In April of last year, I was stepping on the scale at my doctor’s office to discover I was pregnant with twins. At 133 pounds, I had no idea that I would gain 70 POUNDS over the nine months that followed. Luckily, nearly 50 pounds (two babies + fluid) came off naturally during the first few weeks post-pregnancy. But, still sporting pants with an elastic waistband and staring longingly at a closet full of clothes that didn’t fit— I was determined to lose some weight.
So, two months after the birth of my twins, I signed up to participate in Scale Back Alabama, a statewide weight loss contest designed to encourage Alabamians to get healthy. The goal for each participant was to lose a minimum of 10 pounds over 10 weeks. As a long-time student of nutrition and an athlete of varying degrees throughout my entire life, I was confident that I could lose the 10-lb minimum.
At my first weigh-in, I kicked off the contest with a beginning weight of 157 pounds (BODPOD Composition: 27.5% fat, 72.5% lean).
I decided at that moment that I was going to participate in Scale Back AL without the use of fad diets, pills/supplements, extreme fasting (read: starvation), or any extreme practices. I also knew that I would be unable to spend hours (or even MINUTES) working out each day or strictly following a gluten-free, pH-balanced, exhaustingly nutritious diet due to my obligations as a wife, mother, career woman, dog trainer, and everything in between.
My first goal was simple: To eat healthy, realistically. This meant eating without denying myself of the foods that I knew I would continually encounter—dinner dates with friends, busy weeknights where no one wants to make dinner (does a Hot Pocket really count as dinner? What about if you eat two??), celebrations with wine and cheese or CAKE, movie nights with popcorn and soda, break room parties with cupcakes, fried Gulf shrimp, greasy burgers and french fries, a nice NY strip, a two-for-one margarita night where I eat the whole basket (and refill basket) of chips with salsa… or that extra slice of pizza that’s always calling my name. I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoyed it all.
Sure, I ate my fair share of fruit, vegetables, and lean protein. But, I also ate multiple “cheat meals” each week—or sometimes each day. I ate gluten (gasp!), dairy, carbs, sugar, and slices (yes, multiple) of my twins’ baptism cake with buttercream icing for at least 4 days straight—I was raised not to let anything go to waste, after all. Thanks a lot, Grandmom.
My second goal was even simpler: To work out, whenever, if I could, when I could. I stayed motivated and I remained optimistic—even when I only ran a slow mile for the day, or the numbers on the scale were going in the opposite direction, or the term “rest day” was being stretched to maximum vague capacity. I allowed myself to be satisfied with my gains, no matter how small. I made every effort count.
As I stepped on the scale for my final weigh-in this week, I came in at a weight of 140 pounds for a total weight loss of 17 pounds and BMI of 23.3 (normal range: 18.5-24.9).
For some people, this would not be a victory, but for me it is. This is but the very beginning of my journey back to being physically fit. I’m no longer the fastest, strongest, or the leanest, but I have a long-term, sustainably healthy lifestyle established that can include cake and wine. And, by God, when I cross the finish line of my first half marathon in 6 years for my 30th birthday in August—with my husband and children at my side—I am going to have my ENTIRE cake and eat it too.