Some of you who’ve followed my site for a long time my know this, but for others who don’t I’ll start this post by saying that I spent most of my adult life at least 30 pounds heavier than I am right now. It’s true, and I’m including a random photo from many years ago as evidence.
I didn’t grow up with healthy examples of food or exercise and so I had no idea how to approach either. Even worse, after I had my first baby I literally had no clue how to lose the weight because I didn’t understand how calories, fat, exercise or anything else worked. When I got pregnant with my second son I still hadn’t lost weight from the first and since I came from a long line of overweight people I was terrified that I was quickly going to become one of them. At the time I was dealing with postpartum depression and the ability to lose weight played a huge role in finding myself again. Once I learned how to eat and exercise so the weight stayed off it was really easy to do it after my third son was born. As of today I’ve maintained a size four for nearly five years (I was formerly a 10/12) and I thought I’d share my best tips for how I maintain my weight for those of you who might be interested.
Diet Vs Lifestyle: The best, biggest most important thing you need to know is also the toughest to adopt so we’re going to start with it. You can workout until you’re blue in the face and run a thousand miles a week. NONE of it matters if you aren’t eating well. Since we’re not talking about just losing weight, we’re talking about maintaining weight then this isn’t a DIET it’s a LIFESTYLE CHANGE. And sorry to go all tough love on you but this unfortunately doesn’t have an easy answer because losing weight isn’t easy. It is however, totally worth it so stop making excuses and start choosing yourself and your health over your cravings!
Food, Food, Food: When choosing what to eat I think that all depends on how your body reacts to different food. My best advice is to meet with a nutritionist or a doctor. If you cant do that, my second best advice is to think back to a diet that worked really well for you in the past and use it as a guideline. For instance, when I do high protein diets (like Adkins) I can lose weight really fast. If I try counting calories or drinking a shake I don’t see any results. So for my diet I keep that same idea. High protein, low sugar, lots of veggies. Also, I’ve done a ton of research about different snacks and meals that fit with this diet so I never run out of options or get bored. Lastly, as silly as it sounds, I eat the same thing over and over and over. Apparently there have been a lot of studies about people who maintain healthy weights and this is the thing most of them had in common. They found a handful of meals and snacks that fit their diet and they recycle them repeatedly.
Set Yourself Up For Success: It’s easy to talk about high protein, low sugar but it’s tougher in practice. Because if you can’t tell from looking around this site, I LOVE to eat. So I treat dips, cookies, cakes, etc as splurges and I enjoy them when I can. The rest of the time, I don’t even let myself see it. Here’s an example of what I fill our fridge with which includes a lot of snacks and options for easy quick meals… as for the other things? I don’t even bring them in the house because I WILL eat them.
Get a Move On: Once you’ve narrowed down your diet you have to figure out your exercise plan. For me, the greatest change in my body (and my mind for that matter) happened when I started running. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be training for a marathon I would have laughed in your face. But it turns out, running is an incredible exercise for me and I love the goal setting aspect and the time alone to zone out with my thoughts. The key though is that it’s a great exercise for me, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. Maybe you like ballet or Zumba, maybe you’re into kickboxing or swimming or cross fit. Whatever it is just figure out an activity you like to do and then do it… at least twice a week.
Get a Buddy: Once you find an exercise you like I can’t stress to you enough how great it is to have a workout buddy. My friend Eryn and I meet every Saturday morning for a run and so no matter what my week looks like or if I missed every other workout at least I reset myself on Saturday. I don’t ever skip Saturday because I wouldn’t want to let her down or miss out my time gossiping with her while we run. Get a buddy and you’ll get a guarantee of at least one workout a week!
Surround Yourself With Support: Have you ever tried to lose weight or start eating better and you find that your family or friends aren’t supportive? Sometimes it’s unintentional, like a spouse who loves to cook and inadvertently destroys your diet by offering you a plate for homemade nachos. Maybe it’s on purpose, a girlfriend who gives you grief because she misses going out to dinner and drinks with you like she used to. I call these people Trigger Friends because they often trigger bad behavior in us. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, it just means you shouldn’t hang out with them unless you’re fully prepared to stick to your guns (and your healthy new eating style) when you’re around them.
Motivate Yourself: Last but not least, you’ve got to find your motivation. Maybe it’s the desire to run around with your kids without getting winded, maybe you want to be sexier for your spouse, maybe you want to get in shape for a big event this year or maybe you’re just tired of having the same old resolution to lose weight year after year. Whatever your motivation, you’ve got to find it and focus on it and wave it around like a flag. You’re going to need that motivation when you’re not feeling up for a trip to a gym or when faced with a plate of cookies at the office. You’ll need it when you backslide and eat half the Taco Bell menu or when you’re struggling not to use food as a coping mechanism when you’re stressed. You’re going to need it a lot, so sister you better darn well know what it is! Remember, if something is important enough you’ll find a way, if it’s not, you’ll find an excuse. Good luck! xo, Rachel