Personal trainer who shed almost five stone shares her golden rules for weight loss
Inspired by her own transformation, we asked personal trainer Melissa Morley about her top ten tips for losing weight and maintaining a healthy physique.
The Kiltimagh woman lost an incredible 4.7 stone while in her final year of college by devising her own gym and meal plan.
“I'd always struggled with my weight and have gone on numerous diets just like every average teenage girl," Melissa confessed. "I’d go from eating everything to eating nothing and would lose huge amounts one week, to only put it on again next week.”
Melissa entered college weighing 12.5 stone, deeply unhappy and hiding her 5’2” frame in size 16 to 18 clothes.
“To me I wasn’t heavy but when I developed sleep apnea due to my weight and my thighs started rubbing together when I walked, I knew I had hit rock bottom.”
“I was so insecure that if I even heard someone say ‘fat’, I would be immediately on the defense. I always though lads only wanted to get with me to make fun of me.”
Melissa (now 22) decided she wanted to make a change and decided to start making some changes to her lifestyle. Spurred on by the results she was seeing, she soon regained control of her body.
After a year, she had reached her goal weight, and inspired others to take a look at their own diet and fitness regime. After graduating from Dublin City University with a degree in Communications, Melissa decided to qualify as a personal trainer and has just completed an internship at BK Fitness with Dublin GAA star Philly McMahon.
“To look back now it feels amazing to know how far I’ve come. I know what it’s like to start at rock bottom and to have a mountain to climb but if you believe in yourself anything is possible.”
Here are Melissa’s top ten tips that she believes everyone can benefit from:
1. Drink More Water
We all know how important it is to drink water but have we ever considered about the time in which we drink it at? One of my best tips is to keep a bottle of water chilled in the fridge overnight. Upon awakening in the morning drink it on an empty stomach to flush out all the toxins and kick start your metabolism. The cold water forces your body to burn calories in order to heat itself back up and since you’ve drank it on an empty stomach the only fuel source available is store fat.
Drink a glass before each meal and before going to bed to keep you full and remember that sometimes hunger is actually thirst disguised.
2. Don't Skip Breakfast
Breakfast is one of the most important factors in any weight loss story. It can either hinder your chances or actually help you reach your goals. Skip breakfast and come lunch time you'll be so hungry that you will eat anything that’s quick and will fill you.
Avoid sugary and ‘healthy’ cereals and go for the good old fashioned options. There is no excuse to miss breakfast, microwave porridge in 3 minutes and eat it on the bus into work, boil eggs the night before and heat up in the morning, or try the yummy flour and dairy free pancakes on my blog.
3. Up Your Protein Intake
Protein is one of the most important nutrients to consider; although it has the same calories per gram as carbohydrate (4 calories per gram) it takes longer to digest and therefore will keep you full. Choose healthy lean protein such as chicken, turkey, lean red meat, eggs, tuna and Greek yoghurt.
Protein is especially important in the morning as studies have shown people who consume a high protein breakfast, such as eggs, are less likely to snack throughout the day.
4. “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”
Look into any fitness enthusiast’s handbag and you’ll see lunch boxes of prepped food. Having your healthy snacks ready to go at a minute's notice will stop you reaching for crisps and chocolate. Every Sunday, take some time to wash and pre-cut your vegetables, pre-make your salad, boil some eggs, cook some meat and prep your meals for the week so all you have to do is re-heat, making life so much easier.
5. The Three Hour Rule
This is crucial. How often do we hear people going for hours without eating? I eat every three hours on the dot, otherwise I know I’ll go into starvation mode and next thing it's been 6 hours since I’ve last eaten and all I want is high fatty foods.
Eating every three hours keeps your blood sugar levels even so you don’t crave these ‘bad’ foods. It doesn’t have to be a big meal - an egg, piece of chicken or some yoghurt will keep you going.
6. Get Organised
Get your food shop in and make a list of what you need and stick to it. Aldi, Lidl and Tesco have great deals on fruit and veg and wholesalers always have deals on eggs, chicken and red meat. Buy enough to last for three to four days then top up as you need to, to make sure it’s all as fresh as possible.
7. Eating Out
So you’ve started your fitness journey and now feel you can’t eat out with friends as it will derail all your efforts? Wrong! It’s important to find a healthy balance between a social life and your health. There’s no point sitting at home eating a lettuce leaf feeling miserable whilst all your friends are out enjoying themselves - lots of restaurants accommodate the health conscious. Ask for meat to be grilled not fried, more veg instead of chips, sauces on the sides. Many places also now have lighter menus and dinner options for under 600 calories.
8, Don't Drink Your Calories
Alcohol has a major impact on all diets. Some people feel they don’t want to miss out on the ‘fun factor’ so my advice is to choose your drink wisely. Many bottles of wine contain the same calories as an entire pizza and we drink these calories on top of our food intake for the day. Try switching to spirits and a low calorie mixer for a better alternative.
9. Start Small
From year’s of experience, I’ve realised that you have to start small. Make minor changes like breakfast one week, change your lunch the next week, and the next week sort out your dinner. Change from crisps to air-popped popcorn, snack on fruit or eggs instead of chocolate and crisps, and get more sleep and drink more water.
This is the key to long term successful weight loss. You didn’t put it on overnight so you won’t lose it overnight. Lose it slow and you’ll keep it off longer.
10. The Right Mindset
Most of us have gone on a diet, failed, and gone back to eating how we used to. One of the most important things for successful weight loss is the right mindset. For me something just clicked, I knew I wanted this more than anything. In my head I told myself this will be the last time I will ever attempt to lose weight, because I knew I wouldn’t have to go through the same thing again if I gave it 100 percent.
If you want something bad enough you will do everything and anything to make it happen, if you don’t, you will find every excuse and way out. If you really want to lose weight you have to do it for yourself. Whilst you’re skipping the gym because you’re too tired, remember that there’s a mother of three getting up at 5am for her spinning class because she wants that body bad enough. Where there’s a will there’s a way.