That was the amount of time I had between the birth of my son and my sister’s wedding.
It’s not like I ate really well and exercised during my pregnancy– nope. I was a lazy bum. This was my third pregnancy and I’d had gestational diabetes with the first two and since I didn’t have it with the third, I kind of allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted. In moderation, of course. I did draw the line somewhere.
So, my total weight gain during pregnancy was 38 pounds.
That does not include, of course, the 5 pounds I wanted to lose before I even got pregnant.
So, being squeezed by that 6 month window of time from giving birth to fitting into a bridesmaid’s dress to be my sister’s matron-of-honor, I needed to lose a significant amount of weight—more weight than I’ve ever lost at any given time in my life.
The weight I’d gained with my first two pregnancies came off pretty naturally with extended time. I exercised, I ate fairly well, and within a year or so, it dropped off…mostly. Those last 5 stubborn pounds were still with me.
But time was not my friend this go-around. Time was my motivation. Make it your motivation, too.
So here are my secrets to losing this weight: Hard work, dedication, self-control. Boom.
I hit my goal weight after 5 months.
It has now been 8 months since my son’s birth and I have lost additional weight. At last weigh-in, I’m 47 pounds down, total.
47 pounds. That seems insane.
Of course, I lost almost 8 pounds the moment my son was born, so that doesn’t really count. And another 10 pounds or so drops off in the few weeks after the birth, as it would for any woman. But the rest of it? I celebrate that it’s gone—as the result of hard work.
Losing weight is not easy. It’s probably one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. It’s hard to be dedicated to it. It’s difficult to train yourself to a new lifestyle.
But it CAN be done.
Here’s what I did:
Call me crazy if you like, but losing weight is a challenge, and I like to include God in all of the challenges of my life. So yes, I prayed about weight loss. I prayed that God would help me to discern the best things to do to make my body healthy. I prayed that He would help me build discipline and self-control. I prayed that He would build my resolve as I began to see results, and strengthen me when I wasn’t seeing results. I prayed because He cares about me and every aspect of my life, so He wanted to be in this, too. If you are trying to lose weight, don’t leave God out.
2. Learn about balance.
One of the keys to losing weight is maintaining proper blood sugar levels. When your sugar fluctuates to highs and lows, it can cause you to feel hungrier and crave foods you don’t need. Keep your sugar level steady and your body can better process the foods you are eating. I suffer from insulin related hormone issues (I am not diabetic) and I learned a lot about this from reading The Insulin-Resistance Diet.
3. No denial.
Don’t diet to the point of denial. If you deny yourself the foods you love, you’ll be miserable. Instead operate by balance and allow yourself to eat the things you really love every so often. I allowed myself one daily piece of chocolate and savored it.
4. Go au naturale.
Bye-bye processed foods. Yes, I went organic, and it’s something I should have done a long time ago. Processed foods are made up of chemicals, GMOs, and other things that can, quite literally, poison our bodies. I’m not a hippy, I swear, but I do believe in natural health as much as possible. So I’ve weaned my family off of as many processed foods as I can, replacing them with fresh organic, homemade recipes, or organic store versions. Yes, it is more expensive to eat organic food. I can’t always afford organic, but I do the best that I can. And I now choose natural over processed. Organic butter over heart-healthy, chemically processed alternatives. Organic Greek yogurt over processed, artificial-sweetener infused alternatives.
To help you go natural, read labels. The fewer ingredients, the better. No artificial sweeteners (opt for stevia or actual sugar) and if the product contains ingredients you can’t pronounce, don’t buy it.
5. Count calories.
In order to lose weight, your body must burn more calories than it takes in. It’s simple math. Discover what your ideal daily caloric intake should be and keep track of your daily calories while you are trying to lose weight. You can get an idea of what your caloric intake should be here. It doesn’t matter what other diet plans or exercise gurus have taught you—you have to eat less and burn more if you want to lose weight. Period.
6. Cut carbs.
I would have been a great peasant. Bread and cheese—those are like their own food groups to me. Pasta. Bread. Chocolate. I can live on these alone, truly. But not if I want to lose weight. So, I cut carbs. It’s easy to do, really. No more bread with an Italian meal. Smaller portions of pasta (notice I didn’t say no pasta). Swapping high-carb cereal for lower carb alternatives. Giving up empty foods and replacing them with power foods—those full of vitamins, minerals, and good stuff for your body.
7. Meatless Monday.
Actually, I went to meatless every-other-day in our house. I introduced meals that incorporate protein from other sources. I cut back on our intake of red meat to almost none, and in many recipes that call for red meat, I now use turkey. We eat red meat maybe once a week or so (if that often). We get a lot of protein from beans and such. There are some great meatless dinner recipes out there that are delicious.
8. Get moving.
This is part of that burn-more-than-you-take-in math. Zumba, Insanity, Cross-fit—find what works for you. I’m not a runner. At. All. But I love aerobic dance, so Zumba was my go-to. I have three kids, so exercise isn’t always a scheduled part of my day. When I can’t exercise, I keep a closer eye on my calorie intake and do simple things like park farther away at the grocery store so that I have to walk more in the parking lot. Staying on your feet more is the secret to burning calories. Find ways to keep yourself busy, even if it means you walk circles around your house. Dancing with your kids is always a fun way to exercise.
9. Eat breakfast.
I used to believe that skipping breakfast saved calories. Dumb. Eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism which will help burn calories. Just make sure that your breakfast is healthy and balanced. Stay away from over-processed foods and artificially sweetened things like yogurt.
10. And my worst-kept weight loss secret (because I am always telling people): it’s all about the magic in your glass.
Don’t drink your calories. No sodas. No alcohol. No juice. Water and green tea only.
I drink 3-5 glasses of green tea per day and I fully believe that it has boosted my metabolism to a level it hasn’t been in years and years. I prefer green tea with flavor over plain green tea, so I like mint, pomegranate and berry. I buy the tea at the grocery store (with all the other teas) and make it by the pitcher. I sweeten it with stevia. (Two small packets per one large pitcher of tea).
So there you go, folks. Those are my secrets to weight-loss. It’s a difficult process, I know, but I’ll tell you this—if you make it a permanent lifestyle change rather than a temporary diet, not only will you be doing a world of good for your body, but you’ll begin to crave healthier foods instead of junk.
You can do it. You can be healthier. Do it for you. Do it for your family. Do it because God expects us to take care of the things He has given us, and that includes our bodies.
1. Don’t let the numbers on the scale rule your life. Take your measurements around your waist and hips and enjoy the shrinking numbers.
2. Use your clothes as a gauge. Are they fitting better? Feeling looser? Do you need to buy smaller sizes? Then who cares what the scale says?!
3. Set realistic goals, not only for your weight, but on the calendar. Hold yourself accountable to a date and stick to it.
4. DO NOT weigh yourself daily. Weigh yourself once a week, at the same time every week. (I do my weight checks on Sunday mornings, right after I get up.)
5. Find an accountability partner. Having someone help you and encourage you can mean the difference between frustration and results.
If you are interested, here are some of my favorite things for being healthier:
Cascadian Farms Organic (especially the cereals)
Share with me: What’s your favorite healthy snack, food, or recipe?
PS– Check out the healthy recipes I’ve pinned on Pinterest, or this post, reviewing some healthy recipes.