How This Mom of Three Preschoolers Lost 16 Pounds*
*At 6 months, participants in a clinical trial of the WW weight-loss program lost an average of 9.7 lbs (5% of body weight). And, people who track their food more often lose more weight. When actual WW members track their food at least two times a week for 6 months they lose on average 16.6 lbs. (7.9% body weight). Stephanie lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on WeightWatchers.
As told to Katerina Gkionis
After I had my second child, I was lost in that “mom-of-two-under-2” world, just doing my best to keep everyone happy and healthy. Our baby daughter was six weeks old when my husband and I finally planned a date night out to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I was so excited, I asked him to snap a selfie with me before we left for the restaurant, thinking it might make a sweet Instagram post.
When I looked at the picture on my phone, however, my heart sank. I knew I had gained about 30 pounds during my second pregnancy, and I still had 10 pounds lingering from my first pregnancy—and was less than two months out from giving birth—but seeing my weight captured on camera was jarring. My husband and I still had a lovely time celebrating. I just felt down that I was too self-conscious to share a photo of our special occasion.
I loved being a mom, but at the same time, a part of me felt lost. At some point, I stopped taking pride in how I looked. In our household, most meals are served family-style. I’d pile on seconds or thirds until I was stuffed. As the anniversary photo made all too clear, this approach wasn’t working for me—or making me happy.
A close friend who had reached her goal on WW suggested I try out the program, too. Three weeks after that date with my husband, in October 2017, I downloaded the WW app and signed up as a Digital member.
Working the numbers
The first thing I did in the WW app was look up the breakfast I had just eaten: a large bowl of sweet cereal with milk, plus coffee with hazelnut creamer. The numbers were pretty shocking. That one meal—my usual breakfast—was 17 WeightWatchers. It nearly depleted my Budget for the day.
I searched some other foods I normally ate and got similar results. That’s when I resolved to begin planning meals more carefully and started combing Instagram and Connect for recipes and ideas.
Weekend meal prep soon became a consistent activity. I carved out an hour early on Saturday mornings to prep my breakfasts and lunches for the week. For breakfast, I’d do a big-batch pancake bake with chicken and sausage, or assemble individual egg sandwiches for the days ahead. For lunch, I’d prep dishes like turkey burgers and pasta salad and portion them out. By 9 a.m., the kitchen would be clean, and I’d be ready for a day with my family.
What Stephanie ate then vs. now
Sugary cereal with milk, plus two cups of coffee with generous splashes of hazelnut creamer
Overnight oats made with old-fashioned oats, unsweetened cashew milk, Greek yogurt, apple butter, powdered peanut butter, and slices of apple and banana
Deli turkey sandwich on a roll; broccoli cheddar soup and a slice of bread
Stir-fry with ground chicken breast, shredded cabbage, carrot, water chestnuts, soy sauce, and crispy wontons; Mason-jar salad with chicken, sliced bell pepper, onion, cilantro-lime rice, shredded fat-free cheddar, guacamole, and mixed greens
Cheeseburger on brioche bun with a large side of French fries from the freezer aisle
Hamburgers made with 96% lean ground beef, served on a light English muffin or light hamburger bun with a slice of light Swiss, plus portioned-out French fries
Candy, sugary granola bars, fruit snacks
Grapes and apples; baby carrots or cucumbers with light ranch dressing; WW Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Mini Bar or WW Protein Peanut Butter Stix; Greek yogurt with pudding mix, cocoa powder, frozen berries, and peanut butter powder
I started an Instagram page, @steph_on_ww, to keep myself accountable, using my Instagram Stories to share my meal prep activities. By building healthy routines and learning how to plan my meals, I reached my goal about four months later, in February 2018.
My maintenance journey was put on pause that October, when I became pregnant unexpectedly—surprise, baby No. 3 on the way! Since WW isn’t meant to be followed during pregnancy, I wasn’t on the program during the months that followed. Still, I kept up some of my healthy habits. Instead of rushing to the corner store for pints of ice cream, for example, I continued to eat foods such as grilled chicken, beans, lentils, corn, fruits, and vegetables in a way that supported a healthy weight for my baby and myself.
I returned to WW about a month after the baby arrived. I was in a good place and felt ready to resume my journey. This time around, I joined as a Workshop member so I could soak up as much inspiration as possible.
I love that everything is on the menu with WW. For example, if I want to have a breakfast of oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and peanut butter, I can do that. I’ll have a salad with grilled chicken or a bowl of soup for lunch. And for dinner, I’ll have burgers with lean ground beef, or chicken thighs. I’m able to explore different options and still eat my nutritious fruits and veggies.
All in the family
I love that I’ve been able to get back to my goal in November 2019 after having my third child. That’s not to say it’s been easy: As a work-from-home mom, my schedule is too busy for me to get to a gym. Luckily, my little ones keep me moving.
My kids are starting to notice my routines. On Saturday mornings, my oldest—who’s almost 5—will say, “When you’re done making your lunches, can we go outside and play?” He likes helping in the kitchen, especially if I’m making a baked treat like muffins.
I cook dinner six nights a week. For ideas, I look to resources like the WW app and healthy-eating blogs. My biggest takeaway from my journey is this: Cooking a meal that works with my wellness plan takes the same amount of time as the meals I used to make. Now, instead of deep-frying chicken cutlets, I just pop them in the air fryer. Instead of spooning a pile of pasta onto my plate, I measure out a half cup. Instead of sprinkling full-fat cheese on top, I use fat-free. It’s not more work. For me, it’s about being more mindful of my choices.
I still love sharing my journey on Instagram. It keeps me motivated, and it feels good when I’m able to inspire others. I’ve gotten messages like, “I reached my goal because of you!” or, “Whenever I don’t feel like cooking, I come to your page for ideas." I’m doing something meaningful for myself while helping others along the way.
As a mom of three children under the age of four, I need a lot of energy to get through my days. I like knowing that I’m able to keep up with my kids thanks to the foods I put in my body. It’s not just about reaching a number on the scale; it’s about learning to lead a full and healthy life.
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