On obesity & overcoming: A homeschooling mom’s story

Written by contributor Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Hi, my name is Kris and I used to be obese.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s how I should introduce myself. On the one hand, it’s cool seeing the look on people’s faces when they hear how much weight I’ve lost. (Just being transparent…I’ve never accomplished anything quite so impressive as losing nearly 100 pounds before.)

On the other hand, it’s also nice having people only know me as “skinny me.” (Skinny being a term I use rather loosely considering I’m still “overweight” on most charts.)

Usually, I opt to tell my story, though – not to brag, but to inspire. You see, after 16 or so years of obesity and multiple failed weight-loss attempts, I do believe that if I can lose weight, anyone can. There are no magic pills or special diets. It’s just a lot of hard work and determination. It’s completely changing your lifestyle and your eating habits. It’s not easy, but so worth it.

So how does a busy homeschool mom find time to completely change her life?

1. Make exercise a priority.

One thing I’ve learned over the last three years is that you don’t find time to exercise, you make time to exercise. I know how hard that can be, but you have to make your workout time a priority. I have to do my workout first thing in the morning or it’s much less likely to happen. You may need to do it in the afternoon when your kids nap or in the evening when your husband is home to keep an eye on the kids.

You may have to join a gym that offers childcare or strap the baby into the stroller and take a walk with your family. Even little snatches of exercise, here and there, are better than nothing at all.

Even after all this time and being at the point where I’ve had friends tell me they can’t imagine me not working out, I can still find my motivation waning from time to time. For the last several weeks, I’ve really struggled with this. I’ve had to make myself exercise. I’ve had to remind myself over and over that, “You may not want to workout, but even more, you don’t want to be obese again.”

It can be a daily struggle. That’s where my running mantra comes in handy: It’s not a matter of can or can’t. It’s a matter of will or won’t.

2. Change your eating habits.

This was probably the hardest part for me, but it’s also the part that gets easier with time. Your taste buds really do change.

The blog, Skinny Taste, played a huge role in the healthier eating aspect of my transformation. Gina posts recipe makeovers featuring real foods with real ingredients that normal people use. My family will often still ask if a new dish is healthy, but they don’t ask in the skeptical way that they used to when I’d place a new dish on the table. They just ask because they’re curious. They don’t care if it’s healthy or not, as long as it tastes good…and we’ve discovered that healthy absolutely can taste good.

I would suggest not trying to completely overhaul your entire diet all at once, but make steady, consistent changes – and try new things!

When I first started losing weight, I would make one or two new healthy dishes a week, while still making family favorites the other nights. Sometimes I made something different for myself (usually left-overs of a healthier meal so I wouldn’t have to make two separate meals) and sometimes I ate the old family favorites in more reasonable portions.

One of my favorite standbys now when the family is having something I’d rather not eat is a baked sweet potato (I usually bake extras and keep them in the fridge) and salmon, which cooks in about 10 minutes.

I tried jicama and hummus in place of my downfall, chips and dip, when I saw it suggested in a Biggest Loser book. Now, I’m hooked. Even if the calories were the same, I’d choose jicama or red pepper strips and hummus over chips and dip.

Photo by Kris Bales

3. Drink more water.

I am hopelessly addicted to sweet tea, but I’ve cut the sugar in half and I limit myself to a glass at lunch and one at dinner. The rest of the day I drink water.

I have three water bottles that I keep in the fridge, so I always have cold water to drink. I keep a bottle with me at all times and sip all day. It keeps me hydrated, keeps my mouth busy (seriously!), and helps my body avoid mistaking thirst for hunger.

4. Keep track of calories in and calories out.

It’s important to know how many calories you’re consuming (and, for the record, I’m not a fan of extremely low-calorie diets) versus how many you’re burning.

During the first year and a half of my weight-loss, I used a bodybugg like Biggest Loser contestants wear, but websites like My Fitness Pal or SparkPeople are very useful, too. You’ll generally find that you overestimate your calories burned and underestimate calories consumed.

Tracking holds you accountable.

Have you lost a significant amount of weight? What tips would you add?

About Kris

Kris Bales is the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest voice behind Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She and her husband of over 25 years are parents to two amazing teens and a homeschool grad. Kris has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. She also seems intent on becoming the crazy cat lady long before she's old and alone.


  1. Good for you, Kris! You are setting a wonderful example for your kids.
    Jill Foley’s latest post: {pretty, happy, funny, real}

  2. How inspiring. Congratulations! I have struggled with trying to make time to exercise since I had my second child. We used to walk regularly, but when the 6yo was about two, he would refuse to go walking much farther than up the street. But recently we got a new puppy, and little did I know she’d inspire my sons to go walking again! So we have a new nightly ritual, and I thank the dog everyday for it!

  3. How inspiring. Congratulations! I have struggled with trying to make time to exercise since I had my second child. We used to walk regularly, but when the 6yo was about two, he would refuse to go walking much farther than up the street. But recently we got a new puppy, and little did I know she’d inspire my sons to go walking again! So we have a new nightly ritual, and I thank the dog everyday for it!
    shelli : mamaofletters’s latest post: On Homeschooling, Socialization and Religion

  4. Love your suggestions—many of which can be applied to general well-being even if we are not trying to lose way.

    And way to go on the weight loss! I have watch my sister lose 125 pounds and I know it’s a journey, but so inspiring!
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: Work Shift (and a Giveaway!)

  5. Kris,
    What an awesome story! I am proud of you, friend!! We also LOVE Skinny Taste. Gina is a great young lady and her diligence in finding ways to make some of our most “sinful” recipes healthy blesses my family time and time again! Thanks for sharing!!
    Carlie @ So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler?’s latest post: Carlie’s Fall Favorites {A Pumpkin Spice Recipe Link Up}

  6. Congrats on losing the weight! The suggestions you give are great ones. Checking out Skinny Taste now…
    Steph’s latest post: Alphabet Fun

  7. Congrats kris! How wonderful! I have lost 60 pounds so far in my weight loss journey and I have found that nothing matters more for me (in terms of consistent and continual weight loss) than portion size. It’s amazing how much food I used to be able to sit down and eat! I have also found that prayer and sacrifice have been key to my own journey. So in a sitting, if I can say to myself “a prayer for ‘x-y-z’ is more important than eating one more piece of pizza, one more piece of chicken, etc…” I find that extemely effective. For me personally, there has to be more than just the physical health and wellness. The spiritual side is what kicked my bad eating habits to the curb! I’m going to check out the website you recommended. You are an inspiration!

  8. I have lost 32 lbs. so far this year and your story has been very motivating to me. I would just add that having smaller portions when you eat can make such a difference. At first eating the right portion size was difficult, but then my stomach expected smaller amounts. It’s not always easy, but always worth the work.
    Paula’s latest post: Cleaning Up Legos

  9. Kris,

    I’m considering a bodyugg. Do you feel like it was worth it for you? Do they really work?

    Thank you in advance,

  10. Jennifer Ott says:

    I’ve never commented on your blog, but you did inspire me to loose 30 pounds (after 4 kids, total of 8 pregnancies, in 6 years). I am only 5 feet tall, so those 30 pounds were significant! (I also switched to POE because of you, and we all love jicama now, too; maybe you should start to worry!) I counted calories on MyFitnessPal and started running again after nearly a decade off. The best part though is feeling like I have more energy for my kids and feeling more emotionally stable. Thanks for this!

  11. Thanks for sharing your story! I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to watch my food intake and made a committment with a friend at work to walk three times a day at our breaks.

    Can you tell me more about your experience with bodybugg? I’ve been looking at something similar in the FitBit as well.
    Taleah’s latest post: The Garden of Your Mind – Mr. Rogers

  12. Congratulations! You have left me very encouraged! I brought my second little baby into this world 11 weeks ago and have found that two little girls leave little time for mama. I decided just yesterday to sign up for the Rock and Roll Half marathon in Dublin just to give me a goal. I love to run, but it is extremely difficult to do it when you chase kids all day. Now I have a focus and will hopefully lose some baby weight along the journey. Thanks for your inspiration!!!

  13. Congratulations! What an awesome achievement and a great inspiration to others-especially your own family! I was an overweight child and did Weight Watchers at 12 years old (I’m 38 now so that’s a LONG time ago!). I’ve spent a lifetime continually learning about nutrition, good choices and fitness. I struggled to lose after having my children but exercise and portion size helped a ton. We also try to eat off of smaller plates because plates are often far bigger than they used to be. We use our salad plates most often. One of the best pieces of advice I have is to tackle only one or two objectives at a time. It’s easier to build on small success and feel encouraged and let the new habit really take hold.

    Again-congratulations! Good health is so very important!

  14. What a great story. Congrats on your success! I need to do better with scheduling working out in every day. But so far I’ve lost over 40 pounds. Still have about 40 more to go…
    Sarah’s latest post: How I lost 40 pounds and became a Cheating Vegan

  15. Just wanted to say perfect timing, THANK YOU and congrats!!

    I am a homeschooling maniac, who drives her kiddos to and from occupational, physical and speech therapy appts. several times a week! If sitting on your bum, was an Olympic sport, I’d have won the gold and then some!
    My nephew was here for a time this summer though. While he was here, he gave me whooping cough so bad, I landed in the hospital and I have never been more thankful! I found out I had diabetes, not numbers that were just a little high, numbers that could kill me high! My liver was enlarged, my white counts were high, etc. I’m now almost a month out on this journey, eating healthy every single day now, doing the diabetic thing and slowly increasing my activity daily and 10lbs down even! You’re right in that your tastes do change, instead of sitting in front of the TV with a bag of chips, I could sit there with a bag of steamed veggies. I swear! I know it sounds odd but, it’s true! Anyway, thanks for sharing, it’s VERY inspiring when you’re just beginning. Thanks so very much.

  16. Kris- this is amazing. Thanks for sharing your story! I’m on a similar but less exciting story- I’ve lost 20 and have 20 to go. 🙂 You go, girl!
    Tori’s latest post: First Grade!

  17. That is fantastic! Congrats Kris! I have lost about 28-29 lbs this year because I made exercise a priority and made it part of our regular homeschool routine. We typically go to the gym first thing in the morning (if there is an 8:30am class), then do our schoolwork as soon as we get home. I have started going to some early evening classes, too, if we have a lot of schoolwork to do in the morning. I have found the best way to prioritize the gym is to mark the classes I want to take on my calendar. Before I commit to anything, I check my schedule. I agree you have to make time to exercise and before I started marking classes and blocking out time for the gym, exercise was the first thing to disappear from my schedule. It’s easy as a homeschool mom to let the gym slide but it sets a good example for my kids and they love the activities offered in the childcare while I work out (kid fit classes, crafts, games we don’t have at home).

  18. I realized today that I need to lose about 100 lbs. It feels insurmountable.

  19. Your story is inspiring- thanks!

    Don’t you hate those charts!? At 5″5′, I should be LESS than 140 according to the charts- but anything less than 155 makes me feel sick (I’m more than that now- I would love to get to 160)
    priest’s wife’s latest post: Blogging for myself & sometimes Jesus & the Church- Quick Takes

  20. This was sublime timing. I am down six with 74 to go. I cannot even believe I have this much to lose. I had been really motivated until last week and then I just kind of deflated. I don’t want to blame my hubby, but he is not on board the ‘healthy lifestyle’ thing just yet. 🙂 The idea of having sweet potatoes and quick cooking fish ready to go is just what I needed. Also will be checking out your blog so I can stay motivated. Thanks for sharing.
    Kara’s latest post: My (Other) Brother

  21. Mayra Rodriguez says:

    Congratulation and thank you for challenging me. I have been figthing with 15 extra pounds for the last 3 yrs. and the have become my enemy!!! But what you say is true: I HAVE TO MAKE EXERCISES A PRIORITY. I am writing it down as a commitment with myself since I know that I feel so much better emotionally and physically when I am active.

    I have no excuse because here in CA I have the perfect weather, scenery, neighborhood, sons & husband to be active. My family is very sport-nature-activity oriented…I have no excuse. I have been too concentrated on my freelance writing that I have put exercise on a second level. THANK YOU for this article. Did you write it for me? Did my husband called you? Just kidding!!! I think a lot of us needed this article!
    Mayra Rodriguez’s latest post: Celebra: International Homeschool Spirit Week

  22. I gained over 100 pounds having kids. After baby 7 I lost 80lbs with a change in diet and exercise. My struggle now is gaining it all back having more kids. I worked my butt off, literally, only to gain it back. It’s hard to not beat myself up over this fact. I’m due with baby number 9 in December and hoping to get back on track and lose the weight again. Love your story!! You look amazing!!
    Elizabeth’s latest post: You’re going to do what?!

  23. I have found exercise really helps me be a happier mom. When I am particularly stressed, I make myself to go the YMCA (they have childcare) to run. Even if I have to force myself, by the time I’m done, all those magical endorphins have truly made me feel better about life.
    Also, I’ve been trying to get up an hour early and do Jillian Michaels 30 day shred video (it’s only 20 minutes, but it gives me time to shower, dress and eat breakfast before kiddos ) and it helps me wake up and not be grumpy in the mornings (which I tend to be). Even if I only manage twice a week, or three times, instead of every day, it’s better than nothing! So, the physical health benefits are a bonus–the mental health benefits are even better for me! Do you find that too? Love this inspiring success stories! Good for you and thanks for sharing with others!
    CharityHawkins@TheHomeschoolExperiment.com‘s latest post: 10 Real Life Tips for Reading Chapter Books – Part 2

  24. Congrats on your weight loss! I am a homeschooler too, I have recently lost 100lbs through diet and exercising. I have 20-40 more to go. I have become a runner and I love it! My one piece of advice to offer others…find someone to be accountable to. I have tried everything under the sun for the past 23+ years and I carried the 100+ lbs around. God was the biggest part to my weight loss and as I started on the journey I got stuck and God told to see my Doctor who sent me to Dr.Hopkins who I started seeing…I weigh-in with him once a month and we sit and talk about how I am doing or any changes we need to do…I love that time, I look forward to seeing him. I dreaded the visits to WW or NS or OA but this is different Im my own guide through this journey and Dr.Hopkins just makes modifications to the map; it works well for me! But the one thing I have found out about myself is I love to work-out and the more I do it the more I love it! The other key for me has been facebooking about my weightloss journey and all the encouragement that I have received from my friends and family. I have never received this much support from my family as I have this time at losing the weight, this is also the most significant amount of weight I have ever lost. Thank you for sharing your story, I love seeing others with similar stories.

  25. I am totally impressed to a person that wanted to be healthy and be fit. Thanks for sharing those tips.

  26. Thanks for sharing. I’ve spent a TON of money on weight loss products, and the reality is that it doesn’t have to be so expensive or so difficult. It’s the small changes that make the difference. You’ve encouraged me.
    monique’s latest post: Live your best life #CloroxLounge

  27. Smithd298 says:

    Very nice! eccdkcfegd

  28. I love this post! Losing weight and being a homeschooling mom can work together in harmony! http://clika.pe/l/7069/12643/

  29. Thanks for the post. I really want to start homeschooling, but Im 6 months into my weight loose journey. And I don’t want to give up in the fall when Id start homeschooling. What time did you find worked best for youth work out? I go right after I drop the oldest off at school and then take the younger three with me to the gym. I need to do it in the morning or it won’t get done, but isn’t the am the best time to do homeschooling? Or should I just try going to the gym and then lunch and homeschooling after lunch? I guess everyone is different and each family is, I may just have to try something and if it doesn’t work try something else.

  30. After baby 2 I lost 50 pounds but gained it all back with 3 and 4. Now I have the goal to lose 100 pounds. I still have 75 to go but I’m working on it! I really like the Lose It! app a lot. I have found that I really have to organize my weight loss, really map it out so it fits into my lifestyle rather it being an uncomfortable appendage to my day. I have to work it in and make it a part of who I am. I am grateful that I’m homeschooling during this process because I can work in exercise anywhere in my day if I need to, and my kids get to see my example to work right along with me, making sure not to overemphasize body image. It’s important to be healthy and moderate diet and exercise, but I try not to talk bad about my body even if I’m super unsatisfied. It has just as much to do with how I feel when I’m running after my kids as it is about how I look it my clothes.

  31. Kris, thank you for sharing your story and inspiring me to make my own health a priority. I think burnout prevention is just about the only kind of self-care we talk about openly as homeschoolers, but this is a major issue for many of us. I struggle finding the time to exercise, and I often find myself wondering if I’m the only one struggling with my weight among my HS friends. It’s not something I feel comfortable talking about very often, and the friends who do work out in my circle are extremely fit and involved in all kinds of athletic organizations- which is very unrelatable for me. I appreciate you opening up about something many of us can relate to, and I thank you for the inspiration you provided for me to make some small changes.

  32. Kris, I watched your transformation through this blog and it is inspiring. I started changing my nurtrition and exercise because of mood and headaches. I lost 35 lbs as well. I now love exercise and what it does for my mindset. I ran my first half marathon before I turned 40 and will run another this December. I’m one of those people that I heckled now. Never an athlete but as I read all the research I knew exercise and fueling my body properly would help me be well equipped to love my family so much better. Proud of all your hard work because that’s what it is. Keep moving forward towards health!

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