There is no doubt that the first glance at a post baby body sends most women into tears. We all recall a day when jeans fit better, shirts could be worn a little tighter and everything was a whole lot firmer. However, for women who compete professionally, the mental torment that accompanies the physical changes of pregnancy can be overwhelming. When you are used to being judged on the perfection of your physique, seeing it less than perfect can make you feel as though the journey to achieve greatness again is an impossible one. However, for Shaylen Harris, shedding the weight and getting back in the game again was simply a matter of reprioritizing, relying on the support of her family and never allowing herself to give up.
SM: Being that you were so healthy before the baby, do you think that living and breathing that competitor lifestyle made your pregnancy easier or harder?
SH: “Honestly I went into my pregnancy thinking I had the weight gain under control and little did I know I was wrong. I didn’t restrict myself but, I also didn’t go crazy eating everything in sight. I ‘enjoyed’ being able to eat freely without the constant scrutiny on my foods. However, every appointment that number just kept climbing. When that number passed 50 additional lbs I was afraid but there was nothing I could do. I refused to jeopardize my baby all for some number on the scale. I had high blood pressure during my pregnancy and I retained a lot of water so I’m sure some of those 70 lbs I put on had something to do with that.”
SM: Did you maintain the strict diet and exercise schedule during the pregnancy?
SH: “No I just enjoyed my pregnancy. I was always so restricted on foods, so for those 9 months I didn’t want that stress. I did maintain the meal timing eating every 2 1/2 -3 hours keeping my blood sugar level.”
SH: “The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was fear. I was afraid the weight wouldn’t come off. I cried when I took that first picture after giving birth. I continued to compare myself to how I looked before and it was emotionally tough. I struggled with that big time. I myself not only competed but I have a large amount of friends that do as well. I struggled with feeling out of place while everyone trained and got ready for shows while I gained weight even though I knew I was pregnant, it still made me feel insecure around all these fit beautiful women even though they were my friends.”
SM: Please describe in detail the exercise regimen and diet you followed to help shed the baby weight.
SH: “My husband is a NPC Bodybuilder and does nutrition. We recently just started a nutrition and training business called Body Management Group, LLC. Immediately after delivery, the junk food went out the door. I cleaned my diet up back to lean protein, veggies and complex carbs. I didn’t rush into training as I wanted my body to heal properly since I had a rough delivery and recovery. So right around 2 months post delivery, I started following the skinnymom track and home workouts or I would go to the gym in the evenings after my husband came home from work. I also went for long walks with my son during the day to stay active and he loved napping in the stroller. Then it seemed like the weight was slowly falling off. When he turned 3 months old, I started taking him to the gym with me in the mornings for weight training. The bigger struggle came when I went back to work. I was up early to get to work so I would do early morning cardio, waking up around 4:30am then after work I would stop at the gym on my way home from work to lift. It took balance, but I did it. Now I’m back on my normal competitor training schedule less than 6 wks out from my competition. We also moved closer to my work so that cut down on commute time. I do my 1st cardio at 5:30 am (1 hour cardio at home on the stairmaster), work all day, then at 3:30pm I’m off to Gold’s Gym for weight training and cardio #2.”
SH: “With the help of my amazing family. My husband being a competitor as well, understands the sacrifice and dedication it takes. My mother in law has moved in with us and is the biggest help we could have ever asked for. I try to train when everyone is asleep and before I get home from work. My weekends, if I do have to lift, I train as early as possible so I can have my whole day with my family minus that 2nd cardio session I do later in the evening.”
SM: If a woman wanted to take herself from baby weight to bikini competitor, what steps would you suggest she take?
SH: “Take it slowly, it will not happen overnight. Be consistent and dedicated to your goal. Never let anyone tell you that just because you’ve had a baby that you won’t be able to compete; with hard work anything is possible. Nutrition is the biggest part. Once you have your nutrition under control, everything else will seem easy.”
SM: What keeps you motivated and positive through the exhaustion and craziness of being a mama?
SH: “I know I’m doing this for a bigger reason than getting on stage. I’m giving my son the best mommy he can have. I want to be able to chase him around, play sports with him and just stay active.”
For more information on Shaylen or to contact her for advice on nutrition and training, please email her at [email protected]