The Body Budget: My Weight Loss Story

Heidi Klum gained 40 pounds during pregnancy.

Beyonce gained 57 pounds during pregnancy.

Jessica Alba gained 60 pounds during pregnancy.

You {my lovely readers} gained an average of 61 pounds during pregnancy.

Salina Beasley gained NINETY POUNDS during pregnancy.

Pregnancy deals a different hand for each woman. For me, the combination of raging hormones, a stalled metabolism, fickle appetites, profound fatigue, ravenous hunger, and unsatisfiable cravings resulted in a whopping 90lb expansion site from my chin to my ankles. I don’t have many pictures of myself during that season and for good reason. I looked like I swallowed a sixth-grader.

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An appropriate caption for Salem’s expression might read, “Are you going to eat me too, Mom?” It’s a crummy photo, but like I said, I avoided the camera like I avoided the scale once I hit my third trimester with Mia.

Up until this point, I had kept my weight around 145 {give or take 5 pounds} with a comfortable dress size 6-8. I had run with the Vegan Extremists and been named among the Organic Nazis in my early twenties and had landed among the Clean Eaters who shopped natural, chemical free, locally raised… yada yada. I wasn’t the type of woman who viewed pregnancy as a free pass to Club Ben & Jerry’s. In other words, my quality choices hadn’t changed all that much. What I didn’t take into account was that my pregnancies were a metabolic game-changer. I couldn’t get away with making the same decisions when it came to the quantity of foods I was consuming.

At two weeks postpartum, I weighed in at a measly 22 pounds less than the day that I delivered Mia. Nursing and chasing Salem may have shaved off another 20 pounds-ish over the next few months, but my neglect to balance my caloric intake with my activity level kept me at a cruising altitude of 190 pounds well after Mia’s first birthday. It wasn’t until I put my body on a budget that I began to see results.

My Body Budget operates very much like a cash budget. If I don’t track it, the likelihood is that I will spend what I don’t have. If only my waistline shrunk like my wallet and my credit score. Ironically enough, I was living lean everywhere else but my waistline. Speaking of cash budgets, ours was on life-support. I did not have the time or the money to join a gym or Weight Watchers, or to shop at Whole Foods, or to buy supplements or appetite suppressants. Chances are that if it wasn’t a BOGO special or on a coupon in the Sunday paper, it didn’t end up in the shopping cart. I needed a plan that was both economical and sustainable.

My Body Budget looked something like this:

Baby Step 1: Buy a scale {This might sound painfully obvious to you, but the truth is that I never owned a scale until after I turned 30. It was high time I put on my big Big Girl Panties, bite the bullet, and buy the thing.}

Baby Step 2: Step on it twice a week.

Baby Step 3: Eat fewer calories than I burn.

Baby Step 4: Burn more calories than I eat.

It was insultingly simple. Notice that I didn’t say it was easy. It just wasn’t as complicated as I had always made it out to be.

My Fitness Pal app

Practically speaking, I am hopeless when it comes to math, therefore, I had never been a calorie counter. Enter My Fitness Pal. Once I got the hang of this free app, I developed the habit of tracking everything that went into my mouth… from the cream in my morning coffee to the mini Cadbury egg in my daughter’s Easter basket. {Don’t judge me. You know you eat your kids’ holiday candy too.} Yes, it was a pain, but no more uncomfortable than walking around with an extra 90 pounds weighing me down. Dave Ramsey {The Total Money Makeover man} advises to give every dollar a name. In keeping with this philosophy, I gave every calorie a name. Granted, not all calories are created equally. My Fitness Pal charts your carb/protein/fat ratio according to your profile goals too. Once I learned that, I had virtually no excuse for neglecting my Body Budget.

Couch 2 5k

When it came to exercise, I opted for Couch to 5k for economical {and purely selfish} reasons. Running is free, not to mention portable. As long as I have my running shoes, I can do it anywhere/anytime. The gravy is that nobody else in my family wants to run with me, so it is quite literally the only 30-45 minute window during my week that affords me the luxury of uninterrupted think-time– a precious commodity for mothers of small children. I found an activity that worked for me and didn’t tax my family’s wellness. Once I landed my stride {albeit rather slow}, I began to look forward to my weekly runs, and I entered into the home stretch of Project: Goal Weight.

Clark took this picture of me the morning of my first half-marathon last April.

half marathon photo

Timeline:
September 2011 weight: 186 pounds
April 2012 weight: 145 pounds

My Body Budget maintenance plan looks something like this:

Step 1: Still tracking

Step 2: Still running

Step 3: Still stepping on the scale twice a week {We’re good buds now.}

Step 4: Still eating {with pleasure} the remainder of the Easter candy.

Where are you on the timeline of Project: Love Your Body? My hope in sharing this story with you is that we can encourage each other to enjoy good health at a weight and shape that is comfortable for our individual lifestyles. No obsessions. No self-loathing comparisons. No competitions.

How about you? What has {or hasn’t} worked for you to get and keep your body on a budget?

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2 Comments

  1. Martha said,

    April 2, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Love this post! And I’m a HUGE fan of My Fitness Pal. (In fact you may have told me about it!) You are right though – you have to count everything – nothing goes in the mouth without being measured or counted.
    Between my fitness pal, running, and laying off the booze (ha!), I’ve shed 35 lbs since the fall! (Equivalent to one Allie- haha).
    Not to my target yet but getting pretty close!


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