Health, Weight-Loss & Fitness Update

It's been 3 months since my doctor told me I needed to lose some weight. I was the heaviest I've ever been and none of my clothes fitted. I had become far too comfortable and was heavier than I'd like to be...for me personally. I was told I could no longer be given my current Contraceptive Pill (that I've had for almost 10 years), as I weighed too much. People online noticed my weight gain, I cried at night to Benji and I was torn between wanting to love myself exactly as I am, but also wanting to lose the weight I gained, fit back in my clothes and continue to be given my pill. Not to mention the ridiculous bloating and uncomfortableness I was feeling too.

What do you do, when you're stuck in a rut, you've got awful eating habits, and don't really like exercise, but want to make some changes? This is what happened...

May - Slimming World
I've talked about my SW journey on my blog before (see my post on 8 Things I've Learnt Since Starting Slimming World) which has always been positive and exciting. I was referred by my doctors on the NHS to join, meaning I didn't have to pay for 12 weeks.

I saw it as a good opportunity, especially with my trip to Florida coming up, and so I took myself to my first group. I had tried it once before, and it didn't work for me, so I was pleased to see they'd updated the plan to be more simplistic to follow. I've learnt a lot about the plan, the misconceptions around it being a restrictive diet, and many of the pros and cons. I lost around 12lbs in the 12 weeks, and it was the kick I needed to get me started.

The minute I discovered I had IBS, I knew it was never a long-term plan for me, which I'll explain a bit later. It did however teach me a lot about where I was going wrong, and how to make positive improvements. I learnt to cook, and I took back control of my diet. However, it also made me feel guilty when I had to 'syn' my naughty treats, and I focused heavily on the scales, rather than celebrating that my jeans fitted again. I was losing sight of what was important to me, and getting really hung up when I went over my syns or I maintained or gained. I started to use exercise for that 'push' the day before weigh-in, rather than going to the gym because I wanted to. I stopped eating at nice restaurants I once enjoyed, as they didn't have anything 'SW-Friendly' on the menu. I started to find flaws in the plan which didn't sit right with me, things like smoothies or avocado being a no-go. I stopped enjoying going to group, and found the culture of it all a bit much. My group became repetitive and I quickly learnt the drill on what to expect each week. We played odd games like splitting the room in half and counting up our overall weight-loss. This wasn't motivating to me personally. I got really sucked into it all, followed many accounts on Facebook and Instagram, made a few friends and actually like feeling part of something. I got great joy in discovering hacks or tricks, and I really enjoyed seeing the loss, but eventually I knew I had to stop going.

June/July - IBS & Food Intolerances
I've been struggling with symptoms of IBS for a few years. When I moved into my first flat in 2016, I noticed I couldn't hack a bowl of cereal without my stomach bloating and making me feel poorly. I switched to Almond Milk and that massively helped, almost solving the issue completely. I've always struggled with dairy, I often get migraines, had to wear a heart monitor as a child and had an MRI scan when I was 15, where the doctors have always advised my mum to remove dairy, which we know has always helped. I therefore try and keep it minimal anyway, but when I switched to Almond Milk, I also stopped having obvious dairy like butter, too much cheese and yoghurts.

Since then, I've had moments of good and bad times. I've always struggled whenever I'm particularly stressed or upset, so put it down to hormones and emotions making me poorly. When I started SW, I was at my absolute worst, with my symptoms becoming unmanageable. I was losing weight and making great changes, whilst ignoring the symptoms until they got so bad I had to do something about it. I realised I had reintroduced dairy quite heavily, having Muller Light yoghurts on a daily basis for example. Part of me wonders, if starting SW triggered my IBS to be bad, as I changed my diet so quickly.

Either way, the doctor did full tests on me, took my bloods and a stool sample, and tested for everything they felt necessary, before saying I had IBS. They put me on medication, and when I went back for a check-up, advised I looked into the FODMAP diet, but said it was completely up to me and that I should focus on eliminating anything which doesn't agree with me. Sounds simple enough, but mentally it all became a bit too much. I so badly wanted to continue SW, but it was much more important to me now to get my stomach more neutral. I've had gastroenteritis before which the doctor said may have damaged my stomach and is not uncommon for having issues later on as an adult.

With this all in mind, I was approached to work with YorkTests, who offered me a full food intolerance test. With 35 years experience, I knew it was a good opportunity (even a family member paid and did one too). It came back that my stomach was mainly sensitive to eggs and yeast, with some areas like cows milk and almond flagged too. I had a lot of people tell me to take the test with a pinch of salt, with floods of articles and opinions coming my way. I took this all in, and decided to use the test, after all, you don't know if you don't try. Rather than worrying about what I could eat now, I forced on the things that I couldn't (or shouldn't) instead. I stopped having eggs for breakfast (a key SW staple I had several times a week!) and tried to minimise my dairy intake again. I let go of worrying if things had yeast or milk in, and have quickly realised my stomach can take small doses without a huge effect. I've been having a splash of milk in my tea for example, and noticed this is fine. A glass of milk however, not so fine. This now takes us up to week 12.

August - The next chapter
It's taken a few weeks and a lot of mixed opinions, but I'm in the best place I've ever been. I now go to the gym and exercise when I want to, rather than adding pressure on myself to boost my weight-loss. I go REGARDLESS. It's not about that anymore. I eat well, better than I did before all of this, and I now recognise when I'm falling back into old habits. I cook more, snack better and more importantly, am enjoying the new journey. Having IBS and food intolerances looks differently for everyone, and I've quickly learnt to forget everything I tried to teach myself, and just listen to my body. I'm still a bit nervous with some foods, I used to love Carbonara for example and haven't quite got the courage to have anything too heavily creamy or full of dairy. I like wraps and sourdough instead of a white loaf now. I still eat cereal, pasta, curry and meats etc, I'm just starting to learn what works and doesn't work for me.

With this in mind, my stomach has calmed down so much. I've gone two weeks with only a few bad days, sometimes I know why and sometimes I wake up, haven't eaten a thing, and have to work out what I had the day before which might have been delayed and effected me. I am getting better at accepting IBS is a part of me, I just need to manage it and stop beating myself up if I make a mistake.

Today I got on the scales, 14 weeks since my first weigh-in at SW, and I've finally hit my stone. 15lbs down.

I'd like to hope that with my new mindset and positive attitude towards my health, diet, food, exercise and lifestyle, I'll see some weight-loss anyway. It's now about focusing on having balance, moderation and enjoyment in everything I consume. If I lose weight, it's a bonus. I've learnt that it's okay to gain and maintain too, because that's normal. SW made me feel negatively towards these things but in reality, we all fluctuate and that's okay. I will continue to weigh myself weekly, just to keep on track with where I am. I set a ridiculous goal with SW and now I've made a more realistic one that I'd like to reach before Florida in September. If I don't get there though, I won't beat myself up over it. And whilst I'm in Florida, you bet I'm eating all the yummy American food (including more dairy than I probably should...hello ICE CREAM) and that's okay!


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