'I remember being 10 years old and feeling fat'
Christine Vivier has had a love-hate relationship with food most of her life, but now, as the mother of a two-year-old girl, she wants to turn over a new leaf.
Personal tragedy has also played a role. Her father-in-law, who was overweight, died in front of her from a heart attack in 2013.
Christine, 32 when interviewed, from Edinburgh, says the NHS weight loss plan has helped change her attitude to food and instilled her with a new set of principles to live by.
"Eat smaller portions", "5 A DAY" and "150 minutes of exercise" have become the mantras of her new healthier lifestyle.
During the 12-week plan, she lost nearly 10kg (1.6st) and says she feels more confident, energetic and happier than ever.
How did you hear about the plan?
I was fed up with crash diets, as I felt they focused too much on weight loss, rather than long-term health. The NHS weight loss plan made sense – it was about making small changes and developing healthy habits.
It needed to work for the family as well, so it couldn't be too disruptive. The rules of the plan are simple and easy to follow:
Why did you decide to lose weight?
The cappuccinos and cakes were a habit I needed to break. I've had a negative relationship with food all my life. I remember being 10 years old and feeling fat, and this continued through my teenage years.
I remember my mum going on crash diets and always being unhappy with her weight. I have a two-year-old girl and I don't want her to go through the same thing.
In 2013, my father-in-law died from a heart attack when he was 58. It was his second heart attack. He'd had one when he was 42. He smoked and loved his food. It was quite traumatic. I want to change; for me, my daughter, and my family.
How much did you lose?
My starting weight was 69kg and I've lost nearly 10kg. I'm still going, because I like round numbers and I want to reach 10kg. That round figure is keeping me motivated.
I feel great! I can go to my closet and put anything on. I've got more confidence, more energy and I'm generally a happier person.
Did you find the weight loss community helpful?
Yes, very helpful. I used to eat a lot of junk food. I went on the weight loss forum and posted about it. I received lots of encouraging replies along the lines of "you've come to the right place".
What exercise did you do with the plan?
I made sure I got 150 minutes of exercise a week, and I tried to be more physically active generally. In the beginning, I felt so embarrassed; everything was hanging out.
I did three to four runs a week, cross-training one day a week and a cycle on weekends. It wasn't always easy to fit in around parenting duties. I'm now training for a half marathon.
How did you plan your meals?
I planned my meals a week in advance, using the Change4Life Smart Recipes. It's fantastic, there are so many recipes. I also used the MyFitnessPal app to make my own recipes. I made sure I ate plenty of vegetables at mealtimes.
I also weighed food and worked out the calories per portion using the app. Getting used to smaller portions made a big difference to my weight.
How did following the plan impact on family life?
My husband lost weight as well, even though he was not following the plan, and my daughter loved eating vegetables. When we went on holiday, I put the plan on hold. I didn't count calories, but I just applied the principles of the plan.
How did you deal with cravings?
When I used to give in to my sugar cravings, I'd feel really guilty. The plan helps you focus on the positives and learn from slip ups. You learn how to identify your triggers. I'm an emotional eater and chocolate is my weakness, so I try not to have any in the house.
You need to find healthier food swaps and alternatives for your comfort eating. Now, when I feel a craving coming on, instead of eating, I just go for a run or a walk.
How did you stay motivated on the plan?
I filled in the food and exercise chart (PDF, 544.7kb) every night. I kept it in my bedside table. I'd look back at a few of them whenever I needed a boost. They're a great way to see how far you've come. Change doesn't happen overnight – our bodies change quicker than our minds.
To prevent myself from getting bored, I would have a day off from counting calories. I also created lots of mini goals along the way, like training to run 10km. Trying to lose weight is like being in a relationship: you constantly need to re-evaluate and keep it fresh.
How has the plan changed you?
Following the plan all the way through, losing weight and running 10km have all really boosted my self-belief. It feels like such an accomplishment. Over these last 12 weeks, I've turned my life around. No-one can take that away from me.
Page last reviewed: 16 October 2016
Next review due: 16 October 2019