Trying to lose weight while still maintaining an active social life is a tricky thing to do. You desperately want to say yes to invitations out for dinner and drinks, but you're acutely aware it means you'll have to go off-piste in terms of your food regime, and it can feel like you're undoing some of your good work.
But one woman has somehow managed to prove it is possible to eat out and still lose weight, because she's done it herself. After eating in restaurants twice a week for five consecutive weeks, 26-year-old Sophie Hardy still managed to shed pounds — contributing to her overall weight loss of more than 55 pounds — and she's shared her secrets with Cosmopolitan UK.
Sophie opened up about the struggle she's had with her weight, dating back to her teenage years. "I just loved food and I didn't really know when to say no or when to stop," she said. But problematically, Sophie didn't have the same metabolism as a lot of her friends, and the weight began to pile on.
"When you're a teenager it's hard being the bigger girl, and it was at a time when everyone was getting boyfriends but I was kind of 'the fat one', so to speak," she told Cosmopolitan UK. "I used to try and hide how insecure I was with humour."
When Sophie's weight reached more than 270 pounds, she knew she had to do something about it, so she joined a class and quickly dropped five stone. But her dedication to a new way of eating wouldn't last, and when she joined university she began to feel disinterested in attending the classes. Eventually, much of her weight returned.
Fast forward to January 2016, and Sophie weighed 230 pounds. With a busy, social career doing PR and marketing, the young woman felt like she wasn't "the best version of myself. I wanted my confidence to be better in terms of speaking to customers and feeling good in my clothes," she said. And so she turned back to Weight Watchers, feeling confident that this time it would last.
With her new found determination, Sophie began succeeding in her quest to lose weight, and when she saw an advert for Weight Watchers looking to appoint an '', she knew she was up for the challenge. The idea was that one real life Weight Watchers subscriber would eat out at two restaurants a week across the country for five weeks, in a bid to prove that it's possible to do this and to continue losing weight.
Sophie was chosen out of about 450 applicants, but she was understandably nervous. "I was so worried that I was going to put weight on, but the idea is that your weight loss journey is an 80/20 journey. It's not 100% of the time that you have to be so strict with yourself," Sophie said. And she proved it's true, losing 4 and a half pounds over the five weeks.
It sounds like a pretty impossible feat, so how did she do it? "I look for buzz words on a menu, so I look for things that say 'grilled', 'poached', 'steamed' rather than 'deep fried' and 'battered'," Sophie explained. "You can still have them," she added. "I think it just has the adverse effect if you restrict yourself completely. As long as you've got the allowance for it you can go for it, [but] maybe have a lighter meal [the next day] to counteract it.
"It's all about balance," said Sophie.
In May this year, 16 months after she restarted her weight loss journey, Sophie reached her goal weight of about 180 pounds, which she says has now given her a healthy BMI.
Aside from following the Weight Watchers' Smart Points food plan, key changes she noted that made all the difference included:
Addressing portion sizes
"Use smaller plates, if you have a bigger plate, you'll have a bigger meal"
Educating herself on good food
"Avoid things that are high in saturated fats and sugars, and balance your meals in terms of protein, veg, etc"
Writing down everything she ate
"It's all accounted for and then I know what I've got left for the day"
Doing some exercise
"You have to take it at your own pace because everyone's at different levels, and find something that you enjoy"
And now, more importantly than just looking good, Sophie is feelingbetter than she ever has done. "Obviously nobody's perfect and every woman has her insecurities and her body hang ups, but I just feel so much more confident in myself," she said.
"I can speak to people in public a little bit better, I can go out and feel confident wearing an outfit, rather than hiding behind my friends in photographs on Instagram, I just feel so much better. I'm loads happier, and I feel loads healthier as well."
Proof that losing weight sensibly, with balance and for all the right reasons, is the key to .