Just because you weren't in your best shape before having kids doesn't mean all hope is lost after having them. We caught up with three moms who took control of their health and got in the best shape of their lives after pregnancy.
Their stories are motivational and relatable and show just how vital it is to be a healthy role model for your children.
Before having children, De Bolton did not exercise. The most energy she spent was walking around the mall catching sales. She was also a drive-thru junkie and convenience meals were her way of life. That all changed when she had kids.
"Since having kids I not only have to workout, but I get to workout each and every day," she says. "I make it a priority of self-care."
She jokes that her family members are also rehabilitated junk food addicts, and most of their meals are now freshly made with whole ingredients.
Bolton's initial motivation to get in shape came down to one thing: "I was sick and tired of being sick and tired."
It was tough to get started, especially since she felt uncomfortable in her own skin, but once the purpose of her weight loss journey changed from looking good to getting in the best shape of her life, Bolton knew she found the secret to long-term success.
Staying in Shape
Before having her three daughters, Bolton says you couldn't pay her to go to a gym and now she works in one.
Her workouts include strength training at least twice a week and metabolic conditioning at least twice each week. When the weather is nice, she tries to get outside with her girls as much as possible.
She likes to keep a basic diet, which means mostly protein and produce. But she does indulge in an occasional donut or slice of pizza.
"I try to eat proportional meals according to my body, and I drink mostly water," she says. Bolton does intermittent fasting out of habit, eating in an eight-hour window and fasting for 16 hours.
Bolton's overall focus is to cut the C.R.A.P. (carbonated beverages, refined sugars, artificial flavors and sweeteners and processed foods) and focus on F.O.O.D. (fruits and veggies, organic or natural meats, Omega 3 fatty acids and drinking water) and be consistent in exercise.
Like Bolton, 37-year-old Mandy Griffin was over being tired all the time. "I just didn't feel good," she says. "My clothes didn't fit, I was tired and I felt out of breath doing normal things like walking up the stairs or chasing after my kids."
A significant turning point for Griffin came when she looked at the older women in her family, who are all fairly out of shape, and decided she didn't want to be like that when she was their age. "I knew that it was a lifestyle change that I had to make, but I knew I could do it if I made it a priority."
Finding Her Why
Knowing she wanted to be the kind of mom that could do a 5K with her kids, go on bike rides or hike mountains, Griffin made a commitment to change her life and be an excellent example for her kids. They became her "why" for exercise.
Griffin now has more muscle and less body fat than she did prior to giving birth. She also feels stronger in terms of what she can do. "I never used to be able to do regular push-ups or pull-ups, and now I can do both," she says.
Her cardio is also better. Before kids, she ran around a 10-minute mile, and now she can finish a mile in 7:30 and even recently ran a 12K at a 9:15 pace.
She exercises four to five days a week for at least an hour each session. Griffin prefers HIIT-style workouts since they allow her to combine cardio and strength training. Most of her cardio is running, but she occasionally adds in the stair master.
One tool that helped Griffin on her fitness journey is the workout app, Aaptiv. "It helps me to have a trainer in my ear telling me what to do, helping me with form and motivating me while I do it," she says. "I also love that there are new workouts all the time because I get bored if I'm doing the same thing over and over."
Nutrition is something she approaches with balance, aiming to eat healthy overall so that getting the "right" food is not an issue.
Becoming a mom dramatically changed Rachel Flint's perspective about her health. "I realized not only was my health important, but it was my responsibility to take it seriously so I could be my best for my children," says Flint, a bodybuilding.com TEAM Athlete.
Before having kids, Flint says she was soft, lazy and didn't really care about her health. She smoked and drank a little too often and had zero confidence about her body. But that all changed after giving birth.
"Even though how I look is important to me, setting a great example for my children of what an active lifestyle looks like is even more important," Flint says. "I don't want them to struggle with body image the way I did, and I want them to know how to be active, how to fuel their bodies and how to gain strength."
So, she leads by example. Flint teaches her kids to listen to their hunger cues. Plus, they do a lot of outdoor activities together. She limits screen time and ensures everyone is well-rested and gets adequate sleep every night.
"I'm not a perfect parent by any stretch, but I do my best to make sure they are learning how to take care of the only body they'll ever have," Flint says.
All or Something
"I have learned to drop the 'all or nothing' attitude and adopt an 'all or something' mentality instead," Flint says. On the days she can't get to the gym, she makes sure her nutrition is on point. If she only has time for a 15- or 20-minute workout, she does the best she can with the time she has.
Learning to be flexible and accepting that doing the best she can is good enough has allowed Flint to move forward without getting discouraged or sabotaging her progress.
She exercises for 45 minutes or less, three to five days each week. Strength training and cardio are both essential parts of her fitness routine. "I lift weights for thirty minutes, performing all exercises back to back in a superset format to keep my heart rate up and burn extra fat," she says.
Flint follows-up her strength training with 15 minutes of cardio, rotating between steady state cardio one day and sprints the next.
When it comes to eating, she follows flexible dieting, which means she sticks with eating nutrient-rich whole foods for about 80 percent of her intake and fills in the other 20 percent with fun foods--a.k.a. a couple of tacos or a slice of pizza.
Flint keeps sugar to a bare minimum, consuming 25 grams or less on most days. But she doesn't believe in severe restriction or any kind of diet in which specific food groups are limited or eliminated, simply because for most people, it's not sustainable for a lifetime.