If you're a new or soon to be mama, you most likely know how difficult it can be to find the energy and motivation to stay active before and after baby. Thankfully now, with platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, there are so many ways to find inspiration to get started with your fitness regimen. We caught up with a few inspiring fit mamas to talk about how they got started with their fitness regimens, what keeps them motivated, and some of their tips for new moms.
Sia Cooper, the mama behind the popular Instagram account @diaryofafitmommyofficial, is a personal trainer who specializes in working with pregnant and postpartum clients. If flipping through her Instagram account isn’t motivation enough to make you want to put down your phone and get your sneakers on, then her humble beginnings might help. Sia explains that she wasn’t always so fit and healthy herself.
“I was once overweight and struggling in nursing school. I had little money as a student so I ate whatever I could afford which usually resided on the dollar menu. I felt sluggish and awful, not to mention I hated the way my clothes fit.”
Then she decided she needed to make a change and was inspired to get in shape and lose 40 lbs. “Now, I love helping other women reach their weight loss and fitness goals as well. Nothing is impossible!”
Sia says her kids have been her biggest motivator. “Many see their kids as an excuse or an obstacle to getting fit while I see them as the opposite. I want them to value their health and to adopt healthy habits as adults in the future. I make sure to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Kids learn from your actions, not your words.”
With over 700,000 followers on Instagram, Sia aims to always be open and real about life to her followers, and hopes to inspire others to lead healthier lives. “By sharing most of my life - the good and the bad - I can help others mamas relate and feel better about themselves.”
Her advice for new or soon-to-be mamas is to listen to your body. “This will help you realize whether or not you need to start or resume your workout. When or if you decide that you are ready, take it slow. Your body is weak and needs time to get back into the groove of things. Take it one day at a time and you will get stronger and stronger than the previous day. As a rule of thumb, most doctors will say you can resume the workouts you were doing prior to pregnancy - with modification. Don't do any moves that challenge your balance causing you to fall since your balance will be challenged enough.”
Karla Marquez is a full time boss mama with a full house. She moved to the US without speaking a word of English at age 15, began modeling, got a Business degree from ASU, and went on to found a modeling agency which employs ambitious young women, in hopes of inspiring them to get a head start in their careers.
Like Sia, Karla wasn’t always into health and fitness. When she was 25, she was very depressed and found herself weak and losing weight. She turned to exercise as an emotional escape to depression and when her first daughter was born, at age 30, she decided that she was going to get in the best shape of her life.
A mother of two, Karla worked out through both her pregnancies, albeit with limitations per her doctor. For her first pregnancy, she wasn’t able to work out for the first 16 weeks due to previous miscarriages. Fortunately, doctors figured out the reason for miscarriages was not physical activity but a lack of progesterone and she was eventually cleared to exercise. With her second, she was able to continue with her routine and did modified exercises to feel more comfortable with my growing belly.
Karla encourages her mama-to-be followers to talk to their doctors about staying fit through their pregnancy.
She disagrees with the old sayings to indulge because you’re "eating for two" or to avoid exercise because you’re pregnant.
“It’s crucial for both mom and baby to stay active unless you have any complications. Eating healthy is very important, not only for mom but for the growing baby. Listen to your body at all times, drink lots of water, and if you were exercising before it's okay to follow your normal routine. Remember to always ask your doctor if you have any questions!”
Her children have been her main motivation for getting and staying healthy. “I want to set an example for them and live a healthy lifestyle. I do it because if I am happy and healthy it will will reflect on my daily life.”
For Karla, working out is her “me” time, where she can let go of everything going on around her and focus on herself. She keeps things interesting by changing it up, setting goals for herself, and asking her friends or sister to join her from time to time.
Karla’s favorite mama items are the DockAtot because she can take it anywhere and baby sleeps comfortably in it no matter where they are, the Lillé baby carrier, Comotomo bottles for those times when she’s away from baby, and the FisherPrice Rock’n’Play for naps.
To new mamas who are aren’t sure where to start post-baby, Karla encourages them to not think too much about it and start anywhere. “Nowadays there are so many resources. Consult with your doctor first and do some research. Find a gym that is kid friendly and ask for the tour so you can get familiar with the machines. Watch youtube videos on how to use the machines and don't be afraid to ask questions. We all started not really knowing what we were doing. If you can't afford a gym or don't want to leave the kids there are many videos online of DVD's that you can purchase. Karla is even working on her own online personal training platform which she’s super excited about, so follow her to stay in the loop! Follow her at @karlamarquez.
Jessie Hilgenberg is a beautifully fit mama of two and the creator of the #JESSIESGIRLS online fitness Training Programs at JessieFitness.com. She started her career in the fitness industry before there was Instagram so and relied solely on Facebook and YouTube to spread my message. There were no “you-tubers” back then - so she was just uploading videos of herself answering people’s fitness questions and crossed her fingers that someone out there would find the videos and it would help them. Since then she’s grown her following on Facebook to almost 1 million followers.
On being in the public eye, it’s a bit of a love-hate relationship. “I’m a private person, so feeling obligated to share every part of my life publicly gives me some anxiety. But, once I do make posts and I read the hundreds of comments supporting me, relating to me and reaching out to me - it feels all worth it. That’s when I’m reminded how important this platform is and how powerful it can be. One little post about my life can truly change someone’s entire world. So, I keep going!”
Having grown up in a very active household, health and fitness have always been a part of her life, and she played sports from a young age. When Jessie met her now husband, she started training with weights and fell in love with the lifestyle. She went on earn her IFBB Pro Figure status (International Federation of Bodybuilding) in 2012 and used it as the starting point to launching a fitness company that would change the lives of women all over the world.
While Jessie has always been active in her life, she admits that she finds it very hard to get motivated at times but feels a sense of accountability to her followers on Instagram and Facebook. “I have a lazy bone so I have to work hard to stay consistent. Building up such a large social media platform and having so many women watching me and depending on me for their own motivation is truly what keeps me going. I find it impossible to teach and inspire people to work hard and hit the gym if I’m not doing it myself. Also, I think it’s awesome that my two girls (3 and 8-weeks) will grow up watching their mom and dad lift weights and focus on health.”
Her advice to new moms is to find an inspiration that is attainable and workouts that you know you’ll be comfortable with and go with those.
“I’m 8-weeks postpartum right now and even I feel intimidated getting back to the gym,” she says. “It’s easy to get lost on Instagram looking at pictures of awesome, in shape women to motivate you…but, sometimes, that’s what sets me back. Don’t compare yourself and your journey to anything or anybody!”
With baby number two just two months old, Jessie has a few new baby products on her radar that she’s loving. “Of course our DockATot - I have a toddler so being able to move the baby from room to room in her DockATot has been a lifesaver! I’ve already gone back to work, so now I just need one for the office and I’ll be set!”
She’s also loving the Companion Backpack in Pewter by Twelve Little, because It’s super light, has just enough pockets and both she and her husband can use it interchangeably.
Keep up with Jessie on Instagram, @jesshilgenberg.