I gave birth to my first daughter in September 2017, it was the most incredible thing I had ever done, and I was beyond delighted that I had a beautiful healthy little baby girl!
Despite starting my pregnancy off by eating healthily and trying to incorporate exercise into my daily routine, my weight kept creeping up. At a certain point, around 4 months, I gave up the struggle and tried instead to respect my body’s needs and trust my instincts. Over the course of my pregnancy, I had managed to put on over 4 stone. After a couple of months of living in the newborn bubble, I began to start feeling normal again, but when I looked in the mirror, I really didn’t recognize the person staring back at me. I had been a member of a gym in the past but I knew I would not be able to shift the weight on my own so I began to search for a personal trainer who would be able to come to my house and train with me in between feeds, naps and copious nappy changes! Bodyscene was the first site I came across who provides personal training services in my area so I sent Valerie an email and explained my situation.
Valerie was very quick to respond and came out to visit me at my house for an initial consultation. Valerie performed a full and thorough assessment of my fitness level, body weight and fat measurements and we discussed my goals for weight loss and fitness, and what could be achievable in the limited time I had at my disposal with a newborn baby in tow. Valerie created a personally tailored and targeted training plan for weight loss and toning. The plan consisted of a mix of cardio, resistance training, tabata-style workouts (a type of high-intensity interval training) and my choice of a pre-recorded trainer-led fitness class, which were available on the Bodyscene training platform online; these videos are great! You can select the equipment at your disposal (weights, mat etc.), the time you have available to train, and the type of training you would like to do and you are presented with a huge selection of classes to choose from. You don’t need an hour—or even 30 minutes. You can do a workout in 20, 10 or even 5 minutes. I trained with Valerie and Eimear twice a week at my home with the aid of small and cheap home equipment. I purchased two 3kg weights, a skipping rope, a fitness ball, an 8kg kettle bell, a set of gliders and a step. Having a really good playlist of fast past music is also imperative! Valerie provided me with training plans for three other days in the week to perform by myself at suitable times. Through the Bodyscene training platform, I was able to log my training sessions so Valerie could keep track of my progress. I must admit I found my first session quite daunting; I was quite embarrassed at my level of fitness and was worried that I wouldn’t get through the session! Valerie was quick to put me at ease and instilled in me with the confidence and support needed, adapting exercises to suit my fitness level if I wasn’t at the stage to achieve them yet.
Fitting in training sessions with a newborn baby was pretty tough at first! Initially, I was roping in my (very kind!) father to sit with the baby for an hour whilst I trained until she was old enough to sit in with me; she actually found it very entertaining which motivated me even more and kept me very positive throughout! Valerie was able to incorporate the baby into training sessions by showing me some fun and simple exercises I could do together with her, which she really enjoyed! She was like a beautiful little kettle bell! After just 10 sessions, I noticed my fitness level had dramatically increased and my body shape had begun to change. My confidence was growing at being able to do more reps or lift more weight at each session. Keeping track of reps at each session was a great way to see how you have progressed.
In addition to training, Valerie advised me on nutrition and foods to consume and avoid. I started the day with a smoothie usually consisting of coconut milk, spinach, banana, a handful of nuts or protein powder. After a training session, I would usually have scrambled egg whites with spinach or a small smoothie with some protein content. For dinner I would usually try to have fish or meat with salad or vegetables; I really tried to avoid large amounts of carbohydrates like pasta, bread and rice. In between meals if I needed to snack I would have a handful of nuts, sliced apple with peanut butter, or hummus and vegetables like sugar snap peas, carrots or peppers. I made some energy balls out of dates, coconut, nuts and protein powder to stave off any chocolate cravings! By reducing my intake of carbohydrates whilst training, I really noticed a difference in my energy levels and felt lighter and less bloated. As I was breastfeeding, I was conscious that I needed to consume enough calories so really wanted to make sure I was getting enough energy from the right foods. Valerie also recommended maintaining a daily food and calorie diary to keep track of what I was eating which really helps to make you think carefully about the food choices you are making each day. There are some really great apps out to help with this. Of course, there were cheat days where I ate what I wanted but I really tried to limit these as much as possible!
6 months on, I have lost nearly 3 stone, and I am nearly back to pre-pregnancy weight. I feel fitter and healthier than I ever have and feel like I have the energy to conquer the day. I am finding everyday tasks and carrying the baby around during the day so much easier with the additional strength I have gained from training with Valerie and Eimear. Through Valerie’s guidance and consistent exercise, my body shape has dramatically improved and my confidence levels have been restored. Valerie and Eimear’s positivity and encouragement really motivated me. I think it’s really important to set personal goals and even if you absolutely dread the thought of training to persevere and complete it, because you will feel absolutely amazing afterwards! Having an event like a wedding or holiday to look forward to is a great thing to use as a motivation to get yourself back to the place where you want to be. Investing in your health and well-being is most definitely money well spent. Valerie provided me with the support I needed to learn how to exercise effectively and how to push my body to achieve its potential. With Valerie and Eimear’s continued support and guidance, I know I will achieve my goal!