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?