How I Lost Weight, Got In Shape and Stayed That Way

My first blog post ever was a guest post for UjENA Swimwear and that’s where I outlined how I originally stopped my newlywed weight gain in its tracks and made fitness and health a priority. Other than linking to that in the About Me section, I haven’t really discussed it much here on this blog.

So here it is, my secret to how I lost weight and stayed that way: I decided to eat more whole foods and less junk, start exercising and do it for health reasons, not just for looks.

I came to this decision shortly after Halloween one year when I was stuffing leftover Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in my face. I was already unhappy with the newlywed weight I had gained and I figured what were a few more peanut butter cups going to hurt?. But I couldn’t stop myself from getting up and getting another one. And another one. And another one. I felt so gross and I knew I needed to change. So I did.

I dumped the candy so it would no longer be a temptation. I told my husband I was not going to eat diet food like I had in the past. I was going to use olive oil in my salad dressing, not buy fat free. I’d still eat pasta (the Italian in me would never give that up) and a square of dark chocolate would become my dessert of choice. We packed our lunches everyday, so I made sure they were healthy and portioned out chips so I could still enjoy them without going overboard.

I was intimidated by the gym, so I joined Curves because it seemed safer. I committed to going three times a week for 30 minutes and I didn’t do any more than that even when I felt like I could because I knew I could so easily let myself burn out if I started with too much too soon.

It was a simple plan that I stuck with through the years. The weight came off slowly and steadily and I never had to go into “maintenance mode” after losing it since I was never on a diet to begin with. At this point, I never worked out more than three times a week and that was plenty for me to be in the best shape of my life up until that point.

pre baby body
In Santorini, just before my first pregnancy

Building muscle was fun, but I didn’t love working out enough to do more than what I felt was required to be in decent shape, especially since back then I was going right after work, which I didn’t much enjoy after a long day.

In fact, it wasn’t until Reece was a year old that I started to exercise as much as I do now (4-6 times/week) and that was for purely selfish reasons, so I could have my me time. I loved the results of that exercise, though, and I actually did start to enjoy it more.

Thanks to the healthy lifestyle change I’d adopted years ago, plus the additional time at the gym, I was in even better shape just a year after having Reece than I was before.

bikini body after first baby
At the beach in Santa Cruz with toddler Reece

My weight fluctuates, but I don’t pay too much attention to it and weigh myself once a month or less. Overall I’ve stayed in good shape since I decided to live a healthier lifestyle a decade ago. I consciously keep foods out of my house that I can’t control myself around, but there are no “bad” foods that are completely off limits (except things that aren’t actually foods, like artificial sweeteners and transfat). A good diet allows room for everything.

It irritates me when people say something like, “You’re so small! You must be able to eat whatever you want!” Not exactly. I’m slim and I’m fit because I don’t eat whatever I want. Well, I do, but within reason. So don’t be surprised if you see me enjoying a side of french fries when I’m out, just know that it’s balanced out by my usual healthy plate. Although I hadn’t thought of it this way before, when Jillian Michaels mentioned the “80/20” rule at BlogFest, I realized that that’s pretty much what I do.

I also see the difference pretty quickly when my workouts are out of balance (which is where I’m heading now with all the Pilates I’ve been doing lately! Good thing I’m getting in a little more cardio thanks to Reece wanting to ride his bike all the time!), but the only time I’ve had to actively try and lose weight was after Emme was born.

My abs will never look quite the same as in those last two pictures after having her, but I’ve come to terms with that. I’m glad that having healthy eating and active living down pat before I had kids helped me get back into shape each time. Even though my body may not look exactly the same anymore, I know I’m taking the best care of it that I can and that’s what counts.

bikini body post baby number two
On a beach in Cannes with 9-month-old Emme

Everyone is different, so some may prefer to go with an actual diet plan, but for me it was looking at the long-term made the difference. I made a change that was sustainable and long-lasting, and I’m happier and healthier for it.

Whether you know you need to make a change or have been living a healthy lifestyle for awhile, I’d love to hear your story. What worked for you? What hasn’t worked? Do you get sucked in to all the latest diet fads? Please share in the comments!

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Comments 15

  • The fact that you can wear the same bikini in all three phases of your life (pre-baby, after baby #1 and after baby #2) is amazing! I think you have a very healthy attitude towards healthful eating & exercise. I had similar revelations when trying to figure out eating and exercise, and I’m just glad I did figure it out!

    • I love that bikini! It’s finally starting to wear out now. The bling on the side digs into my skin now that my hips are wider after baby #2, so I think I’m finally done with it. It carries so many good memories, though!

  • You go girl! Seriously you look amazing (I’m just a bit jealous). We eat healthy-ish (yeah probably 80/20 like you?) but really focus on fitness. I feel better when I’m exercising. I never think, “These jeans are getting tight, I need to hit the gym” but I definitely think, “I’m getting super crabby, time for a long run.” My tummy was more abused than yours was by pregnancy so my bikini days are done (I can get it sort of close to flat-ish but I need to eat strictly clean for weeks and it’s too restrictive/unsustainable) but as I get older, I think I’m more forgiving with myself.

    ps. Headed to the Spartan Beast World Championship on Saturday. What can I say, I’m clearly a glutton for punishment 😉

    • Thanks! I definitely get the lack-of-workout crabbies too. I’m motivated to workout for both reasons–to put myself in a good mood and to make a positive change in my body. You rock for doing all these Spartan Beasts! They’re not my thing.

  • You look fab, Laura! And very fit. I agree with changing lifestyles to be healthy; and not simply focus on looks. After I had my first, I trained for my first race, and the weight definitely did not stay on with all that training! After my second I had gained a little bit of weight and had gotten into the very bad habit of eating junk food “because I could” (breastfeeding excuses) and one day like you I was disgusted at myself and went back to running seriously. I also started HIIT and the weight came off again (and I went back to my 80:20 rule as well). I’m happier if I focus on a running goal rather than trying to be a certain shape. I feel strong that way instead of self-conscious.

    • Ah, yes, I’ve definitely fallen into the habit of eating whatever I wanted while breastfeeding. With my first, I actually could because breastfeeding really did use up all the extra calories and I lost the weight regardless. I didn’t want to get into the habit of eating unhealthy things, so I tried to reel it in, but I definitely had to watch myself when my son weaned because I was used to eating so many more calories.

  • Wow, you look amazing! I cannot see a difference after your second child was born, seriously! People, like they asked you, assume I don’t eat or follow a very strict diet because I’m thin. But after my son was born, I began not exercising for the first time and eating more junk food than I had prior, and I just didn’t feel good about myself. I also try and follow the 80/20 rule and find eating at home, cooking real whole food made all the difference and cutting a lot of the processed “snack foods.” And as my son got older and I was able to get back at the gym, I’m at least the same shape I was in before my son was born. I will not give up pasta either due to my half-Italian heritage and enjoy dessert everyday. I think portion control, all things in moderation and just being active each day makes all the difference. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • New here and loving your site! And can I say you look amazing in all your post baby pics! I just had #2 1 month ago and I’m struggling to accept that it’s going to be a lot harder to lose this weight than it was with #1. Looking forward to following you and your cuties!

    • Thank you! Congrats on your new baby! That was totally me at that point after baby #2. I was feeling so down about how the weight wasn’t coming off all by itself like the first time and bummed that I was actually going to have to work at it. It wasn’t easy at first with a newborn and toddler, but I found little bits of time in my day and got back to it once my doctor cleared me. You can do it, mama!

  • As always, your blog is truly inspirational. I don’t even have the excuse of 2 kids, just 1 kid…3 years ago. Every day is a conscious choice to fuel my body with the most nourishing things I can and fit in activity whenever possible! I love the bike thing…I’ve been making an effort to do evening walks at the lake with Logan riding his trike (too bad toddlers are so easily distracted and must stop to look at/talk about everything).

    • Thanks, I’m glad you think so! It’s great that you’re already making healthy food choices. It’s hard to squeeze exercise in after bedtime, but worth it if that’s the only time you can. Just a half hour is all it takes to get in a good workout!

  • I love how you’ve found such a balanced lifestyle, and are so positive. I am in the same boat, I have two kids, am in great shape and like eating healthy, but yeah, my tummy will never be the same. I have a hard time with it sometimes, but it’s only me that cares…so I need to get over it! Thanks for sharing!

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