“Who inspires you?”
This was a question I was asked recently by a friend as we enjoyed a chatter during one of our catch up phone calls. I didn’t have to pause and think about it for long before answering rather proudly… “My little sister actually”
For those of you who have followed Confetti & Curves for the last few months you’ll be no stranger to the fact that I myself am a plus size girl, with curves in what I would consider all the wrong places – well, most of the time. Now don’t get me wrong I’m ALL for loving the body your blessed with regardless of whatever shape or size you are – whether that be a size 2 or 32. If you love the skin you’re in, then that’s all that really matters, right? Well actually I’m kinda going to throw a spanner in the works and disagree a teeny bit as health should always be a priority, regardless of whatever clothes size is hanging in your closet.
From my mid teens I always had a major struggle with weight issues as it began to increasingly fluctuate… of course weight inducing meds for Grand Mal Epilepsy didn’t help matters either, however over the years it’s still remained an issue and something I personally find a very tough battle.
Regardless of how many people encouragingly try to tell you how ‘pretty’ you are, if you’re not happy with yourself and have zero confidence in how you feel, those words are all but empty. Soon it becomes clear that it’s time to take a reality check, especially if something is effecting your health & well being – both on the inside and out.
Yet never did I think come my mid twenties I would watch my once tiny framed sister struggle so much with her own self confidence and health issues. I was always the bigger sister in both age and size. However having recently seen her overcome some of her own personal hurdles, I’ve watched Leah rise from her absolute lowest into an entirely new person who is full of life, confidence and most importantly – good health.
So seeing as New Year is almost upon us, and so many of us will enter into 2015 with the hope of setting resolutions to transform or better our own lives, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share with you the inspirational journey of someone who reminds me daily that if you keep the faith (and work hard enough) anything can be achieved. Meet Leah, my amazing sister…
A camera shy Leah before her weight loss
The new healthier & more confident Leah
Give us a glimpse of life before your weight loss.
Well, before losing weight I just felt so down about myself. I had little to no confidence, was feeling very lethargic and not eating the healthiest to be honest. Food was a comfort that no one could take away from me, I just knew something had to be done and only I could do it!
What were your daily eating habits, can you give us an example of a typical day food diary before your healthy lifestyle change?
My eating habits have never been the greatest. I mean it’s hard enough getting up early for work never mind rummaging around making healthy concoctions, so I never used to have breakfast and if I did (once in a blue moon) it would have been white bread toasted with lashings of butter and jam.
When it was break time in work I would’ve usually looked forward to the cafeterias sausage rolls or toast again with sausages.
Lunch almost always consisted of a sandwich, if I could be bothered to make it before leaving that morning… if not the good old cafeterias chips were waiting for me *Mmmm* with maybe a packet of crisps, a bar of chocolate and a nice big bottle of full fat coke (or lucozade) to wash it all down with.
My final break of the day in work has always been a very short one however I usually managed to eat a chocolate biscuit to keep my energy levels up… well, so I kept telling myself anyways!
Dinner yet again was usually chips, sausages, pizzas, pasties or pretty much anything remotely unhealthy with lots of mayo on the side – I almost can’t live without the stuff!
Before bed I would usually find a packet of crisps to snack on, maybe another chocolate bar and of course a nice big glass of coke to wash it all down with.
What were your biggest food cravings?
Hmm, these still are my biggest food cravings to be honest, but I just don’t divulge as much… burgers, pizzas, chocolate, buns and crisps!! Crisps are definitely my biggest down fall as I could’ve literally lived on them! Also Takeaways (ahhh they’re blissful) a nice creamy chicken tikka masala with naan bread just can’t be beaten in my opinion! I will say though that I simply refuse to give them all up.
What was the one thing you struggled most with your ‘before’ body?
The one thing which used to get me down a lot was going into shop changing rooms with my selected items of clothing and wondering if they would fit. I could’ve cried looking in the changing room mirrors thinking ‘ahhhhh why can’t I fit into these jeans?’ It was beyond frustrating.
I also struggled hugely with my self confidence… having the guts to go into certain clothes shops without fear of people looking at me and being very paranoid about my body image. It’s a horrible feeling when you’re so desperately unhappy with your shape & size.
What inspired you to change your health habits & lifestyle?
To be completely honest there wasn’t one particular thing or person that inspired me, I just said ‘Right enough is enough the only person can do this is me’ and I soon realised how true that fact is. There’s no one out there that can do it for you unfortunately. It’s also about being realistic… it’s not going to be a quick transformation or overnight process, but actually a complete lifestyle overhaul. So I suppose (in a way) I inspired myself. I always knew deep down I could achieve my goal if I stuck at it, put the effort in and wanted it enough!
What were the initial first steps in your new healthy approach?
Well firstly it was the new year – which always seems like perfect timing to get healthy! My friend was joining a Zumba class in our local village hall and asked if I would like to go along with her as I love music and dancing. So I thought to myself ‘why not?’ this could actually be the start of something really positive – although I wanted to stand hidden at the back so no one could watch me wobble all over the show. However as I got more confident I progressed to the front like a teacher’s pet! I quickly noticed that I was starting to lose a little bit of weight, so I thought to myself ‘I’m obviously able to move and exercise’, but to really get the weight off I knew I would need to join the dreaded gym – which I did and I have to say I actually loved it, in fact I still do! The buzz after a workout cannot be beaten!
After losing some more weight I decided to really focus on eating a little bit better… and by that I mean just vacuuming up less junk food but still eating plenty of what I like in moderation. Having the odd little takeaway treat and being able to enjoy it was okay, especially knowing that I was going to burn it all off soon after anyway so I didn’t feel too deprived.
Did you use any third party dietary clubs or plans? If not, why not?
Ahh the dietary plans? Nope, I’m afraid not! They may work for some (and fair play if they do for you) but I would take absolutely no enjoyment in measuring my chocolate bars, counting calories or food points for that matter. I knew they wouldn’t be for me as I enjoy my food far too much. The best way forward for me was going to be getting off my ass and exercising!
What was the hardest part of changing your old ways?
Well, it’s not been easy I can tell you! However the hardest thing would definitely have to be coming home really tired from work and finding the motivation to head back out on a cold winters evening to the gym… especially when all I really wanted to do was curl up on the sofa to watch TV, eating yummy crisps and chocolate. It’s so easy to feel ridiculously sorry for yourself – like you’re the only person doing it when in reality you’re not at all. But when I got myself down to the gym and realised and that I wasn’t alone it instantly made me feel so much better!
Also a bit of a silly ‘hard part’ was changing from drinking fizzy full fat drinks to diet ones; something I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to do as I used to think the taste of sugar free drinks wasn’t normal yet now I couldn’t go back to the full fat stuff. Oh, and drinking copius amounts of water at the start… I often thought ‘how am I going to drink this tasteless drink?’ Whereas now I drink about 2 litres a day, as my body craves it – especially at the gym, it’s a must!
When did you first start noticing all your hard work paying off?
Well, there was no big ‘oh my goodness I’m now six stone lighter’ moment as my weight loss happened gradually. However after a few months everyone was beginning to notice the change in me – as did the scales! People began to mention how good I looked, but most of all I actually started to feel fitter. Bizarrely it’s really hard to explain as you don’t think you look a lot different, but you certainly do feel better. I could even feel my confidence coming back especially when I noticed I had to buy smaller clothing sizes – that’s when I knew all my hard work was certainly paying off and having its advantages.
What’s a typical day of eating & meals for you now?
Nowadays breakfast consists of two Weetabix with a skimming of golden syrup – don’t judge *lol* I need some form of sweetness in my life!! For my break in work I would have two slices of brown bread toasted with Low-Low spread rather than full fat butter. Lunch consists of either tuna pasta salad or a brown bread filed sandwich with a yoghurt or piece of fruit (preferably a banana) as I can’t be bothered with messy fruit… oh I do hate after you eat an orange and your hands smell of oranges the whole day! So bananas or grapes it is.
My dinner is normally either potatoes, pasta or rice with chicken and some sort of sauce. I do still enjoy my carbs, I can’t give them up or I know I would struggle! I also find plenty of protein is a must for the gym and chicken works wonders for me.
I’ve really tried hard to stop eating after my dinner so I always give myself plenty to fill me up for the rest of the evening, and if I’ve had plenty of water it keeps me full up for longer. If I do get peckish I’ll have a digestive biscuit, yoghurt or piece of fruit…. well, a girls gotta eat!
How has your attitude toward eating your favourite foods changed, do you still allow yourself regular treats?
I still really love food – that will never change! I still have treats for sure… you need something to look forward to at the end of the week! I’ve just learned not to have as much, however the more weight you lose the more your stomach shrinks, so I find I’m not as hungry anyway. I’m especially motivated after the gym and am like ‘nooo I don’t want to put on what I have just lost after all of that effort’ but obviously a treat is a must every now and then!
What has been the hardest food to give up?
Well I haven’t given any food up but…. crisps *ahhh* I just LOVE them!! I actually remember I stopped eating them for lent and really struggled. I definitely don’t ever wanna give those up completely again, so I try to keep them for a weekend treat instead! Crisps are just the ultimate easy filling snack… they’re just too handy any yummy!
What’s been the absolute best thing about the gorgeous new you?
Looking back at old pictures realising what I’ve achieved is undoubtedly the best thing. Another big thing is being able to go into any clothes shop and lift size 8/10 knowing the items will fit…. without having to squeeze into them and potentially burst into tears in the changing room! It’s also extremely encouraging the lovely comments I’ve had or someone not recognizing me because of how different I look. It just spurs me on to keep maintaining the new me. However inspiring other people who want to get fitter REALLY makes my day as I know only too well what it’s like to feel so overwhelmed by it all.
Is there anything you would do now that you wouldn’t have done before losing weight?
I can now wear bikinis & figure hugging clothing without feeling embarrassed or awkward. Even just the simplest of things like going out for a jog around where I live and not being paranoid about what I look like any more… I just love the new found confidence it’s given me.
How hard has it been achieving your goal?
Honestly, it’s been incredibly hard! Some people expect an easy fix and when it doesn’t happen they lose the momentum and just give up. Rome wasn’t built in a day (or so the saying goes) but sticking with it is the trick. It’s important to be realistic, and if you’re like me (wanting to avoid the diet plan route) you need to appreciate that slow and steady is best as it will then be easier to maintain on a long term basis.
Talk us through your weekly exercise regime.
I go to the gym approximately 3 times a week – which I love and the feeling after is great! I always feel like I’ve achieved something, I sleep a lot better and have a lot more energy afterwards. During the nice summer weather I used to walk a lot although now that winter is upon us I don’t tend to do that as much so I stick to a gym workout instead. However I must say walking has been a huge benefit to me as it really helps in between workouts… so even if I miss the gym and get out for a nice long walk I never feel as guilty than when I just skip exercise completely. It’s also a great way to relieve stress after a hard day at work – it really helps to clear your head!
What advice would you give to someone who is planning on losing weight?
I would definitely recommend joining a class of some description. Start off ‘slow and easy’ otherwise you will sicken yourself too quickly! Definitely start going for walks, even if it’s just for a quick half hour each evening and eventually building it up to pushing yourself that little bit further. If you really feel energetic enough try a little light jogging. Above all, stick with doing what you feel you can! The results aren’t going to be apparent overnight but when you do begin to notice your hard efforts paying off it gives you a lot more motivation and willpower to keep going!
What’s your plans for 2015?
To enjoy my new body and appreciate buying clothes in shops I never thought I would be able too. Also maintaining my weight, not giving myself such a hard time and enjoying it as much as possible! Another plan is to get a nice little holiday booked somewhere hot and sunny… and hopefully wear that bikini that I never imagined I’d have the confidence to get into. I hope each and every one of you who relate to how I felt before my weight loss managed to take some sort of encouragement or inspiration from my personal journey. Stay happy, healthy and enjoy the New Year maintaining the resolutions you make – keep focused and you won’t live to regret it, I’m proof of that.
The new healthier & more confident Leah
Thank you all so much for reading… I hope Leah has helped to inspire & motivate you if getting fitter in 2015 is something you’re hoping to embark on. She’s certainly an inspiration for me 🙂
You can contact Leah on Twitter via @leahcrowe
Do you have any New Year resolutions? Is getting fitter top of your ‘To Do’ list? Or maybe like Leah, you’ve also achieved your health goals, if so we’d love to know!
As always I love reading your thoughts or feedback in the comments below so do stop by and leave a quick hello chums…