I’ve been debating for a while now about writing this post. I don’t want to write a post about how I look…but people keep saying “You look so great! What did you DO?!?” so I guess I should probably write something about what I did. Warning, this is probably going to boring. Feel free to quit now.
On September 1, 2009 I woke up, took a shower and went to my closet to find something to wear to work – a process which was always sure to put me in a foul mood. Nothing fit. Nothing looked good. I put on a pair of pants that should have fit (they were a size 12) and they were tight. I was so frustrated and just DONE.
You see, I got married in 2001 and by 2004 I had gained about 20 lbs. That was on top of the 1o lbs I gained after high school. I’ll be honest, I just ate whatever I wanted. I figured I could work out a little harder and everything would be ok. I’m sure (SURE) I was just about to do something about my weight when I found out I was pregnant with Brad. At that point any ideas about weight loss went out the window. I had a good pregnancy with Brad and didn’t gain much weight. Any time the doctor checked my weight she would say “Well, you were a little ahead of the game to begin with.” Ouch.
I was one of those lucky women who loses weight while breastfeeding and Brad nursed like a champ so I was able to get back down to about 18 lbs below my pre-pregnancy weight a few months after he was born. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted again. I’m pretty sure that’s a trend there.
Just when I started thinking I should lose those extra 15 lbs, I found out I was pregnant with Lucy. Another good excuse right? It was another good pregnancy and my weight was pretty good, although I looked like a stuffed sausage at the end there. Unfortunately for me, Lucy wasn’t quite as good at nursing as Brad was, but by that time eating whatever I wanted was a way of life.
~Fast forward back to September 2009 and my too tight size 12 pants~
I decided right then and there that I needed to lose some weight. I figured that I could take off a few pounds and fit back into my pants and all would be right with the world. I knew quite a bit about health and nutrition, because I had taken several related classes in college, but I had never really put them into practice. I knew the basic equation to losing weight was to burn more calories than you ate. I was really lucky that an online friend had recommended myfitnesspal.com for calorie counting and I remembered the site. This turned out to be key.
My Fitness Pal is a website which allows you to quickly and easily track all the food you eat and the calories you burn (and it’s free!!). It’s amazing what an eye opener it is to know how many calories are in the food you eat. Add that to the fact that I just didn’t want to have to record that I ate an entire bag of cheetos, and I found the website to be really helpful.
The main plan I followed was to have a daily net calorie intake of about 1475. Net calorie intake means that if I burned more calories than I normally would through exercise I also ate more calories. This helped me feel full and have enough energy to go through my day and to keep exercising. Quite often I hear about people cutting down to 1200 calories a day, but that was way too low for me and I found I was still able to lose very quickly at 1475.
Next I cut out fast food and soda. That was a really big deal for me because there have been some times in my life where I was eating fast food as many as 10 times a week and drinking more than 50 oz of diet soda a day. That just makes me sick to think about now! Cutting out the fast food proved to be a lot easier than I thought it would be – it just took more planning. Quitting soda on the other hand was really hard. I replaced my morning caffeine with Crystal Lite On The Go “Energy” mix and I still drink one of those every day. Someday I’d like to quit caffeine completely, but today is not that day. By cutting out soda I was also able to increase the amount of water I drink. I shoot for at least 64 oz a day and usually drink more than that.
About a month into my “lifestyle change” I discovered Zumba. Zumba is a type of aerobics designed around Latin dancing. I am NOT the most coordinated person and I have never done Latin dancing, but I LOVE Zumba. It’s so much fun that the hour goes by quickly and I burn 500-700 calories every class. I go once a week to the class at the local Rec. Center and I’m still not super coordinated but I love it so much I don’t care.
In addition to doing Zumba once a week I also hit the gym 2 other times. Generally I do a 10 minute warm up on either the Stairmaster or the elliptical and then I do about 30 minutes of weight lifting. I really like the Body for Life weight lifting program which is to do sets where you increase weight and decrease reps each time. I usually do upper body one day and lower body the other. After weights, depending on how much time I have that day I’ll go back and do 20 – 30 more minutes on a cardio machine. I never had to work out or exercise more than 3 times a week the whole time I was losing weight.
Sticking to the routine described above I was able to lose 20 lbs in 3 months. Ironically, I reached my goal weight the week of Thanksgiving. I felt great and had so much more energy than before. I started getting comments on my appearance from friends and co-workers and was thrilled when I got to buy size 8 pants and a SMALL sweater for my holiday party at work.
Over the next 3 months I continued to eat well and exercise and dropped another 1o lbs and 2 sizes. I was honestly shocked by the additional loss since I now weigh less than I did in high school. At that point I settled in to what I believe is my “healthy weight” and I have now maintained that for another 3 months. The day I walked into Ann Taylor and bought a size 4 skirt and top I almost dropped over dead. I have NEVER been a size 4 in anything. I can honestly say I feel healthier, stronger and happier with my appearance now than I ever have before. Who would have thought that would happen at age 32?
By losing weight at a slow, steady pace, through a healthy diet and exercise, I truly feel like this is something I will be able to maintain throughout my life. The irony of the whole situation is that I decided to lose weight because nothing in my closet fit. I now have the same problem, however I’m much happier to need a new wardrobe because everything is too big than I was when everything was too small.
I should also mention that I had a companion on this weight loss journey – my sister Tenille. Tenille has lost over 40 lbs and looks amazing. We have encouraged each other along the way, and I’m sure that a healthy little bit of sisterly competitiveness has helped too. In fact, just yesterday Tenille and I completed a fitness milestone together. We rode 33 miles in the Little Red Riding Hood bike ride in Logan, UT. We had such a great time. It was hard, but so much fun and totally worth it. We’ve already decided next year we’re doing the 57 mile ride. I can’t wait!