Once I stopped spending 20-40 minutes of my lunch hour in the exclusive mom lounge at work, I was free to use that time at the gym instead. Though I started hitting the treadmill right away, I couldn't go often enough or for long enough to counteract the celebratory dairy binging I was also indulging in. For a month or so post-breastfeeding, I was eating all the cheese and ice cream I felt like but decided to rein it in before I had to start wearing my maternity clothes again.
So, around the middle of April, I got serious about my goal. I won't be able to reach my ideal weight by my 30th birthday but I'm sure I can make it happen while I'm still 30. If I stay on track and maintain my current weight loss rate, I'm scheduled to reach my goal by the end of November this year.
I've been counting calories and exercising for around 12 weeks and I've lost about 10lbs - only 20 more to go! My goal weight is the same as what I weighed in high school, not because those were the best years of my life (ugh), or because I'm trying to fit in my old clothes, but because that is the middle of the healthy BMI range for my height. Realistically, I know that I could never be healthy and happy at a lower weight than that. And if I find that I can't reach or maintain that weight, I will adjust my expectations. I'm already having a tough time getting past my current spot on the scale. I'm definitely happier with the way I look and feel though, and I know I would be perfectly happy if I only lose another 5 or 10lbs.
I'm using the "Lose It!" iPhone app to keep track of my calorie ins and outs, and using a "Couch to 5K" app for running interval training. I don't think I could or would be as successful without these tools. I'm proud of my efforts and the progress I've made but I'm still trying to find the happy medium between discipline and guilt. This isn't just about reaching the goal, it's about establishing habits and practices that are sustainable for a lifetime of healthy living that still lets me enjoy myself along the way.
I don't want to always watch longingly as others enjoy a special treat, or make myself feel bad for occasionally going over my daily calorie budget. I still allow myself a drink with dinner or a dessert but as I lose weight, I'm allowed fewer calories in a day and I either need to sacrifice some edible luxuries or find more time to exercise and offset the difference.
Once I reach my goal weight, I won't be able to eat with the reckless abandon that I did as a teenager when I last saw that number on the scale. I know that there will always be birthdays and holidays and dinners out with friends. I want to be able to work those occasions into my budget without stressing so I can enjoy myself without worrying about setbacks. And if I have to be extra disciplined for a few days or weeks afterward in order to not feel deprived, so be it. Life is always a series of adjustments and corrections, I just want them to be minor and manageable.
I also want to be a good model for Alice. I want her to establish a good foundation of healthy practices and to learn from a young age, to truly understand how to eat for both health (first) and enjoyment (second). I don't want her to grow up worrying about her figure, feeling insecure in herself or her body because of her weight. I don't want her to experience the stress and disappointment and sense of failure that comes with "dieting." I don't want her to grow up on a diet of processed foods engineered for maximum pleasure response, that foster psychological and physiological addictions that healthy food cannot overcome.
I want Alice to appreciate fresh fruits and vegetables, to eat real food that we grow and cook together. I want her to appreciate the ritual of preparing a meal, instead of just opening a container. I want her to know the pleasure of cooking for the people you love and serving food that you made with your hands; of lingering over a meal with your family and friends, instead of eating microwaved, processed foods alone in front of a TV or a computer. I want her to know the virtues of real butter, to know the meditation of baking desserts so delicious that one small serving will satisfy, instead of the empty, instant gratification of an entire box of unfulfilling "treats."
So that's where I am, and what I'm thinking about on the eve of my 30th birthday. That, and what kind of treat I want to indulge in tomorrow - after a run, of course. Because it's my birthday, and I deserve it!