It wasn’t until I was given two choices—medication or make lifestyle changes—that I felt ready to commit to making a significant change to my health. I’d previously tried a weight loss programme that is sometimes given to people awaiting surgery but it felt too restrictive and with much of the diet including processed foods, I doubted its nutritional value. Group meetings with regular weigh-ins aren’t quite my style and I didn’t want ‘just a diet’.
An acquaintance of mine from some years ago had been successful in losing weight on a ‘shakes’ diet and when I discovered Habitual, I liked that it seemed to be more of a health programme than simply a diet—especially with the continued lifelong support. I’d been putting off going down this route but following the poor results from my health screening, I knew I had to put aside my misgivings and take the first step—and so my journey with Habitual began!
Before Habitual, I wouldn’t say my problem was eating unhealthy food as such—I didn’t eat takeaways, biscuits, or chocolates, and had very little processed food. My problem instead was with portion size and eating up leftovers. I was so used to preparing enough food for a family of four that I carried on cooking this amount when my daughters left home and it was just me and my husband at the dinner table!
When I told my friends about the programme, they were worried that I would 'overdo it' and at first, the ‘coffee shop culture’ did make it a touch difficult to participate in social events as normal. I did get used to it, however, and so did they! As long as I just stated what I could have if I was at a bar or restaurant, people accepted it. At first, my family struggled to eat traditionally while I was on the total diet replacement part of the programme but they were still incredibly supportive. This whole experience has highlighted how much our relationships centre around eating and drinking. Friends in particular are unsure how to show their hospitality and I’ve somewhat disengaged from the kitchen, leaving my husband to deal with his meal prep. Negotiating the emotional and structural role of food in my relationships has probably been the most challenging part of the programme for me, not the regime or flavours. I haven’t managed to really resolve it but with the total diet replacement phase being just 12 weeks, I knew the benefits I was experiencing were worth it.
Of course, these challenges were somewhat diminished by the level of support I had during the programme. Tracking my weight and habits, and following the daily content, helped me understand the importance of sleep and activity to my wellbeing and it was very motivating to visualise my progress as the days went by. The Patient Care team were always on hand to answer my questions and while I didn’t contribute to the WhatsApp group initially, I found it to be a great source of mutual support and it added a very ‘human’ element to the entire experience.
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The first 2 weeks on the programme were admittedly quite ‘hardcore’ but the weight loss was rewarding enough to encourage me to continue. The meals themselves are tasty and I like that I didn’t have to make decisions about nutritional balance. I often add things, such as herbs and spring onions to the Green Vegetable Soup or a shot of coffee to the shakes. One of the unexpected benefits has been how liberating I’ve found it not to spend so much of my time shopping, cooking, or washing up! I have significantly more time for myself.
I’m now in the food reintroduction phase and am really enjoying learning about meal planning—this will be essential in preventing me from relapsing into my old habits. One of the main takeaways from the programme has been the realisation that I need to create time for my own wellbeing instead of being driven by the demands of other aspects of my life. I’ve also truly realised how little food we actually need to be well-nourished! Since reintroducing food, I’ve changed some of my cooking techniques and have purchased new crockery to help me with my portion control.
I set out on the Habitual programme to make lifestyle changes necessary for health, weight loss, pain relief, and improved mobility—issues that were impacting my mood and self-respect. Now, having lost 2st 2lbs, I have more energy, my clothes fit comfortably, and I feel years younger… with slim ankles! My confidence is up and it makes me so happy to hear my friends tell me how well I look. Painful conditions have diminished with the weight loss and I feel as if I’ve regained my youthful self!
Habitual’s quick-fire round:
🥤What’s your favourite Habitual meal?
Addicted to Green Vegetable soup! I jazz it up with a dusting of parsley, chives, or shredded bok choi leaves.
😖 What do you do to deal with stress?
Go to bed early and listen to the radio. Tackle difficult tasks after an early breakfast instead.
Best tip for overcoming a slip-up?
Line up an alternative, rewarding activity.
Don’t think of it as a slip-up but as a decision that allows you to continue doing well in the long-term.
🌭 What's your favourite food?
A mixed salad.
🏃 Favourite way to exercise?