For those who know me best, you know that weight has been something that I've struggled with for many years. I tried different diets, of course all of them failed miserably (as most "diets" are actually set up for you to fail). I tried LA Lite, Weight Watchers, exercising like a mad woman, all with short term success but if I fell off the wagon, of course I gained back the weight, sometimes more. It's a terrible cycle. Then of course you add in the hormonal roller coaster that is pregnancy, breastfeeding and motherhood and things just got worse. I was not one of those lucky women who lost weight while breastfeeding, in fact I tended to gain weight. If I even tried to incorporate a diet (taking into account I was breastfeeding) or even just tried exercising more, I gained weight. I have been on the mommy roller coaster for 6 years now (between prepping my body for trying to conceive, 80 weeks of pregnancy, & 41 months of breast feeding), I am now finally done and I have my body back (just maybe not my sanity or my heart...you moms can understand that one, right?). Don't get me wrong, I love the mommy roller coaster. I enjoyed being pregnant (except the horrible heartburn, that was never fun), my births were amazing thanks to supportive family, two great birth teams in two different cities, and I loved that I surpassed my goals for breastfeeding (originally 6-9months and went 14; second time was a year and went 27 months). I cherish all those moments with my babies. And happily sacrificed my body to enjoy them. Now I'm ready to get back on track and attempt to get back to my pre-pregnancy shape (as much as possible). Let's face it, I know things have shifted around a bit, hips are wider, more stretch marks are present, and I'm good with that. I'd like be back in shape again and I am back on the right track now.
So what did I do differently and how did I start to lose weight without dieting? It's been numerous little changes that have helped. And they didn't happen all at once. This has been a slow change, but one that I've been able to stick with. And it will be one that I can continue to stick with. Yes, it's become a "lifestyle change". (I know, that sounds so cliche, but it's the best description for what this is.) Ok, so here is a list of the things that I've done:
1. Portion Control
Sounds like an obvious thing, right? I think anyone can relate to this on how easy it is to eat too much. (Thanksgiving and the food-coma ring any bells?) Here's a good visual of what you should strive for. Not good with a visual? Try using portion control containers (like these).
2. Eating more Vegetables, less Grains
With our typical red meat and potatoes "American" diet, most people don't really think about this one. By simply replacing a grain with a veggie, you can change the way you eat. Like pasta? Try switching it out for spaghetti squash. Are you an egg eater at breakfast? Add some veggies to it like avocado, salsa, spinach, mushrooms, onions or peppers. Instead of just a plain turkey sandwich, add some lettuce and tomato to it. There are lots of ways to incorporate more veggies in your diet.
3. Drink more Water
By drinking more water, you can combat things like bloating, dehydration and even cellulite. I know this isn't always easy for people. Some simply are too busy and others just don't like water. Try bringing a 32oz container with you to work and drink one in the morning and refill after lunch. For those who don't like drinking plain water - try drinking a decaf herbal tea, add a slice of lemon or cucumber for an infused water drink, or mix in 8oz of 100% pure pomegranate or cranberry juice with 24oz water. I also drink a glass of water first thing after I get out of bed. There are some really cool health benefits by doing this. I'll share the links below.
This is another one of those obvious ones, but how often do you actually exercise? Most of us have to make a conscious effort to do it, and to do it often enough to count. As a busy mom, it makes it even harder to find the time. I have made it a point to exercise at least 30min a day. Nothing crazy, just 30 minutes. I can usually squeeze it in while my youngest naps and my oldest is at school. Occasionally I actually make it to the gym, but honestly, it's not my favorite. The times I actually go to gym, there aren't any classes being offered and lifting weights or running on a treadmill aren't what I want to be doing everyday. And although it's nice having uninterrupted exercise time while I take the kids to the daycare, sometimes it's just not worth the 90 mins it takes to pack them up, get them checked in, exercise and then load them up to take them home. I do have quite an extensive workout library at home though that I can squeeze in 30min of exercise and I do enjoy doing. My latest favorites are the 21day fitness videos. They are fun and really kick my butt! I also have everything from yoga to zumba, Pilates to Biggest Loser, and even the Wii fit. I used to love taking my dogs out for long walks/runs in the desert, but with a 12yr old with arthritis and an almost 10yr old who has a mystery seizure disorder and seizures when he gets excited, that hasn't happened for quite some time, unfortunately.
This one has helped me out so much! If you are a fan of my facebook page, you know I tend to be a nightowl. And I was usually always snacking late while I worked. I now make it a point to stop eating after 9:00pm and just drink water. By letting my body go into a 12hr fast at night, it has sped up my metabolism and has helped me to lose weight as well.
6. Accountability and Support
This one has been HUGE for me. As I mentioned earlier, I joined a couple of groups on Facebook to help me with my accountability. It's easy to psych yourself up to get on the healthy bandwagon, and also very easy to jump off of it. Having support from others to help you stay on that train is awesome! What I love about these groups is that no matter where you are on your fitness journey, how old you are, what exercises you are doing or what eating plan you are following, these ladies are there to help encourage one another to stay strong and keep going. I also have the support of my family. My husband has always been a bit of a gym rat. His idea of working out though is lifting huge amounts of weights, which isn't my favorite but he'll encourage me to go workout or offer to keep the kids occupied if I want to workout by myself. He also loves that I cook healthy and encourages me to not buy a bunch of garbage for him or the kids, which helps me not have a bunch of garbage in the cupboards. My kids have also been supportive. They've become my little helpers while exercising and even do some of the videos along with me. And the bonus? Being a good role model to them to eat healthy and stay active.
When I started with these groups this past fall, it was during my busiest time of year for shows and of course during the holidays. I'm so glad I started it when I did! I know most people don't want to try and watch what they eat during the holidays and they wait to do a New Years resolution. I'm not a resolution kind of girl though. If I have a goal, I want to start working on it right away. The cool part about starting during the holidays was that I actually lost 10 lbs (and over 13"!), instead of gaining them. And now I'm motivated to keep going and lose more. I'm loving that I'm fitting back into my old sizes of clothes and that by working out everyday, I'm getting stronger and less "jiggly" (as my youngest would say). I'm happy to be getting back to me. By taking time for myself, I think this has helped me to be a better mom and wife as well - being more active and less stressed out.
If you need a little more inspiration to start (or keep going) on your own fitness or health journey, here are some great links that have inspired me:
Mommy Transformed - Mind Body Spirit - This is my friends Facebook page. She has been one of my inspirations to getting back into shape and is also the leader in the groups that I belong to. Want to join us? Message her or me and we'll add you to the group!
Benefits of Drinking Water in the Morning
Some great articles from Dr. Mercola that have inspired me to keep going in our "hippie" lifestyle of eating organic and staying away from as many environmental toxins as we can.
7 Invisible Ways Exercise Improves Your Life
7 Natural Ways to Reduce Cellulite in Your Body
5 Surprising Factors That Can Make You Pack on Pounds
Are You Fat Because You Are Being Poisoned?
A few books that I've had in my collection for quite a few years. They are a great reference for detoxing your liver (which will also help you to lose weight) and they have some great recipes in them!
- Eat Right for Your Type & Cook Right For Your Type by Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo
- Fat Flush Plan by Ann Louise Gittleman