Well, it has been two months since I started my personal health challenge. And I have great things to report! If you haven’t had a chance to read my two previous posts about my challenge, view Here’s to Health! and Here’s to Health! Update.
I started the new year with a personal health challenge to lose the remaining baby weight since the birth of my third child, to develop better/healthier eating habits, and to become more fit and toned. I am happy to say that in the first two months, I have achieved all three of my goals. Fortunately I didn’t have much weight that I wanted to lose, so once I focused on it, it didn’t take long to reach my goal. And when I went to the doctor for an annual physical, I was soooo happy when the scale weighed me in at a pound less than I was before having my third child! Woo hoo! This wasn’t about losing a ton of weight and becoming too thin, it was about bringing myself back to where I was before I had my third child, and creating a healthier version of the old me. Not only did I lose weight, I lost inches. I didn’t measure when I first started, which I regret not doing. It was about two weeks in when I finally took measurements. I lost at least 1 1/2 inches in my hips, and at least two inches in my waist. Nothing major, but certainly enough that I look more toned, and most importantly, I can fit back into the clothes that I wore prior to getting pregnant with my third child. Yay! I notice a huge difference in my abdomen area. It looks much flatter and more toned. And I can say that overall, I feel that my body looks more toned. I still have work to do, but I am happy with the progress that I have made in a short two months. Determination and hard work really do pay off!
There are several things for me that were pivotal in my success.
First of all, having a supportive spouse that will help you make the time to fit exercise into your daily life is imperative if you have children. In the past I never could seem to find, or make the time, to commit to exercise. With three children life can be extremely busy, and I always put myself aside to take care of everyone else. Jeff has always felt that it was important, so once I forced myself to make the time, he was fully supportive of my effort. And encouraging comments from your spouse go a long way too. Over the past two months he has said things like “I am SOOO proud of you!”, “You look great!”, “What have you done with my wife?!” (Referring to what I was eating which happened to be one gluten free pancake, sugar free syrup, and fresh strawberries. In the past I would have eaten more pancakes adding to my calorie and carb intake early in the day, and typically would have regular syrup.). The comments from a spouse noticing and appreciating the work you are doing for yourself, and the changes you are making, goes a LONG way in helping you to stay on track.
2. Making It a Habit
They say that it takes 21 days to change a habit. The first month of my health challenge I worked out more than recommended so that I could make it a habit. It is so easy to let a day go by without fitting it in. I knew that if I worked out almost every day (even if it was something small) it would become the new habit, and part of my routine. And it did. Now I work out 4-5 times a week instead of almost every day, which is the more recommended amount. But I just knew for me that I had to make a change, and making it a habit was one of the things that helped me to make a change in my lifestyle.
3. Counting Calories
I know. Two dreaded words. I wasn’t at all excited about it in the beginning, but I knew from others experiences that it was key to understanding what you put in your body. And they were absolutely right. When I first started counting calories I was amazed. I ate fairly healthy before. However, it was the handfuls of things here and there throughout the day that I didn’t realize how much they added up! Not to mention my major sweet tooth, and habit of snacking. And just paying more attention to calories wakes you up to what is really in what you are eating, and allows you to find new things to eat that are much healthier and better choices. It takes commitment and some extra time to count calories, but trust me, it’s worth it. And you don’t have to do it forever. I bought a scale, which greatly helped and made it much easier to count calories. I used the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to keep track of my calories, and that made it so easy. If you haven’t read my friend, Nicole Diehl’s, blog post about her weight loss journey, you should, she offers a ton of information including details on how to use the MFP app. A lot of what you eat is already loaded in the app, and you just have to add the serving size. And using the scan feature makes it so easy to add items that aren’t already in MFP. Honestly, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I anticipated it would be. But most definitely was a key to losing weight and focusing on a diet. At times it was a pain, like when you go out to eat and really have no idea how many calories you are consuming. During those times I would do my best to find something similar already loaded in the app, and use an item from the list that was in the median range of calories. And early on I tried to not go out to eat a lot since you just consume more calories eating at a restaurant instead of at home. But I did allow myself the occasional treat of going out to eat, and just made sure that I ate good earlier in the day, and got exercise in.
Now that I have achieved my weight loss goal, I have adjusted my calorie intake to a maintenance level. And after counting calories, I pretty much know the foods and serving sizes that I can eat throughout the day to stay on track, and allow myself to eat a nice meal with my family. It has now become a way of life, and a change of habit. Even better yet, I have discovered new things to eat that I had forgotten about, or not tried before. Once you get into it, you will find that your tastes change, and you actually crave the healthier foods for the most part. (Let’s be real, I still have a sweet tooth, but I have been able to get a better grip on it now!)
4. Allowing Yourself Food Pleasures
Dieting is tough. I have never been one to stick to a “diet” per say. I didn’t view this as a diet though, more of as a healthy lifestyle change. It was important for me to make healthier choices a way of life, but at the same time, to allow myself to enjoy some things too. If you deprive yourself of foods you love it is easy to fall out of the diet or healthier way of eating. So don’t deprive yourself. I made sure to make mostly good choices throughout the day, allowing for an enjoyable dinner time meal with the family. I also allowed myself to eat some things I enjoyed, like chips or chocolate, in moderation. That’s where measuring service sizes really makes a difference. I discovered that a serving of Simply Cheetos is pretty good sized, and doesn’t have as many calories as you would think. And a square of Dove Dark Chocolate is just enough to satisfy a sweet craving with a small amount of calories. I still eat pizza and other high calorie foods that I enjoy, I just make sure that the rest of my day was filled with good choices, and that I got exercise in.
5. Work Outs That Work For You
Many people try to commit to a work out plan or type that doesn’t fit well with their lifestyle. For me, I knew it would be easier to do things that I could do at home, whatever time of day fit in my schedule. Going to a gym or a class is out for me, because I will find too many excuses to not go. I can almost always make time at home. So I have focused on cardio (Walking if the weather is nice or elliptical when it’s not. I am fortunate to have an elliptical at home.), circuit training videos (Mainly I get them from YouTube or things I have found on Pinterest, so no excuse that you have to spend money!), weight routines that use hand weights or little equipment. These have all worked out great for me, and I have a hard time making excuses. I focused first on the areas that bothered me the most, which was my abdomen area after having three children. The first month I mainly did cardio and a circuit training video that focused on abs, Jillian Michaels 6 Week 6 Pack. And it worked! After the first month and toning up my mid section, I then branched out and started working on other areas.
I am very proud of myself for the time and effort to get myself back in shape, and healthier. I have to say, I feel so much better too. Eating better and getting a good amount of exercise really does make a huge difference. I took the time to do this for myself, which is a feat in itself. And most importantly, I feel better about myself. My clothes fit better and I feel like I look better. And my husband is proud of me. So all in all, I call it a huge win. Now I can continue the lifestyle change that I have made, and continue to keep myself on a healthy path. Here’s to health!