Something I haven’t written about much in the last two years is my weight loss journey.
For the longest time, I was embarrassed about my “before” pictures. Even though I no longer look like that, I was ashamed of the way I looked and didn’t want anyone to know (even though I obviously looked like this to everyone all day every day, I didn’t have this visual image of myself until I looked at photos).
Now that I am 2 years out from starting my weight loss journey, and 1.5 years past hitting the big 50 lb mark, I feel comfortable sharing these images and also feel obligated to do so because I know there are so many moms out there struggling with the same thing.
There are so many things I changed about my life once I finally decided to get fit and shed the baby weight (although in reality I was already overweight before having kids…but it’s all related to the same bad habits that were just exacerbated by pregnancy).
FIRST STEP TO POST BABY WEIGHT LOSS – FINDING MOTIVATION
The biggest thing I did before starting this journey was to find my motivation. For me, it was getting healthy for my kids and also my future grandchildren. My parents both have blood sugar problems in their 60s, and I don’t want to find myself in the same place thirty years from now. I want to give myself the best shot at being around as long as possible for my kids and their kids and so on.
So I decided to do something about it NOW. What’s your motivation? If you don’t find that first, it’s be too easy to get discouraged and quit before you’re done losing weight. Being in the throes of weight loss mode is not an easy place to be. But if can get past the current difficulty and focus on the outcome, you’ll succeed.
SECOND STEP TO POST BABY WEIGHT LOSS – EDUCATION
One thing about being overweight that never occurred to me until I decided to lose weight for good….is the fact that I THOUGHT I knew about healthy eating and fitness. But I didn’t really. If I did, I wouldn’t have been overweight in the first place.
The missing link for me was NUTRITIONAL KNOWLEDGE. I started reading everything I could get my hands on about nutrition, dieting, and fitness, and the pieces all started coming together. I remember one of the first “nutrition” books I ever read was Eat This Not That, and I was sincerely surprised by most of the recommendations. I just had no clue how to tell a good food choice from a bad one or which foods were better for you than others. Slowly but surely I finally began to understand how sugar reacts in your body, how your body uses fats and protein, the benefits of certain exercises over others, the importance of stretching, and more. I can remember exactly which books I read along my journey.
I cannot stress enough how important educating myself about nutrition, weight loss, and fitness was to the success of my weight loss journey. With my new found knowledge, I was able to make informed decisions along the way and my mindset changed from one of deprivation (things I couldn’t eat) to one of information (what I should eat for optimum health).
I also now know how to fit sugar into my life without letting it ruin my results.
THIRD STEP TO POST BABY WEIGHT LOSS – DEDICATION
Honestly, the hardest part about losing weight is just sticking to it. There are times when I felt so hungry I could have eaten cardboard. But I stuck with it, tweaked my diet along the way so I didn’t feel deprived, and came out the other side feeling great and looking better than I ever thought I could after having 3 kids.
I noticed along the way that I had a tough time sticking to my diet if I wasn’t properly hydrated. To help me keep track of water intake, I would either keep track of it on a sheet of paper or in MyFitnessPal.
Since then, I created a simple daily water tracking checklist that’s cute enough to go on my fridge. 🙂
Feel free to grab a copy for yourself here:
In the midst of the challenge (as I call it), I felt like it would NEVER END. But in reality it was only 6 months of my life. Six months! I was pregnant for 30 months of my life. That was wayyyyyy longer!
I am a LIST MAKER, so I found that keeping a workout calendar of sorts helped me stay accountable. Instead of pre-filling the tracking sheet with workouts, I challenged myself to fill all the spaces in as fast as possible. This made it a challenge as opposed to a chore, and kept me motivated on the way. Here’s a picture of the grid I created for this.
I know it looks messy, but that’s because I like doing things by hand and I drew the grids and wrote in the numbers myself. Here’s how it works:
Those numbered boxes represent ONE HOUR of exercise each. Any exercise that is moderately difficult (so, not walking). I would consider an exercise moderately difficult if it made me sweat within the first 8-10 minutes and then didn’t get any easier (so, like a kickboxing class, jogging intervals on the treadmill, a weight lifting session, etc).
Every time I completed an hour of exercise, I would write down what that exercise was right below the number (it’s hard to see in this photo, but they’re there). So, for example, if I did 2 hours of exercise at the gym, I would fill in 2 boxes for that day. The crazy color scheme is due to the fact that my highlighters kept waking off (a.k.a. the kids stole them! :0 )
I used this tracking method three times and each time my dieting efforts were different. I found that when I stuck to a STRICT DIET and didn’t take too many days off while exercising, I could lose 25 lbs within 100 hours of exercise. I found that when my diet was fairly strict with several cheat meals built in every week, I lost 20 lbs in 100 hours of exercise. And I found that a so-so diet (half way good, half way bad), still helped me lose 15 lbs after 100 hours of exercise.
I feel like doing this three times PROVED to me that this method works. I highly recommend to everyone who needs motivation for a LONG WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY like mine.
Before you start on your weight loss journey, I would give yourself a pep talk. Set a specific goal and tell yourself you will see it through to the end. Keep working hard (smarter as you go, too, because you’ll be constantly learning more if you educate yourself along the way) and persevere. You WILL see great results.
I heard a great piece of advice that stuck with me throughout my weight loss journey. It was “Do it once, and do it right.” This helped me get through many rough patches and stick to my plan even when the world was conspiring against me.
If you have to, come up with mini challenges to give yourself something to focus on besides how hard it is to stay on track. Even something simple like doing 100 jumping jacks every day will help you stay focused on what’s important – making yourself move away from being sedentary.
KITCHEN TOOLS & GEAR I USE DAILY
Whether I was tracking my food in Weight Watchers (what I did early on) or logging in what I ate to MyFitnessPal (what I switched to later on), I made sure to be as accurate as possible in my measurements. I found that when I didn’t measure my food, I grossly OVERestimated how much I was eating. I left a LOT of delicious calories on the table in the beginning! Not anymore. I now use the kitchen tools below regularly to keep my food logs consistent and accurate.
I also couldn’t do without a couple of integral pieces of workout gear. If I walk into the gym these days without my special earphones and armband, I almost feel naked!
1. Yurbuds Inspire Sport Earphones – Seriously these are the best earphones! I used to have the toughest time with all my headphones either A) hurting my ears or B) falling out constantly. These do neither – they’re very comfortable AND they’re made specifically for women (smaller size so they fit comfortably!).
2. iPhone Armband – I use my old iPhone at the gym to stream Pandora via wifi. I like cute armbands like this one that also fit tightly. It’s super annoying when your armband slips while you’re trying to work out! Tip: Pandora costs $3.99 per month to play with no ads. It’s totally worth it for the uninterrupted workout motivation you get in return!
3. Digital Kitchen Scale – I simply zero out the weight of my plate or bowl using the Tare function, then put my food on for accurate measurement.
4. Measuring Spoons – I think I have one set of measuring spoons for the family and two extras for myself! When I started tracking my ingredients, I found that there are A LOT of things that must be measured in teaspoons and especially tablespoons. So I never could find a clean one to use. Now I don’t have that problem!
5. Sectioned Bento Box Containers – I have a set of 4 lunchbox containers just like these, and they have been INSTRUMENTAL in my weight loss journey! When I am really on top of my game, I like to prepare four day’s worth or so of meals ahead of time, and portion out each day’s lunches in these containers. I really need a second set for dinners, too, but so far have been making do with random plastic containers around the house (NOT ideal because the food gets all mixed up! yuck…). You might be wondering what a sample meal looks like in these bento lunch boxes. Basically, it’s about 5 oz of meat (chicken, fish) plus 1/2 cup of steamed veggies (usually broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans), and 1/2 cup of carbs (sweet potatoe, quinoa, or wild rice). I keep it simple because I don’t mind eating the same foods all week, and that really simplies the cooking process.
6. Brooks Ghost 7 Running Shoes – These have been the best thing for my feet. I have high arches, and they provide great support while also having flexible fabric that lets the rest of my foot move around properly. I replace these tennis shoes about every 2-3 months when I’m really workout out consistently 4-5 days per week.
7. Adidas Duffel Bag – I love my oughts bag because it has a main compartment with an interior zippered pocket and also because it has a ventilated compartment that you access from the side where you can put your smelly workout shoes! It’s perfect for separating your smelly shoes from the rest of your stuff. This is especially helpful when you’re carrying around workout gear and a change of clothes in the same bag!
8 THINGS I CHANGED ABOUT MY LIFE PERMANENTLY
Looking back on my weight loss journey and comparing the new me (fit, energetic) to the old me (overweight, lethargic, grumpy), some major differences stand out. Some things I changed on purpose and others just evolved. Here are some differences between fat me and fit me.
1) Fat me watched 2-3 hours of television every day. Fit me doesn’t watch much, if any tv each day. Do I miss having favorite tv shows that I watched regularly without fail? Yes. Would I trade my fit status for tv time? NOPE! I have a habit of making general “rules” to help keep me on track. One of my rules now is that if I had time to watch a tv show, I have time to fit in a workout. Because my life is already so busy with 3 kids, volunteer efforts, and blogging, I don’t have time to watch tv AND work out most days. So working out wins. If I can, I try to time my workouts when some of my favorite shows are on tv and I watch them on the treadmill or elliptical at the gym. It’s a win-win! 🙂
2) Fat me would set loose workout goals and try to “fit in” gym time. Fit me sits down with my planner every weekend to plan out my workouts for the week, down to the exact time I will be at the gym and what I will be doing. For instance, I know which days I will do cardio and which days I will lift weights. This helps me in figuring out child care and also plan my meals properly over the course of the day. It also helps me see what else needs to give so I can fit in the proper amount of workout time for weight loss. Here’s an example of a schedule I did at the height of my weight loss journey: Weekly Workout Schedule for Losing Weight I wouldn’t recommend this intense schedule on a long-term basis because it is very tough, but for a major weight loss goal, it does get the weight off FAST.
3) Fat me would, when I did work out, put in 30 minutes of moderate exercise at the gym and call it a day. Fit me knows that 30 minutes of moderate exercise won’t stimulate fat loss unless I’m killing it on my diet (and I like to eat). Fit me works out with purpose. You will NEVER see me wasting time reading a magazine on the treadmill!
4) Fat me sat down every chance possible. I was tired, or so I thought. Fit me stands up whenever possible. Fit me knows that more active I am, the more energetic I will be. Exercise has an energizing effect.
5) Fat me ate foods advertised as low fat/low calorie/low sugar. Fit me understands that my body needs fats, carbs, and protein, and understands the proper balance necessary for proper exercise fuel, weight loss and maintenance. Fit me enjoys foods fat me previously consider off limits because I now understand their place (or eat something I shouldn’t simply because it’s delicious with full knowledge of its impact on my body!)
6) Fat me wasn’t really sure what food was good to eat and what was not. Fit me can look at a food and instantly estimate its nutritional value. Fit me can also determine if there are better available options and make an informed decision at meal or snack time. In order to learn about nutrition, I constantly consumed books about food. I checked out dozens of library books and read a new magazine or BodyBuilding.com article every week. The best thing about learning is that knowledge builds on itself and can’t be unlearned.
7) Fat me ate whenever I felt the slightest bit hungry. Fit me only eats to not feel starving. I used to eat constantly…overeating at mealtimes and snacking in between. I also usually ate a fourth meal at 10 p.m. because I was hungry and the fridge was calling my name. Now I am able to recognize true hunger and distinguish it from gassiness and carb cravings.
8) Fat me moved at a slow pace. Fit me moves fast. I get way more done AND burn more calories at the same time!