New Girl in Toon is predominantly a blog about my life in the North East but every year I like to mark this special day by writing a post about my weight loss as it's a very important moment in my life and, if I hadn't made that change I never would have met Simon or discovered Newcastle!
If you want to catch up with my story then check out my previous anniversary posts on How I lost 9 Stone and Learning to Run.
This year I thought I'd talk about something I frequently get asked about. How do I manage to maintain my weight loss?
I'm not going to lie to you, maintaining a dramatic weight loss like mine is hard work. Those of you who have battled with weight issues will know how easy it is to un do all of the good and end up right back where you started. Unfortunately putting on weight is far easier than shifting and maintaining it!
If you've suffered with a weight problem the chances are you will always have it and it will be a constant battle for the rest of your life. My food addiction has never gone away - I still want to stuff my face with chocolate when I'm sad, I still want to celebrate every happy occasion with too much food and I will never ever be able to resist a buffet.
Reaching goal was not the end of my journey, really it was just the start. Strutting around in size 10s did not give me an automatic "get out of jail" card and I knew that I couldn't just stick my feet up and return to bad habits, I had to continue with my new healthier lifestyle.
I'm by no means an expert, but here are just a few things that have helped me to maintain my healthy weight.
Living a Life of Balance
I love food and my friends will all tell you that when I'm out and about at blogging events I'm the first person to ask for the dessert menu, will always eat too many canapés and have been known to down sugary cocktail after sugary cocktail but living a life of occasional indulgence is absolutely fine if you balance it out with sensible eating and exercise.
People laugh at me and my funny rules but I find that a strict Monday to Friday routine has helped me maintain my weight. I have something nice and filling for breakfast, a healthy salad for lunch and have set times that I'm allowed to eat small snacks throughout the day. Sticking to a routine has been essential to maintaining my weight loss.
Break Bad Habits
We all have bad habits so knowing what yours are is the first step to breaking them. One of my biggest bad habits is snacking in the evening regardless of how hungry I am. I tend to associate watching TV with having a cup of tea and a treat. Trying to teach myself that TV and food doesn't go hand in hand is always a mission.
My other bad habit is eating to excess in restaurants. Even if I'm completely stuffed I'll carry on eating until my plate is clear. One good way I've found to tackle that is to cover my food with my napkin when I'm full - out of sight, out of mind!
When I hit goal I continued to be careful with my portion control. It's so easy to fill your cereal bowl to the brim, boil up too many potatoes or grate an excessive amount of cheese. I know my weaknesses and where I'm likely to eat to excess so with these foods I make sure to weigh out a sensible portion. A 30-40g bowl of cereal may not look like much but it's the recommended amount and believe me it does fill you up.
When you can't be trusted
There are certain foods that I just can't be trusted around and there's a simple solution to that, I just don't buy them. Simon often asks me if we can buy a pack of real butter or treat ourselves to a loaf of fresh white bread, but I know all too well that I can't be trusted.
If we had butter in the fridge I would make myself a huge plate of butter smothered toast every morning and if we had white bread I'd be grabbing myself a few slices to eat with every meal. This is why I go crazy over the bread basket in restaurants, when you're not allowed something at home it tastes amazing when you're out and about.
If your partner doesn't support what you're doing it becomes a lot tougher to live a healthy lifestyle. Simon and I are both fortunate that we met through Weight Watchers and both understand what it's like to be overweight and unhappy. Talking openly and honestly about our weight problems is essential and we're definitely happier and healthier when we're both helping each other to be sensible.
We often find that one of us is in the zone when the other is struggling but we do our best to help each other. This means making an effort to prepare ourselves healthy lunches to take to work and going out for runs and walks together.
This is something I've only really managed to achieve this year. Some people love exercise but, unfortunately a lot of us will find it a chore and something we have to do rather than something we want to do. I will never be one of those people who runs for fun, I really wish I were!
It's taken me a while to find a form of exercise that I love but this year I've given Clubbercise a go and have definitely found my thing. Dancing about in the dark with glow sticks to cheesy 90s dance music makes me so happy.
It can be hard to find an incentive for healthier eating and exercise once the rush of losing weight has gone. When people have stopped commenting on your amazing achievement it can be easy to lose your drive and just let it all slip away. I find that giving myself an incentive to keep on track is key. My incentive can change month by month or year by year - it could be wanting to look good on a beach holiday, wanting to run my first 5K or, the biggie, wanting to look great on my wedding day.
Saving Myself for that Special Cake!
Anyone who works in an office will know what a nightmare it can be when you're trying to be healthy. People constantly bring in biscuits and cakes to share and sometimes it feels like everywhere you turn there's a packet of something naughty starting at you.
I try to handle these situations by only allowing myself very special treats. Picking up a processed cream cake from Tesco is a waste of calories but treating yourself to a slice of homemade cake is worth every bite.
Everyone is allowed a blowout and I definitely have them! I eat loads over Christmas, enjoy Easter eggs and like to eat what I want when I'm on holiday. Allowing yourself some freedom can be a dangerous fall back to bad habits though. I usually tell myself in advance how long I'm allowed to go crazy for and agree a day that I'll return to normal.
Eating loads for 2 days over Christmas won't do you any harm, but carrying it on for weeks after might!
I really hope that my tips help you, I am never going to sit here and claim that I've found the last four years easy. There will always be a fat girl inside me dying to get out - she shouts at me every day wanting me to fail and go back to bad habits. I completely understand how hard it is to have a lifelong battle with the bulge!
I'd love to hear any tips you have for maintaining weight loss and if you have any inspiring weight loss stories to share I'd love to hear them.