A mum has shared the secrets to her weight loss success after safely reducing her calorie intake and using her children as weights for a home gym saw her lose 7st.
Cassie Morrison, 26, from Hull, put in consistent effort to transform her body, switching her diet and using her kids for easy and hard at-home workouts, which saw her incorporating squats, shoulder presses, planks and arm curling into her fitness routine.
The combination of lifting the children and a healthy diet, meant she saw her weight drop from 17st to 10st in a space of a two-year period and she now wears a dress size 10, from a size 26.
"Exercising with the kids helped me so much," she says of her home workouts. "I could never afford proper weights, but using my kids was the next best thing."
Morrison says she has always struggled with her weight, explaining that she believes she has always been bigger than average.
Although she says her diet and meal plan weren’t particularly bad, she estimates she consumed around 5,000 calories worth of snacks and junk food each day.
After seeing her weight creep up until she was wearing a dress size 26, Morrison says she struggled to look at herself in the mirror.
The turning point came on holiday when she found herself unable to have her photo taken without feeling embarrassed, and decided she was going to overhaul her diet and fitness regime.
Unable to afford to join a gym, Morrison decided to get creative with exercise, opting to involve her children Rubie, two and Broden, four, in her new routine, which she believes has been essential in her weight loss and muscle-building journey.
"My kids love that I include them in workouts," Morrison says. "They love to join in, so we do this a few times a week.
"We've been doing it since Rubie was 10 months old.
“People underestimate how helpful coming up with unique workouts is and how much you can actually do at home," she adds.
"By doing everything at home, I was able to just go at my own pace, which was so helpful because there was no pressure to do things a certain way."
As her fitness improved Morrison says she was able to increase her workouts, doing five-minute workouts on each area of the body as well as saving enough money to install a pole in her garage to teach herself pole fitness.
As well as working out at home, Morrison also overhauled her diet, introducing lean protein products into her meals and trying to stick to a reduced calorie intake of 1,500 a day, which is a 500-calorie deficit.
She was still able to enjoy sweet treats, such as chocolate and crisps, as long as it was within her daily 1,500 calories.
"I still try to eat as well as I can but it’s not the end of the world if I’m not having a protein shake for breakfast every day because it’s still better than how I used to eat," she explains.
"I'd tried every diet in the book before, but sticking to a calorie deficit and taking up an exercise routine really seemed to work for me."
As well as seeing her body transform, the weight loss has had other benefits for Morrison.
"When I was bigger, I couldn’t even walk to my parents’ house without feeling like I couldn’t breathe and having heart palpitations, which wasn’t any way to live," she explains.
"The only thing I want to do next is tone up and build some muscle, just to feel good about myself completely.
"The kids will definitely still be used as weights to get me there!"
Cutting calories safely
Calories are a measure of the amount of energy in an item of food or drink. You will see the number of calories in an item listed on the packaging as kcal.
Should we be keeping track of calories?
When we eat and drink more calories than we use, our bodies store the excess as body fat. If this continues over time, we may put on weight.
The NHS says knowing the calorie content of food and drink can make it easier to keep track of our daily intake.
However, counting calories is not the only way to change how you eat. Simple things like adjusting portion sizes and making sure your meals are made up of the right types of food can also make a big difference and help with weight loss.
How many calories should we eat in a day
The recommended daily calorie intake for the average person is:
2,500kcal for men
2,000kcal for women
How many calories to eat to lose weight
When trying to lose weight, the NHS says the average person should aim to reduce their daily calorie intake by about 600kcal.
That means reducing calories from the recommended daily allowance to:
1,900kcal for men
1,400kcal for women
This works out as a reduction of around a quarter (24%) for men and around a third (30%) for women.
How to be safely calorie deficit for weight loss
In order to lose weight we need to be in a calorie deficit, which according to Dr Suhail Hussain, personal physician and private home visiting GP, is best done through a combination of looking at what we eat and incorporating a sensible degree of activity into our daily lives.
"For example 10,000 steps daily will burn around 350 calories," he explains. "You can then look at what you are eating.
"It is important to make sure you still consume (a) enough calories to sustain your basal metabolism and (b) not skimp on essential macronutrients, especially protein."
One way to do this, he says, is to substitute food with “empty calories” with more nutritious alternatives.
"A freshly cooked steak, for example, will be far better for you than a take out pizza. They may contain the same amount of calories but the steak will have a large amount of protein, less oil and fat and likely taste far better."
Substituting sugary snacks (chocolates and biscuits etc) for healthy ones (apples, pears, oranges etc) will also be an easy win and provide essential vitamins and minerals, also important for good health.
"One super simple method is to cut out/drastically reduce alcohol – this is pure calories with no benefit e.g. one glass of wine = 159 calories (16 min run) or equivalent to ½ cheeseburger."
But Dr Hussain says there is no "easy fix" to weight loss.
"It boils down to a slow, steady, concerted effort based on sensible, practical measures. And it is always worthwhile seeking the advice of a doctor."
Additional reporting Caters.