Transformation Tuesday – Jess Attree
Jess is one of Roz’s closest friends and even part of her wedding party. They have known each other since beginning University in 2002 and while they have both
had their ups and downs with food, they can now both confidently say they own their eating!
Here is Jess’s story.
When did you start Flexible Eating?
Beginning of October 2016. Went for a couple of days of playing on My Fitness Pal and then jumped straight in.
What prompted you to get started?
Seeing your pics from Bali and travelling adventures – and all the tasty goodies you encountered along the way – then seeing the pics you were posting of your progress made it look easy. The massive grin on your face most of the time made it look like you weren’t struggling through a diet – although that may also have had something to do with a certain Mr Ackerman!
Then I saw you in September and you seemed the happiest we’ve ever seen you – so something (or a number of things) were clearly agreeing with you. The fact you were getting involved with dinner and a few glasses of bubbly and not stressing about it got me thinking.
I had a pretty horrific ankle injury in Jan 2016 (who knew you could break an ankle in 4 places on a trampoline) which pretty much ruled out any fitness and fun plans I’d had for most of the year which was gutting after a really good spell of gym effort at the end of 2015. A couple of metal plates and 3 months on crutches – relying on my husband Jon setting up seated circuits in our living room (potentially for his sanity as much as mine), followed by a few months of gingerly getting back into the gym weren’t doing a lot for my self-esteem and confidence.
A few weddings and events – that I didn’t particularly like the photos of me from – prompted me to look for something to change, a few texts to you and I ended up starting Flexible Eating and having a weigh in with a new PT on the same day.
I basically decided to make a change rather than complain, and once I was told I just had to manage ankle pain rather than avoid any specific exercise it was time to get moving – and up my painkillers.
To start with I was pretty baffled by the amount I was able to eat – didn’t understand how it was going to help me get to a weight that I thought was way off but the inner geek in me loved having a game to play and was hitting 000 within the first few days. Haven’t really looked back since.
What changes have you noticed in your body?
i.e. – weight, measurements, clothes, PRs
Sounds a bit extreme but the biggest change has been me – pretty much all of me, confidence, size, strength and general determination.
First thing I noticed was getting a bit of definition in a few places – starting to feel that clothes were getting a bit looser – which was nice but wasn’t noticing a huge amount of change on the scales.
Going to the gym had always been a bit of a chore, but I found myself really enjoying going and PT sessions are just good fun – especially as I can now hold my own in the free weights area rather than feel like a really out of place girl – now I just need help if someone’s left a weighted bar up high! Training with Jon has been a massive thing for me as we’re both ridiculously competitive – he can obviously lift heaver than me, but I can kick his ass at certain things! We push each other a lot – we’re basically small children playing.
Weights wise I’ve increased what I can lift in pretty much every way – can do a few pull ups here and there, but have discovered I enjoy a good deadlift. I was pretty happy initially getting my bodyweight up – now I’m chasing double that and edging closer. Can’t really explain how much my attitude to the gym has changed.
My initial aim was to get back to doing a 10km run by Xmas (I hate running but it’s something I feel I should do). Tried a run for the first time in early Nov and had knocked 5 mins of my previous time from Dec 2015 – basically couldn’t walk after, but ice is my friend. I’ve probably knocked 10 mins in total off my pre-bionic ankle time. Not bad after 3 runs in 5 months.
It took me a long time to face up to needing to buy new clothes, fear of moving backwards I guess – and I’m still pretty confused by it. I’ve been a UK size 10/12 for as long as I can remember. I’m now a 6/8 – to me that’s ridiculous and my brain hasn’t caught up. Only down side has been having to get a few things altered that I wasn’t ready to ditch – but that’s not exactly a bad thing.
What has been your biggest obstacle that you have overcome or are working on?
I’ve discovered I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I basically starting with aiming for 000 as a puzzle trying to get things to fit. A few more oats, or pineapple to hit carbs, a bit of avocado for fats and an extra gram of protein powder here and there is way more pleasing to me than being a gram or so over or under at the end of the day.
Having the flexibility to relax at weekends has been key to me finding it sustainable. I probably hit 000 5 or 6 days a week, and make sure I hit protein as a minimum on the 7th day (normally Fri or Sat) and try to chill out about it. I’m getting better at that and learning to let go when not at home.
Giving myself the space to know it’s not going to ruin everything I’ve worked on if I go out for dinner once in a while, or drink a few cocktails at the weekend and approaching the next day as a fresh start really works. If you need chocolate after a nasty physio session and it pushes you over, it’s really not the end of the world.
What’s one piece of advice you would give someone that is just getting started?
There are a couple of things that have helped me.
We have always thought we ate fairly healthily – cooking from scratch the majority of the time, using quality ingredients, no ready meals – but basically winging it with portion control. Jon’s bigger than me – he had bigger portions was about the level of science involved. I didn’t know how much food I was missing out on. Especially ice cream, and Oreos!
To start with we decided that the only way this was going to work for us was to cook what we normally cooked and figuring out portion sizes from there – rather than pining for things we used to eat, or cooking separate meals. So meals we cook regularly are added as recipes in My Fitness Pal as 1 serving, and from there I work out a % of the final dish that fit. We’ve got a list of weights of pans on our notice board which often get a few weird looks. With the type of stuff we cook (chilli, curries, home made pizza, stir fries) weighing everything cooked doesn’t really work – so everything is weighed raw. We picked a method and stuck with it.
If you cook with & eat with someone it’s really helpful if a) they get on board with what you’re doing and happily weigh things to feed your obsession and b) eventually give in and get on board.
I’m a planner – Jon isn’t. We’ll decide what we’re eating the next night and I’ll plan my day down to 000 while watching tv – it’s now down to a few minutes job. I like not having to think about making things fit during the day – and make sure there’s something sweet to enjoy at the end of the day. I like knowing things are planned, they fit and I don’t have to think.
Jon will copy what I’ve got in as dinner and figure out what he wants for the rest of the day – he’s not obsessed and aims to not completely crash through numbers, mainly hitting protein is his aim and get the ratios right. Then we’ll prep the next day’s breakfast and lunch before going to bed. Ready for a quick getaway in the morning for work.
You’ll have heard Roz and Jason saying it but the main thing is just to start. And ask questions – as many as you can think of. Nothing’s too basic! Have fun finding new foods and playing the game.