‘Hmm’ I thought, ‘this is not good!’. My clothes were becoming tighter and tighter over the past year. I was starting to feel pretty uncomfortable and I had been ignoring the expansion of my waist. Even though I was a Nordic Walking Instructor I was walking less, doing more admin and not really thinking about what I ate. Plus I loved my food and I dislike diets. They don’t seem to work for many people and it seems like some sort of punishment!
But unless I wanted to buy an entire new set of clothes something had to change. I’d heard Mel talking about the Blood Sugar Diet (BSD) and although it was called a ‘diet’ it seemed different to me – more like a healthy way of eating than just food restriction. There was also a real buzz about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and how powerful it could be for fat busting. Mel and I decided to see what would happen if we mixed these two things together and voila - the Shape Up had arrived.
I had seen Michael Moseley on the TV, read some information online and I could completely understand the rationale behind regulating your blood sugar, plus it had worked fantastically for Mel. So in mid-January a group of Bristol Nordic walkers, Mel and I met in Ashton Court, not sure how well this would work but we were ready to give it a try. We all wanted slightly different things - some wanted to reduce their waist, some wanted to be healthier and some (like me) wanted all over reduction.
Most of us had read the BSD book beforehand and I’d decided to ‘reset’ myself by doing the 800 calorie a day plan just for one week, then I would see how I felt and take it from there. I didn’t have any set targets, I just wanted to see how well it worked for me.
Initially I felt a little tired and cold but that soon stopped and I could feel some significant changes. I felt more energetic, more awake and generally really good. Yes you need to plan your meals but I found I enjoyed the challenge and was never particularly hungry. It was odd as I’m usually a big eater, but the type of food they recommend fills you up nicely. If I ever did feel hungry I’d remember Mel’s words - “Try and not be scared by the feeling of hunger – it is your friend”.
The second week I ate more but kept on the right foods and by then I realised I could happily go without breakfast. I realise that skipping breakfast goes completely against traditional advice (and is not for everybody) but I felt fine and Mel had explained the numerous benefits of fasting or just keeping meals within a smaller time window during the day.
The HIIT exercise was great fun too. It sounds a bit of a slog to climb a hill for 10 minutes (we did this twice each session) but our Shape Up crew will tell you it goes in a flash! Some people were a little worried at the start about keeping up but everyone just went at their own speed, with a little extra encouragement from me of course. It’s a great way to kick start your metabolism and walkers felt more confident and fitter after each session. By the end we were flying up.
As the eight weeks continued my fat busting continued and the wonderful part was I didn’t feel deprived. If I had a bad day, and I had a few, I could either go a little longer until I ate the next day or ensure my next few meals were from the recipe book. I’m no chef so having recipes at hand was invaluable to me, plus the food was really tasty and easy to make. My clothes became comfortable and then some even got baggy. This way of eating felt like something I could fit into the rest of my life relatively easily. It felt like a game changer.
Our last session was this Tuesday and I am pleased as punch with the results of the first Shape Up. Mel had discussed the importance of the hip to waist ratio being below 0.8 as it’s linked to coronary heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. At the start mine was above and now it’s well below (if you want to do yours it’s waist divided by hips).
I have also lost a hefty 16 pounds (6.4kg), lost 4% total body fat and have taken 4 inches off my waist. The best result of all is I can wear clothes in the wardrobe that I haven’t worn for years. My portion size has reduced and I don’t feel that aching hunger that I used to if I went longer than a few hours without food. Food tastes better to me now as I buy better quality and don’t eat as often. And it’s not just me that it’s worked for – here’s what just a few of our Shapers had to say..
“I have lost 10lbs, 5cm off my hips and 7cm off my waist. My husband has also been following the plan with me. We have not been strict with the calories but have tried to follow the ‘rules’ when able without being a slave to the diet. He has also lost 10lbs. The Nordic walking has also increased my stamina and energy and decreased my inches. I can feel that I am toning as I am losing weight which hasn’t happened before!”
“I've loved it. Beautifully run by two excellent trainers, who have encouraged, and educated, in perfect balance.”
“Even more important than the measurements, I'm feeling much better on low/better carbs. More energy, more positive. And very motivated to carry on after the course. Definitely turned a corner as I've been battling with eating issues and weight for some time.”
“Lost 5 kilos, 20 cms from waist, 12 cms from hips, waist to hip ratio went down from 0.95 to 0.82, BMI back to normal from 26.1 to 24.7.”
“I could feel the changes in my clothes although this didn't show on the scales. So I just got rid of the SCALES!!!”
The Shape Up has proved to be a powerful combination of exercise, nutritional advice and fantastic support from the group. We are running a second course starting Tuesday April 10th. Cost £120 per person for 8 weeks. The first 7 weeks will be in succession and the final meeting will be on June 26th.
Now I’m off to eat some cheese! Not too much though..