From Twins to Baby 3 and back to me
Part II: Reality check
Hello and welcome and/or welcome back! This is part two of a four part blog series about how I lost the baby weight after having twins in 2018 and baby 3 in 2019. With my twins I gained 50 pounds, and with baby 3 I gained about 25 pounds. These were all healthy ranges of weight gain, but still a significant amount to carry around after baby making is done! I lost about 80% of the twins weight before I got pregnant with number 3, and then I lost all the weight from all three kiddos in 2020 and was within 1 pound of my goal weight. Last week I detailed part one of this process, which I call “Denial Exuberance and Delusion”. This week I will detail what happened when I woke up from my denial and gave myself a reality check about what it would take to really, actually, truly lose the weight.
So, around March of 2020, the weight was coming off but not nearly fast enough. I had been going to the gym, doing a mixture of 45 minutes on the treadmill (up from my original 30 from the past three months) and weights, which was satisfying enough I suppose. I was anxious to get back to my weight lifting routine of my former life pre-kiddos but as we all recall, March of 2020 was the beginning of the end. Pretty soon the gym was shut down for Covid and my only option was to run outside. Except it was raining, almost every day. So I improvised. I was determined to work out every day and regain my strength. Fortunate for me I was still on maternity leave and my youngest had secured a full time spot in daycare so I had about three weeks where I could exercise freely. Whenever the weather was agreeable, I ran anywhere from 3.5-5 miles outside. Some days I ran close to 6 miles – those were long runs! I was slow and it felt like it took forever but I love running outside and I knew it was my ticket to being healthy. When the weather did not cooperate, I set up a workout routine for myself. Each time, I would write down my proposed workout for the day, and make sure to mark off what I did to stay on track.*
*Feel free to check out the exact details of the workouts at the end of the post. I give reps and sets for each….as always, not a prescription, just my experience! Nothing can ever replace seeing a medical professional to make sure you are OK to workout followed by at least one session with a trainer to make sure your form is good to go.
The pandemic, as horrible as it was and continues to be, was an incredible opportunity to embrace restraint. Like everyone else, I had no other option but to be at home. No restaurants, no bars, no dinners at friends’ houses, no parties, no work meetings with food, no baby showers, no birthday parties, nothing!! If you could even go food shopping, it was such a terrible experience, I personally just saw to it to get the necessities. I did not indulge in sweets or alcohol, which really helped since I was on Weight Watchers and those things come at a high cost in terms of points. Just to place this in context, I had about 25 pounds to lose. So yes, I was determined! This portion of the journey was all about embracing that 15 pounds or so remaining – I had lost about 8 or 10 from January to March, but honestly that is a drop in the bucket considering my goal was 25.
I actually responded really well to these Covid quarantine constraints – as they say, know thyself – and I know that if tempting treats are around, I have a VERY hard time resisting. At work, I would always find it nearly impossible to resist the plate of brownies or cookies at a meeting – in contrast, I would NEVER actually go out, spend $$ on a brownie or cookie, and eat it. Nope! Never. But if that sucker is in front of me, it’s a goner. Since I know this about myself, I keep my home relatively free from these temptations. If I do not see it, usually I am OK. If I see it, I eat it.
Reality check: the pandemic facilitated me losing a good portion of the weight! I chose to run outside as my main form of exercise, my food and social eating choices were drastically curtailed and my motivation was high. All the parts of the puzzle were in place BUT - I have to emphasize that it was all these factors coming together that gave me this “reality check”. I needed to be running outside, I needed to be strict about my eating, and I needed to be restrained in terms of what was available to me. I was in Phase 2 for about 3 months. I lost about 1 pound per week during this time, so about 12 pounds. Some weeks I lost less than 1 pound, while some other weeks I lost more than 1 pound. I would of course get frustrated but I knew if I slipped I would only be going backwards, and I had come too far at this point to turn back. I used my wall calendar in the kitchen to keep track and keep motivated. Red X's meant I had done at least 45 min of exercise. Blue X's meant I had stayed away from refined sugar, refined flour, drank water and kept tabs on my sugar, even in the form of fruit. Fruit is a wonderful food and please do not restrict it in general, but as I got closer to my goal, I looked at any intake of sugar as something to modify.
I was very strict with my eating, because I had seen how little indulgences here and there only delayed my progress. It also helps that I am a pretty simple person when it comes to food. I can eat the same thing over and over, even though that's not ideal nutrition, it works for me. I ate (literally pretty much everyday) for breakfast: eggs, either scrambled or hard boiled (I cooked the scrambled eggs using cooking spray – no oil or butter) with a serving of steamed veggies like broccoli or kale, along with some healthy fat like smoked salmon or avocado. Since I typically exercise before I eat, this nice hefty breakfast would help me recover and keep me satisfied until late in the afternoon. For lunch or afternoon snack I would typically eat plain, fat free Greek yogurt sweetened with some Equal or Splenda, and sometimes peanut butter and fresh (not dried) fruit. Dinner was almost always a piece of fish (salmon usually, it’s the easiest and I enjoy the taste and texture) along with steamed veggies and avocado or some sort of fat, like olive oil on the veggies or salad dressing, or some nuts.
During phase 1 and 2 I did not drink any alcohol at all! None. I drank water and seltzer only. Alcohol comes in during phase 3 (I can explain!) and I think moderate drinking is fine but alcohol has calories and when it comes down to it, it just wasn't worth it to me. I never counted the calories of these meals, I just used Weight Watchers as my guide since I know they invest in research, do their due diligence and publish their findings. I am sharing my diet because maybe someone reading this is wondering “but what did you do exactly???”. This is what I did, exactly.
Phase 2 was my reality check: weight loss is hard, requires sacrifice, requires major lifestyle adjustments, but does happen. It was SO much easier because quarantine meant that I was not the one at the party munching on the sad carrot sticks, or worse, the one yumming up the cheesy/bready/fried/sweet treats and then feeling terribly guilty about it afterwards. I know, we are supposed to be able to have a treat now and then, but that is not me. Like I said, when I see treats I go IN. Just being in my own space, taking care of myself and the kids, was enough to not only keep me super busy but also keep me on track. By July, I was at my last 6 pounds. I will detail this next week as I describe Phase 3: In the Zone.
I know it is one thing to write about it, and another thing to read it, and yet another thing to actually go out and do it, but let’s remember: Time passes whether you accomplish your goal or not. Why not use time to your advantage and as that time passes, make progress? Can you think back to last year at this time, and what you were doing? If you had a goal of saving $1 per day, you would have a cool $365 dollars! Might not sound like a lot but you get the idea...Every morning is a chance to get it right for that day. Since I focus mainly on whole health/wellness/personal actualization goals, (in the form of diet, exercise, yoga and meditation) I share my experiences as I continue to live my vision of being an empowered (not victimized) participant in my dreams. What are your dreams, and what can you do to go towards them today? And tomorrow, and next week, and so on? When you write your story about your success, what will it say?
My home workouts for rainy days…not for the faint at heart! Not a prescription, not a recommendation, just a window into what I did.
Not a substitute for medical advice or the advice of a trainer.
I started these home workouts off with some kind of burpee sequence to get warmed up, and also to get them out of the way! I love/hate burpees: love them because they are so effective, get me so out of breath, so sweaty, and so fired up. Hate them for the same reason! This record from March 26th shows that I did burpees 10-->
1 followed by kettlebell swings, 10x10. So this means that I did a set of 10 burpees, then 10 KB swings, then 9 burpees, then 10 swings, 8 burpees, 10 swings, and so on, until I was at 1 burpee. I did 4 more circuits of exercises: Circuit 1 was 5 rounds of 30 squat jumps, followed by 30 squats, 10 pushups (on my knees!!), followed by a plank variation where I would tap my opposite shoulder 10x. Circuit 2 was 3 rounds of 20 squats (a different variation, feet turned out and legs wide apart), followed by 10 burpees, followed by 100 bicycles. Circuit 3 was 5 rounds of 10 lunges, 10 bridges, and 10 KB swings. Lastly, circuit 4 was 3 rounds of 20 squat jumps, 10 KB swings, 10 reverse lunges and 10 plank reaches (reaching out with the hand to tap just in front of you while holding plank). So yeah, I did that. Mind you, I have years of experience as a fitness professional so not only was it not hard for me to come up with the workouts, but I have such high expectations for myself in terms of carrying this out. Whenever I write something down, it solidifies it for me. It means commitment, because it is tangibly written on paper, so I feel I have to do it. This really helped me stay focused and determined to get through the workout.
By April I had switched up my approach a little – I started off with a rep scheme of 10-->
1 for the burpees followed by three more exercises: KB swings 10x10, followed by jump squats going from 30 to 28, 26, each set declining until my last two sets were 5 jump squats each, followed by 10 sets of 3 pushups (I believe these were full pushups). After this initial grouping of exercises, I did a circuit of 4 exercises, 3 sets each: jumping lunges for 10 reps, kneeling leg raises (think Jane Fonda old school aerobics class), 50 crunches and walking 20 lateral steps each direction with an elastic band around my thighs for my glute work.
By the time summer rolled around and it was clear the pandemic was here for the long haul (no gyms anytime soon, or nothing I was comfortable with), I decided to order some weights and a weight vest. I did not touch said equipment until well after thanksgiving but that is another story! My point is that there are options available to us if we just think outside the box a little.