Everytime January comes around I vow to throw out all the Christmas chocolate, stay off the booze and take my exercise and health seriously. Every single January since I was 18. Well 16 years later I was still in the same position, but this time I was determined to stick to something that works. I’ve tried everything over the years: The 5:2 diet, Atkins, meal replacements, gym memberships, running . . . you name it I’ll have tried it. Now I’m in no way out of shape or unhealthy, I’ve never been above a size 14, I strive to eat my 5 a day, drink plenty of water and get my 8 hours of sleep each night. However if you used to be a svelte size 8 you’ll know what I mean when I say I just want to be ‘a bit slimmer’. Well what we really mean is ‘I want to look good in a bikini again and not have to worry about what I eat at every meal!’ This January I did things differently, I changed my diet, I looked into supplements and I made my exercise fun. Now that we’re well into March I’m happy to say I’ve stuck to it and have lost over a stone! Here’s how I finally got to my new me.
Now I always get enough sleep because I love an early night and getting up at 7am. This allows me to get a workout in before work without being rushed and also allows me to sit and enjoy my breakfast afterwards. I tried a new breakfast cereal that I immediately took a liking to, ELEAT. I was sent a selection from their Build a Bundle range where you can choose which flavours you like. From chocolate, cinnamon, strawberry and vanilla I really couldn’t pick a favourite. What I enjoyed about the cereals is that they are very filling because they are high in protein and fibre, low in sugar and fat and yet come in at only 195 calories per serving. It feels good each morning to workout then sit and enjoy a crunchy, delicious breakfast rather than a shake, cereal bar or fast until tea time. Breakfast is, afterall, the most important meal of the day.
For my workouts I’ve been doing a mix of weights and cardio as well as implementing one fun activity a week. I usually follow a Youtube video to tell me what weight exercises to do and for cardio I’ve been using a weighted hula hoop I got from Tiktok (yes really, I was influenced!). But the most fun happened when my Micro Scooter was delivered from Micro Scooters. With high quality scooters made for adults and children alike, I chose the rather chic looking Navigator scooter which was perfect for exploring my local area or popping to the shop when we’d run out of milk! The Navigator has large wheels making it a much smoother ride as well as perfectly curved handles that fit comfortably in your hands. WIth more practical features such as mud guards, built in compass, kickstand and the ability to fold neatly it is perfect for adults who want a more convenient way to get around or who want to explore further than their own doorstep. I took it on the train into Manchester and was able to explore more of the city in a day than I ever would have on foot. Did I get a few stares from members of the public, yes of course. But did I care? Scooting around, getting out and about and burning calories while I do it… I couldn’t have been happier! They’re just jealous.
For gym wear I turned to Red Run, a women-led sportswear brand who care about sustainability and where their clothes are manufactured. I initially chose a selection from their Elektra collection, designed to show power and strength as well as being comfortable and fit well but have also been tempted by their newest Core collection because of not only the colours but something you don’t see a lot of in gym wear.. Petite sizes! As a 5’3” woman I can’t tell you how frustrating it is wearing ill fitting leggings or wearing shorts that are more like cropped trousers, so their Blue Horizon sculpted leggings were just the perfect fit, they made working out so much more comfortable and I felt so much better in clothes that actually fit me and looked good. Red Run is a brand that has its customers’ needs in mind and activewear that won’t let you down.
Anyone who’s ever been on a diet will know that the hardest part is keeping hunger at bay, or at least finding a snack that is enjoyable, satisfying and most importantly of all, good for you. I had been feeling the benefits of some multivitamins from Vitl such as the Skin and Beauty which have made my hair and nails grow at a much faster pace and left my skin feeling softer and smoother and the Rise and Energise which kept me focused and kept my mind on work and the task in hand as opposed to how tired I felt or scrolling through Instagram stories for hours on end. I decided to give Vitl’s Protein bars a go and I have to say I was really impressed with them. I had the bar taster pack and it was great for being able to determine which ones I liked best. It was without a doubt the chocolate brownie focus bars which were just delicious and so satisfying. I enjoyed these just after a workout or at around 3pm when the afternoon felt so long and I just needed something to perk me up and keep me going.
I also found another supplement that I found to be beneficial called MyOva. Their all-In-one natural supplements are designed to support your body’s natural balance, so you can start to feel empowered again, inside and out. The brand’s founder Leila, lays her story with PCOS bare on their website and it really resonated with me. As someone who has all the symptoms yet has never been diagnosed, I, like many other women, am always on the lookout for things to help with everything from painful periods, irregular periods, excessive hair, sweating, and hormonal acne (that’s the spots that always appear around your chin every time of the month). I tried out MyOva Balance tablets for a month because I was having trouble being relaxed after a long day. Hormonal fluctuations coupled with a busy schedule can leave you feeling overwhelmed and I think that’s what was happening to me. The supplements certainly helped with this, even if it was just the thought of them doing their job whilst I made a conscious effort to switch off and get in the mindset of no more work, as well as going to sleep without mentally going through my to do list tomorrow.
Finally we come to the most important aspect of a new diet and fitness regime and that’s the food you eat. This year I went with a simple calorie deficit diet, meaning I limited the amount of calories I had each day based on my height, weight and amount of daily activity. So I can pretty much eat whatever I like, as long as it falls under my daily intake. Some days were harder than others but the key is finding ways to make nutritious, low calorie ingredients taste good enough that the meal becomes a joy to eat and feel like a reward rather than a punishment. I had enjoyed some organic products from Seggiano in the past so I reached out to them to see what kind of options they had for a low calorie diet. I was overwhelmed by their offer so chose a few things that I knew would improve many dishes. Their range of dense balsamic vinegars is incredible, The Organic Super Dense Balsamic Glaze was certainly superior to any supermarket brand we had tried but their Chili version was absolutely sensational! The hardest part for us was not baking a loaf of focaccia just to dip in it, but we found it made the perfect addition to things like pea pasta dishes, salad dressings and gave sauces made with their Organic Tomato Passata a real kick and punchy flavour. However my favourite product of all has to be their semi-fresh herbs which are so full of flavour they really do bring real taste to any dish. So often we have been shopping and not been able to find fresh oregano or dill. These herbs are an absolutely perfect addition to our food cupboard and have saved many recipes time and time again.
As I step on the scales this morning I’ve come in at 1 stone and 3 lbs down. I feel more energised, my skin is looking better than it ever has before and I am so much happier in myself. Maybe this whole diet and exercise thing really does work? Either way, I shall be carrying on for the time being and hopefully won’t be repeating the same mistakes in January 2024!