how did you do it?

I found that jacket at one of my favorite thrift stores in Winston-Salem. It’s orange with a scalloped collar and big black buttons and is perfectly vintage and unique. I’m kind of a sucker for vintage clothes and love the idea of owning something with a history that I’m not going to see on anyone else. I mean, I love me some Target clothes, but there’s something about the thrill of searching through racks to find a true treasure that excites me. I know, I’m well aware that I’m not normal.

So I found that jacket just a few months after I gave birth to Bug – almost three years ago. At the time I was still carrying around quite a bit of baby weight, but was working to lose it (ever so slowly). I obviously had no idea that I’d find myself pregnant again within just a few months, so I optimistically bought that jacket in hopes that it might fit soon.

It didn’t. Even before I got pregnant again I’d try that jacket on every so often, and it still didn’t even come close to fitting. I packed it up and forgot about it until just about a month ago. I was rummaging in the coat closet one morning for something or other and saw it hanging there.

Hmmm… I thought. Should I try it on? No, it probably won’t fit. And I’ll just be disappointed and feel bad about myself. But I don’t know. I’m pretty close to my goal weight. Maybe it will fit. I should try it on. At the very least, maybe it’ll be closer to fitting than the last time I tried. 

So I put it on. And buttoned the buttons. And tied the belt. And it fit. Except that sentence needs a bit more excitement for you to understand. IT FIT!!! My eyes got big as I looked in the mirror, and I ran to Shawn in the kitchen. It was August and I was wearing my pajama pants and an orange trench coat, and I squealed, “It fits! Look! It fits!”

I’m sure Shawn was a little confused at the sight that was before him, but he showed the appropriate amount of enthusiasm and told me how proud he was of me. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t run back to the mirror and do a little “it fits!” dance before hanging the jacket in the closet again.

So it’s true. I’ve lost 65 lbs and have lately noticed a lot of people asking me details about how I did it. I’m definitely not a weight loss expert, but I’m glad to share the things I’ve learned along my journey. Since they’re usually things I had to learn the hard way, I hope it can save you some time and trouble if you’re finding yourself trying to lose weight.

1. (Have I mentioned how much I love lists?) I’ve been working hard to lose weight since January, but in June I decided that losing weight was going to be my part-time job for the summer. It takes a lot of time to count calories, measure food, exercise, and stay motivated, so I determined to work really hard at it for three months, hoping that I could ease up and settle into a maintenance routine in the fall.

2. I signed up for My Fitness Pal. It’s a free online tool to track your calories, and I used it to enter every. single. thing. i. ate. I also bought a kitchen scale and measured everything. The site also has a free app, which made it so easy to enter my calories from my phone. 95% of the time I stayed in my calorie range and if I didn’t one day, I just accepted that and made it happen the following days.

3. I worked out a lot. I exercised at least four days a week, sometimes as much as six days a week. I did an hour of cardio (usually on the elliptical), and a half hour with weights. That gave me a half hour to shower and dress before I needed to get the boys from the gym’s child care. When I did weights, I focused on machines that would work my hips and legs since that’s always been an area about which I’m self-conscious. I also tried to schedule my work out time for the time of day I’m most tempted to snack. For me, that’s the afternoon hours between 3:00-5:00. I’d work out from 2:30-4:30. By the time I got home and got diapers changed and bags unpacked, it was time for me to prepare dinner. This schedule left me with little time to snack between lunch and dinner, and assured that I was kept busy during those hours of temptation.

4. I ate a lot of protein. Eating 1200 calories a day, exercising often, and keeping up with two kids and a household is actually pretty hard. I didn’t want my weight loss efforts to effect my patience level with the kids, so I found that eating more protein in my day helped me have the energy and stamina I needed. I ate a hard-boiled egg almost every day for breakfast and had a protein drink either before or after I worked out (I tried a few and liked The Biggest Loser chocolate drink the best). I usually had a turkey wrap for lunch and snacked on edamame. Because I was spending more of my calories on protein, I had less to spend on sugar and simple carbs, and I think that helped increase my energy level as well.

5. I stayed active outside of the gym. I spend most of my day off my butt. Not only off my butt but actively running, picking up, putting down, dancing, grabbing, spinning, and just moving. It wasn’t something I consciously did, but being so active helped me lose weight more quickly because my metabolism was always working. I know not everyone has access to two toddlers to keep them busy for several days straight, so I happen to have two that I’d be willing to loan out. I’m just sayin’.

6. I rewarded myself generously. I definitely had big rewards for every 10 pounds I lost, but I also made smaller rewards when I lost even one pound. If I found myself struggling with eating extra calories, I’d reward myself for staying in my calorie range for three days straight. If I was lacking motivation to get to the gym, I’d reward myself for working out every day for three days. My rewards were usually things that didn’t cost money – like an at-home pedicure or using a gift card I’d been given – but it was just enough to help me get over my lack of willpower until I found the discipline I needed. Because I can be so stinkin’ frugal, I tried to make sure that my 10 pound rewards were something that I’d never usually spend money on – a new pair of boots, a salon hair cut, etc.

There are a lot of other little things I did that helped – like listening to fun podcasts when I exercised, drinking an insane amount of water, and budgeting for splurges in my calorie goal – but I definitely think those six things made the biggest difference in my weight loss. Now that I’ve hit my goal weight, it’s nice to up my calorie range and skip a few workouts! I can be more relaxed about meal planning and can spend more time investing in my family and business. Oh yeah, and I can wear super cute orange trench coats. So, so worth it!

 

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