Lifestyle habits led to my weight gain. A combination of pregnancy weight (I have four kids!) and a history of trying unhealthy diet programs caused me to reach my highest weight in March of 2016.
Before I started my weight-loss journey, I started each day with a big sugary coffee. That was my entire breakfast. I didn’t take time to prepare breakfast for myself, but I’d nibble as I cleared my kid’s plates. My lunch would be a large portion of dinner leftovers, or a big hoagie roll with roast beef, cheese and mayo with a large side of chips—and another cup of coffee with sugar and cream. Dinners were often large portions of casseroles like lasagna, enchiladas or chicken pot pie with garlic bread, and a veggie side dish like a salad with ranch or Caesar dressing. My snacks were usually crackers and cheese, calorie-laden protein bars, cookies, buttered popcorn, or pastries.
As far as exercise, I rarely got any—other than some occasional walking.
RELATED: ‘I Started Walking Before Every Meal—Here’s What Happened’
My husband and I were planning to take our kids to a waterpark hotel for an overnight stay and nothing fit—including my swimsuit. To prepare for that trip I decided to go on another crash-diet program that meant I wasn’t eating “real” food. I had to pack my own diet foods. On the trip, I ended up caving and eating pizza. I felt so guilty about it. I felt like I wasn’t really living my life. I was either following some strict diet, or feeling bad for “cheating.” And either way, I was always overweight. I felt physically and mentally unhealthy, and I knew it was time for a change.
RELATED: 5 Weight-Loss Podcasts That Might Actually Change Your Life
I joined Weight Watchers in March of 2016. It was the first time I didn’t have to take a single item out of my diet, I just had to track the portions I was eating, keeping my daily food intake within the SmartPoints system, and not going over.
I made small changes to make my meals work better within the program. For example, my typical hoagie lunch added up to 24 SmartPoints. I removed the top half of bread and started eating it “open faced.” The roast beef, cheese, and mayo would have been 11 SmartPoints, so I traded that in for avocado, and piles of turkey, lettuce, onion, tomato, and mustard for zero SmartPoints. I swapped the chips, which were 5 SmartPoints for a side of fruit that didn’t count for any points. These simple changes transformed my 24-SmartPoint lunch into only 6 SmartPoints, and really kicked up the nutrition without feeling like I was missing out.
Another big change I made was eating every few hours and making breakfast a priority. I would start my day with breakfast and have a little snack a few hours later, then lunch. I would have an afternoon snack on the drive to pick my kids up from school, and then dinner. Sometimes I had another snack or dessert before bed if I felt hungry.
A typical breakfast for me would be two eggs, two slices of center-cut bacon, and a cup of fruit salad. My morning snack might be half of a mini bagel with Neufchatel cheese and cucumber slices on top. My lunch might be a big salad with leftover grilled chicken breast, corn and black beans, cherry tomatoes, avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, and homemade nonfat Greek yogurt ranch dressing and BBQ sauce. Sometimes, I would even crumble up a few tortilla chips for an added crunch. My afternoon snack was usually a sliced apple with a tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter.
To keep things simple, I ate what the rest of my family ate. I was just mindful of my portions. However, as a family, we did start eating more chicken and fish than we did before, and I lightened up a few of our recipes by swapping out ingredients or just using less of certain ingredients. I made sure there was always a veggie, such as oven roasted broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, or a big garden salad on everyone’s plate. We didn’t always have dessert, but when we did, we might enjoy strawberries with whipped cream, or a small bowl of ice cream—protein ice cream for me!
By the three-month mark I had lost over 17 pounds and more importantly, hadn’t had to interrupt my life for a minute!
Check out some of the weirdest weight-loss trends through history: