I have three kids, ages 9, 6, and 3. I was overwhelmed, burned out, and exhausted before the pandemic. And I’ve been much more overwhelmed, burned out, and exhausted since March. Having control over almost nothing combined with the constant uncertainty connected to the pandemic was taking its toll. I needed something I could control. Something I could focus on that was for me and not anyone else.
So one Monday in July I woke up and made a decision to take control of my health once and for all — and lose some weight. I already had some healthy habits. I drink a gallon of water almost every day. I replace one meal a day with a vegan protein shake. I eat a balanced diet. However, I also had some very bad food habits. I eat my emotions in sugar and carbs. I knew I was eating too big of portions, especially at dinner. I hate to and do not exercise.
I decided to tackle three things: cut out processed sugar (bye-bye raspberry turnover, donuts, and ice cream), portion control and eat less food, and start a simple exercise routine to move my body every day.
For me, these were reasonable things I could accomplish while being home with three kids all day every day. I came up with a plan, and after doing some research about calorie counting, I decided I would track everything I ate and drank that had calories. I needed that accountability, at least for a few months. Tracking your caloric intake is really easy. There are many apps for your phone where you can scan a barcode or enter in the food directly. I started in July eating 1,200 to 1,400 calories a day.
Here’s a quick example of what I eat on an average weekday:
Breakfast: Coffee with almond milk, 1/2 cup of oatmeal with a sprinkle of cinnamon and blueberries.
Morning snack: A green drinks shot. (I was finding it hard to eat my vegetables during the day, so I drink them — it tastes disgusting but it is over in five seconds.)
Lunch: Protein shake with almond butter and 1/4 of a banana in a blender with ice. (Be mindful of the protein shakes you may consider using and what is in them. Look at the ingredients and do some research. I chose a vegan protein because whey is too hard on my stomach.)
Afternoon snack: A green apple or air-popped popcorn.
Dinner: 3 to 4 oz of pasta or spaghetti squash, 2 small meatballs, and 1 cup of homemade marinara.
I do two to three 10-minute HIIT workouts a week (search “HIIT workout for beginners” on YouTube). I like HIIT workouts because they are fast and burn a lot of calories and fat, and, like I said, I hate working out. So the quicker I can get that over, the better. I also go for walks. This is something I do in the morning before my husband leaves for work or in the evening when he gets home. I put on my headphones and take some quiet time for myself on these walks.
So fast forward four months — I am down 25 pounds, and I feel great! I was 160 pounds when I made the decision to change my eating habits and lifestyle in July, and I am now about 135 pounds.
I committed to myself, and it feels really good to know I did not let myself down! I think my success has a lot to do with the fact that I did not try to restrict too many things in my diet. I wanted to have family dinner and not be making myself different food than my kids or husband. Instead, I am focusing on the volume of food I eat and stopping when I feel satisfied.
I now occasionally do have a sweet treat, but I do not crave it. That freedom of not going to the cookies on a bad day and instead doing push-ups on my kitchen counter or a set of squats when I am overwhelmed is not something I thought I would ever feel.
So here’s my advice to my fellow moms who want to lose weight and gain healthy habits during this pandemic.
Wait until you are totally ready.
For me, I was done having kids, done nursing, and done being winded getting laundry out of the basement.
Weigh yourself daily.
This was huge for me. I weigh myself every morning as soon as I wake up. It takes the anxiety of the scale away. If you weigh yourself daily, you will never expect to have some huge overnight weight loss. This means you are really never disappointed when you’ve only lost an ounce or two from the day before. But then all of a sudden you will be like, “Whoa, I lost five pounds in a few weeks!”
Focus on a few things you can and want to change.
Maybe an elimination diet is too hard to stick to while balancing parenting, especially with remote learning.
I know you may be expecting me to tell you it was really hard for me, but it was not. I WAS READY! I’d had enough of being uncomfortable, sedentary, and sugar addicted. I made the decision to change my eating habits, to change my relationship with food, and to move my body more.
This pandemic has given me the push I needed to take control of my health. I am grateful for that.