Yesterday, I gave you a small glimpse into my past, which shaped me into who I am today. Today, I want to chat about how I lost the last of my baby weight (from three babies!) by making a few lifestyle changes. I’m confident I’ll never gain back that weight, unless I get pregnant again! To any family or friends reading this blog, don’t hold your breath for that!
Last year, I got serious with myself. I lost 20 pounds over the course of three months.
Making the right changes would lead to a natural and sustainable weight loss rather than a forced weight loss that occurs with typical “dieting.” I want to share exactly what I did so that you can be encouraged to do it too if you are struggling. If I can do it, then I know you can do it too.
I set goals and had a system for tracking my progress.
I set realistic goals that included
- accurately measuring portions
- keeping a daily food journal to track what I was eating
- attending a fitness class at least twice a week
I kept a note card with my goals on my refrigerator. Next to the note card, I kept a calendar that was specifically and only for tracking my goals. Both items served as visual cues to remember my goals and to stay on top of them! I checked in on myself each week, looking at my progress. Then I noted what was working and what wasn’t working for me. I made sure to look for places to improve in my diet or in my fitness. And I kept that in mind for the following week.
I focused on what I put in my body.
I accurately measured portions and ingredients. And I used the myfitnesspal phone app to log each and every meal. I enjoy cooking and baking, and I thoroughly love eating my own food, so monitoring portions was essential for me in making sure I did not overindulge.
Personally, it is extremely easy to let things slide when it comes to food and to overeat. Tracking my food intake kept me accountable to myself.
To be honest, entering every single bite of food into an app seemed incredibly annoying and overkill at first. However, it was one of the single most important things that I did concerning my health. It gave me a clear picture of what I was eating and where I needed to improve!
I don’t like to classify foods as “good” foods or “bad” foods. However, I know from personal experience that certain foods make me feel better than other foods.
When I eat a lot of sugar-filled processed treats, I have increased anxiety and mood swings. I actively avoided sugar early in the day, which kept my sugar cravings at bay for the rest of the day.
I feel my best when I fuel my body with foods that help it thrive and foods that I love. For me, this means my diet is mostly composed of whole foods. I enjoy mostly homemade treats versus store-bought. I plan my indulgences where possible. And I make sure to fully enjoy foods I really want. For example, while eating dinner with friends, I don’t hesitate to order that big ol’ meatball sub that makes my mouth water. I make sure to count that as an indulgence and to avoid indulging again that day and the day after.
I made sure to drink at least half my body weight in water each day. Of course, there are a million reasons to stay hydrated. Perhaps one of the best reasons in terms of weight loss is that drinking plenty of water kept me from mistaking thirst for hunger. I also like to think it is useful in burning extra calories since I had to get up and go to the restroom 10x more. Ha!
I made routines.
I am a creature of habit. Typically, I follow the same activity pattern every day. Following this same pattern keeps me on the right track. When I have an unplanned interruption in my routine or when I have a moment of overindulgence, I don’t panic or throw in the towel. I know that I can and will fall back on my routine the next day. Or possibly just later on the same day.
In addition to a daily routine, I have weekly routines that help keep me on track. Every week, I create a dinner meal plan with a corresponding grocery list. I write down a schedule for my week, including workouts and whatever other activities I am doing that week.
In general, even what I eat for breakfasts and lunches could be considered a type of routine. Usually, I stick to the same sorts of breakfasts and lunches during the week. Breakfast varies between some version of eggs or oatmeal along with coffee. I almost always take a to-go mug of coffee with unflavored protein powder along with me during my morning activities. I use this leak-proof Contigo travel mug. It keeps my coffee hot from 7am until whenever I finish drinking it, usually right around when I am ready to eat lunch.
My lunch varies between salads, sandwiches, leftovers, soups during the cooler months, smoothies during the warmer months, etc. Usually nothing fancy, but all foods that I love! I aim to get in a good solid serving of veggies and protein.
Between lunch and dinner, I usually treat myself to a cup of kombucha. Kombucha is supposed to benefit your gut microbiome. I love the natural fizz and how energized I feel after drinking it.
Avoiding sugar in my afternoon snack is the big kicker for me. If I have any sort of sugar for a snack, then I will crave more sugar for the rest of the day. Unfortunately if I’m craving it, chances are I won’t have the strength to stay away.
I started moving.
I know I am focusing on healthy eating this month, but I can’t mention losing weight without bringing up the fact that you have to move your body too.
To be completely honest, it was pretty tough to see how slow I was moving at first. However, once I kept the commitment to exercising regularly, I found that my body started to move easier. With time, I could notice a vast improvement in my stamina, speed, and strength.
Our bodies are absolutely amazing and were designed for physical activity. I cannot encourage you enough to make exercising a priority.
As for me, I specifically started attending a Baby Boot Camp class. These classes are ideal for a stay at home mom, a flexible work from home mom, or a part-time working mom. I love being able to have my children with me while I work out. I enjoy the company of other fitness-focused, encouraging women. It’s easier to stay committed to my fitness goals when I look forward to my workouts with these women. This group has been an unbelievable blessing to me. If you are able to find a similar fitness group in your area, I highly recommend doing so.
Speaking of commitment, I had a support and accountability system.
I am lucky to have my husband as my number one supporter and biggest advocate. He knows that being healthy makes me feel good. And he wants me to be happy. He encourages me to stick to my plans. He eats what I serve him without complaints. This man is willing to try new foods and new schedules with me. Most of all, he believes in me. I am so grateful for his support.
I have also had great support from the Baby Boot Camp mommas who encourage me in more than just fitness. These ladies are amazing in so many ways. They inspire me to keep moving and to be stronger. They encourage me to know that I can do hard things and to be a better person in general.
In addition to my fitness class friends and my husband, I also have multiple friends who I know I can call up anytime. I can share my accomplishments and struggles with them. It’s important to have a place both to vent and to celebrate!
And last, but most definitely not least, I gave myself grace.
During those three months of focusing on my health, I had multiple setbacks. I overindulged multiple times. Instead of negative self-talk, I examined my mistakes. I learned from them and moved forward, focusing on my future.
Another setback was when I injured my foot stepping off a sidewalk. I gave myself time to heal and adjusted my exercise routines to accommodate my injury.
The important thing I learned about setbacks is to pick myself up, dust myself off, and continue to make progress towards my goals. The more I did this, the easier it became for me to re-start when another setback occurred.
I also let a lot of personal things slip so that I could fully focus on my health during that time frame. I did not clean my house as often. We had a lot of breakfast for dinner nights. After exercising, I ran errands and had playdates while in sweaty clothes and without makeup. This is really crazy for me and probably terrifying for others! 🙂
Even though I let a lot of stuff slide, I’m glad I temporarily put myself and my health as a priority over a clean house, fancy dinners, and even public appearance! 🙂 I finished those three months with a refreshed confidence in myself. And in turn, that made me a better wife, a better mom, and a better friend.
Looking back at where I began, my weight loss seems like a lot. But I swear it felt like the scale was hardly budging each week! All the little bits do eventually add up.
Taking charge of my health has been one of the most empowering decisions I’ve ever made. I owned my life, and I chose the path that I wanted to take. There is a great joy in knowing I can do what I choose to do. I hope to encourage you to take charge of your own life as well! Tomorrow’s post will give a little more detail to the things that I learned in my journey that I think are most important for anyone who is looking to lose weight.