When I was pregnant with my third daughter I gained the most weight of all three pregnancies. At the time we were remodeling our house and between feeling nauseous all the time…morning sickness that lasted all day!…and having people working at the house I felt like I didn’t exercise nearly as much as I did with the first two pregnancies. Disclaimer: I can’t say I really exercised when I was pregnant with Laila (baby #2) it was more I was just so busy chasing Hailey around. Literally chasing. She was a runner!

So fast forward to my third baby being about 1 years old and really feeling like I needed to make a change to get healthier and to feel better in my own skin. While I was nursing I felt like I was eating non-stop and chocolate was always my afternoon pick-me-up. When Paisley stopped nursing at 12 months, it was hard to stop the eating train. It was comfort sometimes more so than anything else. But I wasn’t happy about my body and finally came to conclusion that I needed to make some changes.

I had tried spin classes in the past but it had been a long time and I was incredibly intimidated. The truth was I knew it was the fastest way for me to burn calories. I do enjoy the eliptical machine but would never push myself as hard as a spin class. Here’s the irony…My husband is a personal trainer! Although he would try to squeeze me in occasionally to train, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. After much of his encouragement, off to spin class I went. And I thought I was going to die. Muscles I forgot that I had hurt and I couldn’t sit down without being sore for a week. It was pretty ridiculous! But back I would go. And sore I would be. And over time it got better. I began to look forward to the burn in my legs because I knew they were working. My breathing got better and the weight started to come off. I added in some weight lifting and it just felt so good to be getting stronger. I really noticed it when the stroller felt lighter and easier to get out of the trunk of the car.

On days when making it to the gym doesn’t happen (having three kids–anything can happen!) I have been trying to take walks with the baby in the stroller. I also try to give myself 20-30 minutes or so and use bands to do some strength training a few days a week.

The other thing I had to change was my eating. I love…I mean LOVE sweets. Chocolate especially is my weakness. Cutting it out was so hard but that’s the kind of “all or nothing” person that I am. It’s tricky for me to regulate myself and I knew I just needed to cut it out and take away the temptation. So Justin and I cut out sugar, carbs and most dairy for about a month. We basically followed a paleo plan. It was SO hard! I’m not gonna lie. I missed sugar and bread….oh and cheese. Especially a delicious brie on crusty french bread! So we cut it out and almost instantly the weight came off. I found myself having way more energy and almost…almost enjoyed the challenge of cooking carb free. Which leads me to my new favorite thing: sweet potatoes.

They are a superhero food. They have tons of vitamins and are a great source of fiber. But what I love most about them is that they are incredibly versatile. They easily replace carbs and can be topped with almost anything. At first, one of the challenges I faced was how do I cook for my family and yet still stick to a paleo plan. With kids after-school activities, homework, playdates and a baby who loves to climb, my cooking window is pretty small. Meals have to be made fast. That’s when sweet potatoes became my new best friend. If I made pasta and meat sauce for the family I would then put the sauce on a sweet potato and skip the pasta. Same thing with Chile Verde, BBQ chicken, and sloppy joes. All of which I make in the crock-pot. Just switching out the carb for the sweet potato made a huge difference in my weight-loss journey while at the same time I did not have to make two separate meals. Win-win!

For me, being on that super restrictive diet for longer than a month was just too hard. I missed chocolate! So now I’m trying to live 70-80% paleo/20-30% non-paleo. Through the process, I’ve lost 40 lbs and have managed to keep it off. Some days are definitely easier than others. And when I do decide to indulge, I try not to beat myself up about it (more about that later!)…instead I just try to make better choices the next day. Life is too short to spend any time worrying about the piece of cake I ate yesterday.

What has your journey been like? What are healthy/weight-loss tricks you love? Please share, I’d love to hear from you.