Viv Dropped 4 Dress Sizes!

Viv lost almost 4 stone and dropped from a size 18 to a size 10 in just eight months using wlr's program. Read her real life weight loss story, including her own 'Top 5 Tips for Losing Weight'.

Viv Dropped 4 Dress Sizes!

Viv, Age 51, Height 5'5"
  Weight Dress Size
Start 12 stone 12 lb 18 maybe even 20
(I was in denial)
Current 9 stone 2lb 10
Loss 3 stone 10 lb 4 dress sizes
Time Taken 8 months
Viv's Amazing Weight Loss Graph
Viv#39;s Amazing Weight Loss (and Maintenance!) Graph

A bit about me and my lifestyle...

I live with my husband, Mark, and our two cats, Lucy and Riley. I’m the manager of a small charity that takes care of a beautiful historic 100 acre green space, on behalf of the local community. My job is largely office (so desk) based. We do have regular events and I give frequent tours, so some days can be very active, but I can also be stuck at my desk immobile.

My commute is 40 miles a day by car. We only have a small car park and a one storey building, so I have to make the effort to exercise. It might sound idyllic, and it is a lovely job, but it can involve very long hours in the summer.

As a leisure place there is quite a pop-in culture, which means I can be interrupted at lunch time, even when I've got my walking boots on ready to go out, and I find myself staying late when things need resolving – the site often gets busiest just as I am ready to leave, because that is when other people get home and into the park.

"On long days, and particularly days when I felt a bit hard done by (stressed, working late, or having missed lunch), I'd eat food as reward and compensation."

4pm was a particular problem time and we have shop full of chocolate just 5 seconds from my desk.

I’d also eat in the car on the way home if I stopped at a garage. Then once home, I’d have a glass of wine when cooking the tea, to help me start to relax, then there would be a second glass, maybe a third and then I’d get the munchies which would be hard to resist.

I’m a vegetarian and I really enjoy cooking. I often said my diet was really quite good, but it was all the **** on top that was the problem and this was largely true. Although serving myself the same size portion as my husband who is a postman and walks 8 miles a day wasn’t helping either!

My sister has always been very slim and never put weight on. She has always been that visual reminder of what I could look like. She has never made it an issue, but I always felt the comparison when we went to places together. She looked slim and stylish and I felt fat and frumpy.

 

How I've tried to lose weight in the past...

I have spent most of my life wanting to be smaller. When I was a size 14 I wanted to be a 12, when I was a 12 I wanted to be a 10. For a while, when I was very active and a size 10, I wanted to be an 8. Despite all the dieting though, I just seemed to be getting bigger and bigger.

I’ve been at this for 25 years. I was most successful with Rosemary Connelly, but it was unsustainable and I think following her diet when I was going to be a bridesmaid was actually the thing that started my yo-yoing.

"My weight continually yo-yo'd - normally losing weight in the winter and spring and then gaining again in the summer and autumn."

 

Before that I was probably a stable weight, but larger than my sister. Then I tried slim fast twice a day and a veggie ready meal in the evening. That was intensely boring, if calorie controlled.

I was successful with WLR about 12 years ago, but it was in the time before tablets and smartphones and so logging food was more of a chore and it was impossible when busy or when working away – which were often danger times for me.

When I logged, it had my focus and it worked, but when I didn’t…

Then I had some success with CBT, learning to think about how my body would feel with different food choices and trying to live in a way that was positive for me. I got to 9 stone 8 at that time and it felt sustainable, but my mum died suddenly after a car accident, and my sister and I were left caring for our dad who was to be honest an incredibly difficult person at his best and in his 80s, he wasn’t at his best.

I started using food and wine again to get me through the stress. Since that time, I had minor bouts of weight loss using the same techniques, but I couldn’t sustain the behaviour patterns and got progressively larger each time I went back to old habits.

 

How my weight affected me...

I’m generally a very happy person and a very capable one. I was just sad, disappointed and frustrated that I couldn’t manage my behaviour and my weight. If I could have remained the same size I might have found ways to dress for my size, but I didn’t – if I wasn’t focused on weight loss, it was creeping up.

"When it came to social occasions, I would often find myself crying at contemplating my wardrobe and the few things in it that fitted me, all of which I hated."

I used to only have a few clothes in larger sizes, because I wanted that weight to be temporary and I kept having to rotate them over and over again – sometimes washing and rushing to dry them so I could put them on again the next day.

I remember once that I called into work to say I would be late and that was because I just had to go shopping, because I had finally accepted I couldn’t squeeze my bulk into the jeans I was pretending were my size.

I felt I was wearing my personal failure every day for people to see. People congratulated me when I lost weight and then next time they saw me, I’d be wearing a tent again.

Other people fail at things – but they can choose if they share that failure with the world. Not only do you have to lug the actual physical weight around, you have to carry the emotional baggage too and know that people can see it.

 

My motivation to lose weight...

This time is really was for my health and not my appearance. I had got so large that one knee and hip had started to ache. I had to think about getting upstairs and use the handrail.

This is why I set my weight loss rate at maximum on wlr, because I wanted to make myself get moving. I couldn’t survive on 1,100 calories, so it would be essential rather than optional. This wasn’t necessarily to get fit, but to be fitter than I was. The only future I could see was being larger and less and less mobile and I didn’t like the prospect of that. 

The crunch point was when I had to buy a new larger sized waterproof to take on holiday and I stood in the shop with this pink tent (see photos below for evidence)

Viv at the start of her weight loss journey
"At the start of my journey. Happy to hide beneath waterproofs, sheep hat and glasses."

 

"I thought - are you going to accept this is you, or are you going to do something about it?."

So I came home with the pink tent, had a mooch on the internet for ideas and thought, I wonder if wlr is still there? I signed up straight away.

I went on my holiday with the tent and just started counting calories on the first day and exercising and I haven't looked back and I haven’t worn the tent again, but I have kept it for sentimental reasons.

 

How wlr helped me reach my goal...

It is mainly the fact that it is a set of tools for you to use, rather than a prescriptive way of doing things – wlr allows you to find your own way, but gives you the structure, encouragement and support to do it.

Most diet plans aren’t great for vegetarians and they often seem to assume you don’t like cooking. With wlr I could continue to cook from my favourite recipe books, but I learned how to adapt them for calorie content by either tweaking the ingredients, or the portion size.

My husband’s favourite thing I cook is a pizza. He eats half, I eat a quarter and then I split the other quarter into two, which gives me two lunches with salad. I still get to eat it, but over three days, rather than one sitting. I used to eat the same as him, with a glass or two of wine.

The articles, challenges and the boards are a great place to focus at first – because losing weight means an absence of doing something (eating) and they are great for filling that gap.

Viv's Decorated Tree from wlr's Christmas Challenge 2017
"Proud of every single token on my tree" Viv - wlr Christmas Challenge

 

I loved reading the boards, but I rarely posted – firstly because someone had usually already answered my questions in previous posts and I felt I had little to offer as advice. I’m quite self accountable, which means I didn’t feel drawn to writing on regular threads or posting my weigh ins. I tried the monthly challenge thread once, and I enjoyed being part of a regular group, but I didn’t find it helped encourage me to exercise, as I would have done it anyway, once I had promised myself I would.

"I also think that the fact that there are maintainers still using wlr gave me the belief that not only would I be able to lose, but that I would be able to keep the weight off."

This was the holy grail and the unknown territory. In particular, their contribution to the Boards is what spurred me on to “finish” and to find out what maintenance could be like.

 

The wlr tools that helped me the most...

Logging food is absolutely essential. I have now logged every day for a year and it has to be done. Even last minute food at the end of a week when I have calories to spare. I enjoy doing things like that anyway (ticking things off lists) but if I didn’t log I wouldn’t have a complete picture of where I was.

I want to eat food guilt free and I can only do that if I know I have the calories and there isn’t any point lying to myself or burying my head in the sand about how much I have snarrfed or guzzled.

Viv with her calorie counted afternoon tea
"A tempting treat, but all logged and counted!"

 

I love the fact that fitbit syncs and I find that cuts down the “admin” allowing me time to focus on food, while the fitbit takes care of exercise. When I realised wlr synced with fitbit I bought one straight away and when I chose to upgrade to help with my running, I bought another fitbit. I contemplated other brands which might have been better “for a runner”, but in the end my running is just a few sessions a week and I want wlr to know what I am up to all the other hours of the week.

Viv's Walk the Weight Off Challenge Progress Chart
Viv#39;s Walk the Weight Off Challenge Progress Chart

 

I love the walking challenge and I’m motivated by the prospect of real medals, not just virtual ones. Those challenges have got me out of the door a few extra times, just so I can complete a destination.

The Boards are great, because they make it personal. Similarly the help team responses. Otherwise it could just be a fancy app which might lose its charm over time. You get ideas of how to approach things, support if you need it and when you give advice, it helps remind you of what you have learnt and reinforces it.

 

How I stayed motivated to keep losing weight...

I have had a few mini plateaus – not long, but enough to be a bit frustrated when the scales didn’t give me the reward for my behaviour I felt I deserved. I just kept going, because:

  1. What was the alternative - giving up?
  2. Because I was enjoying what I was eating and nothing was banned, I wasn’t actually missing out on anything.

Yes I would have liked more calories to eat, but I could get them by doing an extra walk, so why change.

I also used a chart on my fridge where I got a star for each day I kept to my calories. I was allowed one day a week when I could go over. I know wlr allows you to balance over a week, but I wanted to see my stars, because it meant consistent behaviour and no drifting off course.

Viv's Star Charts
"I wanted to see my stars, because it meant consistent behaviour and no drifting off course."

 

I couldn’t control the scales, but I was in control of my behaviour. Six stars a week meant I had kept my promise to myself and in the end it is keeping to calories that is the key behaviour – the detail of how you do it doesn’t really matter.

"If you keep to calories long term, the weight will come off and stay off."

I think that this has also helped me during holidays and social occasions. I don’t just let go and splurge and think I’ll sort it all out when I get home and deal with the consequences. I need to eat within my calorie allowance all the time.

On maintenance if I just go over my allowance once or twice a week, I’m not going to put on pounds overnight but I’m going to spot my behaviour has changed and I’ll be able to sort it out straight away.

 

How my life has changed since losing weight...

Lots more happiness and contentment and personal pride. I was an 7-8 for happiness before losing weight and now I am a 9-9.5. I’d love a dog, and country cottage, straight teeth and a flat tummy – but some of them are just choices I haven’t made yet.

"I love my rediscovered figure and a joy in clothes shopping"

 

I can allow myself to love clothes again and enjoy having a personal style – not just what fits or why makes me look slimmest.

"For the first time in my life, everything in my wardrobe fits me"

... and I choose what I wear based on what I feel like and what needs least ironing rather than choosing between the four hangers holding the right size. I have now bought individual pairs of knickers rather than a multipack of black mommy pants - some even match my bras!

I’m not quite there yet, but I am really enjoying eating food without guilt most of the time. This is still a work in progress and I hope it will become part of my life as I learn to trust my ability to keep up my new habits and that I can maintain – that this isn’t just another yoyo with a longer time at the bottom.

 

How exercise has helped my weight loss...

I’m a runner and I belong to a gym, but I didn’t start that way, I wanted to just move myself at first and I was actually in denial about how unfit I was.

So I used DVDs and I went for walks at lunch time. I soon felt the benefit and after about three months, walks in nature led to run/walks in nature.

All I wanted to do initially was be able to run for half an hour three times a week outside in the fresh air, that would have been great – a good calorie burn in a short time, but once you start and see improvement you get addicted to the progress – and progress brings variety which helps keep you going. I’m just about to run my first half marathon and I have lots of new friends I have made through running. 

"Running really burns calories and there is a great feelgood factor when you run longer or faster than you have before - it keeps you wanting to do more beyond just earning calories to trade in for chocolate."

 

Then, after 6 months I joined a gym. I like to keep my use varied. So I have done classes for a while and now I am doing weights on my own. I’ll probably go back to classes and I’ll be using the treadmill a bit when it is too dark or wet to run in the mornings.

I like exercising in the morning, because that is the time that life can’t get in the way of. I just have to get up earlier than I used to. It also helps to set myself up emotionally and physically for the day. It puts those calories in the diary ready for use when I log my food plan.

I found that it was easier to do something every day, rather than a couple of sessions a week. It means my alarm clock goes off at the same time every day and it means I can’t put something off until tomorrow. Half an hour is nothing out of my day and I get a lot in return.

I’ve also kept up my lunch time walks – not every day, but most days. I gets me away from the computer and the phone and I find myself refreshed for the afternoon so I don’t need reward treats at 4pm anymore.

 

My personal weight loss benefits...

I love waking up and feeling my hips and tummy - the exact opposite of feeling my fat coverage and starting the day disappointed in myself.

"I love my new found fitness, my rediscovered figure and a joy in clothes shopping."

The compliments are nice too. Most important is that I made a promise to myself and I kept it. That pride in myself is what is going to help me maintain. I wake every morning happy and want to stay that way.

 

My 'Top 5 Tips' for losing weight

1. Make a promise and commitment to yourself you are going to do it.

Then keep that promise each day. A day builds into a week, then a month and the weight will come off.

2. Eat food you like.

Don’t waste calories on things you feel you should eat. Just alter the portion size.

3. Plan Plan Plan.

Planning is key to staying on track with your weight loss...

  • Plan your day - know what you are going to do and eat that day. If it changes, fine, but you had a plan.

  • Plan your week – if you are going out later in the week, think about saving calories or doing extra exercise so that you can eat and drink within your allowance. If it is a busy week, think about cooking ahead, or eating from the freezer.
  • Plan for holidays.
  • Plan for what you are going to do next – do you need a new DVD to inspire you to exercise, is there a gym nearby you might want to visit to see if it is for you in the future.
  • Start planning for maintenance before you reach goal – is what you are doing sustainable? It doesn’t have to take much time, if you don’t want it too, but you can spend ages thinking things through, especially if you want to feel you are doing something positive while avoiding eating.

4. Don’t give anything up temporarily.

This is for life, not for a few months. Giving something up temporarily means you won't learn how to manage it in your daily life - you will feel deprived, or go back to your old habits the minute you can.

5. Don’t change everything all at once.

You don’t need to decide to exercise every day, cook from scratch every day and never eat sugar again. Everyone wants the weight gone overnight, but it will take time, so make it enjoyable and stress-free. The time will pass anyway.

 

My advice for getting the most out of wlr...

  1. Use the recipe feature to explore how to tweak your favourite meals into portions or ingredients you can enjoy.
  2. If you can afford one, get a fitbit with a heartrate monitor. It’s a motivational tool in its own right, but combined with WLR it is really powerful. You can earn calories by being more active, you don’t have to do formal exercise. It takes the guesswork out of movement and cuts down the online admin, so you can spend your time on your creating recipes or reading the boards or going out for a walk.
  3. Read the boards – there are masses of hints and tips for making this work for your daily life. Everyone approaches this differently, but there will be someone else on there similar to you, or ideas you can use. You don’t have to post, but post when you need to, the people are lovely and they know how you feel.

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