My Weight Loss Journey to Losing 45 Pounds
This body had a baby three and a half years ago.
And as of this morning, this body has lost 45lbs.
45 pounds originally put on by postpartum depression. Put on by having to deal with the stress of learning how to be a parent, and on top of it, being a parent of a kid with cystic fibrosis. (Not to mention the years of wine/cheese networking events, eating out, and not moving as much as this body needed.)
45 pounds taken off – slowly and deliberately – over the course of 1.5 years.
No one noticed at first, other than myself and my husband (who also created his own health-oriented goals). The pounds didn’t shed quickly...the numbers on the scale have been slowly moving down (and, yes, sometimes up) by about two pounds per month.
Why I’m Telling You This
Lately you may have noticed more pictures of my whole body, more pictures of me looking silly, and more pictures of me looking confident. Well, that’s because I feel better than I think I ever have my entire life – even though I have been physically thinner during some phases of my life. Unhealthy habits got me there, however, so happiness still didn’t follow suit.
Now I have people DMing me, asking for my “secret.” And I usually say something snarky, like, “I don’t drink as much wine and I eat less cheese.” And while that does help, ultimately, there’s more to it than that.
How I Got Started on My Weight Loss Journey to Losing 45 Pounds
It wasn’t keto, intermediate fasting, paleo, etc. that helped me to lose weight. At the core of it all: I move more. I started off slowly because I wanted to create a lasting routine, and not a quick fix. I created easy tasks to achieve goals, and I rewarded myself when I got there.
My easy tasks included activities like walking for 15 minutes on the treadmill, having Alexa play a song so I could dance around with Ryeson, or completing a five-minute PopSugar fitness video (yes, you heard that right – THIS 5-Minute Standing Ab Workout is still a favorite of mine). It wasn’t about how fast I went or how much I sweat. I focused on habitually moving once a day (I did have a Fitbit and now an Apple Watch, so I always make sure to get in 30 minutes of movement per day).
Having the treadmill in my garage and YouTube workout videos on my living room TV made it a lot easier to get active. Throughout the day, there are frequently 15-minute windows that can be filled, so exercise tools being readily accessible made it that much simpler. Right after Ryeson goes to bed, in the morning when Jeff gets ready for work while Rye plays, after Ryeson goes down for his nap, or during a break between my writing sessions, my goal was to find that extra 15 minutes and move!
My eating habits remained pretty much the same in the beginning. My husband commuted (until we moved), so when he wasn’t home for dinner, I got mexican take out a lot. I did try to make better decisions when it came to eating more vegetables though. I talked a little bit about having to learn about balancing my meals when I had Pregnancy Diabetes. And many of what I learned then I was able to apply here - eat more veggies, less processed carbs/sugar and try to balance meals (aka not just eating almonds all day).
My Original Fitness Goals
My goal was never to lose 45 pounds or feel comfortable in a bathing suit. My original goal was to lose 20 pounds and feel comfortable in a tank top...and once I hit that, I kept going! I don’t know if I ever will feel completely at peace in a bathing suit. I have bruises, short, fair-skinned legs, and stretch marks from having a baby and losing weight. But not all of my goals were body-oriented.
Body image aside, I aimed for getting enough energy to have dance parties with my toddler in the kitchen without feeling winded after a minute.
My advice: No matter what your long-term goals are, make short term goals that you can feel good about accomplishing, and then keep going.
I’ve written about my process for creating goals in a blog post: how to create marketing goals (which really are life goals). I have also talked about goals with multiple consulting clients and at speaking engagements. My advice has always been to focus on a short list of tangible items you can cross off. In my experience, it’s all about tricking your brain into keeping up so you can achieve long-term results.
Taking My Fitness up a Level
Once I was accustomed to moving 15 minutes two times a day, I worked on increasing my speed on the treadmill – one minute at a time. Or, after one YouTube video ended, I would simply do another. I now add 3-pound weights to my 15-minute YouTube videos sometimes.
In addition, I bought myself a standing desk off Amazon. (It’s worth every penny!)
When I travel with my husband, we take walks A LOT. And we even did a cycling class at 7:30am when visiting the Coronado Inn in San Diego this past June. Having a partner-in-crime with your healthy habits is DEFINITELY helpful to keeping them up!
Healthy Eating Habits
My husband and I began cooking at home more. More soups, more salads, more tacos (with no cheese, most of the time). I have been a vegetarian since I was 12, but my love for carbs and cheese was put on hold for a while. Instead of flour tortillas with cheddar, we would get corn tortillas and skip the cheese, or get cotija cheese and use it sparingly.
Looking at the serving size for meals has been a game changer also. I mean, a “portion” of spaghetti is the size of your fist, NOT the size of a large bowl.
The big one, more so for my husband than for me, was cutting back on the drinking. Like I said above, it’s now become a joke when people ask me how I lost weight. In response to the “limited drinking” advice, my friends just laugh and say no thanks...
And I GET IT. Especially for my husband and me, what with our friends in the beer and wine industry, in which drinking is the heart of the lifestyle. Even a few beers led to poor sleeping habits and an increase of snacking for both Jeff and me. Giving it up wasn't necessarily about the empty calories from the alcohol itself, but how it led to making better choices in general.
Like I said, this is what has worked for us. I have never gone so far as to give up drinking, cheese, sugar, or carbs – but cutting back and leveling up in my movement has made all the difference.
Action Items for Feeling Healthier
I am by no means an expert, and what worked for me doesn’t always work for other people. But since I’ve been asked, I want to give you some of the tips that I have striven for over the past year and a half:
Move more. That’s it. Just walk in place while binging Netflix.
Be more intentional with how and what you eat (i.e., fewer foods without many nutrients, more veggies, more cooking at home, checking portions).
Start off slowly in order to create a routine.
Drink less alcohol (whatever that means for you).
Keep going! Your energy levels will increase if you stick to a routine.
Keep track of your weekly/daily goals; get a goal planner to keep you on track.
Reward yourself if you achieve your goals. I bought myself new Nikes when I lost 20 pounds, and my reward for when I hit 50 pounds will be a new workout outfit.
Pop in your headphones and listen to a podcast while walking. Yes, music is motivating, but I find myself wanting to listen to my podcast for longer.
Don’t feel embarrassed to look silly. I do calf raises while cleaning the dishes. I add in skips when I am taking the dogs in the backyard to go potty. I even do side-steps when talking with my husband about our days.
Level up your movement. Just a few extra minutes, an extra hop, or an extra weight.
Learning to Listen to Your Body
Moving forward, I am learning to listen to my body. When I start shaking if I eat more than a few bites of dessert, when my head throbs after having more than two glasses of beer or wine in a day, and when I feel the urge to get up and move when binge watching Schitts Creek – I LISTEN!
It’s hard, and it isn’t a skill I’ve learned overnight, but I promise that if you stick with it, eat healthier foods, and simply move more, your body will thank you by simply feeling better.
Being comfortable in a tank top for almost the first time in your life is secondary.