Keep Track of Your Goals!
Eleven years ago, I gave birth to my first child. During my pregnancy, I ate everything under the sun. I discovered I was pregnant the day I came home from my honeymoon.
Leading up to my honeymoon was preparation for the wedding, and just like any other bride-to-be that wants to lose weight to fit in their dress, I got super restrictive and created a diet of tuna and green tea. Of course, I ate other things, but this is what I ate most of the time. Needless to say, I lost weight and had bad breath as a side effect!! I probably couldn’t have picked a worse smelling diet.
Once the honeymoon was over, I discovered I was pregnant, which is code for “I can eat whatever I want.” I made sure I ate a lot of everything I deprived myself from to fit in my dress. During your pregnancy though, everyone tells you how cute you are regardless of the 50lbs you have gained.
It wasn’t until after giving birth to my son, that I truly saw how big I allowed myself to get. I had no clue what I was doing, but I knew I had to do something. This is when I created my accountability folder.
First, I had my sister take an unflattering picture of me in little shorts that I used to fit in. Eleven years ago, I couldn’t just look at it on my smart-phone, I had to go to CVS and have it printed, despite being embarrassed to have a stranger see this photo. I put it in the folder along with pictures of what I used to look like, and told myself that in 3 months I would get to take a picture in the same shorts. This was my goal! To look forward to seeing change.
Then I created a list of exercises I had to do each day with a column for me to check off each time it was completed.
This was before I’d ever stepped foot inside a gym, so it was basic movements like squats, bicep curls, jumping jacks, etc. that I had learned from fitness magazines and morning talk shows.
Lastly, I created a column for me to check off daily when I stayed within my calories. Because I was breastfeeding I allowed myself 1800, which I still found restrictive compared to the way I was eating during pregnancy. Then I created an additional column to check off if I stayed within those calories and felt like I didn’t do it by skipping and binging. Unlike my diet to fit in my wedding dress, I wanted this to be done through exercise and healthy eating.
I know this looks like a lot of things to check off, but I also knew that if I was going to get myself to fit in my shorts better in 3 months, that I was going to have to stay consistent and keep myself accountable.
There were PLENTY of mornings that I was exhausted from being up with the baby, and instead of doing my exercises, I wanted to sit in the recliner and drink my coffee. There were also so many times my husband would come home and tell me he bought chips and queso or Pringles. But I would open my folder, look at that picture and tell myself that nothing is going to change if I don’t do something about it. I wouldn’t even do all the exercises at once, but checking off those boxes made me feel accomplished and I would find ways throughout the day to get it all done.
Three months later we were planning my son’s Christening and I was 10lbs away from my pre-baby weight. I couldn’t have been happier with the results because I fit in all my clothes. I knew the extra 10lbs I was carrying were muscle because I looked stronger.
Immediately after finishing my accountability folder, I started logging my workouts on the wall calendar. This kept me from “falling-of-the-wagon.” I became more active because of it! I started running 1-3 miles outside and eventually started working at a gym and taking classes there. To this day, I still log all my workouts and add them up at the end of the week. I know that if I don’t log them I would still get enough exercise because it’s my “normal,” but I like how it keeps me accountable. I will look by mid-week at how many hours I have achieved, and I will plan the rest of the week’s workouts around it so I hit my goal. This is the little game I play with myself.
The other thing I learned form this was that it was going to take some time. Exercise and discipline don’t give you instant gratification, especially when you are new to it, so I used that picture as motivation for what I wanted to change. Even now, I still use pictures as motivation to help me track results and keep me moving forward.