Admit it. You’re only reading this article because you want to read about the loser parent who lost her kid. It’s OK. I would totally do that, too. Everyone wants to know they aren’t the worst parent on the planet. Trust me; you’re not. I should tell you, though…the title is a bit misleading. It should read, “I lost the equivalent of a kid.” But that just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? (And, no. By “equivalent of a kid” I am not referring to my husband. Good guess, though.)
Here’s a picture of me with my smart and sassy almost-4-year-old daughter Charlotte. Charlotte weighs 40 pounds. When I say, “I lost the equivalent of a kid,” I mean that from March 2013 until now, I have lost over 40 pounds. I lost the equivalent of my 4-year-old.
This past summer, my kids and I went to family camp. On some of our hikes, Charlotte’s then-3-year-old little legs just couldn’t keep up and she needed to be carried. My Kanga (http://www.bloo-kangaroo.com/) makes carrying a 40-pound preschooler a pretty easy task, but still…when it was time to take her off, I was pretty happy to shed her extra weight. I mean, let’s face it—she’s heavy! Forty pounds is a lot! When I think about the fact that I shed her equivalent in weight from my own body, I am amazed! It was while we were hiking around at camp that I realized just how freeing, and enlightening, this weight loss journey has been. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Motivation is everything. My journey began in March after I attended my niece’s first birthday party. I had reached a point in life where I either needed to buy the next size up in pants, or figure out how to lose some girth. I noticed that my sister-in-law had lost weight, and I asked her how. She showed me a calorie-counting app (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/) she’d been using on her iPhone. I downloaded it right that moment and started using it the next day. During the next few weeks, as I got used to keeping track of everything I ate, I kept reminding myself: “If she can do it, I can do it.” My sister-in-law is just like me: a busy mom of three small kids. If she can do it, I can do it.
2. Calories in; calories out. In my limited experience, weight loss doesn’t happen because of a fancy diet, a weight-loss guru, a new Hollywood fad, or a new book about what-not-to-eat. It’s all about how many calories you put into your body via the foods and drinks you consume, and how many calories exit your body via exercise and normal daily living. There’s just no way to get around it: If I want to know exactly what I’m taking in, I must count calories.
3. Don’t estimate. Before my weight loss, I’d guess at serving sizes all the time. I quickly (and sadly, I might add) learned that serving sizes are MUCH smaller than our large-and-in-charge American culture would have us believe. I read nutrition labels to find out serving sizes, and I used my measuring cups and spoons to measure everything.
4. Nothing is off limits, but make smart choices. Losing weight is hard enough. I didn’t want to add to that burden a list of foods (that I love) that were suddenly off limits because “I’m dieting.” I made the choice to eliminate that word from my vocabulary. I am NOT dieting; I am making smarter, healthier choices. If I want chocolate, I eat chocolate. But I keep in mind that my yummy little snack still has to go into my calorie counter. I can fill up on more food, and feel less hungry, if I choose healthier things that have a lower calorie count than my beloved M&M’s.
5. Pay attention to why I’m eating, not just what I’m eating. Like many women, I am an emotional eater. When I get stressed out, I want chocolate. When I want to celebrate, I want ice cream (preferably chocolate). Counting all my calories forced me to stop and ask myself, “WHY am I eating what I’m eating? Am I eating because I’m hungry? Or is it because my kids are driving me bonkers?” Knowing why I wanted to eat something gave me the power to make smarter choices.
6. Don’t give up. There were many times I wanted to throw my iPhone and that stupid little app across the room. But then I’d step on my scale and enter my weight in the app, and it would show me a graph with a steadily declining line. And I would smile. All this counting and smarter eating is worth it. I’m getting healthier, for my kids and for myself.
If you’re on a weight loss journey, let me encourage you. You’re doing the right thing! You’re getting healthier! Don’t give up!
If I can do it, you can do it!