Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.
~ Lance Armstrong
When I was pregnant I read somewhere that exercising while pregnant would help the baby become an excellent self-soother once he was born.
As you know, I was overweight before I became pregnant. I also gained weight quickly at the beginning of my pregnancy. In addition to those, and the fact that babies of pregnant exercisers were better sleepers, I thought it would suit me well if I walked for 30 minutes every day throughout my pregnancy. Thankfully I was lucky enough to have a hand-me-down treadmill donated from my dad before he moved, so I didn’t need to join a gym, or brave the Cleveland elements throughout the inclement months.
I exercised almost every day of my pregnancy. I woke up early before work to walk on the treadmill and watch a show, and on the days that it was warm and the weather was nice, my husband and I took our dog for a walk through the neighborhood before work. In addition to walking, I lifted free weights.
These small actions, and the commitment that I began to put toward mine and my unborn child’s health and well being throughout my pregnancy, paved the way for my ultimate, successful weight-loss and fit regimen.
The Changes, The Training
There were two major changes that pushed me into the fitness cycle that I am currently in now. First, I began counting calories. And not just “looking on the back of the package” counting calories, but full on collection of every single calorie that I ate (and burned).
In order to effectively record my caloric intake and output, I used a handy dandy tool called MyPlate on www.livestrong.com. This is a phenomenal tool. You input your age, height, weight, weight loss (or gain) goals, and it automatically calculates your daily calorie goals, your body mass index (BMI) and a whole bunch of other useful nutritional information. The tools available on www.livestrong.com are amazing. I highly recommend it.
The second thing that I did was I took up walking on the treadmill during naptime. Eventually, I transitioned into running in the mornings. More on that later.
My father had been an avid treadmill user when I was younger and still living at home. He ran for heart health, not weight loss. But his theory was sound, and it worked. His workout routine went something like this: run for 90 seconds at 5 mph, and walk for 30 seconds at 4 mph, for a total of one hour.
I was a slow poke, so running at 5 mph and walking at 4 mph were completely out of the question. And he told me I had to work up to one hour, so I started at 20 minutes. I ran for 90 seconds at 4 mph, and walked for 30 seconds at 3 mph. I eventually made it to walking at 3.5 mph, but never left the 4 mph mark.
Eventually, I went from 20 minutes to 30 minutes. And one day, I thought to myself, “hey, I wonder if I can run for two minutes straight.” Two minutes became five minutes, and five minutes became 10 minutes. 10 minutes has since turned into 30+ minutes.
I now run as many days of the week as time permits, for an average of 30 minutes, around 5.6 mph. That’s a long way from the 4 mph, 90 second run that I started with!
As with anything, it took time to develop my muscles, my strength and stamina, and my mental ability to keep myself going. Every day that I run is a challenge. I am constantly talking to myself about going just a little further, maybe running a little harder, and seeing just how far I can push myself.
Eating Right, Super Foods
Throughout the course of this process, not only did my physical fitness habits change, my eating habits changed as well. As I diligently tracked every item I put into my mouth, I began making smarter choices of foods to eat. I started eating power foods — fruits and vegetables, whole grains. It didn’t dawn on me until probably five months into my venture that I realized I had all but expelled carbohydrates from my diet. I ate a sandwich almost every day, but instead of white or wheat bread, I began eating sandwich thins. Each piece of traditional wheat bread was 70 calories (or more) per slice, which equates to 140 calories for a sandwich. A sandwich thin, on the other hand, boasts all of the same nutrients, but only carries 100 calories per sandwich. Right there I was saving 40 calories per day!
I ate much less cheese (another high calorie food) and found myself eating apples (pack a lot of nutritional punch for very few calories), bananas and pears. We ate pasta much less than we had pre-weight loss days. Traditionally, my husband and I would enjoy a pasta dish at least twice a week, sometimes more. I also removed the carbohydrate “side” from our dinners. This meant no more processed mashed potatoes, no more boxed couscous and no more unnecessary calories and carbs.
I’m sure as you’re reading this you’re thinking to yourself how torturous this must have been for me. But it wasn’t. Not even in the least bit. By using MyPlate and being aware of how many calories and other nutritional contents that were in each food item, I had empowered myself to make the best decisions of what to consume and when. I knew when I would be hungry, how much to eat, and how to effectively stave off cravings.
I’ll touch on super foods and smart choices in detail in another post.
Speaking of cravings…
I will leave you with one important point. If you choose to use a calorie-reduction diet to achieve your weight loss goals, you must realize you are not perfect. You will have cravings, you will need to splurge every now and again. How you choose to satisfy your cravings, and how you handle your splurges, will greatly affect your success rate.
Make yourself aware of your weaknesses and do not let them overrun you. You are your own worst enemy, and your own best champion.