Diet

Yolanda Smith

Yolanda Smith knew it was time for a change when she found it hard to keep up with her four young sons

Yolanda Smith knew it was time for a change when she found it hard to keep up with her four young sons. Her kids’ boundless energy left the full-time mom feeling breathless and burnt out. But how does a mother of four find time to squeeze in a some exercise? By joining in on the fun, of course. Yolanda has dropped six dress sizes in less than a year by getting in on her boys’ rough-and-tumble play and fuelling her family with sensible portions of healthy meals.

In March 2004, the Winnipeg resident tipped the scales at 187 pounds. But what bothered her more than that number were chronic feelings of fatigue, aches and pains, and feeling too tired to tuck her kids in at the end of the day. The first thing the 29-year-old mom did was take a hard look at the family’s eating habits. Yolanda started with a weekly log and substituted healthier food choices for less nutritious ones. She discovered time-friendly tricks – such as making big batches of oven-ready chicken nuggets from scratch and keeping fresh fruit, vegetables and salads on hand – to fit a healthy eating plan into their busy lifestyle. Replacing junk food jags proved more of a challenge because her four guys love to snack, but Smith got creative with nutritious on-the-go munchies, such as celery and carrots with dip and cut-up fruit. “It was hard to cut back on junk food, but trying lots of different foods made it easier,” she says. Among her favourites: homemade trail mix and frozen Jell-O pudding pops. To further help whittle her waistline, Yolanda replaced oversized dinner plates with salad plates to make sensible portions seem more sizeable.

To help get her fitness goals on track, Yolanda enlisted the support of her biggest fans – her kids – and encouraged her family to become more active together. In spring and summer, she rounded up the boys to play pick-up soccer and swim laps at the pool. When the mercury dipped, they shrugged off hibernation and headed out for hikes in the snow or enjoyed a friendly game of ball in the basement. As part of her daily routine, Yolanda hits the pavement for an hour with her sons – walking them to and from school instead of driving – and counts the calories spent cleaning toward her fitness goals. She rounds out her workouts with Pilates, which increases her flexibility and strengthens her core. She started exercising three times a week and gradually worked up to a daily routine. Now, fitness is fun for everyone and the whole family has strengthened their bodies and their bond.

In less than a year, Yolanda has not only reached her goal of dropping from a size 18 to a size 10, she has surpassed it. She is now a size 8 and in the best shape of her life. “Before I lost weight, I felt drained and depressed,” she admits. “Now, 60 pounds lighter, I’ve gained new confidence and I feel alive again. As a family, we’re becoming more active and doing a lot more together – and nothing could be better than that.” And what was one of her greatest rewards? “My children noticed that I keep up to them now – actually well ahead of them,” she says.

Her advice to you:
start with the type of exercise your body can handle, and don’t push yourself too hard. Throw out your scale – measuring inches instead of pounds gives you a clearer picture of your progress and more encouraging results. And don’t forget to reward yourself when you drop a size, but make your treat something pleasing to the eye, not the palate.

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