Dr Michael Mosley on the benefits of exercise
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55-year-old Julie Backhouse had a total aversion to working out, until a harsh wake up call challenged her to transform her lifestyle and lose weight. Through healthy eating and a new found love of working out, Julie has become the healthiest version of herself and still continues to ride the fitness train. She told Express.co.uk how.
She began: “I started my fitness journey after seeing a really bad holiday photo from 2016. I had been very unwell and after my recovery found I was about 25 stone.”
Julie knew she had to do “something”, but what?
When a friend suggested to her doing the local 5k Race for Life, she began training immediately.
Already feeling happier and healthier, she decided to “completely” change her diet too.
Julie admitted: “I caught the fitness bug,” and now weighs an impressive 13 stone and five pounds, almost half of her previous body weight.
And her tremendous fitness progress has not gone unnoticed: “I ran my first marathon last September on my treadmill and have done many running challenges during the lockdowns.”
The NHS reported a surge in downloads of the Couch to 5k app when the pandemic hit the UK in March 2020: “From March until the end of June, there were almost one million downloads – 858,000 compared to 448,000 during the same time last year – a 92 percent increase compared to 2019.”
As well as exercising frequently, Julie has changed her diet for the better and is much more mindful of what she eats, whilst still being able to enjoy carbs.
She stated: “I have a strict but simple portion controlled weekly vegetarian meal plan consisting of lots of vegetables, quorn products and potatoes or pasta.”
And her husband, “a talented cook who can make amazing dishes out of simple ingredients,” is on hand during Julie’s continued weight loss journey.
To avoid reaching for unhealthy snacks, Julie makes her own vegetable soups.
“It really helps when I feel like snacking, which has been such a problem during lockdowns.
“On high volume training days, I have a protein drink and extra fruit portions.”
On her journey to become fitter and more knowledgeable about health, Julie has discovered some nutrition secrets.
She credits her increase in energy to “eating a healthy, simple balanced diet”.
She also found a supplement that has helped her smash her fitness goals: “I use New Zealand Blackcurrant supplements – CurraNZ. I swear by them as they help aid in muscle recovery. I used to suffer badly with DOMS but since taking them, I have no more problems. They help me train more often. I couldn’t manage without them now.”
Because she is still on her weight loss journey, Julie is careful to not go overboard when treating herself.
She explained: “Because I have another couple of stones to lose, I’m still careful with what I eat. There’s a tendency for people to reward themselves with high calorie snacks after a run which can undo all the hard work.”
Instead, Julie just has her “usual meal” after a run, and reserves her treats for Sunday, a “diet-free day” when she would usually do running races.
“I’ll always have some cake and a big mug of hot chocolate.”
Her top tip for others on their weight loss journey is that slow and steady wins the race.
“I believe a health and fitness journey is a long term programme. Quick fixes, fad diets and low calorie diets are not healthy and totally unsustainable. A diet needs to be something that fits into your life simply and easily. And it is a slow process.
“Be patient with yourself, reward your achievements with anything but food and find an exercise regime that you love.”
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