1. Tell us about yourself
I am a mother to six children and I am coming up on my 28th year wedding anniversary. I love my role as a wife, mother, and fitness enthusiast. I enjoy and have enjoyed this process of who I am today. My love of “healthy living” must be attributed to my mother and her love of nutrition and healthy living by example. I have always admired her and love her motto: “All things in moderation.” I am the second oldest of nine children, most of my late childhood was spent helping and raising my younger siblings. My mother is my example of patience, love and most importantly one who always forgave. My goal is to be just like her some day.
2. How did you get into fitness?
My love of fitness started very late in life, after I gave birth to my first child, I realized that the weight I put on was not going to just drop off my body. I dove right in to the 90’s doing aerobics, step aerobics, boot camp classes, gym cardio machines – stair masters. In 1999 I took my first spin class right after daughter #4 was born. And I still love to throw in a spin class still today. I love how body friendly yet very comparable to running spinning can be. I soon became hooked on running – it literally became my “sport” of choice. I ran my first and last marathon in 2007. I had a knee injury which ended my running career. This was really a rough patch for me. I ended up having to “rethink” my fitness journey.
3. You have had 6 kids, what was it like being pregnant in general and how did it change your body?
I have a very hardy genetic make up when it comes to my body and being pregnant. Five of my pregnancies were full-term and vaginal deliveries. Only one pregnancy I was sick and ended up having her a week early and having her by c-section. My body changed in every way imaginable. All six pregnancies I gained anywhere from 30 to 60 lbs. My sixth baby I put on 60 lbs. I have stretch marks pretty much all over my lower stomach. I like to tell my kids that I went to battle for them, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I also nursed all my babies for a year. So, my breasts have stretch marks as well.
Before each of my pregnancies, I had been exercising for at least a good year to year and a half. I would exercise for at least one hour. I used to say that I would get back in to amazing shape – only to get pregnant again. After my first two pregnancies I was working out Monday through Friday – aerobics and step aerobics. Baby #3 – after she was born and I had the doctor “okay” I jumped right into Boot Camp classes. After baby #4 was born – and I healed from the c-section, I started slowly into spin classes and then eventually running. Baby #5 I was still running and working on running a marathon. Then injury – and time off from all activity. By baby #6 Weightlifting entered my life. I realized that as I was nearing my forties, I had to start lifting. Cardio sessions combined with light lifting became my mantra.
5. Did you modify your workouts with any of the pregnancies? If so, how?
I would work out always with the best intentions to go the entire pregnancy with my activity of choice only to end up walking by month 7 of each pregnancy. My exhaustion was very real and with so many little children I had a hard time finding the drive and passion. I would put kids on bikes and in double long stroller and go for walks. Near the end of my pregnancy, I would walk on the treadmill if the weather was cold outside. I just had to keep moving.
6. What was your nutrition like while pregnant?
I wish I could say that my nutrition was spot on, but it wasn’t. I was dealing with huge cravings. My love of salads, lean meats and healthy fruits and smoothies did not sound appetizing. I wanted meat and potatoes. I would cave to my cravings about 50 % of the time. I just would try harder the next day. The hard part is to not fall prey to the negative talk track in your head.
7. What are your tips for those who are pregnant and trying to stay fit?
Every woman is different and so is every single pregnancy. This is a time to really focus on you and that little baby growing inside of you. Try to eat your fruits and vegetables and drink water (even though you may not want to because of growing belly and the need to always urinate). Listen to your doctor, and really focus on eating dense, nutritious foods and limit the processed foods as much as possible.
Low impact exercise is always best, my favorite class generally was a spin class with low tension. Second trimester I moved right to gym machines – like the elliptical which is very body friendly and making sure my heart rate never got above 140. I would always wear a heart rate monitor. Third trimester was medium to slow walk or treadmill walk on slight incline.
8. How were you able to bounce back from each pregnancy? What’s your workout and diet routine?
Coming back from pregnancy is really a slow process at least it was for me. I nursed all of my babies for one year. So, this time was really crucial in drinking enough water and eating nutritionally dense and whole foods. I would almost always carry an additional 10 to 15 lbs of weight simply because I nursed. I always carried a water bottle with me everywhere so I had ample milk supply. I tried to be very mindful with my portion sizes and eating six small meals a day. I also started back in with spin class and light lifting. As the months went on, I went back to my normal workout routine. Because I had so many little children many times my workouts were at home. I would jump rope, workout to home workout dvd’s., and when I was allowed to – I would run.
9. How old are your children and how has it been caring for all of them?
My oldest son Christian is 25 years old, daughter Ella is 23, daughter Isabel is 20, daughter Sophia is 17, son Noah is 14 and my youngest is Lily and she is 12 years old.
My two oldest daughters are married. I love my role as a mother, and caring for my children, although difficult and tiring at times, was and is rewarding. My husband travels for business so many times I felt like a single mother. Trying to stay centered for every one can be very trying. When the husband was home, he was great to take the kids and let me get a bath or a nap or have a “girls-night out” with my girlfriends. I don’t drink so my little time with friends would be a hearty dinner and dessert.
10. How do your children view your passion for staying healthy?
All my kids are very physically active. When my two daughters come into town they are super excited to workout with me (such a huge complement). I have also helped one son in law with an eating and workout guide, to help him shed weight. My daughters always ask for my opinion on workouts and healthy recipes. It really is pretty cool. My high school daughter comes to the gym with me during the summer months. I feel blessed that they are so proud of what I do, and through my example want to be healthy and strong.
11. How do you feel about your body now?
I feel that I am in the best shape of my life. I was never this fit even in high school or college. I used to be very embarrassed of my stretch marks on my lower belly and on the back side of my legs. I don’t feel that way anymore. I love my body and what it has been able to do. Those scars are my beautiful memories of each of my babies and what my body was capable of doing. People have tattoos all over their bodies, and wear them with pride. I feel the same way about my stretch marks, except mine produced beautiful people whom I love dearly.