A beautician who shed 8st (51kg) has shared her top tips for New Year weight loss – including getting rid of Christmas chocolate and taking 'before’ pictures in your underwear.
Sinead McCarthy, 31, from Barrhead, East Renfrewshire, weighed 20st (127kg) at her heaviest but slimmed down to 12st (76kg) after committing to a diet plan eating 1,700 calories a day and doing at least 10,000 steps.
Now she has shared her top tips for people wanting to embark on their own health and fitness journey, including binning any temptations and doing steps while watching the TV.
She said losing weight is all about a lifestyle change and that "quick fixes and crazy diets" don’t work.
"Getting started after Christmas can be hard but I suggest just taking it one day at a time," she says.
“If you are making a New Year’s resolution don’t think too far into the future wishing you were a certain size or weight.
“If you look too far ahead you can start to feel like you will never be able to stick to the changes, so just tick one day off and then try to do the next one."
McCarthy advises getting rid of temptation from the house before embarking on a new diet and health regime.
“All the chocolate you have lying around after Christmas make sure it’s gone before you start, especially if you don’t have a lot of willpower," she advises.
She also suggests kick-starting weight loss by taking pictures in your underwear.
“It can be really hard at the time but you will be thankful for it in the long run," she explains. “When you feel like you are not losing anything you can look back at the pictures and see how far you have come.
“You can also hang up some item of clothing you want to fit into as inspiration."
Bulking out every meal with spinach also helped supercharge McCarthy's weight loss – as well as snacking on eggs, tins of fish and soups.
While getting outside and walking is another top tip, McCarthy says doing steps in front of the TV to get the 10,000 steps in can also help those struggling to feel motivated to go out in the cold.
“Just put something on the TV and get them done in the house," she explains. “It’s all about keeping moving."
Before her weight loss McCarthy said eating up to seven takeaways a week and family sized chocolate bars every night left her feeling unhappy with her body.
“The weight piled on gradually for a few years, I didn’t really see how bad it was until it was too late," McCarthy says of her weight gain. I was having loads of takeaways, at least five a week but sometimes seven, and they were enough for two people.
“My snacking was out of control too," she adds. "I wouldn’t eat normal sized chocolate bars it would have the big family sized ones."
McCarthy's lifestyle left her feeling reluctant to get up in the morning because of how she looked and meant she'd avoid mirrors.
She also refused to have her hair done or wear make-up.
“I took no pride in my personal appearance at all," she explains. “I wouldn’t get my hair done, I wouldn’t wear make-up, I didn’t do any self-care – I just thought 'what’s the point?'
“That was really hard given my job. I would see what treatments girls were getting and wish it was me, I always felt inferior to everyone else around me."
Desperate to turn things around, McCarthy decided to overhaul her lifestyle.
She committed to a diet plan eating 1,700 calories a day, began weightlifting in the gym and made sure to get in between 10,000 and 15,000 steps a day.
"I started out with a PT at the gym and then I signed up for a coach who wrote a programme for me in the gym and a nutritional plan," she says.
“The first workout I did was horrific, two minutes in I thought I was going to pass out and had to sit down, it was so hard. But I was determined to get the weight off and change my life."
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After overcoming her initial exercise hurdles, McCarthy now goes to LIFT Glasgow gym seven days a week because she loves how it makes her feel.
“I do weightlifting in the gym nearly seven days a week now and make sure to get some cardio done too," she says. “The gym has become more of a mental thing for me now because it makes me feel so good and sets me up for the day."
The self-employed beautician also made changes to her diet, swapping out the takeaways and opting for protein-laden food.
“I don’t restrict myself anymore if I want to have a cake I will have one because one cake is not going to ruin all the work I have done.
After losing 8st, McCarthy says she has a newfound confidence, which has had a knock on impact on other aspects of her life.
“It’s like a physical and mental weight has been lifted off me now," she explains. “I wake up glad to be here now, before it was such a struggle getting up every day.
“I lost myself for a few years, all my friends really noticed it and now they will say it’s so nice to have the real me back. It’s been a complete life transformation for me. I feel like I am just starting to live my life now."
Read more: The NHS' 12-week weight loss plan explained
McCarthy's diet before:
Breakfast - Full fried breakfast
Lunch - McDonald’s or KFC with enough for two people
Dinner - Takeaway, again enough for over two people
Snacks - Chocolate and crisps
McCarthy's diet after:
Breakfast - Boiled eggs and porridge
Lunch - Tuna/chicken, rice and vegetables
Dinner - Chicken/steak, potatoes and vegetables
Snacks - Protein bar or boiled egg
Additional reporting SWNS.