Tell us about yourself and how you got to where you are today
My name is Zoe AKA tricepsandtoasties I have been overweight for most of my adult life. I ate when I was happy, I ate to celebrate, I ate when I was sad and when I hated what I saw in the mirror. I tried every diet that existed…. you name it, I did it, I was in an endless cycle of restriction then bingeing. I would lose weight then put it back on as soon as I began to eat ‘normally’ again. This back and forth was so terrible for my mental health, I was up and down like a yoyo, one minute feeling great because I had lost a few pounds then ‘celebrating’ and bingeing and putting it all back on again, and so the guilt and unhappiness would take over my life.
I had been with my partner nearly 4 years and when we got engaged I was so ready and over the moon, yet it was tainted by the thought of wearing a wedding dress and having pictures that would be around forever in a body I hated. I decided one day that I needed change … there was no way I could get to where I wanted to be whilst living the lifestyle I had chosen. I set up my Instagram account which at the time was called ‘no_fat_bride’ and vowed to post everything I ate…. not for anyone else, not to gain followers or for likes (at that point I didn’t really understand instagram) but to have a visual of what I was eating, to make me accountable, and to try to understand where I had been going wrong for the last 10 years.
Around the same time I accepted a job working in London which was a big step for me being from a village in Kent. I embraced the long commute and the 5:45 am starts with a view that this was my opportunity for change, a new start. I remember my first day in the office, I put on a new dress, a size 16 my mum had taken me shopping to buy for my first day, I walked into the office and all my new colleagues were in the middle of a version of the Great British Bake Off and offered me cake but I was too embarrassed to eat it, I didn’t want to be the new fat girl eating cake. On my 2nd lunchtime I joined a gym literally opposite my work, and told myself there was now no excuse, I got an hour lunch break and vowed to go at lunchtime rather than sitting on my ass eating shortbread (I love shortbread). I recognised that this was not the first time I had joined a gym but I wanted this time to be different, I had always gone to the gym, done 30 mins on the cross trainer, then some abs, and left. This was basically the worst thing I could have done, not because cardio isn’t good for you but because I HATE cardio. How was I supposed to sustain any kind of exercise routine if I HATE what I am doing? I decided to hire a personal trainer, which to me was a big investment. Personal training can be really expensive and unfotunately because of this isn’t accessible to everyone. I decided that to change my life I needed to make this investment, instead of having 3 or 4 takeaways a week I would have one, and the money I saved would go towards having PT. I remember my first consultation, I went in and she asked what my goals were and for once in my life I didn’t say 9.5 Stone. I said I wanted to be healthy and happy, I wanted to look in the mirror and like what I see. I started going to the gym 3 times a week and having PT one day a week, I learnt how to lift weights and it became such a motivator, every time I added on that next 5kg I did a little dance inside and the pride I had just spurred me to work harder and harder.
Working in London has such great benefits in terms of food, there is always a healthy place close by to be able to grab a bite to eat but because I was trying to save some money I learnt how to make healthy lunches. I cooked a chicken every Sunday and that would do me for the week, chicken and rice boxes, chicken sandwich, chicken soup, so cheap and easy. I still had takeaways (I love a good curry) but learnt how to make better choices, instead of having chicken tikka mossala with onion bhaji, rice and naan I now have kind prawn tikka with rice, or chicken tikka with rice. Instead of having doner kebab and chips I will choose a chicken kebab with salad. Instead of having a large stuffed crust BBQ meat feast pizza I will have a thin crust Italian with 50% fat mozzarella. I also started to count my calories with My Fitness Pal (a free app) but I say this with caution as if you do not take it with a pinch of salt it can lead you to obsessive food tendencies. But I used it to track my calories and mainly to learn about the food I was eating and healthier alternatives for example now instead of having spaghetti bolognese, I have Bol on Jacket potato as it has more nutrients and less calories per 100g. Doing all of the above enabled me to lose a significant amount of body fat in time for my wedding but I did it over a long period of time.
There are too many fad diets out there telling you you can shed 2 stone in 4 weeks etc but this has to be a long term solution to what has probably been a long term problem. Making little adjustments over a long period of time will lead to results you just have to trust the process. I now look back on my wedding day with such a sense of pride, I don’t look at the pictures from our day and pull apart every bit, I don’t see a double chin as a bad thing, or a bingo wing having ruined how I felt. I look back on that day with pride and remember how amazing it was and how confident and happy I felt and feel proud of myself that all my hard work paid off.
Fatloss is not just about the way you look, that is what most people see. It is about how you can change on the inside as a result. I am very lucky to have had the support of my husband and friends throughout my journey, also from the thousands of people who have followed my journey online. Social media gets a bad rep but the amazing sense of community I found, and the support and guidance I had from complete strangers is just incredible. If I can inspire one person to work get the same feeling of pride and accomplishment that I do now when I post a before and after picture, the time I spent posting all my pics is worthwhile!
What Wellness rituals do you swear by?
Wellness is such a broad term but to me it is about finding an outlet, sometimes that is practicing yoga, sometimes that is taking a long walk by myself to breathe in the fresh air of the countryside, sometimes it is sitting with my girls and having a catch up, sometimes it is date night with my husband. Wellness is anything that makes you feel happy, helps you to breathe easier and helps your mind think of something other than that work you have to do, or those jobs around the house you haven’t done yet or all the other things that seem to take over on a day to day basis. Your mind is the most important thing you have, it is the most powerful tool we own and yet we so easily forget to nurture it and look after it.
What are your tips for incorporating Wellness in to a busy schedule?
We are all guilty of saying ‘I just don’t have the time’ but what if for once you said, actually I am going to make the time. Try to get up 15 mins earlier and do a quick HIT session or Yoga session to get your endorphins going so you can feel great for the day. Get up 15 mins earlier on a Sunday and put that chicken in the oven so I don’t have to buy pre packed sandwiches all week. When you order that takeaway because you are so tired and can’t be bothered to cook, try and have the willpower to not eat the same as hubby (who seems to be able to eat Maccies everyday and still not put on weight… I feel your pain) try and order something healthy. Small steps, swap the pizza base, swap the chips for salad. Find exercise that you enjoy, you are more likely to find the time to do things that you enjoy. Try the new class at the gym, try lifting weights rather than cardio (or the other way around), do couch to 5k, whatever it is that will motivate you…. Do it! The most important thing is to look after yourself your mind and your body, we all know that bad food makes you feel sluggish and exercise helps with stress and poor mood but it is recognising those traits and making the time to change and do something about it. It is a long journey and we all need to find balance! Good luck xxx