The first in a series of interviews with Anna about pregnancy, nutrition and exercise. In this interview, she tells me how she managed to reclaim the body shape she wanted.
Motus is about more than just fitness and nutrition. We're interested in the whole person and their life experiences, and how we can help to improve their experience of life. Story-telling is a great way to share and learn from those experiences. So with that in mind, we thought a blog or two about Anna's experience of becoming a Mum and battling to reclaim her baby body might resonate with a few of you out there.
I asked Anna if she'd mind sharing her experience over a coffee or two. We met at Stalls, which is a little patch of calm near the studio (http://www.stallslifestyle.co.uk) and decided to let the conversation just evolve. There's a fair bit we won't be sharing (like when she and Darren first met, or our views on the testosterone zone in the studio) but below is an edited version of our natter, or the most salient points.
“So, Anna, I'm not really sure where to start with this conversation. So let's start at the beginning.”
“For me, it starts with Darren and the shape I was then. I've always been quite lucky and maintained my fitness. In those days I calorie-counted and could tell you each day what I'd eaten to within 10 calories. I wasn't keeping a track of my sugar intake, but in those days it was all about calories and not sugar. When I met Darren that all changed.”
Cue conversation about their first meeting, what he was wearing and what she thought about him. Not for reprint….
“He got me pretty fit. I think my body fat was about 11% whereas I'm naturally around 13 or 14%. I can remember doing a cleanse before becoming pregnant, and spent time getting my body into a great physical shape, some of which was about my age. And then of course I became pregnant. Being pregnant was fine. But after Lucia was born it was quite scary. Looking around me I'd say that it was about half and half of the women who regained their figures and those that didn't. And even with the ones who regained their figures, it was never really the same as it was before. Bits stick out more than others, then there's the breast-feeding, and of course being older may also make it harder. So I was really worried first time around. I was very low after having Lucia, maybe for about a year. Darren was great, supporting me. He sent me to a lady who does colours and coaching to help me get my self-esteem back and regain an interest in clothes. But I think a big part of the problem for me was that I wasn't training. I'd lost the weight but I didn't get the tone back.”
“Did you train while you were pregnant? I mean, what was it like for someone who was pretty fit, to lose control of your body shape to a degree?”
“Well while I was pregnant it wasn't so bad. You kind of accept it. Once I'd had the baby, it was frustrating. I'm a person who is used to being physically strong, stronger than most of the ladies I work with. To be suddenly so weak and unable to do things was very frustrating indeed. Right now, I'm just at the point where I can hold my own bodyweight, and it's sixteen months since Indigo was born. What happens after you've had a baby is what people don't set you up for, or talk about. It's all about the pregnancy itself. They don't tell you that your physical strength is going to desert you and that it's going to take ages to look and feel the way you did before the baby was born.”
“Yet, if you read Hello magazine, you'd be surrounded by pictures of women who'd recently given birth and looked to be in the peak of physical condition, and have lost all their baby weight. Surely that's not what it's like for most people?”
“No, I don't think it is. I know one or two ladies who regained their shape easily and I think that's perhaps down to their body type. I also put a lot down to breast-feeding. I stopped breast-feeding Indigo when we went on holiday, which was about a month ago. I've not changed my food or exercise habits since then, and have lost a kilo. It's getting rid of what it doesn't need any more I think.”
“And in terms of the mental and emotional side of things, I've spoken with a number of women of late who talk about getting lost, be it in motherhood or their relationships. How was that for you?”
“Yes, I was quite worried and dark after Lucia was born. Worried I wouldn't get my shape back. Not depressed but dark. But you learn a lot from talking to other mothers. They said that after one child, you can kind of get your life back, but not after two. And actually since having Indigo, it's taken me 10 or 11 months to feel comfortable that my children are my priority, and that I want to spend my time with them now, and I'm really happy to do that. I'd still like to have some elements of my life for me, but if they need to be a little bit low-key because of the children, then that's fine.”
“What was different for you second time around?”
“I wasn't so scared. I knew what was coming and I was prepared for it. The only bit I was scared about was giving birth a second time round. Everyone tells you it'll be different (easier) the second time round.”
“And was it?”
“No! It was exactly the same. They lied! I had got my fitness and shape back after Lucia, and I think being that fit when you go into labour helps you because, although it's painful, you are stronger through that process, you don't get as tired. And I was up and walking around about an hour after Indigo was born. Of course I didn't feel 100% but I'm convinced my recovery from the birth itself was faster because of my physical condition.”
“So how long was it before you started training again?”
“Quite quickly, about 3 or 4 months. I started training with David Shadlock. He was great, very flexible, sometimes came to the house. Sometimes I wasn't getting more than half an hour so having someone come to you makes such a difference. I had to stop for a while as Indigo was teething and both girls went through a patch when they seemed to pick up lots of bugs. Also, with the breast-feeding, you have to be so careful with your training routine that you don't overdo it. If your body starts to create lactic acid because of the exertion, it gets into your milk, and it will put a baby off breast-feeding. I started up again a few months ago when Aimee joined the studio. It fit in with Indigo going to nursery and now Lucia is at school too. One of the other benefits of the training has been having someone different to talk to at regular intervals about something other than babies!”
“So have you set yourself some targets with the training?”
“One of the things I used to be able to do was pull-ups. Before I had the children I could do four sets of four pull-ups. So I want to return to that. I'm nearly strong enough to do one, and Aimee has said she's going to video the first pull-up for me. I also want to do a cleanse, that's the next thing on my list. I don't feel I'm ready for it just yet, I don't want to shock my body after just finishing breast-feeding. When I told Darren about that, he was absolutely brilliant. He said it's not shocking it, it's nourishing it. I totally understand where he's coming from. The cleanse is a re-set button to get all my body parts working as best they can. But after Christmas!”
After that our conversation moved onto nativity plays (Lucia is Mary) and general festivities. We didn't talk about ante- or post-natal nutrition, perhaps that's something we'll cover over our next coffee. Or maybe it'll just be about clothes and shoes!
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