Since a young age, Martyna Baker has always used food as a coping mechanism and as a result became more and more overweight. Going on her first diet at the age of 13 was the start of an emotional and inconsistent journey with her body - one that she desperately wanted to change. After trying and failing at various diets from Weight Watchers to Raw Food diets - she realised that she needed to try a different approach. After years of trial and error and through that, gaining more of an understanding about her body and her relationship with food, she tried a more holistic and personal approach. This forced her to look at the several factors that contributed to her weight gain. It was more than changing her diet and exercise - but taking a closer look at the emotional, spiritual and mental parts that play a huge role in the body's ability to reach and maintain a healthy weight. I was speaking at a fitness workshop back in November 2019, where I first met Martyna. Fast forward to now, she has lost a whopping 101lbs, going from a size 22 to a size 10 (UK size), and I caught up with her to find out how she did it. Read the interview below.
Has your weight always been an issue for you?
It’s always been an issue. Since about 8 years old, I have used food as a coping mechanism, to cope with my childhood, to deal with the things that were going on around me. It was my safety blanket. Then as I got older, the side effects of using food to cope with my emotions is that I became more and more overweight. I went on my first diet when I was 13 and since then it’s always been up and down. I have never been as slim as I am now in my whole adult life. This has been the first time I’ve gotten down to this size.
What diets did you try and how did that go for you?
I tried every single one. I did Weight Watchers, Atkins, Juicing, Raw food diet and fasting. I’ve done everything. I’ve never stopped trying. That’s the good thing about me is that I’ve always tried different things and I think that’s why I know so much about my body, about food, what to eat, what not to eat and about what works. I’ve failed a million times. And what’s so funny is that it really just came down to calorie counting - which is the most basic thing. If you eat less calories and you burn more - you will create a calorie deficit, which was what helped me. But it’s also more than that. It’s more holistic than that. It’s about managing your emotions and creating better habits as well.
Can you explain a bit more about what you mean about it being more holistic?
Yes of course! What I mean by that is your affirmations. So a lot of people say that they want to lose weight, but then the other side of them says, “I always give up” or “I never do what I say I’m gonna do”. For me affirmations were a game changer. So I started doing weight loss affirmations and saying things like “I’m determined, persistent, consistent” and I’ll sometimes say it outloud to myself and then go through my day being that person and showing myself that I am those things. So affirmations helped me. Also doing daily acts of self-care because I think a lot of the time when you want to lose weight, it’s easy to put things off. For example saying things like “I’ll only go on a girls holiday when I lose weight” or “I’m gonna do this when I lose weight”. You have to start living like the person you want to be now and giving yourself the same love, care and attention you would give to the slim person you want to be. Because you can’t beat and hate yourself into losing weight, you have to love yourself to lose weight. So that was the biggest change for me this time, I started to care for myself. I did things like hot oil massages in the mirror where I’d have to look at my body even before I started to lose weight. For me it was a way of telling myself that I mattered. For me personally, my overeating was a lot to do with not feeling good enough. I had to show myself you are good enough and you are worth it. You don’t have to be slim to be worth it. You are worth it from the beginning.
What was the turning point for you?
There were several different things. I just got fed up. I also had a break up and break ups always help you to level up - so that kind of motivated me as well. I just got to the end of my tether. Also the way that I was behaving, wasn’t who I really was. This was not me. It was a response to my environment.
I also had to stop seeing my overeating as a problem and started to think of solutions. I realised that I was using overeating as a tool to get through things. So I started to ask myself, what other tools could I use? So instead of overeating maybe I can do something else? I thought biscuits were the help but maybe it’s to phone a friend. I had to find other ways to deal with life, that weren’t just through food.
How did you kickstart your journey this time round?
I created several different forms and layers of being accountable. The first thing I did was sign up to do a healthy wage bet which really helped me to stay motivated. It’s an app where you make a personal weight loss bet. I challenged myself to lose 100lbs in 12-months and for that I could win up to $3000. I got to lose 100lbs and also received £2,500 at the end of it. So if you’re someone who's really struggling with their weight and cares about money - then the HealthyWage Bet is a good motivator.
I also held myself accountable through creating an Instagram account at the start of my weight loss journey. So everybody that was following my Instagram account at the time was seeing me post my updates when I was getting closer and closer to my goal. People were really supportive, so that was really nice. It’s a great way to hold yourself accountable and you motivate other people along the way too. Knowing there’s people waiting, it makes me feel like I have to stay on track. I want to be held accountable for it.
What did you find the hardest part?
The hardest part was managing my emotions and also not going off the rails when the scales were acting mad. There were times I’d be doing everything right and the scales were just looking at me like “so”. There were days it was not easy, where the scales didn’t go down for like 10 days and I’ll cry but then I’d still get up and go for my walk. It wasn’t easy everyday but as time went on I got stronger.
Also after looking at my calories for the year, there was actually a cycle I noticed. With women our cycle actually affects our weight loss. I noticed the week before I was coming on my period, I wouldn’t lose any weight. So look into your cycle. Sometimes you may not be losing weight because your body is busy doing other things. It’s just about being patient and consistent. It will eventually go down if you keep doing the right thing.
How did you lose the weight and what steps did you take?
The nuts and bolts was I counted my calories using MyFitnessPal. I also went to check online how many calories I should be eating if I want to lose weight. I stuck to eating 1600 calories everyday. In one year I had maybe 12 days where I went over that, but for the most part I stuck to 1600 calories a day.
About a month or two into my journey we went into lockdown. But I didn’t let that put me off, this was grinding time. I felt that it would be better because there was no McDonalds to get me off track. I’m in control of what I’m eating. I had all day to plan my meals, go for walks and really be in control. So I’d get up every morning at 6am and run out of the house before I could change my mind. I went for long walks, bought a food scale to measure my foods and counted the calories on the majority of my meals to ensure I was sticking within my 1600 calorie goal.
And, the best part is, I never cut anything out. I still ate chocolates and crisps but just ensured it was within my calorie goal of 1600. This time round I didn’t try to be perfect. The other times where I tried to lose weight, I always tried to be perfect. This time, I was like, it doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as you have 1600 calories (that’s what I’d tell myself). I made that the one rule which made it much easier so at least I could still enjoy my food. You're not gonna do it if you don’t enjoy it.
I increased my activity levels by going for a walk and whenever the gyms reopened, I would go to do weight and resistance training. I didn’t do anything dramatic and I don’t think it has to take something dramatic, it just takes being consistent and being kind to yourself.
What advice would you give to anyone who is currently emotionally eating or self-sabotaging?
You need to start encouraging yourself and do the things you like to do. Ask yourself, what’s the nicest way to go about this? It’s not like the biggest loser. You can go for a walk every morning, drink some water, count your calories, be kind to yourself. If you have a bad day - it’s okay. It’s what you do most of the time that counts. I had off days but always made sure I went straight back to my plan and you have to ensure that your plan is something you’d like to go back to. Makesure it’s something enjoyable. You have one body, you won’t get another one so just keep pushing. This is your one life.
Why do you think it’s important to track your weight?
It’s a good way to measure your weight and it’s feedback. Sometimes I’d hate stepping on the scales, especially when it’s not doing what I want it to do. But actually it’s a good way of seeing if what you are doing is working and making you lose weight.
I also measure my food and don’t see it as a big inconvenience. Once you start seeing the results, you will keep doing it.
What activities do you do?
Lots of walking. It's lockdown and there’s nothing else to do, so I’d just keep walking. I also have a fitbit that I’m obsessed with. In the beginning I’d do 10,000 steps but by the end I was doing 20,000 steps. I’d try different routes. I did a lot of steps and used it as the time to listen to podcasts or go on the phone with my friends or family. I’d just make it really fun. Set yourself a step goal each day. Even on the days I didn’t lose weight, I’d still go for my walk and now I find it hard not to go for a walk during the day.
Tell us a bit more about your weight loss coaching?
I felt so good because I’ve been trying to crack this problem for such a long time. So now that I’ve found a solution to it and it’s so simple - I want to help others. I know there must be someone else out there on the same journey I'm on and feeling the same way I felt. So if I could teach them this so that they can feel the way I feel, that will make me so happy. I just started doing 1-2-1 zoom calls and helping people breaking their weight loss goals down into actionable daily steps. I help and support people with affirmations and self-care, make decisions around what they want to eat and how many calories they want to do. I help people think about what they enjoy and try to make it as personal to them as possible. I feel like, if my story resonates with people and I and they feel like they’re similar to me then I think I can help them, especially if they’re an emotional eater.