In this episode of The Motivation Method Podcast, TRINITY co-founder Rob Birkhead talks to Angela Cox, aka “A Big Girl’s Journey To Lean” to find out how she overcame 30+ years of yo-yo dieting, binge eating and struggling with her weight to finally become the fit, lean and happy person she’d always wanted to be.
ABOUT ANGELA COX
Angela Cox is a busy working mum of 2 and has amassed a huge following in the weight loss world, not just because she lost 8.5 stone, which is impressive, but she’s actually kept it off for the past 2 years and shows no sign of stopping on her healthy crusade!
Angela is now inspiring others to do the same with her “A Big Girl’s Journey To Lean” Facebook group, YouTube Vlogs and Instagram profile (@coxange78), and she has a book coming out this summer that aims to help and inspire more people to make a healthy transformation and more importantly, sustain it.
But she didn’t start off like this…
In fact, Angela, like many others, had struggled with binge eating and secret eating from the age of 9 after something happened that sent her life into a downwards spiral (more on that in her upcoming book).
She tried everything to stop putting on weight from making herself sick, taking laxatives, slimming pills and almost every diet that exists:
- 600kcal a day diets
- Weight Watchers
- Rosemary Conley
- LighterLife (lost and regained 4 1/2 stone)
- Slimming World (lost and regained 6 stone)
All of these were an attempt to get her eating and her weight under control, and whilst she did see some results initially, she always regained all the weight she lost (often more).
In fact, Angela recently plotted her weight over the past 18 years and every year there was a high and a low weight that were 3-5 stone different, but never lower than a size 14 (she actually believed she was incapable of getting below a size 14!).
However, in January 2016 something changed.
Angela decided enough was enough, ditched the diets for good and started her “lean journey” to where she is today – 8.5 stone lighter, fitter and happier at 40 than she’s ever been before and inspiring thousands of others to do the same.
“Something was telling me that if I carried on doing things the way I had always done them in the past, then it was going to derail me. I knew that I had to do something different.”
Here’s her top 10 lessons to help you on your journey (listen to the full podcast above to understand them in detail):
1. Ditch the diets
Having tried almost every diet under the sun over an 18-year period, Angela finally realised they were never going to work.
Her weight had gone up and down by up to 5 stone in a year but never stabilised and never stayed down with diets.
She realised if she wanted to lose the excess weight and keep it off something had to change.
2. Exercise is not enough
When Angela started her journey, one of the key changes was getting a Personal Trainer.
Initially she started seeing some good progress, but this quickly stagnated.
The problem, she realised, is that whilst she was moving more, her habits with food hadn’t changed and it was keeping her stuck.
We’ve seen this happen with countless people before – you simply cannot “out-exercise” bad food choices!
3. Hide the scales
Angela admitted she was obsessed with the scales, weighing herself daily or even multiple times a day!
If she saw the number go down even just a pound, it was a great day.
If she saw the number go up, her day was ruined.
Over time she realised this wasn’t serving her as weight loss is not a steady thing.
Here’s what happened on her “lean journey” over the first 4 weeks:
- Week 1 – lost loads
- Week 2 – put weight on
- Week 3 – put weight on!
- Week 4 – lost 9 lbs
Angela was consistent throughout those 4 weeks and yet some weeks she lost nothing (or even gained weight) and others she lost loads of weight.
After the first month she got her husband to hide her scales, as she realised they were a hinderance and not a help!
“[Hiding my scales] was the best thing I had ever done.”
We find progress pictures and inch measurements to be far more effective, and remember, natural fluctuations occur week-to-week, so the most important thing is to just measure how consistent you’re being.
4. HIIT can be too much for your joints
Angela’s first “plan” she followed on her “lean journey” included a lot of HIIT (high-intensity interval training). This involved lots of jumping around, mountain climbers, burpees etc…
Since Angela was over 16 stone at this point, it put a lot of pressure on her joints and she experienced a lot of pain.
Angela’s personal trainer eventually intervened and suggested she moved to doing her HIIT exercise on a rowing machine – a much less painful (but equally effective) option!
So if you’re finding HIIT exercise is causing you joint pain, consider either moving it to a low-impact machine like a rowing machine or try some other form of low-impact weight training for the best results.
5. 100% is easier than “a balanced diet” (at least at first)
When Angela started her “lean journey” in 2016, the big difference is she stopped trying to aim for “balance”.
Instead she stuck to it 100%, which she found to be far easier to stick to.
When aiming for “balance” or 80% healthy it’s open to interpretation. How much is too much?
With a 100% approach you know you have to say “no” to things that won’t work for you and this can actually make it much easier to stick to as this then doesn’t rely on willpower and self-control.
If someone says: “Just have some cake it’s not going to kill you!” the answer is a simple “no.”
We actually find the same thing working with our clients, hence we start with a 2-week Diet Makeover at the start helping them to break bad habits but cutting out foods that lead to cravings and over-eating. This is a 100% approach too.
Before you can find “a healthy balance” you need to break the bad habits by sticking to something good 100% of the time!
6. Mindset is a must
Angela said the biggest shift on her journey came when she realised the cause of all her eating problems were rooted in her mindset.
She could follow a diet for a while and lose some weight, but ultimately if her mindset didn’t change she’d always regain the weight and end up back where she started.
“Without the mindset bit I wouldn’t be here – I think I’d be back at 16 stone again.”
Angela referred to her inner voice as “Miss Meddler”. Initially “Miss Meddler” would constantly try and derail her and we all have an inner voice like this.
However, over time practicing her “deliberate practices” daily she started to quieten this voice. These included:
- Positive thinking
This won’t happen overnight, but by consistently working on her mindset she was able to start believing in herself, unlock more willpower and stay on the wagon where previously she would have given up on herself.
This is why we also teach our clients a daily mindset routine that is very similar to Angela’s to help keep them consistent and motivated and over time they can become that “thin and healthy” person that can stay in shape without having to try so hard all the time!
7. Be kind to yourself
Angela, like many others, was stuck in a downwards spiral of yo-yo dieting, and a big part of this was self-loathing and negative self talk.
She would constantly be thinking:
- “You’re fat”
- “You’re really ugly”
- “Don’t say that – what’s everyone going to think”
Angela realised this was just making things worse and found a book that really helped tackle this negative self talk called “Positive Thinking” by Justin Albert.
Every day she started saying positive affirmations to herself – for example:
- You are capable
- You are beautiful
You might not believe it at first (in fact, you definitely won’t), but over time this starts to re-wire your mind, and this had a direct impact on Angela’s actions.
Once she started to believe she was worthy of treating herself well, she could start to break the cycle of binge eating and actually stay consistent.
If you don’t have time to listen to self-help books (Angela’s a busy consultant so doesn’t either), Angela recommends listening to audiobooks whilst driving, cleaning or cooking.
9. Stop comparing yourself to others
Angela acknowledged the constant comparison which happens on social media these days – we all do it!
However, you’ve got to remember that:
- You might not be 20 years old and you might have had multiple children – the reality is you will never look like a 20-year-old model (but it’s not necessary for you to be happy either!)
- What you see on social media is not real – almost all famous social media stars heavily edit/Photoshop their photos before uploading them
Angela describes comparing yourself to others as the “thief of joy”. It’s only ever going to make you feel worse about yourself.
It sounds cliched, but focus on being a better version of you every single day, rather than what everyone else is doing, and 6 months down the line you’ll shock yourself with what you’ve achieved!
We always tell our clients to focus on progress and not perfection. Progress is achievable daily, perfection is never achievable!
9. Start a sustainable plan (not another diet)
You need something to follow to get moving – if you’re stuck you’re not going to get out of there on your own!
Diets are very tempting as they promise very quick results, however if they haven’t worked before they won’t work again. Angela tried them all and never kept the weight off!
Remember if you’re tempted by another diet:
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ll always got.”
Here’s how Angela recommends evaluating whether something is a good choice:
- Write down all the diets you’ve done
- Write down how many enabled you to keep the weight off for more than 6 months!
- If it didn’t work before it won’t work now!
All the diets with the giant advertising campaigns are able to afford to do that purely because they don’t work and people keep having to come back!
We hear from hundreds of people a month who’ve tried all the classic diets (Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Cambridge Diet, 5:2 etc..) and there’s one thing in common – they’re all still stuck!
“It’s not the person that isn’t making it work, it’s the product that isn’t right and isn’t sustainable.”
After learning how to lose 8.5 stone in a sustainable way, Angela recommends the following formula for success:
- Healthy eating (not starving yourself)
- Exercise 3-5 times a week (no more)
- Daily work on your mindset
This is the exact formula we’ve taught Angela and over 3000 other women to date with our Motivation Masterclass online coaching programme.
This doesn’t mean it will be easy, but it will get easier!
“It will be horrendous at first, but it will get easier and easier the more you do it!”
10. It’s a marathon, not a sprint
At first losing weight can seem like a huge mountain to climb, and every step will be hard.
However, over time you’ll build healthier habits.
For Angela it took her 6 months of practicing her “deliberate practices” to start shifting her mindsets and for it to start getting easier.
However, she notes how those 6 months will whizz by (and 6 months is often nothing compared to the years people have spent stuck doing diets!).
“In the same way as your biceps develop over time, your “mindset muscles” develop over time too”
So once you start, keep going at all costs and don’t let anyone stop you!
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