A bit of my fitness journey after two kiddos...

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Hey All!!

So I wanted to chat about how hard it can be to get back into a fitness routine after having kids! And I wanted to share my own personal experience and journey on this subject. Because that's exactly what it is, a journey!

I'll be honest, with my daughter (my first) I don't think I worked out more than, maybe 5x all pregnancy! I was SO nervous I was going to hurt her or something.  Even though all the doctors and everything I read was saying it was absolutely fine, I was still nervous. (First pregnancy problems). I was still working as a hair stylist and living in downtown Chicago, so I was on my feet all the time and walked everywhere. That was truly the extent of my workout. But I did feel like my pregnancy with her, started my entire fitness journey. Especially with nutrition. I had always been into healthy and organic food, but I was far from perfect. But during my pregnancy with her, I honestly never felt so healthy. By the end of my third trimester, I felt like my body was actually ready to get back into a fitness routine and I had not even had her yet or had no idea what I was in for! I just knew I was SO anxious to start working out again.

After my daughter was born I gave it the full 6 weeks before doing some physical activity. I felt very ready after the 6 weeks was up, to do some cardio and get my blood pumping! I knew being a new mommy, I would need to do something at home. So I bought T25 from BeachBody. I still remember how it felt to try to workout after pretty much doing no cardio (or anything) whatsoever for 9+ months!! Plus omg, I couldn't jump? What do you mean? Why did I feel like I needed to wear a diaper? bahaha. These were all very new things I had never experienced before! I liked the program and they even had modifications for a new momma. I actually stuck with this for a few months and had gotten even more into nutrition at this point. I was nursing my daughter and still wanted to remain really healthy for her and myself! Plus I had NEVER been so hungry in my entire life, and I'm not going to lie, I thought that was so fun! (Give me all the grass-fed burgers! This was pre-plant based. haha!!) We were lucky we lived across the street from one of the best Whole Food stores in the country at the time. I would walk over there almost every day and find new ingredients to cook and explore with. I would even talk to the butchers and ask them for recipes and their opinions on ways to cook certain meats and different cuts! I loved this, till this day I miss that store. I even took a baby food making class there, which now a mom of two toddlers is kind of funny...like put some cooked sweet potatoes in a blender and feed it to your baby. Once again, you don't know being a new mommy, haha. The more I got into clean eating and working out I was hooked. I was seeing results and felt great! Better then I did even before my pregnancy.

A few months after I eased my way into working out at home and following a program, I found the BBG program on Instagram. I had followed Kayla Itsines on Instagram for a while and would watch people follow her program and see the results, saying to myself, "WHAT??!" So I had to see for myself firsthand. I bought the 12-week program and followed the entire 12 weeks. I LOVED every second of this program and back before the fancy app, I just printed it out and did most of the workout right in our condo! I would have to say the BBG program really got me into a fitness routine I loved! It was also the start of picking up some weights and seeing results.

Fast forward to us moving to NC pretty quickly and me being a stay at home mommy for the first time, (I had gone back part-time with my daughter. She was 7 months old when we moved to NC), and knowing absolutely no one!!! I joined the Y very quickly after moving and that's when my true love of lifting weights really came into play. I followed an online coach's program that was also a female and trained some incredible female body-builders and athletes. It gave me something to do plus I had never in my life seen results like I did when I was lifting heavy weights! I promise ladies, it will not make you bulky. It tones you and makes you strong! By this time I was becoming a pro on nutrition and cooking clean healthy meals for my hubs and I. I loved it!! I was reading so many books on nutrition and finding new cookbooks I loved weekly! I also had SO much energy, which us mommies need! And then....I was pregnant again. HA! (Whooo-hooo!).

My second pregnancy was NOT as easy as my first one. I was SOOO sick with my little dude. OMG. So sick. I still remember the days that felt like they were 85 hours long. I was so nauseous with my son. It took everything in me just to get up every single day. I felt so guilty because I felt like such a bad mom to my daughter (even though she was only 9 months old!!). But I will say, I would fight the sickness the best I could and would still try to make it to the gym during my second pregnancy, even if it was only 3x a week. I lifted heavy weights during my second pregnancy all the way up to 7 months. (I definitely recommend if you do this, you already are familiar with heavy weight lifting and consult a professional!). The last couple of months he was trying to make an appearance so I definitely stopped working out! (Besides chasing a toddler 24-7).  Which with pregnancy number two I was absolutely fine with. I also felt different about wanting to jump back into a routine. I would let my body heal and pick up a fitness routine when the time was right!

Which let me tell you guys...that's exactly what I had to do! My recovery after my son was a bit different. I felt like my back and hips were broken for a solid few weeks. Ugh! I saw a chiropractor (which I HIGHLY recommend doing after any pregnancy! I did it after my daughter as well), after seeing him a few times I felt so much better. But I still wasn't jumping into a fitness routine this time. He was a hard baby. Really hard. I barely slept, my hormones were whacked, I had a 19-month-old daughter and I was more exhausted then I even knew was possible. Us also moving to NC meant we were not by family. This was a very hard stage for me. But time goes fast and about 12 weeks in, I was so ready to get back into a fitness routine. I actually started out by going back to the Y and following another online fitness coach's program. I loved the program which consisted of lifting heavy weights again but definitely catered to post-partum fitness. I did not jump back into working out every single day, but I slowly got into a rhythm and tried to do things when I could! I did not beat myself up at all and listened to my body. I was nursing my son and got back into clean eating and cooking for the fam. WHEN I could. I did a lot of meal prepping back then. Because a new mommy of two, I did not have time to just cook whenever I wanted! I worked out at the Y and followed this program for roughly 6 months. I absolutely got back into shape and felt great, but was getting bored working out by myself. I wanted to change things up. I also was still having hormone imbalances and just did not feel like myself! This is when I started Burn Boot Camp. I was hooked after day 1 (which I almost died, I swear), and it's been almost a little over a year now since I have been with them! I love it. They have new workouts every single day, I still get to incorporate heavy weight lifting and the community itself of other women is not only amazing, it's inspiring! I believe everyone has to find the right workout that best fits with them and makes them excited to work out. It could be different for everyone, but I promise if you find something you truly love to do, with people you love to support and workout with you, you will start feeling great. It helps me be a better mommy and wife, just person in general! Eating healthy and being active makes me a happy person and that is what matters more than anything else!

Also, I quickly just wanted to touch on the topic of mom guilt with taking the time for ourselves to workout! I REALLY struggled with this for a long time! Honestly, I feel like until about 6 months ago, it still killed me every day to take that 45 minutes for myself. When my little guy was really little, I would try to wake up really early before anyone was even awake and go workout. That worked for a little bit, but I was just so tired from not sleeping a lot. So I desperately tried to make the whole babies coming with me thing work. My son hated it which made me feel even more guilty!!! So some days I would wake up early, some days I would workout at home, and some days I would bring my kiddos with me. I just stuck with it. I knew by giving myself that 45 minutes and making myself feel better made me a better mom. It really did. It helped me be more energetic, more patient, and overall just felt so much better. All moms can understand this feeling, so your not alone. It helped me to be with a community of other moms who were in the same boat, or have experienced it before. But now, my son is just a couple weeks away from the big TWO! And he LOVES going with me! He has made friends and loves playing with new toys while having fun! It's just become a routine for us and he talks about going with me all the time. I actually love that he is with me and I know he is just in the other room!

So I wanted to open up and share my fitness journey with all of you because I personally know it's not easy being a momma! It's definitely a journey, which I'm still on! I'm far from perfect but I feel the strongest I've ever felt in my life and am planning on running my first half marathon in early spring! I've met some awesome mom friends who share the same passion and I love talking with all of you about fitness and nutrition through my blog and social channels! What kind of workouts are your favorite? Was your journey easier than mine? Harder? Let me know!

XOXO,

Ashley

All Photography was done by Dani Nicole Photography