I can remember in the last couple of months of my pregnancy with Sophia, my second baby, how I marched around my house barking at anyone who would listen...whether it was my husband, my toddler or even if just the walls, that I WOULD have a nice figure again. Some people might call it vain while others could relate to exactly how I was feeling. Absolutely I was beyond excited to meet the new love of my life but as most women will tell you, the last bit of time, can be so uncomfortable and challenging...both physically and emotionally; and for me, it was. It was a constant roller coaster of emotions and I was determined to take control. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy I had masterminded a plan and created a specific timeline on how and when I would workout and be back to my ‘pre-babies’ body again; feeling sexy, strong and confident.

Oh dear Lord, who the heck was I kidding! 

With my newborn baby girl on my breast, feeding every couple of hours, and my toddler glued to my side, I was lucky to get in a few bites of food every so often and sneak in an hour of sleep here or there. The only lifting I was doing consisted of babies and laundry baskets. My vision of a small waistline, flat tummy and sculpted arms was just that, a vision. Suddenly the words sexy, strong and confident were foreign to me. I did struggle for months and my self esteem suffered but looking into the eyes of my children and feeling them skin to skin, was the bandaid I needed that numbed my pain at that time. Truly it wasn’t until I was on the other side of it, six months or so later, that I finally understood that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

My body created life. Every bit of extra fat and every stretch mark played a role in creating a miracle. I was a warrior and have the scars to prove it. They are my battle wounds and I am proud of them. So just like a soldier that has gone through a war, moms also need to take time to heal, recover and rebuild. It will happen, all in due time. So when expectant mothers reach out to me and bark with desperation, “I can’t wait to have my baby and hire you to get me back in shape!”, I smile and say, “I understand how you are feeling, don’t put so much pressure on yourself. You have created a miracle. You are beautiful and amazing. Be loving and patient with yourself and in due time you will heal and rebuild.” Most times, things don’t happen in our time, but they will happen within the right time. 

Amanda is a first time mom and for her, my 21 day challenge came at the right time. She affectionately calls her 11 month baby boy, Moose and wants to be the best mom he could ever have. She understands that to take the best care of him and her family, she must take the best care of herself and she was not doing that. Her self esteem was suffering greatly. She explains, “I wanted to join the 21 day challenge because I was at the point in my life where I couldn't even look at myself in the mirror without feeling completely disgusted with the way I was looking physically. I felt myself becoming depressed and knew that wasn't healthy for me. I was creating negative energy around my son, my husband and my family. I knew I had to change and I was the only one who could do that. When I saw pictures of myself back in 2009, when I was my fittest, it really hit me because I knew I could look and feel good again. I wanted to be able to feel comfortable in my own skin and feel sexy for my husband.” 

There does come a time when you have to lose the excuses to find your results. For Amanda, that time was now. She states, “Before the challenge I did struggle with trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle but it was because I never made it a priority and would use the 'my son won’t let me workout' excuse. I also became the 'yo-yo' dieter. I would either do a restricted eating plan or I would binge eat and drink whatever I wanted and then just say that nothing works.” 

Amanda needed structure, motivation and accountability. She needed my 21 day challenge. She states, “Within a week of starting the challenge, I felt a boost of energy, and going into the second week, my pants weren't snug! That just made me want to stay on track even more!” When you are a mom, being prepared, efficient, practical and resilient is a necessity to succeed at any task. The challenge provided Amanda with the tools to stay on track. She shares, “The meal plan was detailed and family friendly. My husband also followed my plan and he really enjoyed the idea of eating clean and the food was always delicious! Having a meal plan each week took the guess work out and taught me how to prepare and store meals in advance.” 

Of course a challenge is called a challenge for a reason and when obstacles arise, a solution must be found. It was not easy for Amanda to get her workouts in. She explains, “My biggest struggle through the challenge and even now, is trying to workout with an 11 month old who can't sit still for more than 5 minutes. Most people will say 'just put him in a play pen' ...but no, that didn't and doesn't work for us. Let's face it, working out with Baby Einstein or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the background doesn't quite give me the motivation to want to pump some iron either. My husband works late sometimes so the way I was able to finish my workouts on nights my hubby couldn't get home in time and the TV shows weren't entertaining my son...was baby wearing! I strapped Moose onto my back! Not only was I able to finish my workouts but my son got to be close to Mommy and it was a workout within a workout for me as he is an added 25 lbs! I knew if I wanted to see changes in how I looked and felt, I needed to figure a way to workout and this was my solution.”

At first most all women are only motivated by the way they ‘look’ but as they stay on point with their healthy lifestyle plan, they realize how amazing they feel and how it positively affects every aspect of their life. Amanda states, “I am completely blow away with my results! It was like day and night when I put my before and after photos next to each other and only after a short three weeks. I'll admit it, I catch myself looking in the mirror and smiling. I'm sure my husband is happy because I'm not always wearing my baggy workout pants around the house anymore. Now I want to wear my tight spandex leggings! I just feel so great. I have so much more energy than I did before. I am definitely a healthier and happier person. I don't put myself down like I did before. I even have friends who have asked me to help them with their weight loss journey and that feels really good that I’ve inspired them. I know that because I feel good about me, I can be a better mom, wife and friend.” 

Amanda did win my Little Red Dress 21 Day Challenge and one month later, she is still devoted to her new healthy lifestyle plan. Just this week, she posted on our Facebook support page that she knew what she had weighed prior to starting the challenge and had stayed off the scale the last couple of months as she didn’t want it to sabotage her motivation or goals; but, this week she did step on out of curiosity and has lost 16 pounds. I’m not surprised as her body speaks for itself and it really isn’t about the actual weight loss but for her its just something else to celebrate. 

By Liza Hughes RN
Lifestyle Coach to Women

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