Steps to getting started on a healthy journey from a working mum
A Working Mum’s Weight Loss Secrets - Steps to getting started
I’m loath running but love chocolate and I’m a working Mum that puts in a 32 hour week, so how exactly did I loose over 25 kilo’s. The truth…. by being organised. Eighteen months ago, after a pap smear scare (please ladies GO GET a pap smear, one little test could save your life)please ladies GO GET a pap smear, one little test could save your life), I realised it was time to think about myself. Not in a selfish way, but that moment when you realise how important your family is to you and you to them. I’d been putting off trying to loose my excess baby weight after my second child and this experience really was a wake up call. You see, I have high cholesterol plus a family history of heart disease, bowl cancer and diabetes, an awesome medical concoction (jealous much?). It was time to stop talking about loosing weight and start doing it.
My action plan
My first step was to put a action plan together, I had lost weight before and had an idea of what issues I was going to face, so I wrote them down and came up with solutions that fit my lifestyle, as I am incredible time poor.
Action Plan 1. Exercise
I really do not enjoy exercising. I do it because I have to, not because I want to. I loath team sports, bootcamps and running, but don’t mind walking, boxercise and weightlifting. So I looked at those things I liked and worked out which would have the BEST calorie burn for the time invested (simple math right!).
Here were my solutions:
1. One PT session a week with a trainer (someone I liked), that included boxing and weights in the 1 hour program.
2. Increase walking. Walk children to school, walk to the local supermarket, walk to the fruit shop. Introduce family activities that involved walking. Strive for 10,000 steps a day.
3. Spend more time in the garden, carrying potting mix bags, digging, mowing, anything with movement and weight.
4. Look at housework as increasing ‘incidental’ exercise, sweeping, taking the clothes off the line, even picking up toys all involve movement and motion. Therefore increasing my daily ‘step count’.
5. Purchase free weights & kettle equipment. Squats and lunges are amazing for weight loss and toning, I wanted to do an additional session to my PT without having to go to the gym. Strive for one 30-40 minutes of home weights training every week (approximately 2-3 days after the PT session).
To keep track of my calorie burn I used a Polar Heart Rate Monitor and more recently purchased a Garmin Vivofit which has a heart rate band, plus counts steps and records it on a mobile phone app. Awesome!
All you really need to start is:
- 1 x 10 - 15 kg free weight with holes or kettle for squats
- 1 x set of free hand weights (I purchased mine from K-Mart for $50)
- 1 x exercise ball which is great for laying on to do weights etc
Action Plan 2. Food
I love food, food is such a massive part of our family life, we grow, cook and eat food together, its who we are. So I set out to approach food as a long-term strategy, not a quick fix. No strict diet plans, fads or shakes, I needed to serve the same food to everyone in my house. I acknowledged from the start that this would mean my weight lose would be slower, but it was about health and lifestyle change for all of us (did you know it take 60 days to create a new habit?),not about me being a mummy supermodel.
Here were my solutions:
1. Calorie counting. I’ve calorie counted before, but this time I took a totally different approach. I really just wanted to monitor how much food I was eating, but I also wanted to increase the amount of fresh and unprocessed foods we had in our home, using Low GI diet principles as a guide (Low GI diets are also recommended for diabetics). The catch with Low GI is sometimes a Low GI food, like almonds, can be high in calories, so it’s about balance. For calorie counting I used My Fitness Pal Recently I’ve made a minor adjustment to my diet and that is to decrease carbs, but increase protein. There is NO WAY I can follow a strict Paleo Diet, but by adjusting my percentage intakes of proteins (20% to 30%),carbs (50% to 40%) and fats (30%) within My Fitness Pal, I have noticed my measurements are changing even though my weight is just sitting. It’s quite obvious that I’m building muscle tone.
2. Portion sizes. I have a tendency to over eat, which isn’t helped when you have a husband that’s almost twice your height and serves you the same amount of food as he eats. It’s not that I was eating bad food, just far too much, especially carbs. So I got some measuring devices to monitor how much pasta and rice I was putting on my plate. I also opted for smaller sized plates and takeaway coffees.
3. Don’t stop it, swap it. I’m not one for ‘cutting’ things out and in the past I’ve found if I try and cut a food group entirely, I only crave it more. I also didn’t want to use artificial sugars, as my children were going to be eating and drinking the same items. I started swapping blocks of chocolate for a small individual bar, using Nutella on a scoop of ice-cream instead of chocolate sauce, Multi-grain bread instead of white, basmati and brown rice mixed instead of white, cottage cheese instead of sliced cheese, fruit spread instead if jam. With alcohol, I used smaller glasses for wine or found lower sugar options. Soft drink, well that one just got cut right out.
4. A teaspoon of humor. I’m a comedy kind of girl, a good laugh or funny comment will have me smiling for ages. So when I came across Name My Stuff, I thought it was perfect for creating some funny and motivating ‘Inspirations’ to get me through my day and keep me in the right ‘head space’ when it came to food.
Action Plan 3. Parenting Language
It’s easy when you start a ‘diet’ to get caught up in your weight loss mission. Everything becomes ‘sorry I can’t eat that I’m on a diet’, or ‘oh that has too many calories’ and ‘if I eat that, it’ll make me fat’. I am totally guilty of this, but I was deeply concerned about the messages I could be sending my children. As someone who was an overweight teenager, I know how easy it is to be misguided by the people around you and the media.
1. There is no such word as ‘diet’. I made it very clear to my children that I wasn’t dieting, I was in fact eating healthier and exercising because it is good for my body. I was portioning my food, not to starve myself, but to give my body the correct amount of fuel it needed to get through the day.
2. Stop regularly weighing and measuring myself. This one was hard, but I decided to only weigh and measure myself every 2 weeks. The facts were that I would know anyway by the My Fitness Pal what the results should look like. Sometimes they were ‘meh’ sometimes I was shocked. I didn’t want my children to think I was obsessing over my weight. Good things come to those that wait.
My kids showed an interest in joining in, so I purchased weights that were appropriate for their size and weight. My little boy is has 500grams and my daughter 1kg. They love it!
I also got these really cute items from Name My Stuff when I first kick started my weight loss, I have to pack lunch for work days and wanted to constantly remind myself of what my mission was :)
Eighteen month on and I’ve been able to maintain that healthy weight range even after falling off the wagon a few times (hmmmm chocolate and yes there was a point I put a few kilo’s back on). I’m spending a lot more time outside with my children, our walks from school are the best little ‘chats’ we have every week and when we get home we hit a banana split together (which is a banana, little scoop of ice-cream and nutella. I know it’s not really healthy, but hay, I only get to do this twice a week and I treasure this moment). It really has become a lifestyle choice and not a diet.
So as one working mum to another, sit down, get organised and map out a plan on how to be more selfish about your health. Be realist with your goals, know your limitations. If you fall off the wagon like I did, don’t give up, just take a deep breath and implement your strategy again with some adjustments. If you need the guidance of a structure eating plan, then go find one that suites you. If you need to join a gym to squeeze in a little exercise, then do it. Do whatever you have to do, because your family loves you and good health is everything.
P.S. I’m still not supermodel material, but I’m feeling pretty good about myself.