Everyone talks about being in shape, losing weight and eating healthy, but it’s a lot easier to talk about it than actually do it. I would know. I recently lost 60 pounds and it took a long time to get there and not a lot of just talking about it. It’s no easy feat to lose that much weight. It requires dedication, hard work and strong willpower.
I gained 60 pounds when I was pregnant with my son, who was born in June 2009. While I have been active and eaten healthy most of my life, I took on the attitude that since I was pregnant I was going to eat what I wanted and was not going to exercise. After my son was born, it took me several months to get back in the groove of exercising and eating healthy. While I was able to lose most of the baby weight from my first pregnancy, I was not able to lose it all before getting pregnant with my daughter.
During my second pregnancy, I was much more careful with what I ate, did barre classes and swam several times a week and only gained a healthy 35 pounds. After my daughter was born in February 2012, I started exercising as soon as my doctor cleared me. I continued doing barre classes but decided to add running to my routine. To motivate myself, I signed up for the 2012 Kiawah Half-Marathon. When I first started training, I could barely finish a mile and it took me more than 12 minutes to finish it. Undeterred, I continued training and had only one goal when I ran Kiawah- to finish without walking. To support me, my husband ran with me and we finished the half-marathon in 2:49. Since then I have run three half marathons, including Kiawah again in December 2014. This time we completed the half-marathon in 2:17, which was an exhilarating feeling. Combining running with weightlifting and eating the right foods, I was able to lose all the baby weight. I have cut out all refined sugar and processed foods and only eat lean meats, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables and complex carbs, such as brown rice or sweet potatoes. I have passed on these healthy eating habits to my children, who often snack only on bananas, hard-boiled eggs and nuts, and they think pretzels are a big treat.
To maintain my weight loss, I still run regularly and lift weights, but I have found that nothing makes me feel better then sticking to my new way of eating.
Courtney Stevens, biologist with the Regulatory Division, shares a similar story to me in that her weight gain was also baby weight. However, that is where the similarities end. Stevens only gained 40 pounds and was active the majority of her pregnancy. Her vice was eating; everyday she ate a Sonic hamburger, fries and an ice cream cone and had a Starbucks Frappuccino with extra chocolate chips. Once her daughter was born in May 2013, she started working out regularly, but was still eating terribly. She found that while she wasn’t gaining weight, she also wasn’t losing any weight. In March 2014, she decided it was time to get serious about losing the rest of the baby weight. She started to eat better foods instead of empty calories and continued her workouts, and slowly but surely she lost weight. In September, she did a workout and cleanse program where she really learned how to eat clean and what portions are appropriate for her and was able to lose the rest of the baby weight.
“Now I eat to fuel my body instead of eating just to eat,” said Stevens. “I feel strong and healthy and I have learned how to sustain this lifestyle for the long term. I want my daughter to know that being healthy and happy is what’s most important and I can set that example for her.”
Alisha Timmons, biologist in the Planning Division, experienced a different situation. Hers began a few years after she graduated from college when she realized that she was at the heaviest weight she had ever been and that she needed to do something about it. Since Timmons doesn’t like to exercise, she had to completely change her eating habits. Her first step was to eat a lighter dinner, either a soup or salad, while eating her bigger meals earlier in the day and snacking on carrots, grapes and cucumbers throughout the day. It took her most of 2011, but she lost the 30 pounds she had gained. Over the next few years, the weight started to creep back on and in 2014 Timmons decided to make permanent changes. This time she started by participating in a cleanse, which gave her the jumpstart she needed. She continues to eat vegetables and small snacks throughout the day and eats lean meats and vegetables for dinner. While Timmons is still not a big fan of exercise, she realizes it’s a necessity and enjoys walking and the Wii Fit to keep her active.
“I feel much better about myself and it has been very rewarding seeing the weight continually go down,” said Timmons.
Weight loss is a journey, one that requires preparation, dedication and perseverance, but anyone can do it.