Losing weight in your late 30’s is no joke.
Losing weight has become the bane of my existence. Growing up I was skinny and petite. While I’m sure a lot of it was high metabolism, I also spent the majority of my free time dancing, playing outside, walking, or riding my bike. Even through the teenage years I maintained a great body weight as an athlete and dancer. It probably helped that we didn’t have a lot of extra money to eat out or buy extra snacks that often so I wasn’t really an overeater. Flash forward to college where I was still an athlete and would gain some pounds due to awful diet options we were left with when practice ran over and we barely made the end of dining hall hours… and my love of their donuts. Luckily for me, I could come home and lose five pounds over a break since I kept active and worked out. I’m not going to lie… I’m sure over the years my weight loss strategies weren’t always the healthiest.
So here is where people are going to be pissed. I used to think losing weight was easy. I thought anyone should be able to just put their minds to it and make it happen. Give up the donuts or wine, take a walk every day. Then I hit my 30s and had three kids. Boy, was I wrong and I’m so sorry.
First of all, kudos to those of you who can meal prep while working and having a young family that has to be schlepped all over the world for sports and activities. I can’t. Some will say it’s a choice. Unfortunately for me, it’s one I haven’t made yet on a regular basis. Secondly, if your kids let you sleep through the night, that’s awesome, or if you don’t need much sleep and still can function enough to think about what you put in your mouth-you are my hero.
For me, I literally had to change my job in order to be able to workout everyday. My kids are usually up with me at 5 am (sometimes earlier-I know-I don’t get it either), stealing those famous early workout hours from me. After school, I’m usually running kids home to scarf down dinner and head back out to some field or rink. There were many other factors involved in changing jobs but once I started working from home, I knew I had to rearrange the day to make my 9 am appointment at the gym. This often means early and late work days and work on the weekends, but it’s worth it. I love working out. I’d work out twice a day if I could. It reminds me of who I really am. Here’s the thing, it took me YEARS to figure out how to make this work and a lot of support and compromise with my husband. I recognize that many aren’t able to do that. But, you are able to find something that works for you, no matter how small of a change.
Now the part I don’t love… tracking what I eat. UGHHHH. I would workout all day every day if it meant I didn’t have to do this part. I know when I do it, I see results, but it really feels like one more thing (like the meal prepping). So my 38-year old self in this 38-year old body has really had to continue to work hard at making this a habit. It’s not natural for me.
In reflection over the past 5 years of this struggle, I’ve learned a few things. First of all, babies over bodies. My friend, Kristen, taught me that one day when I was having a rough time with my body. I’m so grateful this body carried and delivered three healthy kids and need to honor and appreciate that when things get tough. That being said, I also have learned that losing weight is not easy. Can it be done, yes, but it takes discipline and willpower in the toughest of times. Third, during the weight loss journey, your kids will say blunt things. These include: “Mom, you look like you’re having another baby.” Or, “Mom, your stomach finally looks like you didn’t have three kids.” Thanks, boys.
I still have 10-15 pounds to get where I want to be, and more importantly, about 10% body fat that I need to lose. I know for me this is a continuous journey because life keeps on happening. My amazing gym trainers have taught me how to workout differently and taught me about macros. Who knew protein was so darn important. At 38 I may not look the best in a bikini that I ever have, but damn it I am stronger than I’ve ever been, faster than I’ve been in years, and I have an endurance that I can’t even believe sometimes. I’m pushing my body to limits I never have before. If you know me I like a challenge and this keeps me coming back. So now, to get my nutrition straight. I know what to eat and how to eat. Now it’s portions. I’m 5’ 1” and convinced I should have been 5’10” the way my stomach likes to eat. Do I track every day? Admittedly-no. But I track more often as time goes by. I’m working on making this a habit. It’s still a work in progress and in typical “Stephanie fashion,” to solve this problem I began to research. For me, research is reading all the self-help books I can find.
If you are struggling with making something a habit or changing how you do anything, I highly recommend two books. The first is Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, by James Clear. Here’s the summary: Attach your current habits to a new one. For me, I drop off my kids and head to the gym. In the mornings, I now put my tea in the microwave and while it is heating up, drink my Athletic Greens. When I check my morning emails, I then drink my tea with my protein added. I eat one of two variations of breakfast. After my workout, I have a protein shake. I’ve learned that fewer choices works best for me and helps me maintain this habit. So now, I’m working to figure out how to add in tracking on a regular basis that works for me. The other part of Atomic Habits that I like is that even if you mess up one day, it’s okay, just don’t mess up two in a row. I have this in the back of my head and I really believe it is helping me get closer to my goals. It also helps me when I’m really doing the best I can do to make life happen on certain days.
The second book is Everything is Figureoutable, by Marie Forleo. There are a lot of takeaways from this book but for me, the main one is that everytime I say “I can’t,” replace it with “I won’t.” So yeah, it’s not that I can’t track meals, it’s that I won’t. It’s on me. I can find the time for something so simple. I need to make it a priority.
So if, like me, you are still on this weight struggle bus, know you aren’t alone and it is definitely a process. There are a million excuses every single day to not workout or not eat right and you’re damn right, it’s not easy. For anyone I silently judged along the way, I’m sorry. I see you now and I’m with you.
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