Yo-yo dieter ditches calorie counting and loses stone in 6 weeks ‘without really trying’

Charlotte Higgs, 32, from Southend, has calorie counted since the age of 12 and watched her weight go up and down for more than a decade, but after finding a new lifestyle diet, she’s on track to slim down for good

Charlotte before
Charlotte had tried calorie counting for several years

A yo-yo dieting mum whose weight went up and down for 16 years has managed to lose a stone in six weeks “without really trying.”

Charlotte Higgs, 32, started calorie counting when she was just 12 years old and has been caught up in a cycle of losing and gaining weight for as long as she can remember.

The mum-of-three from Southend, Essex, topped the scales at 19st 3lbs in September of this year before embarking upon an NHS-backed plan which puts calorie counting aside.

Charlotte said: “My eating was out of control. I’d feel rubbish for putting on weight, then I would comfort eat and put on more weight. Then I’d start a restrictive diet that was ultimately unsustainable.

“I’d eat something they’d told me I shouldn’t, feel as though I’d failed, so then I’d start eating more again, and putting on weight. Then it would go round and round.”

But since starting her new diet, Second Nature, just a few months ago, Charlotte has now lost more than a stone and weighs in at 17st 13lbs.

Now Charlotte feels less guilty if she eats something that isn’t part of her diet plan


The mum-of-three struggled with her weight for years before finding the new diet

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She now says she doesn’t feel the need to “try very hard” to lose weight like she did on very restrictive diets she’s tried before.

“Now, I can eat whatever I want to eat when I want to eat it. I’m eating a bit less as I’m not as hungry now because I’m eating properly.

“I feel in control of my eating, but not like when I was calorie counting, and I would have to analyse everything I would eat, and end up obsessing over it.”

Looking back to childhood, Charlotte recognises how her obsession with calorie counting eventually led her to gain weight throughout her teenage years.

By the time she was 16, she was a size 16 in clothing and bullied for her weight – so she joined her mum Debbie at Weight Watchers.

After falling pregnant with her eldest son Sebastian, now eight, Charlotte put on four stone and weighed more than 21 stone at her heaviest.

Before trying the Second Nature diet, Charlotte, who is also mum to George, one, and Arthur, five months, would eat a carb-heavy diet.

A typical breakfast would be buttered toast, with a big sandwich or pizza for lunch and something with chips for dinner.

She would also snack on chocolate throughout the day and drink 10 cups of tea or coffee with 2 sugars.

“I felt really unhealthy, it made me feel rubbish,” she said, describing the vicious cycle she found herself in.

Charlotte first joined Weight Watchers when she was 16

“My eating felt out of control, so I’d end up sticking to a really strict diet for three or four weeks, losing some weight, but then someone would say ‘let’s go out for dinner’, which I would, but I’d always think that if I was paying for a meal, I’d want to enjoy it, so I’d order what I wanted.

“I’d eat it and then I’d think my diet was ruined, and my eating would get out of control.

“Then after three or four weeks, when I’d put on weight again, I’d think ‘oh I should go on a diet again’. Then I’d go for another couple of weeks, get slimmer of the week, then go out for dinner or something and the entire cycle would start again.”

The Second Nature programme, backed by the NHS, is based on nutritional science and behaviour change techniques.

All users are sent a recipe book, and have access to a dedicated qualified nutritionist or dietitian health coach, too.

But shortly after joining the plan, she discovered she was pregnant with Arthur and stopped the diet – before resuming it in September.

Joining the programme meant Charlotte had to “unlearn” eating behaviours she’d developed from restrictive diet plans.

Charlotte says: “It sounds crazy now, but on other diet plans in the past, I was always told to go fat-free instead of full fat, especially with yoghurts. Now, I snack on nuts, which is a first, but they’re so nutritious, and I know I’m getting full.

“I’ll plan my week like the health coaches recommend we do, but if I wake up and don’t fancy porridge for breakfast, and want some wholemeal toast, I’ll have it.

“I might have it buttered or with scrambled eggs, and I don’t have to feel guilty about it. When I make a curry, I’ll add cream – and that’s allowed! I don’t have to panic about what I’m eating.”

She said having a health coach has helped her stick to the plan, where she might have given up on previous diets.

Now, Charlotte has porridge or yoghurt with fruit and nuts for breakfast. For lunch, she’ll typically have a salad and for dinner she likes to cook things like lamb tikka masala.

“For 16 years, I tried to stick to these diets that would make me stick to an unrealistic calorie count, would make me feel guilty for not sticking to it, and ultimately led me round in circles,” she said.

“I now love the de-stressing, deep breathing exercises, and doing the gratitudes daily really changes my focus.”

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