1 Year On – My Top 10 Dieting Lessons Learned

before and after picture of darran mansfield realistic weight loss

If only I’d known what was possible…

I’ve done it! I’ve stuck to my slimming world diet for a whole year!

You can’t imagine how happy I am for finally sticking to something let alone it be a diet, although you know how much I dislike the word diet. I prefer to think of it as an ever changing, realistic, sustainable lifestyle.

Ok so I’m going to be cliche’ but bear with me because it’s all true. This is by far the best thing I’ve ever done, for my health, my confidence and my future.

I’m not gonna sugar coat it; it’s been hard work, its taken conscious thinking, planning and above all else its take a crap load of will power & determination.

You maybe thinking of starting a diet healthy lifestyle, or you may have recently started one, either way I’m sure you could benefit for the things I’ve learnt over the last year including my mistakes. All of them can be applied to any diet plan, not just slimming world that I’ve been following.

So here are my 10 hints, tips and lessons, in no particular order;

1.) Don’t listen to the voices in your head

I believe the thought of change is far worse than it is in reality; sure everyone thinks of the good points, but we as humans spend a majority of our time focusing on the negatives. We all do it, and I’m no different.

We’re (the voices) trying convince ourselves what we’re considering doing is a bad thing, and it’d be better just abandoning it before trying. Nine times out of ten that’s exactly what happens, well it did for me, but not no more!

How have I dealt with this? I’ve learnt to tell the doubting voices in your head to quietly “shut the f@!6 up!” the minute they start. It’s sounds simple; it’s not, but you have to stop them because if you give the voices and inch, it’ll take your entire life. That’s no joke so don’t let it happen.

2.) Don’t focus solely on your weight

This took me a while to get my head around. I was constantly getting on the scales at home, looking for weight changes, getting disheartened when things weren’t improving. I’ve since come to realize that my weight is just one number, one measurement; it’s not the be all and end all. I like to think of my weight as one piece of the puzzle.

You should look at a multitude of things like, BMI, body fat percentage, body measurements, flexibility, happiness and your overall well being & feeling.

I’ve had months when I’ve only lost a few pounds on the scales, but my body fat percentage dropped, and I lost a few inches off my entire body. Looking at all this as a whole makes me feel fantastic! If I’d have just looked at how much weight I’d lost I wouldn’t have been as happy in the slightest. Have a couple of months just looking at your weight and you start to feel like your going nowhere, the key really is in the variety of data.

3.) Don’t beat yourself up

I see this far too often with people that are trying to lose weight, don’t get me wrong I’m not perfect, I done it at the beginning; getting angry with myself if I ate anything that I wasn’t supposed to.

Fast forward to today, and I refused to punish and get angry with myself for eating the odd chocolate bar, sausage roll or any junk food for that matter; in fact I actually encourage eating what you want for a weekly cheat meal.

If you do eat something bad, and you will believe me. Simply shrug it off and get back on plan. By that I mean the next MEAL, not day, week, month or year!

4.) Slow but steady wins the race

This was, and sometimes still is my biggest flaw. I’d think how much I wanted to lose, and that was it, I wanted it gone in two weeks! Ok that’s an exaggeration, but you get what I mean. Wanting to lose weight is one thing, doing something about it is the real part, wanting it quick is fine, but expecting it to happen quick is damaging.

Losing 1/2 a week when I first started did my head in. “I’m going to slow, it’s talking forever, I need to lose it faster”, the problem with this way of thinking is the pressure I was putting on myself. This could have resulted in me burning out and quitting, something I was adamant wasn’t going to happen, and that’s why I changed my expectations. Remember this 1/2 per week for a year is still an impressive 26lbs!

5.) Define your goals

This may sound contradicting to the above point, but stick with me. Having goals in my mind is essential; how can you go somewhere you have no idea you going to?

Think of it this was; how often do you get into the car (or go for a walk) with no destination in mind, when was the last time your just drove aimlessly? A better question is, out of the times you’ve driven around aimlessly, how many of them ended up somewhere you wanted to be? The answers nine times out of ten are gonna be none.

When I started I thought the goal of losing weight was enough, but when set a goal of 15 stone (95kg/210lbs) with some mini goals in between, it really gave me focus. I had a target (goal) in my sights, and I have been gunning for it ever since.

Setting goals forces you to work towards them, but when you just go with the classic “I just want to lose weight” you will tend to look at bad decisions, and weight gains lightly because on a whole your still “losing weight”. If on the other hand you had a number in mind, you’d be thinking “Ahh I was 20lbs from target, now I’m 22lbs away, I need to step it up and get back to it”.

Considering setting a long term goal with mini goals in between, BUT! Be realistic, like I said above, slow and steady…

6.) Track, track, track

I strongly advise tracking everything you do; eating, exercising, resting, weight losses and gains. This may sound like a lot of boring hard work, but it doesn’t have to be.

You can use a simple notepad or you mobile phone; something that you can use to note down everything quickly an easily. Personally I use my iPhone camera to record most thing, it’s so much quicker than writing everything. Taking a quick snap of my food take seconds, as does taking a picture of the weights I’ve just lifted or the speed I’ve just run on the treadmill.

The reason for tracking is to help identify problems with weight loss, fitness levels and muscle gain. Being able to look back at what you didn’t last month that gave you your best months weight losses ever is invaluable data to have because its personal to you and only you, so record it!

7.) Experimenting

It’s a given if you want to lose weight and get healthy things have to change. Period. The foods and exercises (if any!) you’re doing right now aren’t working, if they were you would need to lose weight, right?

Forget everything you (think) know about food and exercise, and start on a clean slate. This took me a while to grasp but over time, but gradually I’ve come around and now I’ll try anything that won’t kill me.

It’s opened me up to a new, exciting, tasty world. Not only has my world changed because of experimenting, but now I question everything! If someone say’s “this” isn’t good for you or “you shouldn’t be doing this”, I tend to ask why repeatedly; questioning everything. I like questioning things, not accepting them a face value, and willing to delve deeper.

8.) Why do you want to lose weight?

This goes well with number 5; you need to know why you’re doing this because when things get tough, and believe me they will; this is the thing you’ll hold on to. This will be different for everyone and isn’t always be clear at the start.

This happened to me; I thought I joined because I need something to do after getting back from an extended stay in Thailand. I was looking for work, so I needed something to occupy my mind, and slimming world was it, so I thought!

It wasn’t until id been doing it for a few months that I realised the real reason behind my weight loss. It was fuelled by an old relationship, and wanting to change myself, but I’ll go into that another time.

The point is, you need to have a laser focus on the reason behind wanting to lose weight.

9.) Find a diet plan and stick to it!

This is a big one, and applies to every healthy, realistic diet out there.

Find one that suits you the best, not just for 6 months, but for LIFE.

Once you’ve found one…are you ready for this, it may shock you. STICK TO IT!

It’s that simple, don’t jump from plan to plan, month to month. It won’t do you, or your weight losses any good, and because of the constant change your putting your body through your won’t see the results you want, and you’ll end up quitting.

Where does quitting get you? NOWHERE!

10.) Treat yourself!

This one’s amazing, its such a motivation booster.

There’s no point in losing weight, and looking great if your not going to show it off, is there? This mean’s buying clothes that fit your new smaller, slimmer, sexier size. Wearing your current (old & crappy) clothes is doing you more harm than good, believe me.

I understand some of you might be shy, and self-conscious of what others may think about you because you don’t consider yourself perfect yet, but do you know what I say?

Hell to them all! You are a WINNER, and don’t you ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Your the one changing your life, your ‘kickin ass n’ taking names’.

Strangers in the street are just that, strangers. Chances are you’ll never see them again, and if you do, do you REALLY care about their opinion? If you do, let me tell you something…your nuts! Forget them their no one special. Their just like you and me; conscious about their fat, their hips, their ass, their face etc etc, no one’s exempt. Don’t forget that.

Seriously treat yourself to some new clothes that actually fit you properly, and I promise you, you’ll get an amazing response. When you do make sure you tell me, don’t hold out on me!

Never ending road…

This is just a fraction of what I’ve learnt this year living my new, healthy lifestyle.

Out of everything, the biggest thing has to be, above all else. BELIEF. I believe in myself, and I know if I want to do something. Anything. I can do it without a doubt in my mind. In the past, I knew I could do stuff but, I didn’t truly, in my heart believe it. You know what mean, right?

So that’s it! If you only take one thing away from, let it be this. You can lose weight. You can get in shape. You can get health. You can look amazing.

Believe in yourself because if you don’t no one else will.

Your turn! Have you been losing weight, and getting healthy? I want you to share your hints, tips and lessons you’ve learnt so far, share them with the world 🙂

Darran Mansfield

Hi! I'm Darran Mansfield, I've been on the Slimming World diet for about 10 months, and I've lost 5 and a half stone (74lbs/34kgs), I'm by no means a weight loss expert, but I do have first hand experience, and that's what I'm here to share with you. I'm looking for a healthy, sustainable lifestyle that's enjoyable yet maintainable in today's modern life. If that's what you want, you should stick around, I'm sure you'll find something helpful and don't forget to say hi to me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram.