'Can I stay healthy and on track with the Christmas party looming?'

The story so far…I started my journey to health at the beginning of July this year and I’m happy and proud to report that I’ve shifted a total of three stone and three pounds (20.4kg) and 54 inches (137cm), which leaves me just four pounds (1.8kg) shy of my goal.

I think I’ve got this.

As I’ve said here before, this has been about so much more than weight loss for me. A huge part of it was the battle to regain some of the control around comfort eating that I lost when both my parents passed away suddenly. I also had a back operation looming and wanted to be in good shape for that, not to mention hurtling headlong towards 50 a few years hence, and I definitely want to be in good shape by then.

So here I am, healthier and happier; on the flip-side I’m starting to panic about maintaining my weight once I cross the finish line. Seriously, you couldn’t make this up.

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Will I be able to enjoy a glass of wine guilt-free? Will I be able to eat spuds again? Can I celebrate with cake? Probably not the cake part.

If the food I haven’t allowed myself to eat remains the reward, then have I learned anything at all? This plan is a way of life, not a diet, and that’s how I need to start viewing it in my mind if I’m going to succeed – something I can reasonably manage going forward.

I’ve already adjusted my eating habits in a way that’s sustainable so I just need to think long-term and besides, once I reach my goal which is size 12 and I switch to weight maintenance, I can allow myself some indulgences – more carbs – but of the healthy variety, which I’m very much looking forward to; I’m thinking roast potatoes for Christmas dinner.

So I ask again, how will I celebrate? Well, I’ve started to shop… for clothes. At the start I didn’t want to shop at all just in case I wasn’t the size I thought I was…now you can’t stop me, I’m a shopping machine.

I run into Tesco for milk, come out with a top, nip to Dunnes for spiralised courgette, out with a new skirt. Alas I shop in Dunnes/Tesco because I’m still afraid to go to the ‘slender’ shops like Coast, Mango and Topshop and they’re also more expensive – but maybe when I hit the goal you’ll see me in there confidently browsing the racks.

However, at the moment I’m freaking out a little about keeping the weight off, so I check in with my coach, Daniel Meany of elate.ie, to find out a bit more about my maintenance plan and what to expect going forward.

“This is not uncommon,” Daniel tells me. “A lot of women worry about this part. You’ve done so much work up until now the thought of going backwards is terrifying. The truth is maintenance takes work too, but it’s a much nicer phase to be in.

“Getting to maintenance means getting to a point where you’re happy with your body fat. Basically you’re slender, you’re comfortable in your clothes and you’ve got rid of the belly pouch – which is always the last to go. Although some people are happy to go into maintenance with the little pouch and work on it while there, so you needn’t worry if you still have a bit of a belly pouch while heading into this stage.”

Daniel adds: “Up until now fat loss and getting down to a healthy weight was the main priority, but now we switch things around and it’s strengthening and toning that come to the forefront. So you start to eat to support that.

“We’re talking toned arms, rounded shoulders, bum and legs, definitely no bulky body-builder shape, as most women just want to be toned and that’s what we will be aiming for.

“So you introduce some healthy carbs like starchy vegetables and fruit. The exercise will change up again as well,” says Daniel.

OK, so now it doesn’t seem so bad, soon back on the shopping list will be spuds, corn, peas not to mention melons, apples and bananas, oh my!

Honestly I’ve never been so excited at the thought of eating an apple again.


But before I get to maintenance, I still need to survive the Christmas party scene and I know that balance is going to be the key here. While I want to go out and enjoy myself and my new clothes, I don’t want to wreck all the good work I’ve put in over the last few months.

So here’s my plan to keep the Christmas hangxiety about putting on weight to a minimum (for Daniel’s tips, see below).

⬤ I’m going to allow myself some gin with sparkling water when I’m out – cause I’m good like that – and I find it doesn’t cause as much food craving as wine, which is loaded with sugar. However is you do happen see me at the FREE Prosecco bar at the office party, keep walking and don’t say anything, I shouldn’t be there, but I probably will be – it’s FREE.

⬤ I’ll fill up on healthy fats and proteins before any of the Christmas parties as this can be a great way of keeping things in check and making sure you’re not ravenous when you arrive and eat everything in sight.

⬤ I’ll exercise during the week before the night out.

So while I’m not going to go crazy over Christmas, I’m also not going to beat myself up if a mince pie finds it way into my mouth. In reality, I’m in a good place mentally about my diet, my health and fitness goals, so I’m now more likely to carry on and succeed, one glass of wine isn’t going to ruin all my hard work, it may just slow it down a little.

So me and my little pouch of belly fat will see you in two weeks for what’s hopefully the finish line.


⬤ Since the last update two weeks ago, another 2 inches and 3lbs are gone.

⬤ I feel great and I’m enjoying buying some new clothes.

⬤ I’ve started my exercise programme and I still haven’t quite hit my three sessions a week, but I have done my daily walk with Jessie my dog.

Before you start any diet, it’s always advisable to get checked out by your GP


Daniel’s tips

Daniel Meany, Elate.ie coach


Staying on plan during the festive season will be a challenge in itself. Traditionally a time for overindulgence, Christmas drinks and office parties fill out the December calender. Here are some top tips to surviving the season.

■ Be realistic: Rather than weight-loss, a more achievable goal is to keep your weight stable over the festive season and simply not put on any.

■ Alcohol: Most alcohol is packed with sugars and it also leads you to eat things you normally wouldn’t. If you’re still looking to get the best results you possibly can in the run-up to Christmas, you will need to stay fully on track and avoid alcohol.

However is you are going to have a drink dilute wine and spirits with ice and sparkling water, or intersperse mineral water between regular drinks.

■ Be selective: Survey the starters, and instead of breads, chips, or rice have skewers, ribs, wings, or chowder. Try to look at the menu before you go and pick out what you’re going to eat and commit to it. You’ll feel more in control that way.

■ Damage control: Christmas is a time of food aplenty, and with sweets, chocolates, mince pies and biscuits wherever you look, you need to spend a moment thinking about whether you really want it, or are just eating it because it’s there.  Be super good for the days leading up to your night out and then also the days after. Your body will start recovering more quickly.

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