BTBS's Questions & Answers Session: Part 1

Over the past week, I've had loads questions from readers about their weight loss concerns. It was suggested that I post a kind of 'FAQs post' to address the most common questions, so here it is!

I've had to spilt this post into many as there's a lot of really good questions! If you can't see your question below it will be answered in another Q&A post in the very near future. 

1. I'm terrified of entering a gym or a swimming pool for fears that I'm getting judged by slimmer girls, how do you suggest ignoring these thoughts and just getting on with reaching your goal.
I like to visit these places during what I call 'ghost town hours'. I go to the swimming pool early in the morning to a lane session, which is typically used by serious swimmers only. As a serious swimmer myself, I can assure you that we're too busy counting our many laps to notice who's around in the pool at the time. Sometimes I wonder if we'd even notice someone placing a shark in the pool. 

As for the gym, I prefer to go in the middle of the day. Often the lunch break hour is a little busy but everyone is so focused on getting in, working up a sweat and swiftly getting out and back to work that no one pays any attention to who's around them. I stand at the back in classes so know one can see me and and in the gym itself I put on music that makes me feel confident and block out the rest of the world.  

I think it's important to keep in mind at all times, whether at the pool or gym, that we're all there for the same reason: we're looking after ourselves. I can guarantee that 99% of everyone there is so worried about what other people think about them that they don't critically look at anyone else.

2. What foods did you give up? Do you miss them? I feel I should give up chocolate but I miss it too much when I go without it and end up binging on it when I get the chance.
Firstly, I should point out that I still eat chocolate, cake, ice cream and chips. Not all the time obviously, but at least once a week. I also still eat out 3 times a week! There's no need to give your favourite foods up completely. I either limit the portion size (often written in really small print on the box/packet nearby the nutritional information) or I look for a lower calorie alternative. WeightWatchers make fantastic desserts! I especially love their ice creams, cheesecakes, mini rolls and yogurts. I've written two lists of low calorie supermarket desserts here and here if you would like some more ideas.   

I think binging is most likely to occur when you feel deprived so the answer is to train yourself over time into feel satisfied with smaller and smaller portions of your desired 'treat' food rather than give it up all together.

I have given up some things though. All of which made me feel ill in some way. I used to get a lot of heart burn from fatty foods like chip shop style chips, order in pizza (I now make my own) and sausage rolls. I also suffered with a lot of migraines from excess sugar so I gave up fizzy drinks and alcohol (as I favoured the sugary cocktails!) I don't miss any of these simply because they made me feel so rubbish. I'm pretty sure if I was to eat a take away pizza again I'd have to sit on the toilet for a week, to be completely honest. I've also saved a lot of money in the process!

3. How often do you workout and what kind of workouts do you do?
Between 4-5 times a week. This is made up of pretty tough workouts. I swim for an hour followed by an Aqua Zumba class straight afterwards mid-week. I then go to a 1 hour Body Combat class on another day, and take 4 different classes over the course of a weekend, these being Body Combat (again), Body Pump, Body Balance and Zumba. You can read more about these particular classes here.

So to sum up, I don't stick to just one type of workout, I swim, weight train, dance (on land and in water!) and throw in some mixed martial arts inspired cardio and some yoga. I also walk anywhere within a mile radius (despite having a car). I've also been known to workout in front of the TV with a circuit-training DVD or fitness game. 

It's important to have a least 1 day of rest in the week to let your muscles repair any damage that results from tough workouts, in particular weight and/or circuit training. 

4. I'm a student and shocking at cooking, mostly it's me and the microwave! I also cannot afford a gym membership so any tips on home exercise?
 To solve the cooking issue I highly recommend the book 'Nosh 4 Students' by Joy May. It's the one that taught me how to make lasagne from scratch. I modified the recipe slightly afterwards to reduce the calories (as you can read about here) but the method has stayed the same. I love this book as the recipes don't require fancy equipment. Many ingredients can be measured using objects from around a typical student kitchen, like mugs! 

In terms of working out at home, there's many options! If there's a games console in the house then good fitness games include Zumba, Wii Fit, EA Sports Active and Your Shape Fitness Evolved. I use both my Wii and Xbox Kinect for home workouts. If there's not a console around then DVDs like Ministry of Sound's 'Pump It Up' and Jillian Micheals' 30 Day Shred are good ones to get started with and certainly burn calories and make you sweat!   

5. I'm a small girl with not much height on my side, I often get paranoid that I look bad or look so much wider, did you ever have this? 
Many times, I still do now. I often joke that I'm 'undertall' and not overweight, seeing as we smaller girls have to weigh less than our taller friends to keep our BMI in the healthy range.

I know many girls get around their height paranoia by wearing heels, which is great for those that can walk in them, but I can't and I don't find them comfortable. I think this is something fashion has to help us out with. Generally, I'd avoid cropped jeans/trousers, long skirts or anything that goes past the knee that' not full length. All of these can make your legs look shorter. Also steer clear of really long tops that stop past your hips as these can have the effect of 'framing' your widest part (which is often the hips or stomach) as well as making your legs look shorter. High waisted, well fitted trousers for formal occasions or work, teamed with a bright top always looks amazing and lengthens legs. Small girls can also get way with buying really short dresses as they fit us perfectly length-wise! 

The person I would trust most for advice like this would be Gok Wan

Stay tuned for more BTBS Q&A sessions! If you have questions of your own then feel free to email them to, tweet them to @BTBSBlog or post them on BTBS's wall at

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