I gained exactly 40 pounds with all three of my pregnancies, but my body and my experience after having each of my kids was so different. I was in a different place mentally, emotionally, and physically, even if by just a couple years.
How I worked on my body after each pregnancy has changed over the years. I wasn’t into intense workouts when I got pregnant with Mason, and I wasn’t using a trainer at the time. I was very into running, usually a quick two- to three-mile run with some good music in my neighborhood, combined with some at-home workouts and uphill walks with the stroller. I was breastfeeding for 16 months, which really helped me lose weight after Mason.
I recommend breastfeeding for as long as you can, if you can—the first full year. It forces you to eat super clean for your baby, drink much less alcohol and caffeine, and hydrate with a ton of water. It’s amazing for the baby’s immunity and strength, and it burns around 700 calories each feeding. I especially loved the built-in bonding time throughout the day, especially once I started working again.
If I was ever at a standstill with my weight, I would try to eliminate something from my diet or eating schedule to see how much of a change that made. I know I’ve mentioned my sweet tooth before, and it was even more intense while I was breastfeeding. I like to have a little dessert after lunch and after dinner, but if I felt my weight plateaued, I would cut out the post-lunch snack and monitor my sugar, which really made a difference.
I was still doing mellow workouts and a lot of yoga after Penelope, even mommy-baby yoga together, but it was harder to get my body back. After about two years, I felt really ready to be in the best shape I could be in and started getting into intense workouts. I did a lot of HIIT workouts, which is High-Intensity Interval Training. It’s a lot of short, super intense bursts, like jump lunges, squats, or running up stairs, and it burns crazy calories and builds strength.
It was when I finally opened up to working with a trainer that I really got addicted to this sort of activity. My trainer, Don, is super motivating. He kept me inspired by switching it up every day, and seeing everything around us as a possible workout obstacle. We would do uphill trail runs, and other times he would just show up at my door and make me drop my bag and start running immediately, or run up and down the stairs in my house. Some days we would switch it up and do boxing.
Everything was a workout, which made exercising seem so much more accessible. It gave me a new perspective and kept me on my toes. Sometimes, it was killer cardio, like jump roping for 10 minutes straight. I know that may not sound like much, but have you ever tried it? Try jump roping for just five minutes. It’s intense. I have now built up to 20 minutes, which I did this summer in Italy.
A couple months after starting with Don and really getting into it, I found out that I was pregnant with Reign. I stopped the intense workouts but continued to do some easy ones like the StairMaster, treadmill, and some Tracy Anderson dance workouts in the Hamptons, where I spent three months of my pregnancy, mixed with a lot of walks with the kids. I couldn’t wait to get back on my high-intensity schedule after the pregnancy, and it felt so good to jump back into it. Especially because I was going through the breakup with Scott, I found that these workouts helped crush my anxiety. HIIT workouts are really what made the biggest difference. It’s hard at first, but I noticed once I became used to that sort of intensity, I craved it.
The most important thing is to listen to your body and to do what you’re doing for you, not for society’s standards of getting your body back, because they are unrealistic. This was my journey. It wasn’t until Reign was probably 4 months old that I felt this desire to be in the best shape of my life.