"I want to show my kids how to keep up healthy habits so they don’t have to struggle like I did."

By Julieanna Deater
Stephanie DeAngelis

Being a Navy wife can be challenging. In the past seven years, we’ve never lived in one place longer than a year and a half. Taking care of myself was my last priority. I gained 90 pounds during my first pregnancy with my son Jude, and 50 with my second child, Jade. After Jade’s birth, I ended up 70 pounds heavier than before I had kids. I didn’t have money for a new wardrobe, so I just wore my husband’s old sweats and T-shirts. I would step out of the shower and turn the bathroom light off so I couldn’t see my reflection. I hated how my stretched-out, saggy stomach looked. At my lowest, I remember lying in bed staring at the ceiling, wondering if anyone would miss me if I were gone.

My turning point came one day in 2013 when I was on the couch, breastfeeding Jade. The house was a mess because I didn’t have the energy to clean it up. Jude tripped over a scattered toy and broke his leg. I know now that it was an accident. But at that time, I thought: “I’m putting my kids at risk because I’m too lazy to get my butt off the couch.” I realized right then that I needed to make a change.

I didn’t have child care, so I started working out every day at home for 30 minutes when my kids were napping or after they went to bed. I started by using the Beachbody 21 Day Fix video series, which a friend was doing. I had never been an athletic person, so I liked that the videos told me exactly how to exercise, step-by-step. In those early days when I didn’t feel like sweating, I would look at Jude in his cast and get motivated. Over time, working out became a habit, like brushing my teeth.

I changed how we ate too. I stopped eating so much fast food and gave up drinking all those large sweet teas. We now eat lots of lean protein—chicken, turkey burgers—and I try for 4 cups of veggies a day. I drink lots of water too. I do have dessert, just not as often.

By the time I got pregnant with my third child in 2016, I was down from a size 16 to a size 4. I gained only 27 pounds during that pregnancy and felt much better. With my doctor’s approval, I worked out, even the night before I was induced! I want to show my kids how to keep up healthy habits so they don’t have to struggle like I did. At 15 months postpartum, I am back into my regular jeans. More important: I now look in the mirror and feel good about my body. I respect all that we’ve been through. I think: “I earned this.”

Parents Magazine
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