1. Thanks for sharing your story. I need to lose weight but I don’t want to follow a fad diet. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. I need to learn how to eat in a way that will work with my life for the rest of my life.

  2. Were you breastfeeding and doing that amount of calories? I have always heard don’t cut calories when bf’ing to keep your supply up

    • I stopped breastfeeding before I started exercising and dieting. Kelly Mom – a great breastfeeding resource – has more details here:
      But, from my research on calorie intake, you could diet while breastfeeding. The calories would just need to be adjusted. For example, if you need a daily intake of 1900 calories to maintain your weight and you decide to diet and consume only 1400 calories. Then, while breastfeeding, you need to increase the calorie amount to about 1600-1900 calories. LoseIt and other programs calculate your “maintain weight” calories based on height and activity level. Maintenance levels would definitely be higher breastfeeding.

    • I am a nursing mom who has slowly been losing weight via weight watchers the past few months. I would advise to wait for 2 months (or maybe longer if you are having supply issues). Kelly Mom does have great advice. From my research exercise doesn’t hurt your supply but too low of calories can.

  3. Were you nursing your baby when you were eating healthier? If so, how did you take that into consideration? I don’t want to not eat enough calories so my baby isn’t getting the nutrition she needs. Any suggestions?

    • I stopped breastfeeding before I started exercising and dieting. It is possible though to diet and breastfeed!
      Kelly Mom – a great breastfeeding resource – has more details here:
      From my research on calorie intake, you could diet while breastfeeding. The calories would just need to be adjusted. For example, if you need a daily intake of 1900 calories to maintain your weight and you decide to diet and consume only 1400 calories. Then, while breastfeeding, you need to increase the calorie amount to about 1600-1900 calories. LoseIt and other programs calculate your “maintain weight” calories based on height and activity level. Maintenance levels would definitely be higher breastfeeding.

  4. Hi, I stumbled on your post via Facebook and am very inspired. i could be you – well,the you from four years ago. I am just at 170 pounds and definitely need to lose some weight as well as get healthier. I have been half-heartedly making an attempt to do so but with four young kids, I get discouraged easily. Thank you for writing out what you did and how you did it. I feel like if you can do it, so can I. I checked my Amazon Prime account and several of the Jillian Michaels videos you mentioned are available for me to use free through my membership. Score! It’s meant to be. Thank you again so much.

    • That’s awesome you have a prime account! And to do this with four kids would be a challenge, but I know you can do it. It has been easier to exercise as the kids get older because they can keep themselves entertained for 30 minutes. Changing my routine has also helped as they get older. Between ages 1 and 2, the little one would nap in the afternoon and I would exercise. After age 2, she could start watching TV shows, and I would have the video on my laptop while she watched an episode of Doc McStuffins. Imagine four kids seeing your work hard and reach your goals! They will be so proud!

  5. Thank you so much for this. Your rules are a lot like mine. I have lost a similar amount of weight and similar range: 205 to 130 over about 2 years. I fluxuate between 130-135. Maintaining is hard and confusing. I weigh myself twice a week: mondays and thursdays. Monday is almost always higher, because i’m less strict with myself on the weekends. I pretty much make choices based on the scale: if my number was low-indulge, if high-restrict. Not a great plan I suppose. It’s easier to lose weight because there is a goal. Maintaining has no goal other than don’t gain too much. I struggle with guilt over overindulging and occational binges. I’m frustrated by the flab. I figured I’d lose weight and have tight skin-nope! It’s disappointing. Thank you for being so real and thank you for the practical advice. I really like the comparison to the envelope system. I may adopt a similar plan.

    • Thank you so much for replying with your similar story. And 205 to 130 is Amazing!!
      I weigh myself on Sunday mornings. But you are right – the new study that came out last month said people generally weigh the most Monday morning and the least Friday.
      I have binged as well and really, really surprised at how little I do gain. Once I think I ate 3 or 4 cinnamon caramel rolls. It’s weird, but when they are homemade I don’t notice a weight difference. But store bought stuff I do.

      Yeah, I wish Jillian Michaels would sometimes use dancers that have had kids in her videos. Or perhaps they have and just very blessed with amazing torsos. Plank position just ain’t pretty for me LOL

  6. When I do workout videos I do Jillian Michaels and many of them are absolutely free on YouTube. You can find tons of awesome workouts by all kinds of different people for free on YouTube.

    And good job for sticking with it and getting healthier!! I need to do better at sticking with the exercise. My immune system could definitely use a boost.

  7. Thank you so much for this post! I’m a huge Jillian Michaels DVD fan and I’ve been curious about her new “one week shred.” If you get bored with these, Bob harper has a 4 pack of DVD workouts at Target for $15. They’re all about 60 min and give you a Great workout!

    • “One Week Shred” was good for something different. But, I later realized it isn’t as cost effective as videos like “Ripped in 30” that give you four workouts. Thank you for visiting!!

    • Hi Kristy! Thanks for visiting!
      The $30 was for the 3 workout videos that I used. Each of Jillian’s video cost around $8-9 each currently via Amazon. Back in 2011 when I started my goal, Youtube didn’t have the entire workout available and Amazon Prime didn’t have free stuff available like they do today. So technically, it could $0 now! I do like having the videos though just in case our internet were to go down.

  8. Thanks for sharing this. I can relate because our weights are so similar. After having my second child, the weight came off all on it’s own. I did not work out, I didn’t diet, and just breastfed and the weight came off. I got a lot of compliments and just gave breastfeeding all the credit. I fluctuated between 129-135 for a couple of years after that… until I became pregnant with my third child. The weight came back on and I didn’t really care. I knew this was my last pregnancy and I was confident I could breastfeed the weight off again, but no. I am still have about 28 lbs I am carrying and my son will be 1 next month. Breastfeeding didn’t do it this time. 🙁 I did work out a few times, but then got “too busy.” I really need to make exercise a priority.

    • There were a couple of periods that I got “too busy” like during the holidays. But, later regretted it and never stopped exercising since. The delayed onset muscle soreness hurts too much. Thank you for visiting the website! After my first child, I don’t remember doing anything special and the weight came off much easier as well. All I cared about was getting back into my old clothes. My goal changed and I wanted to be healthier, so I started this journey after my second child.

      Priorities are key! You are so right!

  9. I really needed to hear your story. This is how I lost weight in the past, but after 6 kids and in my 40’s, my weight does not want to budge. I have been dabbling with another ‘healthy/weight loss’ plan, but some of the restrictions have been hard. I have been so discouraged because it seems like everyone is losing weight on this plan and enjoying the foods (I have had enough of coconut oil…ha), but I am just getting discouraged. I have been stuck at 142 lbs for months with no movement. Your way makes sense to me and seems more realistic. Thank you for this post!

    • Thank you for visiting! It seems like when we get really close to our goal that the weight gets stuck sometimes. Getting over the hump can be hard and discouraging. Restraining what I love only got me into trouble and be counterproductive. I would eat like 400-500 calories of “healthy” food before finally giving up and eating the bad thing – which would be like a cup of ice cream. Well, the cup of ice cream is 300 calories! So, then I was up to 800 calories and feeling even worse. I would have been better off just going ahead and eating the ice cream from the start. LOL

  10. I like what you have to say here. So often it seems like if you want to lose weight and keep it off you have to jump through a bunch of complicated hoops. It is discouraging — clean eating (what counts as clean?), vegan… no, paleo.. no, carb restriction, no… a crazy system of combining the exactly perfect ratio of carbs, protiens and fats. Um, no thanks, I’d rather be fat, lol. But I can deal with eating the foods I like to eat, within reason — real foods most of the time — and simply eating within a certain calorie limit. I did my fitness pal for a little while and now I can basically and pretty accurately estimate calories in my head without having to be super neurotic about it. My big problem is that I just like food and I’m breastfeeding so I have to be aware of my supply… which gives me kind of an excuse to overeat… it’s for the BABY. : )

  11. Thank you for article. I am now in my mid 40’s and it is harder to lose. I know I need to make some changes and your article will be a great motivational tool. We did join our local community center mainly because my 17 year old daughter also needs to lose weight and get healthy. She would not exercise with me at home but is now going to Zumba and yoga with me at the center. Having her with me is also great motivation! Thanks for your blog. Will read them more frequently now!

    • That is awesome that you found a routine and a method that works for you. Everyone needs to find what works for THEM. And even that can change when your routine or needs change! I like to exercise at home, but I know a lot of my friends will only go to the gym.

  12. I was always able to lose my weight after babies by breastfeeding! And playing with my children keeps me strong. Even now, as a grandma I can toss my grandchildren in the air and wrestle with them. But just recently, my weight has started going up again. Sometimes thyroid is to blame, but I know I am not as active as I need to be.

    Maybe I will find some exercises in the free youtube videos that will inspire me! I’m glad you found a legal channel! It’s hard to find them sometimes.

    • Thank you for visiting! Yes, I am very cautious about linking to a website that isn’t right. Have a great weekend! The channel had a lot of range of workouts from Denise Austin’s low impact to Jillian Michaels think I’m going to die workouts. LOL

  13. Way to combine concepts from losing weight and saving money (i.e., envelopes). 😉 But I so appreciate that this approach doesn’t require a big financial investment, or adopting a weird fad diet. I’m trying really hard not to name any right now. 😀 Thank you for this encouragement. We can do it!

  14. Hi! Even though you say you aren’t counting calories now, would guesstimate you are eating around 2000 a day now, or do you still try and stick to around 1500?

    • Hi Angela! I eat around 2,000 calories per day now. I am 5’9″ and after checking Lose It, Calorie Calc ( and another one – they all stated I needed about 2000-2100 calories. After 3-4 months of looking up the calories and recording everything I ate, it really helped me gauge what the right amount was and how much I was really eating. For example, my husband didn’t understand why he was trying to eat less and not losing weight. After I told him to try Lose It again, he realized that all those pistachios he was eating “just a little of” turned into an extra 500 calories per day.

  15. Thank you so much for posting the links to the YouTube videos. I have been checking out copies of these from the library so often, I’m sure they wish I would just buy them. Now I can leave them for others to discover and watch online instead. Thanks!

  16. Thanks for that posting. It was just what I needed. I have a quick question. What did you enter into lose it for your exercising? Just so I get the right calorie count. I have the 30 day shred and Ripped in 30 videos.

    • For most of the videos, I put it under “aerobics” and chose “high intensity.” Then, you put in your minutes of course. That category seemed to be pretty close out of all of them to the workout involved.

      Thanks for visiting!

  17. Quick question… I used my fitnesspal last summer and lost 17lbs… And then gained back about 7 of it this past winter. I’m back calorie counting (it’s the only thing that works for me that I can a stick with) and I’m trying to decide if I should be eating back my calories I burned during my workouts or not. Did you add more calories into your day for working out or did you just leave them and use that as a way to lose weight a little faster? Some days I feel like I’m need them, while other days I’m fine without eating them and feel completely full. I’m trying to lose ~2 lbs a week and hoping to lose a total of 25 by mid-fall. Thanks for this great post!!

    P.S. I saw your a fellow St. Louis girl! My husband and I lived in the suburbs for 3 years before moving back across the river!!!

    • Hi Kaitlin and thanks for visiting!

      I totally agree with the calories and workouts. I just approved another comment on it. Lose It and FitnessPal (I’ve heard great things on both) do give you extra calories when working out for the obvious reasons. Sometimes I used them… and sometimes I didn’t. It depended on how hungry I was. Sometimes workouts really drain me and I don’t feel like eating at ALL. Sounds weird, but it’s true. Sometimes, I have tried drinking like 40 ounces of water and still feel really hungry and I would eat the calories.

      I did read that exercise does great in maintaining your weight as well. Exercising 5 times per week – regardless of what I ate – seemed to always keep the pounds stable. I stopped for 2 weeks because of various stuff, didn’t change what I ate, and like gained 5 pounds in a week!

      Good luck! You CAN do it!

  18. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. As a new mother to a two month old, and three other little ones (ages 5,6, & 7), I have the desire to reach my weight loss goal. But it is difficult with my husband being away so much with his job in the military & me being home alone with the kids. Your experience gave me hope that it can be done & I’m not alone in my fears. Thank you for being so brutally honest too! I had to smile when you said things like the first 20 lbs were easy to lose because it was all baby weight and the left-over flab can be so discouraging. These 2 things have been so true for me. I’ve currently lost 26 lbs just from breastfeeding, alone, and my baby is nearing 3 months. But after 4 children, I see the evidence of carrying them on my body every day when I look in the mirror. I don’t want to dwell on this part of my journey, but I fear my own obsessive qualities with this imperfection. Do you find you wear clothes differently or shop for different types of clothes (looser, less form-fitting, not as confining jeans, etc.) For example, after losing the 26 lbs and getting many compliments on my goals thus far, I was feeling confident to wear a dress to a wedding I was attending in June, but after trying it on & seeing my mid-section, I returned the dress & wore pants and a flowy top instead. I like to dress with the trends, but I don’t want to be unrealistic. What are your thoughts or personal experiences with this matter? Again, thank you!

  19. Ok this may seem like a silly question but when your allotted calories are say 1500 and you exercise, do you still stick with the 1500 calories? I got the Lose It app and when I put in my exercise, I get more calories to burn. I just want to make sure that I’m doing that right. your example for calories for the day was at 1500 but doing those workouts everyday would give you more calories–right?

    thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for visiting, Lori!

      Yes! Workouts give you extra calories in your plan!

      1500 calories and the “envelope system” is similar to the cash envelope system: Everyone will have a different amount of money to work with because we all have different incomes. Similarly, your calories will be different from mine (unless you are also 5’9″) and yes, Lose It does give you more calories when you exercise. More exercise = more calories. You can eat those calories, or if you aren’t hungry don’t use them. It depended on how hungry I felt.

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  21. Thank you for this post! It motivated me to start exercising again! I’ve never been a calorie counter, but I started using the Lose It app. I’ve been amazed at how much more aware I am of what I am eating. I was eating reasonably healthy before but this app made me realize I have to watch portions of even some of the healthy foods! My daughter likes to check in and see where mom’s calorie count is for the day 🙂

    I do have a question for you. You said at the beginning of your post to not go below 1200 calories (which I completely understand). On the Lose It app if I log in my exercise it will subtract those burned calories from my total to give me a “net” amount. Should I make sure the actual food calories stay above 1200 or the net amount? What did you do?

    I’ve always been a little intimidated by Jillian Michaels just by reputation so I have never tried one of her workouts. I found the 30 day shred on YouTube and it turns out that she is just the kind of trainer I like! She’s motivating but practical. And I find her kinda funny 🙂

    Thanks again for the motivation!

    • I made sure to consume 1200 calories, but after that it really just depended on how hungry I was. If I wasn’t hungry very much, I just wouldn’t eat the extra calories from exercise. If I was really, really hungry, then I would work my way through the 200 or so calories I got from exercising. Exercise calories are such a guesstimate that I didn’t really try all that hard to use them up. I hope that makes sense. If not, feel free to email me. That is awesome you tried Jillian! Yes, I think she is funny too sometimes. 🙂

  22. Love this–so motivating! Since writing this, have you added any new workouts or videos to your routine? Any new tips? Thank you!

    • Great question! I have started doing almost all my workouts off of They have a great variety of different workouts, lengths and levels. I like the Tabata style ones they have, too! After adding up the amount of money that a few more dumb bells would cost, I purchased Power Block from Amazon. It ranges from 3 lbs. to 24 lb weights all in one which would have cost me over $200 easy!
      Have a fabulous week!

    • Breakfast and lunch I used foods from Trader Joe’s and Costco quite a bit…. They were in bulk, made without preservatives and junk, quick and cheap.
      Breakfast: 1 egg, 1 toast and a coffee. This was 200 calories and sometimes I would add a little jam to my toast. A bowl of oatmeal was 150 calories and I would add 100 calories to it in the form or blueberries or banana.
      Lunch: Frozen chicken nuggets (well, because this is what the kids would eat as well) were 240 calories. Or a Chick Fila grilled chicken sandwich, fruit cup and diet lemonade. Or Panera Broccoli soup with 1/2 tuna sandwich was 400 calories. Eating out actually made lunch easier because the restaurants have already portioned out the food for you. Whole grain bread like Healthy Life and deli meat. Then add various fruits and veggies to everything.

  23. You mentioned you read books about being healthy. I was wondering if you have a kist of books you read.

    • I have posted them throughout my blog, but that will take forever to read through 🙂 The books I liked were by author Michael Pollen and I liked reading “Sugar Fat Salt”. Marion Nestle’s “What to Eat”. Many times I would read a book and then it would refer me to another book or have referenced it in the works cited.

  24. I love everything you have said here! It has motivated me to stay on track. I’m currently 160. I just got down to preprego weight and I want to go to 145/140. When I was reading this on my phone, I thought there was a link to sample menu or recipes of what you were eating. But now I can’t find it. Maybe I misread it on my phone. Do you have a sample diary? I’m always looking for more ideas! Thanks!

  25. Great job keeping it off! 30 day Shred is my go to. After so many viewings, I don’t want to hear Jillian anymore, so I mute the TV and turn up some good workout music. I find it way more motivating than cheesy music and hearing about how awesome Natalie’s form is for the millionth time.

  26. Love your post and all of your tips on losing and maintaining weight. Do you have any tips to tightened the lose skin after weight loss?

    • My skin tightened back up mostly everywhere but where I had my kids. Lots of water on the inside and hydrating lotion on the outside. Exercise also helps, too. Most of losing weight is diet, but exercise tones the muscles underneath which makes the skin sag less. Good luck!

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  28. I do all of these things and can NOT get below 150 (also 5’9″). the one time I got down to 145, I was eating out super clean and working out like it was my job. Not the way I want to live, really. So frustrating!

    • Hmmm, my only other suggestion would be to see an endocrinologist if that is possible. Your PCP may have to recommend them depending on your insurance plan. The endo can test your thyroid to make sure it is all normal. A little hypothyroidism could make weight loss come to a halt despite doing everything right. I had mine tested and I was at a 4.75 and should be below a 4. (Some PCP’s will say below 5, but endocrinologist will say 4. (Weird, I know.) A few micrograms of medicine later, everything started working right.
      Good luck!

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  30. I need to lose weight but am absolutely not wanting to diet, I hate dieting but I am now 48 and I look like I am pregnant, I have lots of belly fat. Any tips to motivate me. Rebekah will be 5 next month and I still have all of my baby fat.

    I like your website!



  1. […] and inspired by all the wonderful readers on Whisk Together and Money Saving Mom following my How I Lost 33 Pounds and Kept It Off for 3 Years.  A lot of great ideas in the comments as well.  I tried to keep the blog post down to the […]

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