As some of you saw on Instagram recently, I have managed to drop a few more kilos since my article on intermittent fasting in October last year.
Since I know how painful and miserable those extra kilos can make us feel, I just wanted to share with you what worked for me.
Like a lot of you, stress and tiredness usually make me overeat on the wrong food (overeating on green beans never happened ha!).
Those 3 months of intensive renovations to get CASA PYLA ready for the Summer, left me with a few extra kilos I had lost the year before. So at the end of June, I was feeling tired, bloated and worried that I would put back on all the weight I had managed to lose.
At the same time, Mila had been diagnosed with a 20% scoliosis.
Her job over the Summer was to do plenty of exercises like stand up paddle, physio sessions to strengthen her back and prevent scoliosis to get worse.
Being a teen, she wasn’t taking things as seriously as I was so I dragged her to my friend’s vinyasa yoga class.
After that, we were both supposed to fly to London for two weeks where Mila was doing an internship at Steve’s workplace.
The Yoga class made me feel so good that I had an epiphany…
Rather than spending two weeks working from Steve’ flat, I decided to stay at home and do like a mini “home retreat” to put myself back on track.
With no kid to feed or to taxi all around town, I had two weeks with only myself to look after. This never happened since Mila was born.
Funnily enough, I was very excited when Mila left with Steve on Sunday night. I started to work on my “home retreat” schedule straight away.
My whole body was hugely tense from the renovations. My right hip was constantly aching and walking was causing aches in my lower back. If walking was painful, running was out of the question. So yoga seemed to be the most gentle exercise on my body. After all, Bikram yoga had healed my back pain when I was living in London.
Yet vinyasa yoga is a very active practice.
My arms, legs, abs, back, and bum always feel very engaged during practice. I started seeing my body shape changing in less than four weeks. In addition, it gave me arms definition which I never thought I would get back!
The benefits of doing mini-challenges on holidays
Over the years, I got into the habits of doing mini health challenges to reset my mind and body during my holidays.
These challenges can be like drinking a green juice every day for a week or 2, eating raw food, not eating anything coming out of a packet (once you take out those, you mostly left with whole foods, fruits & vegetables), dry January, sugar-free, gluten-free, etc…
I found that even if you don’t carry all the good habits when your challenge is over, some habits remained and become second-nature like drinking water or fasting in my case. They become lifestyle habits and that’s what you need to focus on.
You will also notice how giving up a certain type of food will make you feel.
Sometimes you will feel more energetic, less bloated, your rash or back pain will disappear.
You may want to read 5 positive habits that will improve your wellbeing and 5 feel-good things to do this year).
Also, I think when it comes to weight loss, there isn’t a straight answer. It’s more like a succession of little things you do (and that works for you) which eventually leads to “success”.
There was a time I was running 10K 3 times a week and didn’t lose any weight!
Over the years, I had to increase my knowledge about food and what was making me sick, I had to listen to my body. I also had to decide what was more important to me…that extra muffin/glass of wine or losing those kilos that were making me so unhappy.
So on top of my yoga practice, I decided to add-on a few mini-challenges, to maximize my “home retreat”:
- Walk at least 10,000 steps/day using the app available on my phone
- Drink a minimum of 1.5 L of water* to flush those toxins
- Eat a healthy & balanced diet
- Fast from 5 pm to 10 am
I went to yoga 6 times/week religiously but probably managed to walk 10K steps/day 3 or 4 times a week. The other days I was doing between 6 & 8K steps. If you can include a 30/40 min walk on your daily commute, that’s easily achievable.
Drinking and fasting were about 90%. I had days when I didn’t plan my meals properly and was starving in the evening so I would eat but most days were pretty good.
I start drinking first thing in the morning before eating anything. By the time I break my fast at 10 am, I have already drunk half a bottle if not the whole bottle and I keep taking regular sips throughout the day. On a hot day, I could easily drink 2.5 liters.
Once you get into the habit of drinking water, your body will ask for more.
As some of you told me on Instagram that you were having trouble remembering to drink, I have listed below 5 free Apps for you:
- Plant Nanny water reminder | FREE (avail. on Itunes and Google Play)
- My Water Balance | FREE (avail. on Itunes and Google Play)
- Daily Water | FREE (avail. on Itunes)
- Hydrate Daily | FREE (avail. on Itunes)
- Water Drink Reminder | FREE (avail. on Google Play)
Tip 1: If you’re struggling, start with a small bottle and aim to fill it up 4 times/day. Click here to view a selection of reusable water bottles (and please if you can, refrain from using plastic bottles)
Tip 2: If you’re hungry or feel like smoking, drink first!
What is my meal plan…This has to be the most asked question
I’m not a great Cook so I doubt my meal plans will inspire you but when it comes to eating, I always ask myself two important questions:
- Will this nourish my body and give me fuel and energy to do all the things I want?
- Will this make my skin look beautiful?
Asking myself these questions draw me naturally towards whole foods and put the emphasis on feeling good and healthy.
Gluten, refined sugars, smoking, and alcohol age our skin cells.
As someone said to me, I may have good genes (maybe) but I also look like s**t when I eat too much sugar and gluten. When I crave for sugar, I eat a kiwi (full of vitamin C) or some blackberries (packed with antioxidants) or make my smoothie with 100% cocoa powder or have 2 squares of dark chocolate 85%.
“One of my all-time goals is to age gracefully so this isn’t just about losing weight. It’s about feeling great and healthy in 20 years time.”
BREAKFAST: Most days, I break my fast at 10 am by a smoothie (1/2 banana, some almond milk, a dried date, a handful of spinach leaves, a teaspoon of cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons of this mix). Other times, I have a bowl of strawberries or blackberries, a kiwi or two slices of melon. At weekends, when Steve makes breakfast/brunch, I have scrambled eggs + bacon & avo. If I’m on the train or plane, then I pack some boiled eggs and almonds.
LUNCH: My rule is to have a plate filled with 50% green vegetables, 25% proteins, and 25% carbs (i.e. 50 g rice, pasta or quinoa). So this would be a salmon fillet or tuna with green beans, an omelet with a salad, a mixed pasta salad (50g max) with plenty of vegetables (avocado, tomatoes, spring onions, green beans) and a few nuts to give it a crunchy taste (cashew nuts or almonds).
As I’m not a great cook, I favored fresh, tasty, organic food. If the tomatoes are really tasty then a mozzarella tomatoes salad with a bit of olive oil & salt will transport me with joy!
SNACKS: I probably snack 3 times throughout the day. An hour after breaking my fast, an hour after lunch and in the middle of the afternoon. Once again, there is no rule, I listen to my body and see what healthy stuff my body is craving. Will it be a fruit or sardines on toast, avocado on toast, boiled egg, some nuts? Who knows! Bottom line is I favour real, fresh, tasty food over anything industrialized. Fruits, nuts and a bit of cheese once in a while.
DINNER: Bearing in mind I stop eating around 5.30 pm to start fasting, I usually have only one big meal at lunchtime. Then I will eat something lighter at 5 pm. If I ate my greens at lunchtime like a good girl, I will treat myself to something I really love like sushi, Thai food, avocado on toast, hummus. If I’m not really hungry, I will do another smoothie with plenty of spinach leaves to up my fibers intake. I will spare you the details but after 16 hours of fasting, you’ll feel light the next morning :-))
WHAT DO I EAT AND DRINK WHEN I FAST?: Once I have entered the fasting phase of my intermittent fasting I do NOT eat. However, I keep drinking lots of water, green tea, and herbal tea. Rather than buying a hot drink from Starbuck’s with the packaging they don’t recycle, I keep my hot drink in one of these thermoses.
If you’re often on the go, choose a leak-proof small size like this Tefal travel mug or this Black+Blum flask. You will find more models here. In wintertime, I also enjoy breaking my fast with a squeezed lemon in lukewarm water before anything. It works wonder to clear your skin and alkalinize your body (and fight inflammations).
IF I EAT OUT: I usually go for fish and vegetables.
If there is only burgers then I eat mine without the bun and order fries with salad. I aim to stick to 2 glasses of wine. Over two glasses and I know it will affect my sleep badly and wake up at 4 am.
Managing your sleep is another thing that will help you to lose weight. When we are tired and hungover, we often reach out for the wrong comfort food. So try to work out your limit.
2 glasses of wine allow me to be sociable. I can resume my routine without any problem the day after.
HOW DO I SCHEDULE WORK/FAMILY LIFE AROUND IT? Well, I started my home retreat the two weeks I was alone at home with only myself to care for. When Mila returned, she was on holidays and out and about so I would still have my last meal at 5.30 pm and then cooked for her in the evening as I’ve always done since I started intermittent fasting.
HOW DO I KEEP MOTIVATED?
First, I don’t want to go back to where I was these past 14 years. It wasn’t me. It has hurt me in many ways, affected my body confidence, self-esteem and trigged depression.
I felt I was the opposite of what I’m trying to teach my daughter. I don’t know why it took so long but there is no way I’m going back.
Second, I think the key is to find an activity that you really enjoy.
I love vinyasa yoga. Each practice is different and I can see how my body is changing which in turns motivates me to keep going. I also enjoy walking. If I was living in the city, I would walk from one place to another like I did in Paris last week and clocked 17K steps a day.
A few USEFUL tools I swear by:
- the free version of MyFitnessPal: As I want to lose weight, I aim to eat between 1,200 and 1,400 calories/day. Tracking what I eat keeps me accountable. It also increases my knowledge about the nutritional value of food to make better choices. I.e. a kiwi is only 46 calories and packed with Vitamin C whereas a croissant has 115 calories and is packed with refined sugars & gluten. Remember the two questions I ask myself!? The first one will give me energy and beautiful skin. The second one will end up on my thighs and gluten/sugar will make me look puffy.
- A Bluetooth smart scale that analyzes your weight but also your body fat, your BMI, your body fat, visceral fat (the one around your organs and dangerous for your health), muscle mass, etc. When I plateaued, it was good to focus on other data than just the number on the scales.
A SELECTION OF SMART SCALES TO CHOOSE FROM
Things I’ve learned from this “home retreat”:
- You don’t have to go away to exotic places to do one that is beneficial for your mind and body,
- I never felt lonely, neither did I miss going out for a drink,
- Taking time alone to reconnect and look after myself is something I will do again,
- Planning meals will help you to stay on track especially if you’re out and about,
- Eating out was actually easy once I focused on eating proteins (preferably fish) and vegetables.
This article is posted in partnership with Protest and contains affiliates links. Pictures were taken at the end of August and as you may have seen on Instagram, I have lost a bit more weight around my waist and thighs.