In this post, I'm going to share with you what has helped me to lose weight. I'm speaking from a common sense and experience. I'm not a personal trainer nor nutritionist. I'm just a mother and a wife that is determined to live a healthy lifestyle. My hope is simply that you'll be encouraged that you'll leave this space believing that greater health and a better body is available to YOU. You just have to choose to pursue it.
When I came home from the hospital after giving birth to my second daughter, I weighed 185 pounds. That may not sound terrible, but that's a lot of weight on my 5'4" (rounding up my height here) frame. I tried to give myself some grace, but I was a little bummed about my weight because my 30th birthday was only 9 months away. I know 30 is just a number, but I wanted to leave my 20's on a high note and set a precedent for how I planned to live life in my 30's and beyond. So I got determined and set a lofty goal. I wanted to weigh 135 - the weight I was on my wedding day 6 years ago.
Recovering from a C-section meant that I would have to rely solely on diet to get the ball rolling. Honestly, it was pretty easy to lose weight to begin with. I was feeling nauseous almost 24/7 (it turns out I had a gluten allergy to thank for this) and having a newborn and a 3 year old kept me so busy I barely had time to think, let alone eat. So I wasn't consuming many calories and the pounds started to come off. But after about 20 pounds of weight lost, everything started to slow down... a lot.
Is there a number that taunts you? You try to lose weight, you succeed in losing 5 or 10 pounds, but you just can't break the barrier of that one number. My number has been 150. Over the years, I've been able to reach this point and every time I get close, the brakes slam. Even with exercise, I couldn't get past this point. This was true, once again for me losing my post-pregnancy weight. The first 20 pounds were pretty easy to lose. Once I got to 160 it became more difficult. As I approached 150, I could feel my body the hitting the breaks again.
I was doing research, trying to find a way to break the 150 barrier when I checked out the book "The Maker's Diet for Weight Loss." I didn't read much past the first chapter, but Jordan Rubin made a few points that altered my perception of what healthy looks like. He had a chart that indicated your ideal weight based on height and body build. After taking a couple of measurements, I looked at the chart and found my healthy, ideal weight. Then I took my measurements again because I thought to myself, 'That just can't be right!' According to the chart, my ideal weight is somewhere between 125 and 130. But the last time I weighed 125 or less was in high school as a soccer player!
I thought to myself, he couldn't possibly be suggesting that I should weigh that little. I can't even break 150! There's no way I can get to 130, let alone 125! Besides, at 150 pounds, I'm thinner than most people. I'm not really overweight... Honestly, I was getting defensive reading the book because I have never accepted the fact that (for me) 150 is overweight. Watching shows like the biggest loser makes 150 seem small. And while the rest of the U.S. is getting bigger, I was feeling like one of the skinny ones. But the truth was, at 150 pounds, I was overweight. My cultural perception of what is a healthy weight was obstructing my view of what was possible. In order to succeed, I had to first BELIEVE that my weight loss goal was possible.
Jordan Rubin was right, you have to take your height and body frame into account when deciding what is healthy for you. I had to come to terms with the fact that I am a petite woman and I can't eat the same amount as my 6'4" husband and expect to lose weight. It dawned on me that maybe I can't break the 150 barrier because I eat like someone who is maintaining a weight of 150.
Once, you determine your target healthy weight, you'll find that there are some great tools online to help you reach your goal. This is the calculator I used to help me determine my daily caloric needs to reach my target weight. Once I entered my information, I was told that I should consume about 1,300 calories a day. I was probably consuming closer to 2,000 at the time, so this was a significant cut in calories for me.
I'm not good about counting or tracking things, so I had to approach my diet a little differently. Processed foods have so many calories and leave you feeling hungry. Something seemingly healthy (like an energy bar) is loaded with calories! If I wanted to reach my goal and not feel like I'm starving, then I had to start eating the right foods. For example, an apple will fill you up and keep you full a long time but it only costs you 100 calories. Whereas 100 calories spent on one of those puny 100 calorie snack packs will leave you scavenging for more food. So, I stopped counting calories and started focusing on eating the right things.
I also began to take away food's power by waiting to eat breakfast until around 11:00. While maintaining my weight of 150, I would eat breakfast (something easy, like cereal) first thing at 7:00 and find myself hungry again at 10:00. What I've found is that if I drink water first thing in the morning, I'm not really hungry. Now, I wait until 9:00 and I drink half a serving of Keifer yogurt as a snack. This provides me with enough protein and sugar to feel good and I can hold off eating for another couple of hours.
I don't end up eating "breakfast" until around 11:00 and it consists of something very filling, but healthy. My favorite meal is peanut butter and a sliced apple on top a gluten-free waffle. Now 11:00, I'm feeling full and I've only consumed about 450 calories. At this point in the day, I'll treat myself to a cup of coffee (I've recently discovered that drinking coffee before eating breakfast makes me feel very jittery and edgy).
Because I'm eating so late in the day, I'm not usually hungry again until around 2:30. At this time, I'll eat something like a cheese stick, another piece of fruit, and a few slices of lunch meat (I can't have the bread with a gluten allergy). So now, it's almost 3:00 and I've only consumed approximately 750 calories. That sounds like nothing, but there is a good reason I eat light throughout the day. I know my favorite meal is coming up... Dinner!!
I've learned to limit myself to one plate of food at dinnertime, but it is a good portion and I enjoy that plate of food! Nothing beats a hot meal, in my opinion. So I save my calories all day so that I don't have to pinch calories at dinner.
After the kids are in bed, Danny and I typically I enjoy some chocolate milk as a desert, and that's my day! This has been my weight loss program. And it's based on one simple rule:
INPUT > OUTPUT = WEIGHT GAIN
INPUT = OUTPUT = WEIGHT MAINTENANCE
INPUT < OUTPUT = WEIGHT LOSS
So did following this simple formula work? Well, I didn't quite make my goal, but I came pretty darn close! On my 30th birthday, I weighed 139 pounds. I lost 46 pounds and 25% of my body weight in just 9 months!! I am so elated and encouraged. The crazy part is that I hit some road bumps along the way and haven't been able to work out. So, thus far, my weight loss has been completely the result of diet changes.
Stage two of my plan involves incorporating exercise and toning up. My calorie needs will increase as I incorporate exercise and I'll have to make some adjustments, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I had faith that my goal was possible, and now I KNOW it is.
I'm not where I want to be, but praise God I'm not where I used to be, and everyday I'm closer to being the woman God has created me to be!
Here are my before and after pictures together. I definitely encourage anyone working on losing weight to do a before picture! You don't realize how far you've truly come until you get to see both pictures next to each other...