I’ve always prided on myself that I don’t diet, or comfort eat, but after piling on the pounds last summer due to various stresses, I realised I needed to take a good, long look at myself and my eating habits.
When I say I’ve never dieted, that’s not strictly true. I did Slimfast in my last ‘20s after a disastrous relationship left its toll on my waistline and it worked. Until I had my little boy ten years ago, I stayed the same size 10/12 – and while I put on a little bit of weight post pregnancy, my weight stayed pretty stable until about two years when the dreaded peri-menopause hit. Whatever I did, I kept putting on weight.
I’m fairly body confident, so it didn’t bother me that much, but what did bother me, was not being able to get into my favourite jeans or not having the energy I needed to get me through the day. So I tried alternate fasting and clean eating – note neither have these have diet in the title – and they sort of worked, but any weight I lost, soon came back on when I started eating normally.
I also realised that during times of stress I reach for the wine bottle or the chocolate. While I don’t overindulge, I do drink or eat more than I normally would and with a metabolism that piles on the weight when I just look at a Big Mac, it’s super easy for me to put on weight.
I realised that my current way of eating wasn’t suiting me and that I actually needed a whole new way of looking at how I eat. What I didn’t want was another diet that was difficult to maintain and that made me feel worse than when I started.
That’s when I came across Our Path. It’s an app that the NHS uses to help those patients with health conditions, like diabetes, who need to lose weight and get healthier. Even though I liked the sound of it, there is a cost associated with it, so I ‘ummed and ‘aahed for a bit until realising that I unless I give it a go, I’ll never know.
The premise is that you get a mentor, lots of features to read, a community of other people with the same aim as you, recipes and the ability to track your weight and steps.
Five months later I’m 50% closer to my target weight loss – it would’ve been 75% but Christmas came, and one thing I’ve learnt from this app, is that real life means there will be ups and downs, so I’m all OK with it. I’m definitely healthier, I’m definitely still motivated and I’ve pretty much learnt to stop stress eating. But why does this app work, where other methods haven’t?
Studies have proven that exercising or dieting with friends and family can help you stay on track, and it seems this also works with a group of online friends you’ve never met before. I found the group chat invaluable. Firstly, here were a group of people who knew exactly what I was going through. Secondly, it was a great forum to ask for advice or bring up questions. When I mentioned I was starting to stress eat again, several of my group came up with some great ways to ensure I didn’t reach for the chocolate bar(s)!
I’ve always been envious of those A-list celebs with their personal trainers and chefs – it must be so much easier to be fit and healthy when someone else with expertise is around keeping you on track.
While sadly this app doesn’t come with its only chef, it does come with a dedicated mentor who not only participates in group chat but is also on hand to help out with any issues. Mine was finding time to exercise and instead of beating myself up because I struggled to fit long training sessions into my week, she helped me see that something is better than nothing. I’ve gradually built it up and now I am managing most weeks to find time to attend two hour-long classes and lots of walks with my dog.
If you want to lose a stone in two weeks, this is not the app for you. It’s all about slow, steady and sustainable weight loss. It also teaches you that there will be ups and downs, including your weight, which is dependent on so many things. Each week you’re asked to track your weight and the app gives you a ‘true weight’ reading. It uses the power of maths to smooth out your weigh-ins, which gives you a more accurate picture of what your weight actually is. This is really inspiring when you’ve stepped on the scales and the weight has gone up thanks to hormones or whatever – it also helps keep the motivation going.
While the app comes with recipes and features on what to eat, it also helps you tackle negative thought patterns, eat more mindfully and appreciate your body as it is. This was a big deal for me. I’d always thought I had no emotion around food – I don’t believe in there being good or bad food – but reading the features about cravings and mindful eating made me understand that I definitely attach emotions to food. While I’m not fully free of those emotions – I’ve been hanging around with them for 40 odd years – I am more aware of them, which in itself is a huge breakthrough.
Quick-fix diets don’t work. Studies show that around 95% of dieters regain the weight again afterwards. Diets are a temporary thing – great if you have a big occasion – but not good if you need to change your weight and mindset permanently. What really helped me was learning why it’s important to have certain nutrients, how to tackle slip ups – as this is real life and there will be slip ups – and how to build habits. Looking into the science of how our brains work really helps you understand why and how you make the changes.
Once the initial 12-week plan is over you can then take part in Sustain course, which I’m currently doing. These are four-week plans that tackle separate areas such as stress, sleep and exercise and have definitely helped me carry on the right path. You also get new recipes every month – and even though they are lower in carbs than I’m used to – I never feel hungry and always feel pretty darn satisfied, all while getting fitter and healthier.
If you’re looking for a quick fix, then the Our Path app isn’t for you, however, if you want to change your mindset and make yourself feel healthier and happier, download it today!