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How This Woman Found Her Strength And Resilience After Having 2 Kids

"Believe in yourself, and care enough about yourself to invest the time in you."

09/11/2017 16:24 EDT | Updated 09/11/2017 18:23 EDT
Katie Watkins/Instagram

Name:​ Katie Watkins

Occupation: PR specialist

Age: 32

City: Toronto, Ont.

The scoop: For both of my pregnancies I reached approximately 175 lbs. When I started working out consistently at eight weeks postpartum with my second child, I was 155 lbs.​ Currently, I weigh 130 lbs., with a total weight loss of 25 lbs., which took me back exactly to my pre-pregnancy weight.

My story is not one of dramatic weight loss, but of a dramatic shift in lifestyle to incorporate fitness and overall wellness into my daily life.

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The story:

​I've always maintained a normal weight for the most part, with a frequent fluctuation of 5-10 lbs., based on my activity level and food/drink choices. I am lucky in that I never gave much thought to weight until my late teenage years, which I'm sure is not the case for most kids these days, unfortunately.

My story is not one of dramatic weight loss, but of a dramatic shift in lifestyle to incorporate fitness and overall wellness into my daily life.

It was not until I quit my job at McDonald's as a teenager and naturally lost 15-20 lbs. that I realized I was carrying extra weight due to the very poor food choices I was making on a daily basis. ​

The bad habits:

​As a teenager and 20-something, my weight gain came from eating poorly and drinking too much alcohol.​ I would focus on cardio when I noticed I was looking a little heavier, and cut down on my caloric intake. Fitness, however, was never a lifestyle for me at that point. It was a quick-fix to lose a few pounds.

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During my pregnancies I gained more than your average woman (according to Google at least, where you will read that gaining 20-25 lbs. during pregnancy is "normal"). I gained approximately 45 lbs. for both of my pregnancies. I suffered from terrible morning sickness for up to 20 weeks, I could not fathom the idea of being physically active.

I gained approximately 45 lbs. for both of my pregnancies. I suffered from terrible morning sickness for up to 20 weeks, I could not fathom the idea of being physically active.

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Before the kids:

Before I had kids I had gone through periods of counting calories and restrictive dieting. It was only about five years ago that I dabbled in the 5:2 diet for a number of months. These diets made me absolutely miserable, and I could not understand why it was better for me to eat milk chocolate packed with refined sugar than a piece of salmon, as far as calories go.

These diets made me absolutely miserable, and I could not understand why it was better for me to eat milk chocolate packed with refined sugar than a piece of salmon, as far as calories go.

The final straw:

​The baby weight did not come off nearly as quickly for my second child as it did with my first. In the weeks following my daughter's birth I found I simply could not recognize my body in the mirror. I had a great appreciation for all it had accomplished​, but it did not look like my own. I was uncomfortable, tired, and my mental health was suffering in terms of self-confidence and generally feeling down.

I was uncomfortable, tired, and my mental health was suffering in terms of self-confidence and generally feeling down.

The plan of attack:

​A friend of mine​ recommended the BBG program by Kayla Itsines, and after following a number of women in the BBG community on Instagram, I decided to give it a try.

My sister's wedding was 12 weeks away, which is the exact amount of time one round of the BBG program takes, so I began there. My goal was to lose the baby weight and look good at the wedding. It was purely a physical goal, and as such it was not enough. I struggled through those 12 weeks and did not put in the effort it truly required.

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As I was only putting in minimal effort, I only saw minimal results. I stopped the program after 12 weeks, and it was not until my friend challenged me to another round that things really started to shift for me. This time around I realized the very significant mental benefits of a consistent workout routine, and the physical changes slowly began to follow suit.

As I was only putting in minimal effort, I only saw minimal results.

Story continues below.

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​During my second round of BBG (weeks 13-24)​ I started to notice the physical changes. By week 24 I was down to 135 lbs., but more importantly, I was feeling amazing. My self-confidence was through the roof, and my energy levels were higher than they had been in a long time.

I have now been practicing BBG for a full year, and during that time I have lost 25 lbs., but I cannot stress enough that those 25 lbs. were not natural to my body, they were extra weight gained during my pregnancy.

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I am back at my pre-baby weight now, but I look and feel very different than I used to. Weight loss is not a priority for me anymore. Strength, endurance, ability, and mental wellness have far superseded any arbitrary weight goals I've had in the past.

Weight loss is not a priority for me anymore. Strength, endurance, ability, and mental wellness have far superseded any arbitrary weight goals I've had in the past.

I have gained muscle, which weighs much more than fat, and so while my weight is no lower than it was pre-baby, I personally believe I look my best, and I know I feel the best I ever have.

​Following both of my pregnancies I had a renewed appreciation for my body, and a desire to treat it well. While pregnant I became much more focused on eating real, wholesome food, for the sake of my baby, and I certainly did not care about calories or portion control, but rather that myself and the baby were well nourished​. This led to a much healthier outlook on eating postpartum.

​Following both of my pregnancies I had a renewed appreciation for my body, and a desire to treat it well.

Why I share my journey on Instagram:

​I started my fitness Instagram account @TO_fitspo completely anonymously on January 1st, 2017. What better day for a fresh start? ​I was seeking accountability, support, like-minded individuals, and motivation. I found all of that and so much more.

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My account is very much a (not-so) personal journal of my daily life, struggling to balance a healthy lifestyle while caring for my two young children. I never expected to become another woman's inspiration, but that is what I have been told I have become from countless women who contact me to share their stories and gratitude.

It is extremely humbling and rewarding at the same time. Starting the account was one of the best decisions I have made throughout this process of creating a healthier lifestyle.

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The hardest adjustment

The hardest adjustment is finding 30 minutes a day just for me. It felt very selfish at first, even if it was when my kids were napping, because there is always something else I could have been be doing — whether it be the dishes, cleaning the house, walking the dog, making meals, etc.

The hardest adjustment is finding 30 minutes a day just for me. It felt very selfish at first, even if it was when my kids were napping, because there is always something else I could have been be doing.

However, when I realized that by taking those 30 minutes to exercise I gained energy, mental clarity and positivity to take me through the rest of the day as a better version of myself, they became invaluable and an important priority.

The food element:

​I automatically found myself making healthier choices when I started working out consistently, because to eat something unhealthy after a workout felt super counterintuitive. ​I started making a conscious effort to incorporate more protein into my diet (I am pescatarian so sometimes this doesn't come as naturally).

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Generally I try to do this with real, whole foods, but I also introduced some protein supplements to help, such as Vega — clean, plant-based protein products from a Canadian company.

I did not count calories; I consider myself anti-calorie counting.

I did not count calories; I consider myself anti-calorie counting.

I've made a concerted effort to avoid processed foods as much as possible, and to choose real, whole foods instead. It's as simple as reading the ingredients list on a product before purchasing it — if I don't recognize the contents, as much as possible I try to avoid them. And I keep a close eye on sugar content in particular.

The exercise factor:

One of the best things about BBG is that it can be completed at home with little equipment.​ In the beginning when my daughter was eight weeks old and my son was turning two, I did not have the time, capability or money to visit a gym on a daily basis. I still don't!

I did not have the time, capability or money to visit a gym on a daily basis. I still don't!

Before I made these goals, I went through phases of physical activity. I enjoyed running, and still do, but was not consistent with it. Fitness was not part of my lifestyle, though relative to many I suppose I live a fairly active life.​

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How I stay motivated:

​The changes I have experienced within have been the most motivating for me. I am a better version of myself after taking 30 minutes a day to strengthen my body and mind. I have more energy for my kids, I am happier and self-confident, I am proud of making such an important commitment to my health.

I have more energy for my kids, I am happier and self-confident, I am proud of making such an important commitment to my health.

And when motivation wanes, as it frequently can, I can fall back on habit, because daily exercise and making good food choices has become a lifestyle for me rather than a quick fix.

What I'm most proud of:

​I am proud that I believed in myself enough to start, to stick with it, and to share my experience with others.​

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Final thoughts:

My advice to people is, ​firstly, to stop concerning yourself with weight. I understand that some people clearly have weight to lose, and that weight can in itself cause health issues; however, overall I feel really strongly that people need to take the emphasis off of numbers — weight, calories, dress sizes — and start focusing on how they feel. Believe in yourself, and care enough about yourself to invest the time in you.

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