I have no more excuses. My post-partum appetite has long since regulated, meaning I'm no longer constantly starving and never full. And as of today, March 7th, the baby is gestationally 6 months old (his due date was 9/7). Nursing moms lose the most weight between 3 and 6 months of their babies' age. Well, here we are. Since those last 7-10 pounds haven't magically melted away, it's time to get back on the "healthy" bandwagon.
As an aside, losing the first 35 pounds really was magic. I've been eating whatever I wanted since December of 2009 when we found out I was pregnant. When I think about alllll the ice cream - at one point there were 17 different types in our freezer - baked goods, restaurant trips with visiting grandparents, mac-and-cheese and ramen noodle pregnancy indulgences, and the fact that I haven't regularly worked out since my morning sickness set in (and have barely moved at all since the snow hit), it's really amazing that I'm only 7-10 pounds up (instead of, say, morbidly obese). I can only assume it's a benefit of nursing a 93rd percentile baby. My dad (pediatrician) says you should count about 50 calories per pound of baby. So since our baby came out 10 pounds and is now about 19, my bonus calories presumably went from 500 to currently close to 1,000 (minus the solids he now loves). And I've definitely been using them! I should probably note here that our baby is not overweight. His height and weight are both 93rd. So all this food has been nothing but good for him.
But all good things must end. Hopefully publishing a blog entry on this will keep me honest in my eating, and provide incentive to take off that weight. This is it, people!!
I spent my high school years chubby. I was 5'3" and usually about 138-143 pounds... heavier than I am NOW, after the big 3-0 and a baby! I did have a lot of muscle from doing a lot of karate. Still, while most girls were enjoying their skinny high school years, I was always regretting my weight and feeling unattractive.
Part of it was I didn't know how to eat. I'd have cereal for breakfast, and then for lunch I'd pack a sandwich of just white bread and ham, and an apple. It was little wonder I'd either end up buying pizza in the hot lunch line or binging on after school snacks once at home. My body was starving from trying to "diet" and all the white bread wasn't going to fill me up.
|The Early College Years: Not as Bad as High School.|
I'm not saying I was ever skinny. Many a skinny girl would be horrified to be 5'3" and 128 pounds, even with being in good shape (I was into bikram super-hot yoga and 40 minute runs). But I liked my body at that weight; I fit Ann Taylor size 4P/6P pants and 2P/4P tops. Anything skinnier wouldn't have been healthy for me, and would have been a sinful waste of far too much good food.
|This is as thin as I care to be, since I love food.|
(1) Always, always, always aim for 8 hours of sleep. Studies show that when you don't get enough sleep, your body produces less of the hormone that regulates hunger. Plus, if you're up another 2 hours, it's another 2 hours of hunger and probably snacking. PLUS if you're tired, you'll try to get extra energy (or just make your day "better") from food you don't need.
(2) Pay attention to calories, not fat grams. As my dad says, the reason fat makes you "fat" is that it's 9 calories per gram. Protein and carbs, for example, have 4 calories per gram. Losing weight is a simple equation: calories in, calories out. You can eat fat-free sugary foods all day and still be fat, or you can eat high-fat but low-calorie foods (like the Atkins diet) and still lose weight.
Also, fat satiates - makes you feel full. If you're choosing between Skittles and a Snickers bar you should always choose the Snickers, because the calories are the same and the presence of fat means those same calories will carry you longer before you're hungry again - meaning fewer calories at the end of the day.
(3) Be a food snob. Meaning, pay attention to your body and only eat what you REALLY want to eat. I'd long been believing this when I read an article about a professor who lost a ton of weight on his "un-diet." His "un-diet" amounted to eating when he was hungry (but NOT if he wasn't) and eating exactly what he wanted (but NOT anything he didn't really want). Your body will tell you what you need. If you're at the office and someone brings in grocery store cupcakes, simply recall that you think those are gross (or at least, really not that great) and don't eat one. If, on the other hand, someone brings in amazing homemade cupcakes, take one and eat it when you're REALLY hungry, and have it be your dessert for that day. A lot of food out there is NOT worth eating. And you don't have to starve yourself (unless you want to be really skinny)!!! If you notice you're TRULY hungry, have a small snack (hopefully with protein) - you'll avoid over-eating at your next meal!
(4) Along those lines, never let yourself get too hungry - or too full. In college I would start by shrinking my stomach. I'd let myself eat more frequently between meals and I'd eat smaller meals, until my stomach was smaller. Then I'd whittle away at the snacking. This was the most pain-free way to having a smaller stomach and appetite.
(5) Have a cheat-day once a week. Two of Mark's cousins lost weight and kept it off on a diet that included a cheat-day. You can't be successful long-term if you have some major favorites on a "never-eat" list (like mac-and-cheese... ramen...barbecue). Plus, this way you don't have to deny yourself at social events - make it your cheat day!
(6) Exercises 3-4 times a week. Even if it's just a 40 minute walk.
(7) Eat protein when possible. It's only 4 calories per gram and it fills you up and satisfies. Cottage cheese is a great snack - the salt will also satiate. It sounds weird but so is lunch meat - very low calorie and it fills you up. String cheese also works. Always pay the extra $2 and get the grilled chicken on your salad.
(8) Drink plenty of water. Just carry your water bottle everywhere. Any time your body mistakes thirst for hunger, and you eat, you lose (meaning you don't lose... or you gain). So take it out of the equation.
(9) Consider any white bread or pasta to be your dessert of the day, if you indulge in it. It's really as nutritious as eating a cookie; your body just turns it into sugar. Stick to brown rice and Barilla Plus pasta. Barilla Plus really doesn't taste any different! The whole grains and higher protein levels will fill you up, meaning you'll eat less pasta - and stay full longer. And there are very soft, yummy 100% whole wheat breads out there for sandwiches. You'll never look back! Except when you occasionally indulge in sourdough or Jimmy John's. If you need to put cheese on a sandwich, try breaking up slices and putting "splotches" of cheese so you get the taste but with less cheese overall. Miracle whip light is great on sandwiches, it REALLY is. Or mustard.
(10) Avoid store-bought chips and cookies. I really believe there's something BAD about all the preservatives and hidden trans-fats in crazy, never-rotting packaged stuff. Did you know that anything with the word "hydrogenated" appearing anywhere on the label, even "partially-hydrogenated," has trans fats even if the box says it doesn't?? They use a serving size smaller than you'll actually eat so that they they don't have to report the "trace" amounts - which aren't so trace once you have more than one cookie. Which you inevitably will with store-bought goodies; they never satisfy. If your daily dessert is homemade cookies, you'll feel satiated after 2, which amounts to about 140 calories. With oreos, you'll need 6 (or at least I will), and that's over 200.
(11) Don't be black-and-white about veggies. I noticed in France that they have no problem adding butter or creme fraiche (like sour cream) - or both - to their veggies. In the U.S., we try to have them plain and steamed - and eat salads with chemical-laden "fat free" dressing. I really think the upshot is that the French eat more veggies - and less chemicals. They live way longer over there. Yeah, you added a dollup of butter to your broccoli - so??? You just ate huge bunch of broccoli for about 50 calories, you rock!
(12) Forget price in the produce section. I'm telling you this as a truly frugal person. If there are awesome strawberries or even bing cherries, buy them. You'll be excited to eat fruit, and satisfied by it: That's priceless. And in any case, it's a lot cheaper than Weight Watchers.
This post is already too long but since I'm mainly blogging for myself, I'm still going to add what my daily diet looked like at my thinnest. On all days other than cheat days:
- 7:15: Breakfast. I kept it to 300 calories. I need both salt and sweet in the morning - and protein!! - so I often did a combo of 1/2 a Thomas 100% whole wheat English muffin (60 calories) with a slice of American cheese (also 60 calories) microwaved + 8 frosted shredded mini-wheats and a small glass of milk, or I'd do oatmeal (1/4 cup oatmeal made with 1/2 cup milk, a dash of salt, a tsp butter, about 2 tbsp brown sugar, and a small glass of milk).
- 7:45 I would drink a glass of water to "break up" the food and make it last longer. I swear this helps. And I swear it helps more than drinking water with the meal. I believe it restarts the digestion process, to some extent. I have no scientific proof of this, just blind faith.
- 10:30 I would eat something about 100 calories to tide me over until lunch. Either a small cup of coffee with cream and sugar (70-100 calories of cream and sugar = 2-3 tbsp cream and 2-3 tsp sugar, which is actually a lot!) or a few pieces of candy. Or a snack-sized cottage cheese.
- 11:45: Lunch. I was working downtown and we always ate out, but cheaply. I miss those days... I'd either get a whole wheat turkey or club sub with lots of veggies and light mayo, or a BIG salad with lots of grilled chicken and flavorful toppings like feta and cranberries, or a brown rice/spicy chicken bowl with a side salad. Mmmm. Now that I'm home it's whole wheat ham sandwiches and maybe a cup of soup.
- 3:00: Snack. Either an apple or other fruit. If an apple, a GOOD apple, like a Honey Crisp, Fuji, or Pink Lady. I also love cut-up strawberries with green grapes. I would also usually have a single fairly small piece of dark chocolate. It's amazing what 30 calories of dark chocolate will do.
-6:00/7:00: Dinner. A moderate dinner - eating until I'm full but not stuffed. Mark and I are good about never having starchy side-dishes (like rolls or potatoes). Our main dish may include brown rice or Barilla Plus pasta. Our side dish is almost always a salad *unless* the main dish has NO carbs, in which case I'll do a quick bread (like banana bread or zucchini bread) made with at least half whole-wheat flour. If a salad, I try to watch it with dressing BUT I always use regular dressing, none of that gross fat-free chemical stuff. You can get away with less dressing if you sprinkle salt or add salty wet things like banana peppers to the salad. Feta is great too. Someone once asked me about soda. I don't like diet soda so I only have soda as a "dessert" - meaning I have it with pizza or Mexican food, and if I have it and it's not a cheat day, it counts as my dessert. This is when I was at my thinnest for two years, and in no way reflects my post-pregnancy habits. Until now...
- 8:00: Dessert. About 300 calories. A few homemade cookies or small dish of ice cream. In the winter hot chocolate with whipped cream.
So. Writing this during nap times I've generally stuck to it today. I did just now have an extra snack, but if that's my only extra snack I think it's fine since I'm nursing and I walked for an hour this afternoon. I am REALLY hoping this pays off. I have got to get back into my old jeans...
Any other tips or recipe ideas welcome!!