Don’t Do As I Do

Sometimes parenting doesn’t work the way you think it will. For instance, sometimes you learn that what your parents did just didn’t work and you have to do the opposite for yourself when you grow up. The lesson is still received, just not in the way you expected.


This was me, 20 pounds heavier in June when I first started my weight loss journey.

Weight Is The Symptom

It’s like this when it comes to my mother’s example of health. My mom was an amazing woman and she took really good care of me, but unfortunately she didn’t take such great care of herself. Being overweight was her symptom, but the real problem was that she just didn’t care enough about her health. She always put others before herself.

About six months ago I realized that I was heading down her path and found myself about twenty pounds heavier and totally complacent about it. I knew I would have to do something that was out of character for me if I was going to turn things around. I was going to have to put myself and my health first.

The Things Diabetes Will Steal

My mother spent the better part of my life overweight, but it was the diabetes she acquired because of her poor eating habits that really limited her life. She woke up one day and could barely see. I got a call at work saying the doctor was rushing to get her in to test for a brain tumor. I thought my heart was broken that day. It wasn’t a tumor, but her diabetes that robbed her of 90 percent of her vision.

The last several years of her life were plagued with health problems from wounds on her hands and feet that wouldn’t heal to ultimately kidney failure that took her from me. I spent much of my adult life trying to persuade her to eat better, cut out soda, and get some exercise, but she was also plagued by something – the idea that she could not change. I knew if I didn’t want to follow down her path I was not just going to have to know I could change, I would have to get up and make it happen.

Making It Work Out

The day I joined Planet Fitness was also the day of my family portraits and I felt like someone else in my clothes. I signed up and went that night. That was back in June. I’ve been working out three to four days a week ever since. I also started making better food choices, watching portion sizes or rather figuring out for the first time in my life what they actually are.

What Does Your 60 Year-Old Self Say?

When I started losing weight, people wanted to know my secret. Even now twenty pounds down, people seem to lean in as I tell them how I did it, wanting me to tout a specific diet pill or drink. Unfortunately I’m here to tell you that there is no magic pill. Only the hard truth that you must put your health first.

You must make time to work out. It’s not about being a certain size or weight, it’s about being healthy for years to come. It’s about making sure your 60 year-old self is not only still alive, but healthy enough to play with your grandchildren.

Not Being Ruled By The Scale

My weight still fluctuates by a couple of pounds and Lord knows the holidays aren’t helping much, but tonight I’ll head out to the gym when the baby goes down for the night and my husband will get my older two to bed. It’s the only time that is really just mine. I’m not going to lie. I love getting in the car all alone. I love putting on my music and sweating out the stress for awhile. It wasn’t always easy.

Beyond seeing the numbers on the scale go down, I had to learn to love watching the numbers on the weights go up, as well as the number of minutes of cardio I could endure. I’m watching my strength grow and that has to be more important than the scale.

Be Prepared To Run The Race

I’m running an invisible race against the future of sickness I watched my mother endure. Maybe for you it’s heart disease or some other ailment. I’m running from my nature to put others first and myself last. It’s easy to fall back into old eating habits. It’s easy to skip the gym when I’m tired or it’s raining and I just don’t feel like it. But that’s when 60 year-old Erin yells at me to get off my butt and go. If she is going to exist at all, 35 year old Erin NEEDS to get to the gym and to eat better.

I lost 20 pounds between June and October by watching what I eat and going to the gym at night 3-4 times a week.

I lost 20 pounds between June and October by watching what I eat and going to the gym 3-4 times a week.

Weight Loss is a Byproduct of Change

Here’s the secret to my 20 pound weight loss. I believed I could change and I worked my butt off to make it happen. I didn’t drink a magic potion. I tracked calories on and in the process learned to check serving sizes and learned to swap out ingredients for healthier choices. I asked for help finding healthy recipes and was referred to which has been awesome.

I don’t let slip ups freak me out, I just hit the gym or do better tomorrow. Being healthy is not just something you are, it’s something you continually strive for. It’s the marathon of life and you’ve gotta keep going no matter what your pace happens to be. The secret to being healthy is simply wanting to be in it and not watching from the sidelines.

The Endgame Isn’t A Number; It’s A Future

The real trick is to understand that you can’t do it for a dress size or a number on a scale. You have to do it because you know that today is not the end game, tomorrow is and you want to be there to see it.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found blogging at Hudson Valley Parent Magazine and when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her otherwise three adorable kiddos. This frugal, “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow me on Facebook or Twitter for my delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails.