Welcome to Number 4 in my Series of Blogs About Inspirational people in my life.
In this article we meet Toni Pike who has an inspiring story about her battle and success with weight loss. Several months ago, I received a Facebook invitation to my High School Reunion page. It was through this that I became reacquainted with Toni.
Although at school I can only remember her as an acquaintance, rather than a close friend, we have developed a friendship through Facebook and are both looking forward to meeting each other again at the reunion.
Toni describes herself as ‘grateful – for all her blessings’. I find her story inspirational because it is a common problem faced by many. How many of us have been on ‘yo-yo’ diets over the years just to regain the weight and feel worse than before? Not to mention the health problems associated with ‘yo-yo’ dieting.
Toni found the courage to say STOP to her current lifestyle and the determination to make the necessary changes in her life not just for a short time but for the long term. Toni is certainly one lady who is determined to stay Sizzling.
I hope you enjoy reading Toni’s story and that it will inspire you to make changes in your life (not necessarily weightloss) which will bring you happiness. Toni writes…..
”I was that fat kid in class, the one who looked twice as large as all the other children, and my weight has cycled up and down since then with all the wild abandon of a rollercoaster. A graph of my weight from birth would keep a brilliant team of mathematicians entertained for a long time. At the start of 2012, I weighed 94 kilos.
That is when I decided to start a very special journey that has changed my life.
Just over one year later I weighed 60 kilograms and have stayed that way. I am determined to remain slim for the rest of my life and along the way I have formed my own simple theories that I want to share with you.
Exercise is vital for our health and I walk about 4 kilometres every day. I was the worst in the world at sport, but three years ago I decided to walk every day. No marathons or jogging for me, just simple walking that is wonderful for mind, body and soul and the perfect way to keep the ageing process at bay.
But the secret to my weight loss is not exercise, but my approach to eating.
I blame it all on our modern lifestyle. More than half the population are overweight and the number increases every year. They say it is like an epidemic, but weight gain is really just a natural process in the body. We were designed and built for a very different way of life, one that lasted for more than a hundred thousand years. It was once important for humans to gain weight when food was plentiful. When food became scarce, during a famine or long winter, the fat reserves in a person’s body helped them to survive. Now, alas, food is readily available to us every day of our lives.
Imagine a clan of people fifty thousand years ago. They wander around and gather everything edible they can find, fruit, nuts, berries and some wild grains. At certain times of the year these are plentiful, but in the colder months they are hard to find. Occasionally, when they feel particularly brave and hungry, they hunt for meat. They also catch fish and other seafood. Honey is the only sweet treat they know. There are no convenient supermarket aisles packed with candy and chocolate, no easy way to get a massive sugar fix.
The ability to gain weight is vital for survival during those difficult months. Luckily, the clan can eat their fill in summer and gain plenty of weight. In winter the bad times come and they need to keep warm. They have a nice store of fat and can live off their own bodies. Their weight increases substantially and then drops dramatically every single year. It is up and down, up and down, a prehistoric form of yo-yo dieting.
Now take a look at our very civilised society. Food has never been so readily available to so many people. Processed foods, high in fat and sugar, fill the supermarket shelves and form a regular part of our diet. Nearly everyone dines out regularly.
We consume too much and too many calories, but our body has not evolved to cope with that out-of-control over-nutrition. It wants to store the extra food so that we can survive a few months of starvation. It thinks there will be a famine or long, cold winter soon, but it never comes. It is not surprising to find that we are overweight.
Worst of all, we feel hungry and that makes us feel guilty.
The truth is that our feelings of hunger, our taste and smell and pleasure in eating are nothing more than instincts from Mother Nature. Instincts are there to ensure survival of the species, and we have them just like any other animal. They are vital, there to keep us alive because without them we might starve to death.
Imagine if you never felt hungry and never enjoyed the taste of food and the wonderful sensation of eating, if everything you chewed had no flavour at all. You would have no desire or motivation to eat. You might completely forget to eat and you would eventually starve.
I knew that I needed to eat less calories than my body needed each day. But I also needed to eat a wide variety of foods because the nutrients they provide are essential for our bodies to function. I wrote my own rules for weight loss and tried hard to stick to them like glue. Here they are:
- Keep a food diary to record the number of calories you eat. Measure your food portions, eat small portions and carefully calculate the number of calories. Add it all up to work out your daily intake of food.
- Aim to eat 1400 calories a day and try not to exceed that amount. Consistency is the key to losing weight every week.
- Drink some water or other calorie free or low calorie liquids each day. Drink tea or coffee and have it black or with skim milk, but no sugar. You can also drink diet soft drinks, soda water and clear soups. Don’t drink regular fruit juice or soft drinks because they contain too many calories.
- Eat six times a day, which means you can enjoy breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner and an evening snack. That helps to avoid hunger and also keeps your metabolism revved up.
- Eat four serves of complex carbohydrates. That means bread, cereal, pasta, noodles, potatoes and sweet potatoes. A serve is one slice of bread, half a cup of muesli, one cup of cooked porridge, one bread roll, or one cup of cooked rice.
- Eat five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit each day.
- Eat two serves of no-fat dairy foods each day. A serve is one cup of skim milk, a small carton of no-fat flavoured yoghurt or a slice of fat-reduced cheese.
- Eat one serve of lean meat, fish, poultry or legumes each day. A serve is two eggs, one hundred grams of cooked meat, chicken or fish, or one third of a cup of lentils.
- Add one or two mini-serves of protein such as one tablespoon of peanut butter or a thin slice of lean meat. That will give you a small protein serve at breakfast or lunch.
- Use only a smear of spray oil when you are cooking and learn to cook the low-fat way.
- You can add one or two extra items as a daily treat. This could be a glass of alcohol, two sweet biscuits, or any other snack foods that are less than one hundred calories.
- Don’t put butter or margarine on your bread, don’t add sugar to anything, don’t eat eat fried foods, don’t use rich sauces and don’t add mayonnaise or salad dressings. They are the hidden calories that you never think about.
The journey to reach your goal weight is by far the most difficult and challenging journey, but also the most rewarding and the time when you are most motivated. You watch each week and each month as your weight decreases, and that makes you feel incredibly excited and happy. You achieve your goal and, straight away, it is time to start another journey to stay slim for the rest of your life.
If you eat more than your body needs, then your weight will gradually increase. We have all seen that happen to so many people, and there is only one way to stop it. You must control your calorie intake so that you remain the same weight. Eat more calories than you need for weight loss, but not enough to gain any weight.
It is a fine balancing act but, through trial and error, you will soon become an expert. Every day I make a lifestyle choice and recite that decision to myself “I choose to be slim and live my life to stay that way.”
Believe with all your heart that you can become slim and stay that way. Then you can take one step at a time every day to make that happen.” I hope that Toni’s story has inspired you to find your determination and make changes.
What changes will you make for a healthier, happier life? Think about it and go do it!