I’ve had lots of people email, text or call me regarding my recent weight loss and how I did it. So… I decided to share what happened to work for me and some of the knowledge I’ve gained along the way. So first off, let me start by saying that I have a small excuse for putting weight on, right? Having two kids in a matter of two years did me in. I was not one of those who lost the weight while breastfeeding. In fact, I was the opposite! The day I gave birth to Graham I tipped the scale at 218 lbs. 218 POUNDS!!!! After giving birth and I was able to get down to approximately 170 lbs, but without exercising and eating right I couldn't seem to lose much more. In July of last year I decided to purchase a gym membership (one where the kiddos could attend the on site day care). The timing seemed perfect. Graham was a year and they don't allow children under 11 months AND he was starting to ween from nursing. Immediately upon beginning my exercise routine I began to lose weight FAST. Then around 4 weeks I hit a plateau and realized I would have to take a look at what I was eating. I downloaded an app (see details below) onto my phone and began to track my caloric intake. To my absolute shock I was eating almost double what I should in one day. I LOVE to cook (and eat) so immediately I thought I wasn't going to be able to enjoy cooking ever again, but I was wrong. Cooking food now is a new challenge. I love finding/cooking new meals, but now I stick to a strict portion size.
Around week 12 I hit another plateau in my weight loss. At the same time I noticed my exercising routine was becoming easier so I decided to intensify my workouts with interval trainings. I started out on the treadmill running at a pace around 5.0 mph and would increase my pace up to 6.5 mph for one minute then rest at 5.0 for two minutes. I did this exercise for 20 minutes. Now... I get bored fast doing the same exercise longer than 20 minutes so I would then hop onto the stair treadmill (not sure what those rotating stair stepper machines are called ??) for an additional 20 minutes and do intervals on that machine as well. I always tried to stay cognizant of my exertion levels while exercising. If something started to get easier I would then increase the intensity of my base rate as well as my interval level (I still do this and now run at a base of 7.3 mph with an interval rate of 9.4 mph). I've NEVER increased the amount of time I've spent on the cardio machines, just the intensity. Hope that makes sense.
As for weights, my gym has a circuit training section. There are 9 machines hitting all major muscle groups. Going three times around this circuit is equal to about 25 minutes. This section has a red light/green light that allows you to lift while the green light is present and then break to the red light, then move onto the next machine when the green light appears again. Most of the people using this section are elderly, but I thoroughly enjoy working out with them and we've become good workout buddies. I chuckle now to think about being friends with 82 year old Freddy-- who happens to wear his fanny pack EVERYDAY (what's in that fanny pack anyways?) and 75 year old Joan who helped showed me how to work every single machine in the circuit. :)
Anyway, in November I reached my goal weight of 125 lbs, but since then I have lost an additional 3-5 lbs (I fluctuate, but my body seems to like the number 122). I went from a size 12 to a size 2! Seriously crazy when I think of the weight that I used to carry around on a daily basis. No wonder I was ALWAYS tired!
So here are some of the tips I learned along the way (most of us already know these, but it's a good reminder, nonetheless)...
1. Weight loss is all about diet as well as exercise. If you’re going to the gym everyday for an hour a day and not seeing any results, you’re eating too much or you’re not working out as hard as you should. Those are harsh words, I know. When I first started to work out I was still eating the same amount of food I had always eaten. I lost a bit of weight and then at some point I hit a plateau and had to change things up.
2. In order to see results I had to pay close attention to my food intake. I downloaded an app on my iPhone called, “MyFitnessPal” and truthfully it has been my fitness pal all along the way. The first couple of days of inputting information I couldn’t believe how much I was eating when I had paid attention prior. A chip or cookie here or there really does add up over the day.
3. Starving yourself doesn’t help you—it hinders you. When I first began my weight loss journey I skipped breakfast, ate minimally for lunch and then gorged myself at dinner. Again, I hit a plateau and had to change things up again. I started eating breakfast, lunch and smaller dinners and lo and behold my weight began to fall off again.
4. Drinking water is super important. Not only does it help cleanse your body of toxins, but it also helps your skin complexion and replenishes your body after a hard work out of sweating. I try to drink between 3-4 large water bottles/day. This equivalents to about 80 ounces/day. I know it sounds like a lot, but I feel so much better on the days I drink water as opposed to the days I skip out on my water. Also, I’ve found that usually when I think I’m hungry it’s really that I’m dehydrated and need to drink water.
5. Be realistic about your new lifestyle. Personally, I couldn’t cut any one particular thing out of my life for good. Life is too short to not eat ice cream and fried chicken. However, it’s the amount I consume it that I pay more attention to now. I know it may come as a surprise, but while losing weight I allowed myself ice cream every night. Some nights it was a Skinny Cow bar or a Weight Watchers Popsicle, but it subsided my sweet cravings and didn’t dip into my overall calorie intake for the day.
6. Weight training is SUPER important. Not only does it increase your muscle mass while decreasing your fat, but it helps to raise your metabolism (so does the interval training) and you continue to burn calories long past working out when you've lifted weights.
So what is my typical exercising routine?
20 Minutes on Stair Treadmill (intervals)
20 Minutes Running on Treadmill (intervals)
20 Minutes Circuit Weight Lifting
30-35 minutes Running on Treadmill (intervals)
30 minutes Circuit Weight Lifting
Typical Food Intake-- IDEAS
- Yogurt, Granola, & Fruit
- Cereal (measured out) with Milk
Snack Ideas— If I’m in need of a snack I try to keep it close to 100 calories. Also, I try to keep my snacks to TWO/day. I’ve found that when I’m feeling the need to munch I’m really in need of a big glass of water (or zero calorie diet soda drink—Cherry Coke Zero is my vice) :)
- Carrots & Hummus
- Pita Chips & Hummus
- Butter-less Popcorn
- Cheddar Goldfish
- Yoplait Light Yogurt Cup
- String Cheese
- Fruit (Apple & Pears were my constant companions while loosing weight)
- Weight Watchers Fudge Ice Cream Bar (100 calories)
- Toasted English Muffin w/ margarine, Yogurt, & Pretzels
- Half Ham Sandwich (using 1 piece of bread) w/ Mayo & Fruit
- Cheese & Crackers with grapes
- Peanut Butter Toast, Apple, and String Cheese
Dinners—we eat whatever we want for dinner, but in moderation. When we were at our heaviest weight Tim and I could eat any other couple on our block under the table. Seriously, I could put down an entire Papa Murphy’s Pizza BY MYSELF! EWWW GROSS! I started cutting down on the amount of food I cooked for dinner and found that when there isn’t enough for seconds I was less likely to gorge myself (imagine that). I used to feel sick after dinner—like I want to throw up, I’ve eaten too much—sick! Now, we eat slower and less of it. Granted in the beginning I felt like my body was starving, but over time it got used to not eating as much. Not to mention we’ve cut our grocery bills dramatically (our cash only budget is a discussion for another day). When a recipe calls for one chicken breast per person I typically get one breast for the two of us and split it in half and we STILL HAVE LEFTOVERS! Amazing I tell ya. Moderation, that’s our trick!
So to sum it all up. I worked my A$$ off (literally)! I ate less food, but did it healthily so the weight would stay off. When I left the gym, I wanted to puke and I was a sweaty mess. So basically losing the weight sucked, but it was worth every painstaking early morning! I hope this has answered some of your questions. I wouldn’t say we went on a diet, we definitely had a LIFESTYLE change. School, having kids, and work got the best of us. But, we’re feeling as though we’ve finally gotten back to the roots of our healthy lifestyle. I have more energy. I feel better about myself. I look better in my clothes (I actually had to go shopping because nothing fit me anymore). AND the most important thing about our recent weight loss is that we’ve begun to demonstrate a healthy lifestyle for our kiddos and hope to maintain it for the many years to come. Oh and Tim lost weight too, but I will let him post his embarrassing before and after pics if he chooses to do so. However, I will say that he is a svelte 170 lbs now, though! :) Between the two of us we lost a whopping 160 lbs!
I'm actually really embarrassed to post this swimsuit picture, but there you have it. This is me at my goal weight of 125 lbs. Like I said earlier, since this picture I've lost an additional few pounds and this suit no longer fits-- the bottom tends to fall off of me. :)
ADDENDUM-- 6/19/12: Since posting this I've had several emails from concerned friends that believe I may look too thin. Please keep in mind my height is 5'5" and I'm well within a healthy BMI range at a 20.5 Also, I want to clarify that while trying to lose the weight I consumed approximately 1300 calories, but now that I'm in the maintenance phase I consume about 1700 calories. However, I haven't calorie counted since February. :)