Elizabeth Elizabeth is a divorced mother of two elementary-aged boys. She is a former English professor and lay minister who now manages the office and communications for a local church. When she's not working or writing, you'll usually find her cooking for her loved ones or hanging out at coffee shops and bookstores. Contact her by e-mailing her at Elizabeth@mumblingmommy.com.

The first year after my second son was born, we moved three times. The moves plus a baby who did not sleep through the night for over two years meant that I had more on my plate than my dress size. I made a few attempts to get back into shape, but it just wasn’t the right time yet. I couldn’t focus on other’s weight loss tips to make my weight go down. I needed to wait until I was nicely settled into my home and life before I could work on my health.

Last fall a few things happened that helped me get started. My husband’s company required us to get a blood test that gave us a full health screening. My numbers were fairly good, but my BMI was higher than my doctor wanted, and that worried me.  Heart problems run rampant through my family. Plus, I had gestational diabetes with both of my boys. That puts me at risk for both heart disease and diabetes. My doctor and I worked out a reasonable goal weight, and she gave me advice on how to meet it (more on that later.)
Like a lot of women, my weight has yo-yoed over the years. I was slim-to-average in college; gained weight in grad school; lost weight before having babies; and now have “baby weight” I’ve never lost with boy #2. Since then, I have had many stops and starts, and I’m finally on a roll again and am about halfway to my goal.

With all of those starts, stops, times of good health and times of poor choices, I’ve made plenty of mistakes (now called weight loss tips, lol) that I am happy to share with you. Hopefully you can learn from my weight loss tips and from my mistakes, instead of making them too!

My Weight Loss Tips

1.      Are you ready? Really ready? Really?

This is the most important question to ask yourself. It’s one thing to wish that you were healthier. It’s another thing to make the commitment to getting healthy. Eating well and exercising takes work and at least a little bit of money, too. You want to make sure you’re in a good place to go the distance.

 2.      Be patient.

Unlike Kim Kardashian, Heidi Klum, or anyone else in Hollywood, I do not have personal trainers, chefs, and a full-time nanny to help me reach my weight-loss goals. (On the flip side, I don’t have paparazzi following me around and magazines analyzing my “baby weight” either!) I don’t live like them, so I shouldn’t judge myself by their standards. Neither should you. Taking care of yourself takes time and energy. A mistake I have often made is doing too much too soon. I’ve gone from nothing to exercising 30-60 minutes/ 6 days per week and immediately cutting out 500 calories a day. After a week or two of hunger, crankiness, and sore muscles, I would give up. This time around I decided to start off slowly. I found 10- and 15-minute routines on Hulu and Youtube and did them every other day. I started dieting by cutting 100 calories a day for a week, then 200, then 300. I slowly built up my diet and exercise habits so that it was not “all or nothing.” Yes, this means that it will take me longer to reach my goal, but on the other hand, I’m not giving up.

In two months, I moved up from light aerobics and small dietary changes to intense circuit training and serious calorie-cutting. But since I did it gradually, I feel healthy and strong instead of tired and hungry. Don’t set hard-and-fast time goals for yourself only to feel that you’ve failed if you don’t meet them. Instead, focus on being healthy and taking care of yourself; the rest will come in time.

3.      You don’t have to spend a fortune to exercise (but get good shoes!).

Getting healthy does not mean that you have to invest in a whole new wardrobe, a gym membership, or expensive home equipment. To avoid injury, you do need to treat your feet to the right shoe for your workout. Otherwise, you can find free workout apps; free calorie-counting apps and websites like My Fitness pal; and if you work out at home, you can wear whatever you want to exercise. I’ve even seen instructions online for making your own free weights!

What works for me is to have workout videos and a few free weights at home and (in warmer weather) go on walks, hikes, or walk/ jog hybrids. Plus, my kids get to work out with me. They love getting their “yoga mats” (blankets) and “weights” (12-ounce bottles half-filled with water). They only last about 10 minutes into my workout, but we have fun together.

4.      Don’t waste money on “diet foods.”

This weight loss tips is important. The diet-food industry is booming, but we still have an obesity crisis in this country. What gives? The answer is that most “diet food” is a waste of money at best and, at worst, actively sabotages your health. Besides the health issues, it’s not cheap to stock up on name-brand diet food. Eating fruits, vegetables, unsalted nuts (in moderation) and lean protein will cost you less, fill you up more, and be better for your overall health. For example, if I want an afternoon snack that is about 200 calories and fills me up, I don’t need to spend money on “snack bars.” Instead I slice up an apple and  top it with 2 tablespoons of raisins and 1 tablespoon of unsalted sliced almonds. It has enough fiber and fat to keep me going until supper time. Or, if I’m going to be out of the house for a few hours, I take a banana and an apple with me. Bananas and apples are nature’s portable health foods. They have vitamins that nourish you and fiber to fill you up. And they’re cheap!

5.      Treat yourself.

“All work and no play” makes weight loss no fun. I like to build in a nightly treat to reward myself at the end of the day. Looking forward to my “treat” helps keep me on track during the day, too, because then I feel like less of a martyr. It could be a glass of wine, or buttery popcorn, or something sweet; pick whatever works for you and will keep you motivated. As long as you plan ahead for the calories and control your portions, a daily treat will not wreck your diet.

Another way to treat yourself without guilt is to get away from the “my diet is/will be ruined today and I might as well pig out” routine. Just because you gave in and had a doughnut at work does not mean the rest of the day is “ruined.” Eat a lighter lunch to make up for it. Or, are you planning on a nice dinner out or a party in the evening? Have a salad for lunch and “save up” your calories; or do an extra-long or second workout to burn more calories ahead of time. Even if you end up cutting out 100 calories at the end of the day instead of 500, you’re still losing weight.  And if you just break even, at least you’re not gaining.

6.       Get buff!

When I lost a lot of weight in my 20s, I didn’t worry that much about muscle mass. I had a good metabolism and was able to get thin with aerobics and dieting. My doctor advised me that in my 30s, I need to build up more lean muscle to achieve long-term weight loss. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does; this means that the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body burns each day, even when you’re asleep! She specifically advised me to try circuit-training, which is short, alternating intervals of cardio and strength-building exercises. At first I thought I would hate it because it’s such an intense workout. But, I found that I like it better than aerobics or strength training alone because I don’t get bored. As soon as I get tired of a certain exercise, I’m switching to a new one.

7. Be kind to yourself … for your kids’ sake

You should be kind to yourself as a rule. Try not to think of yourself as “bad” for struggling with weight or giving into a food craving. But if you find it hard to be nice to yourself for your own sake, do it for your kids’ well-being. As mothers, what we say and do affects our children every day. If you don’t value yourself and your health, chances are they won’t value their own health either. I’m very careful to tell my kids that I exercise and watch what I eat to be healthy (not “thin” or “skinny”). Even though boys are not as prone to eating disorders, it’s more common than most people think. If you have daughters, you want to be especially careful about how you discuss your weight. 

8.       Work with your doctor

It’s easy to focus on dress size, jean size, or the way you looked before kids. But your doctor is interested in your health, is the best person for weight loss tips and can advise you on how much weight to lose (if needed), or how to get healthy in general.  It’s important to have a doctor you can talk to comfortably about these issues, too, because they are so personal. My doctor is close to my age and a woman, so I feel very comfortable discussing these things with her. My previous doctor was a man about my dad’s age, and I really did not want to discuss body image with him!

If you’re trying to lose weight this spring, I hope that you can learn from my weight loss tips. And please share your healthy eating and weight loss tips here, too. I’d love to hear your ideas.

Category: Health

Tags: baby weight