7 things I learnt from losing weight

When I left college, I decided that the thing I had just dedicated three years of my life towards was something I had no interest in pursuing as a career.  So there I was: I could identify several types of microphone, tune a guitar by ear and knew how to deal with live sound and moody bands, but I had absolutely no interest in working in music tech.

Years of gigging and hours in the studio meant that I had pretty much lived off vending machine food and takeaways, and I had no intention of changing that.

So whilst all my friends tottered off to uni, I sat at home on my arse and became zombese.

For those who don't know what that word I just made up means, it means I literally just shuffled from my day-to-day activities, whilst moaning, with no motivation, until food showed up.  I was a zombie, but I definitely wasn't wasting away.

After a few years on this path, I was not in a good place.  I decided that losing weight was the only solution to all the problems in my life.

From then till now I lost just over 60 pounds, but learnt so much more than how to lose weight.  In fact, that just became a side effect.

1. My problems weren't caused by my weight
I dreamed of the day I hit goal.  The day where I would be thin, beautiful and have a glamourous life.  I dreamed that my lithe tanned frame would travel around the world, lying on various beaches.  I'm not entirely sure how I thought getting weighed in a church hall every week would lead to this magically funded lifestyle (who is paying for all these beach trips?) but all I knew for certain was my hefty frame was all that was stopping my dreams from becoming true.

I had it all planned out:  First I would lose the weight.  Then I would have the life that all those adverts told me I could be good enough for if I looked like a supermodel.  Yachts, beaches, big jiggly boobies, fashion sense and perfect social skills were coming my way.  Apparently.  God, what a vapid dream.

Let me tell you something.  It's all complete and utter (excuse my french) bullshit.

After I dropped the first 30 pounds, I had all the same problems as before, I just felt healthier, in fact, losing weight provided me with a whole set of new problems.  And they stayed there until I realised that my looks meant nothing and I needed to sort out my problems without bringing my appearance into it at all.

With this revelation came another one:  There is no uniform for life.  We do not have to conform to an ideal to be here.

So I hate to break it to you, but your life will not magically turn into a perfume advert the second you hit goal.  I mean, why would you want it too?  Which leads me too...

2. Ignore Advertising Ideals
A long while ago, whilst watching a bit of TV with some friends, a stupid advert came on where a beautiful woman was eating yoghurt.  All well and good I suppose, except she was really going to town on that spoon.  Like it's the sexiest object in the world.  A spoon.  It was really bloody distracting.  Finally, she and the spoon come to a raging climax as she...

... stopped eating the yogurt.  I mean COME ON!

Spoons are not sexy.  Spoons are magical vessels that transport food into our mouths.  I don't ever see a picture of a spoon and think sexy thoughts.  I see a spoon and think "I need some pie" or if it's in the washing up bowl, I am reminded to do housework.  Booo.

I mean maybe this woman really is attracted to spoon's, I am not one to judge, but then surely it would be an advert for like-minded spoon fantasists to buy spoons.  Not yoghurt.  This debate in my head over spoons went on for some time until three things happened:

1) I really wanted some pie
2) The word spoon sounded stupid
3) I had a sudden strange thought that I wished I looked that good eating yoghurt.

Like, I'm sorry, but hold up.  Who wants to look good eating yoghurt?  You are nourishing your body with curdled produce from a cow.  Who is watching?  And like, why would I care if I looked good doing it.

You are not something there to just be looked at, you are a person damn it!


Damn it, it just makes me mad.  I mean look at this.

I can't speak for the entire world here, but I've never been so overcome with arousal at the scent of daisies that I spontaneously combusted into a supermodel.  Nor have I ever wanted to sensually nibble on giant perfume bottles whilst I'm naked.  I mean each to their own and whatnot, but this sort of behaviour in public would get you some bloody weird looks.  These women are merely objects in this advert.  A selling point.

If the perfume were pancakes, these women would be the hot delicious syrup being poured on top.  They are there to make it look more desirable.

Maybe I'm in the 1% here, and the rest of you gather at Sainsburys every thursday to molest some cutlery, but I'm going to take a wild guess that you're just awesome human beings, who don't cream their pants over everyday objects.  Well, maybe excusing one minor thing...

We have all stroked a pot of nutella.

My point here is adverts tend to be stupid.  They are there to make you feel like you lack something, so you'll go out and spend your hard earned pennies on their product.  To make you feel good, when actually you felt alright before, thanks.  It's not just relegated to the perfume industry and certainly not just restricted to women.

It took me a long time (longer than I will ever really admit too) to realise that watching certain adverts and reading certain women's beauty magazines was seriously effecting my view on myself.  Life will be better, they say, if you only buy this crap (that you wouldn't need if we hadn't made you feel lacking in the first place.)

I am not adverse to wanting random food prep stuff because I saw a cool advert that promised to change my life.  But when it comes to our self image, our happiness and everything that comes with this (eating disorders, high levels of depression, young people feeling the need to sexualise themselves to be worth anything) then I think we have a problem.

I can not do this subject as much justice as some amazing people can - For instance this article on cosmo....

Just take a second before you let something you see make you feel bad about yourself...

3. NEVER let your body image hold you back
A few years before all of this,  I entered a writing competition.  It was a big national one with thousands and thousands of entries. (Winners have gone on to write best selling novels, screenplays and all sorts) So I nearly fell off my chair when I got through to the final 30 in my category.  No matter if we won or not, we were given 2 VIP tickets to a big event at the 02 arena in London.  There would be an awards dinner, publishers to chat with, chances to mingle with famous writers, workshops and a free dinner.  I turned it down.  Why?

Because I didn't feel like I could attend at the size I was and so I backed out.

Such an amazing opportunity and I turned it down because of how I looked.  I bet you can slightly relate to that too, right?

The thing is, even though we are judged on our weight in this world, it is us that lets it affect us.  We can take on those messages and decide our self worth is made up entirely of how we look, or you can do what I did and say:  You know what?  My body image does not chain me down anymore.  I refuse to let me use it as an excuse.

Even if I feel like this.

So now if I'm ever having a bad day, or I feel gross, I repeat the the Beauty redefined mantra.

I am capable of so much more than being looked at.

And then I get my ass out of that rut and own whatever I'm doing, I owe it to myself to at least try.

4. I learnt to cook
The big one here I suppose, because you wouldn't be reading this otherwise.  I could not cook.   I didn't know what half the vegetables at the supermarket were.  I didn't know how to cut up an onion.  I thought making your own soup was for wizards, I didn't understand how to use herbs and most of the equipment in cooking shops looked like sex toys to me.

The first five weeks of weight watchers I survived on their brand food.  It was disgusting.  There wasn't much in them to fill me up and they looked like goop (we eat with our eyes first, amiright?).  So I started experimenting... I would chop up and boil some carrots and add them to the ready meals, it progressed to a bag of frozen veg and steaming some spinach.  Before long I had bought myself a big cookbook and was learning to make things myself.  After that I pushed myself to learn a new technique every few weeks and before long, I was so in love with creating and cooking that I started trying to make my own recipes.

One of the first recipes I created.
Sitting proudly with one of the first recipes I made

Four years later, here we are.  If you ever find a recipe on this blog that you really like, take a second to thank ready meals and how utterly shit most of them are.

5. I started to care more about my health
I didn't join a weight loss club to be healthy.  I joined it to get thin.  We've talked about how I had these visions of me in a bikini on the beach with a lovely flat stomach.  I tried a lot of things to get that way before I settled on healthy eating and exercise.  Pills, fad diets.... shakes...

Lose weight .. and feel the need crap yourself daily!

Thing is, once the weight started to come off the healthier way I noticed things like my backache disappearing and being able to get up easier in the morning.  Then when I switched to making my own food I noticed my energy levels go through the roof, my outlook on life changed and I became a wholly more positive person, much more in control of my emotions.

Suddenly, the number on the scales became less and less important and my health became my number one priority.  Come to my house, my scales are dusty and covered in cobwebs, and that's not just because I'm a lazy duster.

These days I don't eat to make myself thin to then feel good.  I skip out the middle man.

I eat to make myself feel good.  End of.  Period.

Sometimes this involves a cheeky pudding, or meal out somewhere, a chocolate bar or something else that apparently makes me an awful human being.  I balance it out with home made meals, lots of veg and an upbeat attitude (no guilt allowed in my diet thanks very much).  Pretty happy over here.

6. I learnt not to judge people (or feel jealous)
This isn't even weight related but is by far my favourite and most valuable lesson. I learnt not to be a judgemental asshole.  Which we are all completely capable of doing.  Snap judgements on people's appearances or snap judgements on people's lifestyles.  It's exhausting.

From my personal experience, I was judging people for one of three reasons:

1) I thought my way of doing things was completely and utterly the right way (basically I thought I knew everything)
2) I was jealous.
3) To make myself feel better about my own choices.

I only realised this after I reading the blogs of hundreds of people going through many different situations.  Blogs from the people I was losing weight with, blogs I found full of the lives of real people...

Stories of how people who seemingly have it all, yet couldn't have mirrors in their house because they hated their reflection so much, young mothers being tutted at on the street, people losing weight being mocked at the gym, people with illnesses being told to suck it up because they were young.  I could go into this subject at length but it just makes me rant and no one came here to read that.

Sorry, it's an orangutan in a hat.  It's going on the blog.

Every time I would read a story like this it would make me think of a time where I would have done or said something similar and I realised how much being judgemental makes you blind.  Usually blind to what you have in your own life.  Listening and trying to understand made me more comfortable in myself and much more open to trying to see things from different perspectives.  The grass isn't greener on the other side, but it can be awesome on yours if you stop caring about what other people have.

Which in a long line of consequence led me to new foods, new methods, new friends and a pretty awesome little life.

7. I love food, it is certainly not my enemy.
I didn't restrict anything, or really cut anything out, I just love food.  I didn't before, and now I do.  Even vegetables, which I used to think were the poops of satan.

Food is awesome.  I realised how bad my relationship was with food before all this happened.  It was about what I couldn't eat.  Now I'm in awe of what I can.  It's fun.

There's so much to try, so much to experiment with.  There's more vegetables and flavours than I ever thought possible.  There's such a negative mindset put on eating.  That it's naughty, orgasmic or boringly healthy - it's stupid.  Enjoy your food.  It keeps you alive and does loads of amazing stuff whilst it's in the old meatbag.

Good food just makes me want to dance.

You know what?  There should be more adverts of people dancing with food than practically shagging it.  The other day a friend and I did a little dance over how good some mango was.

So why does it have to be one extreme or the other.  Why does it have to be health OR good food?!  Good food can be healthy.

I said all I had to say on this matter in my post - Food is not the enemy.  So I won't repeat myself.

 -everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief-

So that's about it.  I am by no means saying I am a perfect human being with all the answers to everything, but that's my story.

Have you ever been through a major lifestyle change that ended for the better?  Do you love food? Comment below!


    Just discovered your blog because a friend posted this on Facebook, and I think it's the best-written, wittiest, most brilliant advice I've read in ages. You are 100% right.

    It's been a little over 10 years since I first got my eating disorder (EDNOS - Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified - catchy name!), and in that time my weight has ballooned up and down like crazy. Since I've been with my fabulous fella (almost 3 years now) I've been trying so much harder to get control of it, because he makes it so ridiculously obvious every day he really doesn't care what weight I am, so it feels silly trying desperately to starve myself thin again. If not for YO' MAN, then why?!

    I'm slowly, slowly getting there. And slowly, slowly stopping the cycle of self-loathing you get from dieting - and not just in my attitude to food but in other areas of my life (I didn't do as much housework as I should have today - OH WELL WHAT'S ON TELLY.)

    Advice like this is what I need to read, and read frequently. So I'll be following your blog - it really boosted my day. And I like recipes a lot...
    P.S HOW do you not have like 20,000000000000 subscribers yet? You deserve them.
    P.P.S THANK YOU, you're amazeballs. x

    1. Thank you so much for your honest and open reply! I'm so glad to hear that you are slowly navigating your way through your troubles, as someone who has been there and done that, I can completely relate, so I also know you've got an awesome happy future ahead of you. :) (totally relate on the housework front, ugh, housework)

      Cheers for following, and thank you for making my day! :)

      Em xxx

  2. This is pretty darn cool! Love your graphics, just saying, where did you learn that stuff?!? So cool! Also the GIFs. I can relate to so much of this...cake is like a food group in my life so sacrificing it even for the sake of health is out of the question. Moderation, wherefore art thou so elusive?! Anyway it's so great that you were successful, hope you can keep this ball rolling! :D

    1. Cheers June! As always you made me laugh. "Moderation, wherefore art thou so elusive" shall now be my catchphrase when eating all delicious items.

  3. Oh, Emma, Emma, you are just hilarious and I had to LOL a few times staring at that gorilla gif!!
    Healthy and delicious foods make me happy. I used to refuse anything chocolate because I took them as just another kind of candy...sweet, addictive and bad for you. And my only dessert was just fruits. How silly of me! I really enjoy your honest and beautiful writing, Emma. Have a lovely weekend!

    1. Thank you so much Angie! Glad you changed your stance on the desserts, where else would I get my healthy pud inspiration!?

  4. Love the sloth!! Very wise words here, not sure what I can add except great post Emma! xx

    1. Thank you Holly! The sloth is one of my favourites! It's actually a video too! Called something straight-laced like "Sloth loves carrots"

  5. Thank you for sharing your story! (and being hilarious, sensitive and smart all at the same time) You've got such a healthy perspective on food and life, thank you for the inspiration.

  6. I think I fell in love with you around "the poops of Satan." I wish more people could see this, it has made my weekend or even actually my week!

    Every SINGLE time I read something of yours I feel so good about life and the world, you would make a fantastic youth councillor!


    Sarah (MissB) xxxxxx

    1. I'm so glad it made you feel good about life, cause everyone deserves to feel that!

      And thank YOU for your lovely comments!! :D

  7. Thank you so much for teaching me all about such a healthy perspective - weight is such a touchy subject, thanks for telling us in such a fun tone!

    Choc Chip Uru

  8. You were one of my biggest inspirations when I was doing Weight Watchers - your "before and now" photo was one that I always showed people when I was on my journey and your blog always made me smile :)

    I will admit there were times during the whole weight losing process that I found myself getting a little obsessive and thinking about it in the wrong way. It took me time to work out how to have a balanced, healthy and happy content life!

    I love that learning to cook was one of the turning points for you ... I REALLY should make more effort to cook, I'm not very good and just write it off without really trying. I think it would hugely benefit me .. MUST TRY HARDER!

    You are an inspiration girl .. with your weight loss and your fantastic attitude and this wonderful little space on the internet!

    Chloe x

  9. Great blog as always Em. Live your style. xxx

  10. I had lost about 25 pounds before I started blogging, but when I started my blog I gained it all back. I am now going to try and start my journey to lose that weight again, but this time I am going to keep it off. Great post.

  11. :) Number 7 is sooooooo true!! I reckon restricting food has the opposite effect in the long run because at some point or rather you're going to break the rules and binge out, only to feel guilty and start the whole cycle again.

  12. I am framing this post and putting it on my fridge! Emma you are a true inspiration! I am on my own weight loss journey at the moment and have been feeling a bit lost and deflated at the moment and your post has given me a real boost, I know I'll make my way back here at dark times in the future. Thank you for this!

    P.S I regularly dance around with food, mostly whilst cooking it. That counts as cardio right? :) xo

  13. What a lovely post, and a very honest one too. Well done you for losing the weight and for learning so much in the process. I definitely have an emergency jar of Nutella stashed away!

  14. Emma I have such a crush on your blog I wouldn't even know where to start, you are such an inspiration. Thank goodness for ready meals! Also I actually do regularly dance in celebration of my food, if that helps your campaign at all ;) x

  15. Everything you have said here is oh so true, I went to slimming world and while I did loose a lot of weight the food was seriously bland and boring. A little of this and that now and again isn't going to kill you!!! Women should have boobs and hips!!!! I don't want to look like a 10 year old boy, who does???? I love food too much to not have all those wicked yummy treats :D in moderation of course!

  16. I basically LOVE everything about this post! I like that it is not your traditional HOW TO or just like eating tips... it is like real normal life advice you can apply to anything! XOXO!

    You are awesome and our blogs should get married- THE END!

  17. Did you have a weight loss blog before? Where can I find it?!


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