I’m finally ready to share before and after photos of my body just after giving birth, and now. For someone who has struggled with body image issues for my whole life, taking a picture with my stomach exposed and sharing it with the world is facing a big fear for me. But even in writing this I feel proud to have overcome it!
Before I get into what I did to get myself feeling strong and healthy over the last eight months, I want to say that while this “after” body makes me feel healthy and powerful, it is just one body. It’s not meant to make anyone feel bad about wherever they are, just meant to be inspiration to live your healthiest life and to feel your best, no matter what shape you are, what the scale says, or what size you wear.
My after picture might be someone else’s before. And my before might be someone else’s after. And no matter where you are in that process, I hope that this post empowers you to eat and exercise in a way that feels healthy and right for you, which may not be what worked for me.
That is one value that I know I want to instill in my daughter. I want her to be proud of her body, no matter how it looks. I also want her to take care of it and treat it with respect. If I have issues in my own skin, she’ll pick that up, and that is not happening under my watch.
So here is my journey. I may never have a six pack, but I’m as strong as I’ll ever be. And I’m proud of my body for growing my daughter and creating a warm and cozy home for her for a while there.
Exercise During Pregnancy:
When I was pregnancy with Amalia, I worked out with my trainer, Madison (who works for my husband at Countdown), every week up until my last two weeks of pregnancy. At that point I was just too big and tired to do it. Instead, I just made it a point to walk every day which I tried to do throughout the whole pregnancy. It was hard to do that, especially in the winter months, but it was one of the few things that made me feel physically better during that time. It was good for me and the baby, so I just made it happen. My doctors were convinced that all the walking also helped me have a fast and easy labor. Who knows but I like to think it helped!
Diet During Pregnancy:
Diet? What diet? I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and it was amazing. I had bad morning sickness in my first trimester so whatever I wanted was mostly bagels and ramen. In my third trimester, I had terrible heartburn, and she was sitting on my stomach, so I threw up almost every day which was really rough. People would tell me I needed to gain more weight but I had to eat tiny, bland meals, so that just wasn’t possible. In the end, I gained a healthy amount of weight and the baby was thriving so I tried not to worry too much.
I started exercising at around six weeks post-partum and it was brutal getting back to the gym on no sleep and after taking six weeks off. But I knew that in the long run I would have more energy and feel better if I made it a priority. The first few sessions with Madison were slow, as she eased me back into it.
At the time, I thought that wasn’t enough so I also started BBG with the Sweat app. I loved it for about two weeks then got really bored and realized I just didn’t have the time to do it daily with a new baby so I dropped it. I went back to walking every day when I could in addition to my weekly workouts.
The workout that Anel teaches his trainers and does with his clients is different than most. It’s all done with very slow movements so that each exercise brings you to muscle failure. It’s only 30 minutes once a week but it’s the hardest 30 minutes ever. If you want to kind of get the feel for it, try one of his at-home workouts for free.
I breastfed for Amalia’s first four months and ate #allofthecarbs and #allofthesugar. Whenever I tried to stop, my supply would dip, so I basically continued my pregnancy diet of eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, except for the things that gave Amalia gas (like broccoli and beans). It involved a lot of bread and cookies! Once I stopped breastfeeding, I went back to my “normal” healthy diet of 80% clean eating and 20% whatever I wanted.
But this winter, my sinuses really started to act up, so Anel and I gave up gluten, dairy, sugar, and alcohol in an anti-inflammatory diet to see if I could clear them out without surgery. It definitely helped but obviously didn’t work well enough considering I got the surgery anyway. I digress, but the point of this is that when we gave up all of those inflammatory foods, I ended up shedding the rest of the baby weight unintentionally. After about two weeks of eating that way, people started asking me what I was doing because I looked so different.
Eating clean not only helped my sinuses and contributed to weight loss, but it also cleared up my skin and gave me so much more energy. If it’s something you’re considering for any reason, I can’t recommend it enough! We now try to stick to that diet most of the time but aren’t crazy about it.
To feel my healthiest self post-partum, exercise and diet weren’t enough. I wrote about it before, but I also started therapy this year which has made an incredible difference in my life. I’m sleeping better, I can communicate my feelings better, and I’m learning how to deal with my anxiety in a powerful way. It has been a true life changer for me, and out of everything I do for my health and wellness, it has quickly become the most important.
Especially given the loss of two great icons in the last two weeks, talking about and dealing with mental health issues has been top of mind for many people. If you’re going through something that’s bigger and harder than you can deal with, look up local therapists and get help. Therapy is often covered by insurance, so check with your provider to see how it works.
Before & After Photos:
These photos were taken in September of 2017 and May of 2018, exactly eight months apart. They are not Photoshopped (except for cleaning up dirt on the ground and walls because I’m a crazy person) even though when I look at them, I can’t believe it’s the same person.
I’ll end this post with the most amazing note from my photographer, Julia, who was there to experience how nervous and anxious I was to take these photos and post them. Her words of encouragement were: “You should be proud of yourself. No Facetune, no Photoshop, stay true because you’re also damn good at doing that too. You look like a 25 year old without having a kid yet. YOU. NEED. TO. SELF. LOVE. AND. BE. PROUD. ” Good point, Julia, good point! Perhaps become a life coach while you’re at it?