What is your height and weight?
I am 5’8 and last time I checked, I was around 140lbs (10 stone). It all depends how much weight training I have been doing (I put on weight with that) or how well I have been eating. But, I don’t tend to weigh myself often, as I don’t let the scale guide me. It’s all about how healthy I feel. I probably weigh myself once a month, just to check that I am still in the right range.
How much weight have you lost and how long did it take?
I have lost 98lbs and it took me 18 months to lose 90lbs of it and then 6 months to lose the last stubborn few lbs. This is impressive to some, but what I think is more impressive is that I have kept it off for nearly 2 years. You can read my story in the About Me section.
How do you maintain your weight loss?
One day at a time. I know some people who are maintaining their weight loss say that they don't find it particularly hard. That is great for them, but I will always find it a battle. It will always be so easy for me to go back to how I was, but I know I can't/won't, so I take it one day at a time, or even one choice at a time. Maintenance is difficult, because I don't have the same goals to work towards, but I just make the same healthy choices as I have since I started.
What diet are you on?
I don’t follow any specific diet plan. I started off on Weight Watchers, but it wasn't for me. I then moved onto calorie counting and just cutting out processed food and making everything at home myself, and that is how I lost weight. You can read more about my weight lose here. Since losing weight, I have moved onto intuitive eating. I listen to what my body wants and needs and I eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full. It has been a long process to get there, but I no longer obsess over what I am eating. I feel that “diets” focus too much on an end date, your goal, when in reality, there is not end. This is a lifelong journey. So, I personally went at it alone. I eat well and exercise. That’s it. It’s pretty simple really. I don’t count calories anymore, but I know roughly how much I should be eating and I know when I have had enough. I know the right foods to eat, but I also allow myself the foods I love every now and then. I don’t eat processed foods either, that really helps. I have tried every diet there is, Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Atkins and even the cabbage soup diet. I am not going to bash them, as they work for a lot of people and a lot of people need that kind of structure to be able to lose weight, but the only thing that worked for me was eating balanced meals, exercising and not eating my feelings. The bottom line is, you have to find what works for YOU. Find tips and ideas from lots of people and figure out what is best for you. But, no matter what plan you are on, you will find lots here on HHH to help you.
How did you start?
I know it seems scary at the beginning, but break it down into small goals. If you fall off the wagon, don’t let one bad day turn into a bad week/month/year. Just get right back on it. Take things at your own pace and don’t compare yourself to other people; this is YOUR journey, no one else’s. We all have to do what we can. If you can't spend an hour a day in the gym, then just spend what time you can, or workout at home to save a bit of time. Do what you can!
Do you have any loose skin?
Yes. I am not aware of too many people that have lost the amount of weight that I have and do not have any loose skin. It is not excessive and I can deal with it. I still where a bikini with pride, as I have come so far.
Have you had weight loss surgery?
No, I lost 98lbs purely though healthy eating and exercise. There a lot of risks associated with it, and I knew I could do it alone if I worked really hard at it. No judgement for people that have had it, but it just wasn't for me. I also know of people who were in a similar position to what I am now, with a little loose skin and they have chosen to have it removed. That also isn't for me. It doesn't get in the way of my life enough for me to risk it. I am healthy and that is my main concern.
What’s your cooking style?
When I first started losing weight, I couldn't cook at all. I thought I could, but I was just putting frozen things in the oven. So I started slowly and looked online at other people's recipes and bought a few recipe books. I needed some kind of structure to my cooking at that point, so recipes were perfect from me. After that, I got a little more confident and I started adapting other people's recipes and substituting ingredients and adding ones I liked. After that, I realised that I really loved cooking and I became pretty good at it after a LOT of trial and error and a lot of mistakes. I then started creating my own recipes, just throwing things in a pan and seeing what happened and this is how I come up with all the recipes for you all. I usually don't measure anything (except baking, that is more of an exact science), but for the purposes of being able to post the recipes for you here, I work everything out as I go along. I also try to buy seasonally and locally as much as possible, so that reflects in my cooking too.
How much time do you spend in the kitchen a day?
Not as much as I would like. I would be in there all day every day if I could be, but sadly that thing called work gets in the way. I probably spend about 90 minutes a day in there (I know that is more than some). I get angry messages from people often saying along the lines of "it's okay for you, you spend 10 hours a day in the kitchen preparing your food, you have time to be healthy". I have the same amount of hours in the day as every one else. I have just become very organised with my cooking and planning so I get the best meals for the shortest time possible.
What is more important when it comes to food for you? Taste or health?
I think finding a balance is important to me. I love food and I enjoy making it and eating it, but I also need to stay healthy so I can't eat fattening pizza and cake all day every day. That is why I focus on making healthier alternatives to unhealthy food. So I can have health and taste.
You say you eat mostly clean. What does that mean?
To me, basically means not eating processed foods, but it means something different to everyone. I fill my diet with fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean meat and cutting out sugary, fried foods as well as refined carbs such as white rice, pasta and bread as much as possible. I don’t drink fizzy drinks and I drink lots of water. I wrote more about clean eating here.
Did you ever hit any plateaus? How did you get past them?
Yes, and it was VERY frustrating. I had about an 8 week plateau after I lost around 50lbs and I didn’t lose a thing. I didn’t gain, but I didn’t lose either. I was doing everything I had been doing before, but that was the problem. I think my body just got used to the same workouts and the same foods. I got stuck in a bit of a rut. I focused on really cleaning up my diet. I tried some new recipes and new foods that I hadn’t tried before. I changed the times and how frequently I ate - I went from eating 3 times a day to eating 5-6 times a day and that really helped me for a little while. I also increased my calories - it sounds odd, but sometimes eating more can help. I also changed my workout routine and the major thing that helped me was adding in more strength training. Don't be afraid of weights. It is frustrating, but hitting a plateau doesn’t mean giving up – you will get past it. Also, when I hit this plateau, I stupidly wasn’t measuring myself. Just because the scale isn’t moving doesn’t mean that your body isn’t changing – you could be losing inches and even if you are not, you ARE becoming healthier and that is the aim after all.
What keeps your motivated? Do you ever feel like giving up?
I have bad days like everyone else, but I always keep my goals in mind and they keep me on track. I keep on reminding myself how I felt 98lbs ago and that keeps me going. Everyone has a different goal, you just have to find your own. Do you have a wedding or holiday you are aiming for? Do you want to be able to run a 5K? Just always keep that in mind. You will have days where you don’t feel motivated though, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Just stay positive, surround yourself with positive people and keep at it. Read my post about how to stay motivated.
How do you get back on track if you fall off?
I fell off track many, many times over the years I have attempted to lose weight and I could probably write a book on this subject alone. I first think it is important to address WHY you fell off track in the first place. For me, the reason was always the same, because I was following a diet that was too restrictive. If you are not following a specific plan, then there is nothing to fall off of, you just write it off as one of those things, learn from it and move on. When I just dumped the diet mentality and just started eating well and exercising, if I ate a chocolate bar or a bowl of ice cream, I had not ruined my "diet", I had not failed, I had just eaten something that I don't eat every day. I am not going to say I was a saint (or still am), there are times when I eat more that I should, or I go away for a break and indulge a little too much. So, how do I get back into my usual routine? Firstly, I don't beat myself up about it - that is not going to achieve anything. Then, I plan my food prep, meals and exercise for the week and just get straight to it!
How do you avoid temptation?
I don’t always. If there is something I am tempted by, then I occasionally have it. Like, if I am out for coffee with friends and I fancy some cake, then I will have it – but this isn’t something that I do daily. As I always say, it is about moderation and balance. My main rule is to not keep foods that send me out of control in the house. For me it is things like cookies and once the packet is open, I would pick at them until they are gone, so I just don’t have them in the house. But, if they are in the house, then it is because I have made them myself. You might have guessed by now, but my cooking is generally healthier alternatives to unhealthy food. That doesn’t mean that I have found a magic way to turn cookies into a health food that can be eaten all day every day, but it does mean that I bake them using a homemade date syrup instead of sugar, I use whole wheat flour and use banana instead of butter. This means that they are healthier than buying them. So, if I am tempted by something, I will just make it myself and I can enjoy it and still stay on plan. I also find that if I am eating the right foods and eating often (which is what works for me), then I am don’t get to the point where I go overboard when tempted by something.
Do you have cheat meals/day?
Technically no, because no food is off limit to me. There are certain things I choose not to include ever in my diet, like artificial sweetener and McDonalds, but as for other things like chocolate or cake, I don’t dedicate a day or a meal to have those things. I listen to my body. If I am wanting something, then I have a little bit of it, but I always try and make it myself, so I know exactly what has gone into it. I couldn't say that every Sunday I will have some cake, but that won't always fit in around life life. My goal for when I reached maintenance stage was to not obsess over food and my diet, but to make allowances and enjoy life, so I eat these so called "cheat foods" as and when.
If I tell myself that I absolutely 100% can’t have any cake until Saturday, then all I am going to think about all week is cake. I would probably make it to Wednesday and binge on cake. That is not a healthy relationship with food for me.
I know this doesn’t work for all people though, and that is why you have to find what works for you. Some people work well towards things, like knowing they are having some pizza at the weekend. If you can stay on track, telling yourself that you can’t have something until a certain time, then great – you have found what works for you. It’s not like I allow myself to have those kinds of “treats” daily. I eat clean and often, and therefore don’t really get cravings that I could end up giving in to. It is all about finding that balance. It won’t happen in a day, a week or even a month – but you will get there.
How do you avoid binging?
This kind of falls under the questions above as well. By allowing myself some of the things I want, it has really helped the binging to stop. Years and years ago when I tried "dieting", I would tell myself that I couldn't have anything "bad" and I had to be 100% "good". That was unrealistic, as I got cravings and I constantly told myself no, I couldn't have any - not a single bite. Eventually I would give in and end up eating 4 times the amount. So, allow yourself a little bit of something, and it should help. It won't happen over night, but it will get better. Take a look at my post on food and guilt.
What is your favourite not so healthy food that you enjoy when you crave it?
Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. The Chocolate Fudge Brownie one is amazing. I make my own healthy frozen desserts all the time, but some times there is no substitution. We don't buy it very often, but when we do, I enjoy every single bite.
Do you eat red meat?
Yes. Not very often, and when I do it is never the processed beef burger kind. But I do enjoy a good steak or home made beef burger. I mostly eat lean white meat. I was a vegetarian for over 10 years and I just started eating meat again this past year. So I am enjoying what I missed out on.
Do you still drink alcohol?
Yes! Not every day or anything, but I do enjoy a cocktail or a bottle of wine. That is my choice, but I know a lot of people don't. I know I would most likely be much, much leaner if I didn't drink, but that is not my goal and I enjoy having a drink with friends.
How do you deal with emotional eating?
This is still something that I deal with and I won’t lie and say I have it all figured out. What I can tell you, is that addressing the reason why you are an emotional eater is the best place to start. For me, stress is a trigger for emotional eating, so the first thing I did was to deal with the stressful situations in my life. That meant managing my time better and cutting out negative people in my life. As harsh as that sounds, it was the best thing for me. Obviously you can’t completely avoid stressful situations and life will always get in the way and will sometimes get the better of you. Because of this, it is still sometimes so easy just to turn to eating to deal with it, so I have learned new ways to deal/combat stress. I find yoga really helpful for this. I am not saying that as soon as you find yourself in a stressful situation, that dropping into downward dog is going to make you 100% happier (although I know some yogis who find this to be true), but I have found that practising yoga regularly has made me better equipped for dealing with stressful situations and a daily mediation session also works wonders. It doesn’t have to be yoga (although I find it relaxing), but any kind of exercise can be a stress buster. Everyone is different, but what also works for me is being creative, and having an outlet. For me, this is playing the guitar and I use that to take my mind off the stressful trigger. Over-eating isn’t going to deal with the problem and it doesn’t make it go away. It is just going to lead to more negative feelings, so it is best to deal with the cause first. Take a look at my post about how to deal with emotional eating.
How do you deal with negative people or those that don't support you wanting to get healthy?
I am lucky that pretty much everyone in my life supported me. Those that didn't, I cut ties with. As horrible and hard as it was, those that don't support you getting healthy are not worth having in my opinion. I got told I was boring now I was getting healthy (because I wasn't going out drinking all the time any more), but that is what I needed to do to get healthy. If people are negative and don't supportive, use that to spur you on
How much water should I be drinking?
You might hear a lot of pages/websites stating a specific amount you should be having, but the problem I have with that is the same problem I have with most “rules” that the diet industry comes up with, they don’t allow for individual differences. Everyone is different and everyone will need a different amount depending on where they live and how active they are. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think water isn’t important. It is very important to stay hydrated and I only drink water and green tea (apart from the occasional cocktail or glass *ahem bottle* of wine). Personally, I drink a lot of water because I have hydration problems. I probably drink around 12 glasses a day, but I do work out a lot. I go by how I feel. If I am getting a headache, it normally means I need more water. If I am feeling sluggish or with a dry mouth, I usually need more water. Also, look at the colour of your pee. If it is dark, then you most likely need to be drinking more water. But you also don’t want it to be colourless – it should be a light colour. The best thing to do it experiment with drinking different amounts (but drinking too much can be dangerous), and see what works best for you.
How many calories should I be eating?
This is something that is very individual, but here is the calorie calculator that I used.
Do you spend more money now you eat healthy?
No, not at all. I was spending so much money on convenience foods and takeaways before. Now, I plan my meals ahead and I am a much better shopper. Healthy eating doesn't have to be expensive. Here are my tips on healthy eating on a budget and a shopping list and meal plan.
Do you still go out to dinner? What do you choose?
Yes, we still go out to dinner, but not very often. I say not very often because it is expensive (we are on a budget) and without sounding conceited, I can make everything from a restaurant myself and it will taste just as good. I know it is about atmosphere, but you can set that yourself too. When we do go out, I usually choose whatever looks best on the menu as we don't go out too often. But if I am trying to lose an extra few lbs, I will stick to the things that are grilled, skip the bread and always share a dessert. Also, ask for all dressing and sauce on the side and don't presume that salads are the healthy option - sometimes they have more calories than the other dishes on the menu.
What is the story behind the Hungry Healthy Happy name?
I am not sure how I come up with the name. It just kind of happened. But when I think into it a bit more, the name makes perfect sense to me, and it sums it my weight loss and maintenance. HUNGRY describes my loves of food - kind of obvious that I love food when you look at my before pictures. The one thing I didn’t want when losing weight was to eat less and give up the foods I loved completely, and I didn’t. In fact, I probably eat more, I just eat the right things. I wanted to continue with my love of food, but just adapt my eating. This is where HEALTHY comes into it. For me, my success has been in finding and making healthier alternatives of the food I love so that I never feel deprived. HEALTHY is also about me discovering how much I love exercise. It gives me a bigger high than any food ever did. I don’t exercise so I can justify eating a huge slice of cake after it, I do it because it makes me feel good, keeps me on track and is helping me see changes in my diet that weight loss did not do. HAPPY is the combination of the previous two. At the end of the day, if you are not happy, you are never going to stick to it. I was miserable for a big portion of my life, and my weight was a big reason for that. Still being able to enjoy food and being the healthiest I have ever been is what contributes to making me the happiest I have ever been. That is something I am not going to give up on.
Should I cut out food groups? Should I cut out carbs completely so I can lose weight?
I tried cutting out carbs completely a few years ago and I really don't like, or agree with it. It will give you a big weight loss very quick, but you will put it all back on, and more as soon as you start eating carbs again, which is inevitable. This is what happened to me, and everyone else I know that has done it. It really regret doing it, as I think it has continued to affect me. To truly be healthy, you need to do exercise, and for that, you need carbs for energy. I think carbs should be included in your diet, with every meal, but they should be whole grain carbs. I eat whole wheat bread and pasta and grains such as couscous, pearl barley etc and lots of sweet potato. They keep me fuller for longer, which leads to not snacking. If you are looking to lose weight, then don't eat a lot of pasta and bread, but definitely don't cut it from your diet. Also eat lots of lean protein and fruit and veg, of course. I know there are medical issues surrounding this, so consult your doctor if you are concerned. But I think a healthy diet is one that includes all food groups.
What is the healthiest bedtime snack and what is the latest I should eat at night?
I know there are lots of "diet rules" that say you shouldn't eat past a certain time at night, but I don't buy into any of that. If you are hungry (and it is REAL hunger and not emotional hunger), then you should eat. Also, these "rules" don't allow for individual schedules. If you don't finish work until 7, then it is no good being told don't eat after 7. I am my most hungry at night. I often get people telling me it's because I am not eating the right food during the day and I totally disagree with that. This is just the way my body is, I am my most hungry at night, so I work round it. If after my dinner I am hungry, then I snack wisely. I will have some fruit, almond butter, toast or a big bowl of vegetables.
What are you 5 favourite snacks?
I want to lose fat from my butt/stomach/arms – how do I do it?
You can’t spot reduce, sadly. You have to work hard at lowering your overall body fat percentage (but don't aim for an unrealistic and unhealthy %) and then you will start losing in those areas. But there is nothing you can do to lose just from one area – believe me I have tried. You can do crunches till the cows come home (whoever started that quote, I wonder if their cows ever did come home), but they will not make you lose belly fat. It might tone the muscles underneath, but there is still going to be a layer of fat above it unless you work on your body fat overall. Even then, you might not get the results you want as the places we store fat can be genetic. This is something I am working on. My stomach is also the first place I put on weight and it is certainly the last place I am losing it. Even if you haven’t got the toned stomach you might want, think about how much healthier you are.
I see you like lifting weights and recommend it. Isn’t that going to make me really bulky?
No, not at all. This is a big fear for most women, and they normally avoid weights because of it. The body builder women you see are usually taking supplements whilst lifting very heavy weights for a few hours a every day to look like that. Start off with small weights and take it from there - but don't be afraid to life heavy. It REALLY does make you tone up and it has helped me shed the last stubborn few lbs. It has also helped me tone up more that cardio ever did.
How many push-ups/chair dips/planks can you do?
Probably not as many as you can, or as many as you think I can haha. This is something that I am competing with myself daily. When I first started out, I couldn’t even do 1 push-up on my knees and I built it up gradually. I started off my doing 1, and then 5, and then 10 and so on. After a month or so, I was doing 200 push-ups a day on my knees (spread out throughout the day) and wasn’t really finding them challenging. So, it was time to push myself to do full push-ups. This started off as a big fail. I could hold myself in the push-up position, but trying to bend my arms to go down into a full push-up would result in me falling on my face. Again, I am building myself up slowly and this is still something I am very much working on. I can now do 1 full push-ups. Yes, a whole 1! We all have our challenges, and these are mine.
I can do around 35 chair dips before I have to take a break and at the moment I am holding planks for around 5 minutes - depending on if I have worked out before or not. I read something once about a woman who can hold a plank for 45 minutes. Wow, is all I can say to that!
This is what I can do - it doesn't mean this is what you should be able to do!
What is your workout routine?
I workout 5-6 times a week, depending on my schedule and I mix it up as much as I can. I am currently doing the Couch 2 5K Program so I run 3 times a week, but I also include strength training and dancing as well, as it is fun. I can't do the same thing all the time, as I will get bored. If I get bored, then I will give up.
What exercise do you do when you don't feel like exercising?
We all have these days - I know I do. When I don't feel like working out, but it is not my scheduled workout day, I sometimes skip the gym, or any usual formal workout and I just turn up my favourite songs and dance round the room for 30 minutes. I then do some jumping jacks, push-ups, squats and lunges.
What do you get out of running this blog and your Facebook page?
It started as a way for me to track my own weight loss and stay on track with maintenance and then other people seemed interested in my journey too. Not only does it keep me on track, but I get to help and inspire other people who were in the same position as I was a few years ago. I didn't have any "regular" people to look up to who had made a healthy change in their life, just celebrities. So I think it is important to see it is possible for people who have full time jobs and every day lives. All the comments and messages I get every day inspires me! I do get some money from the adverts, but as I have said before - I would never advertise something I don't believe in. I spend hours on the blog and Facebook page, so that advertising money is an added bonus, but it is nothing compared to the happiness I get when people message me to tell me how much I have helped them.
Do you have any tips/secrets?
No secrets, just planning, hard work and commitment. You can do it too!