I recently met with a group of mothers as part of an article about their fitness group. One of the moms left quite an impression on me, because she was working out with a smile on her face while simultaneously corralling her three kids under five. I chatted with her after the workout, and was astonished to learn that despite her hectic stay-at-home-parent lifestyle, she had lost over 100 pounds in the previous year. Kati Andresen is a tough woman who makes no excuses.
“It was a decision I made for my kids.” Kati explained. “They need a mom who can do things with them and be a good example for them.” At 325 pounds, her pain and low energy left her unable to do all the things she wanted to do for her children. At the time, Kati had infant twins and a toddler son, and was suffering from hip dysplasia from the twins’ pregnancy. During their infancy, Kati relied on physical therapy and pain medication to recover from her injuries. Meanwhile, she comforted herself with food and inactivity. Before long, she had regained all her pregnancy weight and more.
Kati’s pain and discomfort increased as the scale crept upward. She was also worried about developing the weight-related adult onset diseases that affected other members of her family. Finally she decided to make significant changes for her health.
In January of 2014, Kati started walking the 1.5 miles from her home to Downtown Herndon. The three-mile round-trip journey was long for her, and she occasionally needed to stop and rest, but she walked the route regularly. She made the walks into fun destinations for her and her kids — they would visit the Herndon Train Depot, farmers market, or parks — and therefore the walks felt more like fun family outings than obligatory workouts. “We are lucky to live in an area with so many things we can walk to,” said Kati.
Kati eventually added workout videos and a stationary bike to her fitness routine. She has particularly enjoyed Jillian Michaels’ kickboxing DVDs — “Kickboxing is such a great stress relief!” she explained. This year she has also added jogging with her stroller to her routine.
Kati changed her eating habits by cooking more, eating more fruits and vegetables, avoiding processed foods, and reducing her portion sizes.
Another big change that Kati made was participating in DietBet.com, an online community for weight loss challenges and support. DietBet offers financial motivation for weight loss, by creating a pool of reward money for all successful participants to share. Kati was diligent in her weight loss, and made a small profit on DietBet.
Kati’s changes have paid off. She has lost 105 pounds and currently weighs 220 pounds. She has much more energy and mobility than before her weight loss, and she has been able to discontinue her pain medication. Her target weight is 155 pounds, which is within her healthy BMI range.
“I haven’t once been on a diet since I started this journey. I don’t like the word. People start and stop diets, and it implies that you are depriving yourself of the things you really want to eat. I don’t think it is a sustainable or healthy mindset to truly be able to transform yourself. This is a lifestyle change for me. I still eat delicious food. I eat dessert. I have a glass of wine with dinner. I enjoy my meals and don’t feel deprived. I simply make healthier choices when cooking or grocery shopping.” Kati makes it sound the whole process sound so sensible and attainable.
I asked Kati Andresen to give us some advice in her own words. She has some valuable and approachable ideas to share!
KATI’S TOP FIVE TIPS FOR WEIGHT LOSS SUCCESS
1. Don’t stress over the schedule.
If you have to plan out every five minutes of your day, you won’t enjoy anything, and you’ll be a lot less likely to stick to a personal exercise routine. Let your day unfold and do what you can when you can. Try not to skip a workout if you can help it, but remember tomorrow is another day.
2. Include your kids in workouts and exercise.
Make it a game. Playing tag, having a kitchen dance party, and racing to the mailbox and back are all great ways to include your kids and add a little extra activity into your everyday routines. Don’t just stand at the swing and push, but see if you can run around them or go under them. Make sure you keep moving.
3. Emphasize portion control.
I know it’s hard, but this is a huge hurdle that everyone needs to overcome. I base my plate off the Harvard School of Public Health’s Healthy Food Plate diagram. Fruits and vegetables should make up at least 50% of your diet! Making my meals resemble the diagram has really helped me focus on what I’m consuming and how much.
Make sure you are looking at your food’s nutrition information to see what a serving size is. Count out the number of crackers or pretzels, and calculate that into your daily calorie intake. If you have a container of a food, see how many servings it contains before eating the whole thing. It can be very deceptive!
When you are making dinner for the family, make your plate up in the kitchen instead of putting everything on the table and helping yourself. You will be more likely to have a healthier sized portion and be less likely to dip back in for seconds.
4. Use visual aids and prizes to help keep you motivated.
As a visual aid, I used two mason jars, one labeled “Weight to lose,” and the other “Weight lost.” I counted out small colored pebbles, one for each pound I wanted to lose and filled my “to lose” jar. Then moved them into the “lost” jar as I started losing weight. It was a very happy day when I needed a bigger jar for the “weight lost”!
If you have a lot to lose, like I did, small prizes for smaller goals is key to keeping it from being overwhelming. Every 25lbs I got a little prize. It could be dinner out with no limitations and dessert! Some new clothes or the shoes you’ve been eyeing up, maybe tickets to a concert. Anything that is a prize to you would work.
I also have a prize for the big goals. For me I would get my dream vacation if I lost 100lbs. Again I turned to visual aids and I put up pictures of my prize vacation location. There was one on the nightstand to see every morning and another on the fridge. It kept the goal right in front of my face so I would make the better choices. It works!
5. Don’t give up. Life happens.
There are always setbacks, holidays, or something unexpected that will make you think that you can’t keep it up. Don’t give in to it. Recognize what happened, what habits you need to correct and move on from there. I have certainly been there and struggled to keep up the momentum, but I can’t let it stop me from reaching my goal. Just remember that you are strong and it may not be easy, but you can achieve any goal you set for yourself. Just don’t give up.
KATI’S RECIPE RECOMMENDATIONS
To begin with, I buy out the produce section every week, and then go home and figure out how to use it all. Pinterest is one of my best friends when I buy something new or need a new idea to make for dinner. Here are a few recipes I’ve found, and then some changes I’ve made to my personal choices at the end.
1. Slow Cooker Indian-Spiced Chickpeas and Potatoes
I LOVE cauliflower. Not everyone does, but it is pretty high on my list of favorite veggies. But there are only so many things I knew to do with it. Here is a link for a recipe I changed up a bit and has become a regular in our house.
My changes: only use one can of chickpeas. Add a small head of cauliflower and 5-6 large carrots in large chunks. I use fire-roasted diced tomatoes. At the minimum triple all the spices (we like it spicy and these veggies really need the extra flavor!)
2. Lentil Spinach Soup
Until last year, I’m not sure I had ever had lentils. I randomly decided to buy some because I had been reading about healthy alternative proteins. I am always up for trying something new and discovered this soup recipe. It’s a great basic recipe that anyone can change to suit their preferred tastes. Add some different veggies, or change the spices completely. It’s a very versatile recipe.
My changes: I like this one pretty much as it, but I do like to add extra carrot and some green pepper, and I prefer fire roasted diced tomatoes. I also add cayenne and red pepper flakes to give it some heat.
3. Banana Whip
Finally I always am looking for healthy sweet treats. Fresh fruit and juice popsicles are always a good option, but sometimes you NEED ice cream. Here is a fabulous alternative, and you will never know it isn’t full of heavy cream and sugar! I don’t really like banana flavors, but the kids and I LOVE this! No guilt and complete satisfaction!
– 3 large ripe bananas cut into chunks and frozen
– 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
– 1 cup frozen strawberries (optional)
– 1 tbsp peanut butter (optional)
– 1 tsp cocoa powder (optional)
Put the frozen bananas into a food processor and start to blend. This will take a little patience. Keep scraping down the sides to process it. You will eventually get a creamy consistency. At this point, I add the vanilla, but you don’t have to. I think it makes it more “ice cream” like though. It takes maybe five minutes total, and then suddenly you have ice cream!
At this point it is up to you what you want it to taste like. If you like strawberry/banana, add the vanilla and strawberries. If you like chocolate, add the cocoa powder (you can use syrup, but I think the powder works better). Or there is my absolute favorite, peanut butter/banana. So good! The sky is the limit with this one, so experiment and throw in your favorite flavors! My kids can’t get enough of this stuff!
Thank you, Kati, for sharing such valuable information! We at Modern Reston are proud of you and would love to check back with you for future updates. We wish you continued success and good health!
Have you lost a significant amount of weight? What were the keys to your success? We’d love to hear from you. Send us your thoughts in the comments on this page, or at [email protected]
Please consult with your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.