Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guest Post: Losing Weight While Caring For A Family

Morning folks Smile. I’m very excited today to present you with my very first guest post here on Healthy Berg. I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately from women who are trying to lose weight but have a family to care for and/or don’t have a gym membership. While I always try to give the best advice I can, it’s actually hard for me to relate to these women because I’m a student, I don’t have kids, I have a gym membership, and I really don’t have to take care of anyone but myself. Therefore, I was stoked when my blogger friend Katie said that she would be more than happy to write a guest post for me about losing weight while taking care of a family. Katie is pretty much amazing and I find such motivation and inspiration from her and her blog, so I’m honored to present you with this guest post. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Guest Post: Losing Weight While Caring For A Family

Hi there! I’m Katie, and I blog at Runs For Cookies. I am married with two young children, and over a period of 16 months, I lost 125 pounds—via diet and exercise. Losing weight when you have a family to care for can be very difficult, especially when your spouse works long or unusual hours. My husband works 12-hour swing shifts (sometimes days, sometimes nights). A crazy schedule! We are on a tight budget as well, so I had to work hard to fit exercise and healthy eating into my life, but the end result is a happy, healthy family.


image

My family (post-weight loss)

 

I think one of the most important pieces of advice I can give is to cook your own meals. This is automatically healthier for the whole family, and it’s cheaper as well. I chose our favorite meals and changed a few ingredients around to make it healthier. My kids were clueless to the changes, and my husband didn’t mind them. He actually lost 75 pounds “by default” from my healthier cooking! I started using lean meats, whole grains, high fiber pasta, veggies to bulk up meals, cooking spray instead of pouring oil into a skillet, etc. All these changes seemed so small, but they really add up.

To control portions, I only cook what we need. For my family, I cook 4 servings per meal. I eat one, my husband eats one, my kids split a serving (for now—it’ll be interesting to see how much they eat as teenagers!), and the leftover serving is for my husband to take to work for his lunch. That way, there is no “going back for seconds”. One portion is all we need. I use just one pound of meat for a meal. I love making casseroles and skillet meals, because it’s easy to throw in some vegetables to bulk it up. They also are much tastier than just eating a piece of meat with a veggie and grain on the side.


Fitting in exercise can be hard when you have young kids, because you obviously cannot leave them home alone while you go for a walk or bike ride. It’s important to pick a goal (for example, walk 4 times per week) and do whatever you need to in order to reach that goal. Take advantage of every opportunity you can to fit in your walk. If your kids go to their grandparents’ house for an afternoon, use that time to fit in a walk.

image

(You could always exercise WITH your kids as a bonus Smile)

 

Fitting in exercise can be hard when you have young kids, because you obviously cannot leave them home alone while you go for a walk or bike ride. It’s important to pick a goal (for example, walk 4 times per week) and do whatever you need to in order to reach that goal. Take advantage of every opportunity you can to fit in your walk. If your kids go to their grandparents’ house for an afternoon, use that time to fit in a walk.

If the only time you can walk is when your spouse is home, then plan on doing it on your spouse’s days off, or when he gets home from work. When my husband works nights, I go for a run when he gets home at 6:30 in the morning. When he works days, I run at 6:30 at night. It’s not convenient to run at different times of day, but I do what I have to in order to fit it in.

I have done all of my exercising at home or outside. A gym is just too expensive, and I don't have childcare whenever I need it. I invested in a good pair of shoes and started walking four times per week, following this program by Hal Higdon. I trained to WALK a half-marathon. After that, I was bitten by the running bug, and that's what I've done ever since.

I eventually bought a treadmill at Sam's Club for about the same price as a gym membership ($600). That way I have no excuse not to get my running in during bad weather or if I don't have a sitter. A cheaper alternative would be to use exercise videos at home. You can find videos for any fitness level.

In the beginning of weight loss, it takes a lot of time to get used to a new routine. Every time I cooked dinner, I would have to enter all of the ingredients into a recipe calculator (at Sparkpeople.com) in order to find out how many calories per serving it had. However, you only have to do that once. The next time you want to cook that dinner, it's already figured out for you. After a couple of months, I had nearly all of my favorite recipes entered into the calculator, so the work was pretty much done.


I've found that the best time to do this kind of "work" is early in the morning before my kids are awake. I would wake up before my kids and plan out my food for the day. If a recipe needed to be entered in the calculator, then I would do it. I even pre-entered all of my food into the SparkPeople nutrition tracker, so I knew at the beginning of the day exactly how many calories I was going to eat that day. That way, most of the work is done before your kids are asking a million questions (Does anyone eat when stressed from the kids? Definitely ME!)

image

                          (My morning “me” time)

 

My biggest time-saver cost me just $5 and it was one of the most crucial keys to my success... a small white board, about the size of a sheet of paper. Each morning (or sometimes at night after the kids are asleep) I write out a tentative meal schedule for the day. I plan out the meals, add up the calories, and then write down a few different snack ideas, like this:

image

 

I choose my snacks based on whatever I feel like eating at the moment--it just helps to have ideas written down so that I'm not scrambling for ideas when I'm hungry and reaching for junk. Using the white board is great because you can erase as much as needed if plans change.

Overall, your success is basically determined by how much effort and planning you put into it. If you find yourself making an excuse, try asking yourself, "If my friend made this excuse to me for the same thing, what advice would I tell her?" and usually you will see the excuse through a different mindset. If you accept that it's going to take a heck of a lot of work to lose the weight, then you will be more likely to see success!

image

Me in 2009 vs 2011


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Now be sure to go check out Katie's blog and tell her how awesome she is Smile. Thanks again for writing such a helpful post, Katie!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...