By Guy Lawrence
Guy: I love hearing stories that inspire me, so I wanted to share Nicole Newman’s story for anyone who is struggling with their weight.
Having never met her I first received an email from Nicole about six months ago, and below are some snippets from that email so you can get the idea.
|Hi Guy, I have been thinking about writing this email for a little while. But, like most attempts at healthy eating and / or weight loss, I have found some excuse not to start. Or to start, and then stop! Basically, I need to lose weight. Lots of weight. My BMI is 31 and I am 30 years old, weighing 83kg at 166cm. I am miserable and not at all happy in my own skin. This has been the case for a LONG time. Over the last 12 years I have managed to lose 25kg. And gain it again. And lose it again. And gain it again. You get the picture. I have tried a dozen different diets. No carb diets. No fruit diets. No sugar diets. Super low fat diets. Meal replacement diets. Protein shake diets. Super low calorie diets. Juice detoxes!I have been a member of 8 different gyms. Hired 3 different personal trainers. Tried the no gym approach. Tried the over the top excercise 3 times a day approach. They all worked just fine – I lost lots of weight. I just couldn’t stick to ANY of them.So, here I am, at 83kg kilos, not able to fit into my clothes (even the ‘big’ ones) and avoiding social situations. I would like to use 180 nutrition to help me lose weight – and would love any advice you can give to do this…|
I rang Nicole that day and had a good chat to her. We spoke about making long lasting changes as apposed to quick fixes etc, and also recommended some helpful resources including Sara Wilson’s I quit sugar campaign and David Gillespies books along with our blog, as I felt sugar is often underestimated when it comes to health and weight loss.
Thinking nothing much of it, I get an email half a year later from Nicole:
|Hi Guy, About 6 months ago you responded to one of my emails with a phone call. You gave me some amazing tips and I’m sitting here 20kg lighter, healthy, happy, fit & strong. I have lost 4 clothing sizes and eat more than most men 🙂 My question is do you have any tips on how to lose the last few kg? Other than more of the same?|
I rang Nicole congratulating her and said I’d happily help her if she wouldn’t mind putting her weight loss experience it into a blog post so it could inspire others. She agreed and this is that blog post. Over to Nicole…
When we first spoke, you mentioned you had tried many different diets and failed at multiple attempts of losing weight over the years, yet here you are 6 months later and 20kg lighter.
What was the difference between those past attempts and and the success you have now?
Although I have always had an interest in nutrition and weight loss (probably from trying so many diets over the years), but I had never really found a way of eating that helped me lose weight and was sustainable. I did get close at one stage, just before I got married, when I lost around 10kg by following a low fat / low carb diet and exercising with a personal trainer. But I found it difficult, the food was not enjoyable, and I was tired all the time. I was having to create different meals for myself and my husband and daughter – and pretty much as soon as I got married, I gave it up. Not too long after this I fell pregnant, and although I did not gain much weight with my pregnancy, by the time my second baby was 12 months old I weight 85kg. I was roughly a size 16 on a 5’4 frame and was just SO uncomfortable in my own skin.
It was starting to take a serious toll on my mental health. I began to really hate myself. I know that sounds harsh and reading it back – it is. But it was how I felt. I did not want to be overweight anymore. I was not sleeping. I was tired all the time and living on coffee. I was fighting with my husband about various things, I was cranky and impatient with my kids, and I was barely trying at work. I was MISERABLE. I was spending hundreds of dollars every month (that we really didn’t have) buying new clothes in an attempt to make myself feel good. But it didn’t work. And only made my husband and I argue even more! I stopped wanting to attend social events, and on the one occasion I did (my best friends wedding), I stayed sitting at the table all night, hiding from the camera. When finally a photo surfaced on facebook of my brother and I at the wedding, something snapped. I was so disgusted at what I saw I made a promise to myself that I would change. And so I did.
I had heard about quitting sugar in various forms of social media, and somehow ended up at Sarah Wilson’s blog. From there, I read about 180 nutrition and David Gillespie’s book Sweet Poison. I downloaded both the IQS (I Quit Sugar) program and Sweet Poison into my iPad and began making changes to my diet. I am an all or nothing kind of person – so I cut sugar out completely. Just like that. And yes – it was hard – but not as hard as I thought it would be. I was prepared for how crap I would feel at first. And I took Sarah Wilson’s advice – every time I felt like something sweet or carby, I ate some fat. And it worked! It still does. I was amazed I had found a ‘diet’ that was satisfying and included tasty food that was readily available. Around this time I ordered myself a bag of 180, and read your post on meal replacement with 180 shakes. And so I began to replace 1-2 meals with 180 smoothies (scoop 180, coconut water natural yoghurt, coconut oil or nut butter and occasionally some berries) – and the weight started falling off. It was enough to convince me to keep going and with some advice from you (thank you thank you thank you) 6 months later here I am, 22kg lighter, exercising 4-5 times per week and still eating cheese. I am happy, I have energy, and my relationship with my family is better than ever. Win!
Where there any foods in particular that were your downfall?
Yes there were. Although I do not have a major sweet tooth, I was a huge lover of carbs. Pasta, pizza, bread and rice – I ate one or more of these foods at every meal! Pizza is still my favourite meal but I do a Paleo version which is honestly just as good.
What was your typical breakfast and has it changed much?
It has change dramatically. I was not really a breakfast eater – subscribing to the school of thought that it would give me more allowance for calories later on. Oh how wrong I was! On the odd occasion I did eat breakfast, it would be toast with some sort of topping – butter and vegemite, cheese and tomato or some poached eggs. If I did not eat breakfast, I would have something a few hours later like a toasted sandwich or muffin.
Now I eat breakfast every single day – and it is either a 180 smoothie, or home made almond toast with poached eggs, spinach & mushrooms. I am also not opposed to eating leftovers for breakfast! It’s not uncommon to see me eating the previous nights leftover dinner. So long as it contains protein, veg and fat I am happy.
What did you used to drink, and did that change much?
Coffee with soy milk which was up to 3 a day (Guy: you can read my thoughts on soy milk here) and water. I was never (and still aren’t) a soft drink person. I still drink the coffee and loads of water – but I now have my coffee black with stevia, and occasionally coconut oil and cinnamon. I have learnt the key to drinking black coffee is to make sure it is good coffee! I go out of my way to stop at a fantastic café on the way to work to get one.
Could you give a rundown on what a typical days eating looked like back then? and what it looks like now?
Given that I was often on some sort of ‘diet’ my typical days eating varied quite a lot. But, when I wasn’t trying to stick to a diet, it would look something like this:
8am – A large soy flat white and maybe some toast with butter and vegemite. Yes, I ate soy and linseed bread or multi-grain thinking it was the healthy option.
10am – A toasted sandwich (if I hadn’t had breakfast), or some nuts or rice crackers with dip.
1pm – Where I work they have a fully subsidised bistro. So in addition to a sandwich bar, there is always 6 or so hot meals on offer. So lunch could be a pasta dish with garlic bread, a stirfry with rice, curry with rice, salt and pepper squid etc, or a sandwich or wrap. Usually followed by some sort of desert – yoghurt with fruit for example.
Mid afternoon was more nuts or crackers, occasionally some chocolate, and definitely another coffee with soy milk.
And what does your diet look like now?
7.30am – 180 smoothie OR eggs & veges OR leftovers
8.30am – Black coffee with stevia, coconut oil and cinnamon
9.30am – Some nuts or a boiled egg or chunk of cheese or some IQS coconutty granola
12.30pm – Meat / chicken / tuna with lots of veg and usually some more cheese or avocado!
A fave would be tuna salad with avocado, olives, feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, pine nuts, lettuce / rocket and home made pesto. I am also a huge fan of soups and usually have a big batch of one in the fridge! My fave is chorizo, chicken, kale & lentil. I’d be happy to post a recipe if anyone is interested. I also try and have a batch of 180 brocooli and cheese muffins in the fridge for a quick meal on the go.
2.30pm – Coffee, black tea or Miso soup. Miso is great if you are feeling peckish and SO good for you. I’ll also have some nuts, cheese, or celery sticks with nut butter, or a 180 chocolate amazeball if I am still hungry after lunch.
4.30pm – Another small snack
7.30pm – Training
8.30-9pm – Dinner. If I’m feeling a little worse for wear after training (usually the case after a PT session!) I’ll have a big 180 smoothie with coconut water and flesh (Guy: I wrote about my late night smoothie/meal replacement here for after training) or 180 protein & natural yoghurt. Sometimes a chocolate amazeball for desert. Otherwise it will be a stir-fry cooked in coconut oil with chicken / pork and with lots of green veg, a thai curry with meat and lots of veg, spaghetti Bolognese without the spaghetti or just a simple grilled piece of meat or fish with salad.
Were you exercising when you were over weight, and are you exercising any differently now?
At times yes, but not regularly. As I mentioned earlier there was a period before I got married where I knuckled down with my diet and exercise, but it lasted about 3 months. Once I had lost enough weight to be comfortable in my wedding dress, I stopped trying. I never understood people who exercised just because its good for you. I always thought you needed to have a reason to exercise!
We always hear people of being time poor, being a parent I’m sure you are short on time, how did you overcome that?
Yes as a parent I am short on time. But I think most people could argue that life gets busy! Even those without kids. In all honesty, I just needed to pull my finger out. I train at 7.30pm most nights when hubby is home and the kids are in bed, and early on the weekend mornings. If my husband cannot look after the kids for me, I ask my Mum to. If you don’t have those options available as I know not everyone does, then find a gym with a crèche. OR as another friend of mine does – hire a babysitter on a Saturday morning for an hour or 2. If all else fails, buy or download some exercises DVD’s and a cheap yoga mat and start at home. The key Is just to GET MOVING. Even twice a week is good! And get your kids involved – do a few laps of the park while they play on the swings or go on a long walk with the pram. There are lots of opportunities if you are open to them 😀
Did you have any lightbulb moments along the way, if so what were they?
That sugar or fructose is the absolute enemy when it comes to weight loss, and that nothing feels as good as seeing that number on the scales go down. Also don’t hesitate to ask for help! Guy at 180 was always there to answer any questions I had, and both Lee Holmes (Supercharged Food) and Sarah Wilson also gave me advice if I asked a question on their blog / FB pages.
You mentioned you hit a plateau at the last kgs of weight loss, how did you overcome that?
I had read that most people ‘plateau’ when they have lost most of their weight. For me, I think it was a combination of becoming a little lax with my diet, eating too much protein, as well as the fact that I don’t have much weight to lose now. I am very much in a healthy weight range with around 25% body fat. I would like to lose another 3-5kg and realise it is going to take longer than the first 22kg! I am currently on day 2 of a vege juice cleanse to re-set my system, and have a diet plan ready to go on Monday when I go back to regular eating. It involves 2 x 180 shakes, lots of fat and green veg and less protein than I have been having. No fruit or grains, even for cheat meals, and no alcohol. I think doing this for a month will get my to my goal.
For anyone reading this who is looking to lose weight for the long term, do you have one piece of advise you can share with us?
Start as you intend to go on. If you are starting a diet that you do not intend to continue with once you have lost your weight, then it’s not the right diet. You need to find a way of eating that is enjoyable and sustainable.
Also having a network of like minded people as been massive. I owe so much thanks to my trainer Dave and the team of guys at Active Personal Training. They have been there for me every step of the way, and have helped me achieve goals I never thought possible. I would not have gotten this far without them and they have become great friends of mine too. I can’t stress enough how much it helps having a team of people to support you. Both the trainers and the other clients at the gym have been beyond awesome!
Has this new found knowledge around nutrition changed the way you feed your children?
Absolutely. I have always been conscious of what I feed them, much more so that I was with myself. Although I do not enforce a no sugar diet with them, their sugar intake has greatly reduced. When I bake I use Stevia and Rice Malt syrup instead of sugar, I make my own snacks for them whenever possible – homemade muesli bars, chocolate amazeballs with 180 protein, home made muffins & fruit / breads. Yes they still have the occasional cupcake or lolly at parties and daycare – and this is fine. I am realistic and don’t want them to feel like the odd kids out.
Also in an attempt to avoid making 4 meals for dinner – I try to ensure that whatever meal I make can be adapted for all of us. For me, it’s usually just a case of leaving out the ‘carbs’ – e.g. spaghetti Bolognese with green veg instead of pasta or their green curry with extra veg instead of rice.
Apart from weight loss, has there been any other benefits to your new found health since you changed the way you eat and live?
I can honestly say that I am happy. I could not say that 6 months ago. Because of this I’m a better Mum, wife and employee. I think I am a better consumer too – doing my bit for small business, farmers and the environment. I love to buy beautiful fresh produce from local farmers and growers when I can, and I buy my meat from the amazing Feather and Bone. I like knowing where my food comes from and what it went through to get on my plate – I am trying to teach my children the importance of this and that not everything comes out of a plastic container at Woolworths!