I think we can all agree that the following topics are not in my blog wheelhouse:
-How-to posts of any kind (with one exception: How to Lose Your Will to Live at the DMV).
That’s because, apparently, I’m an expert in pretty much nothing.
That being said, I’m going to venture into uncharted territory here. Stick with me because this is going to look a lot like advice and how-to but I promise it’s not. It’s just the story of something I’ve been working on for a few months.
Let me start the topic off like this: When is it no longer just baby weight and just regular old extra weight? Six months later? One year? Two years?
When January 1 rolled around this year, I was seriously coming up against Option C. If I didn’t do something about the alleged baby weight soon, I’d still be holding onto it when my child turned two. And so I decided to get off my ass and make some changes.
This decision was made quietly at first, because I didn’t want to be one of the countless people (as I’ve been many, many times before) who boldly announces weight loss intentions around the New Year and then is off the diet wagon before February arrives.
But I quickly realized that deciding quietly wasn’t going to get me anywhere if I wanted to be accountable for my calories. And so I was thrilled to hear that some of my fellow blogging friends wanted to slim down in 2015 as well. We formed a closed Facebook group and stroked each others’ hair as we collectively set out on the winter of our discontent.
Before I go any further, let me say something. No, I don’t believe that one’s self-esteem should be based strictly on weight. Yes, I believe you should love yourself. But if you feel crappy enough about your weight to the point that it affects you (whether that’s 5 or 100 extra pounds), that’s what I’m talking about. And that was me. I could tell myself, “Oh, but I’m 43 with three kids – what’s an extra 20 pounds? I have to give myself a break.” Yeah, I did give myself a big old break, filled with calories and very little exercise. And, over time, that 20 pounds probably would not have been the end of it, but just a point on a long-term bad trajectory.
I know how to successfully lose weight – I’ve been to this rodeo a few times before. In fact, I deserve VIP weight loss rodeo seating. So why did it take me 18 postpartum months to actually do something about my annoying muffin top and feeling like drapey blouses were really my most flattering look? Because I wasn’t ready. Right or wrong, I didn’t have it in me. Having a third kid really threw me in many ways, the least of which was not the complete and total lack of sleep for a year and a half. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – my youngest child was the crappiest of crappy sleepers. I felt like I was in that newborn survival mode for well over a year and I physically could not take on anything else. Was it an excuse or legitimate overload (no pun intended)?
It’s a fine line, but that’s how I felt. Until I didn’t, right on January 1. Like a cheesy commercial, I was ready. And until you’re ready, it’s just not going to happen.
Fast forward to my baby’s second birthday earlier this month. I had done what I set out to do. I lost 25 pounds.
Now for the part where I disclose all of the magic.
No magic, friends. Sorry. Just a very long and boring winter of one choice after another.
But, in the spirit of misery loves company, here’s what absolutely helped me along the way:
–You bite it, you write it. Weight Watchers really should acknowledge me on their quarterly earnings calls for my significant, ongoing contributions to their bottom line. They love members like me because I’ve continued to let my credit card be charged every month for yeeeears. You know, just in case THIS IS THE MONTH when I’m going to make it happen. Well, January 2015 was that month. And February. And beyond, to this day. WW is something that has always worked for me, but that’s borne of familiarity and a Final Jeopardy-level ability to name the point value of practically any given food. But there are plenty of ways to do it – My Fitness Pal or just a plain old pen and paper – as long as you know what is going in your mouth. 25 pounds ago, I was well aware that I was eating too much, but what amazed me when I started diligently tracking was the stupid shit that added up – the bites of my kids’ untouched mac & cheese or chicken nuggets (what is it with chicken nuggets?!). Come on.
“But I haaaate tracking, it’s soooo annoying.” Yes, yes, it is. You know what’s more annoying? Your pants being tight to the point of feeling like a circulatory risk. Give the tracking two weeks, I say, and then it becomes so, so much easier. Because if you are like me, even your most sincere guestimate of what you’re eating is probably 20% lower than the actual intake.
–Planning. Listen, I found the idea of weekly meal planning laughable for a long time, given that I can barely plan my next hour. But here’s what I started doing and it has paid off in spades: Every Sunday night, after the kids go to bed, I spend one hour online looking at Pinterest and planning out my meals for the week. Then I list all of the ingredients I need and place an online grocery order to arrive on Monday morning. The guesswork is done and so is the shopping, sans whiny kids in the cart taking down aisles of inventory. There is no scrambling on a starving, empty stomach over what I am going to have and how many points it was going to cost me. One hour on Sunday night, big payoff all week. One little hour.
–CHEAT DAY. This is huge. I am a firm believer in having a day every week to eat (and drink) absolutely whatever the hell you want. My day is Saturday. I do my weekly weigh-in every Saturday morning, which forces me to stay on track Friday night. After I weigh myself, I basically have whatever I want for 24 hours. Yes, I have gone overboard. And yes, I have still lost weight because it’s one day out of seven. And here’s the thing: Once I got accustomed to eating better, I found that I went less overboard as time went on. This doesn’t mean that I don’t ever cheat during the week – we all do – but it’s a lot easier to pass on something tempting if you know you’ll have what you want for a whole day on Saturday.
–No more weeknight drinking. I KNOW. But wait, don’t delete my post yet. Because, if you think this one didn’t hit me where it hurts, then either you don’t know me or I have not properly expressed my affection for white wine. And it’s not that I was boozing every night. But if we’re being honest, I did love a glass of wine most evenings. I stopped for two reasons: First, because one glass of wine uses up precious allotted points/calories, so you’ve got to reeeealllly want it. And second, even one glass in, I tend to find myself getting very snacky and loose with the food self-control. So, no more. Again, this can’t be forever and without fail. Like two nights ago, a good friend invited me out for drinks. I hadn’t caught up with her in ages and needed the night out. So, I budgeted my points for the day knowing that I’d probably have two glasses of wine that night. But mostly, I do save it for Saturdays. See? Cheat day.
–My ladies. So my fellow bloggers in weight loss are a godsend. Seriously. When we first got started, we had daily food threads in our Facebook group. We formed a group Pinterest board where we could share recipes. We did monthly fitness challenges, like planks and arms and abs so we could all curse at each other. We have weekly weigh-ins. We post our activity every day. We commiserate when we inevitably have a bad eating day and we cheer when someone hits a milestone. We are FitBit friends. The notion of having a group to whom I’m accountable changed everything for me.
–Find your exercise. My name is Kim and I hate running more than most things I’ve ever encountered in my four decades on this planet. So, I don’t try to run to lose weight because I’d be miserable. I’ve tried many things. I had a brief stint with T-25 last year but really wanted to hurt Shaun T after a few weeks. I do walk when it’s nice out but I have a toddler whose main goal in life is to bust out of the stroller, so that’s essentially the opposite of relaxing and therapeutic for me. A few years ago, I found what I loved/dreaded and what worked for my body, which is Pure Barre. Now, I thought I would need a police escort to the ER after the first few classes, but I stuck it out and it’s really the only type of exercise program that I’ve consistently stayed with for an extended period of time. You might prefer to hit the treadmill or Cross Fit or swim, but the point is to find what you like so that you actually want to go. My good friend is getting her teaching certification in pilates now, and I’ve gotten hooked on some of her classes as well.
–Just say no to pants without buttons. This is a random rule that I’ve imposed upon myself because yoga pants are just way too forgiving and don’t really tell you the whole truth. And nothing really brings you back to Earth like pants/shorts that won’t quite button. So, if I’m not actually working out, no yoga pants. (Maxi dresses are a tough summer loophole to this rule for which I have no solution yet.)
See, now I sound like I’m giving advice. Sorry – I don’t mean to. I’m no expert, by any means – and, in case you didn’t notice, I’m also not disclosing any groundbreaking information. You probably knew all of this before, being longtime conscious residents of Earth and all. I also suck at pep talks but would like to offer this: I am 43 with three young kids. I love food and wine, and my metabolism waged war on me years ago. So, if I can do this, anyone can.
Plus, it’s nice to have goals sometimes. For me, it was way more fulfilling than the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-unacceptably-sized-pants-and-try-to-eat-better-and-see-what-happens approach. That never seemed to quite work out.
This has been my focus for a few months now, so it’s on my mind a lot – and that’s where this post is coming from. Not from a place of guidance, but a story about something so many of us struggle with. I’m not endorsing any products. I’m not trying to be braggy. I’m just a girl, standing in front of a scale, asking it to land on the right number. Or something like that (Notting Hill has been on like 27 times this week).
And cheat day is never more than six days away. Right now, it’s in less than 24 hours. My wine is chilling and some treats are waiting. So there’s that.