First of all – you have to be the one who wants you to lose weight. No one I know ever told me I looked heavy or gave the slightest indication they cared if my tech shirt was a little snug. If someone else tells you to lose weight, you can tell them to go suck an egg, for all I care. But if you want to lose weight, go for it.
My son turned 2 in March. Yet I was still about 5 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant with him; and 15 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant with my daughter (who is now 5). I hadn’t been really trying to lose weight, but I definitely hadn’t been trying to gain weight, either. I was just not really paying attention until my pants got too tight and then I’d eat better for a week or two. I had a whole stack of running shirts I didn’t like to wear without a jacket over the top and was getting really self-conscious about how I looked. So I had a little pep talk with myself, motivated in part by my 20-year high school reunion which was held the first weekend in July, and changed some of my habits.
I don’t want anyone to think that losing weight is easy. It’s easier for some people than others, but I know people who eat properly and exercise and they’re slower to shed pounds than what they expect. And I know those people just need support to stick with it. I have lost 15 pounds in about 10 weeks, so I wanted to share the changes I made in my life and hopefully it will help at least one other person that is interested in losing weight. Here are five changes I made in my day-to-day habits:
1. I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app (the free version) to my phone and was diligent about tracking what food I ate.
Paying attention to what I ate has, by far, been the hardest habit to change. As a college athlete and then an avid recreational runner, before I had kids I never really had to worry about my weight. I’ve never been very knowledgeable about the nutritional makeup of various foods, but I have learned that you can eat a metric crap-ton of steamed veggies and get the same amount of calories as a quarter-donut. So when I knew I was going to be having burgers at a BBQ, I’d opt for green beans instead of chips. The Android version of the app will also tell you, after you “complete your entry” for each day, what you’d weigh in 5 weeks if every day was like the one you just recorded. That’s good motivation to see that in 5 weeks you could lose 5 pounds. The app also gives you alerts when one particular food contains a high amount of sodium, or sugar; and alerts you when you haven’t eaten enough calories for the day. Not eating enough sends signals to your body that you are starving, and can actually prevent you from losing weight in a healthy way.
2. I looked for different foods that I could work into my rotation without extra work and paid attention to serving sizes.
The best new addition? A toasted English muffin with mushed-up avocado on it, which makes a good breakfast. I also tried out different things in salads, explored new fruits, and got my husband on board to prepare dinners with more veggies and lean meats that you don’t put on a sandwich to eat. I replaced my Starbucks Chai latte with a variety of different flavors of tea (saving money in the process) and changed my normal “salty” snack of potato chips in for different brands of whole-wheat crackers. And on Fridays when my office has donuts? That’s not easy … but I instead get a bagel and cream chese. Not 100% healthy, but at least not as much sugar as a maple bar. FYI: 16 reduced-fat Wheat Thins make up a serving.
3. I exercised more and with more variety.
I had been running about three or four times a week, but I wasn’t doing anything the other days. I started going to a gym near my house once or twice a week (review on that forthcoming) that offered a Sculpt + Tone yoga class and hybrid spin classes, got the rowing machine out of the garage a few times, and added walking to my weekly line-up. Now, if I take a day “off,” I still use my two 15-minute breaks at work to walk outside, where I can log about 1.5 miles total while chatting with a co-worker. The MapMyRun app links to the MyFitnessPal app, so any walking/running calories are automatically added in to update my daily calorie activity. (I found that my running calories were usually inflated though … I doubt I burn 700 calories running 4.5 miles.)
4. I got used to being hungry at certain times of day.
10:30a rolls around and on most days, I’m ready for a snack. I used to automatically get something to eat, thanks to long stretches of being pregnant and then nursing. But I’m no longer using those extra calories, so they just stockpiled. Now, if it’s within 90 minutes of when I plan to eat and my tummy starts grumbling, I just fill up my water bottle again and suck it up (literally). If it’s more than 90 minutes, I’ll get a snack that’s 100-150 calories – but something good, like Noosa Salted Caramel yoghurt.
5. I made a rule that beers are for weekends.
Technically, Thursday isn’t a weekend, but at my house it is. By not having any beer on “school nights,” (except Thursdays, that is) I give myself a little extra motivation to exercise and pad my available calories if I want to have a beer on a weekend. The kind of beers I like tend to be between 140-180 calories per 12 oz, so I figure 2 miles > 1 beer. It makes it easier to fit my long run in on a Saturday morning if I’m planning to go to dinner with friends or walk to The Growlerie with my neighbor for a beer after the kids are in bed.
I’m already back down to my pre-first-kid weight, and if I keep it up for another 8 weeks or so, I’ll be back at my college rowing weight. While I’m not concerned with hitting a specific number for the sake of weighing “this much,” I am starting to get excited about what it could mean for my 5k time in a few months. I’ll have to add #6: Track Workouts to see any real improvements, but I’m willing to do that if it means I could see a sub-25 5k again.
If you want to join me in eating better, exercising more, and maybe getting faster, just start now. Don’t wait until after the weekend or after a friend’s wedding: put the habits in place now so the weekend and the wedding are easier to get through. If you want to share your story, please drop us a line through our Contact Us form – like I said, if it inspires even one other person, it’s worth it!