After her "aha!" moment, Lobke Meulemeester from the UK realized she had to change her habits to live a healthier life. Starting at 233 pounds, she's used Weight Watchers and Fitbit to lose 75 — but she still lives a life of balance, sharing that even now she has days where she doesn't go to the gym and gets takeout ("takeaway," in UK terms!) instead. And while she always gets her steps in, she has a little chocolate every day.
POPSUGAR: What made you decide to start your weight-loss journey?
Lobke Meulemeester: I came to a point in my life where doing simple tasks like walking became difficult. Walking short distances gave me a backache; I got short of breath. I was borderline diabetic. I knew things had to change if I wanted to prolong my life. But it wasn't only physical — my mental state was also suffering. I had no confidence in myself and didn't care anymore. I didn't care what I looked like or what I wore.
I have always been a little overweight as a kid, even though I was quite active. And this continued through adulthood but escalated after my mother suddenly died back in October 2013. Dieting and losing weight got put back and I wasn't on my mind at all.
PS: Was there one program or method that you used?
LM: I had used Weight Watchers before so I thought I'd give it another go. I followed the program, combined with exercise and daily hour-long walks while being on lunch break at work. I got myself a Fitbit and tracked my daily steps. I enjoyed doing the challenges with people all over the world and it got me walking in all sorts of weather. Before Weight Watchers, I had tried a few different weight-loss programs like SlimFast, calorie-counting, and shakes. I had lost weight but always ended up regaining after going back to normal foods.
"I feel so much better and more alive."
PS: What's your favorite way to work out?
LM: I love to go to classes. I find it more fun than just using the cardio machines, although I do plow through it sometimes as I know that's what works for me.
PS: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
LM: It depends. I try and go to the gym three times a week but I never set myself a target or set days; I go when I feel like it. Sometimes I have days where I can't face it and go home and have takeaway instead. It's all about balance!
PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?
LM: I try and switch it up as much as I can. I go to different classes and do a day of HIIT cardio in between.
PS: What was the first big difference, other than the number on the scale, that really made you feel proud and excited?
LM: It was the confidence I gained while losing weight. Not only did I feel so much better and more alive, but I also started to love how I looked as a result. My skin was glowing, I was smiling more, and I started enjoying clothes shopping again.
PS: How do you track your weight loss?
LM: I use the Weight Watchers app but I also have a sheet I made in my kitchen at the moment where I track the days until I go on holiday which I cross off every day so I can keep motivated and on track until then. It's good to have goals to work toward.
PS: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
LM: I start my day with a good, filling protein breakfast that will keep me going until 11-ish. Lunch would also be a sandwich with a good amount of protein like chicken. I make sure I have plenty of fruit with me to snack on during the day, and I also make sure I have a little treat in the afternoon with a cup of coffee to keep me going. Being Belgian, that's mostly chocolate!
PS: Do you count calories? What's the range of calories you eat per day?
LM: No. I have tried using the MyFitnessPal app before and it's just not for me. I want something that's easy and doesn't require me to weigh everything I eat.
Lobke: Before and After
PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?
LM: You will always find yogurts, pineapple, almond milk, eggs, precooked chicken, and gherkins [pickles] in my fridge.
PS: How do you strategize for meals out?
LM: I always have one day where I have a treat meal and dessert. I always choose what I want as I think it's important to listen to your cravings. I have learned from experience it doesn't end well if you ignore them. So one day, I will have something I've fancied all week and a nice dessert to follow, that way I feel refreshed for the week ahead.
"I've skipped the gym many times for takeaway and treats instead. It's life. Take one day at a time. Every day is a fresh start."
PS: How did the Fitbit help you on your journey?
LM: I got myself a Fitbit when I first started my fitness journey. It helped me get more steps in on a regular basis as I have an office job and it's actually astonishing to see how little steps you do in a day. So I started taking two 10-minute breaks and walk around the car park, as well as walking on my one-hour lunch every single day. On top of that, I would go to the gym three times a week. I did challenges with people all over the world and it can get quite competitive. Sometimes I ended up walking in the rain just so I could win the workweek hustle!
PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?
LM: Don't expect it to happen overnight. This will be a long process but one that will be totally worth it. It will become easier once you are a few weeks in. Don't get upset when you are having an off day; we all get those. I've skipped the gym many times for takeaway and treats instead. It's life. Take one day at a time. Every day is a fresh start. Just never stop, never give up. You will get there, one day at a time.