The Weight Loss/Energy Gain Battle

by Heligirl on June 27, 2012

in Beyond Mommyhood

I’ve been thin my whole life, priding myself in the fact that I could still wear my college clothes all the way up until I was pregnant. Heck, I could even wear high school shirts and skirts (pants not so much because I grew just a smidge in the hips in college). I could never imagine gaining any significant weight.

Those days of puppies, rainbows and crap are long past.

Now, I was realistic. I knew at 5’1″ and 109 lbs. I was going to get a little wider with pregnancy – skeletally. There was just nowhere else for the baby to go.

I experienced firsthand how pregnancy makes your bones spread. I gained an additional shoe size. Actually, that was a good thing since I have small feet. Now I fit into more ladies size shoes.

My rib cage and hips got a little wider after two babies (not talking fat here but bone spread). None of my old pants will ever fit again, even if I lost all the weight. Some of my tighter dresses don’t fit either because of the spread of my ribs.

I remember looking at middle aged women and wondering why so many had big hips and bellies. I don’t wonder that anymore.

After two babies, two C-sections, and that big old 4-0 behind me, I’m finally facing the reality that I’m not that thin girl anymore. However, I don’t have to put up with the work pants I bought last fall being tight and the ever decreasing waistline that is morphing into more of a blob interrupted by a muffin top.

Almost as frustrating is my growing lack of energy. I’ve been so tired all the time. Hubby tries to comfort me, telling me all the juggling of jobs, kids waking at 5:30 a.m., and the associated stress and lack of sleep will tire anyone out. But I just know there is something more I could do.

So last week I put myself on my first ever diet. I know what you’re thinking: “First diet at 40? Cry me a river.” But in addition to losing something around 15 lbs I want to gain energy. I also want to be realistic. I love a glass of wine and I love my chocolate. I need calcium so I’m not cutting dairy. Supplements only do so much.

Here’s what I did:

Cut carbs. Ever notice how you feel tired after a nice big plate of pasta? Our bodies go into a carb coma as they process carbs and, if you’re not active enough, store the extra as fat. I’m not extremely active due to my deteriorating feet so I don’t need a lot of carbs to have the energy I need through the day. So I cut all simple carbs (processed grains) and now will only eat whole grain foods for my few servings of carbs a week (whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, etc.). Our bodies process those whole grains better and slower. Better all around. I read a good rule of thumb is the fiber to carb ratio shouldn’t be more than 5-7:1 so I use that as a measure when I eat carbs. Whole grain items meet those ratios most times.

Cut gluten. I don’t have a reason to cut it out completely such as an allergy, but I’ve found by cutting down where I can it’s one less thing for my body to process. There have been suggestions that excess gluten can make you sluggish, so there you have it.

Cut all processed foods. No canned soup, frozen meals, etc. Losing the sodium helps with the water retention.

More fruits and vegis. I eat at least twice as many fruits and vegis as protein and carbs at each meal. Summer’s a great time to do this as there is so much at the fresh markets. Blueberries and strawberries at breakfast, a fruit and a vegi at lunch, a fruit or vegi at snack time, and twice as many vegis as everything else at dinner. I’m also substituting vegis for carbs. Last night instead of having my chicken masala on rice, I had it on a bed of spinach. Oooo, that was gooooood.

Cut sugar. No cookies, sodas (with the exception of my beloved DRY Soda that’s only 50 calories), etc. I’m allowed a little chocolate as long as it’s not more than 100 calories a day.

Increase fluids. More water and herbal tea.

Limit alcohol to three drinks a week and only one cup of coffee a day.

So is it working? Well, I lost about 1.5 lbs. in the first week. That’s 10 percent of my goal right there. I’m sure if I cut everything considered bad I’d lose faster, but then I’d bounce right back once I started eating like I’m used to again. I hope this way I learn some new eating habits in the 10 weeks or so it will take for me to lose my target weight.

As for energy, after the first week of being without so many carbs, which my body rebelled by wanting to pass out at the drop of a hat from hunger and fatigue, I suddenly found I could make it through the day and have energy after the kids went to bed to get other stuff done. In fact, I watch my husband come home and lay down on the couch after a day at the office in front of his computer while I’ve been home chasing after kids, making several meals, organizing a helicopter show and doing freelance work and I can keep going. It’s been liberating not to mention stress relieving to get things done around here. So far, so good.

Have you had success in increasing energy and losing weight that you’ve been able to maintain for the long run?


Twitter: audcole
June 28, 2012 at 8:37 am

Last year I lost about 40 pounds. The difference in my energy level was huge. Not to mention that I’m only 5’4 and my weight was over 200 pounds so I was putting way too much stress on my joints as well. Now when I pick up my niece who is about 40 pounds I think “Geesh! It’s like I strapped her to my back and carried her around all day, every day. No wonder I felt like crap!”

I did have a little trouble maintaining and some of the weight crept back on in the last few months, but I also stopped keeping a watchful eye on my diet. So, I’m using the My Fitness Pal app now and really liking it. One tendency we all have when dieting is to just cut, cut, cut but if you cut too much and are getting too few calories, you won’t lose weight like you want to either. It’s a bit tedious at first to input what you’ve eaten during the day but, if you’re like me and generally eat a rotation of the same items, it becomes a matter of just checking them off your list and adding them. Now it takes me about 5 minutes a day and I’ve seen a big difference (10 pounds in about 5 weeks) since I started getting the right amount of calories for my body.

Sorry for such a long comment. Most of all, I’m proud of you for taking control of your own health and energy! I know it’s just as challenging if you’ve got 15 pounds or 50 to lose!
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Susan June 28, 2012 at 10:12 am

I bet you’ll feel better, for sure. For me, having my son so close to 40 whacked out my hormones, and they never fully recovered. (My symptoms were feeling like a raging b*tch, breaking out like a teenager, and foggy brain). Also, my thyroid was quite low. For me, the solution was hormonal support and thyroid meds. But cutting way back on sugar does help a lot, too. Keep going!
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