Sometimes I wonder how I ended up here. I have always been a relatively healthy girl, an average sized girl that enjoyed exercise and ate my fair share of salads. I ate plenty of junk food in my younger, speedier-metabolism days as well, but it never affected my weight or health too noticeably.
When I was in my early twenties, I won a free session with a personal trainer and it absolutely sent me into health-conscious heaven. They got what they were in it for, a new customer, and I got more than I ever could’ve dreamed.
Working out with a trainer gave me incredible confidence, helped me beat my fear of gym equipment, and got my body on track to incredible strength. After just six months of hard work, I got down to my happy weight and down to 15% body fat, which is really great for me. The trainers that I worked with ended up relocating, my apartment rent went up (which required me to pick up weekend work), and I met a handsome new distraction all within a period of a few weeks.
That was that.
Truth is, I actually know exactly how I ended up here. I let small inconveniences, easy fast food, and the man that would eventually become my husband change my priorities. Changing your priorities is not always bad. I ended up with a wonderful husband and a beautiful baby daughter, so I can’t say that I regret the choices I’ve made. I just wish that I had worked a little harder to stay healthy throughout the transition.
I met my husband four years ago, and at the time, we lived very different lifestyles. He was a casual young guy that worked construction all week and then relaxed and drank beer all weekend. I was a busy office manager and full-time student that was super organized, efficient, and active in my free time. They say opposites attract, and so we did. We were inseparable friends from the moment we met, sharing a love for music, food, cars, and our families.
We took the cheap and easy weekend date route of Netflix binging and eating rolled tacos for over a year, and then we got married, got even more comfortable, and I’m pretty embarrassed to admit that we both gained about 30 pounds.
Our beautiful baby girl came along a year later and growing her in my belly added another 20 pounds to my scale (somehow). In case you didn’t catch it, that is 50 pounds heavier than my happy weight.
I worked hard during pregnancy to gain weight slowly and safely, and to exercise according to my doctor’s advice, so I’m thankful that I didn’t gain more than necessary for a healthy baby. But more about that another day…After my postpartum recovery, I decided that I needed to get back to the strong, healthy girl I used to be. I knew that I needed to eat healthier to breastfeed my daughter and give her the nutrients she needs, and I also needed to set an example for my family in the long run. So this is what I did:
I made myself a reasonable list of goals and wrote down how I planned to accomplish them. My biggest goal was to get back to my happy weight of course, but eating healthy, exercising, and drinking tons of water were all on the list as well.
Then, I actually started cleaning up my diet, which is always a work in progress. I started off with a small goal of replacing one meal a day with a super healthy salad. I make a killer-delicious salad that is incredibly healthy, but tastes absolutely amazing! Cutting out the fast food and soda was incredibly difficult, like breaking free from an addictive drug. But it can be done. Just take it one day at a time.
If you are trying to get started on your clean-eating journey, I definitely recommend replacing one meal a day with a huge, tasty salad. It is an easy but effective way to jump start your weight loss and healthy lifestyle.
I also gave myself the freedom to be an imperfect human, someone with limitations and hormonal cravings. No matter what my goals were, I made an exception a few times each week to eat whatever I was craving, to sleep when the baby sleeps instead of working out, or to have a soda instead of water. It’s all about balance.
And the one that I am still working on is exercising every day. It is difficult to exercise every day with a full-time job and a nursing baby, but it is possible. I find the easiest way to improve my mood is putting baby in the stroller and getting outside. I can’t tell you how tired and achey I felt sitting in that rocking chair nursing this kid for all hours of the day and night. Getting out in the fresh air helps me feel so much better, so whenever I can make time for a walk, I’m out there enjoying one. I also try to do a quick 15-minute workout before every shower, which helps me improve my strength and stamina. If you can just do a few squats and stretches before your shower, that is a good start.
I know how I got here and I know what it’s going to take to get back to my happy weight: hard work and clean eating. I’ve got 25 pounds down, and 25 left to go!
I have learned what it’s like to be overweight and sluggish from an unhealthy diet. It sucks. I have also learned that giving up on a healthy lifestyle is just not worth the temporary satisfaction of fast, convenient junk food and skipping the gym to binge-watch Netflix. I’m thankful to have made my mistakes and learned my lesson before any real damage was done to my body, mind, and overall health. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.
I’ll post updates about my postpartum fitness journey as things move along, and I sincerely appreciate all of the support I’ve had along the way. An extra special ‘thank you’ to my amazing husband and our baby daughter, who have made my life complete and inspired me to get healthier for our future together.