After we’ve lost some weight, we right away started getting so many questions about how we did that and mostly what diet did we follow? And that’s exactly the problem, or the thing we do different, we don’t follow any diet. We’ve figured out a change in lifestyle that really works for us and that is why we think this worked.
I’ve been struggling with my weight for a long time, and of course have also followed many different diets and this worked, sometimes, for a little while. But it never lasted. And honestly, I hated it, every one of them. I felt it was just in my mind all day, I can’t eat this, I want to eat that but I’m not allowed, which made this a job, an all day job to stick with the diet. I like to eat, I enjoy a good family dinner, I love to cook, I love to bake, and I love chocolate. So, this was just always a struggle.
After my move from the Netherlands to Canada I “naturally” lost about 20kg, just because my life became more active, I moved a lot more. Which of course was great, for the first time in my life I had lost a significant amount of weight without the feeling of struggle.
However, this still left me in the overweight range, I still needed to lose more. And it went back to dieting, exercise routines etc. so back came the struggle and the feeling this was like a full-time job. So, I would do this at times, and then stop for a while. With some result sometimes, but also weeks were all those results went away again.
Until last year, when I decided I was going to give it one last try and if it wouldn’t work I would just give up for good, because I wasn’t going to have this unhealthy love hate relationship with food for the rest of my life. My sister and I decided to work together, and what we realized that the one time it truly worked for me to lose weight and keep the weight off was after my move to Canada and the lifestyle change that came with. So, this is what we needed to do. Create a lifestyle change. Slow changes, but lasting changes.
After years of dieting and doing my research I knew really well what works for me and what doesn’t. There are some things I just don’t want to do, I don’t want to weigh my food, count every calorie and eat boring things that I don’t even like! I want to keep enjoying the food I eat; I want to be able to choose what I feel like eating that day and there are things I don’t want to give up on.
So, we knew what we wanted and didn’t want. Starting to put that into practice I first needed to make a big mental change. This wasn’t going to be a diet, this was a lifestyle change, permanently. I needed to step away from “I’ll start next month or next week” or (and this is something I did a lot) when I would eat something “bad” that day or week was already ruined, so I would just start again tomorrow or next week. No, this was always and forever, which doesn’t mean I don’t “cheat” or eat “bad things” of course I do, but that doesn’t stop or restart my diet, I stick with it the rest of the day and week, I just had something bad and that’s part of my diet, so I didn’t fail or had to start over but eating something “bad” is part of it (I still eat chocolate almost every day).
Okay so that was a lot of talk of the mental change, because I do believe that that is the most important thing here, but what did we practically change in what we eat? Again, we made these changes over time and one at a time to make it easier to stick to them. We started with taking out the “bad carbs” no more bread, pasta, rice or potatoes. We changed our dinner, that was a hard one as we are huge pasta lovers but that it is what we cut out first. And although we still have a cheat meal every so often, our dinners are mostly low carb and we’re so used to that by now that it isn’t hard anymore. We do have our “healthier cheats” that we eat once or twice a week (for example our cauli and cheese which is a great comfort dish instead of pasta, recipe will be coming soon). We’re not just taking out the “bad carbs” but we try to replace them, so our dinners still feel full and comforting. Of course, we replaced our pasta with zucchini spirals and our rice with cauliflower or sometimes quinoa. Potatoes we’ve replaced with other veggies (roasted radish is yummy!) and for the mashed potatoes we replace them with a different root vegetable like turnip or parsnip. We also try and be creative and not try to imitate the actual pasta but just make a whole new side dish instead, we love our roasted cauliflower with a tomato sauce.
Another thing that has worked really well for us is changing very many dishes into a “bowl” or a salad (check out our burger bowl, shawarma bowl and our taco bowl is coming soon), just put some lettuce in a bowl and add the ingredients you would normally add to pasta or a sandwich. We still eat all meats, but we try to stick to a max of 3 times pork or beef a week, the rest of the days we eat chicken or fish.
After we changed dinner it was time to look at the rest of the day. For snacks during the day we try and stick to veggies, nuts and some fruit. In the evening we still eat chocolate but limit it to a few pieces of dark chocolate mostly.
Another thing we’ve looked at is what we drink. I’m a coffee addict, and not just a simple black coffee but lattés and lots of them. So, taking out the scoop of sugar in my coffee made a big difference with 6-8 a day. After that I switched out my regular milk for almond milk (this was quite a journey, as I couldn’t find an almond milk that I really liked until I figured out how easy it is to make your own and how much better that tasted check out the recipe here). After a while I got used to just drinking coffee or tea without sugar and water. There are so many great flavours of herbal tea out there! In summer we’ll make iced tea out if it. So, plenty of choice in drinks without it adding calories to your day.
Lunch was another tricky one in the beginning, being Dutch we love our sandwiches. Cutting out bread wasn’t easy. But inspired by our changes to dinner, we started with changing our sandwiches into salads. And really that’s an easy one, most things that go together on a sandwich work great in a salad as well. Bacon, lettuce and tomato are great! Or ham and cheese, or boiled eggs with anything really. We did this for a long time, still adding in mayonnaise, cheese, bacon and more fatty things. It still worked and lunches were great! Wanting to lose more weight after a while we started to change the dressings, taking out the mayo and just adding a little bit of olive oil, vinegar and herbs. Replacing bacon or ham with grilled chicken etc. Again just slow changes over time, so it never felt like a strict diet. In winter when it gets cold we always feel the need for something comforting and warm instead of the salads. Making big pots of soup and freezing them in small portions has been great! (recipes for our comforting veggie soups are coming soon). Another tip that has really helped us is make sure you have you “go to” lunches, something you always have the ingredients for and that is easy to make. Often when not having a plan or when we don’t know what to eat, we went back to eating something unhealthy, purely out of convenience. We’ve changed that by heaving our “go to” lunches. If we don’t know what to have or are in a hurry that is what we eat. For me that is this banana, kale and blueberry smoothie (recipe coming soon) and for Lissy it’s a simple salad with tuna.
And that leaves us with one more meal to go over, breakfast. All weight loss blogs etc. are going to disagree with me and will say that this won’t help my weight loss, but I don’t eat breakfast. I just don’t like it. We get up really early and I’m just not hungry at that time. And for me, I still lost a lot of weight and almost never have breakfast. Lissy will have breakfast, she will usually have 2 boiled eggs, which is great way. Eggs are a really great in general. We use them to make very many things. For breakfast definitely check out our egg muffins(more great breakfast recipes coming soon). Easy to make and easy to keep in your fridge or freezer.
So that us our story and how we lost our weight. I think most important message to take from this is stop the diets, find what fits with you and your lifestyle, and make changes that work for you. Find a way to still enjoy your food instead of developing a hate for food. We’re in no way dieticians but only have our own experience and are just happy to inspire and help others on their journey!