Deborah's Calorie Counting Success Story
Deborah (aka DebC) Calorie Counting Success Story

At 50, baking fan Deborah felt she had tried everything to lose weight. Read how calorie counting helped her lose nearly 3 st.

Deborah's Calorie Counting Success Story

Deborah, Age 50, Height 5ft 11in
Start Weight 14st 10lbs
Current Weight 12st
Goal Weight 12st
Weight Lost 2st 10lb
Working to Rate of Loss ½lbs per week
Time Taken 5 months

About Deborah

I have struggled with my weight all my life. I was a tall, solidly built teenager and always felt fat, though looking back at photos now I see a healthy and attractive young girl.

I was very bad at sport and felt very self conscious doing any kind of exercise.

"Over my adult life my weight drifted towards 16 stone whenever I just ate what I wanted."

I was lucky enough to meet a fantastic husband who encouraged me to be active and eat healthily while loving me whatever weight I was.

He and our teenage twin sons are vegetarian, and I eat mostly vegetarian with them.

I love cooking and baking and always cooked nutritious home made food, just ate rather too much of it!

And we are all very partial to cakes and puddings, which is fine if you are a growing teenage boy or even a 6’4” skinny cyclist, but was not such good news for my waistline as I got older.

I am a primary teacher working in a lovely school which has a fairly constant supply of cakes, biscuits and chocolate in the staffroom, plus we have a buffet lunch or a chip shop run for every birthday celebration.

In 2011 I entered the Great British Bake Off and had a lot of fun getting through to the final 30.

Unfortunately, all that testing destroyed the last shreds of my self control and I put on nearly a pound a week over the following 6 months. 

What diets have you tried in the past?

Over the years I bought countless diet (and anti-diet) books and tried almost everything –

  • Calorie counting
  • Weight Watchers
  • “Eat Fat and Grow Slim”
  • “Fat is a Feminist issue”
  • “Overcoming Overeating”
  • “Diets don’t Work”
  • Overeaters Anonymous
  • “Your Last Diet”
  • “Strong Women Stay Slim"
  • “Eating Less”
  • “Habits not Diets”.

Some didn’t work at all and some worked well for a while but I could never sustain the weight loss and always regained whatever I’d lost.

By the time I was 50 I felt I’d tried everything, lost the same weight over and over again, and had no faith that I could ever find a permanent sustainable solution.

Deborah at her top non pregnant weight - around 16 stone - in 1991
Deborah at her top non pregnant weight - around 16 stone - in 1991

Tell us how your weight has affected your lifestyle and mood.

I found it very frustrating that I couldn’t achieve a stable weight – whenever I just ate what I wanted, the number on the scale just kept going up and up.

I fell into a pattern of a few good days followed by a few bad days, which was terrible for my self esteem.

I couldn’t find clothes I felt good in, my joints hurt, I was exhausted all the time, and I was in a permanent bad mood.

As I got older my shape changed from a classic pear and I put on a lot of weight round my middle, which I knew was very unhealthy.

What has been your main motivation to lose weight?

As I turned 50, I was quite depressed and felt old, fat and frumpy. I felt that much of my life was drifting by in a sugar induced fog.

I could see my parents start to struggle with ageing and became very conscious that I had more chance of reaching a healthy and active old age if I was a healthy weight.

A friend who was a national cycling champion, and is now a personal trainer, invited me to join “Team Glow” , which was 100 women getting together to ride the Manchester 100 Bike ride.

I agreed, did virtually no training, but somehow got myself round the 100k route.

After the ride, she got some of us together to look at our fitness and weight loss goals. I had a full physical assessment, set some initial goals, and, on her recommendation, joined WLR.

"I’d actually tried WLR a couple of times before but never really got into it and had decided calorie counting wasn’t for me." 

I was not very optimistic about it working this time, but decided to give it another try.

Which tools and resources do you use regularly on WLR? Which tools do you find invaluable?

I use the food and exercise diary daily. Logging makes me think about the impact of my choices.

There are days when I probably wouldn’t bother to exercise or would have that extra piece of cake, but knowing I want to make my numbers balance at the end of the day helps me make good choices.

I found the forums friendly, supportive and informative and have learned so much from others who’ve shared what’s worked for them.

And I love the virtual challenges, I have been amazed by how motivating I find them – I’ll do anything for a virtual gold star!

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Have you purchased/used any products/fitness equipment that has helped you with your goals?

Through WLR I discovered Leslie Sansone’s Walk At Home DVDs and I LOVE them.

They combine elements of power walking, strength training and aerobics, and you can do them in quite a small space in your own home.

I love that you can fit in a mile whenever you’ve got 15 minutes, whatever the weather and without having to organise a babysitter.

I credit them with the re-appearance of my abs, not previously sighted for many, many years!

Why do you think WLR has helped you lose weight where other diets have failed?

I was mentally in the right place because I felt totally defeated and willing to try something new.

"WLR gave me a structure and accountability but also the flexibility to work out an approach which was right for me."

I think many of us actually know quite a lot about what’s worked and not worked for us over the years.

WLR allows you to create an approach which is just right for you, but then the logging and monitoring makes you be honest with yourself and stops you slipping back into bad habits.

Have you struggled at points in your weight loss journey or experienced a weight loss plateau? What has kept you motivated?

I had plateaus all the way through, but as I knew I’d stuck to my allowance, I just waited and sure enough the scales did come down eventually.

On the whole, it was much easier than I expected, but intermittently I found (and still find) it very, very hard indeed.

The tough times are when I am very hungry (not that often, I set a slow rate of loss) or when others are eating whatever they want and I feel a little bit sorry for myself.

I just try to remember what I’ve achieved so far and why it’s important, and the negative feelings do pass.

Since losing weight can you give some examples of how your life has changed?

  • masses more energy
  • depression lifted
  • reduced menopause symptoms
  • better sleep
  • enjoying exercise and feeling stronger and fitter
  • no back or knee pain
  • actually enjoy food much more than I did when I was overeating all the time and never felt satisfied
  • know I've done my best to reduce risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke and diabetes
  • feel I am a better role model for my kids
  • have a huge sense of satisfaction in navigating tricky situations where I would always have overeaten, knowing I can make good choices and stick to them

Exercise routines adopted?

I walk a LOT – power walking in my local neighbourhood, and the Leslie Sansone DVDs.

I’ve always cycled with my family, but it was much harder when I was overweight.

Amazingly, I now cycle to work (8.5 miles uphill!) a few times a week – I did it once before losing weight and found it exhausting, now I really enjoy it.

What do you love about your body now?

It’s great to feel strong, healthy and lean, and to see actual muscles starting to emerge from their long hibernation!

  Start Now
BMI 28.7 23.4
Body Fat 40% 30%
Chest 41 37
Waist 36in 31in
Hips 46in 41in

Deborah's Tips.

- I was very clear that I wanted to find a way of eating that would be sustainable in the long term, not a quick fix.

I set my rate of weight loss SL-O-O-O-O-W at 1/2lb a week.

I rarely felt deprived and because I generally only ate about half my exercise calories (which is OK if you are set for 1/2lb loss), I actually lost between 1 – 1.5 lb a week.

- I try to exercise at least 15 minutes every day and manage 30 - 60 minutes most days.

- I eat mostly low-ish fat, low GI foods; have protein at every meal, loads of fruit and veg, planned healthy snacks and a moderate portion of dessert after my main meal every day.

-  I don’t have any banned foods.

After the Great British Bake Off I knew I either had to learn to live with cake or swear off it completely.

So far, I’ve been able to eat it moderately, knowing there will always be another chance to have more another day.

I think that‘s really helped me break the binge/diet cycle, because I’m not feeling the deprivation that can lead to bingeing.

- I don’t snack on sweet foods because I find it hard to eat a small amount of them when I’m hungry.

"I’ve found it relatively easy to “just say no” to unplanned food at work." 

There are often treats in our staffroom and I try to not even have one because I know it would be quite hard to stop there.

I know I can always have that food for my planned treat later.

- I try to plan ahead for tricky situations and to stick to my plan even on special occasions.

Some people can have a few days off and get straight back on track.

"I find that hard, so even over Christmas and holidays, I’ve stuck broadly to my plan, just switched to maintenance calories for a few days and tried to get some extra exercise calories."

- I’ve had a few minor slips over the months.

I try to stop as soon as I realise what I’m doing, log it as an “OOPS”, post about it on the forums, reflect on what I can learn from it, and get straight back on track.

I haven’t had a major slip or binge since I started with WLR, which is a minor miracle in itself. 

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* Note: The success stories published on Weight Loss Resources are written by WLR members, past and present, telling their own stories in their own words. As you will see if you read more than one or two of them, everyone's story is different and they have reached their success from a variety of starting points and lost weight at varying rates. Individual results may vary.

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