How I Became Comfortable In My Skin After Having Three Kids

Hello! Who are you and what did your transformation look like?

Hello, my name is Jessica Lawrence and I decided to get fit after my third baby boy was born. I’d been pregnant three times in three and a half years and I was tired of being uncomfortable in my body. Through a lot of hard work, consistency, and dedication, I managed to whip myself into pretty decent shape in 16 weeks… and I haven’t looked back since!  My main philosophy was (and is still) consistency. 

This post is all about Jessica Lawrence and her Transformation Story.

What’s your backstory and why did you decide to transform yourself?

Pregnancy is amazing, but also very hard on our mental and physical well-being. After having three kids I felt like all I did was “mom”– which is great and I wouldn’t change it, but I felt like I was losing myself a bit. My brain was consumed with taking care of the kids and when I looked in the mirror I didn’t feel confident at all– and none of my clothes fit! I didn’t want to hire a babysitter and go to the gym and I didn’t want to go on a shopping spree for new clothes. I wanted to get into shape amidst the chaos of being a mom and make it routine… and then go shopping in my own closet! 

My oldest son, Axl, was born in March 2016, my middle son, Ozzie, was born in July 2017, and my youngest son was born in August of 2019. With each of these pregnancies, I gained over 50 lbs. Therefore, it was a few years of constant weight fluctuation, gaining 50+ lbs then losing it, and then gaining it again with the next pregnancy, then losing it, and gaining it again. 

After my first son, Axl, I started running and exercising a bit, but as soon I was kind of comfortable in my skin and could fit in my clothes I stopped– and then was immediately pregnant again and restarted the pregnancy weight cycle. After Ozzie, I was way too overwhelmed to exercise because I was now still working full time from home but with TWO kids.  I worked from 8am-5pm as a full-time online high school teacher while simultaneously caring for them by myself– and I was breastfeeding as well. I was totally drained and overly stressed and I did lose the baby weight (breastfeeding burns a ton of calories), but I was squishy, and mushy, and not firm or comfortable in my body. Then, after my third baby, Hendrix, was born, I knew I needed to do this differently. I couldn’t wait to start feeling comfortable again.

Take us through the process of transforming yourself.

I had Hendrix on August 11, 2019, and I got the “go-ahead” to start exercising at my five and a half week postpartum doctor appointment (It should be said though I was lucky enough to have had all three of my babies without complications and completely naturally, so while there was recovery time, it wasn’t as long as some other women I know.). Hendrix was too small for a gym that has “babysitting” and I didn’t really want to go to a gym anyway. I didn’t want to have any excuses for not being able to get there for whatever reason so I just wanted to workout from home– this way there was no excuse!

I knew about the Sweat app because I had done some of Kayla Itsines’s workouts when they were in PDF form after seeing some of the before and afters on Pinterest and Instagram.  However, the app cost money and I was afraid that I’d buy the app and never use it. So I made myself a deal. I told myself that if I ran every day for a week straight then I could buy myself the app. I wanted to prove my own motivation to myself. And that’s what I did.

After I dropped my then 3-year-old at preschool, I came home and popped my 2-year-old and my infant into the running stroller (infant in his car seat of course). And I did it every day for a week straight. Preschool was only 4 days a week, so when I had all three of them on non-preschool days, my three-year-old sat on the front of my double running stroller. Probably not recommended by the manufacturer, but Axl would hold on and stay on and loved riding on the front. 

After 7 days of straight running, I was feeling pretty good and bought the sweat app. I also created a separate Instagram account. I wanted to document my progress as a way to motivate myself to keep going– I also didn’t want to inundate my regular account with workout stats and pics because really, no one wants to see them! So I made the separate account so if people do want to see them, they can, but they aren’t bombarded. I started Kayla Itsines’s BBG program (now known as “High Intensity” with Kayla) and continued running every day, slowly upping my miles and speed. I used my runs as warm-ups and consistently did the three resistance workouts each week. In fact, I still do them each week!

This post is all about Jessica Lawrence and her Transformation Story.

Since your transformation or hitting your goal, what has worked to maintain or keep making progress?

I was feeling very discouraged at first as I was working really hard and wasn’t seeing much progress. 

It took a full four weeks to see any change, and once I did, it was smooth sailing from there. It was as though my body had to get used to the workouts and needed time to tell itself “don’t worry, you don’t need to hold onto the fat, more food is coming!” Once it was routine and my body was comfortable, the pounds started melting off and my muscles began to build.

I really think a lot of my success has been because of my fitness Instagram account. It’s sometimes really difficult to “see” your own progress because you live in your body every day and change happens slowly. With an easy place to document all your pics and progress, it makes it easier to keep going because you actually can see the changes. It feels uncomfortable at first posting very unflattering pictures of yourself, but if you’re looking to make a change, sometimes you have to recognize your discomfort, let others see it, and use it as motivation to keep going. 

My first recommendation for anyone looking to achieve a fitness goal– document, document, document. Don’t worry about who’s looking, anyone who’s already fit will cheer you on, and anyone who’s looking to make a change may be inspired by you. Don’t be afraid to show your imperfections. 

I’d often get questions about how to fit fitness into my life with an infant and people are always told “sleep when the baby sleeps”. I was lucky enough to have a baby who was a pretty good sleeper at night, so when the baby slept, I ran. A sleeping baby on a stroller run is fantastic! The motion puts them to sleep and keeps them asleep (kind of like a car), they get a good nap, and you get a good run. Once it started getting colder, I started using my treadmill and would run when he took his morning nap with his little sleeper close to the treadmill. I’d be lying if I said I never had to hop off though if he woke up or started crying. In fact, I still have to hop off for him sometimes… and he’s almost 2!

The treadmill was another huge part of my motivation. I loved the treadmill (and still do!) I was able to see how fast and how far I was going and I was able to bump up the speed in increments and see how it affected the time. Cutting off just a few seconds made me feel successful. My happy speed was and still is three miles.

When I started I didn’t care about time, I just shot for the distance. I really wish I had documented my first treadmill run but it didn’t seem “post-worthy” so I didn’t post it… and now I have no idea what it was! My first documented treadmill run was 3 miles in 24:51– and I was over the moon about it. I was so proud of myself! As I should have been! That was in November of 2019. Over the last year and a half, I’ve slowly increased speed and I’ve managed to cut off five minutes and 30 seconds from that first documented time. I did that same run today in 19:21 (but my typical and comfortable treadmill time is 19:38!). If you’re starting to run, start slow and gradually kick it up. 

I often get questions about dieting. For me, “dieting” is too hard. When I try to follow a diet I find myself obsessing about the food I’m eating and constantly thinking about it. It stresses me out and makes me feel deprived if I don’t eat what I want, and then I feel guilty when I do. Instead, I just try to make healthy choices.  I workout pretty hard and consistently, so if I want the cake, I’m eating it! My advice with food is to figure out what works for you. Some people love following a diet and meal planning and meal prepping for the week. It can give a feeling of control and power over your choices and can help you reach your goals. But if it stresses you out and you find yourself obsessing, don’t do it! 

While on the topic of food, one of my biggest pet peeves is when someone sees me and assumes that I don’t eat or that I eat a very restrictive diet. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been told to “eat a cheeseburger” or “you need to add some bacon”– and it’s always from people who don’t know me very well. What these people don’t realize is that I often eat cheeseburgers– and I love bacon!

I work out hard. I HAVE to eat. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have enough energy to pull off multiple miles at 6 minutes and 30 seconds. I wouldn’t be able to run while pushing three kids on a double stroller. I wouldn’t be able to power through a single High Intensity workout by Kayla. Eating is important. If you find yourself on a fitness journey, make sure you eat because your body needs fuel to get through your workouts. Also, if you get comments like that, let them roll off your shoulders. Most of the time it’s a backhanded compliment. 

Have you started any supplements, vitamins, routines or swaps that have assisted on your journey?

While I do not take any supplements or anything, the only advice I have here is… water. Drink water! And a lot of it. If you’re exercising more and don’t hydrate more to keep up with the water that your body is losing, you run the risk of kidney stones… I know this from personal experience. It took a trip to the ER and a whole week off from exercising– now I do my best to stay hydrated. Lesson learned. Drink all the water.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today I am still doing what I’ve been doing since I started and I have no intentions of stopping. Typically I run three miles just about every day, and I do three High Intensity (BBG) resistance workouts each week. I prefer to do my workouts early in the morning so I feel good all day knowing I got it done and it’s not something on my to-do list or something to fret about. If I ever don’t feel like running or exercising, I remind myself that a three mile run for me is only 20 minutes of my day– so there’s really no excuse not to. It’s hard to justify skipping because I can’t really say that I didn’t have time. Some of my best runs have been on days that I wanted to skip.  

Since I often include my kiddos on runs and my workouts, I don’t have to make that choice between family time or work out time. Work out time is family time. I also find that my kids are beginning to take an interest in exercising which is super cute to watch. 

Through your transformation journey, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

The most helpful thing I’ve learned is to find your fitness family and they don’t have to be right in front of you. There are people out there who you’ve never met who will watch what you do on social media, cheer you on, and motivate you to keep going.

It’s also important to stay honest to yourself. If you do decide to make a fitness social media account to hold yourself accountable, it’s not the time for glamour– it’s time to be real so you can take yourself where you want to go. Your struggles are just as important as your triumphs. I know it can be really scary making that social media account a public outlet, but you will find your best cheerleaders are people like you, that you’ve never met, who are doing similar things and working towards similar goals. Don’t be afraid to be open and be who you are. 

What platform/tools/apps do you use for your transformation?

The Sweat App has been a total game changer and for me it’s been worth every penny. I believe it’s about $100 a year, but it gives you access to a bunch of different programs and different trainers. There’s high intensity, strength training, yoga, postpartum, and low impact programs. You can choose who you want to train with based upon your goals. They even have a training program for people who don’t have any gym equipment at home– and it’s challenging. The Sweat App completely replaced my need for a gym (and it’s way cheaper.)

The other thing I bought for myself is the Garmin vívosmart 4. I am very limited in the kinds of watches I can wear because I’m allergic to metal and most watches have metal on them somewhere. However, not the vívosmart! I love this thing. I’m able to track my distance and time while running outside which is kind of new for me and it really helps me go faster and longer. I wear it all day every day. 

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I mostly find inspiration on Instagram for fitness and there are so many people on there who have been influential to me. 

Kayla Itsines because she’s so lean and so strong. Seeing the way she can climb things and seeing how she promotes positivity and motivation to people following her program is amazing. She even takes time to recognize and celebrate your victories using her program.

Kelsey Wells is another trainer from the Sweat App who is also incredibly strong and always posts these uplifting and “love yourself” kind of messages which sometimes is really important to hear.  

Phyllicia Bonanno is a yoga trainer for sweat and she motivates me to want to be completely zen and calm. Her feed is relaxing and soothing– and she’s so bendy! 

All of these trainers are fantastic to follow but sometimes they can seem out of reach and you need some serious real-life motivation. People who are sailing a similar boat as you.

I’ll never forget when I stumbled across Rachelle’s Instagram and saw her doing pull-ups at the gym. I was absolutely wowed! I still can hardly do pull-ups!  She keeps it real and works hard.

Becca is another great account to follow. She documents her runs in all their glory and their pain. She helps me remember that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows– sometimes the run is hard and that’s okay.

Lauren Marie documents her workouts from her basement gym and is consistently working towards her goals and helps me remember to keep going.

Matt Choe is one of the few guys I like to follow– his runs are awesome and I always feel like we’d be compatible runners because our speeds are similar… just he runs much farther than I do! I feel like he’d force me to keep pace and keep going. He motivates me to want to run faster and farther outside (when I’m not pushing a stroller!). 

Advice for others who want to get started or are just starting out on their transformation journey?

My top tip for someone starting out is to just start! Go slow, but go steady. Slow down if you need to, but don’t stop. Too often people want instant results and it’s just not possible. They try it for a week or two and give up because they feel like they didn’t achieve their goals or they let something sidetrack them. Stay the course and enjoy the journey just as much as the end result… oh, and there’s never an end result.. Just keep going and growing!

Where can we go to learn more?

Follow Jessica on Instagram.

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