My Fitness Journey: We Talk Pregnancy Weight Gain & Bouncing Back With The Inspirational Ursula Walsh
Ursula Walsh of Mom Fitness Diary tells us how she managed to shed five stone after she gave birth to her two little boys.
Tell us a bit about your fitness transformation.
I started my transformation three months after giving birth to my eldest son. I gained weight during my pregnancy, but I gained even more afterwards. I had a lot of difficulty breastfeeding and between being tired and being extra hungry I put on three stone. It was then I realised I had to make a change to my diet, but within 6 months of giving birth to my eldest son, I found myself pregnant for the second time. It was in January 2014 when I really focused on developing positive eating habits, and started exercising. I couldn’t get into my old clothes and it was so frustrating.
What were the changes that you started to make?
First off, I started by changing my eating and exercise habits. Eating more fruit and veg and drinking two litres of water a day. Then, I began going for outdoor walks. Once I had those managed, I started to reduce my portion sizes. I started walking and jogging and then I signed up to the gym and started to do weights to tone up. I felt that taking small steps was the best approach. I was able to mentally and physically tune into my new, healthier lifestyle, rather than trying to make a load of dramatic changes all at once.
Did you cut anything out of your diet completely?
Once I started to like and experiment with different vegetables I never had before (like kale) I started to add more vegetables to my diet and reduce my carbohydrate portions. I measured my carbs at each meal, but I never stopped eating them. I love food too much to cut anything completely. I’m a true believer that everything in moderation. If you know you can’t have something I think you crave it more.
What were your worst habits?
I remember waking up at 3am going downstairs to eat a pack of biscuits with a handful of almonds. That was the worst. Every evening after dinner I’d eat a full tub of Jacobs biscuits. Takeaways and frozen pizzas were often on the menu as well.
Tell us about doing Kayla Itsines guide?
I only started Kayla’s guide this time last year. I did it twice, and it was the final push I needed to get more toned. Kayla’s guides are very good to help you tone up. But in terms of building muscle, it’s better to lift weights which is what I am doing now.
What’s the best part of Kayla’s guide? Is it expensive?
It’s about 50-60 euros. It’s a 12 week guide with three different routines a week. From week one to nine, you have to add two slow walks to the three days of exercise. In week nine to 12, you have to add two or three runs to your three days of exercise. The three days consist of doing high intensity training with two circuits each day. Each circuit consists of four exercises and you do four sets of each in 15 minutes. The aim is to complete both circuits in 30 minutes. The first time I did the guide I never completed them in 30 minutes but I managed to get it done the second time around.
Is it really tough?
The last few weeks get really hard as you have to be jumping so much and you need so much strength to do some of the exercises.
Did you anticipate the changes that your body would go through during pregnancy?
Oh, I didn’t have a clue. It’s amazing that nobody talks about the things that really happen during pregnancy. I think there’s a guilt associated with saying negative things about pregnancy as the only thing that should matter is the health of your baby. It’s important that woman know what the body goes through as nutrition plays such a huge part. If I knew all what I know now, I would have done many things differently.
What were the biggest changes you noticed in your body?
Firstly, no matter what, you’ll put on weight and your body will change. Stretchmarks appear on most woman, I honestly didn’t get many but I do have a few. During pregnancy, your breasts get very firm and big but after you give birth it all changes. I know there are many woman who’s skin goes back to normal, but on me it didn’t happen. I still have a bit of excess tummy skin, as my tummy stretched so much.
How much weight did you gain?
A total of five stone.
Was preganacy easier the second time around?
I had two very similar pregnancies in terms of how sick I was, tummy shape, tiredness, etc. But yes it’s definitely easier second time around as you know more or less what to expect.
How often do you work out in the gym now?
I go to the gym four or five times a week depending how busy my week is. The fifth day is generally just cardio. The four days are divided on different muscle groups: Monday I do legs, Tuesday I do biceps, triceps and shoulders, on Wednesday I rest, Thursday is chest and back, Friday I do one of the exercises on Kayla’s guide for abs.
Are you a very clean eater?
I eat five meals a day. For breakfast, I usually have a wholemeal bagel with some avocado and a boiled egg, or a bowl of porridge, with a few berries on top. Lunch is usually a piece of chicken, crispy kale, broccoli and carrots, and for dessert I have three squares of dark chocolate. Mid-afternoon snack is one banana with peanut butter. Dinner is usually some protein (fish, beef, chickpeas, lentils) with a lot of vegetables and a measured portion of any carbs such as brown rice, potato, sweet potato, pasta, quinoa, couscous, and a big leafy salad to feel fuller. Then I go to the gym, and afterwards I have either a protein shake with a few almonds, or if I did any special healthy treats for my blog I usually eat them at this hour. Also every week I have a cheat meal, which entitles me to eat anything I would be craving, such as an Eddie Rockets or an Italian takeaway.
What’s your favourite healthy treat?
I have so many but my banana pancakes are to die for. I never thought eating pancakes could be healthy!
Is there anything we should drop from our diets immediately?
Fizzy drinks are the only thing that I don’t promote. They are so bad for your body, for your teeth, and they have no nutritional value and are loaded with sugar, chemicals, and other ingredients that can harm your health in a big way. Apart from that I think everything in moderation is good.
What have you learnt from your fitness transformation?
I’m much more aware of the effect certain foods have on your body. Simple, small everyday changes make a huge difference. For example, eating white bread versus wholemeal bread. Your body literally transforms with small changes externally and internally. Mentally, the transformation is equally as dramatic. By taking control of your diet, your confidence really improves too.
What advice do you have for new mums who might be feeling down in their appearance?
Don’t rush. Make small changes everyday, every week. Through personal experience, I believe that gradual and consistent improvements to your diet are the best method to achieve and sustain success over the long-term. Having a fitness diary is a great help as you can start writing down your goals, your weight, and how much you have lost every week. By writing down all these details, it allows you to critically analyze your diet and then to change those habits for the better. When I started I used Instagram as a fitness diary and it definitely helped.