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Health and Fitness

This Girl's Five Stone Weight Loss Is A Lesson In Loving Yourself No Matter What Your Size

by Laurence-Emmanuelle Bédard Published on October 1, 2015

Losing weight is tough. Like, really tough. We all set out on our separate weight loss journeys with the same goal in mind: to get healthy. But the road is treacherous: there will be pit stops and mood swings and you're bound to fall off the wagon at some point. So how do you lose weight and make it stick? How hard is it, really? We speak to Holly Smith who, over the space of three years, managed to lose a whopping five and a half stone. Get ready to meet your new fitspiration.

We've all heard that voice. That soothing voice that appears late on a Sunday evening as you lay comatose on the sofa after demolishing a pepperoni stuffed-crust, that whispers: "Don't worry: the diet starts tomorrow." And it does - but it lasts for days at best. By the next weekend, you're back in your jammies, ordering a takeaway and promising yourself that your new life at the gym starts on Monday. It's a vicious cycle that we all recognise. But how do we get out of it? How do we start a diet, and stick to it? How do we commit?

Holly Smith decided three years ago that she would commit herself. And not faux commit, really commit. The result of that? A weight loss of over five stone, a new love of fitness, and a smokin' hot boyfriend. Here, she speaks to us about dieting, dog walking and being happy in your own skin.

What made you want to lose weight?

I don’t think anything made me want to lose weight which is why it worked. It was a decision I made completely independently. I was lucky in that I was never picked on or teased and was always quite popular at school and so nothing ‘forced’ me into doing it. I actually started losing weight accidentally. I got a dog for my 21st birthday and started taking her on walks which progressively got longer and longer, I didn’t know I was starting to lose weight until other people started noticing. Soon the walks weren’t fulfilling me enough and I joined the gym too, and so the weird love/hate relationship with exercise began!

Have you tried before to lose weight? What did you try? Why do you think this time it was so successful?

When I was about 13, I cut out carbs completely. I was far too young. I lost a lot of weight in a very short period of time but it was near impossible to maintain. As soon as I started introducing carbohydrates back into my diet the weight slowly but surely crept back on. I think I’ve been so successful this time because, although my diet has improved dramatically, a lot of the weight loss has been through exercise rather than cutting out all the food I love! I still eat takeaways and chocolate, I just know I have to work for it!

Have you noticed any significant changes in yourself or your surroundings since losing weight?

I wouldn’t say I’m happier, but I’m definitely more confident. I will never get bored of the shock on the faces of people I haven’t seen for a while who don’t want to say ‘you’ve lost weight’ at the risk of insult. For the record, us weight losers will never be insulted by that… we worked damn hard! I also met my boyfriend, European Karate Champion and all round fitness freak, at the gym rather than McDonalds (my old hang out) so I owe that change to healthy living too!

Were there any particularly hard times whilst you were losing weight? How did you deal with that?

A lot of the weight loss process is psychological, and what I’ve really struggled with since losing weight is becoming a slave to the scales. It’s natural for someone who has lost weight to want to make sure they are constantly making progress or at least maintaining, but I went through a phase where I was weighing myself after every meal which was horrendously counter-productive. With support I learned to restrict myself to one ‘weigh-in’ a week and instead measure different parts of my body with a tape measure to ensure my body is still changing in the ways I want it to. Muscle weighs more than fat so if you want to tone up you have to be prepared to see a weight increase on the scales! Yikes!

What has been the best and worst things about losing weight?

The worst is definitely the constant fear of gaining weight again and battling ‘food guilt.’ Also I can’t say I’ve particularly enjoyed those early morning gym sessions after a heavy night with my personal trainer yelling at my already weary head.

​The best has got to be the health benefits, obviously it feels nice to know I look better, but now I can also take my dog for a walk without getting out of breath and I actually enjoy a good gym session (weird I know…), testing how far I can push myself and learning what my body can actually do.

Do you believe in dieting?

I believe in enjoying your food. If you want that cake, eat it…just know that you’re going to do ten minutes extra cardio in the gym that evening. The minute you start limiting your food choices or even cutting meals, is when you start ‘cheating’ and losing motivation.

Have you embraced this as a lifestyle change?

Absolutely. I’ve got to the point in my life now where working out and eating well is not only a part of my life but it is something I genuinely enjoy. I’ve worked very hard to get to this stage and I am far too stubborn to let it go!

How do you keep the weight off? How do you stay motivated?

My boyfriend is a massive driving force behind me staying motivated. He was my personal trainer for a year before we started dating and so knows better than anyone the progress I have made. This means he’s not only the person that drags me to the gym on a Saturday morning and makes me squat until my thighs burn, but he’s also the person that tells me it’s okay to have dessert or to order a glass of wine, and constantly reminds me to be proud of just how far I’ve come.

Do you still treat yourself every now and again? How often do you have a cheat day?

I would love to give the Khloe Kardashian answer to this but the truth is I treat myself to something small almost daily. I work hard for it… let the girl have her chocolate!!

What do you enjoy most about your workout?

Finishing it obviously! No seriously, there is not better feeling than finishing a really hard workout having achieved something new, even if it’s lifting just 5kg more or running for 2 minutes longer than you usually would. It feels great!

What are you meals like now compared to then? (For example, do you do weekly meal preps now?)

Before I lost weight I never ate breakfast, which meant that a large bag of crisps would almost always come into play by about 11am. Now I do weekly meal plans and prep for my breakfast and lunch, usually porridge and a fruit smoothie in the morning and some sort of protein and salad for lunch. In the evenings I’m usually a bit freer with my meals as I know what my intake for the day has been, what I have done/am going to do in the gym and what sort of time I’m going to eat. I have the world’s sweetest tooth so it’s here that I usually pilfer some sort of delicious treat too!

Do you have any motivational hacks that have helped you lose weight?

Social Media. It is the Queen. I know it’s such a 21st century answer, but I genuinely don’t think I could have lost weight without the use of Pinterest and Instagram! The key to losing weight and staying healthy is keeping it interesting and both of these sites provided not only new healthy meals and recipes but videos of exercises and full exercise plans that I hadn’t even thought of. Don’t knock people using their phones in the gym, I’m one of them! I should probably mention my family and friends here too. Those kids are proud of me, and their support has been paramount!

How has your life changed?

My life has changed a lot, I’m now the busiest person ever; fitting in work, food, gym, social life, family and studies is not easy! My personality has not changed though and I think that’s so important…I might look different but I’m the same girl I always was!

What’s your best piece of advice for people wanting or trying to lose weight?

Welcome to the world’s most cliché answer but you have to find happiness in yourself the way you are before you start changing it. I genuinely believe that if my wanting to change had come from an unhappy place I couldn’t have done it… but I had family and friends who loved me exactly as I was and so it was all me. Don’t change for anyone else.

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by Laurence-Emmanuelle Bédard