Julia Finally Lost Weight in Lock Down

Julia Finally Lost Weight in Lock Down

Julia, Age 54, Height 5'7"
Start 12 stone 12 lb
Current 9 stone 1.4lb
Julia's Lost 3 stone 10.6lb
Time Taken 5 months

Julia spent the last 4 years yo-yoing, but in March this year she decided enough was enough! Through the Covid-19 lockdown she's lost almost 4 st to finally reach her goal and go from her heaviest weight at a size 20, to her target weight and a size 10!

How my jobs affected my weight...

I’ve been a languages teacher for the last 10 years and although the rewards are substantial, life is very busy and during term time, it’s normal to finish work at 9 - 10pm and work for at least half the weekend.

Many of my colleagues manage to stay slim, but sadly, when I didn’t get enough ‘down time’, I tended to reach for the processed food! There was no limit to the depths I reached:

  • Biscuits - less than half an hour to eat a packet of Bourbons
  • Crisps - why have one packet when you can have three?
  • Cakes - even ultra-processed ones that don’t really taste of anything

Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked in magazine publishing and advertising agencies, before starting my own business in 2000. I still remember being offered my first job and immediately accepting it because everyone was so fashionable. Sad, but true! I’ve always loved fashion and like making bold statements with my clothes.

"Even though I always worried about my weight, looking back, the 7 – 14lb fluctuations were nothing compared to the weight I gained year after year."

After becoming a teacher I missed wearing interesting clothes and every time I went on a diet, it was so I could wear clothes that I loved.

Well, decades of yo-yo dieting have shown me that this hasn’t been the right motivator. If it were, I would have lost weight and kept it off.

It was that old cliché: I wasn’t enjoying the food I was eating because I was depriving myself.

The decision to start my business was born out of my lifelong struggle with weight. The business created an environment where overweight people could get together, but also exercise and look at their eating habits. I realised that there were plenty of people looking for this type of thing: gyms aren’t a pleasant experience if you’re overweight and unfit!

After getting the relevant qualifications, I did this for six years and although I kept the weight off during this time...

"I still didn’t really get to grips with the bad habits that kept me losing and then regaining weight."


How family life has influenced my weight...

Sadly, my first husband, Gerard died unexpectedly in 2004, one day before my dad, who had cancer. There was a moment during this weekend when I thought about giving up, but luckily, my brain stepped in and said ‘No – don’t do that: are you crazy!’

Neither one of them would have wanted that for me.

Both Gerard and my dad had been in good shape – fit, healthy and loved healthy food. To respect their memory, I decided to keep myself healthy while getting over the shock. I didn’t want my lovely stepson (who was 13 at the time) to lose me too.

Fate smiled on me and luckily, I’ve met a lovely man: Simon, who’s also lost weight on WLR this year. Despite being together for 15 years, we still love each other’s company!

Sadly, I can’t have children and that does leave us with lots of time to go out and eat. Looking back, we were consuming vast amounts of calories.

For most of his life, Simon was one of those slim people who could eat all sorts of rubbish, apparently with no impact on his waistline. That changed when he gave up smoking and he started to thicken out a little!

In the past, it was always me who was watching my weight. With Covid-19, we realised that we were both vulnerable.

"In our mid-fifties, with ever-expanding waistlines, completely unfit and eating junk, we realised that we were ticking too many boxes."

We didn’t fancy either dying in the short term or becoming infirm in the long term, so one week after I started losing weight, Simon decided to join me. Five months later, we’d lost all our excess weight.


Diets I've tried in the past...

There probably isn’t a diet I haven’t been on. I remember burning my mouth on the ‘Beverly Hills Diet’ because you could only eat pineapple for days on end.

I’ve done WeightWatchers, Rosemary Conley, LighterLife and I even had a gastric band. (Didn’t work for me: you can still eat meringues and cream!).

On top of that, you can add the BBC Good Food diet plan, the 5:2 diet, buying ready meals from M&S or, frankly, anything that promised fast results.

"I’d follow a diet, succeed and then put everything back on."

It was that old cliché: I wasn’t enjoying the food I was eating because I was depriving myself.

"I’d be so desperate for the diet to ‘be over’, so I could go back to indulging myself."


How my weight has affected me...

As I entered my fifties, I became aware of how difficult it was just to live. My joints ached, I felt exhausted all the time and everything was an effort. I put it down to menopause and ageing.

"My self-esteem was taking a beating and I despaired of ever getting on top of my weight."

Nobody ever said anything, but they didn’t need to: I was my own worst critic.

My husband has only ever been kind, but I felt sorry for him having fat old me on his arm.


My motivation for losing weight...

Interestingly, in the past, I’ve been motivated to lose weight almost exclusively because I wanted to look better. As I said earlier, I love fashion, but was having to settle for wearing what fitted rather than what I wanted to wear.

This time, I was motivated by my health. My mother has vascular dementia due to stroke and is reliant on others to run her life. I always knew that this was an inevitability for me if I didn’t get on top of my eating, but still I did nothing.

With COVID-19, two things happened. As a teacher, I was seeing over 150 students a week at close quarters and a colleague who caught it said she thought that she was going to die. Her husband nearly did.

I had all the risk factors.

Secondly, we couldn’t get a food delivery, so I decided to ration what we had!

"Then lockdown gave me some of my evenings and weekends back, so I had time to plan lovely calorie-counted meals that I really fancied."

Because it’s been so effective, I’ve prioritised keeping enough time to continue with this, even if it means occasionally saying ‘no’ at work.

I've kept the weight off for 3 months!

At time of writing, I’ve kept the weight off for three months and have indeed caught COVID-19! Let’s just say that WLR may have saved my life.

Both Simon and I have had really very mild symptoms: brain fog, lethargy, loss of smell and taste and a tiny rash on our lower limbs that disappeared after 36 hours. No temperature, at any point.

So when the dreaded virus hit, it seems that our bodies were ready for it…


How wlr has helped me...

Let’s be honest, I’ve been a member of WLR for years and my timeline paints a picture of yo-yo dieting. What worked this time is that I used it differently.

In the past, I’d enter my calories, but the food I was eating was really uninspiring. I didn’t join any of the challenges and I thought I knew it all.

No need for me to analyse my unhelpful mindset or shine a spotlight on my bad habits!

This time, I’ve joined the all the challenges and post regularly on the Lose a Stone forum.

The ‘New Start, New You’ booklet (now updated to 'Get Slim to Stay Slim')has been ground-breaking for me. Whereas in the past I would have flicked through it before putting it to one side, this time I’ve actually answered the questions and kept referring back to it.

In short...

"I’ve proactively followed the excellent advice that abounds on the website. I haven’t uttered the words ‘That’s not for me’, but have thought, ‘Maybe I should do this and see if it works’."


The wlr tools I regularly use...

Every single calorie that passes my lips is weighed and added to my food diary.

There have been indulgent meals out (1381 calories for lunch anyone?) and slips (half a tub of ice cream), but I don’t hide from these mistakes.

They’re logged and I reduce my calories on subsequent days to compensate over the week. This has given me the confidence to know that whatever I do, I can rectify things.

However much I want to pretend they didn’t happen, my increasingly rare eating lapses get logged and a light shone on them.

"The result? I’ve maintained my weight and am starting to believe, for the first time in decades, that this change is permanent."


What I found invaluable...

The food diary, for the reasons mentioned above.

The recipes function. I routinely use the BBC Good Food app, along with the Waitrose and ASDA apps, which have enabled me to make simple, but delicious meals that I really, really look forward to.

"Before, I was so bored by my meals that I was always looking for opportunities to indulge."

By entering these recipes on WLR, I now have a vast selection of meals that are easy to plan and prepare.


How I kept going...

I’ve struggled at every point in my journey! Sticking to calories, exercising, doing everything right and… no weight loss.

Sometimes a week, sometimes two. That would affect my motivation.

Equally, decades of losing weight and almost immediately starting to regain it… that was pretty demoralising.

"But more demoralising was knowing that the path I was on wasn’t leading anywhere good. At best, a few more decades feeling that food was the enemy and being unhappy with my appearance. At worst, physical dependency and mental decline."

That’s why I never stopped trying, despite often feeling powerless.

I never stopped trying, despite often feeling powerless.


How my life has changed...

"Since losing weight, I’ve realised that feeling exhausted, having aching joints, not being able to reach my feet easily and dragging myself around are not inevitable."

I feel light, bouncy and energetic!

I simply don’t want to eat the processed foods I craved on a daily and sometimes hourly basis for so many years.

We have a tin of biscuits in the living room that have been there for eight months and we simply aren’t interested. They’re there for visitors and that’s it.

I feel light, bouncy, and energetic!

On the clothes front, I’m enjoying wearing my old clothes and have even treated myself to some new stuff.

But this is less of a motivator now – far more exciting is knowing that I’m looking after my body and hopefully paving the way for an active and happy older age.


How fitness fits in for me...

We’ve kept things very simple. We live on the edge of some lovely woodland and have been out walking every day for nearly eight months (except when COVID-19 struck).

In the past, it was always me who was watching my weight. With Covid-19, we realised that we were both vulnerable.

Recently, we even ran up a hill in the driving rain!

But don’t get the wrong impression...

"We’re not fitness freaks and just get into the woods to catch up at the end of the day, enjoy the scenery and listen to the birds, squirrels and other wildlife."

On the whole, we burn around 250 calories on our walk and do significantly more at weekends – maybe walking for a couple of hours with lunch midway.

Since being locked away with COVID-19, I’ve run up and down stairs ten times, twice a day, on all bar the worst days.


What I love about having lost weight...

The best thing is knowing that I’ve done everything I can to avoid getting any of the ‘declining years’ chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart and mobility problems as well as the dreaded dementia.

"Even in my fifties, the aching joints and stiffness have disappeared, yet I thought they were just natural ageing."

There was nothing natural about it – and nor was all the junk I was chucking in my body!

But other things surprise me. I realise that I’m slim now and have to move away from feeling that people are judging me because of my size.

I buy things that fit snugly and I tuck in my tops, rather than leaving them out to disguise a bulging waistband.

"I don’t need to look at the cut of something to decide if it will fit: if it’s a Size 10, it will. Every time."

Our outlook regarding older age is also more positive. We picture getting older, but keeping independent and not having to spend a fortune on carers.

We want to be the energetic, fun grandparents and not the whingeing, infirm ones!

We love walking so much that we plan to do some of the big scenic routes in Europe once COVID has passed. In that way, we get to keep healthy whilst I practise my languages!


My top weight loss tips...

Most importantly for me was to eat a wide variety of foods and meals that I actually fancied. I never got bored with my food and that’s still the case.

Cooking from scratch was a lifesaver. Like everyone, I thought that I didn’t have time to do this, but like every successful dieter, I discovered that I actually did.

For my part, I would tell myself that I had to finish A, B or C at work and that would leave no time to cook. When I actually made time to cook, I was still able to keep up with work.

I’d also say, be aware of your triggers. Mine’s easy: any extended time on the sofa, be it working on the computer or watching TV.

I give myself little jobs: pop out for a 20-minute walk, sort out the airing cupboard or call a friend.

Critically for me, I just don’t by ultra-processed food any more: crisps, sweets, processed cakes etc.

I realised in September that I can’t yet trust myself not to over-indulge. I’m sure that time will come, but I’m not there yet. So the house is full of fruit and I find myself actually looking forward to eating it!


My top tips for getting the most from wlr...

Weigh everything and log it:

Simple as that. I even logged 3,000+ calories-worth of food on one day, but felt grown up and back in control again once I’d done it!

In the past, I would have catastrophised and slid further into overeating, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue these days.

It’s a cliché, but weight loss is a journey of many small steps and if we can’t find the courage to acknowledge our inevitable stumbles, how will we work through and resolve them?

Post on the forums:

I found a lovely group of people on the ‘Lose a Stone Challenge’ board, who have kindly allowed me to stay, even though I should officially be posting on the Maintainers thread.

Find like-minded people who lift your spirits and keep posting.

There are lots of truly kind-hearted folk on WLR and they’ve kept me on track, not least because I don’t want to let them down.

Read the ‘New Start – New Me’ booklet:

(Now revamped and revised as 'Get Slim to Stay Slim')

I still read it three times a week, because it helps me to identify and tackle the attitudes and habits that in the past, led to the inevitable weight gain.

The ‘bad habits’ and ‘goal setting’ sections have been instrumental in keeping me focused.

Most gratifyingly, when I set my longer-term targets, I said that I wanted to have maintained my weight by New Year. At the time (August), my confidence that I could do this was 2/10. Today, it’s more like 8/10, but all I’ve done is keep weighing, keep logging, keep cooking and keep walking!

Finally... join the Challenges!

We’ve kept things very simple. We live on the edge of some lovely woodland and have been out walking every day

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