Your diet, your way!

Steve Marshall | 01 Feb, 2021

Throughout January, we've been looking at different weight loss approaches – CICO, Fasting, High Protein, Keto – to see which might suit you and show how the Nutracheck app can help. Ultimately the best diet is the one that you make part of your life – so it has to fit your personality and lifestyle.

This week we've invited a long standing member Steve Marshall to explain how he used Nutracheck to help him lose 10 stone. And the secret of his success was making a few tweaks to tailor it for him.

Nutracheck and me

I joined Nutracheck in August 2013. Although the world has changed, the basics of Nutracheck have stayed the same. All I had to do was measure what I was eating and drinking, put it into my diary, and make sure that I didn't exceed my daily allowance. I had followed many diets in my life, but I had never followed a system so focused on what I was consuming – I liked it immediately!

I started at over 23 stone, I followed the system carefully, and it took me about five weeks to lose my first stone. But even in the early days I started to tweak the Nutracheck 'system'. That might sound a bit odd as I'm writing a piece for Nutracheck, but what I was doing was using Nutracheck as a useful tool, but in a way that suited my own lifestyle particularly well.

My first tweak was to carefully weigh myself, every single morning. I wanted to watch my weight like a hawk, so that I could quickly reduce my intake, to correct any upward weight trends. And daily weighing works well for me, I still do it now. I don't get alarmed or demotivated by those odd short-term blips in body weight that we all experience.

A second tweak I made at the start was to completely eliminate certain foods. This cuts across very sensible advice to rule out nothing (as you'll want it even more, and end up bingeing on it). I totally agree with that principle, but my lifetime of dieting taught me that I was not capable of having a 'small portion' and stopping when it came to cheese or bread. So I cut them out entirely for over a year. It wasn't easy, but I managed it because I was particularly highly motivated to lose a lot of weight (or maybe wasn't as attached to cheese or bread as I thought?).

After a year of starting my diet, I made my third tweak which was to stop filling in my food diary every day – not what Nutracheck recommends! I wondered if I'd learned enough about calories and estimating weights to go it alone – like mountain climbing, but without the ropes! I was very careful about this tweak – I'd lost several stone and I did not want to regain it. If my daily weigh in showed any warning signs, then I would go back to diary filling immediately! I did have one false start, when I gained a few pounds, and went back to diary filling, but after that I managed okay and continued to lose weight as before.

There are two important things to highlight about this third tweak:

  1. Frequent weigh ins were essential to alert me to problems. I built up resistance to feeling demotivated about any small gains – I would be calm and not get upset and allow myself to give up. Instead I could simply go back to diary filling until the problem had passed. Even now, when my weight is a little higher than I would like, I fill in my diary to bring me back in line.
  2. Even if I wasn't diary filling, if there was a food I didn't know the calorie count of, my Nutracheck diary was always there for me to check. I didn't make wild and optimistic guesses! I remember checking delicious Sharon fruit and being shocked!

Over the past 8 years I've made lots of other personal tweaks to the Nutracheck system, and I now weigh a little less than my target weight! So it seems my approach is working. But why is that?

I think there are a few reasons, but here are two really important ones:

  1. My tweaks work for ME. I looked carefully at what will work for me (daily weighing), and at what will not work for me (small portions of cheese). I then tailored my use of Nutracheck to support that. But our bodies, lifestyles, tastes and personalities are all different – there is no reason why the way I use Nutracheck should work for everyone else.
  2. If you are the type who can put weight on easily (and that's an awful lot of us) then you will always come up against problems if you want to control your weight, because you are constantly fighting against your genes or against ingrained habits. If you hit a problem (especially a difficult one) it is easy to get fed up then give up.

One example – it's difficult when you're cooking for a family that does not want (or need) to lose weight. Nobody can tell you what to do – the answer depends on your own circumstances. So you need to be able to figure out what is going to work for you in that situation, and many others. My journey has been about finding solutions to the tricky dieting problems I've come up against.

Finally, you may wonder what I still get from Nutracheck after five years of successful maintenance (I'm still below 13 stone!). In fact I still get a lot – the most important are:

  1. It's there every morning by my bedside, for me to log my weight (no chance of forgetting!).
  2. It's handy for looking up calories. Even after so many years, there are things I'm not sure about (I recently discovered half a dragon fruit is 80 calories – who knew?).
  3. I can – and do – go back to completing my diary at any time if my weight is moving in the wrong direction.
  4. There are always interesting things to read on the blogs and the forums.
  5. Last, but not at all least, it keeps me in daily touch with honest-to-goodness calorie counting.

After decades of messing around with all sorts of daft diets, I finally found Nutracheck in 2013. It was careful calorie counting that drew me in and motivated me to work with the Nutracheck system and, despite all my tweaks, it is still straightforward calorie counting that is at the heart of how I control my weight.

Sophie our nutritionist comments...

Steve's success shows the key to losing weight is to really know your own personal strengths and weaknesses. For example Steve knew when it came to bread and cheese, he had no brakes, so he cut it out! That's tough and won't work for everyone – you may find that enjoying 'a little bit of what you fancy' is easy. Likewise daily weigh ins worked (and still do) brilliantly for Steve because daily fluctuations don't phase him – but if a little blip throws you off track or it makes you obsess, that is not the approach for you. So the take out here is to really understand yourself – your behaviours and feelings – and not be afraid to flex the 'system' to suit you.

Steve and fellow Nutracheck-er Caroline have co-authored a book about their incredible weight loss achievements – The Weight Maintenance Manual.

The pair, who became diet buddies through Nutracheck are now firm friends. In the book, Steve and Caroline share their hard-gained experiences about preparing for life at a healthy weight, from the moment you start your journey. The practical tips and invaluable insights draw on their personal journeys in achieving big weight losses – more than 10 stone for Steve, and nearly 4 stone for Caroline – followed by five years of maintaining. They look at the ultimate in weight loss success – to never again feel like you are actually 'dieting'!

The Weight Maintenance Manual is a must-read if you are serious about your weight loss. Why put in all the hard work only to have to repeat it?

Available from the usual bookshops – and at a special launch price of £6.99 +p&p on Steve's website Kindle version available.

Steve lost a massive 10st with Nutracheck. He now regularly writes about how he maintains his weight loss.

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