Each time we share a Q&A with a fit celeb or a fitness professional, the interview is chock full of interesting tidbits and helpful advice. But fitness professionals are fit for a living. And celebs have more nannies, trainers, chefs, et ceteras, at their disposal than the typical mom. So I wanted to reach out to some of our real mama readers to see how they handle their day-to-day challenges. How do real moms fit in fitness? What struggles are they facing?
Not surprisingly, real moms have just as many awesome tips and tidbits to share. And they have great senses of humor. This week, reader Sarah K., an accountant and mom to Liam, 4, and Mary, 2, shares her views on body image after baby and how she carves out time for herself to work out! (This mom rocks: Her “giant” Liam was born weighing in at 9 pounds, 13 ounces, and didn’t even fit into a newborn diaper. Ay carumba!)
Interview with Real Mom Sarah
- FBM: Were you active before pregnancy? Did you remain active during pregnancy? Anything surprise you with pregnancy workouts?
- SK: I’m not a very good healthy pregnant example. I was semi-active before my first pregnancy, going to the gym a few times a week to take cardio classes. I didn’t pay much attention to what I ate. Unfortunately, I took too much advantage of the pregnant excuse with Liam, ate WWWWAAAYYYYY too much food, and didn’t work out at all. I gained a large amount of weight, so much that I am embarrassed to admit the actual number of pounds. Let’s just say it was more than the recommended amount. After he was born, I was blown away by how exhausted I was and never really got back to where I should have been before Mary was on the way. I attempted to do some walking and light workouts with her, but since I was still carrying around so much weight from Liam, it didn’t go so well. It wasn’t until Mary was about 6 months old that I really started trying to get back into shape. I decided I needed to be healthy to set the right example for them. I squeezed my giant butt into my old workout clothes and got going. I’m now in better shape than I was before, and just in time—I might have two of the most active kids in the world, but I’m comfortable that I can keep up with them.
- FBM: Did your eating habits change during pregnancy? Biggest craving? Worst aversion?
- SK: With Liam I was addicted to Mexican food, that probably was part of my weight-gain problem. Burritos and nachos every day, while delicious, is not a very balanced diet. With Mary, I was into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It’s no wonder she doesn’t really like them now; I ate enough of those to last her a lifetime. There isn’t much on the “do not eat while pregnant list” that was a challenge for me. I’m a “cannot live without caffeine” kind of chick now, but back then it was no big deal.
- FBM: Would you do anything different for your next pregnancy?
- SK: Eat a whole bunch less, stay a lot more active. It’s a lot easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle, than it is to let the whole thing go and have to start all over from scratch.
- FBM: What was the hardest part about pregnancy for you? Best part?
- SK: Moms aren’t supposed to admit what I am about to admit—we are supposed to love pregnancy and motherhood. While I love my kids to death, I hated being pregnant both times. I don’t really get why some people love it so much. I was so uncomfortable, hot, hungry, sore, swollen and pretty much just miserable. The end result is worth it, but man, being pregnant was not a fun time. Watching the belly move around was pretty cool though.
- FBM: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
- SK: Weight has obviously being a huge thing for me. It wasn’t until after Mary was born that I really decided to lose the weight, but I had to take it slow. Finding the time to work out was the biggest challenge. I used to be a gym person, but when I am off work, I’m usually alone with the kids. Finding a consistent baby sitter was hard. I tried taking the kids on walks, but Liam likes to stop and look at everything (which I wanted to encourage him to do), so it made my walk more of an educational time, less of a workout—walk for 30 seconds, look at a leaf for 3 minutes. While it was great for Liam’s mind, it didn’t get the calories burning. I discovered running, something I have never been interested in. I could wake up early and run around the block before the kids were awake, while the hubby was home. It was faster than going to the gym; I could be back to the house before I’d even have checked in at the gym. I started walking/running tiny bits, a quarter mile, a half mile, increasing slowly until I was running 3 miles in 30 minutes. I ran my first ever 5K when Mary was about 1½ years old.
- I also needed to get my eating in check. Ice cream, while being a source of calcium, was killing my weight-loss goals. Giving it up entirely wasn’t really an option, I love it too much. I did however discover that I don’t need a giant bowl of it every day, just a little spoonful. I also started eating more fruits and veggies (crazy, huh?!), and stopped finishing the chicken nuggets Liam left on his plate. It helped to stop feeding him chicken nuggets. I always assumed he wouldn’t eat grilled chicken but never tried it either. I made some one day, gave it to him, and watched in shock as he ate it all up. I realized I was giving my kids typical kid food (most of which is unhealthy) just because I thought that was what you are supposed to do. Once I got rid of that mentality, we all eat healthier!
- FBM: Have your views on body image changed at all?
- SK: I’m actually easier on myself now that I’ve lost and maintained my after-baby healthy lifestyle for more than a year. My tummy is a little lumpier and will likely never be the way it once was. Between running three times a week, doing a yoga DVD once a week, and just in general running around with the kids, I am more active now than I ever was. It helps that my husband constantly tells me he loves my body more now than ever—he ignores my stretch marks and other lumps that the kids left behind. They aren’t burdens to me anymore, but are memories of the early days.
- FBM: Any advice to other moms with a new baby? Anything you wish you’d known before your little one arrived?
- SK: Don’t listen to other people’s advice (unless you want to). Everyone with a kid will have their “expert” opinion and try to force it on you, even if you don’t ask for it. Just smile at them, say thanks, then follow your gut. There is something about a mommy’s intuition that amazes me; you’ll know what is right for you and your baby, without needing 10 other opinions.
Thanks so much to Sarah for being so honest about her experiences. Want to share your real mom experiences? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured as a real mom star!—Erin