Tuesday, May 29, 2012

After the Baby Weight

My current body. Well, pretty much.
In March, my husband and I gained a little Weight. We named him Rex Aldous. Unfortunately, in the nine months of pregnancy prior to his birth, we both gained a different kind of weight, too--and it has been a lot less fun to take care of than my baby.

Lately, I have taken it pretty easy physically. I had a C-section. I'm breastfeeding. I've gone back to work full-time. I can give a thousand reasons. But the bottom line is I can't (and won't) spend the rest of my life 30 lbs heaver than before I had Rex. In the year before getting pregnant, I got my weight down as low as it has been since elementary school (I know how that sounds. I didn't get down to 90 lbs or anything. More like 140. I was an early bloomer.) I was really committed. I was extremely strict with my diet. I did two-a-days during my hardcore cutting phases. And it worked great. The only problem is that my life has changed a lot since then, and it won't work for me to try and do things exactly the way I did before. That means I'm going to have to pretty much start from square one with my new schedule, my new body, and my new nutritional needs.

Right now, here's the plan . . .

The workout is tough but simple--and best of all, it's fast. I will be doing the "Kiwi Workout" on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. On the days that I'm not dying of exhaustion, I will also do cardio before work. On Wednesday and Saturday I will do cardio only.

My future body.
The diet part of the plan is where all the rules come in. Here is what I'm doing:
  • Weigh in twice a day (morning and night). This, combined with the next rule, should help  identify any foods that you ought to avoid. Experts disagree about this one with some recommending that you weigh yourself only once a week, or even once a month, to avoid anxiety from seeing normal daily fluctuations. You know yourself, so I'll leave the decision to you. I know that for me, weighing in helps. I fear the scale, and behave accordingly; however, if I know I'll only be weighing in every Sunday morning, I'm careless with my diet through the beginning of the week thinking I have time before I have to start being good. Then, by Wednesday, I realize it's a lost cause--too much damage has already been done, so I  continue to blow off workouts and eat like an idiot, telling myself I'll just start next week.
  • If you bite it, write it. Journal everything you write. I'm using My Fitness Pal for this. I really like it because it has every food I have ever eaten is in it and you can easily enter your own recipes. You can be pals with your friends who are also trying to lose weight, which is fun and a good motivator. And the smart phone app is awesome. You can scan bar codes on foods and automatically get the nutrition info. A word of warning, though: If macronutrient ratios are important to you (i.e. percentage of protein, carbs, and fat), just know that this interface has some shortcomings. Calorie Count has a much better analysis tool for that, but the food database is definitely not as extensive.
  • Absolutely no sugar, flour, or deep fried foods for the first month. No artificial sweeteners either. This is not a unique element to this diet plan, and that's because it works fast to help you drop fat. Plus, it is so important for your health. That being said, every food that I've ever had a love affair with fits into at least one of these categories.  
  • If you are worried because you've always been against stupid diets that let you eat fried cheese and bacon while telling you fruit makes you fat, don't have a nicky-fit just yet. While your body does, indeed, need carbohydrates, those carbs can come from a wide range of wholesome sources like fruits, vegetables, beans, and squash. Just stay away from wheat for one month and keep an eye on your weight and how you feel once you start to add it back in. For a lot of people, wheat products can be their "gateway drug" back to bingeing. It can also cause water retention or gastrointestinal problems.Following this rule sometimes means making an awkward scene at parties, outings, and family gatherings. Sometimes I relish being the uber-disciplined diva who has more self-control than her peers. Sometimes I just feel like a self-righteous jerk. Either way, you have to accept that you are going to miss out on a piece of the party if you're going to lose weight fast.
    If you need a sweetener for your plain yogurt, iced herbal teas, or Crio Bru, try stevia. I really like Truvia brand for my yogurt and Crio. I use flavored, liquid stevia for my iced tea and a few other things. Just don't get crazy with it and use a half a cup of stevia every day. Part of the idea here is to shift your tastebuds away from wanting sweet things all the time.
  • Limit dairy to just one serving per day. That means eight ounces or one cup. Ideally, this will be a serving of cottage cheese or yogurt. Try replacing regular milk with almond or coconut milk, which is pretty widely available these days. Our local Walmart carries both. The idea of reducing dairy is often met with resistence and the inevitable rebuttal, "Well what about calcium?" Almond milk and coconut milk are fortified with more calcium than cow's milk, and vegetables like spinach, okra, broccoli, and celery all have decent amounts of calcium, too. Plus, if you're taking a daily multivitamin (which you should be), you ought to be getting plenty of calcium without much difficulty.
  • Only eat starches if you have exercised. Not if you plan to exercise--only if the exercise is already done. Starches include beans, squashes, corn, and potatoes.You may also eat non-wheat grains like quinoa and oats. One thing to be aware of is that different people have different reactions to starches. When I have been very serious about losing weight, I usually try to limit my consumption of starches to once or twice a week at most, even if I'm exercising every day. Starches are like wheat for me in that once I start eating them, it can be a slippery slope to a Costco-sized flat of Dunford doughnuts and a bag of Cheetos. I don't think I'm in the majority, though. If you do find that you're having trouble losing weight and you're doing everything else right, dairy and starches should be the things you consider eliminating.
  • Limit fruit intake. Okay, I know what I said about this not being a bacon and cheese diet, but especially at the beginning your fruit intake actually is going to be limited. I am not telling you to limit fruit  because it's unhealthy or it makes you fat. Not at all. But I am telling you that it will slow down your fat loss. Try limiting your fruit intake to two servings a day. If you can stomach it, try to make one of those fruits a banana that is so ripe it has begun to get some brown spots on it. If you hate eating really ripe banans as much as I do, you can try freezing them. You can either roll banana halves in crushed salted nuts and freeze them on popsicle sticks, or you can freeze them in plastic bags and then add them to fruit and yogurt smoothies.
  • Only one serving of protein powder each day. Or better yet, none at all. Protein powder can be a very convenient resource when you need breakfast but you're going to throw up all over the counter if you have to eat another egg. It is also nice if you flat out don't have time to cook and it's just too hard to find a healthy fast-food alternative. Lastly, you can make a pretty respectable milkshake taste-alike with protein and frozen fruit on days when you just need a dessert. Protein is not a whole food, though, and it can also have a pretty negative effect on your blood sugar if you take it without any fat or other carbs. So if you don't need it, don't eat it.
I'm really excited to get myself back in shape, and I hope this blog can become useful to any of my friends who are trying to do the same. Losing weight can be a long and dreary road, but with some good recipes and a workable plan, I hope to shorten it up a bit and enjoy myself at least a little along the way!