Oh Baby….(or babies – in my case.) I was never the “skinny girl.” I have an athletic body type and am fortunate enough to build muscle pretty easily, but I have been on just about every diet that exists. I have gained and lost about 175 pounds over the course of having four children and three C-sections. When you gain a solid 40 – 45 pounds and lose it….four times, you learn a lot about what works and what does not. No, the weight didn’t “fall off.” I lost it one ounce at a time. People ask me all the time – “How did you do it?” So here it is, my weight loss secrets:
1) Control: This is a key word. When you completely own the fact that your weight is under your control, then you can do something about it. For me, when I finally realized that there are so many things in life that I cannot control, but I can control my weight….I was able to stick to a plan. I’ve seen close friends who come from families where both parents are quite large, but size isn’t just about genetics, it is about what you eat. If you put your mind to it, and know that this is completely in your control- you can do it!
2) Hunger: Hunger is a sign that you are most probably losing weight. People think they can lose weight without ever being hungry. For me to lose weight, I had to go through times in the day when I was hungry. So I decided that mid- day worked best for me to be hungry. I can’t sleep when I’m hungry, and I need fuel to start the day, so I decided that it was going to be “okay” to be hungry in the middle of the day.
3) What you put in your mouth: You can’t eat as much as you think you can. For me, I am 5 feet 4 inches, therefore, I can only eat about 1,200-1,500 calories a day to lose 2 pounds a week. For me to maintain my weight, I can eat about 1,800 – 2,000 calories a day depending on how much I exercise. If I exercise all day long and eat 2,000 calories a day, I still won’t lose weight. For me, it’s all about what I put in my mouth.
4) Protein Supplements: To kick off my weight loss, I often would substitute one or two meals with a 300 calorie high protein drink. I would drink half the drink early in the morning, the other half at 10 am. Then, for lunch, I would drink half of the second 300 calorie drink and have the second half of the second drink around 3:00 pm. Then I would have a small dinner and a healthy snack right before bed. I’ve tried a lot of diets that forbid eating in the evening and loading up on calories in the morning….this doesn’t work for me. After a few weeks, I eat the same number of calories in small meals.
5) Water: I would have a goal to drink a gallon of water a day. I rarely reached my goal but I would come close. Drinking a lot of water keeps you full and aids in weight loss. Slow down on the water intake after 6 pm, or you’ll be visiting the bathroom throughout the night.
6) Exercise: After I had each of my four children, I found it very difficult to get to a health club. When carrying an extra 45 pounds, the comments from “friends” were a little hard to take. I remember after having my second child, I had a very fit, pretty “friend” at the gym tell me, “I admire you for having the guts to come here to work out with all that extra weight on you.” I’m not making this up. She actually said that to me. I went to the locker room and cried. If you are at a point where you don’t want to go to a gym, I found buying some hand weight and working out at home to be very convenient. With a new baby, you can also take your baby for walks in a great exercise stroller. With my last two children, I learned to really care less about how fat everyone thought I was, because I knew I was there to do something about it! Sometimes joining a more family oriented gym, versus a fancy health club, is also a good option…I did that too!
7) Scale: For me, weighing once per month works best. My “water weight” can vary so much that weighing more frequently just sets me up for disappointment. If you work out and stick to your calorie plan, you WILL lose weight. Put the scale away.
8) Don’t talk about it: For me, when my husband and friends knew I was on a “diet” it made the diet so much more difficult. It’s like when its Yom Kippur…30 minutes after I’m suppose to fast, I’m hungry. It’s the same thing with a “diet;” I’m starving the second it is official. If the diet is between me, myself, and I…. I focus on the most important things in my life and tend to forget about what tasty thing I may not be able to eat for awhile. For me, I always want what I can’t have…especially if everyone is watching what I eat and asking me about it. I literally didn’t even discuss my weight loss with my own husband. I drank the protein drinks while he was at work and for the most part, he had no idea I was even concerned about losing weight.
9) Sheer determination: The first time I had to lose 40 pounds, I went to buy a couple of things to wear to work until I lost the weight. While shopping, I found the skimpiest top and bought it. My husband thought it was a joke when I showed it to him. I remember telling him, “I will wear this someday!” I was DETERMINED to be that size….it took me about 6 months…but I rocked that top!
10) It’s not a race:Each time I lost 40+ pounds it took a different amount of time. I dropped the weight the fastest when I was younger and could exercise more. It’s not a race, it is a journey.
11) Avoid eating out: I grew up learning that you have to finish the food on your plate. At home, I just serve myself small portions, but when I go out to eat, it’s hard for me to leave ¾ of a good meal just sitting there; it’s such a waste of money. Also, in many cases, you don’t know for sure how many calories you are consuming. When I’m trying to lose weight and have to meet friends for dinner, I try to pick places I don’t really like and eat before I go. This way, I don’t feel deprived and I drink an ice tea and order a side salad without dressing.
12) No alcohol: I know – there is the skinny girl margarita…etc etc. For me, I lose the ability to care about my diet once I consume alcohol. When I drink, I tend to snack. Therefore, when trying to lose weight, don’t drink. Personally, I rather eat my calories anyway.
Make it Beautiful…and remember, “Beauty without virtue, is like a rose without a scent!”