I watch my husband smear mayonnaise on his steak that he is eating with a side of avocado and gag a little. He’s on the Keto diet, which has allowed him to lose 30 pounds. It seems relatively easy for men to lose weight anyway. My OohMomma co-blogger, Abby, says that her husband just has to go for a jog and comes back ten pounds lighter. Other friends report that their husbands just stop drinking soda for two weeks and drop four dress sizes. Weight loss is a regular topic of conversations, even infiltrating into the workplace. Every year, my school does the Biggest Loser challenge and I watch everyone skip meals, fast, or resort to extreme calorie restrictions to take the weight off. They are temporarily successful, until the next year when the process begins again. When I expressed my worry that this wasn’t the best way to keep weight off, I was told that I don’t understand since I haven’t struggled with my weight, and then was told to ‘eat a cheeseburger’. What people don’t know is that I HAVE struggled with weight after the birth of my children, and I DO eat cheeseburgers, and I DO know that it’s hard to find the time to eat right and exercise. There is not a one size fits all diet for everybody, but I can share with you the way I consistently stay at the weight I’m at.
- Know yourself
This is key. The reason keto diets or other restrictive diets won’t work for me is that I get very very edgy when I’m denied things that I love. I’m somebody that needs to have my morning iced coffee and pancake bread to look forward to in the morning. I need to know that I can have a piece of my son’s birthday cake. I need my cocktails. Don’t take away my wine, or I will cut you. I also know that there is no way in hell that I’m getting up at 4 a.m. to work out. I’m also not going to stay motivated by running on the treadmill, outside in the cold, or running anywhere at all period. While I know that I’m not motivated enough on my own to work out in the wee hours of the morning at home, my friend thrives on scheduling her early morning exercise time while everybody else is asleep, and she enjoys not having to drive anywhere. Food prep is something else I struggle with. I have friends who lunch prep on Sundays, making beautiful salads and healthy stir frys with fresh veggies, steamed fish, and brown rice. As much as I want this to be me, it isn’t. I buy four premade salads at Trader Joe’s (350 calories), throw a tangerine, water, and some dark chocolate into my lunch bag and there’s lunch.
- Find Exercise you Love
Recently, an article came out that said exercising won’t allow you to burn enough calories to lose weight. I saw evidence of that when I was tracking my food and exercise on MyFitnessPal and saw that my 45 minute hour Tabatta class barely burned enough to get rid of my wine calories. It’s true that if you expect a workout to undo a day’s worth of bad eating habits, you’re in for a disappointment. I don’t need to tell you that exercise is still very important. It increases endorphins, can reduce anxiety, improves bone and muscle health and can increase your energy. I’ve been an avid gym-goer since I was 21, and I’ve seen how exercise has absolutely changed lives as well as bodies. There are so many exciting exercise options to choose from–Boxing, Zumba, HIIT, Barre, Weight-Training, Tabatta, Yoga, Pilates, etc. Try out different classes at the gym, or through a video streaming app like NeoU or SworkIt.
- Treat Yo’Self but Reign Yo’self In Also
Restricting yourself isn’t going to be successful long term. You have to be able to have treats and things you love. Eating and drinking amazing things is one of the joys of life. The reason I’m able to maintain my weight is that I know I don’t have to deny myself things all the time. If I’m going out to dinner on Saturday and want to indulge in a meal with an appetizer, entrée, and dessert, I will. I just know that I can’t do this four nights a week. If I know I’m regularly going to be out to dinner in a given week, I’ll pass on the appetizer and dessert, and eat half of my entrée, saving the other half for lunch the next day.
- Be Mindful
I eat at mealtimes and rarely snack. If I do snack, I grab something that’s healthy. I know this is easier said than done, but I believe that I can manage this because I don’t restrict myself in all ways. I don’t sit down with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s because I know that I can have some if I really want to, and besides…I already had a high-calorie mocha earlier that day. If you’re somebody that eats chips while watching TV and then realizes the bag is gone, know that this is an unhealthy habit that needs replacing. Divide some chips in a bowl and eat just those. Or eat the bag if this is your indulgence, and just make sure you don’t do that again for the rest of the week. Another part of mindfulness is checking in with yourself. I don’t weigh myself every day, but I do weigh myself every week. Thanksgiving weekend just ended, and I went on a free for all. Big meals, lots of laying around, drinking more cocktails than I usually do, etc., and it took a toll. I’m up four pounds. Not a disaster, but I know I need to reign it in, otherwise, four will become eight, and eight will become ten.
- Use Tools
I use My Fitness Pal as a food and exercise tracking app to hold myself accountable. It was very eye-opening to me when I first used it. I hadn’t realized there were so many calories in some of the foods I was eating. On the upside, I hadn’t realized that some foods were so low in calories. My favorite drink from Starbucks (a tall sweet cream vanilla cold brew) is only 80 calories, allowing me to have it every day if I want it.
- Make Exercise a Priority
Moms are busy. Non-moms are busy. We are all busy. We also waste a ton of time throughout the day on our social media and by complaining about how busy we are. If you want to implement a successful exercise routine you have to do just that…make it routine. I schedule my exercise like I do anything else. I look at the calendar ahead of time and find what days and times I can go to the gym. This week, I have a late meeting on Wednesday, and I drive the gymnastics carpool on Tuesday, which leaves me with being able to work out Monday, Thursday and Saturday morning. I’ll supplement the workouts by trying to get a walk-in outside if the weather is good. Some weeks I know I’ll only get to the gym twice, but then I make it up the following week by going four days. When my kids were little and needed more supervision, I actually paid a neighbor girl to watch the kids for an hour so I could get to the gym. I remember actually getting judgment for this by a few other moms. To which I responded, “I’m showing my kids that I’m important, that health is important, and when I work out, I feel better, which translates to a happier, healthier mom.” Who can argue with that?