It was June of 2013. I’d birthed our second son, Porter, 2 months earlier. While I was proud that I had carried and naturally birthed another healthy baby boy (after all, that is what’s most important), I couldn’t believe what I saw on the scale: 26 pounds to lose to get back to pre-baby weight. At 31 years old, I was the heaviest I’d ever been. Losing that weight seemed like an impossible mountain to climb, and with an active 20-month-old boy, and a newborn who was nursing every 2 hours through the night, I didn’t know how I would ever find the time and energy to start working out and eating right again.
Over and over, I tried to get my eating back under control, but as a stay-at-home mom, I really struggled with saying no to bad foods, as I spent much of the day with the pantry in easy reach. Also, the little cheats (eating my son’s Goldfish or buying my favorite coffee cake at our local Italian market) seemed small in light of the huge amount of weight I needed to lose. It seemed impossible.
One day, my friend and I were walking with our strollers at a waterfront park in our area, and I spotted a boot camp. Later that week, I Googled the instructor, Laura Forte, and signed up for the free week. My first 6am class was… well, I’ll be honest: it was awful. My alarm went off at 4:30am (I had to feed my baby before I left), and as I was getting ready, I was thinking: “There is NO way I will be sticking with this. I’m going to get my free week and get out.” When I got to camp, I was intimidated by how hard-core everyone was. Even the warm-up lap seemed like a sprint to me.
Since that first day, a lot has happened. I stuck with it. The first couple weeks were hard. There were mornings when I’d barely slept the night before, but I still got up out of bed. (I laugh now as I recall what I’d tell myself to get up on those mornings: “Your fat doesn’t care that you’re tired! Get up!”) I made the choice to stay consistent, and before I knew it, the 6am boot camp hour was my sanctuary. My “me time.” My 1 hour a day that I was alone and able to focus completely on myself. When I started thinking of it that way, it was no longer a chore. It was a luxury… that I started to crave.
Soon enough, that craving for exercise started to edge out my cravings for fattening foods, and I turned a corner in October. Our instructor’s “rules” for eating clean were the first time anyone had ever explained to me WHY I should avoid processed foods, and I loved having a detailed eating plan to follow. Before that, “eating well” still meant meant cheese on my salads, Splenda in my morning coffee, and sugar-free Jello with fat-free Cool Whip for my afternoon sweet cravings. Now, I start every morning with a green smoothie. I eat real food, like dates with almonds, to satisfy my sweet tooth. And I plan our family dinners around vegetables, not meat and starch. I even surprised myself by really quitting bread and most dairy.
Since August, I’ve lost 25 pounds and 8% body fat. I can honestly say I have more energy than I EVER have before, which comes in handy with 2 boys under 2 1/2 years old. I have more patience, I am more thankful and I tend to extend more grace to others. I’m fitting into my skinniest jeans. Scratch that, my skinniest jeans are too big and I recently had to buy another pair. Oh yeah, and my husband is really enjoying it too. ;) In fact, he recently told me that I look better now than I did in high school. WIN.
But one of the biggest changes I’ve made is not physical at all. I’ve stopped being so hard on myself. Before, I had a defeatist, ‘all or nothing’ attitude about eating and exercise. If I couldn’t be perfect at it, I didn’t want to do it at all. That set me up for a never-ending ride on a see-saw, going from perfect eating to binge eating and back again. While I’m still a work in progress, I’ve learned that the sooner I “forgive” myself for being human, the sooner I can get back on the wagon and continue working hard to be the person I want to be.
Another big aspect to the changes in my lifestyle are centered on reminding myself that I AM WORTH IT. Before, when I wanted to drink a cocktail, eat a fattening meal, or hit the snooze button and blow off a workout, I would tell myself that I deserved it. “I work hard, I’m stressed, I’m tired, I want to enjoy life.” Then I would indulge, only to feel worse about myself an hour later. Now, when those lies start going through my head, I stop myself. I remind myself that I don’t deserve that cocktail or unhealthy food. Actually, I deserve BETTER than that. That donut, piece of pizza or beer will feel good for about 2 minutes. But my healthy choices will make me feel good all day long. “Put it back! It’s not worth it!”
On the left: 2 weeks after baby. On the right: 10 months after baby (and after 6 months of boot camp and hard work!).
I have 2 main pieces of advice:
1. Stick with it. Consistency will get you there. It’s science. It doesn’t matter if you messed up yesterday. Do better today.
2. Thank your support system. I thank my husband every day for getting up with our kids at 5am so I can leave the house. If he didn’t make that sacrifice for me, there’s no way I’d be able to do it.