I was at the gym this morning, on the elliptical, listening to my absolute favorite writer/business woman – Rachel Hollis- on her RISE podcast. The subject was about her weight loss journey from a size 14 to a size 2. One thing I love about Rachel (and yes, I act like I’ve known her for years and that she is actually my BFF) is that she gets me. In fact, she gets most women. You know….because she IS one. Hahaha….
As I listened to her, I realized that most women who have become moms have gone through a body journey. We may have gained weight by carrying babies or by stress-eating their way through adoption proceedings. And then comes the feeding-the-babes and toddler weight. Where you are literally shoveling left over chicken nuggets and goldfish crackers from your kids plate as they shuffle you back over to their LEGOS to play.
I thought about my own journey. I stand at 5 ft. 3.5 inches. I am including that half-inch because it is VITAL for my self-confidence. Being a petite woman is fine, but every single half inch counts! I am half Italian which translates to my love of food, wine, and socializing – which usually includes eating and drinking. (What is a good time without those things?)
Over the span of my life, I have ALWAYS battled my weight. As a kid, I was a little pudgy, but in a way that I could get away with because I was a kid. As a teenager, I wore a size 12 in Junior’s jeans. When I was 20, I started working for Curves, International while living in Texas. I started working out with the Curves workout and loved it. I lost a few pounds and gained some confidence. Eventually, my mom and I bought a Curves franchise in Kentucky together and it became my life. About three months before I turned 25 I started running. It started as a way for me to escape the relationship I found myself in that had turned into a dead-end. In a weird way, running turned metaphoric for my life. I would turn my earphones on and tune the world out while running a steady pace.
I moved to Florida right after my 25th birthday and met my best friend, Jodi, who was also a runner. To this day she still inspires me. She has run countless marathons and even completed one of those crazy forty-something mile races that Disney puts on. During this phase of my life I was obsessive about the scale. If it was up 2 pounds, it would ruin my whole day. I tried cleanses; diets; cutting sugar – all the crazy stuff. Looking back at photos of this stage of my life, I was actually slim, but I wasn’t internally secure with myself at all.
When I was 29 I joined a yoga studio and found I enjoyed it as something different from just running. I alternated yoga and running about 5 days a week. It was a social outlet for me. I was also the thinnest I had ever been – in my life.
It’s interesting that I met Bryan at this time. I felt the best I had felt in a long time. I just turned 30 and I was living in a new city with a fresh opportunity to start a new life. I am a firm believer in attracting people and things to you. I was feeling good and I wasn’t constantly in seek-mode for a guy and naturally, one found me.
And then, on April 15th, 2013 I found out I was pregnant. I will save that story for another post, but I will say that I kept on running until I was about 16 weeks along. I was determined to not “let myself go.”
HAHAHAHAHA…..I’ve gotta stop and laugh at that one. I now hate that saying. You know what? I did let myself go when I got pregnant. Every woman does. We let ourselves go in order to create LIFE for our children. It stops being about us and is about them growing, developing, and living inside us.
I gained about 40 pounds with my daughter. I embraced every Chick Fil A biscuit and Dr. Pepper that I possibly could. It was the only thing that didn’t make me hurl. After I had her, I nursed her and lived like a complete zombie for the next six months while she worked out her colic and hatred of sleep.
Nine months after I had Mackenzie, I was finally back down to my pre-pregnancy weight and I felt good. I wasn’t exercising, but I was back at work and being active and trying to eat better since I was still nursing her.
AND then, a mere nine months after that we decided to have another baby. I only gained about 25 pounds with Marshall and to be honest, I wasn’t in a great hurry to slim down after having him. I was in the throes of toddlerhood with my daughter and trying to establish a routine with a newborn. Nursing was more challenging with Marshall and it took a lot for me to not just give up after a few months.
Fast forward to nine months ago- October 2017. I was leaving corporate America to be a work-from-home mom. I joined a gym that had child care because I knew that we would all need an outlet to get out and socialize in. I thought it would be a good idea for me to finally get back to working out. I started joining in the classes and worked out about 3 days a week. I lost a couple of pounds and I did feel better, as I knew I would.
The holidays came – and the pounds that I had lost crept back on. I am a lover of the holidays. I love all the baking and the candy and the fun drinks. It is tradition that when my in-laws get together for Thanksgiving that we pop a bottle of Cranberry Prosecco open and devour an entire cheese ball and box of crackers over the course of a few hours. It is my absolute favorite thing in the world.
In January 2018 Bryan and I went to Costa Rica with my company on an incentive trip that I had earned. I wasn’t comfortable in a bathing suit and because we were at an all-inclusive resort, I think I gained another 5-7 pounds just in pina coladas.
I knew I needed a LIFESTYLE change. I had always been active, but something needed to change. It wasn’t even about the weight. It was about becoming healthier and fitter for me and my family.
Here are some of the things I implemented into my life to get to where I am now (and it is a work in progress, guys….I’m still a lover of Taco Bell.)
- Every morning when I get up, I drink 16 oz. of cold water before I consume anything else. Actually, as my coffee brews, I am drinking it. I do this with a straw because it’s fast and I swear it helps me feel more awake and hydrated. I have read others that do this and it is proven beneficial to your body to start with WATER and not caffeine. Although, anyone who tries to take away my coffee better stay away from me. I love it and as long as my kids still wake up occasionally during the night I will not be giving it up.
- I drink a protein-based shake for breakfast. Every morning. I use this one, but I think anything with a high amount of protein that is a decent amount of calories is a good idea. If I don’t have a shake, I enjoy an avocado sliced on wheat toast. I have found the Everything but the Bagel seasoning from Trader Joe’s to work wonders on this!
- If you are NOT eating breakfast – please start. It doesn’t have to be HUGE, but it does have to include a good amount of carbs and protein. Your body runs on fuel which is food – so it’s important to fill up your tank for the day within the first hour that you are awake.
- I PLAN my lunch and snacks. I also plan our family dinner meals. I do NOT have time to meal-plan, but I do make a conscious effort to stock my fridge with things such as humus and carrots, tzakiki dip and cucumbers, green apples, pickles, yogurt, fresh salsa and my pantry with things such as pistachios, pita chips, peanut butter, and popcorn. These are things I like; you have to find the things you like. My husband loves jerky, peanut butter crackers, and pears. My kids are not on board with the healthy-eating thing yet. I am NOT an organic mom. My kids eat Doritos, Oreos, Pringles, and occasionally a Go-Gurt. How do I avoid these snacks for myself? EASY – I put all the kids snacks in one easy-for-them to reach bin on a lower shelf in the pantry and I avoid it like the plague.
- I work out 4 times a week. My work out schedule is something like Mondays- SPIN Class; Tuesdays- Barre Class; Wednesdays – Body Pump Class; Thursdays – Orangetheory Fitness. And I take off or do a light run on my weekends. I commit to these sessions. I write them in my calendar and do not let anything interfere with them – unless my children is sick. Bryan and I are joint partners in this. He takes care of the kids the evenings that I go to Orangetheory and vice versa. He also works out at his work gym 3 nights a week.
- We still have “happy hour” after the kids go to bed. We now drink an occasional glass of wine or enjoy a shot of vodka with a favorite flavored sparkling water. (We are big fans of Bubly Lime and Strawberry). We use this time to chat about our day or plan our week ahead or watch a Netflix series (currently watching The Crown – it’s quite entertaining.)
Now, I know what some of you are thinking – “Well, of course, you can work out 4 times a week. You don’t work outside the home.” This is true. When you work outside the home in a corporate environment, you have to be more strategic about when you can carve out the time for a workout. I have friends who dedicate 30 minutes in the morning to their treadmill or elliptical. I have heard rave reviews about the app, Aaptiv for at-home workouts. I have also used the app for yoga sessions at home. Also, if you can join a gym that has childcare you can get the kids and on the way home stop over for a 30-40 minute sweat session before heading home for dinner.
This isn’t some get-slim-quick post. This is a LIFESTYLE change post. It is some of the things that I’ve done to get to my best self. Honestly, I am at the point of my life where I have accepted that I will never have six-pack abs. I will never be 110 pounds. I will never again wear a double zero. This afternoon, my son squeezed my belly rolls and laughed so hard while Bryan looked on. He thought it was so funny. And honestly, I did too. My body is a work of art and it has done AMAZING, INCREDIBLE things and I am proud of all that it has accomplished.
Also – I must give a special shout out to Orangetheory and the MUV Barre programs. I am a huge fan of Barre for “moms” because it helps tone all those places that have changed after having kids. Also, Orangetheory pushes me physically in ways that I could never do so working out alone.
I will end with this…..no matter what stage of life you are in, no matter where you are physically, give yourself GRACE. It takes time to get where you want to be. It takes energy and effort and committment. But just like everything else, Rome wasn’t built in a day. All you have to do is START.