Like many parents, Sarep Baggott struggled to find time for herself. As a mom to a 6-year-old boy and a 6-month-old girl, Baggott put all of her time and energy into caring for her young family, leaving little left over for herself.
Looking back, the 26-year-old now realizes she became a “true homebody” during that stressful time.
“Everyday life for me was, literally, worrying about and taking care of my kids 24/7,” she says. “I didn’t necessarily care about my own well-being. My day and life revolved around my kids and their schedule — feedings, naps, baths and bedtimes.”
She remembers mealtimes as especially hectic. For her own meals, Baggott would throw together whatever she could find, which usually meant pasta, fried foods, fast food, takeout or anything else that was quick and easy.
With little time for self-care and a diet that didn’t prioritize health, Baggott began to put on weight. Though there wasn’t a definitive moment that caused her to desire change, she started to rethink her lifestyle in August 2015 when her husband committed to a new healthy living regimen.
As he began to eat better, work out and subsequently put on muscle, Baggott was supportive, but she didn’t think about joining him until she realized the difference these actions were making in his mood. Not only was her husband fitter, he was also much happier. He seemed to genuinely enjoy this new way of living.
“It hit me then that I could and should join him on this journey and that it wasn’t selfish of me if I wanted to also take care of myself and not only the kids,” remembers Baggott.
Though Baggott wanted to lose weight, she says her motivation was less to look a certain way, but ultimately to feel a certain way.
“I wanted to feel great about myself again,” she says. “I wanted to care about myself again and I wanted to feel what it felt like to love myself again.”
Baggott started to do some research and read an article about tracking calories to encourage weight loss. Soon after, she downloaded MyFitnessPal, which she used to track everything she ate for the next two months.
“MyFitnessPal was a legit lifesaver for my journey,” she says. “It helped me learn correct portion sizes. It helped me learn how to adjust what I was eating so that I was getting the right macronutrients. And it cheered me on when I would lose weight.”
Baggott continued using the app off and on for the next year and a half. Any time she felt like she was losing her sense of correct portion sizes, the app always helped her figure out what was appropriate for her body size and goals so she could push on.
Within the first month, Baggott lost 10 pounds and felt an immediate difference in her health. She says the initial weight loss made her even more motivated to maintain her new lifestyle, which emphasized simplicity over complicated nutrition plans.
During her journey, Baggott did not cut out food groups, monitor her sugar intake or stop eating her favorite treats. Instead, she simply found healthier versions of her favorite meals and snacks.
For example, one of Baggott’s favorite foods is rice, which she eats almost every day. Instead of cutting it from her diet — which can be a common recommendation on low-carbohydrate plans — she simply switched from white rice to brown rice. She also loves tacos, so she started making them at home, using 97% lean ground beef and whole-wheat fajita shells.
“I made simple adjustments like that with all the meals I loved,” she says. “If you make too drastic a change, it may not be a lifestyle change, and instead, only a temporary thing.”
By April 2016, Baggott had surpassed her goal, dropping from her starting weight of 174 pounds to 115 pounds. Eventually, she decided to add more calories back into her day to focus on maintenance.
Her newfound passion for healthy living has also led to a career change, when she realized she wanted to help other women learn to take care of themselves and put themselves first. Now as an online coach, Baggott uses her firsthand experience to support her clients.
“My goal is to be able to help as many girls as possible to not only achieve a physical appearance they love, but also help them with their mental health and get them to a place where they love themselves unconditionally,” she says.
That starts with not punishing yourself or making drastic changes to your diet, which is her top tip for anyone looking to lose weight.
“Cutting out carbs may help you lose weight, but it also helps you double your weight gain when you bring it back into your life,” she says. “My advice is always to do what you’ll be able to maintain and be consistent with.”