Alexandra Kay: it’s all about finding balance in your life and not depriving yourself
By Alexandra Kay,
I gained over 70 lbs. during my second pregnancy with my son, and at 5’1”, I went into labor at 200 lbs. After I gave birth to my son, I found myself steadily gaining weight rather than losing weight since I was still sustaining that “pregnancy lifestyle.” It got to a point where my maternity clothes (which had fit me all during pregnancy) were becoming too small, and I had to start purchasing larger clothes. I looked into the mirror and didn’t really recognize myself. I kept telling myself that I just had a baby and needed to be kinder to myself, but the truth was I kept using that as an excuse to continue living my unhealthy lifestyle instead of making a change towards becoming a healthier version of myself. I was discouraged and became complacent with my new lifestyle. I began ostracizing myself from doing things with my husband and kids (like going to the community pool because I didn’t feel good about how I looked), and I was becoming more and more unhappy with my situation.
The turning point for me was when I realized I was missing out on life and making memories with my family because of how I felt about myself. I wasn’t allowing myself to be happy in the moment. It was then that I realized I needed to make a change that had to do with more than just weight loss. I wanted to become the best version of myself, not only for me, but for the people who relied on me--like my kids and family. My goal was never a specific or unrealistic number on the scale. I just wanted to feel good about myself; I wanted to feel strong both physically & mentally. I also wanted to learn and appreciate myself at every stage of this journey. At my turning point, I think I adopted a new mentality and a new self-talk. I kept telling myself that I could do it and that my situation was just temporary. After I had that urge to just simply start, I also wanted to make it a point to openly share my entire wellness journey openly & genuinely on Instagram and through my IG stories. I shared raw progress photos, talked openly about feeling discouraged, shared my moments of celebration, and relied on my Instagram community for accountability and support throughout my entire journey. I really felt like sharing would inspire at least one person, and show that if I can do this, then anyone can do it (with the right mindset and the willingness to put in the work).
The very first thing I did to even start my weight loss/wellness journey was to start moving my body 30 minutes a day. That was the foundation to my entire journey. In the past, I think I always set myself up for failure because I tried to set this big, unrealistic goal for myself. I didn’t want to feel discouraged with the big goal or tell myself I had only this much time to lose this much weight. My small goal was to be consistent with just 30 minutes of movement a day. I had so much extra weight on my body since I am a petite person and was around 180 lbs. at the time, so my 30 minutes started off as just walking and pushing my baby in the stroller outside. I also purchased the Peloton bike, which was life changing for me, because I would do 11 p.m. rides with Robin Arzon once my kids went down. Some days, I would just dance for 30 minutes, or do weighted workouts from random workout videos I would find off YouTube. I was constantly switching up my workouts and never once followed a certain workout plan. I just became very consistent with those 30 minutes of daily workouts & movement.
The major thing that started happening for me was that I started to crave those 30 minutes every single day. My 30 minutes of walks gradually became runs, and my Peloton rides became more intense because I felt such a push that I could accomplish anything during rides with Robin on the Peloton. After I completed those daily workouts, I felt like a whole new person. I then made it a point to keep challenging myself to run a little further than the last time, or break a PR on the Peloton, or do one more weighted rep than my last workout. Not only was it making a difference in my physical body and jump-starting my weight loss, but the positive effect it had on my mood, patience, anxiety etc., was undeniable. I think a lot of times people can perceive exercise as punishment for their body, or they dread doing it because it becomes like a chore, but I think early on I started perceiving those 30 minutes of working out as the medicine I needed to be functional and resilient in my everyday life.
I have struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life, so that 30 minutes of working out and releasing those endorphins is just what I needed to manage and cope with my mental health. Sometimes there are days when I find myself not making those 30 minutes a priority because I get busy or don’t plan well, and those are the days I find myself getting in a “slump” and feeling down and unmotivated. I’ve learned that those are the days that I must stop and make those 30 minutes a priority, because I really do attribute working out as both my mental and physical medicine that I need to be functional and resilient in life.
As far as nutrition, it was something I had to trial-and-error to find what worked best for me and was sustainable for my lifestyle. I really try to stress to people that it’s all about finding balance in your life and not depriving yourself. I typically do my 30 minutes of working out in the morning, so that has really helped me set up my day to make better food choices. In the beginning, I started to make small steady changes to what I ate during the day and really focusing on whole foods. I made it a point to eat smaller portions, and one of the biggest changes I made was to stop eating past 7 p.m. I became more intentional with eating and paying attention to see if I was actually hungry or just eating out of boredom. As I made progress in getting my portions under control and making healthier choices, I started meal prepping a day in advance. (And by meal prepping, I mean having a plan for meals for the following day and having snacks for on-the-go like Keto Krisp.) I’m not the best in the kitchen and I’m always on the go, so before I go to bed, I just plan what my day looks like and what I am specifically going to eat for the day. I eat small meals throughout the day, so I am constantly eating rather than sitting down for big meals. This made a big difference for me and my weight loss journey.
Overall, I think the biggest thing that helped me in my weight loss was to make small, sustainable changes in my food choices, and really focusing on whole foods, as well as finding that balance. I also allowed (and still allow) myself to have cheat meals and not feel guilty about it. The key is to continue to move forward and to be easy on yourself.
These are the three biggest changes I made that helped with my weight loss:
- Worked out/moved my body for 30 min. a day and viewed that workout as something I wanted and needed to do for my overall mental and physical health, rather than viewing that workout as a chore.
- Mentality: Told myself I CAN do it, that my situation is temporary, and positive self-talk. I learned to love and appreciate myself at every stage rather than pick out my flaws and imperfections. I stopped striving for perfection and took it day-by-day.
- Made steady and sustainable changes in my food choices that worked for my lifestyle. I found balance and allowed myself to have cheat meals without feeling like I failed or needed to constantly start over. It’s all about finding balance and what works best for you and your body. Also finding products like Keto Krisp that have great quality, good fat source for energy, and help when on-the-go.
I have my Master's in Psychology & Counseling and am currently studying tbecome a certified health coach. My goal is to offer online coaching services and lock arms with people to help them become better versions of themselves. I want to offer services to help individuals focus on the “how to stay motivated” and accomplish their fitness goals by collaborating with them in developing specific goal setting and accountability that directly translates into their everyday lives.
"Invest Your Best" Podcast: come join Ali Kay as she casually explores what it takes to live your best life mentally, physically & spiritually by focusing on things you can control; your thinking and actions.