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Welcome to Simply Real Moms’ Motivate Me Monday’s series! We thought it would be a fun idea for moms to share their weight loss stories, struggles and ideas to help inspire all of our readers. This week, we want to share our very own Simply Real Mom, Erin’s story of how she lost 20 pounds this summer!  We are so very proud of her and wanted to share her inspiring story with all of you! We asked Erin how she did it:

Wow, 20 pounds over this summer is quite an accomplishment, how did you do it?

I lost the weight by making some small changes in my life. I was already eating fairly healthy (i.e. whole wheat pastas and breads, only chicken, fish and turkey for meat, etc.). I discovered through using a calorie counting app for my iPhone called My Fitness Pal that it was my serving sizes that were doing me in. I love food! Well, that, and I was drinking about three to four Coca Cola Classics a day. So I started documenting my daily calories and really holding myself accountable by joining an online weight-loss challenge group.

What was your main motivation for losing the weight?

My biggest motivation was not ever wanting to show a gain weekly. Sure, I go up and down at various points during the week. But I “weigh in” every Sunday to compare it with the previous week. My friend told me to set mini-rewards for every five pounds I lost. That was a great plan! I’ve now lost 23 of the 30 pounds I am currently aiming for. When I reach the 30 pounds lost, I’m getting my hair cut and highlighted as a reward for reaching that goal, and I’m really looking forward to it!

What were your three favorite foods to eat while trying to eat healthier?

I love fruit! I also have discovered a great tilapia recipe that my whole family enjoys. Lastly, I still allow myself to eat some sweets. If I cut them out completely, I know I would crave them even more. So I still enjoy a Coke every now and then or a chocolate chip cookie with frosting! Not the healthiest of choices, at all. But I really look forward to those weekly treats I allow myself.

Did you read any healthy magazines, follow any fitness blogs or use any similar tools to inspire you?  

I don’t follow any magazines or blogs about fitness, but I do religiously use three iPhone apps. I wrote about the three I love and a few more great ones previously and you can read about them here.

What were your biggest struggles?

My biggest struggle is the school year starting back up and trying to exercise with my children as a single mom. Being a single mom who always has my kids, it’s hard to fit in a workout. I did a lot of walking with jogging mixed in because I could bring my toddler along to do that. I tried some workout videos during the day, but found he would just get under my feet. That led me to trying to workout after he went to bed, which usually meant I was lacking motivation by the end of the day. So walking/jogging was the best solution for me. Since I wasn’t teaching for nine weeks in the summer, it was the perfect time to jump start losing weight because I could more easily plan my meals and set aside time many days out of the week to walk. Now that I am back teaching, I’m struggling to find the time to cook and be as active.

How did you balance your time while caring for two kids?

Well, as I mentioned above, I try to walk with my toddler or exercise after he is in bed. My middle schooler is old enough that I can exercise without worrying about her. Sometimes it’s hard to try new recipes with a toddler under your feet, which makes me want to resort back to a lot of pasta and cheese recipes (which I love!), but I tend to overeat pasta meals easily. So meal planning helped with that.

If you could give other moms three tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle, what would they be?

  1. Drink more water! I drink at least 80 ounces a day.
  2. Set weekly goals for yourself. I started out small. The first week for weight loss, my goals were to drink at least 60 ounces of water a day and exercise 20 minutes three times a week.
  3. Set rewards for your progress.

Now that you’ve lost the weight, how do you plan to maintain your new weight?

I’m not quite to my goal weight, but even when I reach it, I’d love to lose five to 10 more pounds. I plan on maintaining my weight by continuing with the healthy choices I’ve made. Since my weight loss has come from lifestyle changes, not fad diets, I’m hoping I will be able to keep the weight off. I also plan on continuing to log my calories using My Fitness Pal so I can hold myself accountable, especially when it comes to portion size.

How do you teach your children about healthy eating choices and the importance of exercise?

I don’t generally keep sweets, pop or juice in the house. My children know those are for special occasions. I offer a variety of fruits, veggies, lean meats and whole grains at our meals, even if my children aren’t going to eat them. That way, they see them on their plate and see me eating them. Lead by example!
About Erin:
Erin lives in Northwest Pennsylvania with her two children, tween daughter Brid and toddler Christopher. Erin is working on her Master’s degree while devoting time to being a single mom of two. She began teaching preschool for Head Start and Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts when she graduated from Gannon University in 2004. Erin is enthusiastic about child development and education, holding various teaching certifications from Pre-K through Middle School. She is a little bit environmentalist, a little bit modern and a lot of fun! When she’s not spending 24 hours a day surrounded by children, she can be found flying her TARDIS.