Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Fit and Healthy 2014

Like the rest of America, Jeff and I made New Year's Resolutions to be healthier. It all started last September...

Remember how we went to Disneyland? And remember how it was right after Jeff's busy season when he was gone most of the time for a solid two months? And remember how my diet consisted of basically only cinnamon rolls for every meal of the two months he was busy? And remember how exercising is a lot harder when you have two little munchkins instead of just one? And remember how when I'm up all night sewing curtains, I couldn't help but make pit stops by my pantry to drown my exhaustion in chocolate chips?

There you have all my excuses for suddenly weighing as much as I did in my third trimester with Eli. Which explains why I totally hated every picture of me from our beloved Disneyland vacation --

because it was the first time I really faced the reality that I can't eat whatever I want anymore without packing on a few extra pounds. And it was after looking at all those pictures that I decided I needed to get healthy again!

This was new turf for me! I had always been relatively healthy. Well. I had always exercised like a crazy person. I never ate THAT great, but I was generally mindful of my nutrition. So it was strange to be among the people adding "lose weight" to my goals of 2014.

Now. I'm not writing this post because I've had a major transformation. Or because I'm an inspiration to America. Or because I have all the health secrets in the world. Rather, I'm writing it to remember what I was feeling, and what I did to change. And I'm writing because I have been inspired by other people's stories of getting healthier. I have loved finding stories similar to mine, and seeing what those people did to change.

Here's a glimpse into a few of my bad habits:
  • I was an emotional eater. If I had a bad day -- I would tell myself I deserved an ice-cream! If I had a good day -- let's celebrate with ice-cream! No matter what emotion I had, I would use it as an excuse to treat myself to something.
  • I became a late night snacker. Even though I knew late night eating was not a good idea, curtain orders often kept me up late, munching through the night. The worst part -- anything I ate after dinner was typically junk food. Late junk food munching. No good.
  • I stopped exercising. Really exercising. I would go on 30 minute walks, but after I had Eli, I completely quit any kind of working out that resulted in significant sweating.
  • Cookie dough. Always. I probably made cookies at least once a week. And I could seriously eat all the cookies/dough in one day. I have zero self-control when it comes to cookies.
  • I was eating based on what tasted good rather than what was good for me. There would be some days that I would look back on all the things I ate and realized I didn't have one thing that was good for me. (A.K.A. cinnamon rolls for every meal. :)  )
  • I made excuses for not working out. Telling myself I was too tired because the kids were up all night, I was too busy, being a mom is workout enough. It didn't take much to convince myself working out wasn't worth it.
  • I majorly overate. I had no idea how many calories I should be eating, or how many calories certain foods had. I ate what tasted good, and I ate until I was full. That was my only gauge.

And that, my friends, is how you pack on a pregnancy's worth of weight minus the baby. But, "I'm young!" I told myself. "I can lose weight no problem! I just have to eat healthy and exercise! It'll come off in no time!" 

I had taken a couple nutrition classes in college, and I've always had an interest in nutrition, so I felt like I was educated to make healthy choices, now it was just a matter of choosing to be healthy. I started by eating less in general, and then I made a few rules for myself like: 1) no more cookies unless I specifically need to bring cookies to an event/party  2) no eating after 7:00 PM  3) Exercise 5 days a week. 

I was surprised at how quickly after starting to really exercise again that I began to once again feel coordinated and strong. I thought it would be a lot harder to get back into the swing of exercising. A couple days after eating better and exercising, I was eager to get back on the scale.

Nothing changed.

I was so discouraged! Granted it had only been a couple days, but I had this mentality it would be so easy for me, so I thought as soon as I made any sort of effort to be healthier, the scale would immediately reflect that. It was not the case. A whole month went by with the scale only teetering around one pound of a difference from my starting weight.

That's when I talked to a friend who told me to start using MyFitnessPal -- a calorie counter. And that's really when everything changed. I LOVED counting calories. Which I thought I would completely hate -- but I started viewing it as a bank account. For example, you wouldn't spend money you know you don't have, it's the same as eating. My calories were like money, and I had to make sure I was "living within my means" so to speak. 

It felt like I was hardly allowed to eat anything for the first day or two, but once I started finding foods with low calories that filled me up, and seeing the actual portion sizes I should be eating, it became really easy! 

My breakthrough moment was on a fast Sunday. According to my calorie counter, I could basically eat anything I wanted because I hadn't eaten all day, so I completely gorged myself at dinner. I ate the same way that I used to eat before trying to get healthy, and after dinner I felt SO sick. It was then that I realized -- my body is telling me I have eaten too much! I used to eat until I felt sick almost always. I think I had misread that feeling as just being full. But after eating healthier and the right portions for about two months, I finally recognized my body was clearly telling me I had eaten waaaaaaay too much food.

And it was then that I felt like I had really changed. I liked being healthy and eating things that were good for me. I liked listening to my body and giving it the things it needs to function, not just giving it things that taste good. 

After two months I had only lost around three pounds. It was slow going. I felt like I was working my butt off and had nothing to show for it. I regretted every dang batch of cookie dough I had ever made. :)

Somewhere between two months and now, I lost seven more pounds which was ten pounds in four months. It's been slllooooooooooooooow. But I feel so much healthier, and stronger, and happier, and I have so much more energy, and I never want to go back to my mindless eating/vegging ever again.

Here are some of my new and improved habits:
  • One of the first changes I made was cutting white flour. I tried to not eat as much bread in general, but when I do eat bread, I try to eat whole wheat.
  • Along with that, I started cooking brown rice instead of white rice, and more recently, I have started using quinoa instead of rice or pasta for dinner.
  • I make sure to eat lunch. I used to skip over lunch and snack all afternoon. Now I'm sure to eat a good, healthy lunch so I don't feel like I "deserve" snacks all throughout the day.
  • I eat smaller meals, and I have cut down on second servings.
  • We love Mexican food, and I serve greek yogurt now instead of sour cream. Our kids LOVE sour cream, and they haven't noticed a difference.
  • Weights! I have been doing Jillian Michaels' workout videos and they are awesome! I really love lifting weights. I started doing her kettle bell workout which I think is really fun, and those workouts go by quick. I'm trying to remove myself from the world of only cardio. There are tons of good workout videos on instant streaming through Amazon Prime.
 **Shameless mirror shot. Forgive me. Please.**

Here are some of our favorite healthy recipes:
The drawback -- the kids will only eat like...two of those recipes I just listed. So most nights I am making two dinners, one for me and Jeff, and a kid friendly version for the munchkins. But that's the only complaint I have about being healthier!

I'll finish up with one last list of the things I've learned over the past four(ish) months:
  • Sleep is huge. I have found it interesting that I often have a big weight drop after I get a good night's rest. Plus when I have enough sleep, I have the energy to prepare healthier food and exercise the next day.
  • It's okay to indulge. Within your limits. If I know I want an ice-cream at the end of the day, I just adjust the rest of my calories to make sure I have enough calories at the end of the day for my treat. I think treats aren't bad as long as you allow for them, and don't go totally crazy when you do indulge.
  • Counting calories sounds like a hassle, but I think that was the biggest thing for me. Especially when I was clueless as to how many calories I should be eating or how many calories certain foods had. It just took about two weeks of counting, and then I had a good idea of what a day of how much and what kind of food I should be eating every day looked like.
  • It took about 6 weeks for me to really notice any kind of change. It's tempting to give up when you feel like all your hard work is for nothing, but after about 6 weeks, I started noticing I was looking stronger and more lean. 
  • It's so easy to come up with millions of excuses not to exercise or not to eat healthy. You just have to do it no matter what. So many nights I didn't want to workout, but as soon as I was about 10 minutes into the workout, I always felt so much better and was glad I chose to work out.
  • Losing weight is hard! Jeff and I have been getting healthier together, and I feel like we have been dedicated, completely changed the way we eat, and we've been consistently working out at least 5 times a week, but it has taken a lot of work to get any kind of results. We would often remind ourselves that we didn't gain all the weight overnight, so we couldn't expect to lose all the weight overnight.
It's been fun to change and become better. It's been interesting to find myself on the weight-loss bandwagon for the first time. I've loved working on this goal with Jeff because it has kept us motivated to be working on this together. I still have a little ways to go, but I'm about where I wanted to be and it's been really rewarding to get here!
There's the forever long summary of our fit and healthy 2014. Which will hopefully continue to be fit and healthy throughout the rest of the year. And throughout the rest of forever! 


Rebecca said...

Nice post! Guess what I did two days ago...visited the MyFitnessPal website. Maybe I'll jump on the calorie-counting bandwagon with you!

Eric and Justine said...

Thanks for posting Sarah. I have so many excuses not to exercise even though I know I would overall feel better if I did. Maybe I'll get off my lazy but and do something.
You always look amazing. Way to work hard.

Kim said...

I was so impressed with this very long post, Sarah. You put your heart and soul into sharing your feelings and it was quite touching and motivating. Love the pictures of beautiful you. Just as beautiful on the inside as you are beautiful on the outside.

It has been fun and interesting listening to both you and your dad rave about the positives of using that app. Good for both of you! Keep up the good work. A great benefit to you and to your family.

jojo said...

This is Jen, Klarissa's sister :) Thanks so much for posting and sharing your goals and how you achieved them! Super inspirational, and I LOVE the quinoa enchilada bake too! We make it once every week or two.

Laura said...

You look beautiful! Good job!