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SALT LAKE CITY — After the end-of-school, start-of-summer family chaos this year, I felt a clear but inconvenient epiphany: it was time to lose the last of my baby weight. Despite my initial non-desire, I knew the resulting energy and joy (right?) would make this summer more about hiking, biking and boating as a family than about huffing, puffing and lying like a slug (although the latter didn’t sound that bad).
So, I got serious — and some trainer help — to analyze what wasn’t working for me and began doing what did. In this post I’m sharing some things I’ve learned to help others who want to make a fitness shift. Feel free to share any of your suggestions for a mom’s happier and healthier summer.
Women regularly deal with the aftermath of pregnancies, hormone shifts, illnesses and more, so weight loss can be tough. But once we truly decide, physiologically we allow our body to succeed and release the self-sabotage.
Weight loss is a whole-person experience, body and soul, involving emotions and mental games we may not know exist. Deciding to change behaviors compels a shift in your life as you take yourself to a new level.
At my daughter’s dance studio is a powerful quote I’m attempting to embrace: “I understand that if it doesn’t challenge me, it doesn’t change me.”
2. Make a plan that works FOR YOUChoose a lifestyle plan for eating, exercising and energizing that is doable and enjoyable. Do not “diet.” In "Faithful, Fit & Fabulous" I share a study that showed even when super-disciplined military men were put on a diet, they ended up binge eating up to 10,000 calories and stealing penny candy. Oh, yeah.
Nourish your body with about 1,800 to 2,000 calories (depending on your needs) of natural, good food. Enjoy all foods — nothing is off-limits — but with unhealthy foods try the adage “two bites of anything.” When I take just two bites of a shake, my taste buds are satiated and I don’t feel denied (after I remove the shake from my sight).
Create an exercise plan of activities that you enjoy, that your body responds to, and that work in daily life. I work out in my front room and entryway so I can keep an eye on the baby and my kids. It’s not ideal, or pretty, but it works.
Try new twists: this time I’m using a workout ball as my weight bench, doing three minutes of cardio between main upper- and lower-body sets, and resting 30 seconds between individual repetitions of an exercise. These small changes have created more post-workout energy and weight loss.
3. Identify negative triggers
Negative triggers are knee-jerk responses to life, situations or people that keep us in the same old patterns that get us the same old results. These can be food triggers — you have pizza and must have soda, or you have a brownie so you must have ice cream. Or they might be emotional triggers — someone makes you angry, so you stuff your feelings with salty or sweet foods. Write down your top three triggers then choose a positive, nonfood coping skill for each.
4. Do what actually works
I’ve discovered some truths, personal and fitness, that have changed my results, such as to eat a bit of fruit or some whole-grain bread 30 minutes before working out. Or that you can work out upper and lower body daily; it’s how you do it that counts. Or that a woman doesn’t need to greatly increase the weight she lifts; rather, she can increase the number of repetitions or slow down the exercise for optimum benefit. Personal truths have included habits like putting on workout clothes as soon as I wake up: if I do so, my likelihood of exercising goes up about 90 percent.
5. Enjoy the process
Life is not about being skinny; it’s about living joyfully. That means energy and ability to be and to do things with those you love and serve, and it means getting in tune with your body and its personal signals. I’m paying more attention to mine again, and it’s helping me lose weight and get energy. Within two weeks I’ve lost 15 inches all over and have had the energy to endure many sleepless nights due to a teething baby and sick children.
So far I’ve felt the joy and small successes of my fit and fabulous journey. I hope you will too!
Connie Sokol is an author, speaker, TV contributor and mother of seven. For more, visit www.conniesokol.com.