My last Pilates photo shoot was in March of 2013. I was in the best shape of my life. I fueled my body with only healthy food, I was working out at least once, sometimes twice a day. Between private clients and classes I was teaching around 35 plus hours a week. At the time we were living in Beacon Hill and I'd frequent Exhale's Back Bay Core Fusion classes several days a week. The weeks leading up to this shoot I was very strict about my diet. I avoided salt, carbs and ice cream (three of my favorite things). But honestly I didn't diet. I simply invested the time in slightly changing my eating habits to eating SUPER clean. No processed foods. And I got a lot of sleep. I treasure the images that were captured that day. I felt like I was exactly where I wanted to be.
One month after this shoot I got pregnant. I had a rough first 13 weeks of pregnancy. I was nauseous almost all day and night. I went from drinking daily green juices to being repulsed by anything that color. All I could stomach was bagels, plain pasta and bread. Quite the opposite of what I was accustomed to eating, but it was either that or feel even worse. I could hardly make it through my daily clients and stand on my feet let alone think about working out. I got squishy really fast. I think I gained almost 15lbs in that first trimester.
Of course I was thrilled to be expecting. And I knew that weight gain during pregnancy was a given. It was healthy and normal. BUT my body was literally expanding (what felt like rapidly) before my eyes and I was not prepared for mentally how I would take it. Luckily I started feeling much better by the beginning of my second trimester and I was able to return to eating healthy and exercising. I continued to teach my full class load until the month before I was due. Despite being very active and eating mostly clean I ended up gaining a total of 53lbs. Yes, you read that correctly. I was four days late and I remember being so uncomfortable that I wanted to either be naked or in a large oversized tee shirt. I went to put on one of my husbands that was normally huge on me. It was too tight. I asked him how much he weighed. I was 3 lbs shy of his weight.
After my son was born, everyone assured me that the pounds would just melt right off. After all, I was a fitness instructor. And I'm a small person. And I was breastfeeding. I'd bounce back in no time. False, False, False. My postpartum body was what shocked me the most in this whole journey. I'll expand on this in another post (if your interested) but in short, there was absolutely no "bouncing back." I'd say it took me about one year to start feeling more like my old self. And that was with a LOT of good old hard work. It was challenging, frustrating and at times I worried that even my career might be in jeopardy. Who would want to workout with me if I couldn't get myself back to that body I used to have?
In the end I remember it was the day that I decided to just buy myself some new clothes that actually fit me, that got me on a better track to feeling good about myself again. It seems silly but I was in an ever changing body and nothing ever seemed to fit correctly. And no one ever told me I'd have to buy new things every few months so I felt crazy but looking back it was one of best things I did. I don't remember exactly at what point it was, but one day I just stopped worrying so much about my body. I was too overwhelmed with love and caring for my son that I just kept focusing on him instead of the number on the scale. He didn't care if his Pilates Instructor Mom didn't have a six pack (yet).
Which brings us to current day. Today I have my first real photo shoot since my last one in 2013. Is my body back to being the same as it was back then? No way. While I've lost all of my baby weight I still have areas of insecurity. My stomach isn't where I want it to be. I have loose skin below my belly button that I notice when I'm in planks. My hips are definitely wider. I don't have the time to workout like I used to before big shoots so I'm not as lean as I'd like. BUT you know what, it's all okay by me. If becoming a Mom has taught me anything about my body it's that it's pretty damn amazing. I really mean that. I've actually never had a greater respect for it than I do now, after just thinking about all that it's been through!
I'd say I'm equal parts excited and nervous to get back in front of the camera and share my new photos with everyone. I consider myself a "Fit Mom", but how does that stack up in the competitive world of the fitness industry? Does it even matter? We all have our own stories to tell and our individual challenges to triumph. Right? That's my attitude at least.
I didn't do a ton extra to prepare for this shoot like in years past. I fit in workouts when I can. I do my own mat Pilates workouts at home. I eat healthy almost all the time. But my time these days isn't just about me anymore and that certainly makes things a bit more challenging.
I feel confident saying that these photos will be an honest reflection of where I'm at in my fitness journey, 18 months after giving birth. I'm actually really proud of myself. I hope that doesn't come across wrong, but I used to get nervous to be on camera. I didn't want people to judge me. This time just feels different. I'm doing this for me. To capture this moment in time. And I know I'm exactly right where I need to be. Cheesy or not, it's the truth.
So to answer the question posed in this blog title Am I photo shoot ready. I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Lights, camera, action...