Body after Baby: Anna Reed

 Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this post!

Did you catch the introduction to Body after Baby as well as the first post by Nicole Elizabeth? Come back tomorrow for a follow-up post by Anna Reed!

GUEST WRITER BIO: From modeling ventures to fitness craziness, this is my life. There is never a dull moment between kids, jobs, and training. My name is Anna Reed and I am an NFPT certified personal trainer, fitness model and competitor, and assistant editor for activelife Guide magazine where I write monthly as well as design and model each fitness routine. From modeling ventures to fitness craziness, this is my life. There is never a dull moment between kids, jobs, and training. Modeling is more of a hobby than anything at this point, but I love hamming it up for the camera. I really don’t see what they see, but when I get a job offer, I am not one to turn it down. I love being busy, and modeling adds spice to my life. Fitness, however, is a passion and here is the story of where I came from and how I got to where I am today. When it comes to being fit, not everyone battles being overweight and overeating. Some people like me struggle with being underweight and too skinny. Until a couple of years ago, I was stuck in what I refer to as the “skinny trap” and thought being in shape was all about the number on the scale, eating salad, running a lot, and having skinny legs. Yes, I was quite thin (not to the point of anorexia but teetering on the edge). However, I was constantly exhausted. I saw the alternative method of weight lifting as something that was only for men and for those women who wanted to become massive like a man. I wanted NOTHING to do with it. I struggled to gain weight in my teens due to some sad circumstances and saw myself as the ugliest person imaginable.

When I arrived at college in August, 2003, I weighed less than 100 lbs. Because of my work and class schedule, the only cafeteria I had time to eat in served fried chicken, pizza, and burgers. Needless to say, I had gained almost 50 lbs. by the end of my first semester. I struggled to get my weight under control for the next 3 years. During the first semester of my senior year, I took a physical education class called Physical Fitness where I had to run and lift weights in order to pass the class. I also enrolled in a kayaking course and got in fairly decent shape. I was able to keep my weight down to a reasonable number until graduation but did not maintain my muscle mass after the classes ended. I got married a few months after graduating college and was pregnant not long after. Throughout my first pregnancy, I simply ate normal and went on walks every now and then but that was the extent of my “workouts.” By the time I delivered, I had gained 35 pounds, a completely acceptable amount. The weight came off within a few months, but I went right back into my “skinny” process until I weighed between 110 and 115 pounds. At my height of 5’ 8”, that is far from an ideal weight. Once again, I was skinny, but I had no energy. I joined the local volunteer fire department where I stayed until we transferred to Indiana in 2010. The trainings we had at the department were good workouts, and I figured that was enough to stay in shape.

Upon moving to Indiana, I got memberships at the gym where I worked. I begrudgingly decided to try my hand at weight lifting, of course keeping it low weight and high rep, so I didn’t bulk up. It was intimidating to say the least. I hated the “big boy weights” (free weights) and felt so out of place, but with the help of some great friends, I learned to shove my headphones in my ears, buckle down, and go no matter who stared at me and what faces they made. Shortly after moving, I got pregnant for the second time, but I was determined to stick with my workouts. I was very careful to listen to my body and my doctor throughout. I worked out 5-6 days a week through the whole pregnancy, including the day I went into labor. I cannot describe what a vast difference there was between my pregnancies. I gained the same amount of weight both times, but I was left with ridiculous muscle when the “baby” weight came off about 9 weeks after delivering. I had energy to spare despite having two kids to care for and other responsibilities. Helping people has always been second nature to me, and I desperately wanted to help others have the same success as I had. I tested and received my NFPT personal training certification. I recently began working at Point Blank Nutrition and have learned so much more about the importance of incorporating nutrition into one’s fitness regime. My philosophy is that health cannot be measured in pounds, but rather by energy and progress. There is always room for improvement, and you are only limited by how much you believe in yourself and in your ability to achieve the goals you set. There is no “half-way.” It’s all or nothing, so go for it and never look back!

Anna Reed- Body after Baby on My Life: A Work in Progress
Courtesy Photo

To eat or not to eat. That is the question.

Proper nutrition is the key that women today are missing in their quest for that killer body after baby. So many women, myself included, think that the baby weight won’t come off because “so and so” has not lost their baby weight and their child is already a year old or, God forbid, starting kindergarten! Well, I have a secret for you (and don’t be offended)…that weight that remains after about 6-8 months is not baby weight. It’s laziness and improper nutrition. Dieting and eating salads will do nothing for your body. Why? Because from my experience (personal and observation), when women “diet,” they are essentially starving themselves by creating such a huge calorie deficit that their metabolism screeches to a grinding halt. Yes, some of them lose pounds, but what they won’t realize is that this “weight” they are losing is not fat but rather muscle tissue. When the body does not get it’s caloric needs met in the diet, it will store fat because this is what it will depend on in emergencies. Muscle then becomes the expendable tissue and the body will feed off muscle tissue as the caloric needs are not being met. This starts a vicious cycle since muscle tissue is what generates metabolism and as muscle tissue decreases, so does metabolism.
Think I am crazy? Think about this: does fat tissue require any kind of food to feed it or does it cease to exist when you don’t eat food? That cottage cheese that we all despise on our thighs- does it disappear when you diet? The answer is NO! Muscle on the other hand is what makes your body move throughout the day. It requires fuel, which is the food you eat. The more muscle you have, the more fuel it requires which in essence translates to the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be. If your body is starving and feeding off the muscle that once maintained your metabolism, SURPRISE! Your metabolism goes bye-bye. Don’t be afraid of eating the calories your body needs. A quick, easy formula to use to find how many calories you need (without running the long one I use for clients) is to multiply your body weight by 14. That gives you a good estimate of you caloric needs. If you want to create a small deficit, subtract 500 calories from that number but keep in mind that anything more than that could create too big a deficit. Are you wondering what you should eat to fill those calories? I have you covered….in my next post! 🙂 Eat food, darlings. Food is fuel and we mommies need energy more than anyone!

Disclaimer: All information presented during this event is purely personal opinion and shared for educational purposes only. The information contained herein is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your physician before beginning any exercise, weight-loss, or nutrition program. Please note, My Life: A Work in Progress does not necessarily endorse any opinions presented by guest writers during this event. Not all exercise or nutrition programs are suitable for everyone.


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Body after Baby: Nicole Elizabeth


Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this post!

GUEST WRITER BIO: Nicole Elizabeth is a stay-at-home mother of two young children and an in-home cooking instructor in the Hampton Roads area. Her cooking focuses on seasonal, fresh, local ingredients, and in her spare time, you can usually find her either cooking new things for her two tiny and very willing taste testers, or hitting the pavement with her running buddies. 

 photo 75750bde-175c-4e20-bf16-2c36f39fdc43_zps8e6ce546.jpgAlmost every woman who has given birth has, at some point, struggled with her post-baby body. Pregnancy changes a woman’s body in many ways, some preventable (excessive weight gain)* and some not (widened hips, stretch marks), but that doesn’t mean that we have to feel self-conscious about the way we look after delivery.

For the record, I don’t think that a woman needs to be back to her pre-baby figure at 3 months postpartum, nor do I think she should strive to be. A lot of the post-baby weight loss things that I read make my heart heavy by their undertones of “I did it, so what is your excuse?” as if trying to shame new mothers for not dropping their pregnancy weight ASAP instead of focusing their time and energy on their new babies. Though I choose to believe that the women writing those posts don’t mean it that way, to an exhausted woman who is already uncomfortable with how she looks, that is often how it comes across. That is not the purpose of this post. Everybody has different post-pregnancy health concerns, children with different sleep patterns, and varying responsibility and obligations at home and at work, so what works for me will not work for everyone. Some can jump into fitness and exercise with as much vigor as they had before even thinking about motherhood; others have to ease into it. The point isn’t so much about how you look; rather, it is about taking care of your body and living a healthy lifestyle. This is how that lifestyle looks for me.

First, let me get this out of the way: I’m one of those weirdos that eats no processed foods and cooks everything from scratch. Roll your eyes, yes, but hear me out. Food can be a huge roadblock for people who are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, arguably more so than even exercise.  I spent years counting calories and taking protein and energy supplements, but it sucked the joy out of life for me in the sense that it became all-consuming. I did it quite well, to my detriment. Every little thing I ate was calculated, I routinely spent over two hours a day running and lifting, and I would spend more time than I care to admit thinking about more ways to lose weight. The worst part about it was how people always told me how great I looked, which only encouraged the fitness Nazi growing inside of me. That lifestyle tapped into my type-A qualities more than is healthy, and once I was out of college and married, it just wasn’t sustainable.

Choosing to cook and eat the way I do gives me a huge benefit in the health and fitness arena in that I don’t really have to worry about macronutrients/micronutrients, whether I am getting enough fiber, or if I am eating too much fat and too many carbs. Now, if I strength train more than usual on any given day, I make sure to sustain that with extra protein in the form of more chicken or fish. On days that I run longer distances, I make sure I eat enough healthy carbohydrates and electrolyte-rich foods. This is easy for me because it is already part of my normal diet, which relies heavily on whole grains like hard wheat berries, quinoa (which isn’t really a grain but is culinarily treated like one) barley, oats, kamut, amaranth, millet, and freekeh (a grain that is picked green and then roasted), seasonal vegetables, lean protein, beans, legumes, and seasonal fruit. Often, dinner is heavy on vegetables, moderate on protein, and light on carbohydrates, but if my body is telling me I need some carbs after a particularly long run, I eat the carbs. Balance is key, and I am thankful that I learned this before my children were old enough to pick up on my previous habits that could translate into my daughter having a poor body image and my son looking at women with unrealistic, unfair expectations.

On the fitness and exercise side of things, I completely throw out my aforementioned mantra about balance. I absolutely love exercising, pushing myself physically, and seeing growth and accomplishment. I get twitchy if I take too much time off, which is largely why I had such a hard time during the first few weeks post-delivery with both children. After my first delivery, I happily jumped back into my exercise routine, but was frustrated with how much ground I had lost during pregnancy. After my second baby, I was mentally ready for it, so I took it slowly for the first couple of months, doing light cardio on the elliptical, swimming, and lifting light to moderate weights while my body, specifically my joints and ligaments, normalized. Once my son was sleeping longer stretches through the night and I felt more human, I started doing home workouts during nap time. and thedailyhiit (that isn’t a typo) were fantastic resources for me, though I readily admit that to the uninitiated, the workouts are pretty intimidating. Intimidation can be a good thing, though, when you need a kick in the rear to get moving. My brother-in-law, fresh home from Special Forces basic training, also gave me a fantastic home circuit workout that I think was responsible for the bulk of me getting my strength back. The big point here is that a lot of my fitness training was done at home, in my living room, often with one or two young children present. I did lower ab exercises, like leg lifts and windmills, with a toddler sitting on my chest. Both children tried imitating me doing pushups, and they loved running circles around me while I was doing air squats with timed holds. If my son needed to be held, I held him while doing wall sits, squats, and lunges. I was certain it wouldn’t be doable with my kids in the room, but I was wrong. This helped prepare me for my current fitness challenge: getting back into running.

Once my son turned a year old and weaned, I started running a couple miles a day, two days a week. Over a few months, that expanded into running every weekday, and then into the current iteration of training for a half marathon. I’ve always been a solo runner, but recently, a small group of friends decided to run a half marathon, and I became the unofficial motivator. I’m not quite sure how it happened that way, but there it is. Now, two of us are training together, running four days a week, and I’m doing additional speed and strength training. Our long run last week was 8 miles, and it was so neat to see my friend do it when she didn’t think she could. During our fast run this week, I timed her at much faster than she thought she could run. Another friend ran five miles the other week, almost doubling how far she has previously run. These women both have sub-18 month old children and are very, very busy, but have decided to make fitness a priority with very little taking precedence over it. It is motivating and inspiring to see them accomplish something they never thought they’d accomplish. These are women who hated running, who didn’t think they would have the strength or energy to do it, who have never exercised like this in their lives, but they are doing it, and doing it well. Though I now prefer the company of my running companions, my solo runs are still relaxing. They give me time to clear my head and serve as the “me time” that I hear so many people talk about. Alone, I can pray, organize my thoughts, plan my day, or just think and listen to the sound of my feet rhythmically hitting the pavement.  Our bodies go through so much during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and post-pregnancy, I sometimes just have to stop and marvel to God that He has given me the ability to run long distances, to do push-ups, to suck wind while running up a massive flight of stairs, and then to be able to go home and still take care of my babies. Running solo makes you think, and thinking makes you thankful.

I know a lot of readers want to know results in numbers, so because this isn’t my blog, I will respect that and say that, though it is really an afterthought to me at this point, eating the way I like and doing the active things I enjoy has me back at my pre-pregnancy weight and fitness level. I still have stretch marks, my hips are wider than before, and I have a little mommy pooch that will likely be there for a while, but I’m becoming fond of the marks my babies have left on me, and I don’t agree with the idea that beauty equals looking like you’ve never given birth. I’m done with that mindset, and to me, that has made all the difference in the world.

Disclaimer: All information presented during this event is purely personal opinion and shared for educational purposes only. The information contained herein is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your physician before beginning any exercise, weight-loss, or nutrition program. Please note, My Life: A Work in Progress does not necessarily endorse any opinions presented by guest writers during this event. Not all exercise or nutrition programs are suitable for everyone.

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Body after Baby Fitness Event- The Introduction

Welcome to the Body after Baby Fitness Event!

 photo BodyafterBabyButton1_zpsc3213cac.jpg

Oct. 21-30

From Oct. 21 to 30, we’ll hear from a variety of guest writers -all mothers- who share their personal weight loss and fitness experiences. These moms have all met different fitness and weight loss goals and come from a variety of backgrounds. Some of these moms have met their “final” goals and now work on maintaining the fitness level they’ve already reached, while others (like myself) are still working to get there. Many of these women have inspired me to be healthier and more active in my own lifestyle. We’ll probably never have our pre-pregnancy hips and tummies ever again, but we can still be healthy and happy while we keep up with our kids!

You may not agree with all the points of view and lifestyles represented during this event, and perhaps some of them truly aren’t feasible for you or me…but my hope is you’ll be able to relate to one or more of these awesome moms, and figure out what will work for you. Let’s inspire each other to be healthy and comfortable in our own bodies!

Starting Wednesday, Oct. 23, I’ll be hosting a fitness giveaway on My Life: A Work in Progress, so keep your eyes out for that! I’ll be giving away sample tins of SKINNYbits and ENERGYbits, as well as a $35 e-certificate to Road ID, and a thick Sweaty Band.

Please read the disclaimer below before reading any posts associated with this event:

Disclaimer: All information presented during this event is purely personal opinion and shared for educational purposes only. The information contained herein is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your physician before beginning any exercise, weight-loss, or nutrition program. Please note, My Life: A Work in Progress does not necessarily endorse any opinions presented by guest writers during this event. Not all exercise or nutrition programs are suitable for everyone.

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