Friday, July 29, 2011

Losing That Baby Weight


Okay, fine.  I'm pretty sure the model above has never had to lose baby weight her young, stretch-mark-free existence, but for the rest of us who have given birth and are raising kids, shedding those extra pounds can be torture.  Weight brought on during the mommy-ing process seems to stick like glue.  Seriously.  Especially when the number of kids starts adding up and taking time to go work out becomes more and more difficult.

Now, back when I was doing my undergrad, I went through a spell of wanting to be a dietician.  Studied  it for about a year, then quit for personal reasons, but I've always loved food and nutrition.  I actually taught a supplemental class for Basic Nutrition on campus.  So, I'm by no means a health professional, but my teaching spree gave a good grounding in basic nutrition.

So how to loose that unwanted weight?  A couple, simple tips.

- Burn more calories than you eat.  Simple enough, right?  I wouldn't go all crazy with calorie counting, but keep a rough, running estimate in mind, or download one of those cool calorie apps on your smartphone.  How many calories should you be eating?  Well, that depends.  First, calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate, for an easy calculator, click HERE), then rate your activity level and use the info below to estimate your needed calories:
  • Sedentary (little or no exercise) = BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise 1-3 days per week) = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise 3-5 days per week) = BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise 6-7 days per week) = BMR x 1.755
  • Extra active (very hard exercise 6-7 days per week) = BMR x 1.9

For example, say my BMR is about 1426.  If I were moderately active, the number of calories I should be consuming (to keep the calorie burn and consumption relatively equal) is approximately 1426 x 1.55 = 2210.3.  If I wanted to lose weight, I would eat less than that.

(NOTE:  It takes eating about 1600 extra calories to gain a pound, and burning about 1900 extra calories to lose a pound.  So, pound for pound, you're going to have to work harder to shed the weight.  And the difference (300 calories) equals roughly 30 minutes of moderate jogging.  It helps me to remember that before snacking with my toddler.  Most times, I end up deciding having to exercise off the extra snack just isn't worth it.)

- Recognize the difference of when you're really hungry and when you've just got the munchies.  One way to differentiate is choosing a fruit or vegetable you don't particularly love or hate and running a simple test.  For me, it's celery.  Whenever I feel like eating something, I offer myself celery first.  If I don't want to eat it, I'm not really hungry.  (True hunger means your body is telling you to refuel and you'll want to eat just about anything.)

-Recognize the difference of when you're hungry, or just thirsty. I would say 80 percent of the time when I feel like eating something, I drink a glass of water, and then I don't feel hungry anymore.  It's so crazy.  Seriously try it.  Your body may just be trying to tell you its dehydrated.

-Eat smaller portions.  Think about how much you want to put on your plate, and end up serving up about half of that.  A serving of meat or poultry is about the size of a deck of cards.  A serving of ice cream is usually just a 1/2 a cup.  A serving of margarine or butter is about the size of a dice.  And, get this, a typical bagel has 2 servings in it, which means you should be eating about a half a bagel. It seems like nothing, right?  But I'm completely serious.  Eat appropriate portions.  You can eat wonderfully delicious food, but in smaller portions.  If you're still hungry, fill the rest of the tummy space up by drinking water.  I guarantee, you will not starve. 

-Make sure your diet is balanced over the WEEK.  It's unreasonable to think everyone will have the perfect diet EVERY DAY.  Plus, I don't want to eat rabbit food day-in and day-out for the rest of my life.  So, balance your meals weekly.  When I plan dinners and make a heavier meal one day (because my husband likes stuff like that), I'll balance it out with lighter meals for the rest of the week.

-If your family has a tradition of dessert after dinner, change it.  Point blank.  Having dessert more than 2-3 nights a week is not necessary, and certainly not a healthy habit for you or your children.  I'm not saying sweets are bad, (I adore them) but having them every night is a bit much.  Cut back.  Save dessert for special occasions, like FHE.  Or serve fresh fruit instead of sugary sweets.  Your kids might complain at first, but they'll get used to it and start to enjoy the natural sweetness and yumminess of no-sugar added fruits.

-And finally, work out.  This isn't something you do to be a uber health nut.  Thirty minutes of moderate exercising a day is absolutely necessary to maintain MINIMUM levels of health...to decrease your chances of developing cancer, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, heart, liver and lung problems, and a whole host of medical issues we want to avoid.  Moderate exercise is stuff like fast walking, heavier housework, jogging and swimming...anything that causes your heart rate to increase, your body to work hard enough to sweat, and your breathing to quicken.  The most common argument against exercise I hear is that, "Well, I'm doing relatively okay without it.  I'm not super in-shape, but I'm not sick."  Har.  This is serious, people.  If you do not exercise consistently, it WILL catch up with you as you age.  Work out.  30 minutes a day. Your 50, 60, and 70 year old self will thank you for it.

So, what do you think...is this doable, ladies?  I think it's totally within our realm of reach.  Now I'd like some inspiration from you.  What sort of tips do you have for getting a good work out in when finding "alone" time is hard?  How do you keep from mindlessly snacking all throughout the day?  We'd love some awesome tips!  Thanks much, friends!

-Alyssa

15 comments:

Alyssa Harper said...

When I can't get out to run, I'll put on a workout video if the stars align and my kids take a nap at the same time or after the kids and hubby have gone to sleep.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I like the workout video idea Alyssa - I've used that too.

My best advice for making sure you get a workout is GET UP EARLY. It is a HUGE sacrifice, but you feel so good after you do it. For almost a year I got up nearly every day around 6:00 AM just so I could squeeze in my workouts before my husband went to work. That's not easy when you have a newborn, so you might have to wait until you have a one year old to do this. Going hand in hand with that is getting to bed on time. You aren't going to want to get up early for a workout if you don't get enough rest. If you get enough sleep and workout in the morning you will feel AWESOME.

As for calorie counting... it totally is crap, but it works like a charm. I use the website livestrong.com (the myplate section) it is fabulous. Simply counting calories is what kept me from eating too many desserts and snacking all day - seriously. That's all it took. My son was 18 months old by the time I lost all the weight, and NOTHING had worked before - not even working out. I had to cut calories to lose my 10 lbs, but when I did it was gone in a month.

My last peice of advice comes for myself mostly. Sometimes you can't cut calories OR workout. I'm in that situation right now. I am nursing (and already lost my milk supply once trying to workout) and I have hypoglycemia. I do my best to eat pretty healthy, but sometimes my low blood sugar state HAS to eat everything in sight in order to get back on track. It's very frustrating. I do 30 minute walks with my kids nearly every day, but that's my "workout" for now. When it isn't possible to eat like you want or workout - don't beat yourself up and just bide your time until your baby turns 1.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I'm sorry - one more thought. When you are counting calories I've found it MOST effective to give yourself one day off. Count calories for 6 days of the week, but take a break one day - don't count at all. Usually my day off was a Saturday, sometimes a Sunday. It could also be a day I knew I was going out to eat so I didn't have to pinch myself at a restaurant (since I go so rarely anyway). I didn't GORGE myself off my days off, I just allowed myself to not be so careful. I'm sure I went over my calorie count those days, but just having a day to break was refreshing.

Counting calories is not so bad - you really can eat all the things you love, just in SMALL portions.

Rebecca said...

I must admit that I'm not for calorie counting. Just because I've had close friends and family members that did it and it soon became an obsession and turned into eating disorders. What I do is I just don't buy snack foods or junk foods. Just fruits, veggies, and then just breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods. That's what keeps me from snacking and eating when it's unnecessary.

As for exercise I think early in the morning and in the evening are the best times. I would definitely say I'm pretty active (live on the 3rd floor, go on lots of walks, etc.) but I find it hard to find time to actually work out. My husband works out so one of us has to work out in the morning and one in the evening. It takes up time but definitely worth it in the long run. I just need to motivate myself a little more.

I just wanted to add that I think it's important that our kids be part of exercising. We are going to get bikes and trailers next summer(and bikes for our kids once they're old enough) so we can go on family bike rides in the evenings together.

Lisa said...

On days when it is hard to find the time to exercise by myself it is fun to put in a Wiggles video and dance with the kids. The kids love that mom is playing with them. They get their wiggles out and you get some light exercise in. It may not be much in terms of calories burned, but it is something.

The Fishes said...

Alone time is hard - I jog with a double jogger every morning just so the kids are contained and I can get in a workout - it isn't easy (I'm pushing about 110 lbs now) and it's not always without whining, but my kids know it is important to exercise already! I do the occassional pilate video when the weather is bad also. Mindlessly snacking is where I struggle - I do the same as others and just try to keep it out of the house so there are no temptations there for me. Also, as mentioned above, when I am "feeling" hungry, I try to drink a whole glass of water and wait like 15 minutes. If I am still hungry then, I know my body needs a little extra, like a handful of almonds. Usually though, the water does it and I'm fine.

Alyssa Harper said...

I love everyone's comments! Tannie, I think calorie counting is an excellent way of just being aware of what is going in our mouths. Even if you don't do it every day, do it for at least 3-4 days straight every so often to see what you're eating. The first time I did it, I was shocked to realized that my random "snacking" throughout the day easily equalled to over half my allotted calories for the entire day! Although like Becca touched on, all things in moderation. Calorie counting can be taken to the extreme. I advise using calorie counting for food awareness (to get a general idea of how much food you can eat in a day) rather than a hard, fast rule. But it is important. If you want to get better control over weight loss, maintenance, or gain, calorie counting is something you're just going to have to do from time to time.

I also love everyone's ideas for making time to exercise. Do it with kids! What a great tip. I thought Lisa's Wiggles suggestion was super cute. :) When that's all you can do, that's all you can do. I'm with Becca though. I really have a hard time getting a good workout in with kids around, so I go either obscenely early in the morning or late at night after the kids are asleep. Whatever works for you. The important thing is to make a conscious effort to move your body every day.

Oh, and to The Fishes: The glass of water thing works like a charm, doesn't it? I'm glad you mentioned it again. :)

Rebecca said...

Alyssa I think that's a great idea for everyone to count calories for a couple days just to give them an idea. I for one, couldn't do it regularly (it's a lot of work and like I stated earlier I've just seen what has happened when it gets out of hand, so I admit I'm a little over-sensitive to the idea) but a couple days I can do. Especially since you posted that link to figure out what my BMR is. Very cool! My husband gets to eat 700 more calories a day than me though to maintain his weigh...No fair! ;)

Tannie Datwyler said...

I only use counting calories to LOSE weight. I've only done it after I had Linus and couldn't get it the weight off any other way. I kept track of my calories for about 2+ months (I can't remember) until the weight was off, then I stopped. I can totally see how it could turn into a problem, but quite honestly I couldn't lose the weight any other way - and I had to do something because I really wanted to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight before I got pregnant again.

I can see why you are sensitive though Becca. I think it can be the best diet ever though, because it isn't a fad and you can still eat the things you want, just in smaller portions. It worked so well for me.

Alyssa Harper said...

Tannie brought up some good points. Calorie counting is an excellent weight loss tool. ...Although, I do agree with you Becca. Men and their high metabolisms...sheesh...seems totally unfair, right? A lot of it is that men are, in general, taller than women, and larger bodies take more calories to run. But still...I'd love to have the calorie intake of a man sometimes. :)

The Fishes said...

We figured out my husbands breakfast calories one morning when I was being super good about my food journal - over 2,000 calories...in one meal!! He can't gain a pound (or lose one, not that he needs to) and looks awesome without doing a thing :) Yes - men and those metabolisms, lots of fun to compete with, especially after a couple kids...

Tannie Datwyler said...

Hehe, I love your comment Fishes. My husband is the SAME. He's so dang skinny and has been since the day we got married 8 years ago. I doubt he's gained or lost a pound no matter what he eats. NO FAIR!!

Alyssa Harper said...

That most likely means that your husband's metabolism is higher than than what you can calculate using the "average" formula I gave above. I totally hear ya, Tannie. Not fair! ;)

On The Go Family said...

For me, cardio is the key to losing weight. Since I want my kids to be active as well, we make this a family affair. I put the baby in the jogging stroller, my 4-year-old on his bike and my 6-year-old runs with me. It's great fun, and we're all getting stronger at the same time!

I've also started counting calories. My baby's 16 months today and I still have four pounds to go. Almost there!

Alyssa Harper said...

On The Go Family: Way to go! You're so close. That's quite an achievement. I also loved your example of bringing kids into the activity. What a great way to foster a more balanced, active family life.