I like to eat.
Ice cream, baked goods, cheese, rich foods laden with cream and fat, desserts of any kind.
And I like to cook.
Combining a love for cooking with a love of eating is a recipe for gaining weight and/or making it more difficult to lose weight.
Generally, we eat pretty healthy foods. We don’t drink soda, there is rarely junk food in our pantry, and I almost never purchase snacks while we’re out running errands. For me, the struggle comes when there are sweet things in my house. If it’s there, I will eat it. When I feel guilty about eating it, I just eat it more quickly so that it will be gone and I won’t think about it anymore. Somehow that makes me feel better.
It boils down to a lack of self-control on my part. Food in and of itself is not wrong. If I lose self-control and eat too much, it’s wrong. And, this is where I found myself after having babies and being more overweight than I wanted to be.
When I got serious about losing the excess pregnancy weight, I had to make some big changes in my diet. You may not struggle in the same ways that I did, so my plan may not work for you, but I’ll share the basic guidelines I used, as well as some specific things that worked for me.
1. MAKE A MEAL PLAN
I have been planning our family’s meals since the day I got married. It just works for me. What I don’t normally plan, though, is breakfast and lunch. We typically eat cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch (Bradley takes leftovers to work), so I didn’t think those meals were too bad. What I discovered, though, was that I ended up snacking on things that weren’t healthy if I didn’t feel like eating our typical stuff. If I skipped breakfast because I was tired of cereal, the brownies or chocolate chip cookies seemed like a good alternative.
I had to make a plan for every meal for myself. Nothing crazy, and I didn’t follow a diet plan, but by having some basic healthy options in the fridge and pantry enabled me to make the better choice at each meal.
Lunch: apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter, glass of water OR a small green salad, OR an avocado with balsamic dressing. Most days it was just the apple with peanut butter, but switching it up every few days helped to break the monotony.
Dinner: Whatever the family was having, just smaller portions (no seconds, minimal starches).
My only regular sugar intake was in my coffee. But, I cut back to only one mug of coffee per day, with cream and sugar.
I stopped eating desserts of any kind, including breakfast breads/muffins. I knew that taking these sweet foods away entirely was necessary for me in order to learn self-control. It was hard, really hard. But I can tell you that it was completely worth it.
2.REMOVE TEMPTING FOODS FROM THE HOUSE
Because self-control was the issue for me, I had to stop baking sweets and quit purchasing them. This included things like Oreos and other packaged goods. I don’t even like most store bought cookies, but because I have such a problem with sweets, I would eat these just to get my ‘sugar fix’.
When my husband knew that these things were tempting for me, I asked him to stop requesting cookies and other baked goods. Once he knew that having those things around would be hard for me, he was totally on board, and for at least a few weeks, we didn’t have that kind of thing in the house. It was hard, but his support in my decision to lose weight made it much easier.
3. REWARD YOURSELF WITH NON-FOOD ITEMS
When I’ve tried to lose weight in the past I would reward myself on the weekends with a treat. A bowl of ice cream, some chocolate. This time I didn’t do it that way. It seemed to sort of defeat the whole purpose. Instead, we decided that as I lost weight I could purchase new clothes. Win!! When you’ve been wearing mismatched, odd sized clothes for six years, the thought of some new items is definitely a motivation. It worked out well that we were living in Florida during the fall, so everything I purchased was on summer clearance, but perfect for what I needed at the time. (Now that we’re living in VA, I’m benefiting from the winter clearance selection).
As a side, if you’re considering getting serious about losing weight, you could time it in such a way that purchasing new clothes would tie in with the change of seasons somehow so you’re not spending an exorbitant amount of money on clothes. That was an extra tip. Maybe I’ll share some of my favorite places to purchase clothes for this season of my life in a future post.
4. BRUSH YOUR TEETH OFTEN
This might sound silly, but eating something sweet doesn’t taste good after you’ve brushed your teeth. If I started to feel tempted to eat something that wasn’t allowed, I’d simply go upstairs and brush my teeth. The evenings tend to be my most tempting time of day. Kids are in bed, I can relax, and nothing sounds better than dessert. So, I made sure to get ready for bed as soon as the kids were down. This included brushing my teeth, and then I didn’t want to eat anything else. I would simply grab a tall glass of water and that would suffice.
5. GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
My husband was great! He pushed me, reminded me of my goals, and was gracious when I refused to bake for him. Sometimes I would get mad at him, but for the most part it worked out really well.
6. STICK TO YOUR PLAN
There were many days when I wanted to give up, especially when I didn’t see immediate results. But, I had to keep at it! My husband has always told me that losing weight is simple math: you have to burn more calories than you take in. It works (I’ll get to the exercise in a post later this week), but it doesn’t happen overnight. Just keep at it and you will see the pounds come off.
7. REPLACE TEMPTING FOODS WITH HEALTHY OPTIONS
My mug of coffee was a nice treat every morning, believe me. But I also wanted to have a few things on hand to eat in between meals. Raw almonds or other plain nuts (not cashews or peanuts) are a great way to get some protein, fill you up, and don’t taste awful. I can’t eat these every day, but I liked to have almonds on hand or in my purse for times when I got really hungry. Hummus and veggies or even pita chips (in moderation) is a great snack. Keep the hummus in moderation if you’re trying to lose weight while nursing, though; it can give gas to you and the baby.
My favorite find was Chika Chika Boom popcorn. The salty kind and the kettle corn are both delicious. I think there are only 40 calories or something per serving, and the kettle corn had just enough sweetness for me. When everyone around me was eating ice cream, I would grab my bag of kettle corn and be satisfied.
Bananas, animal crackers, graham crackers with peanut butter, and pretzels were my other favorite snacks.
8. BE PATIENT FOR RESULTS
I got discouraged. A lot. Some weeks I didn’t lose any pounds. And, then it would come off in 3 pound spurts. I recommend only weighing yourself once a week, or less than that. Getting on the scale everyday is not wise. But if you keep at it, the weight will come off. I had to be careful not to compare myself to others, too. We all lose weight differently, so just hang in there, be disciplined, make healthy choices and you’ll eventually lose the excess weight.
These tips worked for me. I’ll share about my exercise plan in a later post; I had to combine the two in order to get the weight off. But, cutting back on food was my first step.
Do you have any other tips for losing pregnancy weight?
This is part 3 of a series, Sometimes I Wear Spanx. Click here to see all posts in the series.