As I already stated in my resolutions for 2018 post, shredding 16 kilograms was just a part of what I have accomplished last year. And now I want to share how my weight loss journey was possible. I am writing this because I know there are out there people who are still struggling with something similar.
And I know how it feels like, what I needed to hear and read when I was going through that. And let me tell you right now: The internet has no mercy and will not be gentle or kind to you. There is no magic to it. No magic pill. No magic exercise.
People tend to stack up on kilos as they grow older. And some get rid of them. But what we all love to see and hear about is the amazing difference between those two phases, especially if there are photos to document the experience.
I’m guessing this is happening because a large percentage of the population is struggling to lose weight, at some point in their lives. As I was. And because doctors and pharmaceutical companies say fat is bad for us. And then there are the clothing brands, illustrating their latest clothes collections using unreal skinny models.
A short history of my weight through the years
I was never a fat child. Ever since I can remember, I was a normal child, although not skinny looking. A normal kid, not even chubby. Eating what my mom fed to me, mostly homemade food, with as little packaged food as possible.
Then over the years, I noticed how my stomach wasn’t feeling so well after a meal, and that happened quite a lot. After years and pains left unanswered, even after many medical investigations, I started researching it.
I found out about veganism, and how some people rely solely on plants to survive. How some eat only fruits, and some have a strict schedule, while others ate only raw foods. I decided moderation was something I was willing to try.
What began as a 1-month vegan experiment, never ended, and in March 2018 I celebrated 3 years of being a vegan. What I want to draw attention to is that vegan doesn’t necessarily mean you will lose weight. Chips can be vegan, and they are the most beloved fast food item.
So I decided that being vegan feels better, and I also connected that feeling with the thought that doctors don’t recommend eating animal products to patients with severe, non-curable diseases. That let me where I am today, a self-made vegan, with my own rules and restrictions.
While I always take a lot of interest in my food sources and quality, I have to admit I never wanted to restrict myself. Therefore, I still eat some sugary desserts, and some are not vegan, but reading the labels are not exactly animal products either. Although packaged food is bad, eating it from time to time helps me to not feel deprived and also being more close to the factory origin than the natural one, doesn’t cause so much hard. Opposed to fresh cow mil which I cannot digest, and I advise people to not drink it.
My weight loss journey: 16kg in less than 1 year
As travelling became part of my life, struggling to find something meaningful to work on and discovering the vegan lifestyle, I found myself a bit lost. I tried many different diets from internet vegan gurus, had some hormones issues and travelling on a budget didn’t buy me the best meals. I admit I put travel ahead of my diet.
Fast forward, I went from 50 kg in the summer of 2013 to 68,6 kg in November 2016.
My diet was composed of foods picked based on the price tag, not benefits. While struggling to be a vegan, in a bread-eating country like Austria, where anything that comes directly from a plant is imported, I gained those last 5 kilos.
When I got back home from my voluntary service in Austria, I was at my heaviest, and put my mom into a shock. My dad tried to be gentle about it but didn’t succeed. I was what you might call chubby. That is what the end of the world looks like for any woman, so needless to say I felt embarrassed.
But let’s talk about losing those extra kilos of fat and becoming healthy and confident about my body again. I made it my purpose to lose those kilos. And had some self-imposed set of rules to make it work. Here is my list, hopefully, it will help you too. Remember I am not a doctor or a nutritionist, and these are some things that worked for me.
These are some fundamental self-imposed rules which have worked for me in my weight loss journey: 16 Kg in 8 months
- Water. Most of the times I am just thirsty. (1 glass of water before every meal)
- No sugar. Without exception.
- No bread.
- No eating after 6 pm.
- 2 meals per day, trying to make the eating window as small as possible.
- Trying to follow a routine and having the same meals every day.
Some tips from my weight loss journey
Food before exercise. That is, what you eat, is much more important than the number of calories burned. If I ever felt too exhausted to exercise, because I felt rather hungry than anything else then I just didn’t exercise.
I am not saying this is the best way. But it was the way that worked best for me. I started exercising regularly when I was 20 and by the time I was 25 I finished a half-marathon. All due to self-training. I did cycling, had long periods of time going to the gym for at least 5 times per week, and often went running in the mornings.
Speaking from the perspective of an active person, with a past of a very active person. I know that what I eat shows more than how many hours I sweat. Depending on the goal, I make a decision. And I decided to put my training on hold, and eat less. I never starved myself, but I never indulge in food until I felt full.
Restraining from exercise made me eat less. We all know exercise is actually making you hungry, craving for calory dense foods.
Food was very important in my weight loss journey
The food industry is huge. Because we all need to eat. But the consumers are so confused by the abundance of all the products in the supermarkets, it’s tiring to keep track of all the products we buy and eat.
I, as a vegan, cut my task to almost a third by not a big chunk of what stores sell. I realised that companies care more about their products than about their consumers and their health. Then I realised eating healthy doesn’t cost more if you cook the food yourself. Travelling didn’t always give me this luxury. Also at times, for me was easier to get sugary sweets for free than food. I thought it won’t matter so much, but then it started to show. Bad idea.
I opened my eyes and started eating whole foods, not plastic packaged things. Because I am not sure those things we see on the shelves of the supermarket are real food.
Some examples of my meals
Breakfast was one or 2 bananas blended with water and chia seeds. Or another fruit, but not 2 different fruits mixed.
Lunch/dinner: Salad (salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, and any green vegetable), tofu, hummus, maybe a small soya burger patty.
Or a vegetable cooked dish. (Rice, cabbage, beans, polenta)
Sometimes I would have a tiny dinner as well. I never wanted to starve myself, so if I ever felt really hungry in the evenings, I would eat something.
The best thing that worked for me was to never feel full. I was always feeling like I could eat a bit more. But I wasn’t eating more than I needed to. I learnt to say No to food. And it took a lot of practice, but time helped me gain this skill.
The different stages of my weight loss journey
I hope you are still reading this because I feel one is not truly prepared to get through this without knowing what will happen before it does.
Firstly, you have to really want the change. Changing your eating habits, your daily routine, and your mindset. Start by convincing your mind THIS is what you want and you just have to succeed. There is the only point it seems to work. Because as I felt many times stressed about gaining more weight, I never seem to have really be bothered to do anything about it. That is until I had convinced myself I want to lose that weight and I am willing to suffer for it.
Again, I am not a doctor, nor I am saying you should do this. It did involve eating less, and some may argue I was starving myself. However you take it, please understand that losing weight is a matter of eating fewer calories than consuming.
Secondly, losing weight was not constant. It depends a lot on my activities and overall mood. Some weeks I would lose 1 kg and other none. Also, there were a few long periods of “break”, when my body would just maintain the same weight. Some call it a plateau.
I believe it is a natural stage in a longer weight loss journey, as the body needs constant accommodating with its new weight. For me, these periods were about a month long, every 2 or 3 months of not losing weight.
The greatest enemy of any weight loss journey: SUGAR
I also have to warn about the dangers of sugar, and especially the lack of it in your diet after long periods of consuming it. Quitting sugar is particularly hard because we are addicted to it.
Nowadays sugar can be found in most of the packaged foods and it is really hard to keep away from. That’s exactly why, at some point in my journey, about 3 months after the sugar and I declared war on each other, I find myself daydreaming about chocolate cake. I was drooling every time I was thinking about it.
One evening my mom brought a chocolate cake so that I would move on with this obsession. After eating half of it, I felt it was disgustingly sweet and could not finish it. I was a normal piece of cake.
Afterwards, I don’t remember ever craving sugar so badly, but every now and then I would take a bite or a sit of something sweet, in case I wanted to taste it. And each time I find myself feeling it was too sweet and not comfortable to eat.
Reaching and maintaining a comfortable and healthy weight
Then summer came and it helped with eating less. Warm weather makes me feel less hungry. but my mood went down as well. Change is hard to embrace and I believe that’s the hardest part of any weight journey and any shift in general. Because us, people, get used to routines, it makes it easier for us to not have to process every single step of every day. But it’s a trap, and most of the times this auto-pilot leads to miserable days in our lives.
Just saying “I will change” has no meaning and no result until you are doing it. But telling people you are in a changing prosses is what keeps you accountable, and helps you to not give up.
A journey that started in December and reached a healthy and comfortable number to watch on the scale in June. But there is no end to my weight loss journey, as is a change in the mindset and has to stay here with me. I call it a conscious state, which I hope to never leave me again. Because the struggle was real. And physically painful.
Today I know this…
As my body never stops from living and transforming itself. It constantly reminds me I have to take good care of it, eating well, resting when needed and not allowing too much stress into my life.
I eat what I please, but that is because now I recalibrated my hungriness bell, my cravings and my stomach.
I know when I’m full. And I never force myself to eat more, even though I still have food left on my plate. I eat sweets, but never before eating food and drinking water.
The takeaway from my weight loss journey
I wrote this post as a milestone to my 3 year anniversary of not eating meat and animal products (with the already described exception of my cake addiction).
I want to to keep in mind that VEGAN doesn’t mean you will lose weight or be healthy if you ARE NOT eating healthy. There are many vegan chips in restaurants. (I know!!! )
Losing weight is a decision which starts mentally. And after changing that, it will come down to calories. Having a purpose is what helps the most, but choose only 1 purpose… aka weight loss.