Most people think that the only way to lose weight or inches is to cut calories and/or exercise more. I too used to be one of those people. That was, until I had my third child. About three years ago, I had baby #3, and I went home thinking this whole baby weight thing will eventually come off, just as it did with the other two. Quickly, I dropped 20 pounds in the first two weeks. Then craziness started as I began to search out work to go from a working mommy to a work at home mommy. I worked crazy hours and the hubby was traveling for work. Things were stressful, very stressful. And the weight loss stopped. In fact, I even started to gain.
So I did what many people do. I started a food journal to see where I must have been over eating. I started exercising more. I even did one of those insane workout programs, yes just weeks after having a baby. And I did start toning up a little, but no real weight loss and no real inch loss. I was just even more stressed and even more tired.
So over the next couple of years, I started changing our diets, eating more real food, cutting out processed foods and that whole thing. Again, I felt much better, but still wasn't losing weight or losing inches. During this time, I decided to throw out the scale. It was doing nothing but making me cry. And I started reading about weight gain caused by things other than over eating and being "lazy".
It turns out that there was a whole lot more to it than calories in and out or calories burned. I saw some of those graphics that explain where you gain and what might have caused it. Something like one of these:
And finally, I was able to let go a little. So many times I was reading about losing weight and someone would say, well you just need to eat less. Well, that is not always good advice, especially to a breast feeding mama already limiting herself to 1200 calories. Or I would read, well you just need to exercise more or exercise harder. Also - not the best advice for everyone. Realizing that weight loss just wasn't that simple, I stopped feeling bad about every bite and every minute I wasn't exercising.
So you wanna know what finally has started to work? I have not been counting calories, I have not been hitting the gym harder. You might not believe this, but it is sleep! Sleep seems to be the key. Or maybe it is feeling less stressed out. I think it might be a little of both. You see, before I lost my full time job and was left with just the part time ones I was also working, I would only sleep a few hours. I was going to bed at 3, 4, sometimes 5 am and getting back up just a couple hours later. I was hating my job(s), hating my life and my brain felt like it wasn't working or that I might have a stroke or something. I was exhausted, stressed to the max, frustrated.... And I was worried that I was probably going to make myself sick.
So when I lost my job I decided I was going to start going to bed the same time as my hubby and try to start becoming a morning person like he is. Well, that hasn't happened yet, but I am on it. I am going to bed earlier than I have in years! I found that my body had a lot of catching up to do. Some days I have been known to sleep up to 10 hours. I don't usually, but I have been trying to just sleep as much as I need. (For anyone that knows me, you know this is crazy. I have been getting next to no sleep at all for the past 20 years!) And I am finding that now, after about a month, I am starting to wake up earlier. I am less swollen. I feel less stressed, I have more energy, my brain is clearer and more creative and my clothes are fitting better.
Since throwing out the scale, I have been still taking my measurements. I took my measurements the day after I lost my job and then again this week. So that is about a month. And I had lost 8 inches. And 4 of those inches were around my belly!!!! I still have some inches to go, but this is the first time in three years, that I have been able to make any progress and it was not hard to do. I just had to sleep and start to relax a little. I didn't limit what I ate. I just ate until I was full and only when I was hungry (and of course it was almost all real food). I don't believe in eating meals just because the clock says a certain time. I eat when and if I am hungry and that tends to be two, sometimes three meals a day and sometimes even a snack. I even ate ice cream a couple times this month and didn't feel guilty. I did not do any crazy exercise programs. In fact, with moving, I didn't even have time for some of the regular stuff I do. But I do try to move every hour when working online because it does lead to a lot of sitting and I work to get some time in the sun everyday as well.
It was really incredible to be surprised this week with what a difference sleep is making in my life. Now that I am starting to feel human again, I will be starting up T-tapp. I will let you know how that goes and if it makes even more of a difference in my inches.
Now I know that this won't work for everyone, but if you are out there, cutting sleep to fit in more exercise, stressed to the max and just not seeing results.... well then I encourage you to give sleep a shot. It can't be a one night thing. I lost these inches over a month and as soon as I stay up too late I can feel myself start to swell and see the tummy coming back. So it is something you have to do to care for your body all the time. It might just be the thing that is keeping you from your weight loss goals as well.
How are you all doing? Are you trying to get in shape or lose weight? What is or isn't working for you? I'd love to hear from you.