My Top 5 Tips For Getting Lean – What I’ve Learned Losing 5 Stone

I’ll be honest, I never thought I would be writing this blog post. When I look at the title, I still can’t believe it myself. I always hoped but deep down I honestly didn’t believe that I could ever make such a dramatic change to my life. For years (and I mean decades) I always thought that one day I hoped I would take myself in hand and get fit and shed the baby weight (my ‘baby’ is 12 yeards old!).

It was a hell of a year and I’m so proud of myself, losing 5 stone, nearly 40 inches and dropping from a size 20-22 to a 12. People still come up to me and say ‘How have you done it?’ and the following are the my top 5 tips for how I did it :

1. It’s Hard Work

Don’t be under any illusion. Getting fit and losing weight is not easy and anyone that tells you that it is is lying through their teeth. You need to be prepared to put in the work, or else you won’t see the results. There’s no magic pill, no miracle voodoo technique that will do this for you, you have to get off your backside and do it and it’s not easy, but it’s so worth it. What is it they say? Getting started is half the battle, well that is definitely true.

I remember the first time I went to the gym I thought I would die, I was so unfit. But I knew that I had to put my fears to one side and go back again and again and again.

2. Say Goodbye To Old Habits

An important part of this journey is thinking about how you got here. What are the bad habits that you must say goodbye to? For me, some of them were :

  • weighing myself every week
  • having a few biscuits with my cup of tea (and I drink a lot of tea!)
  • collapsing in front of the tv every evening when the kids had finally gone to bed, sometimes with crisps or salted nuts
  • always buying a bar of chocolate or three when in a shop or garage
  • considering walking around the supermarket as my weekly exercise

These were just some of the old habits that caused my health and weight to spiral out of control over the years.

Trust me, it takes time to kick these habits but you can. If I can then anyone can. In fairness I remember it taking me a good 8 weeks before I felt like I was free of those damaging behaviours that had become so engrained into my daily psyche. I slowly stopped looking at junk food as a reward or a comfort and started to see it for what it really was, empty calories that were feeding my emotions and not my body.

Part of saying goodbye to old habits is embracing the new habits your new lifestyle will bring. Drinking more water, cooking real food from scratch (benefiting the whole family) and remembering all the money you’ll be saving now you’re not buying takeaways or junk food.

I have thrown away my bathroom scales too. Weighing yourself too often is one of the worst things you can do. Inches are a much more accurate way to measuring your success.

3. Don’t Do This Alone

If you have a support network around you, the chances that you will succeed will be far greater. Whether you join a Slimming Club (this option didn’t work for me), enlist the help of a gym buddy or get your partner/spouse and family to support your lifestyle change. Their support will help motivate you and stay focused. When those around you know what you’re doing, they won’t sabotage you, they’ll want to see you happy, they’ll help you find the time to get your workout done.

I love the fact that my kids are proud of me too. They see how hard I’ve worked and have learned a valuable life lesson, that you can be instrumental in your own success. If you want something, you can achieve it, no matter how daunting it seems at the beginning.

The idea behind seeking out that support also applies to your time at the gym. Consider enlisting the help of a personal trainer to help motivate you and help devise an effective workout plan. I know that my personal trainer at Avena Leisure in Sligo has been instrumental to my success. I just know that I wouldn’t have achieved the results I did without his help.

4. Don’t Deprive Yourself

I knew going into this that this couldn’t be a ‘quick fix’, it had to be a total lifestyle change. This so called ‘journey’ that I refer to implies a destination but there really isn’t one. This is for life.

In my ‘extensive’ dieting experience over the years, when you’re told you can’t have something, you really want it. So I never say that any food is forbidden. Now, if I want chocolate I have some. But I have a couple of pieces of good quality dark chocolate instead of a multi-pack of crap milk chocolate bars. To date, I still have a couple of glasses of red wine with homemade pizza on Saturday nights and I never ever feel guilty, I don’t tell myself I deserve it. I have it because I want it. Simple as that.

5. Get Selfish With Your Time

This is a particularly hard one for parents out there but probably one of the most important ones. I was always one of those people who always blamed my lack of time for not taking control of my lifestyle. Sure who has time for the gym? That was my excuse.

I was constantly running and racing between home and work and school and after school activities. How was I meant to fit the gym into that crazy daily schedule? I just had to, so I did! I would go to the gym early in the morning before anyone got up or I would go at lunchtime or I would go in the evening when I would normally be crashing on the sofa with a glass of wine and a bag of crisps. It wasn’t easy but it was possible and I always felt better when I found that hour and prioritised my health.

I wrote some other blog posts about my time working out at Avena where I looked at different aspects of my journey like why all women should lift weights and what nutrition is important when you’re working out.

Avena Leisure - Sligo - special offers for gym membership in January 2017

I want to take this opportunity to say thank you so much to the guys at Avena Leisure in Sligo for all their support over the last year. If you’re interested in joining a gym in Sligo, I can’t recommend Avena Leisure highly enough. Check out their website or Facebook page and start your own fitness journey.




  1. We’ll done Debbie … I need to get on that journey ! Some good tips and realistic advice I can relate to the tea drinking comment I don’t ever have a cuppa without ” something nice ” and I too drink a lot of tea !

    1. You can do it Laura, honestly you can. The ‘getting started’ is always the hardest part. Once you start to feel better and start seeing results, the motivation is so much easier. I actually don’t miss the biscuits anymore, mind you I had to go cold turkey!!! x

  2. Wow Debbie, I am so impressed and inspired by your determination and positive attitude. I love the fact that you subscribe to it being hard because it is. Once you know what to do and you are motivated then you can do anything but it is never easy. Good excuses come easily to us all. Hope you are all well, love Jude x

    1. Thanks for your lovely words Judith. There’s no pretending that it isn’t hard work, as you know it is but it’s so worth it x

    1. Thanks Helen, I am actually really proud of myself and it feels good to say that. I love the fact that my hubby and kids are really proud of me too x

    1. Ah thank you so much Nicola for that. I so pleased that you liked my no-nonsense tips 🙂 There’s certainly no way to sugar-coat (pardon the pun) the effort and work that it took to transform myself into a fitter and healthier mum.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *