Those who read my blog know I had a baby boy back in August of 2017. Having a baby is great, but as time passes post-baby, I always get a hankering to be active again. I am the type of person who is competitive, and likes to stay in decent enough shape to do activities I love with my boys. After this last baby, my recovery dragged on a little longer than anticipated due to my family and I moving. Knowing myself, it was no surprise that the moment I felt better, I wanted to start working towards feeling like myself again.
When I planned out how I to go about getting in shape and setting goals, I kept in mind that I wanted to make my lifestyle as a mother fit my active lifestyle. There are no surprises here. I am not a hardcore enough mom to have a six pack and do exercises with my kids like the amazing mothers you see on youtube. I tried in the past to solely focus on myself and my fitness, but ended up realizing that the time I spent with my kids was suffering. I needed a way to marry the two; be active and have an outlet for stress, while not giving up valuable time with my family.
For me, staying in shape is a lifelong process which I plan to perfect with time. I started out at the beginning of the year monitoring my progress and taking pictures in three month increments. I know I am a little late in posting my results after March. However, I took pictures of my results which are posted below, and when the next three month mark hits at the end of June, I will post another update. In the mean time, I wanted to share the lifestyle changes I implemented at the beginning of the year which have helped me lose thirty pounds. For those looking to get active again, I hope my experience thus far can help you get off to a good start.
Cooking Food From Scratch
I love food. I don’t just love eating food, but I love learning about how to make food taste delicious. Knowing my love for tasty creations, I knew that it wasn’t possible for me to restrict my diet and have it last for long term. Instead, I needed to build up better habits by eating in moderation and making food from scratch to better understand the foods I put in my body.
I made it a goal to make meals from scratch, and limit the number of times my family ate out per month. We tend to eat out a lot when we don’t have a plan, so planning and preparing nutrition-filled meals became priority. To extend this act of healthy eating into my husband’s lunches, I needed a way to have quick meals he could grab and go in the morning. For this I would make freezer meals from the leftover surplus from the nights before. I also devoted a day during the month where I made soups and meals that we could use if we had an emergency or if mom got sick. I tended to look for recipes that worked with the ingredients I purchased, but still gave variety. Over time I felt more prepared with our family meals, and started to build up a better awareness for how my body felt with certain foods.
Above I mentioned how I didn’t want to cut out anything, but I did stop drinking soda. Soda was something I drank often enough to begin with, therefore stopping it altogether wasn’t a real big stretch to my diet. I will still drink soda if it is offered to me, but outside of that I probably won’t drink it. With sweets, I love baking, so I eat them in moderation, but haven’t taken them out of my diet. I love learning how to bake tasty desserts. I tell myself that I would rather eat one dessert that is rich and indulgent, than eat a lot of cheap desserts that don’t offer a lot of depth in flavor. Learning to bake more has definitely given me a better appreciation for the desserts that are worth eating.
Halting My Late Night Snacking
This was probably one of the biggest factors to my weight loss. Whenever I become pregnant, I tend to relive the bad habit of late night snacking. I knew my snacking habit was something I needed to eliminate in order for my good habits to last. To counter snacking, I gave myself a time window for when I could eat. I took aspects from practices like Intermittent Fasting to help me, but was a little more flexible with the time given. I would start my meals at 10 am and then stop eating past 7 pm. Staying on track with my time window combined with eating better foods in moderation, had a tremendous impact on my initial fat burn. In the first week I lost five pounds, and would lose between 2-3 each a week after for a month. After January, I lost over 15 pounds just with that lifestyle change alone.
Learning More About Gaining Muscle
Something I don’t have a lot of experience with is weight training and building muscle. Since I was a kid, I was always big on cardio, because of the competitive swimming I did. I was in decent shape, so weightlifting was never something I had a desire to learn. However, getting older has wizened me up to the fact that cardio alone doesn’t help build muscle in my body. If I wanted to get stronger and look toned, I needed to learn how to lift weights and do strength training properly.
I reached out to a cousin of mine, who helped me get started with weight training. He gave me workouts I could do at home, and for the first month of getting back into shape that was all I did. It was very rewarding to see the inches coming off, and see the muscle tone change in my body. It was those small physical indicators that helped me to stay motivated.
(I plan to share more about my cousin and his amazing group he started in my next blog post.)
Building Consistency With My Workouts
Since I want my workouts to last for the long haul, I built up my exercise routine in a way that would help me stay on track without getting discouraged too quickly. I started off by doing the weight lifting workouts, and for three days each week I only did that. After a month passed, more reps were added as well as a new exercise per workout. In my third month, I started incorporating cardio in between the days I did weight training.
My goal in building up slowly was not because I couldn’t do everything, but because I didn’t want to burn myself out at the very beginning. This involved me being patient with my body and building consistency with my day to day routine. I am now five months into the year, and I still do my weights three times a week and do cardio two to three times a week.
Being Part of A Supportive Community
Gym culture is something I think most people have felt intimidated by when exercising again. I know I have felt uncomfortable in gyms, because I tend to subconsciously compare myself to the people around me. I would never feel confident and I had a hard time finding value in my small victories in that type of atmosphere. I needed an outlet that would allow me to value my accomplishments without comparing them to someone else’s.
I was in two Facebook groups at the beginning of the year: the dōTerra Slim and Sassy Lifestyle Competition Group and The Wagon. The dōTerra group was for the first three months of the year while I was in their lifestyle competition. The Wagon is a Facebook group my cousin started to give guidance to those needing help with weights and diet plans. Both groups provided exactly what I needed to stay motivated. I felt free to share my experiences, both good and bad, and ask questions about things that worked well for others. There was no judgement, because our goals were the same in that we wanted to become healthier. I knew I wasn’t alone in my struggles, which allowed me to find confidence during times I would have given up.
Trusting the Process
Over the years, I have tried various different ways to get healthy. Many have faltered, but the silver lining present in those situations is that I have learned more about my body. Becoming a mother gave me a glimpse into what my body could handle, what I needed was a way to stay focused and make it work. I feel like I am finally in a place now where I have patience with my body and trust that what I am doing will be for the best in the long term.
For those people starting on their journeys, remember to trust the process and have patience with yourself. Being healthy takes time. It isn’t just building an exercise routine and staying consistent. It’s about breaking harmful habits and learning to take care of the amazing vessel that helps you get through life. It’s about knowing your weaknesses and turning them into strengths.
A mindset that helped me stay on track was establishing health as the priority, not how much weight I lost. I took measurements besides weight, such as measuring my waist and hips. I rejoiced in the small victories with each inch lost and each muscle toned. I see now that how you start the journey and the mindset you keep throughout, is ultimately what determines how you finish. And I can tell you that this girl plans to finish strong.