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.
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.
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.
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!