I've been on a diet all my life. From Atkins to Zone, you name it, I've done it. I've had a lot of success, losing tons of weight, but somehow, I only felt ok-ish. I was ecstatic when I worked my way into a size 6, but really, my energy and drive were not where they should have been. Plus, with all the intense calorie-counting and sugar-deprivation, I always, always, ALWAYS crashed and burned. And I wouldn't just fall off the wagon. Oh no. I would fall, roll down the hill AND splash into the ocean. Everything that I restricted myself from eating was fair game. Pizza, Cheetos, chocolate, croissants... it wasn't pretty. I would gain back everything I lost and then some.
But a few months ago, I decided to make a change. This time around, I didn't go for the quick, restrictive-but-effective "DIE-it." I started with small, sustainable changes and I chose to "LIVE-it."
- I purchased an exercise program with a daily calendar and I completed the workouts every day. It's true what they say: It takes 21 days to form a habit. In the beginning, each workout was grueling. It was a chore, a task that I made myself complete each day. But somewhere around the 3-1/2 week mark, I found myself watching the clock, waiting to put the baby to bed so I could pop the DVD in. I WANTED to work out. It was a momentous feeling.
Multi-tasking momma: Workout, dog-walking and time with my baby
The food (Part 1)
- I stopped eating out as much. I stopped picking up the box of pastries or donuts for the office. I started cooking more at home and making leftovers for lunch. I ate more fruits and vegetables. I ate less boxed and processed snacks. And here is the stupid thing. I already did all this for my daughter, but not for myself. Her "shelf" in the refrigerator is packed with fruits and veggies that I steamed and pureed since she started eating solids. We always have blueberries or carrots, washed and ready to eat. But somehow, when it came to me, I was "too busy" to cook so it was easier to get take-out. Huh? Why was I treating myself differently than my daughter? This was by far the biggest "Aha!" moment. Now, whenever I go grocery shopping, I get food that we both eat and cook for both of us.
The food (Part 2)
- Say no to cheat meals and rewards. By this, I don't mean that I restricted myself. I just didn't classify them as cheats or rewards because that would reinforce that idea that these were a no-no, that I shouldn't eat it and inevitably made me feel guilty afterwards. I saw an article on how to teach your children about healthy eating and they basically categorized food as everyday vs. sometimes. I like that they steered clear of "good" and "bad" and taught moderation. This is almost always lost on us as adults.
Stop the excuses
- "I'm too tired. I have a baby. I worked all day. I don't have time. I'm too busy." I've said all of these before. But one thing I've learned is that none of these are true. If I have time to post on Facebook, play Candy Crush, peruse Pinterest, or watch the latest episode of "Nashville" then I have time to do a 30-minute workout video. I may not want to, but I can.
Stop being your own enemy
- Won't. Can't. Don't. It's amazing how much these little words hinder us from achieving. But these are words without meaning. The hardest part of this journey has been to change my mindset and not allow that little voice in my head to takeover. I had a great group of women that kept me strong, worked out with me, kept me accountable. I also became my own motivation, telling myself not to worry about the rest of the world, I only had to be better than the person I was yesterday. And now? I will. I can. I do.
Where is this all coming from? I have struggled with weight issues my entire life. I have been shamed for my extra pounds. I have crash-dieted. Since having my daughter, I am determined to turn my mistakes into a teaching moment. I don't want her to have this love-hate relationship with food. I don't want her to ever feel she will not be loved if she is overweight. I don't want her to be obese by any means, but I don't want her to associate skinniness with happiness. I want her to know what good food is. I just want her to be healthy and happy.
P.S. I took my baby to the L.A. Marathon this year to cheer on the participants. Next year, I hope she will be out there to cheer me on.