Friday, October 15, 2010

HOW? and a Challenge for you.

How? This is the question that my husband and I have been asked most frequently.

Beginning on July 1st, my husband and I started a physical fitness and health journey. 

Today, I want to share a few of the details and our tricks and hints to help any of you who may feel  inspired to make a change for the better.

This is not the best before and after, but it is what I have.  You can tell in my face and my mid-section.  To put the numbers out there, I went from a size 8-10 to a size 4.  I weigh what I did when I got pregnant with my first baby.

Jonathan weighs less then he did when we got married, and he has more muscles then I have ever seen.  It is so much fun!!

Before and After

Let me start by saying that after the birth of every baby I have struggled with weight in some form or another.  Before I got pregnant again, I always lost all the baby weight.  Baby number four pushed me over the edge.  I had gained a little more with her pregnancy, and it just was not coming off.  I enjoy fitting in to my clothes, but more then anything I wanted to feel good about myself and live in a healthy body.  Being healthy is very important to me. 

I am not an expert, but I am sharing what has worked for us. 

Sidenote:  I was able to loose all of this all while nursing Tess.  I am still nursing, and my milk is thriving.  I just made sure that I ate the adequate amount of calories to keep nursing.

Because of my weight loss:

I feel better

I am less tired

I can keep up with my kids

I get a better nights sleep

My stomach handles food so much better

and I FIT INTO MY CLOTHES without feeling uncomfortable all day.

With out further ado:

We followed this simple plan.

1600-1800 calories a day

250-300 calorie meals 6 times a day

6 balanced meals a day; complete with protein in every meal

Exercise 6 times a week for 30-40 minutes

My husband is very knowledgeable in all of this.  He was an exercise science major and now with his MD has a great deal of knowledge in health and nutrition.  He always says that if you expend more then you take in you will loose weight.  It is so true.  That is why watching calories is so important.  All the other stuff is just fluff.  Your fat grams will automatically reduce if you eat less calories.  Protein is the best form of calories to eat when you are trying to stay full for a longer period of time.  It also helps build muscle.

I know that many of you are saying how do you have time to make 6 balances meals?


That is where meal replacement comes in.

We drank protein shakes for breakfast, and often had one in the evening after exercise(always after exercise)

Protein is what feeds your muscles.

Then we ate protein bars for a snack twice a day.

I only had to “make” 2 balanced meals.

Our favorite protein bars can be found at Wal-mart or anywhere I am sure.  They are zone perfect bars.  They are the most delicious tasting and the cheapest.

As far as protein shakes go, any would work.  You could buy whey protein powder and make your own.  You could also buy ready made shakes.  We used Muscle Milk and Myoplex Lite.  They can also be found at Wal-mart.  However, they are a little pricey there.  The cheapest way we found was to have them shipped right to our door from the Vitamin Shoppe. 


This is what my fridge looks like these days.

My two balanced meals were kept very simple

Sandwiches on low calorie bread.  My favorite are those 100 calorie bagels.

Salads with chicken

Lean Cuisine Meals

Then I also searched and found some neat low calorie recipes.

I also made some up.

Like our favorite Chicken Tacos which I will post the recipe for at the end of this post, don’t forget Chicken Pesto Pizza.

Meals for one day might look like this.

7:00am: Muscle Milk shake and an apple/300 calories

10:00am: Protein Bar/170 calories

12:30pm: Turkey sandwich on 100 calorie bagel with lettuce, pickles, tomato and mustard.  Cup of grapes and carrot sticks/300 calories

3:00 pm Protein bar and bag of 100 calorie popcorn/270 calories

5:30pm Chicken Tacos and  plate of veggies

8:30pm Protein shake

During this time we also started an exercise program.  Jonathan and I sat  down and discussed what would work best for us.  We decided that we would exercise at night.  We chose to run for our cardio, and then do weights.

We do weights twice a week, and cardio 4 days.

We were very flexible, and we also worked with each other to make sure it happened.

When we lift weights we like to do it together.

We spent a little over $100 for our weight bench and free weights.  We run outside.  There are no gym fees involved for us. 

Gym Membership


1. Do it together.  I have had a lot of friends say my husband won’t do that.  WHY?  There is nothing but good that can come from this.  More then anything this strengthened our marriage.  We turned off the TV and worked together for a goal.  It made everything better if you know what I mean.  That might be a pull to get your husband to do it. 

When you are accountable to someone you are more likely to achieve your goals.  A spouse is the perfect person to be accountable too.  You see them everyday.  You also don’t feel like throwing in the towel when they are eating ice cream and you are not.  I think any one that loves you will do anything for you for 3 months.  In the end they will realize it was really more about them and what they did for themselves.

2. Money is always an issue.  When we priced this out the protein replacement meals  came to about $1 each.  I felt like that was well worth it.  The trade of cutting out the junk and fast food will probably all balance out in the end.  Cut out the junk and spend your money towards something that is going to benefit you in the end.  Health and nutrition is a wonderful thing to spend your money on.

3.  Set a goal.  I will loose 15 pounds in 12 weeks.  I will loose 8 pounds in 4 weeks.  Whatever it is give yourself a timeline and be realistic.

I set out to loose 15 pounds in 12 weeks.  That is exactly what I lost. I had lost 10 pounds on my own prior to July 1st.  Jonathan lost 25 pounds.  Mean loose faster then woman.  1-2 pounds a week is a realistic goal.

4.  Take it slow.  Don’t expect to loose it all quickly and then get discouraged when you don’t.  You are more likely to keep it off when you take it slow.  Anything that is hard and requires work will make you want to maintain it.  One pound a week adds up when you have been doing it for 12 weeks.  12 pounds can be 1-2 sizes.

Slow weight loss is the healthy way.  It also allows your body shape to change in to a more desirable shape.  You may only loose one pound on the scale but you may have lost 3 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of muscle.

5.  CHEAT.  Yes, I said Cheat.  One meal a week, eat whatever you want.  It will give you something to look forward too, and help prevent burn out.

6.  Be prepared.  Take bars or meals with you when you are going to be on the go, or know what you can eat at certain restaurants by looking it up online.

Now, you ask what is in our future.  How will we maintain. Will we still use Meal replacement?

Yes, for now.  We both plan on transforming our bodies a little bit more.  12 weeks was not the end for us.  We are setting a new goal and starting over.

After that, we will begin a maintenance plan.  That is a whole new post in and of itself.

So who is with me?  Next Monday, October 18th I am starting a new fitness challenge.  Five weeks is all I ask.  That gives us until the Monday before Thanksgiving to make some changes.  My goal is 5 pounds in 5 weeks.  I also want to firm up some of the flabbies.  I don’t care if you have 10 pounds to loose or 200, this is great place to start.  You may also be very happy right where you are at, but it might be fun just to build a little muscle.  What do you say?  Are you in?

I would love to hear from all of you who are interested.  That gives you this weekend to make a plan, and talk a partner in to doing it with you.  

Now, here is the recipe that you have to go and get ingredients for.  This will really help you in your weight loss journey.  It is delicious, filling, and it can be made in 5 minutes.

Chicken Tacos by Andrea Swenson


300 calories for 2


spray butter

white corn tortillas(must be corn)

Fat Free refried beans or black beans

low fat Mozzarella cheese

bag of Tyson Frozen grilled chicken(pre-cooked)



Fat Free sour cream

green salsa from La Victoria

Use a skillet or a griddle and place on stove top at medium heat.

Spread a small layer like a table spoon of refried beans or black beans on your corn tortillas.  Spray the bottom of them with spray butter and place butter side down on the skillet.

Add 1 T. cheese to each tortilla

in the meantime warm the chicken up in the microwave.  Once it is warm add it to the tortilla. Let it cook until it starts to get crispy on the bottom. DSC_0111

Remove the skillet and place on a plate.  Add lettuce, chopped tomato, sour cream and salsa.

Enjoy!! YUM!!


Meet me back here on Monday for our 5 week challenge kick-off.  I can’t wait.


Michelle said...

I love your blog and am now totally motivated to lose my baby weight! I have an 18 month old and have hardly lost any of my baby weight... I would love to be a size 4 again! Thanks so much for your inspirational post! Xo Michelle

Stacy said...

Yes, I would love to do this! I have been feeling like I need to lose a few and now I am feeling excited, you look great!!

Emily said...

You look fantastic! I can do this! Thanks for the tips! Very informative post!

shannonjason said...

I'm with you. I'm still working on losing my baby weight from (ahem) baby number 1. Baby 2 - it going to be 2 in December. It's time to get motivated - I've felt defeated for a long time. This seems simple and reasonable and I'm all over it =) I like the fact that it is quick and easy - doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg - and I can actually stick to this. Love your blog by the way - I've been a lurker for some time. Feel free to list some more menu items along your way if you feel the need to blog about something ::wink:: Thanks again!!!

Charity said...

I'm in!!! You look amazing!!! I still have some weight left after baby #2 (who will be 9months on the 19th and still nuring). I'm up for your 5 week challenge!

Brendan, Calli, Taylor, Keaton, and Brody said...

You look fantastic Andrea! I am always in for a new challenge, and definitly needed some motivation to get rid of my baby fat from #3!

katie@tulsadetails said...

You look awesome! I am so excited for you!

Andrea said...

you look awesome! looks like an easy plan to try & follow. i do have 1 question though, we're you still nursing tessa when you started this?

i'm still nursing so i'm wondering if i could do this and if it would be enough calories to still nurse?

Beth Curtis said...

You are AMAZING!! I can tell in your face but I really notice on your last post family pic. My weakness is sweets. I have the work out thing down but I am for sure struggling still with the weight. Thanks for writing this all out. I would love to see some of your other recipes you have been using. So, you really think the muscle milk is good? I am such a picky eater I worry about trying those.

Christal said...

Great job, Swenson's. BTW~I LOVE your plates. :)

Raquel said...

I'm a lurker and have decided to "de-lurk" to say I'm so with you. As a matter of fact I was at Costco today and picked up a supply of muscle milk to have on hand for on the go. I do have protein powder I use at home but it is nice when I go somewhere to workout I have this. I'm all about the convenience I think to start. I would love to switch over to more of a clean eating but I think I need to take it step by step and convenience will win out to start. I'm starting a extreme boot camp locally on Monday and am excited to begin this 5 week challenge with you.

KW said...

Way to go! Now next year I want to see you run the Onion Days 5K. I will be right there on the sidelines cheering for you :)

Brunson's said...

You look great! Way to go. Jaman and I both have been talking of doing something together. This gave us some ideas!

Anonymous said...

I'm in! I have 4 kids. My youngest is 10 weeks and I am soooooo ready to have MY body back! I am also nursing and my biggest fear is losing my milk. I am also a vegetarian. No meat, poultry, fish so it makes it hard to get enough protein without the meal supplements. I'm excited to see where you take us on this journey! Thanks for the inspiration!

Kara Ellis said...

Thanks Andrea, This is just what I needed. I have been doing a similar plan for about a month and have had some success, but it helps to see someone who has kept it up to use as motivation!

Michelle said...

Awesome! Thank you so much for posting this, Andrea! I wish I were ready to do it now, but at least now I have the information for when my ducks are in a row. :)
A couple of questions:
1 - Do you fix separate breakfasts for your kids, then?
2 - Does this work for someone wanting to gain weight? (not me! but someone I love :)

Krysta said...

You are so inspiring and you really do look awesome!

Anonymous said...

you mean LOSE weight (not LOOSE).

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