"What do you weigh?" has to be the most cringing question ever to me. Why? Because so much emphasis has been put on making sure you are a certain number on the scale. It's what society and our culture has said you need to be and I'm not a fan of that. Let me preface this post with, I have a number on the scale that I shoot for, but not because it's what someone else thinks I should be, but because I know that is where my jeans fit just right. It's where I feel comfortable and happy in my own skin. And I know that my body is healthy with that number. Having a goal on the scale is important when it comes to knowing where you are happiest and healthiest with your body, that's it.
I wouldn't say that I have ever been highly overweight in my life, but until I had Ryder, I wasn't overly concerned about my health and the things I was putting into my body. I was married at 20 years old and was still a baby. I had a baby face with baby weight and never really thought about focusing on what I was eating and whether or not it was good or bad for me, much less portion control and how that affected my weight. If I was hungry, I got seconds. If I wanted a sleeve of Oreo's, I ate them. No big deal. When I would get tired of my jeans being too tight or down on my body image, I would try a fad diet or look for a quick fix, but nothing that would ultimately change my everyday diet long term.
I had this mentality until my 3rd trimester of being pregnant with Ryder. I was pregnant, very pregnant, and my love of food had diminished because I was so tired of eating. This baby required me to constantly eat all the time. I felt sick if I didn't and it became a chore, not something I enjoyed. I could feel him in my ribs and remember still being so hungry but literally could not eat one more bite because there was absolutely no more room. Little did I know that this was normal, beyond normal in fact. Most every woman feels this way at the end of their pregnancy and they are just ready to be done. I was so tired of eating and that was something so foreign to me. I had always loved watching cooking shows, making new recipes and eating alllllll the pasta at Olive Garden. Eating a delicious meal is an experience to some people, like me. I even enjoy it to this day and there is nothing wrong with that, as long as we can do it in moderation.
In my 3rd trimester I told myself I would change after I had Ryder. It was like a wake up call and I wanted to change the way I ate so I could be an active mom for my son. I wanted to keep up with him and enjoy life without feeling self conscious of the overhang on my jeans that we often call a "muffin top". I wanted to teach my children how to eat healthy but still enjoy desserts and occasions that call for cake and ice cream and all the yummy things without over indulging. After I had Ryder I gave my body 2-3 months to recuperate. His birth had been a horribly traumatic one to us both and I needed to heal. He was born in late October and I started my weight loss journey February 1st.
Like I said before, I would try those fad diets that promised a quick fix, along with pills that claimed to keep you full or cleanse your body and they never worked. I ended up failing, falling off the wagon or in the bathroom because those medicines wrecked my stomach. I wanted something that would stick and re-train my brain on how I viewed food. After a lot of research I decided on the method of counting my daily calories.
I used to watch this show on the Food Network or Lifetime one, and it was called " How to Cook Yourself Thin". It featured 3 women who took everyday recipes and made them healthier by swapping out the not so healthy ingredients for healthier ones. This always intrigued me and I loved watching that show. Unfortunately it was discontinued and doesn't air anymore.
I remember watching and they said, "To count your calories and hit your goal weight, you need to take the number you want to see on the scale and add a zero behind it and that would be the number of calories you should be eating in a day." I had never even thought about calories before and didn't even really know what one was or how it affected my diet.
I started researching what it meant to count calories, how I could achieve my goal by using this method and what I needed to do to get started.
Going back to the beginning, where I decided to actually change my daily diet, I wanted a plan, a tool or a method of achieving the results I was looking for without any cost. I wanted it to be free because I was looking for a lifestyle change. I didn't want a quick fix or to grab a gym membership that promised my success, it needed to be long term. Working out is great for your body, and I don't do it nearly as much as I should. Exercising is my weakness and I do not enjoy it at all, but I am making it a goal of mine to start making it a priority.
Working out is a wonderful way to help you lose weight, but it is not the main tool you should be using to meet your weight loss goal. What we are putting into our bodies matters. We can work out all day long, but if you eat 3,500 calories or more a day, you're not going to see as much progress as you would if you had cut your calories while also putting in that work at the gym.
In my hunt for finding what would ultimately help me reach my goal while not touching my wallet, I found the MyFitnessPal app.
It's a free app that you can download on your phone to log your daily calories. It also offers delicious low calorie recipes and articles that are helpful in your journey to meet your goal. Once you create an account, you will put in your goal weight along with your height, age, etc. The app will use all of the information you provide to calculate how many calories you should be eating a day so you can achieve your goal. You will choose how fast you want to lose the weight, or meet your goal, by averaging how many pounds a week you would want to lose. The app recommends you aim to lose around 1 pound a week, however you have the option to lose more if you want. It's important to remember the more pounds you choose to lose in a week will affect how many calories you can consume in a day.
Calories are based on portion control. That is where I think most of us fall short. I had never even thought of portion control before. I mean sure, I knew that eating that second plate I talked about was more food I was putting in my body, but I was basically clueless as to how calories and portion control went together. I didn't know how to read the side of cereal box or figure out what the recommended serving size was. I didn't even know what serving size meant. HA!
Using the Myfitnesspal app taught me all of those things.
Like I said, I started February 1st, 2015 on my weight loss journey. We were going on vacation to the beach in May and I didn't want to feel self conscious.
In the beginning it was so hard. I was so tired of numbers. And math. And reading the labels on everything I put into my mouth. It was exhausting measuring out the mayonnaise I was putting on my sandwich. After doing it for only a week or two was when I realized I had no freaking clue about how food worked. To saute vegetables on the stove, I used to add a quarter to half a stick of butter to grease the skillet. I was in shock at how I had been cooking and how mindlessly I was adding bad fats and sugar to the foods I was preparing.
If you count calories, you know every single one counts. I'm talking, if that bag of chips says you can have 12 chips for 130 calories, you better believe I'm counting out 12 and don't you dare ask to have one or think about taking it off my plate. **insert grin
Once I started counting, I started swapping low calorie flatbread for regular bread and even bought a scale to measure out my lunch meat. My go to meal was those 100 calorie pita rounds, with one skinny cow spreadable cheese, turkey or ham on top of that and then I piled on the veggies. I would use red peppers, tomatoes, arugula, spinach, mustard...... anything that would fill me up without adding a drastic amount of calories to my meal.
I would measure out my wine, the rice to go with our chicken at dinner, everything. Everything counted. I was strict and serious about this and I was not going to let myself fail. Saturday's weren't my cheat days, but it was my day to have some leniency on what I ate. I would eat out and order what I wanted, but the rest of the day I made sure I didn't just over indulge.
Fast forward 2 months and I had not only met my goal but surpassed it. I was in shock, excited and felt better than I ever had. I went to the beach and didn't worry about how my swimsuit felt because I was actually proud. All the hard work I put in the past couple of months had paid off.
Once I met my goal I didn't continue to count my daily calories, but just became more aware of what I was putting in my body. The reason I love and believe in this method of "dieting" is because it can be used long term. It seems like common sense that eating ten oreo's will add weight to your midsection, but you can actually have 3 or 4 and it not be a hit to your diet if you calculate and plan properly. I use PAM to grease the skillet now instead of butter. I understand portion's and that if you follow the nutrition guide on the side of the box or bag, you will stay within the recommended serving size.
I maintained this until I became pregnant with Ryan. I became complacent again and actually looked forward to eating whatever I wanted. Ryder was 8 lbs. 9 oz when he was born and I weighed 166 lbs on the day I gave birth. I was all baby. I had watched what I was eating as almost every first time mom does. I made sure it was healthy and didn't over indulge too much. When I became pregnant with Ryan, I truly had the second time mom mindset. I knew that having those few extra donuts and eating out really wasn't that bad. I enjoyed food and didn't feel guilty for it.
I won't go into it, but we had been through a lot in the past 2 years and I needed a break. I seriously enjoyed and looked forward to being pregnant so I could eat whatever I wanted. When Ryan was born he weighed 5 lbs 10 oz and I weighed 163 lbs on the day they cut him out. There is only a 4 lb difference between the two but one baby was very large and one was very small. I HAD enjoyed myself and eaten whatever I wanted. I'm not saying you shouldn't reward yourself when pregnant, because in fact, I believe you should. You are making a baby, which is really hard work and if you want a doughnut, go get one. Don't over indulge, but you can give into those cravings sometimes.
I used the same exact method this time to lose my baby weight, although I did start much earlier than I had with Ryder. I gave birth to Ryan September 1st, 2018 and I started counting my calories about a month after. I had a c-section with him and my experience plus my recovery was much more pleasant than my first. This time I met my goal in almost the same amount of time. It took about 2 months to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans and I have felt much better about myself.
Like I said, I have a number on the scale that I aim for, but not because that is the number society deems is perfection or a magazine says I should be. I like that number because that's where I feel happiest. I feel comfortable in my clothes and I know that I'm healthy. I can chase Ryder and walk up and down the stairs without feeling out of breathe, most of the time. 🙂
I'm proud of the results I have achieved not just through my body, but how I have changed my outlook on food. I am more aware of the ingredients I put in the meals I prepare for my family, I've learned portion control and I've learned more self control. It can be tough to say, "no thank you" when someone is offering you that dessert after dinner while you are trying to reach a weight loss goal.
If you are currently on a journey to make a better you, you can do it. You should be proud that you are making a change for yourself and your loved ones. It may not be easy, but I encourage you to keep going because you've got this!!!
The method of counting calories worked for me but may not be right for everyone. I am definitely not a doctor and recommend consulting with your PCM or a nutritionist before starting any diet plan. This post is in no way sponsored by MyfitnessPal or any other brand/company and all opinions are my own.