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The first time Charlotte tried to diet she was 17 years old and a normal size 10. Comparing herself with the girls at school who were a size 8 with long, slim legs, Charlotte decided to take a flask of black coffee and a few satsumas to sustain her throughout the day and help her lose weight. She says,
'I wish I had known that I wasn't fat or even overweight! Luckily hunger always got the better of me and I lacked the willpower to do myself some serious damage!'
This experience at 17 started her on the route to trying crash diets from time to time, always wanting to weigh under 7 stone. She says, 'I don't know why I picked that figure. It was wholly unachievable!'
Weighing between 8 stone and 8 stone 7lbs for many years, she tried drinking Carnation drinks, slim fast and tried a low carb/high fat diet before Atkins was even heard of! She says,
'Now there's a book I wish I had written!'
Stop fooling yourself! Once you can be radically honest you are on your way to success.
Log honestly on days that you overeat and use the information to help change things.
Be daring and make your food diary public. You never know who is watching you!
Forget the short-term excuses and focus on the long-term benefits.
Try to lose steadily and slowly. Don't be put off by blips on the scales.
Aim for a weight range rather than an exact weight.
Get several full-length pictures as you start on your journey and take all of your measurements. That way you have something to look back on and feel good about your progress.
She says sometimes she tried to restrict herself to 1,000 calories a day and regularly bought the little magazines with the calorie info in them that were on sale at that time. She has no idea where 1,000 calories a day came from.
'I probably read it in a newspaper somewhere.'
She also tried the raw energy diet, the Scarsdale diet, some odd (spoof) 'Heart Foundation' diet which involved Frankfurters and ice cream and Atkins again. Then she discovered Weight Watchers even though she didn't have weight to lose!
'I weighed 8 stone 2. The class leader really should have turned me away!'
She gained weight after having her two daughters. But it wasn't the pregnancy that did that! She remembers,
'It was finishing my daughters' food yet still going on to have a full meal in the evening that did it. And I was drinking a little more every night, more cappuccinos and cake when out shopping with the kids. All these little habits that added up over the years to massive gains.'
When she gave Weight Watchers a second go at the age of 40, her starting weight was 13 stone 1lb. After 10 weeks she lost 20lbs and felt amazing. She had met some lovely people using Weight Watchers online and all was right with the world. But when she stopped going to class and logging on, she gained a few pounds and gave up instantly. She gained everything she lost because she had no idea how to maintain.
'WW is good because at least it offered a balanced approach to food and encouraged lots of fruit and veg. But I didn't understand that fluctuations happen to everyone and I didn't know any maintainers at WW. I just thought it had all gone wrong and since all I really knew about was points, I didn't know what to do in terms of healthy eating once I had left.'
Charlotte at 12st 5lb
By 2005, after Charlotte had regained much of the weight she had lost with WW, she discovered Weight Loss Resources. By following the recommendations she found there, she lost a stone and a half. Then her weight kind of bobbed up and down. But, she says, she hadn't grasped the obvious, and that she should stick with what worked!
'For some reason, I would log calories for a while, then think to myself 'this will do' and just stop logging, measuring and weighing my food, and weighing myself.'
Although she never regained everything and more than she had lost with WLR, she still gained and a little inner voice kept saying 'this isn't right, you need to get back to WLR'.
'I guess I knew that WLR would always work.'
A little quirky thing that Charlotte tried was hypnotism to try to put her off cheese.
'Before the hypnotism, I was embarrassed whenever cheese was around because I would eat it compulsively. Now I don't eat cheeses except for Philadelphia Light and cottage cheese. I don't know how they escaped the hypnosis. Perhaps it's because they are so un-cheesy!'
Over the years Charlotte's motivation to lose weight has come from different places. In 2009 she needed a minor op but was told they wouldn't do it unless her BMI was less than 30. Using WLR she managed to get below 30 and maintained being merely 'overweight' as opposed to 'obese' for a few months before her weight drifted back up again.
Her next motivation was getting married. Charlotte met her husband about 5 years ago, not long after she had found WLR for the first time and had managed to shed some weight. She weighed around 11st 7lbs but seemed to be stuck there.
Luckily, Jonathan was a regular gym user and she was running regularly at the time so they we very good for each other. She says,
'We'd exercise together and because I didn't keep snacks in the house, we lost weight.'
But, as most couples do, after a few months together, they got into the habit of going out for meals or going to the pub and her weight started creeping up. She also injured her knee which meant she couldn't run and felt very despondent. She remembers,
'Frustrated with trying to lose weight and not succeeding, I cancelled my membership to WLR and stopped monitoring my weight. I was just burying my head in the sand! Jonathan loved me as I was and that was all that mattered wasn't it?'
She realises that, with that wonderful thing called hindsight, it was a mistake. On their first holiday together she weighed over 12 stone and when they went on holiday the following year she weighed even more.
'He must have been oblivious because he proposed on the second holiday.'
Charlotte on her wedding day
With a wedding on the horizon, she rejoined WLR and managed to lose over a stone for the wedding. She said she felt wonderful in the day and the dress was very flattering but looking at photos now she wonders why she didn't make more effort to shed the weight. The lady in the dress shop may have had something to do with that.
When she went dress shopping she found 'the dress' and asked the shop assistant to order it in a size smaller than she was as she was going to lose weight. The assistant said that a lot of brides say that and hardly any succeed so she wouldn't order it smaller. She told Charlotte that it was easier to take a dress in rather than have to let it out.
But then she discovered that the dress shop wouldn't take the dress in any more than two sizes without a huge fee. With six months until the wedding, Charlotte went for a dress fitting. She had lost 20lbs and her dress had to be taken in two sizes. The assistant told her not to lose any more!
|Start Weight||12st 5lbs on WLR|
|Current Weight||9st 8lbs|
|Goal Weight||9st 8lbs|
|Weight Lost||2st 11.5lbs|
|Time Taken||13 months|
'It's strange how weight affects you. I think I had something I nicknamed 'reverse anorexia'. I'd be in complete denial about my weight. I would be squeezed in to size 16 trousers and thinking about buying a size 18 and yet thinking I looked good.' She goes on to say,
'Then I would catch sight of a fat woman in a shop window and realise with dismay that I was the fat woman,'
She says it was so depressing. But now,
'I deliberately take a look in shop windows when I am out and I like the woman looking back at me. When I show people photos of me how I was before, I can see them looking astonished. Nobody seemed to have taken on board how much bigger I was. I think (and hope) it's because I have always been very positive in my outlook. My younger daughter said, 'at least you always dress nicely'!'
When Charlotte was overweight, she became defensive and crafty about having photos taken. She would stand behind people, hold things in front of her, or hold the camera above her head to lose the chins. (#selfie!)
'I knew if I saw a full length photo of myself I would be too upset to deal with it.'
She would also crop full length photos and would get quite annoyed if anyone took photos of more than her head and shoulders.
'When searching out the 'before' shots for this piece, I couldn't help noticing how many happy photos there are, yet almost all have been cropped to show my head and shoulders only. I can guarantee the few full-length photos I have found, I would have been holding in my stomach as much as I could! It was an automatic reaction. Now I tell my husband to take full-length pictures. I am happy to be in photos now!'
Charlotte has used the range of WLR tools more than ever before this time round.
'I don't only weigh and log each item of food, I also record what I ate at each meal. I use the snacks label in the food diary to log my planned snacks or for fruit. I use the 'oops' and 'alcohol' labels so that I can look back on days where I have gone let my calories and see where I could have made swaps or changes.'
She goes on to say,
'I think WLR gives you amazing opportunities to learn about food and your eating habits that you just don't get anywhere else.'
She also uses the journal and history tools available. She uses it to look at weeks where she did well and she reads what she had to say on those days. She also looks back on weeks where she didn't do so well and sees what was happening then trying to identify triggers and to remind herself that small gains can just as easily become losses again if she sticks to the plan! She says,
'I remind myself that blips happen along the way.'
Using the message boards is also important to Charlotte. She says, 'The Tuesday Weigh-ins board is important to me. Even now I am maintaining. I join in Jules' Fitness and Exercise monthly challenges - I love the fact they keep me accountable and I love the support from other WLRers. I make a point of responding to posts and I feel quite humbled when people tell me I have inspired them or that my replies have encouraged them.'
She goes on to say,
'This is a lonely journey but with support and encouragement from other people on WLR, it doesn't need to be.'
Charlotte has made sure she is accountable for her food diary during her journey. She now publishes her weight loss graph and daily calories to her profile. At first, it hadn't occurred to her that this would make any impact but then,
'I had restarted my weight loss journey on Boxing Day 2012 having I gained a stone during my honeymoon and the months running up to Christmas. I experienced the usual New Year enthusiasm up until about March and then stopped logging properly. Between March and June 2013 I lost and gained the same few pounds and I moaned about it on the Tuesday Weigh-ins board even though I had been 'good all week'. Annie5 replied that I wasn't filling in my food diary properly so how could I know that I had been good all week? At first, I felt quite miffed. Who was she to question what I was doing?'
As a seasoned WLRer, Charlotte knew what she was doing didn't she? She didn't need to log absolutely everything did she? She had been logging the same foods for long enough to know when she was on track surely?
'But then I faced the fact that Annie5 had hit goal and I hadn't. So I decided she had made a good point and rather than hide my diary, I'd leave it public and make sure no one could accuse me of not filling it in properly again! I've thanked her many times since then for creating this turning point in my journey!'
Charlotte says it is no coincidence that since she has logged everything properly and consistently that the weight has just dropped off her! She says,
'I felt as though someone had lifted a veil - I saw that I had been kidding myself about several things to do with weight loss.'
One of the things that Charlotte would do is stop logging her food whenever she had gone over calories so it would seem like she had gained weight while sticking to her calories. She realised this was just a myth!
Another was drawing a line and starting again. She says,
'Now I don't do that. Instead, I work out what I have to do by the end of the week to make it right. Usually, I exercise more.'
A third myth that Charlotte has managed to bust is that 11stone 1lb was a figure she couldn't get below! She had simply come to settle for that weight.
And the final myth was excuses. For example,
'Our family birthdays are all in October and November then we are in the run up to Christmas. I have used this as an excuse to gain weight every year. In 2013 I finally accepted that four birthdays plus Christmas only add up to five days out of 90. I can take four evenings and one whole day off without gaining weight! In fact, I've proven that I can do that and lose weight!'
If you like to eat, exercise is key as Charlotte has found out. She has incorporated exercise into her daily routine in different ways. She has ditched the car and walks regularly, pushing the pace up to get her heart rate going.
She has done the Reading and Bristol half marathons and, if her knees behave she would like to do the Reading one again. If her knees don't behave, she regularly runs 5k because she knows it is good for her heart and muscles.
She does abs classes and a punishing body conditioning class every Friday. She uses the gym, makes sure she has plenty of variety in her exercise routine and eats every single calorie she earns through exercise! She says,
'It's quite the motivator. I have been known to walk a six mile round trip because of a cake break in the middle! Mmmmmm.'
Charlotte now "I actually feel healthy"
'I'm nearly 50 and am slimmer than I have been in 20 years. More importantly, I am more toned and stronger. I actually feel healthy! Recently, I was a test subject at the pharmacology department at the university where I work. The students were testing their ability to assess people for heart disease. They checked my resting heart rate, BMI, body fat, blood sugars, family history, exercise routines and eating/smoking habits. According to the stats, I have less than 1% chance of contracting heart disease. Isn't that wonderful? It feels good to be responsible for your health!'
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