Karen from Co. Armagh got the fright of her life in 2008 when she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror at a friend’s wedding and didn’t recognise the woman staring back.
Like many of us, the weight had crept up on Karen, first in college and then after the birth of her first baby.
“I had my son Aaron that summer, and I’d gained a lot of weight, but I just didn’t see it”.
“I was settling into life with a new baby, there was a takeaway near us and we really lived on that all summer as we adjusted and enjoyed our new baby bubble”.
However, a day Karen had longed for, her first day out with her husband since having the baby was ruined after they arrived at their friend’s wedding.
“I was so excited, I felt great, I’d had my hair and make-up done and I thought I looked great, until I saw myself in the long mirror” she admits.
“I was horrified. I hadn’t properly seen myself like that. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I had weight on, but you tell yourself it’s just the baby weight and it will go”.
“Suddenly I felt awful, if I was at home I would have gone and got changed. But I didn’t have that option so I went downstairs and had a lot to drink and got up the next morning and vowed I would never feel like that again.”
“I went on to lose four stone in eight months and it changed my world forever. I became a completely different person”.
Karen has stayed the same weight ever since, and admits her life has been transformed in every way.
“I am a hundred percent a happier person.”
“When people see old photos of me they don’t recognise me. I look ten years younger now than I did in those photos before I lost weight, even though I’m now ten years older.”
Quitting her job as a recruitment consultant, the Queens University and Finance graduate returned to University and completed a Masters in Weight Management graduating with merit.
Her thesis focused on long term sustainable weight loss and this is one area that Karen is incredibly passionate about, even appearing on RTE’s Dragons Den and RTE’s Strictly Business.
And after setting up The Academy Masterplan, in 2015, she’s inspiring others to do the same and follow her success after keeping the weight off for more than ten years.
Before this, I had tried every pill, potion and diet you could think of over the years”, she admits. “If it promised to help you lose weight in two weeks then I tried it.”
“It never worked, I would lose a few pounds but then gain it back and more.”
So what did work when all else failed?
“80% of people lose weight but don’t keep it off,” Karen explains. The difference between her losing four stone and keeping it off she explains, was simply she could keep it up.
“A lot of what I tried in my 20s and 30s was unsustainable, cutting out complete food groups or doing cabbage soup diets, cutting out sugar”
“You can’t try a diet where you decide you will follow it for six weeks up to Christmas and that’s it. You might lose a stone but then put the weight back on over the week of Christmas”.
What did work for Karen was learning how to cook the most delicious food ever – everything from Thai curries to Irish stew to nachos and zinger burgers – nothing is off limits and that is key!
We need to eat at least 3 times a day so learning how to make it delicious as well as nutritious will make it sustainable!
Working towards mini goals with rewards , like a new pair of trousers or a top and building each change into a daily habit that became part and parcel of her life.
And it works. While like anyone else Karen says she has her crazy weeks where life gets in the way, in ten years her weight gain has never crept back.
“At 44, I’m stronger and fitter than I’ve ever been in my life. I took up Senior Football last year and played in the championship final at 43 years of age” she tells us.
Karen’s Top Tips To Stick To A Healthy Diet
Eat more vegetables! The worst meal and the worst diet in the world can always be improved by simply adding more colour to it! Vegetables pack in so much nutrition whilst adding minimal calories and really are the key not only to weight loss but to long term health. At The Academy Masterplan, we teach you how to turn them into amazing and delicious meals that the whole family can enjoy! Eat more fish! We all know fish is a high source of protein and Omega 3 fats, but a fear of cooking and our long term love of meat means we still don’t eat enough if it! Include fish as part of your weekly shop not just on Fridays! If you are tight on time and you can’t cook from scratch, try Morgan’s Seafood Kitchen meals in Dunnes Stores. They are already prepared, low fat and ready to cook. Have a clear goal – nothing happens without a clear vision of what you want! So be clear and write down your goals and then make a list of actions that you would need to take daily and weekly to help you take steps that will bring you closer to your goal. If you want it enough then you will make it happen – you are stronger and more motivated that you believe. PLAN PLAN PLAN – we are all living busy lives and the things that get done are those that we give priority to – by simply writing a meal plan for the week you are a step closer to achieving your goal! Meal plans mean saving money as you only buy what you need, less waste as you will use everything and more importantly, it will mean amazing nutritionally packed meals every day of the week! Plus, when we plan ahead our brain turns to other tasks and removes the need to think about food constantly Non-Food Rewards!! In today’s society, we have moved from eating to live to now living to eat! Food should be fuel for the body instead of a go to when we are happy, sad, bored, frustrated or even annoyed! Try rewarding yourself with other non-food items such as clothes, makeup, spa or hair appointments and set yourself little challenges that you must achieve before you treat yourself! It makes the journey fun and you will get excited for every little reward and they don’t have to be expensive but they will be a reminder that you have just taken another step closer to your goal!
Check out my Instagram @mydalymasterplan for cooking demos, lots of healthy meal ideas and www.morgansfinefish.com or @morgansseafoodkitchen for details on the new exciting low fat, high protein seafood meals.