Friday, 3 January 2014

15 tips for a New Year's Slim Down

It’s that time of year again: the papers are full of ‘how to get fit’ articles, your Twitter feed is full of pictures of chicken and broccoli dinners, and the streets are full of runners pounding the pavements. I for one love it, and even though we’re all frantically trying to balance out the festive indulgence which shouldn’t have occurred in the first place, I think it’s great that everyone is encouraging everyone else to be the healthiest versions of themselves possible. Just a shame it doesn’t last all year, eh?

I myself am joining the large majority of the world on their January health-kick – turns out I put on a sizeable amount of weight while in Germany over the past few months, my friends. Surprise surprise. I’ll be honest with you (I feel we’re close enough now), I’ve put on A LOT, and I’m not best pleased about it.

I suppose part of the reason was because I didn’t have any scales in Germany, and so had no means of knowing just how much I was expanding. That’s a pathetic excuse, I know – of course I could have bought scales, but that’s by the by.

I knew I was putting on the pounds, and I didn’t mind to an extent as of course I wanted to enjoy myself and sample all the lovely new German delicacies. However, until I got home for Christmas and was confronted with the actual number (not to mention failing to fit into any of my old dresses!), I think I was sort of in denial. And coming home for Christmas wasn’t going to help either, was it?

A lot many women struggle with their weight and get really stressed out and upset about it – myself included from time to time. But it’s silly. Why do we let it become such an issue when we ourselves are the only ones who can do anything about it? The power is 100% in my hands. And yours.

So, instead of wallowing in a fat state of despair, eating every last chocolate in the house, I’m going to man up and do something about it, as I know I feel more confident and happier when a little slimmer. Care to join me? Let’s slim down, get fitter and feel healthier YAY!

I know I can do it because I’ve done it before – a few years ago I very gradually lost nearly three stone, purely through healthy eating and exercise. God, the discipline and willpower I had! Right now, I have no idea how I did it, but millions of people do so all the time. We’re all capable. Once you set your mind to something, you can do anything.

As a former slimmer, I figured it might be useful for anyone else trying to shift the Christmas bulge (slash a useful reminder for myself) if I shared the tips I discovered. This is how to do it, I just need to do it. Correction: this is how I shall do it.

1. Let yourself spend more on healthier food choices. As a student or generally someone on a low-budget, it can be hard to justify spending more money on expensive but healthy foods. Do it. It’s worth it for your health.

2. Remember willpower is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. At first, it’ll be ridiculously hard to say no to treats when they’re thrust into your face, but the more you do it the easier it’ll become to resist temptation. Soon you won’t even think about it.

3. Allow yourself one treat a day. I don’t recommend going on a weird hardcore diet or eliminating everything ‘bad’ from your diet – it’s a healthy lifestyle change which needs to be maintainable. I know I’ve got a killer sweet tooth, but instead of having a slice of cake and a munching on chocolates throughout the day, I’ll try to have, say, just one small piece of cake as a treat.

4. Have one carb-free meal a day. And switch to complex carbs wherever possible (ie. Brown bread instead of white, sweet potatoes instead of normal.)

5. Stop finishing other people’s food. I myself am AWFUL at this, partly because I hate food waste, but also because I struggle to say no when offered something.

6. Remember how bad the ‘food guilt’ will feel after you over-indulge, and think about how GREAT you’ll feel after resisting or going for the lighter option.

7. Try the 5:2 diet. Or even the 6:1 diet (not an actual thing but it worked for me.) This is the diet that took the world by storm in 2013, and seems to work for everyone. I explained it all and gave my advice here.

8. Remember food is only food. It’ll taste good for a few seconds, but the taste will vanish and – let’s be real here – you’re only going to poop it out a few hours later. Charming, I know, but true.

9. Find an exercise you LOVE. I recommend InstructorLive, which I reviewed here. It’s cheap, convenient and fun. Hate running? Think outside the box! Dance round your room, hula hoop, skip, get a workout DVD. I also wrote a post explaining my fave fun ways to exercise at home here…)

10. Weigh yourself once a week and once a week only, at the same time each week – ideally, just after waking up and going to the loo. Once you start to see progress it is the most inspiring and encouraging thing ever. Of course, the number on the scales isn’t everything – you may be gaining muscle, and some people prefer to measure their inches, but I think weight is the easiest.

11. Eat with smaller cutlery and slower. Studies show these both help you eat less, so why not, eh? You can't argue with studies!

12. Have a goal in mind. You put weight on over a loooong period of time, so don’t expect to drop it like that *clicks fingers*. A lot of people find it helpful to have a target, perhaps to lose a stone over 10 weeks or something like that. Experts say 1-2lbs a week is a healthy rate.

13. Find exciting healthy recipes. I’m a big fan of my BBC Good Food Low Fat recipe book, which was a present from my sister (I took the hint), as well as a couple of great bloggers, Deliciously Ella and Nic’s Nutrition. Oh, and I've got a few skinny treats in amongst all the calorie-fests on my own recipe section too (sorry for the shameless self-promotion.) If you have delicious-looking recipes that you can't wait to try, you won't get bored of bland, healthy food.

14. Make healthier food and drink swaps. I wrote a whole other blog about this too, but it’s self-explanatory really. Oh, and really try not to drink your calories, whether that’s in alcohol, smoothies or fizzy drinks. Such a waste.

15. Tell some people (but not too many) what you’re doing. When I first slimmed down, I told my family, who thus helped me by cooking healthier meals and the like, but I didn’t go around shouting it from the rooftops. A little encouragement and understanding can go a long way when you're struggling, but some people go a bit weird when they discover their friends are trying to slim down. Find what works for you.

I suppose that’s the message with all of this – different things work for different people, and you have to find what works for you if you’re trying to lose weight. I hope my tips are helpful, and I hope I can follow them myself! But most importantly, DON’T STRESS! It’s not the end of the world if you don’t lose any weight one week.

And if you don’t want to lose weight and are healthy and happy, THEN FINE! Don’t let society pressure you into anything. If your friends are trying to be healthier, ENCOURAGE THEM! If you want to slim down, YOU CAN DO IT! Seriously. You can.

Obviously I’m no nutritionist or fitness instructor, so PLEEEAAASE do share your tips too (sorry for shouting). Best of luck everyone! Here’s to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2014. And life in general.


  1. These are simple and sensible tips, thank you for sharing! I've lost a fair amount of weight recently, unfortunately mainly due to anxiety making me lose my appetite! Determined this year to eat sensibly and healthily and get back on track :)


    1. Thanks Sophie. Hope you get your appetite back and I'm sure you'll have a healthier 2014 :) X


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