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?

Tiptoe Topic

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How was your Easter? Ours was lively. The kids woke up at 6:30am and came barreling down the stairs asking for presents. I think kids have built-in gift radar. They tore into their Easter baskets before the sun came up. Before we got to church, they were already dozing off in the backseat from all of the early morning excitement. Needless to say it was a see-saw of delirium and melt-down for the rest of the day until they finally crashed in their beds last night.

As for my Paleo plans… at the last minute request of my Southern Sweetheart, I prepared the meal just the way he likes it– fried, creamed, and buttered. On special occasions like this, I make it a point not to deprive myself, but instead to limit myself. Fortunately, I recently stumbled on this portion control chart.

portion control chart

And i enjoyed every greasy bite.

It has taken a while to find that delicate balance of moderation when it comes to food, but I have come to believe good health is something to be enjoyed rather than to be enslaved to. Like most women, I have had a love/hate relationship with my body. I have overhauled my diet time and time again– adding this… eliminating that. It is exhausting, isn’t it?

I thought that perhaps our conversation this month might center around the idea of healthy living. Warning: I’m about to get up close and personal here. For starters, I will be sharing my weight loss story– something I don’t enjoy talking about with close friends much less making public domain. But I get asked about it a lot, so I thought I’d put all those extra pounds to good use to hopefully inspire some who might be on a weight loss journey themselves. You could make this easier on me by answering one question:

How much weight did you gain during pregnancy?

Before you unsubscribe to this blog out of sheer disgust that I would ask such a vulnerable question, know that whatever you say, I would be willing to bet the last piece of fried chicken that I had your weight gain trumped. As you will see, my two pregnancies re-defined the phrase of “invasion of the Body Snatchers”.

Let’s learn from one another on this rather sensitive topic, shall we?