I’m happy to welcome Laetitia to the Active Women interview series. She became active when she was struggling to cope with the concept of being pregnant and now fitness is a huge part of her life. Baby number three has just arrived and she is desperate to get back to high intensity exercise but knows there are some important steps to take first.

Tell us a bit about yourself Laetitia…

I am 33 years old, married to my college sweetheart (we’ve been together nearly 14 years) and proud mum of three, Gaspard is three, Constance is two and my baby girl Axelle was born five weeks ago.
We are a French family that have been living in London for nearly five years now and love the English culture, its respect of family life and its encouragement to lead an active lifestyle. I am on maternity leave at the moment and enjoying every minute of it.
I blog at Woman Beyond Mother and you can read more about my fitness journey there. I’m also on Twitter @womanbeyondmom  and Instagram @womanbeyondmom

When did you decide to start exercising regularly and why was that?

I always used the, “I don’t have time” excuse for not being very active. When we moved to London I landed a home office based job so I finally had the time and no more excuses! I also discovered within a few weeks of arriving that that I was pregnant with our first baby. I didn’t like being pregnant at all, I felt like my body was being taken hostage, I hated being defined by this pregnant status, so to fight the anxiety and anger I was feeling I took it out on the treadmill and at the gym. It was important for me to feel alive and be active and not use the excuse of being pregnant to stay on the couch.
Since then, running and fitness have become part of my life and I couldn’t ever go back to life without them.

What activities have you tried and what’s your favourite?

I have mainly focused on running and fitness. Running is really important for me, I feel it completely engages my body, it’s my alone time and it allows me to be outdoors, and having done it regularly for a while now, I really have seen myself improving – I can run longer and faster. I started fitness and body weight exercises (BBG, Body Coach) as the running alone wasn’t getting me the results I was hoping for in terms of toning my body and weight loss. I didn’t really know what to expect when I started but have loved the way it has challenged me both physically and mentally.

What has been the biggest barrier you’ve had to overcome in your fitness journey?

Having kids has been my biggest barrier. Children can become the best excuse not to exercise as you obviously have less free time to engage in any kind of activity. So the challenge I have had, was and still is, finding and making the time. I do my best to make it a priority as I am a firm believer that even if it’s a short workout out, I feel it makes me a better mum.
Do make the time for it, you will not regret it !

Have you had any negative comments and how have you dealt with them?

When I began a more active lifestyle, there were people around me that told me it was too much, that I was too body focused, that I looked good the way I was and didn’t need to make any changes. I found out that people not engaged in physical activity tend to make you feel guilty for being active, as if it excuses their lack of activity.
I exercised throughout all three of my pregnancies until my due date and I got fed up of people telling me what was best for my baby and me and that I should slow down and take it easy.
It’s amazing how some people just don’t get it. I wasn’t and still am not focused on the number on the scales, or having a sexy butt. I am interested in well being, in the way exercise makes me feel, in the energy it gives me for my kids, in feeling alive and healthy.
To be honest I didn’t really deal with them, I just kept on going and did what made me happy. Let the others talk and move on.

What goals have you set and have you reached any of them yet?

After my first and second pregnancies, my goal was to lose the baby weight and get a toned body. I reached my goal, it took time but I was persistent.
My third baby was born five weeks ago and my goal is the same but I want to go back to exercising responsibly so am starting my pelvic floor rehab this week to strengthen this area that is really affected by pregnancy.
I can’t wait to get back to running and am planning a half marathon at the end of 2018 or early 2019 where my goal will be to run less than 1h50 min. I would also love to beat my PB on a 10K (48min20sec).
Here are my before and after pictures. Both pregnant pictures were taken at 40 weeks pregnant and the after pictures  were taken between seven months and one year post partum. I wanted my toned body back but I was careful to do this is in a safe and healthy way and this did not happen in a matter of weeks!

What benefits has being active brought you?

I could go on and on forever talking about the benefits of exercising. And those benefits go so much beyond just a number on the scales or a dress size. It has made me stronger both physically and mentally, it has shown me that when I set my mind to something I can do it. It has made me more confident, it has helped me love my body, sleep better, fit in clothes that I love. It has increased my energy and also helps a lot with my patience (crucial with kids).
It has given me one extra thing to share with my husband who is also very active… as you can see, tons of benefits.

What advice would you give to other women who want to start exercising?

I would say to any woman willing to start, just start, take a chance on yourself, don’t find excuses and pull through the lack of motivation or lack of time; even a short workout/run is better than none. Give it time, don’t expect to have results within a few days or weeks. It takes consistency and regularity in your efforts. Have an open mind to what you might like and not like, I hear lots of people saying for example that they hate running until they actually try and give it a real go. And don’t worry about what other people may think, some people feel ashamed, uncomfortable or intimidated to put on leggings and walk into a gym, well, just know that no one is watching you or judging you. The fitness tribe is much more friendly than I first expected.

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  1. What an inspiring woman! It would never have occurred to me to do ‘proper’ exercise during pregnancy. I stopped running and walked instead and did a bit of aqua aerobics. It’s so true what she said about people assuming they hate running. My sister is also a mum of young kids who assumed she would hate running, but has grown to love it (through parkrun of course!).

    1. It’s not widely known that the recommended exercise guidelines in pregnancy are the same as for non-pregnant women. It’s still at least 150 mins a week of moderate intensity exercise and muscle strengthening exercises twice a week. You can carry on with your normal routine – Just taking care not to ‘bump the bump’ and listening to your body so you don’t over exert yourself. Do you think people assume they hate it because they think they can’t do it?

  2. Loved this post… claiming your body as your own and making time for yourself is so important when becoming a Mum. Good for you, and amazing job for managing to fit it all in, I am sure that is no mean feat!

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