I have always struggled with my weight — or, struggled to love the body I had. After I became a Mom to three daughters, I decided I needed to change my perspective and my thoughts toward my body. My fitness goals are always evolving based on what I have time to do, what works with our budget, what works well/what stopped working, and the obstacles that I encounter that I cannot change.  I’m sharing everything years after it happened and using pictures to jog my memory.

2012

I think 2012 was the year I decided to work harder at getting results since I was two years post-partum and still not where I wanted to be. 2012 was also two years after losing my step-father (65 years old) and grandfather (90 years old) within months of each other and I really started to think about those losses. I believe I began reading anything that was health focused. We stumbled upon a documentary called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and decided to give juicing a go. We may have only made it half a day on a juice fast (SO hard to cook for others and NOT eat), but we played around with juice fasting and eating normally. We noticed having more energy, getting fruits or vegetables in our diet that we normal would not have, craving more fruits and vegetables and making better food choices.

As I was looking for pictures to post…this is all I found.June 16 2012

I remember feeling really good about myself in these picture. I was finally starting to see the baby weight come off and feeling more like myself.

July 12 2012

My oldest was almost 3 and youngest almost 2. This was also my in home daycare years and my husband working around the clock (or so it felt). We were also pulling ourselves out of debt and slowly finishing the outside of our house. Which explains the endless selfies with the kids and pictures of our house.

Aug 14 2012 Sep 6 2012

I believe my main source of fitness in 2012 was walking. I might have been doing Yoga Booty Ballet or Winsor Pilates as well. I would exercise after the kids left or I would take the girls for a walk at the end of my day. The BOB duallie was the best “baby/kid” purchase ever at that point in my life. No joke. We could go anywhere…easily.

2013

In April 2013 I joined a challenge group and I think any extra money we had went towards the house. I think I purchased the cheapest program I could find, which was Brazil Butt Lift, so I would not feel guilt about not spending that amount on our house. I can’t remember what I weighed, or my measurements were in the before and afters, but I do remember this was the first time I stayed consistent with a dvd program for more than 30 days. I worked out in the mornings before kids arrived or I would do it in the evenings after they left if I failed to get up early enough. I had hoped I would have greater success (ahem, unrealistic expectation) — I struggled with knowing if I was eating enough, eating the right amounts of each food group, and I discovered I absolutely hated logging my food through My Fitness Pal. I realized that I did make progress even though I didn’t follow the program as written, my eating was not ‘perfect’, and I did not exercise every day. That experience motivated me to keep going and see what happens.

Before After

At some point in 2013 after a few unexplained health conditions, tons of research, and inconclusive allergy testing; I made the decision to go gluten free and also attempted to go dairy free. After all that hard work in the challenge group, I learned I was pregnant with baby number three! I believe the picture below is the beginning of my third pregnancy or just before I got pregnant. (Remember, I’m using pictures to help me remember and it’s not that helpful!). Ha!

8.26.2013
With my first pregnancy, I “lived it up”. I gave into every craving and ate HUGE servings. That pregnancy was unexpected and we had just purchased a home to renovate–slowly. Our plans changed and we decided to remodel the entire place with help from our family — hello, stress! I got smarter and more active with each pregnancy. With my third pregnancy, I was determined to stay active and eat well. I used the container system (adjusted for pregnancy), drank Shakeology, and continue with workouts for as long as I could.

My husband was still working long hours, sitting was starting to take it’s toll on me and I stopped in August or September. I knew once baby #3 arrived I wouldn’t be able to handle the late nights and getting up early and watching kids all day. So we went back to one income and I crossed my fingers all would work out. This is me in December 2013 … 6ish(?) months pregnant after and I had just completed ChaLean Extreme. ChaLean Extreme was also the program that introduced me to weight lifting. I love workouts with a lot of weight lifting!

Dec 12 2013


2014

Fast forward to March and I’m 10 days away from my due date. I was ready for this pregnancy to be over. At about 20 weeks along, I started experiencing pain through my groin area. It hurt while sitting, it hurt while sleeping, it hurt during daily activity. My energy level was also beginning to drop.

3.8.2014
My first birthing experience ended up being cesarean. My second was an easy VBAC. This pregnancy ended up as a repeat cesarean — that experience may be a post for another day. A beautiful 7lb 9oz girl was born on March 18th. I also discovered I’m allergic to vicodin and steri strips. I was itchy alllll over and then broke out in blistery hives. It. was. Awesome. {sarcasm}

The first 9 weeks were rough, she was a night owl and were usually up from 12am-3am and spent many hours watching Netflix. Breastfeeding was also not going well (24/7 nursing sessions) and we had twice weekly weight check appointments, appointments for acid reflux, as well as appointments to make sure she was eating enough while breastfeeding. I made the decision to stop breastfeeding and we started using the expensive, Nutramigen formula…that was an expensive year, but everyone was happier. Also, Thank God for 4K being full days twice a week.

4.21.2014
Because the food sensitivity and allergy testing was inconclusive and the formula was so expensive, I caved and started eating gluten again, slowly. My symptoms from before did not return. I needed food that was quick and easy with a newborn. It took me another two months to get back infront of the camera and those late nights and sitting all day were taking their toll on my weight. Around this time was when I also started experiencing plantar fasciitis and figuring out how to beat it.

6.2.2014
Fast forward a few months later and I was working hard with P90X3, working out through the pain (don’t be dumb, like I was) in order to get ready for our friend’s wedding and family trip to North Carolina. We decided to drive to North Carolina with the kids in tow — that trip made us realize three children was enough for us!

Or so we thought, guess who is pregnant…again. Surprise!

Eva was roughly 7 months when we found out we were expecting again. It took us longer to announce our pregnancy with number four, we were both preparing to go through having two close in age again and wondering how we were going to manage two littles with two school-aged kids and on one income.

The following set of pictures marks the beginning of pregnancy number four (and feeling horrible)! Once again I was determined to have a fit pregnancy, I continued with P90X3 until it became too challenging. I also started experiencing groin pain much earlier than I did in my third pregnancy. It turns out that groin pain was actually pubis symphasis.

Pregnancy #4


2015

As my belly grew, the pain became more intense. I was waking up frequently at night and I could not find a comfortable position to sleep in. Working out became difficult, walking hurt, even sitting was uncomfortable.

Finding a way to stay active
In my quest to stay active, I went from program to program trying to find something that gave me that “burn” but didn’t leave me unable to move for the rest of the day or days after — again, don’t push through the pain like I did — find a physiotherapist and get some help!– It was only February and I was feeling down about my increased inactivity and the added weight-gain of another pregnancy. I had purchased Body Beast during a holiday sale and I felt intimidated by it so I never started it. I’m not sure what changed, but I decided to look at the program again. Most programs I did up to this point were all total body and because of the pubis symphasis, that meant I spent days in pain and unable to move normally. Body Beast worked each body part on different days – and only had leg day ONE day per week! I may have found a way to stay active!

The Beast
I pressed play and was hooked after that first workout! It wasn’t so much about doing the program to change my appearance — not much could be done until after I has the baby. The program made me feel empowered! My body was getting harder, I was getting that muscle definition I was wanting, I was getting stronger, I was encouraged to eat a lot of food! It helped me relieve so much stress and I could do the program most days (towards the end of my pregnancy, I had to skip leg day and modify other moves). I began learning more about food and eating enough to meet your goals. It. was. LIFE. Changing.

Just a Pregnant Beast
I used to look down on body-building — I don’t ever see myself entering competitions, but I really enjoyed this type of lifting.Why did I not ever get into lifting sooner?! I noticed so many changes happening while pregnant, even when I experienced many food aversions during this pregnancy, not having as much energy this time around, and while sitting on my butt most of the day …

I spent much of this pregnancy worried about how I was going to deliver this baby. After experiencing an allergic reaction to steri strips and pain medication with my third delivery; I wanted to avoid a repeat c-section. I also knew recovery would be much harder with a toddler around and limited extended family help. June 8th came and all the obsessing over the type of birth I wanted vs what would actually happen was over. I was able to attempt and have a successful VBA2C, although, I did beg for a cesarean during labor…I guess that will happen when your baby ends up being 9lbs 12.4oz, they won’t let you eat in-case they have to operate — which was well over 12 hours by that point. Turns out, Body Beast creates beastly babies…Completely kidding!! Sort of. 😉

Here we go again
I spent the first few weeks marathon nursing and being completely bored. I figured since I’m sitting and doing “nothing” and I would have two kids in school full-days soon, why not study to become a personal trainer — we were also doing a major renovation on our basement. I (foolishly) began working out again after a week postpartum since I could not stand sitting in a chair all day.

Dummy
I spent the rest of the year wondering why I chose to become a trainer at this point in my life. I felt guilty for the added stress of studying with all the other things we had going on. I was so so tired,  our son did not nap well or nap at all, he would be up until 10 or 11pm each night. When he was awake he was a very difficult and demanding baby. The sleep deprivation made getting our oldest two ready for school difficult. I wouldn’t allow myself to nap because I was worried I would fall asleep through school pick up. I was mostly alone with the kids until 6pm and had to get through homework, reading minutes, baths/showers, and bedtime routine. I felt like I was living in a constant “fog”. I needed help but we couldn’t afford to hire help and the help that we needed was on the nights that the baby woke up and stayed up until the sun rose — but how can anyone tune out their child’s screaming cries. I also could not think clearly on how people could help us.

2015 year end


2016

January arrives and I’m scrambling to review the material before my certification test. Our youngest is 7 months old and not much has changed with his sleeping habits. I’m sticking with exercise because I need an outlet for stress even though I experience pain in my feet and pelvic floor. I struggle to stay awake to study. The house is a mess. I stress-eat the rest of the day (in hind-sight, that increased appetite was probably influenced by sleep deprivation). Mid-January arrives and I take my certification examination and I passed. I passed!! I passed?! This surprises me and brings me so much relief (I did not waste the money we spent on the course instead of on the house).


Oh, the fun is not over — when I signed up for the Personal Training course, I had also signed up for Behavorial Change, Women’s Fitness, and Fitness Nutrition Specializations. Sonofab–Back to the books. Not much has changed with stress levels – I manage to finish  the Women’s Fitness Specialization and Behavior Change course by March. Yay! Two down, one to go! In April, I start the Fitness Nutrition course and enroll in another nutrition course (to complete at a later date).

By May, it is becoming clear that the pain is not getting better. I stop lower body exercises, except for walking. I force myself to walk, hoping that low-impact will help me heal. June rolls around and I’m one year post-partum. It’s clear something is wrong with my body. I begin seeking answers and trying anything and everything to get relief. I’m seeing a chiropractor, I try inserts, I buy better quality shoes, I start going for massages biweekly and monthly. I try cupping, I try cold laser therapy, I try ice baths (I hate them so much), I get temporary relief. I’m so desperate to feel better that I try positive thinking. I complete the Fitness Nutrition course and feel a little proud even though everything else sucks right now.

The rest of the year is the same — lack of sleep, broken sleep, pain, so many tantrums, the youngest two are partners in crime when they are not fighting, the older two are not getting the best of their parents. I’m overwhelmed, daily. I try to focus on the good parts of our days, but most of the time my thoughts are a version of, “I cannot do this. I’m not a good mother.” I stop talking with others about my struggles with pain and our youngest child — when I do share, I end up feeling misunderstood, ungrateful, whiny, unheard.

I try to boost my mood through workouts but I’m limited to mat workouts like pilates and yoga. I find it hard to complete them consistently since it doesn’t make me feel like I “accomplished” anything. I try walking. I attempt to workout consistently again. I keep falling off and getting back on track with healthy eating and exercising. I’m growing impatient with the lack of progress on house projects, lack of progress with my fitness progress, and wondering when (if ever) I’ll find my groove with four kids.

2017

In March, our son is finally in bed at a decent hour! WE GET OUR EVENINGS BACK!!! He still wakes often during the night or ends up in our bed at night, but we are fighting one less battle! I also take my first solo “Mom-cation” by heading to my family’s cabin for a few days. The time away was amazing! As the weather warms, my new goal is to keep the youngest kids active during the day so maybe, hopefully, they will be tired enough to nap. To keep them outside, I find outside projects to distract myself. Summer break arrives and I’m home with the kids more — we go on walks, bike rides, play at the park — anything to tire them out. I’m still having foot pain here and there, but it’s not as bad. I also experience groin pain as well. So I end up needing a day or two to recover from any activity.

Work on the basement also resumes — we now have a concrete floor — and then work stops as we save for the next part! Completing these projects gives me something to look forward too and makes me feel as though we are moving forward versus living the same day over and over.

In mid-September I start a part-time job working in retail since I was having a hard time bringing in consistent money with coaching and personal training. Working outside of the home is mostly wonderful and my mental health improves. It forced a lot of dynamics to change in our household. Being on my feet more frequently brought on foot  and calf pain and groin pain her and there. I go back to sitting more and exercising less. Here we go again…@%#&.

2018

Having consistent income allows us to get things accomplished in the basement. I’m working on the second nutrition course, I’m researching how to finish the concrete floor ourselves. I’m exercising less frequently due to being on my feet more and adjusting to my new schedule. In February, I learn that I may have been suffering from a pelvic floor dysfunction since the birth of fourth. I begin working with a pelvic health phyisotherapist to rehab my body from pregnancy. At this point I am close to 3 YEARS postpartum and finally getting answers! I finish and pass the second Nutrition course at the end of March.

In April we continue to make progress on the basement. I exercise here and there, I’m working a few nights per week and weekends, during the week I try to take the younger two kids to the park so I can do as much as I can on the basement in the afternoons. I try to  give my older kids attention outside of daily living tasks — so they know they are just as important as the basement. I’m looking forward to summer to get a break from homework. My priorities are kids, work as much as I’m able to keep the basement moving forward, work on the basement every free moment I can. Repeat.

School starts again and I’m excited to have more time to finish up the basement. In October, I sign-up for a Pre & Postnatal Coaching course. The organization that created this course wrote an article that I read about pelvic floor dysfunction and lead me to a Pelvic Health Physiotherapists. I move out of exercising in our living room to exercising in the basement. The kids get the other half of the basement for all their toys. Having a living room just for relaxing makes our tiny house feel bigger. We get a dog — I’m out voted. I’m already at my limit with the kids and I know a dog may help our oldest get over her crippling fear of dogs. After a few days alone with my youngest child and the dog — the dog starts going with my husband to work. In December, we are done with the major building projects in the basement!

2019

I love the new fitness space (so do the kids — they are still near me! gah!) and I slowly start back to a consistent fitness routine and revisit the exercises I learned when I worked with a pelvic health physiotherapist. My fitness routine gets derailed when I have a different type of allergic reaction to antibiotics, serum sickness. I recover and start again. Jumping back into my old fitness routine is tough. It feels harder than before. I have to force myself to keep pressing play. Over the next 6 weeks, I complete 15 workouts. I’m still incorporating therapy exercises and adding in low-impact workouts like Yoga Booty Ballet, with a few 21 Day Fix workouts as I’m battling the same pain on and off. I complete the Pre & Postnatal Fitness course!

Going through the Pre & Postnatal course made me realize I was not giving myself enough credit for all the things I do on a daily basis. I begin to relaz about not working out as often as I want — during the past 3ish years I have had a lot of “shoulds” swirling through my head. I start to become aware that expectations I adopted–or thought I should adopted–came from those that had a completely different life than me and those expectations were completely unrealistic! I decide that my priorities are the kids, to be a more present, calmer, and happier parent. To be that type of parent, that means getting away and going to work — which forces my husband to stop working and come home (a further explanation might be a post for another day). Reducing stress as much as possible and shifting my mindset — the new car payment means I have a reliable vehicle that doesn’t chug gas. I focus on good enough habits (versus perfect habits) and honor my energy levels. My new attitude helps and I’m happy that I’ve completed 24 workouts over the next 6 week period.

I’m increasing my intensity and beginning to focus more on working my lower body after I remembered something my physical therapist said during one of our sessions.  I’m starting to feel stronger and the pain is going away! Yay! I’m still a tired Mom though — working, being home with all four alone is stressful. Being a calm parent that helps children through conflicts instead of shutting them down takes SO much mental power. I’m so happy when school starts again! My youngest started school two FULL days per week! That  bubble is soon burst — I now have three that need help with homework and four that are crabby and want me all to themselves when they get home. This year I also promised the kids they could start up with after school activities since I felt I could better handle their brother alone and in public. On non school days, my son is bored and I hear, “Mom” about 723,000 times per day. Why is this parenting thing SO hard?!?! I will not stress eat. I will not stress eat … we will get through this. We will adjust!

That brings us up to date! I’ll update again around March 2020!

Shannon

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