Kristin Marusic's Story
5'8", 31, mom to Joseph, 6 months, still nursing. Starting weight: 178 lbs. Prepregnancy: 155 lbs. Ultimate goal: 140 lbs. Ending weight: 158 lbs.
"I love food and have a big appetite. I gained 50 pounds during pregnancy, and I wasn't my slimmest to begin with. I've never been much of a calorie counter, and I have even less time to do it now."
What her food diary revealed: Kristin eats regularly throughout the day, which is fine, but her food choices -- and portion sizes -- needed work.
"We live on pasta. My husband's family is from Italy, so we eat huge Italian meals, or get takeout." The problem of high-calorie, high-carb dinners was further compounded by Kristin's tendency to make a lunch of last night's leftovers. Snacks tended to be sugary -- a muffin or a couple of cookies. Breakfast was fine, but there was just too much of it: a bowl of cereal filled to the brim, a large glass of orange juice, and a banana.
The Food Plan
Kristin is still nursing, so her food plan is based on a 2,000-calorie diet -- enough to keep her milk supply up, while still cutting calories to lose weight. For breakfast, she needs to measure out one serving of dry cereal (preferably one high in fiber) and a half cup of skim milk, cut the banana in half, and skip the big glass of OJ. For lunch, Kristin switched to a ham or turkey sandwich on whole wheat. She could have had one slice of cheese, but she chose to skip it. Dinner options included a piece of chicken or fish with steamed vegetables and a side salad, or a turkey burger on a bun with a slice of cheese.
How it went: Kristin lost 5 pounds the first week, and continued to lose steadily in the remaining weeks. Knowing what a portion looks like really helped. "Going to other people's houses for meals was hard, but I would visualize those compartmental plates with vegetables taking up half, and grains and protein taking up a quarter each of the plate," she says.
Worst moment: The holidays were tough. "We went to my parents' home for two weeks. My aunt made her special shortbread (with chopped Snickers in it) and I had some every day. I didn't lose any weight but didn't gain any, either."
Best moment: After one month, "I was able to box up all of my maternity clothes and retire my size 14 pants."
The Exercise Plan
When Kristin went for her first training session, she thought she was in reasonable shape. "After the 15-minute warm-up, I was done -- and there were still 45 minutes to go! Getting through that workout was the hardest thing I'd done since giving birth," she says.
In order to be able to sustain any kind of activity, Kristin needed to improve her endurance, so she did a lot of cardio initially, mixing in resistance work using bands and her own body weight (as in push-ups) to gain strength. At home, Kristin's limited by a few factors: no gym membership or equipment, and no childcare. Norcini recommended a daily walk, including hills, and buying some exercise bands for upper-body work.
How it went: During the first two months, the exercise portion was not as successful for Kristin as the eating plan. She couldn't always find time to take a walk with Joseph. She never got around to buying resistance bands. The way her schedule worked out, she missed a few training sessions early on -- so in the last month she had four in a row, and that's when she started seeing results.
On Her Own
By the end of 12 weeks, Kristin had lost 10 pounds, but on her own, she was plateauing. To continue losing, she knew she would have to amp up her workouts. Instead of relying on walks, which are subject to schedule and weather issues, she exercises with a TV aerobics show.
"Denise Austin is on every morning at 7:30. I nurse, walk the dog, brush my teeth, and do Denise. I'm down to 158. But I want to be 140 before I get pregnant again. This time I want to be fit and trim, and only gain 30 pounds!"