15kgs lost! A tired and busy mum’s not so easy journey to weight loss
13 March 2019
Eating well, exercising and caring for yourself can get low on the priority list for new mums - just ask one.
A new mum's fitness goals
So we asked busy mum of two, Nams, to share her weight loss journey and tips for other Kiwi mums (and dads) that might relate:
“Battling serious sleep deprivation and perennial parent exhaustion syndrome, my journey from 75kgs to 59kgs was far from a cake walk.
When you’re running on empty (as most mothers do), it’s easy to scrape the bottom of the excuse-barrel to skip the gym. I did for a long time. But when I found myself panting after running behind my then four-year-old for just 10 minutes, I knew I needed to fix things.
I opted to get fit.
It was never going to be easy with number two being the sort who isn’t quite the ‘sleeping like a baby’ type. But I embarked on the journey anyway, not knowing if I’d even be able to get past the first week of exercise and diet control.
The first month: Possibly the hardest, but with maximum gains
We run on a pretty tight schedule in our family with my day starting at six am. My new aspirations of weight loss meant that time would now be five am! Luckily I started in summer.
We invested in a cross trainer in the garage – the gym would add precious minutes in commute and I didn’t have any to spare! So my day began with half hour of treadmill and 10 minutes of floor exercises before household chores kicked in.
Looking back, I think the fact that the programme was wrapped around my everyday routine made it easier to stick to.
I never saw myself getting beyond losing five kgs to be honest; even gave myself six months for it. 15kgs was a distant dream. The smaller target kept everything more real. So at the end of month one when I saw 2.5kgs less on the scale, I was excited and motivated to push myself harder.
This small-goals approach works for others too. Jessica Simpson famously followed a week-by-week approach to losing weight. Although a celebrity, she was a realist – balancing her job as an actor and two full time kids. The weight loss regime had to be tailored around it.
I kept telling myself I wasn’t in it to be a ‘yummy mummy’
My body has borne two little humans, suffers from unavoidable medical conditions that help shape it and more importantly is often forgotten about as I go about my parental duties.
I never had a perfect figure to begin with. And, post pregnancy that was out of reach. I accepted this fact and worked accordingly. My motivation to be fit and stay on track came from wanting to have more energy to play with my kids.
With lack of sleep being a huge issue for me (thanks to Miss Two), I found that working out was the only way to feel refreshed. PS: Most research suggests losing weight while sleep deprived is difficult. But it’s possible. I did it!.
To other mums wanting to embark on a fitness regime, my advice would be don’t set your fitness goals based on fear (if you don’t lose 10kgs, you will have a heart attack) or peer-pressure (everyone else around me looks perfect!). Do it because you want to. Dig deep to find the real motivators for being fit.
Taking the path less efficient
Following my mantra of making fitness a part of my daily routine, I added every little bit I could to make a difference. These are just some of the effortless ways I got my body to do more:
Ditched the elevator. Took the steps.
Parked just a little further away from my bus stop to take those precious extra steps.
Get off one stop early and walking the remainder of the journey for the above reason.
Found chores that made me go up and down the house, many times carrying the baby in my arms.
Standing when I could sit. Running when I could walk.
Not counting kilojoules
Really! Dissecting every morsel that goes into your mouth and reading the nutritional value of every item you put into your shopping basket can be exhausting. It will make you anxious and this whole exercise ‘not fun’, increasing the chances of you falling off the wagon.
You just need to be aware of what you’re eating and keep portion in mind. I have always used the age-old palm of your hand as a guide to food portions.
I also believe that eating less but more often was a great way to keep on top of snacking urges. So out the window went three big meals. Instead my diet included many tiny meals in a day that were varied and fun.
Staying on track got me doing things I love. That’s where I found motivation.
I enjoy being amidst nature and solitude (a precious commodity when you have young kids!) and found my weekly bush walk was a fantastic way to keep active. Sometimes the little one tagged along in my trusty front pack making the workout more intense.
If you’re struggling to stay motivated, find things that will keep you active and happy at the same time. If you’re the social sort, join the neighbourhood boot camp, or find a walking or cycling group you can join (meetup.com is a great place to find such groups).
An hour on the cross trainer was enough to keep me away from it!
As the weight loss continued, the need to push myself harder became stronger. My cross trainer in the garage was replaced by a gym membership about four months into my new routine.
There are no shortcuts to losing weight, but the thought of an hour on the treadmill is enough to keep me away from it. So I broke up my workout regime (with the help of a fitness instructor) into digestible and varied chunks that were intense.
Two kids and a full time job meant I didn’t have the luxury of time in the gym – every session has to be intense and enjoyable. I chose a gym very close to work and squeezed in a 45 minute workout during lunch. On weekends it’s a short drive from home to another location.
The time restriction taught me to become smarter with what I do. I quickly filled the gaps between two exercises with a run down the stairs, planks and quick sets of sit-ups. It is also a researched fact that intense workouts can be more effective than longer workouts – it’s what you do that matters, not how long.
Cardio with my kids
Often you hear parents say they get tired just watching their kids go about everyday activities. So, just follow them for some part of the day. Dance when they do, jump, run, laugh, be inquisitive … you’ll find yourself refreshingly ‘worked out’ at the end of it.
Since I embarked on this programme for my kids, including them in it was extremely enjoyable. Some of the more intense ‘hangout’ sessions with my kids included:
Teaching my son how to ride a bike. Running after the bike on hilly terrain, holding on to the bike is harder than you’d believe. Harder still is pushing a 16kgs body on a bike up hill. Sure gets the heart pumping!
Take a football to the park and enjoy the fun run.
Go to the pool. You may not be doing laps but just jumping around the pool with the kids qualifies as a workout.
Head to the beach. Dig, collect shells, go into the water, run … when you have kids under six, flopping with a book just isn’t the sort of thing you do at a beach.
Organise play dates at your house. One five year old is hard. Two is harder. Do the math when you have three or four kids this age. You’d be eyeing your bed very longingly on these days.
My weekly sin: a decadent chocolate ice cream or cookie, whatever came first
A cliché but it’s the truest thing for any fitness regime. Depriving yourself of everything you love for a long stretch of time or not eating a slice of birthday cake will only keep those cravings alive. Instead allow yourself a cheat day or two guilt-free meals in a week. Mine was a decadent scoop of dark chocolate ice cream – worked like a treat to keep me on track for the rest of the week. Some weeks, the chocolate was replaced with a homemade choco-kick cookie.
As it happens, there is research to prove that taking breaks in your diet can reap better results. This is one study I am not debating.”
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Information correct as at March 2019. Sources - Heart Foundation July 2018, Huffington Post July 2018, Independent July 2018, National Centre for Biotechnology Information July 2018, Stylecraze July 2018, Web MD July 2018