My story of losing and keeping off 20 lbs
Raising the Bar(re) My story of losing and keeping off 20 lbs and how YOU can too.
As the temps rise here in Fort Worth and Spring Break approaches many of our minds wander to swimming pools, shorts season and playing with the kiddos outdoors. If you are like most the thought of baring your (pasty) legs or worse, getting yourself into a swimsuit out for public viewing, leaves you wishing that winter would take an encore lap and give you a bit more time. There is good news for you! There is still PLENTY of time to get bikini ready and I am living proof that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Last January (2015) I had finally had enough of looking like a “mommy”. You know what I mean, a little pooch around the middle, hips that were wider than I wanted (and growing all the time) and arms that were nothing spectacular. In addition I was a bit depressed in my sad little NY apartment with few friends and most of my time spent on kiddo activities; I had very few opportunities to be anything other than mommy. In my sad state I resolved that I needed to do something for me; to get a bit of myself back. With a bit of hard work and dedication I did it! There is nothing groundbreaking here, eating right and exercising is what I did and it is THE way to lose weight and keep it off. You can’t have it any other way and one without the other usually doesn’t work or give you results for very long. If you go about it the right way you will have plenty of time before swim season to look AND feel the way you want.
First, I got a good fitness/calorie counting app. Why is this important? If you want to lose weight you are going to have to reduce your caloric intake. Simple as that, you will need to burn more calories than you have coming in. There is no way to tell on your own what your family’s favorite Crock Pot recipe looks like in terms of calories but with a good app you can plug that in along with your lunches out and all your Starbucks runs. You will be surprised with what you have been taking in I can assure you. The one that I like to use is called “My Fitness Pal”, easily searchable in the app store this baby has tons of restaurant options already in it database. You can input your recipes either from the web or your recipe cards at home and it will map out a plan for you based off your weight and exercise level. It can even help you gain or maintain weight once you reach your goals. You can also plug in your exercise for the day and it will add calories to your total. Genius! Full disclosure: I was HUNGRY in the beginning. A lot of willpower was needed and I had to be my own drill sergeant very often but once you start to see changes in your body it will get easier. Also, as a plus eventually your appetite will shrink, slowly but it will shrink. (One side note here, unless you have a doctor’s okay do NOT set it to lose more than one pound a week, you could but please don’t. The key to losing weight and keeping it off is to do it safely and in a way that you will continue going forward. Please, please don’t try to starve yourself!)
Next, I got real with myself about how I like to workout. Do you LIKE to run/cycle, etc? If yes, then do that activity, if not move along to something you like and will keep up with. For me, I hate running and it took me a long time to give up on it because it does give you rather quick results. I would never stay at it long and with weak ankles I was always nursing an injury – forget it! Thank goodness, I found barre and I am a believer! For those that haven’t tried it I highly recommend that you head on out and give it a shot. I can attest that I am much stronger, have far less back pain than before and I look better (naked) than I ever thought that I could! Here are some things that got me hooked: 1. A group class environment where I had to commit to a time by signing up in advance. 2. I’m competitive – with other women there I could push myself harder. 3. The workout would produce the body shape that I was after – fit but slender with a feminine shape. In addition, I got a good, reasonably priced spinning bike for the house that I could do in addition to the barre or on days when I couldn’t make it to class. This is not necessary at all but I love spinning too and I knew it wouldn’t sit in a corner and collect hanging clothes like a treadmill would have done. Plus on those days when I may have been a little fast and loose with those calories and easy hop on and hop off got me back on track – not that you’ll ever do that…
Lastly, I committed to doing this for myself. This part is very important. Our lives have a way of pushing and pulling us in so many different directions and often we as women allow ourselves to get lost. Doing something for yourself in this way will not only make you feel better in your own skin, feel more desirable to your mate (no more “just a mommy”!) and make you healthier overall. It will do wonders for your outlook on life. Physical exertion has a way of sweeping away the blues and will help even out your hormones too. I immediately felt better about myself and happier in my situation by getting out and getting fit.
If you can do these three truly simple things: watch what you eat, find a workout you love and make it your “me” time you will also be able to lose the weight and keep it off too! As a huge bonus, it is way easier now to eat what I want and not have my formerly slow metabolism packing on the pounds.
Want a bit more info on Barre?
I recently got a chance to sit down with Stephanie Perry, first to bring the Barre concept to Fort Worth and owner of D Method (were I go to challenge myself) to get the skinny on why barre is such a great way of toning those trouble spots for all of us. Here is what I learned:
Abs: In barre many of the movements involve pulling your abs in (feels like sucking in) and the reason for this motion is to train your abs to mimic this motion outside the workout. Puling in your abs in a workout leads to a flatter belly overall!
Outer thigh: Barre movements are meant to lengthen and slim the leg and the movements, also found in ballet, do just that. The resistance band features in barre because it creates the long lean muscles.
Inner thighs: Barre workouts feature a ball because squeezing it between the legs while doing things in parallel (feet with toes forward) will tone and firm the inner thigh.
Arms: The key to a slimmer arm is in the triceps, using small amounts of weight or none at all coupled with the right movements will firm up your arm jiggles. Barre will produce strong arms but without the bulking that comes from other types of arm workouts. Barre also avoids any arm workouts that bulk up the neck to shoulder area.
Buns: Barre WILL lift and firm up your buns. This is done by strengthening your Hamstrings found on the back of your legs (who knew!) and through working that long neglected spot on our legs our buns will defy gravity’s nasty pull.
Beyond the nuts and bolts Stephanie shared that recent studies have shown that you will burn more calories when you are doing a workout where you have to be thinking about what you are doing or preparing for your next move. I know from personal experience that Barre will give you this kind of workout for sure, however it is not necessary to have any dance knowledge (or ability) to perform Barre movements in class. There are lots of Barre options in Fort Worth to choose from and shopping around is sure to lead you to the best fit for you. What I happen to love most about D Method is Stephanie’s unique take on Barre (between NY and trying out studios in Fort Worth I have seen a few). Stephanie has created a program where the barre method is combined with cardio. Truly not found anywhere else this option has been great for me as finding the time to strengthen, stretch AND get in cardio can sometimes be difficult.
Good luck ladies on your quest for a happier, healthier and skinnier 2016!
*A huge thank you goes out to Stephanie Perry of the D Method for her help in demystifying barre. Check her out on TanglewoodMoms.com, then book a class and tell her that we sent you.
Kristen McDonald is a Texas girl who earned a Communications degree from Baylor, then fell in love and married a fighter pilot. Air Force duty called and she and her new husband moved from their beloved Texas and together they saw the world. In 11 years of marriage she has moved 7 times across the U.S. and Europe, adopted a son and begun her greatest adventure – motherhood. Kristen is thrilled to finally be back home in Texas for good. She is at her happiest in a good pair of jeans, with dinner cooking on the stove, music cranked loud and a Gin and Tonic in her hand.