1. I needed to do something within the boundaries of how I normally eat, which means no crazy diets. On top of that, I've been nursing the baby this whole time, which means I need to consume a certain number of calories to make that possible. Still, I checked with my doctor and she said I could still lose 1 pound a week and raise a healthy baby, so I ate food. Real food. Mostly plants. Less of it.
2. I found out about the Steve Ward diet, which was a great system. First of all, it's free. F-R-E-E. All you need is a piece of graph paper and a scale, and you're away. You take the paper, and on the vertical axis write how many pounds you are-how many pounds you want to be, and on the horizontal axis write how many days you think it will take you to reach this goal, and draw a line between x and y. You weigh yourself every day and mark it on the graph paper. If you're under the line, then keep doing what you're doing. If you're over, eat less that day. This was great for me because I am a visual person, and it helped to think about losing a fraction of a pound each day, and it was very motivating to see the constellations of dots on the graph paper going down, down, down.
My Fitness Pal app on the iPhone heartily enough. Yep, it's a calorie counter. But by inputting my weight, activity level and goals the My Fitness Pal app found a calorie level that was both comfortable and effective for weight loss. On top of that, it was fantastic to see how much I was currently eating. Did you know that one slice of double-crust blueberry pie contains a WHOLE DAY'S WORTH OF CALORIES?!?!?!?! A WHOLE DAY!!!! Holy smokes. Now that I know that, and also that a 20-minute round trip of walking to school burns away one single apple, I'm going to really think about what I'm putting in my mouth. Sure, blueberry pie is good, and I'm always going to want a piece, but maybe I'll see it as the special treat it is, rather than thinking of it as a regular component of a meal.
4. As with the food, I knew I was never going to make this happen without an exercise plan I could stick with. I've lost interest in dance, Bikram yoga, pilates, running, gym memberships, cycling, swimming and aerobics faster than I've lost interest in yesterday's clothes. But I always liked walking and do as much of it as I can anyway, so just I added a modest amount of extra walking through the park into my routine after the school run. Which was great, because I could see this:
5. Pick one day a week that you completely let yourself go. Eat whatever you want. Go crazy. This is CRUCIAL. For one thing, you can give into all the cheese and booze and chocolate cravings and then you're kind of over it and can get back to business tomorrow, and for another, by having one day of a high calorie intake per week means that you're tricking your body into thinking you're always consuming that many calories, so it won't go into starvation mode and it will use the fuel more efficiently on the low-calorie days. Win.
So, well, that's it. I know it sounds easy, and maybe it wasn't as easy as I'm portraying it here, but after two kids I'm back into my high school jeans and that is terrific. If you are thinking of trying to drop some excess baggage, this is what worked for me, so I hope it works for you too. Good luck!