quite the thing for me through my menopause years.


A year down the line, and the weight-loss component of my new healthier lifestyle is a little over half done. I’ve lost 65.5 pounds (that’s over four and a half stone, or 29.7 kilos). I wanted to be under 200 pounds by now, and currently at 204.5 pounds I’m not quite there (until the last few days, I’ve been frustratingly plateaued for nearly two months – like my body was trying to sabotage my ‘anniversary’); but I’m not far off. I last saw this weight in 2002, but only briefly, and before that, it would have been around the early 1990’s.

I’ve dropped 5 dress sizes, a shoe size, 3 ring sizes and 2 bra back sizes (but not even one cup size – hurrah!) and lost at least one chin. And there have been many other payoffs too.

Indulgence – Just Modified

Don’t run away with the idea that I’m living some sort of parched, fat-free existence, devoid of culinary interest. I enjoy all sorts of indulgences.  I still eat butter (although without bread/toast in my diet, a packet of the stuff lasts me weeks and weeks); I still eat cheese almost daily (limiting quantity – mostly – to a few slivers). I choose full-fat over low/fat-free options, which I’ve always done, but it’s interesting to note that opinion is swinging towards this as the healthier choice these days; I eat plenty of eggs (another healthy foodstuff, long demonised). I try new recipes regularly and have added several healthier, more nutritious meals to my repertoire in recent months.

I still snack on savouries every now and again, but having lost my taste for crisps (USA: potato chips) I’ve found one or two alternatives which don’t press my guilt-button.  The beauty of these is that they’re not addictive in the way that old style crisps are.  I make my own toasted and seasoned seeds, crispy seasoned kale and small bowls of lightly salted air-popped corn.

I still enjoy the odd dessert-like treat too. I’ve made added-sugar-free banana and almond cake; I even (very) occasionally make an unbelievably indulgent ‘ice cream’ from frozen banana, organic (no-added-sugar) peanut butter and Greek yoghurt.  There may be substantially more vegetables and a broader spectrum of nutrients in my diet than ever before, but my taste-buds have not been utterly deprived of naughties.

Onward and Downward

So to the year ahead. I have another 30-50 pounds to go. I’m deliberately vague about this, as I shall see how I feel about it as I progress. But the big change for me – re-educating my taste-buds and my insides to welcome healthy food and reject sugar and processed junk – is something I now dare to feel confident I have nailed. I’ve dieted before, but I’ve never felt this lifestyle victory until now.

I’ve been so very grateful for all the support and encouragement I’ve received through my blog.  It’s clear that my experiences have inspired others to keep going with their own healthy changes, and that thrills me. I cannot imagine anything more positive (apart from the fact that I’m improving the quality, and perhaps even length, of my own life) than to inspire others to do the same for themselves.

So the journey continues. Stay with me, if you will – and I hope you do.  It won’t be dramatic, but it will continue to be frank and honest – a true account of a very ordinary battle to re-establish good habits, achieve a healthy weight and – hopefully – set myself up for a longer, healthier and more active middle- and old-age.

 *  *  *

I love hearing from people who follow my blog, and respond to every comment.  If you have any questions on how I’ve gone about my first ‘healthier’ year, please post them through the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.

Coming next: My Top Ten experience-based tips for sustainable and healthy weight-loss. 

91 thoughts on “One Year On… #weightloss #healthylifestyle #positivechange

  1. Congratulations!!!! You have done amazingly in just a year!!!! I. On my health kick,but it’s only been three weeks. It should be a re-education of lifestyle and eating habits. That’s the best way forward! You are a true inspiration to me!!!!

  2. Congratulations! I love this, what a journey you’ve been on. And you’re proof positive that it is lifestyle change, rather than dieting, which leads to sustainable weight loss and health gain rewards.
    I recently gave up sugar as well. I would have said I already ate a healthy diet, as I avoid processed foods. And yet, even giving up a spoonful in my tea and a few other goodies has made a huge difference! Now, like you, I find sugary things to be over the top – one or two chocolate buttons, if I feel like something sweet, are quite enough 😀

    1. Thanks so much for such positive encouragement, Helen. It’s been important to me that this is a lifestyle change, not a ‘diet’. Giving up sugar has played a massive role, not just in food terms, but with my sense of confidence and self-control. I’m no longer under the influence of the Honey Monster!!

    1. Thanks Dannie! It does get easier, as the rewards start to come – the health improvement and fitness, smaller clothes sizes, compliments and so on. It’s been a real boost to get so much positive encouragement through my blog too! 😊

    1. Oh, Steve, you Sweetheart! Thank you!! I saw your latest shot too, you know – you’re still no slouch in the photograph department. Lookin’ good yourself, my friend! 😉

  3. Amazing journey. And your smile looks lovely. So many good insights in here, Julie. I printed it off for my husband to read. He “fudges” the idea of what is healthy all the time – “It’s organic,” he says as he adds unbleached cane sugar to his coffee, etc, etc. That sugar addiction is powerful. Kudos to you! You’re an inspiration 🙂

    1. Thank you! But I’m afraid sugar is sugar is sugar. So many people kid themselves that some types are somehow ‘healthy’… But no, agave or golden syrup, honey or molasses, sucrose or fructose, bleached or unbleached, cane or cube… sugar is sugar! It’s a tough one, but worth it!

  4. Great post and so inspiring! Congratulations you are doing a wonderful job – it’s nice to hear everything isn’t going perfect and that it’s not easy because it isn’t always easy. Your story helps many on the couch get up and go for a walk around the block! And sometimes that’s that’s the only inspiration needed.

    1. Oh for sure, everything *isn’t* perfect! But the key is to keep going – one foot in front of the other, day in day – and sooner or later you start to realise that things are changing. I feel great that I’ve nailed the sugar thing, but I wonder if I’ll ever learn to love exercise! I’m always so glad to hear that people find my experience inspiring – it’s very humbling.

  5. Many congratulations on your one year healthy options anniversary. It really is a joy to read your blog. Thank you for sharing your personal pathway to a healthier life; it really is very inspiring to hear such an honest account with such practical thoughts and advice which can help to encourage others on a similar path. Your beautifully written words of wisdom are certainly benefiting your social media community – thank you and hears to more success for your healthy year ahead.

    1. Wow, Brian – what a lovely comment, thank you! I’m always delighted when people enjoy reading my blog, and especially when they tell me it’s helping them with their own weight-loss or healthy lifestyle changes. In return, the encouragement, support and motivation I receive back is helping to keep me on-track too. I’m kicking off my second year in style over the coming few days – I’ll be writing more in due course on this. But I started this weekend with a giant wardrobe clear-out. eBay is going to do well out of my plus-size cull! Thanks so much for following my blog, and for giving me such kind and supportive feedback. 🙂

  6. Congratulations! So happy (and impressed) to hear you’ve made all of those positive changes. It’s so nice to read your own pathway and it encourages us to keep going with ours. All the best with the rest of the journey, and please keep us updated along the way!

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement – I really appreciate it 🙂 I will certainly keep going, and keep you updated. It’s a two-way-street, as I’m getting a great deal from the blogging/sharing experience too.

  7. Congratulations on the weightloss. I’ve had a similar journey, started at around 320lbs and am now a healthy 190lbs for my height.

    Keep up the good work and enjoy the leaner life.

    Stay in touch.


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  9. Hey there! First off, I would just like to say CONGRATS on being so accountable to your health goals and staying resilient and not giving up on them! I think about 60% of the battle with fitness and health is mental–getting up early to workout, sticking to those eating habits, trying to be productive. But you are doing it, and that is awesome!

    Yeah sugar is the definitive killer for a lot of people. Isn’t it amazing how nixing out sugar can completely alter how you tackle health and fitness? Sugar…such a killer.

    As a new health/fitness blogger myself, I just wanted to drop by and say “Hello”! I loved this post and will definitely be following you! 🙂 Nice to meet you!

    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement and positive feedback. Mental attitude definitely underpins success – but that doesn’t come easy. Some days it’s easier to be strong than other days. Kicking the sugar habit has played a major part too, and not just in setting aside the obvious (confectionery, cakes, cookies etc). The best thing my conviction about sugar did was to help me move away from the processed and ready-meals I was eating – that’s lazy food – and begin to cook and prepare more from scratch again, like I used to do when I was younger (and before the microwave became a kitchen staple). I feel so much healthier for eating ‘real’ food again. When you value yourself enough to take the time to cook properly and eat consciously, it does wonders for your self-esteem too. Thanks for joining the conversation, and good luck with your new blog.

  10. This is so encouraging! You should be SO proud of yourself for the distance that you’ve come in a year.
    I just started my millionth weight loss journey a few days ago and started a blog – this post makes me very hopeful.
    Thank you, and congratulations!

    1. Thank you so much! And good luck with your own weight-loss journey. I have certainly found the positive encouragement I’ve received through the blog to be really helpful in keeping me on-track, as well as the sense of accountability that a blog gives you. I hope you enjoy reading my future blog posts, as I will yours. 🙂

  11. Sugar has been the hardest thing for me to kick. I really need to reevaluate how much I am consuming and find a healthy way to kick it to the curb. You are so inspiring. Keep doing amazing!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words. Kicking the added sugar habit was critical to my weight-loss success to-date. I would urge you to keep trying on that one, because, sooner or later, it ceases to be difficult – you’ll lose the taste for sugar, and then you’ll know you’ve conquered the ‘addiction’. Also, don’t worry if you can’t do it all at once. If ‘cold turkey’ is too challenging, try to let-go your sugary treats little by little. Good luck!

    1. Thank you indeed! The work goes on… another 30+ pounds to go, maybe more. But it feels so great to be getting healthier day by day. Thanks for joining the conversation. 😊

    1. Thank you! Mindset comes first for me, as I have tried and failed too many times in the past. But with the changes in my thinking, the diet/healthy eating and exercise habits are so much easier to commit to. I’m still working on weight loss, perhaps 30 or more pounds to go, but those habit changes are permanent. I’m glad you’re following my progress!

  12. Hi, great post! I am modeling my blog to be fitness inspiration and definitely want to use content like this. I look forward to seeing more of your ideas! Good luck on your journey, and congratulations on your success thus far

    1. Hi Jordan. That’s great to hear. Glad you like my blog and happier still that you’re setting out to inspire people to better fitness. Thanks for joining the conversation!

  13. Hi Jools, I love stories like yours – and hope you kept the motivation. I am planning on starting a page devoted to stories like yours to encourage people to be active and fit. It’s great to read about someone else who is struggling with eating right 🙂 Thank you!

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