I’ve waffled over writing this post for WEEKS. First of all, I would never dare to claim any sort of authority when it comes to fitness and nutrition. I mean really, you’re talking to the girl who stays away from the gym like it harbors the plague and whose favorite food is sprinkles. And second of all, well, I’m not exactly good with the follow-through when it comes to workout resolutions.
Oh yes, Grasshoppers. I hesitated to write anything even REMOTELY related to fitness because my track record is…poor.
But with the disastrous Operation Hotmother sitting (lounging?) two full years behind me, and with the progress I’ve made toward leading a healthy lifestyle (I’m thirty pounds down since Baby J’s birth), well, now seemed like an appropriate time to share what I’ve done to feel better and have more energy.
Feel free to ignore ALL of this, or even to stop reading right now, because–as I said before–I HAVE NO AUTHORITY ON THIS AT ALL. And I don’t necessarily recommend you do what I do, either. Everyone is different. Everyone needs different things.
I’m writing this post because when I’m feeling unhealthy–when my pants don’t fit and I can’t get off the couch without preparing for at least twenty minutes and I’m not sleeping well–I feel a little desperate. I want to know how I can make some good changes without losing my mind.
And maybe, just maybe, one of you feels the same way.
So, assuming all of the above was a sufficient disclaimer, here we go. This is how I’ve lost thirty pounds since January.
* * *
The first thing you should know is that I gained almost fifty pounds with Baby J. That’s… a lot. Even with my height (5’10”), I was, um, taking up significantly more space than I had with Baby M.
I lost probably fifteen pounds at the moment of her birth, which was more of a surprise eruption than a regular birth. And then I lost about five pounds in our first couple weeks at home.
But then it stopped.
And I felt awful.
I was tired. I was irritable. Even when Baby J started sleeping for longer stretches in the night, I still felt sluggish and gross. None of my clothes fit (and, full disclosure, most of them still don’t–but they’re a lot closer to fitting than they used to be).
Something had to change.
At some point in March, I downloaded an app on my iPhone called My Fitness Pal that keeps track of what you’re eating and how much you’re exercising. If I remember right, it was free. The logo looks like this:
I like this app a lot. It has a large database of foods, both homemade and from restaurants, so it’s easy to keep up with what you’ve eaten. You can also track how much water you drink, and you can input lots of cardio exercises–even ones that don’t SEEM like exercise.
Yesterday, for example, I burned about 300 calories doing “light cleaning” around the house. A friend of mine just burned 75 calories “pushing stroller with child.” Somehow, it’s fun to input those kinds of things. I guess it makes them seem more worthwhile. Like you’re not just cleaning the bathroom, you’re EXERCISING, thank you very much.
It’s also kind of tedious to enter everything you eat, which means sometimes I look at the handful of M&Ms in my palm and realize that if I eat them, I have to measure out how many I’m eating, and then I have to input it in the MyFitnessPal, and really it’s easier just to put them back.
I stuck with this app for several weeks before I went back to work in April. Then I spent two months trying to catch up on everything I had missed while I was on maternity leave, frantically searching my room for random papers and trying to remember how to enter grades. By the time I got home from work each day, I was exhausted and couldn’t be bothered to do anything or record anything in my app.
So April and May were kind of a low point for me, as far as fitness goes. I gained some weight back, I was tired, etc. etc. etc.
And then I realized wheat made me itch.
(I’ll give you just a second to process that.)
SAYING NO TO THE WHEAT
See, I’ve had itchy legs for probably four years. Sometimes they itch so badly I actually injure my skin trying to scratch the itch. There is a prescription lotion that helps, but the true culprit is wheat.
I discovered this one day when I hadn’t had wheat for a couple weeks, and then some of my students brought brownies to school and I ate like five of them. Fifteen minutes later, my legs were ON FIRE.
(Because I know some of you are wondering, I wouldn’t call the wheat thing a full-blown allergy. It’s more like a sensitivity. I don’t feel sick when I eat it; nothing hurts in my bowel-region. I just itch.)
There’s another point to the wheat story, though, and it is this: avoiding wheat also helps me feel more energized and lose weight, specifically belly fat.
Think about it. What do you eat that contains wheat? Pasta, sandwich bread, waffles, muffins, bagels, cereal, cupcakes, breadsticks, pizza, dinner rolls, anything breaded and fried. It makes sense that avoiding wheat would help you drop a few pounds, doesn’t it?
Just to be clear, I don’t avoid it ALL the time. If we go to someone’s house for dinner and they’ve made a pasta entree, I will NOT refuse to eat it. If I haven’t had wheat for a while, I can eat a small portion and be mostly unaffected.
But I feel better when I avoid it, and that’s the cold hard truth.
After Baby J was born, it took me a while to get back in the swing of exercising. In fact, consistency with exercise is a pretty recent thing for me. I’m not much of a worker-outer, mostly because I HATE TO WORK OUT.
But I’ve found a few things that help me not only tolerate a workout, but actually enjoy it. Here’s what they are.
1) Variety. I cannot, CANNOT, do the same thing every day. If I go for a walk/run one day, I will do my Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred DVD the next day. And the day after that, I’ll clean the house for two hours. I am not a creature of routine; it bores me. So it’s very important to do something different each day, and to take a day off once a week.
2) Music. If I’m going to walk/run around the neighborhood for 45 minutes, I better have some awesome tunes or I’m going to plop down in a gutter halfway through and spend the rest of my workout thinking about how much I hate working out.
And now, if you are okay with the fact that these songs might not be 100% squeaky clean 100% of the time, I’ll tell you some of my favorite workout tracks.
— “Wild Ones” by Flo Rida
— “Sweet Nothing” by Calvin Harris
— “Let’s Go” by Calvin Harris
— “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
— “On The Floor” by Jennifer Lopez
So that’s the music. And then there’s….
Basically all I want in life is the ability to eat a double cheeseburger and fries for every meal, every day. But alas, that leads to disaster.
I always eat breakfast with protein. Sometimes it’s eggs, sometimes it’s a protein bar, sometimes it’s a banana with peanut butter. And I try to throw some fruit in there, too.
Lunch and dinner are pretty much the same; a good bit of protein with some veggies and fruit.
I snack a lot. One of my favorite snacks is an avocado, cut in half and sprinkled with garlic salt. It may sound boring and lame, but MY WORD, it is delicious. And avocados have about 200 calories in them, so it’s a good sized snack. I also love a banana cut into 8-10 pieces with peanut butter on each piece. Protein bars are good, too; I like Zone bars (Target has a great version of them, too).
I drink about 12 cups of water a day. Yes, in case you were wondering, that is A LOT of water. And yes, I make frequent trips to the bathroom. But lots of water really helps with the bloatage, and being less bloated means fitting into more pants. So it’s a win.
The only time I drink something other than water is when I drink coffee (in the morning and after lunch) or milk (usually just one 8-oz glass per day). I stay away from juice altogether, though I’m not sure why. It’s not really something I do on purpose.
And then last but not least, there are…
I’m aware this is not an episode of Biggest Loser, and I feel pretty confident about discouraging you from weighing yourself in front of a large crowd wearing nothing but a sports bra and Spandex shorts.
And many people are against the idea of a weigh-in altogether. I have several friends who refuse to own a scale. They judge their fitness level by how they feel and how their clothes fit, and that’s totally cool for them.
I cannot operate that way.
Without a scale, I don’t know just how bad things have gotten. It’s like I can pretend the spare tire around my waist is only there SOME of the time, and really, things aren’t all that bad.
Even though things may be VERY BAD INDEED and I only notice when I see pictures of myself.
So I have to weigh in periodically to see if I’m making progress or if I’m backsliding. I always weigh myself first thing in the morning, and I only do it once or twice per week. Then I have a pretty good idea of whether or not I’m moving in the right direction. Because believe it or not, there IS an acceptable weight range for my body, and right now I’m not inside it. Stepping on a scale helps me manage my progress, and it’s pretty motivating when you see that number go down, and down, and down…
So that’s it, y’all. I don’t know how to end this post without reiterating that I am not a doctor or a trainer or a nutritionist, and really, I don’t know what I’m doing. But I hope that if you’ve wanted to get healthy, this will give you a starting point. I’ve got a long way to go and I’d love to walk the path with you.
Godspeed, fellow Get-In-Shapers. Godspeed.