I recently bought the ‘Body By MG’ gym plan by Madalin Giorgetta (@madalingiorgetta on Instagram) and initially started writing this blog post to announce it to anyone who cared so I could hold myself accountable for my progress. But over the past few weeks, quite a few people have asked me about how I got into my current shape and it got me thinking. It would probably be much more interesting for you guys to read about how I lost quite a substantial bit of weight (35 pounds or 16 kilos to be exact) in the past 3-4 years – so I’ve decided to take you back in time to a young, naïve Kate who hated her body and never would have seen herself writing this blog in years to come.
Warning: this blog is painfully long so I’ve split it into sections so you can easily skip past my rambling if you choose to.
Bad body image; bad habits
Until only very recently I have always had a very bad image of myself, and a terrible relationship with food (I admit I’m still working on it now!). I won’t go into the details because there’s a whole other blog about it, but I basically grew up always thinking I was fat, always on a diet and restricting myself of everything good in the world (at one point eating far too little, counting 400 calories a day). As a result, I lost crazy amounts of weight, but then relapsed and went through periods of binge eating and quickly regained the weight I’d just lost. I’d then repeat the process again and again: eat, cry, starve, repeat.
Read my previous blog post on my past relationship with food and how I manage it – How to not gain weight at Christmas.
How I lost the weight
So lately I’ve really been thinking back to my ‘fitness journey’ (as clichéd as it sounds). Looking back at the unhealthy, food-avoiding (but then secretly binge eating on the weekends) version of myself, there’s one tool that really helped ‘her’ become me now, and that’s Instagram. It has given me access to some online plans that have helped to educate and shape me to a healthier version of myself, so I wanted to share my most valuable take-aways, for those who are keen to lose a bit of weight themselves.
Changing my attitude to food: The Body Coach 90 Day SSS Plan
4 years ago I was at the heaviest I’d ever been and sick of feeling the way I did. I had been following Joe Wicks AKA the Body Coach on Instagram (@thebodycoach) and decided that the only way to do anything about it would be to invest some money into my diet and seek some guidance.
I can honestly say that it was the best decision I’ve ever made (well, apart from moving to Australia, maybe) because it taught me so much about food, how to ‘fuel’ my body (again, so cliché, I am sorry), and to not feel guilty about eating. I feel like I sound patronising by even listing out some of the advice because it seems so simple for me now, but at the time, it was so useful to me. I’m going to focus on month 1 of the plan because that’s where I saw the best results.
But first, calories
Before we talk about food, we should go over the fact that you should be at a calorie deficit in order to lose fat – it sounds simple, but it’s something that should be factored in that’s often overlooked. Figure out your basic metabolic rate (the amount of calories you can consume in a day in order to stay the same weight – without doing any exercise) and then reduce caloric intake accordingly. As my mum would say: “Slow and steady wins the race” here, because if you restrict yourself too much you are so much more likely to eat your body weight in chocolate.
Don’t pay too much attention to the scales
I keep talking about weight here, but what you’re really trying to do is lose fat; and those 2 things are very different. You can lose fat but not lose weight if you are gaining muscle – which is heavier than fat – at the same time. In fact, I have personal evidence of losing inches without losing a single bit of weight. I also have evidence of gaining 5 pounds in a day from eating too much but then losing it within the following 2 days. This is why you shouldn’t take the scales – or the ‘sad step’ according to Joe Wicks – too seriously.
Tip: take photos and measurements of yourself before you begin a diet or exercise plan to track results. As long as you can see results in the photos, it doesn’t matter what the scales or your crazy mind think.
Food and weight loss
As I said, being at a caloric deficit is the most important factor in losing weight. The next detail to look at would be macros.
Simply put, macros are the food groups we need for our bodies to function: protein, carbs and fat. ‘Macro counting’ takes into consideration what levels we consume of each daily to most efficiently fuel our bodies and achieve maximum fat loss results. The Body Coach plan works on macros (although it doesn’t actually write them out for you on paper, and I never have properly counted them because I can’t be bothered weighing every single thing I eat). There are lots of different theories on and approaches to macro counting and I am not going to say I am an expert – I’m just telling you what I have done and what has proven to work for me. What I have found from research, though, is that what’s most important to count is protein in order to retain muscle mass when dieting. They say to have around 1 gram of protein for every pound you weigh, then make the rest of the macros up with carbs and fats.
You can lose weight on lots of different macro splits – high carb or low carb, but the structure I followed that worked for me was:
On non-exercise days: low carb, high protein, high fat for 3 meals a day plus 2 protein-based snacks
On exercise days: low carb, high protein, high fat for 2 meals a day, and a high carb, high protein and low fat meal after exercise (to refuel the body), plus 2 protein / carb-based snacks
3 egg omelette with feta cheese and spinach
Chicken stuffed with mozzarella and a side of green veg
Steak and veg stir fry, no rice (can have low-carb noodles)
Porridge oats with protein powder
Stir fry chicken, rice and veg
Bagel with chicken, salad and boiled egg (I literally lived on these – they motivated me to go to the gym)
A handful of raw almonds or cashews
Boiled egg (so many embarrassing smells in the office)
Spoon full of peanut butter
2-3 rice cakes (on high carb days)
I tend to avoid any sort of sugar, because when I eat it, I get a taste for it and then I can’t stop. So that doesn’t just mean biscuits and sweets, but also things like flavoured yoghurts or too much fruit. ‘Low fat’ snack options too because they’re usually filled with hidden sugars.
It’s also worth noting that although fatty foods are fine to eat, they’re naturally higher in calories so if you decide to have a few of spoons of peanut butter when you’re peckish, that could be an extra 500 calories – just like that. You might as well have a chocolate bar and not have the dry mouth.
Tip: Use My Fitness Pal to track your calories and macros. As an example (not to say you should follow this) purely based on some tracking this week, an average low carb day for me was around 15% carbs, 55% fat, 30% protein / an average higher carb day was around 30% carbs, 40% fat, 30% protein.
Exercise for weight loss: HIIT
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), in case you didn’t know, is a type of cardio exercise that goes between short bursts of intense exercise followed by short less intense recovery periods. The first month of the Body Coach plan focuses purely on HIIT. It’s basically all sprinting uphill on a treadmill – as fast as you can at an incline (I usually go on incline 5, 15kmph but then increase to 17 slowly) for 30 seconds on, then resting for 30 seconds. You do this 12 times then that’s you done; literally in and out of the gym in less than 15 minutes. The next 2 stages of the plan then begin to introduce weight training to begin to tone up alongside the HIIT. If you’re looking for some more HIIT training workouts, you can also find loads of videos on Joe Wicks’ YouTube channel, which I do at home sometimes when I can’t make it to the gym.
Kayla Itsines is another Instagram enigma who I quickly became obsessed with when seeing some insane transformation photos on her Instagram page. Her plan is basically all HIIT mixed with resistance training, and it definitely helped to change my body shape more than any other exercise plan I have ever done; I really began to see more defined muscle and fat loss. Although I can’t really share any of the plan because it’s too complex to write out, you can do a 7-day free trial of her new SWEAT app (link on her Insta page).
I think HIIT worked so well for me (especially doing it fasted, before breakfast in the morning) because I had quite a lot of fat to lose. It’s a great way to strip fat and that’s what I needed at the time. However I’ve come to a point now where I’ve sort of plateaued and HIIT by itself isn’t quite cutting it.
So what’s next?
Weight training and building muscle makes fat loss much more efficient, so now I’ve gotten a bit leaner, my goal is to tackle the more stubborn areas and also tone up and particularly work on my bum (which is exactly what attracted me to Maddy’s plan – the prospect of having an ass as peachy as hers and not flat like the pancake it currently is).
I’ve never been that great at motivating myself in the gym or knowing exactly what to do, which is why I’ve always just bought online plans. You might think I’m a sucker for Instagram marketing, but they’ve really worked for me so far, and I’m excited to see my results from the Body MG plan. OK, time for the embarrassing and unflattering ‘now’ photos of me, to look back on later and see how I’m doing:
Selfies (lol at me)
Full body shots (not sure what’s in the corner of the room but it looks like it’s making me sad)
Current weight: 59kg / 9st 4lbs
Height: 5ft 4 / 162.5cm
Hips measurement: 85cm / 33.4 inches
Waist measurement: 69cm / 27.2 inches
Update: I have since written a blog on my Body By MG 4 week progress– have a read!
I really hope this blog has been useful and hasn’t been too cringe. I of all people know how much a struggle weight loss (and gain) is and I just wanted to share my experience with others – I hope it helps.
PS – if you are looking to lose fat / start the gym and have any questions at all, please feel free to DM me on Instagram or email me at email@example.com. I’d be more than happy to chat about it!