How One Mom Lost 42 Pounds—The Healthy Way

By putting her own health on the to-do list, this busy mom of two was able to shed weight and get healthy. Here's how she did it

Photography by Donna Griffith

There it was: 206. I looked down at the number again. That couldn’t be right. So I stepped off the scale in my suite at the hotel where I was staying on a business trip, the glow of a free upgrade fading fast, and stepped back on again. Yes, still 206 pounds. It was in that moment of shock and dismay that something clicked, finally, inside. And then I thought of Oprah. Now, I respect Ms. Winfrey and all that she’s accomplished as a woman and philanthropist, but I would never call myself a big fan. However, something that I had heard she always said on her show was “Put yourself on the list,” and from that moment, standing in that hotel bathroom at age 41, I decided to do just that.

I had gained more than 40 pounds with both my pregnancies. I lost the weight after each birth, but I hadn’t been at a healthy weight to begin with when I got pregnant. I had my younger child, our daughter, back in 2006, but five years later I was still overweight. I looked at old photos and noticed that I would stand behind my kids, using them as a shield, when I should have been standing proudly beside them. I didn’t want to be a statistic, and at the rate I was going I was in danger of becoming one, with Type 2 diabetes or other health issues.

So on that day in late July, I set a goal to lose 42 pounds by my 42nd birthday the following May. It would be a healthy pace to lose weight and be achievable if I did the work. I figured it was simple: If I ate much healthier and treated myself only once in a while but worked out to burn off the extra calories that I consumed, then I should lose weight. I needed to lose the bulk first and maintain afterwards. Simple, but difficult in that I had to rethink how and why I ate what I ate every day to get the weight off. I started drinking copious amounts of water with lemon all day at work and at home. I fell in love with the taste of Greek yogurt, I ate almonds, loaded up on fruit and proteins and cut out the junk. By Labour Day I’d lost eight pounds in four weeks.

I checked out the city’s parks and recreation guide for the fall term to see what exercise classes I could take. We weren’t in the position financially for me to join Weight Watchers or a gym, let alone hire a personal trainer. With two busy school-aged kids and a demanding full-time career, I needed to find something affordable that fit into our already hectic schedule. I signed up for weekly pilates and Zumba classes—which left me exhausted and exhilarated—and vowed to try to walk and swim when I could as well. By the end of November I’d lost about 20 pounds. Christmas came and went, and I got back on track nutrition-wise by cutting out cola (which is my coffee!) for two months, and the pounds kept coming off. By mid-May I was down to 164 pounds and had dropped almost three pant sizes. I’d lost 42 by 42.

My husband and kids are thrilled with my new healthy self. They supported my workout schedule from the fall right through to the spring. There were a few nights a week when I wasn’t home to do baths or help with homework or bedtime, and I have to thank my husband for taking care of it; he knew how much taking that time to work out meant. Both of my kids are proud of me. At Christmas I received a gift card from them to buy new clothes that included a note from my then eight-year-old son that read, “Good job on the weight loss Mommy. Now go buy some sexy pants.” Out of the mouths of babes indeed.

With our busy summer schedule it proved more difficult to fit in working out, but I sat down and looked ahead after putting everything into a calendar and resolved to find the time to get back into a routine. I have set another goal: to reach 146— that’s losing 60 pounds in total—by November. I know I’ll do it, thanks to the love and support from my family, and because I put myself on the list!

Ready to Make a Change? Check out these 20 Fitness Solutions for Busy Moms.

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