How I Lost 32 Pounds in 16 Weeks

"Oh, you just lost the baby weight". Yes, I did. The "baby weight" that was still hanging on almost six months post delivery plus an additional 17 pounds. What they say is true, or at least it was in my case. Dropping the pounds after baby number two wasn't as effortless as the first time around. Carson was born in July. January rolled around and I was still hanging on to an extra 16lbs. I made it my new years resolution (my first ever!) to get my body and health where I wanted it to be.

It's all a matter of setting your mind and heart to it and keeping them there. It's a commitment and a true lifestyle change. Every day. You can't half-way commit. When I was working to shed pounds it became my hobby. A drive. I don't believe in fad diets, pills, wraps, lotions, etc. Some things may drop water weight but none of that is permanent. You gain the weight back. People are always looking for an easy way out - miracle pills, shakes or ridiculous diets. The key to weight loss is burning more calories than your body takes in. Period.

How I achieved that...

Diet I tracked every single calorie that went in my body. I used an app called My Fitness Pal. I owe my weight loss to this app. It will help you calculate how many calories to take in to hit your goal in any given amount of time. I set my goal at 1200 daily. Really it was 1700 but I was burning about 500 daily from nursing so that's where I got 1200 from. You can enter breastfeeding in as a "food" and it will subtract the 500. You have to be honest with yourself when entering things in. If I wasn't quite sure of portion size, I over estimated, just to be on the safe side. The app has lots of dishes and food items already in the database; mostly everything actually. If it was a dish that I made at home I would usually enter every ingredient separately, just to be sure the calories were being calculated accurately. You can save meals for future uses after entering them in. Meal planning is key. I never really planned our meals until I made this whole fitness commitment. Before grocery shopping, I would scour Pinterest for healthy, low calorie dinners and lunches. You can still eat a lot of food if it's healthy! I made my grocery list according to the meal plan for the week. If we went out, I'd look for the healthiest option on the menu, usually...

Which brings me to "cheat meals". I don't love that word. I didn't have cheat meals "just because", BUT I did allow them occasionally, mainly for special occasions like Valentines, our Anniversary or going out to eat with family. Honestly though, once you make the change, even your "cheats" aren't very bad. Eating smart becomes habit. I would guess I allowed myself a "less thought out meal" probably every two weeks. Something I noticed was that after allowing myself to not track just one meal, I would have a big loss on the scale a few days later. I read this about cheat meals in the beginning of my journey and it played absolutely true for me. It was almost like eating more caused my metabolism to go into overdrive and "reset" which caused the bigger than normal loss. One treat meal every week or two really doesn't hurt anything. Think about it....if you stay on point every single meal aside from just that one, that's 41 on track meals in two weeks. One isn't going to destroy you. It's just grasping that it's just that one and going back to 100% for the very next meal. That's key. It's all in the mindset.

I can't say I ever felt deprived after re-vamping my food intake. Healthy can be good! I still make lots of the recipes I discovered while losing weight. I also never felt hungry. I ate often, three meals a day plus lots of snacks. When you're taking in lots of good, low calorie foods, you tend to need more to be sure you're even taking in enough. Taking in too little isn't good and can cause your metabolism to tank. Always take in a minimum of 1200 calories a day. There were days I got a little less (particularly double workout days) but I did always shoot for that number.

Snacks. This part was big for me. I like to snack. I joked with Joe every night that popcorn was the sole reason I was dropping weight. Really. I was never really big into popcorn before but it became an almost daily thing for me. The 100 calorie bags. Whenever I wanted a night time snack, popcorn it was....or almonds, or dried fruit. Making sure your snacks are healthy is big. Snacks can break you. You don't want to waste all your calories on something that isn't good for you when they can be used towards a satisfying meal. Almonds are great for you but they aren't super low in calories. They do help to make your stomach feel full though. They are good calories. I would actually count my almonds and put them in a separate container before eating to avoid eating too many and also to know how many I took in for recording them in MFP. Other great low calorie snacks are grapes, celery and carrots with non fat ranch or hummus, greek yogurt, 1% cottage cheese, string cheese, hard boiled eggs and even pickles (although high in sodium). There is also a great spinach dip that is made with greek yogurt. I eat that with baby carrots. Walmart sells it.

My breakfast had the least variation. I ate oatmeal with chia seeds almost daily. I drank all water all the time except for my morning coffee. I use low fat International Delight French vanilla creamer. For milk, we've switched to Silk almond milk. It's only 35 calories a cup. I made healthy cereals a snack often and not having to worry about a bunch of milk calories helped.

-Exercise. My Fitness Pal also has a section to enter in your physical activity. It subtracts those calories from your daily allowance. Leaving the house with two small children to go to a gym takes work and is just another possible excuse for me not to work out. I decided to do the Focus T25 DVD's at home. I don't sell or promote these for anyone wondering. I sure do love them though. It's a ten week program,  five weeks of the alpha phase followed by five weeks of beta. This is a great program for an un-fit beginner (like myself) as well as for people who are a little ahead in their fitness level. My husband, a marathon runner, also loves the program. There's a girl on the DVD that does modified moves, which aren't quite as difficult. Her routine is designed for beginners or those who need their workouts to be lower impact. In the beginning I followed her a lot. Towards the end of the program it was rare and only when I got really tired. I would switch to her moves for a bit for a small breather and then jump back to the full impact moves when I was ready. Upon starting, I told myself there was NO way I'd ever be going at it full force without following Tanya's version. It's amazing how much you progress in such a short time of doing the program. The workouts are 5 days a week, Monday-Friday and 25 minutes each. That was the best part for me. With two small kids, I just don't have an hour to work out. There were times that I had Carson crawling around me while I was doing them. There is a double day once a week, which is 50 minutes. Working out 5 days a week takes some commitment and in my case lots of planning. I would get lunch done for the kids and for the hours following up to when I planned to work out, I'd try to keep Carson up so that hopefully they would nap at the same time. It didn't always work (which is why I mention him crawling around me) but most of the time it did. We had our days that I'd hear him cry with 12 minutes left and I was running for him and a bucket of toys. I promise I'm not advertising here but another reason why I loved the program is the variation. You never do the same DVD two days in a row. Some DVD's are only once a week. Then after the first five weeks they change entirely to an different set, which by then, you are looking forward to. After completing T25, I started P90X3 for a few weeks but really didn't love it. Although I am not on a set schedule or anything now and don't work out as much as I did, I'll still throw in a T25 workout every so often. I like them that much. Joe does too. He actually just started the scheduled program again.

Enough T25 babbling. While I do highly recommend it, there are plenty of ways to burn those calories and stay active. Everyone has their preference. That's just what worked for me. You can run, swim, ride a bike, go on a treadmill etc. With T25, you have weekends off. If there was ever a day that I came close to hitting my calorie limit and didn't have a workout on the schedule for that day, I'd occasionally jump on the treadmill in the garage for 25 minutes just to be sure my calories were staying at a slight deficit. It felt good logging in every single workout.

Also, I bought a heart rate monitor. For me this was huge. It gives an accurate number of calories burned during a workout based off your own stats and heart rate. There is no way I would have been able to accurately track my calories without it. You can guess, but that's really not accurate. It also caused me to push myself harder in workouts if I saw my heart rate going down too low because hitting stop at the end and seeing a higher number burned is really rewarding.

There you have it. That's it. That's how I did it. I would say that it's easier said than done but honestly, it wasn't that hard once I fully committed. You have to stay interested. On days where I felt tired and didn't want to work out, I went on Instagram and searched "#fitnessmotivation". It helps! Then I started to feel proud of myself that I was doing this and seeing progress. It only made me want to keep it up and gave me the drive to get up and pop that DVD in. Some of my favorites.

Also, follow fit people on Instagram and watch transformation YouTube videos. Seriously. I would think to myself  "If these women can loose 175 pounds, I sure as heck can drop 30!"

32 pounds. That just seems nuts to me. I know I was never overweight and that I didn't "need" to loose anything. I wanted to though. As most women will admit, we are our own worst critics. I wanted my pre-baby body back, plus some. There were areas I didn't like. Even before kids. Small doesn't mean toned. I've never been into sports. I was never athletic. This was huge for me. Before this I don't think I ever even felt an actual muscle in my body. I hope this will help anyone trying to get into (and stay in) that right mindset because I really believe that's all it takes...staying in the right mindset to keep you committed and knowing that it will all pay off.

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