(L) 175 lbs (M) 160 lbs (R) 128 lbs
There comes a point in your life when you say “enough is enough.” After my fourth child was born I was dealing with postpartum depression, anxiety, and discomfort in everything I wore. That was my point, my enough, and I began my fitness journey. While I am in no way an expert, nutritionist, or certified trainer, I am a mom of four that lost forty pounds in twelve months by educating herself, through hard work, and in the most frugal way possible. If you’ve reached your point, your enough.. I hope what I have to share encourages you that a healthier life is achievable by investing only your time and effort, not your entire savings account.
The biggest factor in losing weight was also the one I struggled with the most. I was misinformed, I felt hungry all the time, and I missed tacos! Instead of focusing on how torturous the situation was, I decided to educate myself, because I knew that there had to be a better way.
What I learned:
- Diet vs Nutrition: Paleo, clean eating, keto, counting macros.. there are so many diets out there that people are following, how is anyone to know which one fits them best? I eventually learned that all diets follow basic nutrition principals, emphasize one aspect, and the degree of their effectiveness lessens the longer you follow it. Instead of focusing on one way of eating, I read up on how carbs, fats, and protein affect my body and how to alter my intake of each depending on my activity level.
- Reduce vs Restrict: I believe that most people fail at eating healthier because they restrict themselves straight out the gate. Slow and steady progress is still progress right? I encourage others to begin by reducing their junk/fast/fatty food intake instead of restricting it. Once you start seeing results, you’ll be motivated to continue making changes in your food choices. Also, eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Throughout my journey I allowed myself to give in to my cravings by finding healthy alternatives; lettuce wrapped burgers, cauliflower pizza, and little dark chocolate were enough to hold me down and keep me on track.
- Water: *Sigh* Consuming water gives me all the adulting feels. I detest it, but know it is non negotiable. Not only does it keep hunger at bay (you’re actually dehydrated, not hungry most of the time), but has an insane amount of health benefits that you can’t deny it’s importance. You’re supposed to drink half your body weight in water (oz) and I did everything from numbering bottles to setting alarms on my phone to get in the habit. Good luck!
- Supplements: Powders and pills are completely unnecessary to weight loss. They ARE a convenient way to get in a large amount of proteins or vitamins in one sitting, but you can still achieve those consumption goals with the food you eat. I do however recommend that every adult take a multivitamin for general health purposes.
Free Resources: While you can’t trust everything you read on the internet, Pinterest and Google were very informative on my journey. Sure, you get some “trendy” information out there, but after awhile you can tell which sites are giving legitimate advice.
Talk about love/hate relationships! You hear all the time “fail to plan, plan to fail” and it is so true! I think I had trouble in the beginning largely because I was overthinking my recipes. When I cooked simpler, I got into a good routine of preparing meals and snacks, so cheating on my plan was out the question. Healthy choices were readily available and there was no need to reach for junk! Not to say that curbing my cravings was easy, because it wasn’t, I just finally understood that food was a way to fuel my body.. not just to fill it.
What I ate:
- Carbs: Oatmeal, Ezekiel bread, whole grains,sweet potato, and substituted noodles/pasta with vegetables. Zoodles and spaghetti squash were life savers! This area didn’t seem to be a large expense for me, ranging from $1-$5 a week if I shopped generic brands.
- Vegetables: Fresh, frozen, THEN canned (maybe). I learned that not all vegetables were healthy (have you looked at the sodium content in canned vegetables?) and how some cause bloat and other digestive discomforts for some people. I paid close attention to how my body reacted to each, and adjusted accordingly. I bought seasonal items that were advertised on sale for $1 or less a unit (pound, piece, etc).
- Proteins: Tilapia, Chicken, Salmon, Eggs, Ground Turkey and lean Beef. Meat is probably the biggest expense you’ll run into, but if you run into a sale, stock up and freeze for later!
Free Resources: MyFitnessPal is a great app where you can plug in your info, goals, and it will tell you how many calories you should target each day. Their library of nutritional information is so vast, simply type in the food you’re thinking of eating or scan the barcode on its packaging!
I never considered myself an athlete. I was on team sports in high school, but not at any type of super star level, I simply put in my time and earned a participation medal and my spot in the yearbook. When I began working out I was lost and Google/YouTubed every exercise to make sure I was doing it right. Thankfully, I started in the comfort of my own home where I could freely make a fool of myself. There are plenty of effective ways to work out at home, as long as you find a way to increase your heart rate and keep it up for 30-40 minutes. I believe it is important to get into the habit of exercising regularly before investing in a gym membership.. plus it gives you time to build your confidence!
What I did:
- At home (pictured): Most of these exercises can be done using your body weight or with items around the house, so get creative! Squat your kids, use a chair, or lift gallons of water.
- Low Cost Gym: The majority of my weight was lost at a simple ten dollar/month gym. While it didn’t have fancy amenities, daycare, or flexible hours, I made it work for me. I worked out before the kids woke up, or on the weekends when Daddy was home to help.
- Expensive Gym: Now that I am a regular and take my toddler to gym daycare, I invest a little more money into my membership, but believe that I utilize every amenity! I maximize my sons time in daycare, shower to reduce my home water bill, relax in the sauna to allow for some “me” time.. and work out! I am definitely getting my money’s worth.
Free Resources: Bodybuilding.com, YouTube, and most cable company’s OnDemand features have free workout programs for you to follow. Looking for a local work out group that you can bring your kids to? No Excuse Mom is a non profit organization that brings parents together for a free weekly workout. Click here to find a No Excuse Mom group near you!
The scale is a great motivator, but it shouldn’t be the only one. There are so many factors to be considered when weighing yourself; are you doing it at the same time every time, what did you eat recently, is your menstrual cycle approaching? It’s stressful! Instead of relying on the scale, look at its movement only as a percentage of your cumulative weight loss “grade.”
What worked for me:
- Progress Pictures: I turned into the selfie queen but it was great seeing how much my body changed month to month, even when the scale didn’t. I still keep those pictures in my phone to remind me how hard I worked and what I am capable of.
- Athletic Abilities: Running an eight minute mile, finishing a 10k, and squatting over two hundred pounds (with proper form), meant more to me than pounds lost. I loved the energy I had for my kids, the strength in simple movements, and that I was inspiring my kids to get out and play more.
- Overall Health: While I still dealt with anxiety and depression, I now had a means of dealing with it. Running kept my anxiety manageable, yoga calmed me, and weight lifting gave me confidence when spurts of depression crept in.
Tip: You don’t have to be in the best shape of your life to have a “fitness” social media page. I found that documenting my journey kept me grounded and held me accountable. My account was anonymous, no one ever saw my face, and I shared as much as I wanted/didn’t want. Sharing was meant to help myself, but in turn I was an encouragement to others. You never know who you will inspire when you share your story.
Losing forty pounds was great, sometimes I look at pictures and still can’t believe I did that! Currently, I am 146 lbs and aiming to weigh 135-140 lbs, which is where I feel my best. I am equipped with the knowledge to make those changes, and feel confident that I can reach my goal sooner rather than later. I no longer want to be in my 120s because I know how much dedication that takes! Balance is key to my emotional health, and at this point in my life, I would rather my time be spent less at the gym or meal prepping and more with my family. If you’re on your journey, be mindful of what makes you feel balanced. Your road to health is your own, not to be defined by anyone else; work hard, stay focused, be encouraged, and good luck!