By Healthi Coach Stefanie
Sometimes, life throws curveballs our way that will “derail” our weight loss journey for one reason or another. For me, such an occasion came up when I got pregnant. As those of you who have been pregnant may know, you are not supposed to pursue weight loss during a pregnancy so the baby growing inside you can thrive. However, just because I had to stop counting my calories and BITES did not mean that I gave myself a free for all. I took this as an opportunity to focus on the healthy habits that I had learned during my weight loss journey. After all, my ultimate goal is to one day stop counting and just live a healthy life. Focusing on healthy habits not only meant that I did not gain excessive weight during my pregnancy but also that I gave my baby a great start to life. Of course, each person is different and some of these things may be easier to follow at one time than another but here are the ones I focused on:
- Eat more fruits and veggies
- Snack responsibly
- Listen to your hunger cues
- Indulge occasionally
- Walk more
Eat more fruits and veggies
This is one of the first things most of us change in our pursuit of a lower number on the scale. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is a great way to get good nutrients while also filling you up. My rule of thumb has always been to fill about half of my plate with fruits or vegetables for each meal. Interestingly, this was even easier for me while I was pregnant. I even had meals where all I ate was fruits or veggies … sometimes in the form of veggie fries, but I still followed my 50% rule. There are many ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet whether it is sneaking them in like I did with the veggie fries, doing a bowl of fruit as dessert or just finding a way to prepare veggies that you enjoy (like roasted veggies which is one of my favorites).
Snacks are great in pregnancy. Many people think that you need to consume a lot more calories while pregnant which is actually not the truth. You generally only need to eat one additional snack per day to cover the extra calories. So, I made it a point to get better about snacking throughout the day and not in the evening while watching TV and not paying attention. I love granola bars and made sure I always had one on hand wherever I went. That way I was prepared and could eat if I needed to and wasn’t tempted to stop by a fast food place. My favorite snacks were 100 calorie snack packs, homemade snack containers (that generally contained some pretzels, some cheese and maybe dried fruit) or yogurt.
Listen to your hunger cues
This is an advanced skills in my opinion. When I first started my weight loss journey, I did not listen to my hunger. Most of the time I didn’t even know what being hungry actually felt like. Relearning that skill has come with time but I think it is one of the skills that “skinny” people have that makes it easier for them to stay on a good weight. During pregnancy, I took extra care to focus in on my body and eat when I was hungry. Finding a good balance between eating when I was hungry and when I “should” eat according to the clock was still a struggle. There were definitely times where my brain said I needed to eat even though my body said: no thank you. In these cases, I would usually have a light fruit or veggie snack. One great way to figure out if you are hungry or not that I learned along the way is to think about eating something like an apple. If that still sounds good you are likely hungry. If only pasta sounds good, then you may be craving a taste instead of being hungry.
Talking about cravings: This can be our body’s way of telling us we are missing something. So sometimes it is good to listen to those cravings in moderation if we do not overdo it. Having 3 mozzarella sticks once in a while isn’t a big problem but having a package every night can easily become one. So, while I listened to my body for hunger cues, I also listened for cravings and then ate those things in moderation. To be fair, I am also somewhat lazy and often did not have the thing I was craving on hand. By the time I would have a chance to get it (I refused to send my husband to get me something I wasn’t willing to get myself), I was no longer craving it in a lot of instances. Giving in to a few treats here and there also goes a long way in avoiding binges or overeating on the things we are trying to avoid.
Exercise that isn’t too strenuous is good during pregnancy. Walking more was the perfect way to stay active. This can be done in many different ways like going for extra walks (my dog definitely appreciated those), but it can also be as easy as parking a little further away and walking to the store/office etc. Walking more doesn’t have to be something you go out of your way to do but instead can be something you include into your day-to-day activities. My husband hates the fact that I go up and down each isle at the store even if we have a list and are only buying what is on the list…but it helps me walk more without it feeling like a chore.
Those 5 things helped me stay healthy without looking at and counting BITES. They also helped me have a healthy pregnancy with a good amount of weight gain during pregnancy and a weight loss by the time I was 6 weeks post-partum. But what I really want to focus on is that there may be things preventing you from being able to lose weight, but these almost never keep you from sticking to your healthy habits. During your weight loss journey, focus on creating those new habits since they will be essential not only in losing but also maintaining a lower weight later on.