Let's face it. Nobody is ever really going to be in the perfect position to lose weight. I'm a stay at home mom of three young boys and I work at a restaurant part time on the weekends that serves biscuits & gravy and jumbo french toast. My husband drives four hours to and from work every day and has to eat out at restaurants for lunch almost all the time. That adds up to a lot of challenges, folks. But you know what?
It CAN be done.
There is no perfect formula or magic spell you can cast to make it happen, but all it takes is some serious dedication, a whole lot of support and love, and it is most definitely possible. We are just two regular people who got fed up with being overweight and unhealthy and we decided to do something about it once and for all. For our own health and for our kids' future, it was time.
Before I go any further, I want to make sure you understand that we are not done. As of this writing, I have lost 50 pounds and my husband has lost 60 pounds. As you can probably tell by the photo above, these are NOT our goal weights! We are still on this journey, still working every day to make good choices and adjust to living a new lifestyle. It doesn't happen overnight, but what I can share with you is what brought us to this point....110 pounds in under 5 months!
My "before" photo: Thanksgiving 2011, 202 pounds
My baby boy was four months old on New Years Eve 2011. That night, I decided that 2012 would be the year I took control of how I felt about myself. I wasn't going to allow myself use the "I just had a baby!" excuse for the whole year! I stepped on the scale that night and the most terrifying number flashed in my face....202 pounds. How could I have let this happen? I signed up for Weight Watchers Online that very night. My husband joined me 9 days later.
Evan and I together on Thanksgiving 2011
1. BE READY
Evan and I have been married for just shy of 8 years and were together for 5 years before that. In all 13 of those years, Evan has struggled with being overweight and it has always put strain on our relationship. I would nag and beg and bribe and nag some more. I would cry, lay guilt trips, offer rewards, do anything I could to try to convince him to try to lose weight. His family even gave him a membership to a gym and offered cash rewards for weight loss milestones. If this sounds familiar to you, I can offer you this one piece of wisdom I have learned: They/You must be READY. You cannot force someone to undertake a life change. And that's what this is - a life change. It is not a diet or a fad. You need to be ready to change your life and that's HARD. Pray, ask for encouragement, and then pray some more. When the time comes and you're really ready, jump in with both feet and never look back!!
For us, Weight Watchers Online was the tool we needed to succeed at losing weight. I had been able to lose some in the past just by cutting out fried foods and easing up on my desserts, but I never could have achieved this kind of success without help. I love how WW gives you a new way to think about food and it's so easy to use the program wherever you are, whatever you're eating. Find what works for you, whether it's Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, hiring a nutritionist, or whatever. Just remember this is a long term goal, not a quick fix solution!
3. ASSEMBLE A TEAM
I've often heard it said that if you have a goal you want to achieve, share it with the world. Putting it out there, shouting it from the rooftops makes it more real and helps keep you accountable. If you can get a partner in your weight loss journey, awesome! We have loved being able to do this together and be each other's biggest cheerleader. I post my weekly weigh-in results on Facebook because I love the positive feedback I get from my friends when I've lost weight. It's so motivating! Use social media as a tool to keep you going. Now, Evan's not a social media kind of guy, but he did make sure his family and his close buddies knew he was doing Weight Watchers. They were so stoked for him and it makes it much easier for him to make wise food choices when he's around them. So, share your goal! Get a support team and you'll be amazed at how much easier it becomes to stay on track.
4. PORTION CONTROL
Invest in a food scale and use it. I was amazed at how out of whack my portions were once I actually started weighing my food before I ate it. Talk about an eye-opener. Use measuring cups and spoons too. What you think is a tablespoon might actually be a whole lot more and it makes a big difference.
5. COMMIT TO THE LONG HAUL
There is no quick fix. Losing weight the right way takes a lot of time and even more patience, two things I don't really have! :) For the sake of full disclosure, I can tell you that both Evan and I have lost weight faster than we're supposed to on Weight Watchers. The program is designed for you to lose 1-2 pounds per week and we have both averaged above that. Still, even if you think about 2 pounds every week, that adds up to be more than 100 pounds in a year! Amazing! Plus, if you want to keep the weight off and make it easier to maintain, it is so much better to lose it slowly.
6. GET YOUR BUTT MOVING
Still smiles after running a 5K for the first time! May 9, 2012
Shocking, I know, but exercise actually does help you lose weight. Turns out The Biggest Loser is on to something. Starting to be exercise can be so overwhelming and can actually be what makes you quit if you're not careful. Don't jump right into a PX90 boot camp if you've been sitting on your butt for years! In my first couple weeks on WW, I did nothing. Then I started using my Wii and the EA Sports Personal Trainer game to do easy, low impact workouts a couple times a week. Then I got crazy and started running. It took me 7 weeks to work my way up to it, but I actually ran a 5K for the first time on one of my runs last week and....news flash....I didn't die. If you're not comfortable getting active yet, that's ok. Work on getting your nutrition under control, lose some weight, then start moving when you're ready (see #1). Want to know a secret? Evan hasn't even started exercising yet and he's lost 60 pounds! But as a result of dropping that weight, he is doing things he never did before: chasing after the boys, playing Frisbee with them, going for walks with them. It's incredible!
P.S. I use an app called Ease Into 5K to guide my running. It's available for iPhone and Android.
7. EAT BREAKFAST
It jump starts your metabolism and helps you not to feel ravenous by the time lunch time rolls around so you're less likely to over-eat. My go-to breakfast is a bowl of quick cook oatmeal (1/2 cup uncooked) with blueberries or strawberries and a tablespoon of chopped walnuts. Even if you only have time to eat an english muffin or a banana, it's better than nothing.
8. DRINK WATER LIKE IT'S YOUR JOB
I carry around a Camelbak water bottle like it's surgically attached to my hand. Shoot for about 64 ounces of water every day. Get rid of soda (yes, even diet sodas!) if you can and if you're a coffee person, try to ditch the creamer.
9. PLAN ON SPLURGES
There is no way I could give up sweets forever and ever. My sweet tooth is just too strong! The good news is that you can still eat the foods you love and lose weight too, as long as you're smart about your splurges. I keep low fat ice cream treats in the house and I start planning earlier in the day if I want to have one at night. Craving pizza? Have one slice with a huge salad. Or even better, whip up my quick and easy mini pizzas for only 5 points per serving! It's possible, people. Just plan ahead, be smart about your portions, and you can still enjoy pretty much any food.
10. SNACK SMART
Keeping a jar of M&Ms on the counter is NOT snacking smart. Believe me, I know. I filled a glass jar with a bag of those cursed things because the colors looked so nice in my dining room and we were staging our house to sell. Next thing you know, the M&Ms are gone and my points were being eaten alive by those darn things! Keep almonds, apples, carrot sticks, grapes, bananas, and other healthy snacks on hand. Get rid of things that trip you up.
11. SET SMALL GOALS
Nobody just wakes up and says, "I think I'll run a marathon today!" and just goes out to run 26.2 miles without ever having run before. It's just crazy and not safe! The same goes for setting weight loss goals. If you focus on the fact that you have 100 pounds to lose (or whatever your number is), it's easy to get overwhelmed at the task and quit before you've even begun. Instead, set mini-goals of 5 pounds, then 10 pounds, then 10% of your body weight, and so on. Before you know it, those mini-goals add up to BIG success!!
There you have it! Nothing earth-shattering or brand new, just some common sense principals that have worked well for us so far. Coming up, I will share some of the recipes that have become big favorites in our household since we started our weight loss journey. Stay tuned, folks. We both have a good deal of work to do before we achieve our goal weights, so this adventure is far from over. Looking forward to celebrating new milestones with you!
Are you working on losing weight? Or maybe another goal that seems daunting? Shout it out in the comments and let's get some cheering going!!