Let me start this post by letting you know that I have long since stopped making New Year's resolutions. To me, they are a great way to set myself up for failure. I don't think I ever met a resolution and instead, usually felt like a failure come December. I've been contacted by several people asking me about weight loss, the most popular resolution, and how I made it happen after having Jada and how they can make it happen for themselves. I've heard every weight loss story you can possibly imagine in the 5.5 years of work I've done in the weight management world and what I'm here to tell you is likely nothing you haven't heard before. The question, truly, is are you listening? Are you really ready?
I asked myself that question before I had Jada and I told myself over and over that yes, I wanted to lose the weight...right after I finish my plate of nachos and that giant margarita I just ordered with my friends! I was delusional! I asked myself that question within the first 3 months of having Jada and then I was honest. No, I wasn't ready. I was nursing, had breasts for the first time in my life, felt like Dumbo, wasn't too sure I'd made the best choice in becoming a parent, and I was a bit depressed. But after 3 months of that, the haze cleared, I got some sleep, and I realized it was time to get to work. For good.
I can happily tell you I've been successful...and also not. I can tell you that it's been nearly 2 years and I'm still a regular at the gym...most weeks. Let's face it. I could lie and tell you how great it's been but it truly hasn't been great. I don't even love it all the time but I do love myself and I'm proud of what I've been able to do. What I'm telling you here is my story. Some of it may help you but this is not me teaching one of my weight management groups. This is me being real. Take it for what it's worth and talk to me another time if you need the "professional, exercise physiologist" me to help you!
1) Acknowledge that it's going to be HARD.
Really hard. Probably harder than most anything you've ever done. And then get over it!
This stopped me multiple times in the past when I said was "ready" to lose weight and keep it off. I didn't want to change my schedule, eat differently, or exercise. Finally it just clicked that it didn't matter that it was hard. I could give birth to a baby, feed her from my body and work full-time on less than 1 hour of sleep a night. Now THAT was hard!
2) Make it easy on yourself!
I initially tried exercising before work at a different gym and failed miserably. Nursing babies come before adventures at the gym! Then I tried exercising after work and found that I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. I got to see my daughter for a total of one hour each day when I exercised at night. It wasn't enough. Finally, I realized that I might be able to do it at work, during the day, and that has stuck and worked well for me. I joined the onsite gym here at the hospital. It isn't updated (or wasn't at the time) but it was comfortable for me.
3) Make it work for you.
Keeping that in mind, I spoke with my bosses about going to the gym as my lunch break and they were supportive. I ate lunch early (11 a.m.) at my desk and went to the gym at 1:00 every afternoon. I have 1 hour to leave my desk, get to the gym, exercise, clean up, change, and return. Basically my exercise sessions are just 30 minutes at a time, all considered, so now you might understand why it took me a lot longer than a celebrity to lose the weight! I budgeted my time in the gym and knew what I was doing before I got there. I even carved out time for a quick shower (e.g. 5 minutes!).
4) Make a plan.
In terms of knowing what I was going to do when I got there, I initially focused solely on cardio. I found a beginning runner's program online that seemed interesting because it was composed of intervals. If you know anything about exercise, you know that intervals are very good for burning some serious calories and boosting metabolism. Plus, it allowed me several weeks to build up to running what I wanted to run. I signed up for Pilates classes once a week and used those as a laid back but not lazy day. I found that I love Pilates and it helped get my Mommy core back in shape. I also found that I felt accomplished when I finished my running each day. I will never forget the first time I got to text my husband and my Mom that I had run for 15 minutes and then 30 minutes straight! I was over the moon excited!
5) Weight training is your friend.
These days I mix it up. Honestly, running is not my thing. I tried to take it outdoors and didn't enjoy it and I began to find that I wasn't enjoying it in the gym either. I gradually shifted to doing whatever I felt like each day and began incorporating weight training more. You have to realize that in order to change your body composition you're going to have to vary the activities that you do day to day. If you want to lose body fat, you're going to have to weight train to gain muscle mass. And, as an FYI, if you gain muscle mass, you'll gain weight. Twisted how that works, isn't it? Still, muscle is more active than fat so you burn more calories just sitting at your desk. I have always enjoyed weight training so this was easy for me but if you're new, try talking with a trainer at the gym to get pointers.
6) Accept imperfection.
Look, I'm never going to be a tiny girl, I never was a tiny girl, and thankfully my husband doesn't want a tiny wife! God bless him, he even tells me that Victoria's Secret models need to eat. Can I get a hallelujah? I'm not perfect according to society's standards but I'm healthy, strong, and I do my best to be a good wife and mom. My body is not the same now as it was in high school; this body has taken me many places since then and gave me a child. I thank it for that! Give yourself a break, ladies. Be who YOU are. That's all anyone can really be! I don't go to the gym everyday. Sometimes I only go 3 or 4 days a week and sometimes I eat REALLY terribly. I accept this as part of who I am and I enjoy it, too. There's no point in beating myself up.
Finally, a few things that really did not work for me.
1) I don't do races. I don't do 5K's or anything else. This is not my thing.
2) I don't restrict food. That is to say, I eat in moderation those things that I want to enjoy now and then (DESSERT!). In fact, I eat more now than I ever did. I have about 6 meals a day! I love food!
3) I don't force it. I've walked in the gym and walked right back out before, simply because I wasn't feeling it that day. It's rare but there are times when you just need a break and that's okay!
4) I don't do pills/quick fixes. Never have, never will. I pride myself on doing this completely without help on the side. Plus, I take enough meds and don't need to add to the list!
5) I am not a morning person. See #2. This does not describe the extent to which I am not a morning person.
6) I don't do competition. That is to say, I don't like to compete with my friends/husband in terms of losing weight, running times, lifting weights, etc. It really is not my thing and I find it discouraging. I will, however, play a friendly game of volleyball, H.O.R.S.E., or badminton with you. I like sports, just not individual competition. I only compare myself to myself.
Hopefully you gained something from this post and if not, at least have a nice week!!