Nutrition | POSTED February 18, 2022
How Rachael Lost Over 8kg in 18 Weeks
To accompany our ‘Why YOU are the Secret to Your Weight Loss’ blog post, Rachael Fisher recounts her recent experience with losing over 8kg.
At the end of August in 2021, I decided that I wanted to lose some weight. Sydney had recently entered the hardest lockdown we had seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I noticed that some poor eating habits were creeping in. These poor eating habits were mainly eating larger portion sizes than usual, and spending a bit too much time ordering Uber Eats.
After not weighing myself since 2020 (this is coming from someone who would typically step on the scales every morning), I clocked in at 75.7kg on 23 August 2021. This is around 10kg heavier than my usual weight, and I was feeling less confident and comfortable with myself. At 168cm tall and a body weight of 75.7kg, my BMI was 26.9 which is categorically “overweight”. I knew that something had to change which would address at the core, expending more calories than I was at that point consuming.
If you’re interested in knowing your BMI, you can calculate it on the Heart Foundation’s website.
Lockdown can offer an opportunity or threat. With no end in sight, it became the perfect opportunity to buckle down and focus on losing weight (or more specifically, fat). Here’s why:
- There were no social gatherings to attend.
- Restaurants, pubs and bars were closed indefinitely.
- We have a well-equipped home gym.
- We have two beautiful French Bulldogs that we love walking daily.
To make things as easy as possible, I also made a conscious effort to tidy up my food environment. I subscribed to a weekly delivery of YouFoodz for dinner, and stocked up on plenty of nutritious snacks (like fruit!) and kept foods that I had been overindulging in (like tubs of Magnum Almond… my ultimate weakness) at the supermarket.
I also downloaded an app called Carbon Diet Coach. I had used another food tracking app called MyFitnessPal for over 8 years and would adjust my own calories and macronutrients when needed, but was drawn to Carbon Diet Coach as the tracking feature is very similar to MyFitnessPal but it had the added bonus of auto-adjusting your calories and macronutrients based on your weekly “check-in”. This feature helped quantify the emotional component that comes with adjusting your own dietary intake, and made it a less subjective (and at times stressful) experience. Each Monday, I would “check-in” and add my body weight into the app, and mark whether I was compliant or not. To be compliant, I needed to be within 2.5% of my nutrition targets for the past week.
For some people, tracking your diet so diligently can seem like a tedious and sometimes unbearable task. For others (like myself), I enjoy the structure and the analysing the data. This is an example of the individual approach to losing weight and fat loss – different strategies work for different people.
Training and Physical Activity
So, I was all sorted with the diet. Generally speaking, I don’t make any changes to my strength training sessions when I am losing weight. I also don’t train specifically to lose weight. I train to get stronger, improve my body composition (by gaining lean muscle mass) and stay healthy.
What I did change was increasing my step target to 10,000 each day on average (70,000 for the week) and added in two cardio sessions. The cardio sessions were about 30 minutes in duration, and consisted of high repetition isolated weight training, and some intervals or steady state cardio on the rower we had at home.
Having these specific goals with my diet, training and body composition not only helped me get to my desired outcome, but it also made lockdown, dare I say it… enjoyable. These processes contributed to my fat loss, but more importantly, they also helped me stay on track even when my body weight would fluctuate.
My week of training and exercise looked like:
Whilst my training and exercise didn’t drastically change over the course of 18 weeks, Carbon Diet Coach auto-adjusted my calorie and macronutrient intake 7 times.
I started on 1755 calories per day, which was broken down into 170g carbohydrates, 55g fat and 145g protein. I initially lost more weight than expected in the first week, so my calories went up to 1929 calories by adding an extra 30g carbohydrates and 6g fat for the next fortnight. My weight loss plateaued shortly after that, and my intake dropped down to 1670 calories with 160g carbohydrates, 50g fat and 145g protein. I managed to see a decent rate of weight loss on those calories for 8 weeks. After the eighth week, my weight for the second time had dropped more than expected so my intake was adjusted up to 1746 calories with 170g carbohydrates, 54g fat and 145g protein. That lasted 4 weeks before my weight loss plateaued. To finish the year, I ended on 1482 calories with 131g carbohydrates, 42g fat and 145g protein.
I noticed a significant difference in my hunger levels for the last two weeks. What got me through was eating foods that were higher in volume and lower in calories to increase my satiety (like strawberries and salads) and increasing my water intake. I was also looking forward to taking some time off tracking my diet over Christmas, which was fast approaching.
The Food Diary
In case you’re wondering what those calories and macronutrients look like in a day, I have added a video recording of my food diary when I was on 1746 calories per day in early December. When my calories and macronutrient targets dropped a few weeks later, I had to tweak my meals slightly. An example of this would be swapping the banana for strawberries, avoiding unnecessary fats like olive oil, and skipping the dessert or swapping it for a lighter alternative.
Breakfast: Two poached eggs with avocado and tomato on sourdough toast (plus a drizzle of oil).
Lunch: Pulled chicken sandwich with spinach, tomato and cheese (on sandwich thins, which is just a lower calorie/carbohydrate option compared to normal bread) with a Granny Smith apple.
Snack: Protein shake with a banana and a vanilla Chobani Fit.
Dinner: Roast pork and mash YouFoodz meal with a Skinny Cow ice cream cookie.
Over the course of 18 weeks, I dropped 8.3kg. That’s an average of 0.46kg per week. If you take a look at the graph below, you’ll notice that my weight loss was not linear week-to-week and I experienced my fair share of weight fluctuations. I will admit, it can be disheartening sometimes when you feel like you’re giving it your all and not reaping the benefits straight away but it’s important to trust the process and stay the course… you will get there in the end.
Whilst the scale is a good indicator of progress, it’s not the only indicator. These are some of the other benefits I noticed with losing weight:
- I am feeling much more confident and comfortable.
- I lost 7cm from my waist.
- My clothes are fitting better.
- My BMI dropped to 23.4 which put me back in the “normal” range.
- I am down two notches in my weightlifting belt.
- I got stronger, specifically in my bench press (although this likely is not related to losing weight).
- My resting heart rate is lower.
Almost two months have passed, and I have managed to maintain my weight loss with an array of social events thrown into the mix – Christmas, New Year’s and a holiday up to Hamilton Island to name a few. Whilst I am feeling a LOT more confident (and my BMI is back into the “normal” range), I would still like to drop a few more kilos. So for the next short period of time, it’s back to tracking for me!