Couch to 5K
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Unhappy fat sloth :(

I stepped on the scale this morning. As it turned out, it was very bad idea. I gained weight. My last weigh in was about 2 weeks ago and I had 2.5kg less than today. You can probably imagine how disappointed I am, I'm only 1kg below my highest weight ever (which I had 10 years ago without doing any sports).

I need your help and advice. Here are my problems (I know exactly what's going wrong: eating too much):

1) How do you keep yourself of eating simply out of boredom/ out of habit? That's what I do but I can't stop it.

2) How do you keep yourself from eating too many sweets? At the moment, I'm tucking in sweets but I also like salty food so the question is also valid for the salty section. I don't want to ban any food as I know it will only lead to a terrible craving of this food. How do you restrict yourself to sweets? How many do you eat? How do you stop yourself from eating it all?

3) How much is an average serving of... pasta, potatoes etc? I know that everyone is different but I have no idea about portion sizes so cutting them down (what I'd like to do) is difficult.

4) Do you have any other tips for me?

I feel so disappointed and also very unattractive. I do a lot of sports. Three 5k runs a week and, usually on my rest days, 3 times circuit training in the gym plus 30-45 minutes cardio training (often on the crosstrainer, if I don't have a lot of time, I do my runs at the treadmill after/before the circuit training).

I don't have a smart phone so myfitnesspal doesn't work for me. I can't imagine always to have to switch on my notebook to register my food. Calorie counting is not really an option for me as I discovered the tendency to get obsessed with food. I had a phase when I was 16 where I ended up with only eating an apple and a slice of bread a day.

I lost a lot of weight some years ago with a kind of freestyle weight watchers but regained it. I know it works for me but I can't motivate myself to get it going again for longer than 3-4 days. I'd like to do it again because I think it's a change of habits but here also occurs the question of the right portion sizes...

Many of you wrote about not wasting your runs by eating unhealthy food... somehow I haven't found this switch in my head.

Sorry for my moaning post!

40 Replies

1) corn cakes - they put you right off food ;-)

2) log what you eat

3) about 75g pasta, couple of serving spoons of mash.

4) eat fruit and veg

No smartphone, what about an old fashioned notebook and a pencil, if you log it, you're less likely to forget it. Don't forget it's not just about how much you eat, too little is bad too.

At the end of the day, we can't help you, you have to do that :-(


Thank you, crox! I know you're speaking out of experience. I'll get out my log book and write down all of the food I eat. 75g pasta, that's something I can work with. I know it will be a long way but as I've managed it before without any exercise, I think if I finally manage to maintain my better habits, I will see the results soon. Your answer already gave me encouragement to go on again :)


I'm battling my own demons with food. Boredom is a big killer to the diet. I'm sending you a hug first x

You're doing loads of exercise is it worth a trip to doctor just to make sure there is nothing underlying like under active thyroid.

I'm trying to reward myself with other things instead of wine and food, like a bath with lovely smellies. I try to remind myself it's calories in verses calories burned and being only 5 foot 1 I'm not allowed many and often wish I was 6 foot ha I know you don't have a smart phone but is it worth logging myfitnesspal for a month on the computer just to get your eye in on potion size.

I wish I could make you feel better. There is one thing I will say is you're a graduate something that I can only aspire too and you have proved to yourself that when you want something you can get it .


Thank you for your answer and the hug :) I really like your reward idea! I have to figure out what would be an equivalent reward for me (baths sound great but I've no bath tub...). I'll think about using myfitnesspal on the computer but really am afraid of getting too obsessed again. I can be very stubborn when I start something which is also a reason why I have never repeated any run during the programme and since my graduation in July have only missed two runs. With food, this stubbornness can become dangerous very easily (I've already made this experience).

You're right, I've managed lift my bum of the couch, so I should manage to get rid of those extra kilos.


1) This one is hard, try a drink first, make sure there's lots of low cal stuff around, satsumas this time of year are tasty and it takes a while to get into them so that's time you're not eating. Dried fruit and nuts are BAD as they're much higher in calories than you'd expect.

2) Don't buy them, or if you have to make sure you don't go for the economy option and buy big bags. The odd smaller bag will attempt to satisfy the craving without going mad.

3) Pasta, they reckon on 75 to 100g dry weight. I prefer to stick to 50 to 60g, a smaller portion. Potatoes, not sure, I've beaten that craving. Rice, I stick to about 100g cooked brown rice, again a small portion (add onions and mushrooms to bulk it out without adding too many calories), about what fits into a 1/4 pint pudding basin, cook an amount, portion out into the pudding basins and freeze them leaving out only the one you're eating that meal. Zap them in the microwave when you next want rice for dinner. Or forget about the rice/pasta/potato with dinner, it's not compulsory, meat and veggies or non-meat dish and veggies.

4) Weekly meal plan, breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner; plan it, print it, stick it on the fridge, stick to it. If you know exactly what you're eating and when it will help with those days when you can't be bothered or would run for something easy. Make life easy on yourself, if you're having it for dinner today then if it's suitable have it for lunch tomorrow; this helps coz it's generally hard to cook just one portion.

Use your freezer, cook 2, 3, 4, however many portions, as you're dishing it out dish out onto your plate and into however many freezer dishes, this way you're not tempted to add a couple of extra spoonfuls to your plate or look at the left overs and think that there's only enough for 2 portions instead of 4.

Weigh everything (you can get cheap kitchen scales for around a fiver from Argos), track calories, sorry. MFP is best (for me, there are other types of internet based tracking sites), I don't have a fancy phone either, yes I logged onto the 'puter and logged all the food, if you do the meal plan you can log ahead of time, just remember to stick to what you say you've eaten or will eat. Get into the habit of logging and it becomes more routine.

Hope that helps.

Edit: forgot to say, get out of the kitchen! It's always days where I'm cooking for other reasons or generally pottering in the kitchen where I tend to snack. If I can stay in the rest of the house or garden, or out with the dog or with friends then I'm not around food so much so it's easier not to pick.


Thank you a lot for your great advice! I will buy new batteries for my kitchen scale today and then I'll simply do it. Thank you also for the advice to stay out of the kitchen. I think that's also one of my main problems...


Well about 5 years ago I had such a bad time at the dentist and realised my teeth were getting into such a dreadful state that i just decided to stop eating food with added sugar in it. And I've pretty much kept to that since. I have slackened off a teeny bit, to the extent that if I'm out and friends have cooked a meal I may have a tiny portion of dessert, but I really don't like and can't eat most stuff with added sugar, particularly in commercial quantities. Maybe something similar would work for you? If you thought it wasn't for weight reasons, but the sake of your teeth, it might be easier to do? I do my own cooking of things like apple crumble, granola/ muesli, fruit scones etc, and just make without sugar, but often add things like crystallised ginger or raisins for a bit of sweetness. I KNOW crystallised ginger is full of sugar, but I figure a few pieces in a whole basin of apples isn't too bad. I also bend the rules to the extent of a tiny bit of home-made chutneys or jam (with much less sugar than bought ones) because I'm not a martyr. It's about appreciating the taste of food, not the taste of sugar. To start with, I was really craving sweetness, and after dinner used to head for the dried fruit just to get that hit of sugar, but that was only for a few weeks. Now I don't miss it at all. I can't see any justification for eating sweets really, unless you're on a marathon trek somewhere in the Arctic and need them for energy. They are just a cynical marketing ploy doing no good to anyone apart from the makers of drugs to treat diabetes, and companies who run weight-loss programmes.

1 like

Thank you! That's also a great idea! I think I'll google the effects of sugar on the human body so I get some examples of what want to avoid :)


I know it can be soul destroying when you want something and feel like you are stuck. Firstly pat yourself on your back as you have exercise under your belt for so many that is a major struggle so you are already doing something positive for yourself.

I am a big fan of five a day. I make sure I always have that and I am very strict about it, a portion of fruit and veg is approximately 80g each portion. I find that it is harder to eat too much of the wrong stuff as 400g a day of veg keeps you busy for a while. I also quite like the 80/20 rule. Every day eat good food 80% of the time and alow your self some little treats. These sort of tricks fool the brain into thinking your not really on a diet.

But most of all try to be a bit easier on yourself. I have a history of under eating too so dieting I know is tricky. I put a load of weight on with a thyroid issue.

Best of luck and be nice to yourself.


Thank you! I love fruits and veg and think I'm sometimes overeating it (especially apples) but your 80g a portion is exactly what I need. The 80/20 rule sounds also interesting as I don't want to have any forbidden foods.


See! Your not on your own!!!

I lost 3 stone using my fitness pal but I then got obsessed with food, 1 stone heavier again and back to my bad habits but I'm now exercising.

Sounds to me like your comfort eating and eating out of habit and boredom. How about doing some good deed for someone when you need a bit of comfort, that feels good to you and the other person... Habit, identify hot spots and remove the temptation...boredom? find stimulation, do something different. Right off to take my own advice :0)


Thank you. I really need to find ways out of my habits. I know that I'm eating too much (therefore I asked about the portion sizes), but I also know I eat out of reasons that are not hunger. I'll try to figure out in which situations I eat and why. And I'll have to learn only to eat when I'm hungry. It will be a long way but I know it's worth it.


Have you tried Weight Watchers?

Out of all the diets out there, I love it, and it sounds exactly what you need.

No food is banned - instead everything is 'pointed'

You are given an amount of points you can eat during a day

You can earn more points by exercising

It teaches you portion control

You can have sweets and cakes - however when you see how many points a mars bar is, and instead you could have a large bowl of pasta, it helps to deal with the want of sweet foods.

Best of all, if you don't want to go to meetings, you can do it online and keep a log of what you're eating and what you weigh each week.


I love the weight watchers system. I got the material at home (of an older version) and have also lost a lot of weight with this system but let it go and returned to old habits. I'll get my stuff out and start again from tomorrow (I know, I should start today but as we're going to eat out tonight, I can't tell how they prepare the food and how much oil etc they put in it. So: tomorrow is the new start!).

What I didn't find in my stuff is the portion sizes especially with pasta and potatoes (where you can eat as much as you like). What do they recommend as a portion? Do you have any information on that? And how many "free" fruits are ok on a day.. I tend to eat too much of these food they are "free" or one can eat as much as wanted.


That sounds more like Slimming World (which I don't like purely because I have no idea how much pasta I can eat on a green day). Use the WW point system - it tells you how many points pasta is worth depending on size


Hm, I don't know Slimming World so it should be WW related. Perhaps it's because my material is very old. It says you can have as much pasta as you want until you're full for 4 points. As you on those Slimming World green days, I have no idea what WW consider a normal portion. I'm still used to far too big portions so the "until I'm full" is not the best advice... What portions do they mention in your material?


I lost 5.5 stones (33kg) so it can be done. But ultimately it comes down to counting your calories. It's essential. I know you don't want to get obsessed with it, but you need to know where you are - otherwise it's like setting off to sail round the world without a map. Counting will help you avoid having too little food as well as too much! It'll also help you get to know which foods are high/low in calories.

Forget about using exercise to lose weight - you need to run about 100km at race pace to lose 1kg. It's great as a supplement and it'll help general fitness and well-being, but we just don't lose weight by exercising alone.

My great weaknesses are sweets and good bread. Even now, if I open a packet of sweets, I have to eat the lot. My only suggestion is to just not have them in the house. I find that if they're not in the cupboard or hidden away from the family, I don't even think about them. But if I know there are some around, I just have to gobble them up. It's not an addiction, it's just a habit that we need to break.

So that's my suggestion. If you REALLY want to change, you can. But it's tough and you really need to want to do it. You know that little chimp on your shoulder? Every time it whispers in your ear, tell it to shut up & get back in its cage. Do that every time. You MUST start resisting the temptation. It will get better. Never go away, but get better. You can do it - I'm living proof of that.


Thank you! I'm exactly the same with sweets. If it's there, it has to be eaten... I have to stop buying it.

Oh and bread. I live in Germany and the bread available here is... you could have a different type of bread for every meal for many weeks!!! I love and hate this fact at the same time.

I love the chimp idea. I'll try it. Thank you again :)


Malcy made a very good point in his first paragraph there (not the only good point though), logging your food will allow you to see when you go under your calories as well. One thing I noticed when I was losing weight was that if I had a day where I went under my recommended intake by a couple of hundred calories, the following day I had the incredible dose of the munchies, nothing could fill me up, I was permanently hungry, not a good feeling. So yes, to lose weight you need to eat less than you're expending, but not so much less that the plan wrecks itself.


I signed up for mfp yesterday. It seems to be a good programme and I like the clearness of it. I only have to be very careful not to make food the only thing in my life as it happened a few years ago. Thank you for your warning, I might be tempted to do the "as less as possible" variant and would've ended up like you the next day.


Exactly what the others above have said. My only contribution to this would be to reduce your portion sizes... Now you've said that already in your first post - you know they're too big. So go out and buy smaller crockery, or (and I know it sounds stupid), eat your dinner out of a cereal bowl. Having a medium portion of food in a small bowl / plate fools the brain into thinking it's a big portion. Having a medium portion in a big bowl makes you think you're missing out.

You may feel a little hungry after your meals for a few days to a week (2 weeks max) but your body (read: your stomach) will get used to the smaller portions quickly and you'll start feeling good again soon.

Hope it all helps! You're doing an immense amount of exercise but ultimately, it's the food intake that's causing you this issue :(


Thank you! I'll start to use smaller plates even if it looks ridiculous. Thank you again for reminding me of this trick I read about before. I completely forgot it. It will be hard weeks at the beginning but it will hopefully show of soon.

I know exercise isn't the ultimate solution to weight issues but I've already lost weight in the past without exercise so it will be interesting to see the differences now with exercise.


The way I've always looked at it (same with my wife now), diet affects the numbers on the scales, exercise affects the numbers in your clothes....

At the end of the day, it's calories in vs calories out. You're already doing a massive amount of exercise so reducing your calorie intake should make long strides towards your goal!

G'luck :)


Hi lots of great advice above some im gunna use myself I like you love sweets and choc and cannot diet for long without so what I do is buy small choc items fudge curly wurly etc look for ones as near 100 calories as poss and have one in eve as a treat seems to work for me x kate ps when I want to eat I come on here and read blogs makes you wanna eat less all these great blogs x good luck x


Thank you :) I try to buy one of those tiny packages when I absolutely need chocolate. Completely without them is probably too difficult for me...


I didn't want to go on a 'diet' as I knew completely cutting out certain foods just wouldn't work for me. I started using myfitnesspal (on my laptop, didn't have a smart phone) around the time I started doing c25k last year. I found it an invaluable tool to teach me about portion size and how many calories are in the things I eat, which made it easier to make the right food choices. The fact that you can also see how many extra calories you've 'earned' from exercising was a great incentive to be active too. ;-) Yes, it's a bit of a bind to always track everything you've eaten but it is worth the initial effort. You'll soon learn what is a reasonable type and amount of food to eat. If you don't have access to a computer during the day then just log everything in a notebook. You can also use mfp to plan the followng day's food and put that in your notebook, to help you avoid going over (maybe leaving yourself some spare calories for a sneaky treat!). I rarely use mfp now, as I've learned to understand my food intake better.

The other thing which I found useful was Paul McKenna's book 'I Can Make You Thin' (awful title for a book that actually holds a lot of sensible advice!). There's also a recording you can listen to, if you wish, but I didn't really use this so can't comment. The book however was brilliant and really made me think about what I was eating. One thing it made me realise was that 'unconscious' eating (eg. stuffing your face while watching a movie or 'bordeom' eating) wasn't giving me anywhere near the satisfaction for the number of calories I was consuming. It taught me to 'enjoy' my food and now I find I think about what I'm going to eat and if I'm really enjoying it. PM explains it much better than me, I'm sure! There are some really simple rules to follow (none of which are about cutting anything you like out of your diet!!) which I have found help me think completely differently about food now.

Good luck. :-)


Thank you! I think I should overcome my fears of getting too obsessed with calories and give mfp a try. It's also good to hear that you don't have to use it very often by now as I really want to change my habits and develop some kind of natural and reasonable eating without being stuck to a certain system or programme.

Thank you for the book recommendment! I'll google it! It sounds good!


Make sure you are eating enough at mealtimes, try eating more fat and protein this will keep you more satisfied for longer, remember Fat does not make you Fat. Cut down your Carbs and avoid like the plague foods that contain refined sugar. Avoid processed "Low Calorie" and "Low Fat Foods", artificial sweeteners can trigger craving if you're a bit of a sugarholic and Low Fat Products often contain starch/sugar fillers. It's quite a biggy but If you can do it, give up wheat, I honestly believe it makes you hormonally Fat.

Snack on Berries and Nuts or Popcorn if you need an energy injection for exercise.

Plan everything you going to eat before hand, I know what I am going to eat today and do most days, that way you are not forced to make food decisions "on the fly" often when you are hungry which can lead to bad food choices.

Snacking is often due to habit as you probably know, Fill up with petrol - buy and eat some sweets, sit down and watch TV - consume a chocolate bar. Break it and keep it broken and it will get easier, takes a while but it does honestly get better. I've found new good habits/routines eventually take hold which in turn then help even more. I'll share a personal experience, we have a kitchen cupboard full of chocolate bars, now I'm not what you would describe as a chocoholic however there were some Cadbury Double Decker Bars in there and for whatever reason, possibly nostalgic, I really really fancied one! Now I never got to eat one because... the only time I could possibly see myself eating chocolate would be in the evening time, however I have a new habit/routine which I've stuck to religiously for the past 3 years and that is that I don't eat anything after my evening meal, so that cancelled out the opportunity to eat the Double Decker. (did I mention I'm slightly OCD'ish).

Last note: Whatever you change needs to be sustainable because those changes you make need to be for the rest of your life.

Good Luck with it.


Thank you for your answer! I like your way to keep yourself from eating the Double Decker Bars ;) I think I need a similar rule to keep me from eating sweets.

That's exactly why I asked for reasonable portion sizes. I'm not interested in losing as much weight as possible in short time, I'm more interested in starting to eat like a "normal" person which will lead to weight loss as I'm not eating that way right now. I don't want to diet, I want to live and change my attitude towards food.


I can agree with all above, including drinking a glass of water before eating anything, to make you feel full. I find like you that in trying to cut down on food I tend to obsess about it - I do anyway as I am cooking everyday! I had great success (1 1/2 stone in 12 weeks before an operation) using the C25K combined with a local council free course run by The Grand using resources from the British Heart Foundation of 'Healthy Living' which included a weigh in on 1st and last week(every week if you wanted it and I did), taster excercises each week (you may find them easy, but may be introduced to something new? - I liked the weighted hoola hoops and kettle bells) and each week a topic about healthy eating, portion sizes , always how you are feeling, craving triggers etc etc. Not a prescripted you must eat this, or calorie count that, but checking labels, spotting high sugar/fat etc. If there are more difficult problems they also refer on to where appropriate. I wasn't, but some people were refered by their GP surgery and others like me picked up on the course from local papers. Good luck.


Thank you! I will start to have a glass of water before my meals. I'm also cooking every day and usually I don't cook junk food or any convenient food at all so it's less about what I eat (ok, the sweets....) but more about how much I eat. I don't want food to rule my life so simple tricks like the glass of water can probably help me.


Don't forget weight loss is only about 20% exercise, and 80% what you eat. You can spend every waking minute exercising, but if you're loading up with calories, you won't lose weight. You may not put anymore on, but it's shifting what has already been laid down as fat is the difficult part, not burning the calories in your food. A proper (regimented, if need be) eating plan is the way forward, and exercise to tone the body and get fitter, rather than lose weight.


Thank you :) I know that exercise isn't the key to weight loss but it will help me to maintain my muscle mass. I've lost weight in the past but I suppose it was more muscle mass than fat because I didn't exercise at all. I also don't only want to lose weight to look better but also to become better at my exercises. If I imagine running with less weight, it should be so much easier than now ;)


Hi I too have a sweet tooth...very very very! I managed last year to lose 3.5 stones by following the 5:2 diet. It's the only diet that has ever worked for me. you can google it and find out more but in e3ssence it is 5 days of eating whatever you want and 2 days of 500 - 650 calories (the larger amount for men).


Thank you and well done for your weightloss! I always get grumpy when I don't eat enough and my BF would probably get angry with me if I did fast on a regular basis, but I'll keep those 500-650 calory days in mind. I think they or one of them can be a great way to prepare for a upcoming feast (or after a day with too much food).


The problem with the 5:2 diet is it is a difficult plan to stick to long term, and 90% of those who get to their target weight and start eating normally (by normally I mean a healthy balanced diet) put a load of the weight back on again. I don't think I could stick to such a regimented eating plan for the rest of my life!

The best way to lose weight is to treat the root cause of bad eating, not try and regiment your food intake without really understanding what causes bingeing. Be it unhappiness, boredom, or lack of self confidence, unless you face these factors head on you are just finding new ways of runnning away from the same demons.


I work on those demons. I think in my case it's because I'm a "stay at home student" (if that makes any sense) who works in an office a few days a week. On working days, I eat less without planning it. It's the permanent availability of food when I'm studying at home that makes me eat more than I should. It's also the lack of company, I suppose. Unfortunately, I hate to study in the library so I have to find other ways to keep my mind of food.


Have a look at this website - it may help with your sugar intake.

Good luck.


Thank you! I'll check it out immediately :)


The best advice I can give to help you with (1) and (2) is to (a) not buy things that you know tempt you and (b) clean your teeth when you've finished eating or had a FEW treats. A lot of the time we keep on eating because we like the taste, not because we're hungry. Cleaning your teeth changes the taste in your mouth and stops you wanting to eat more.

I'm not into chewing gum, but would that help with the situations where you might be watching TV and snacking out of habit? Could you take up knitting or cross-stitch or something where you are doing something with your hands (which might help stop the automatic reaching out for something to put in your mouth)?


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