Small but clever swaps you can make to help slash weight - without dieting

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Olivia (left) and James lost weight without resorting to fad diets (Image: INSTAGRAM)
Olivia (left) and James lost weight without resorting to fad diets (Image: INSTAGRAM)

When you want to lose some weight, it can be incredibly disheartening to read up on fad diets that drastically slash your calorie intake and restricts the types of food you're 'allowed' to consume each day.

Often these crash diets don't produce the desired results, or they can be harmful in some cases, which is why it's often recommended that people find healthier and safer ways to lose weight. Recently a number of people have come forward to share the simple but clever swaps they made to their daily lives, which they claim have helped them to lose the stones and pounds they'd been hoping to shed.

If you're keen to make some changes to your lifestyle, without trying lots of different diets then these tips might come in handy. First up, 25-year-old Olivia Malone has shared how making a few nutritional swaps with her food made a huge difference alongside exercise, seeing her go from a size 24 down to a size 10, and shedding 8 stone.

Olivia explained how she had picked up unhealthy eating habits during her time doing an undergraduate degree in Huddersfield and a post-graduate in Salford. While studying she would snack on meal deals for lunch, and order takeaways in the evening before going on boozy nights with her friends.

Small but clever swaps you can make to help slash weight - without dieting eideziqkeiqhhinvOlivia shared the swaps she made to her daily life to lose weight (Olivia Malone)

After her friend bought her some scales, she was shocked to find herself weighing 17 stone 7lbs, and decided to make some changes to become healthier. In 2020, she ditched fad diets and instead decided to educate herself on nutrition after being inspired by fitness workouts she saw on Instagram.

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Speaking to Manchester Evening News, she said: "In the first lockdown I got a job that required me to be active, so I thought I might as well start trying to be more healthy. My friend had lost a stone, and she bought me some scales and sent them to my house. I didn't know what my weight was, until then I didn't have a clue, I just knew I was very overweight - but was stunned to see I was 17 stone 7lb.

"Ever since high school I'd done every fad diet going but I never stuck to them. I was always big as a younger girl, but when I went to university it got even worse. I wasn't cooking properly, it was a case of noodles, turkey dinosaurs, and smiley faces. It was pure laziness, and it took its toll."

But things changed massively when she educated herself about nutrition and embraced a healthy relationship with food. This paired with the exercise she was doing while following fitness influencer Courtney Black online meant that she started shedding the weight.

The biggest game-changer of all for Olivia though was swapping takeaways for 'fakeaways', making healthier versions, such as chicken burgers made using blended chicken breast, or salt and pepper chips in the air fryer. She explained: "I make fakeaways and they honestly taste a lot nicer because it's fresher and I've made it all myself. I genuinely don't miss takeaways at all because I know I can make them taste just as nice."

After shedding the weight, Olivia noticed an increase in energy levels, and even decided to do the Couch to 5K app, which is an NHS running plan for beginners. At the beginning, Olivia couldn't even run at all, but she managed to increase her endurance but slowly.

Small but clever swaps you can make to help slash weight - without dietingJames lost weight after giving up alcohol

She added: "Now, I've just completed my first half marathon this year - in Manchester - which I did in two and a half hours. I've now applied to do my first marathon in Barcelona next year. I also go to the gym, I make a point of going to the gym five nights a week, sometimes it's for running or weight training or other types of cardio."

And Olivia isn't the only one who has seen how making simple swaps to your everyday life can make a big difference, as James Swanwick, the founder of Alcohol Free Lifestyle, has shared how he quit alcohol on March 13, 2010, and was shocked by the huge amount of weight he lost as a result.

James explained how he'd been following Australian drinking culture and had a few glasses of wine in the week and several beers over the weekend. Because he was having fun and being social, nobody suspected he had a problem, but by his mid-30s he realised he was feeling "sluggish and irritable", his face was puffy, and he didn't sleep well.

He decided to attend an AA meeting, but as he wasn't an alcoholic, it didn't help. But he was inspired to give up alcohol for 30 days as a "personal bet" to test his self-discipline. According to a recent post on James' Instagram page, he found the first two weeks really tough, but the experience was worth it and after 30 days he lost 6kg (13.2lbs).

He said: "The first two weeks were hard. When I went out with friends and ordered water, they gave me a hard time. 'You're un-Australian!' they'd say.⁠ But I survived those two weeks. I felt better, slept better, and had more mental clarity.⁠ After 30 days, I'd lost an incredible 13 lbs (5.9kg) of fat around my stomach just from stopping drinking.⁠ I had more money in the bank. My skin looked considerably better, and I enjoyed getting out of bed for early morning exercise.⁠"

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As if this weren't enough, after just three nights of giving up booze, James found that he was sleeping better and after seven days he had more clarity. Two weeks into his challenge he claims he "woke up a new man, bursting with energy and drive", and after a month he had not only lost 13 pounds of fat, he had more money in the bank and his skin was glowing.

He also felt so confident that he auditioned to be Sportcentre anchor on ESPN and got the job. He said: "I was like, 'Wow, damn, in 30 days of not drinking my whole life has seemingly transformed". According to James, he "felt so good" he wanted to keep going to see "how far" it would take him. One year after giving up booze James had lost 11.3kg (25lbs) and had even "attracted higher calibre friends and romantic relationships", but still ordered a drink at a festival to celebrate his huge achievement.

.James has since coached thousands of people to adopt an alcohol-free lifestyle, and is the author of The 30-Day No-Alcohol Challenge. He is also the host of the Alcohol-Free Lifestyle Podcast, and co-founder of the health brand Swanwick sleep.

Courtney Pochin

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