My son was the light of my life, but I was trapped by post-partum depression and could not lose the added weight, until an old photograph from my modelling days challenged me to regain my health, fitness and self-confidence.

Sometimes, all it takes is one moment to see everything in a different light. In my case, this rings true. In my early twenties I was fortunate when it came to having a desirable body image. As a bikini model, I dedicated my life to an extremely healthy and active lifestyle, ensuring I could maintain a picturesque figure. And while my livelihood depended on modelling, my fitness and health regime kept me happy and confident.

This all changed drastically when I became pregnant. By the time I gave birth to my son, I had gained nearly 70 pounds and kept it on for months after he was born.

Everyone expects pregnancy to bring an expanding waistline and other “joys” of pregnancy such as stretch marks, heartburn and, of course, weight gain, but the added pounds did not sit well on my five-foot frame. I was overjoyed with my healthy baby boy, but the extra weight started to take a huge toll on my appearance and self-confidence.

I was lethargic, unmotivated and depressed. I didn’t know what was wrong with me until I finally reached out for medical help and was diagnosed with post-partum depression. Although I received treatment for the illness, I still couldn’t find the motivation to regain my healthy and active lifestyle.

One day changed my life completely. As I was cleaning my husband’s office, I noticed a photo of myself in a swimsuit calendar that was published shortly before I became pregnant.  I was shocked to see how much I had let my body go during pregnancy and the time that followed – I hardly recognized the slim, fit woman staring back at me.

Who had I become? I wanted to be able to run around easily with my young son and feel good about myself again. I knew at that moment I needed to get my health back – there was no more putting it off!

I thought back to my former modelling days as inspiration to get back in the saddle. I remembered my first visit to the Playboy Mansion back in 2008, where models showed me the basics of fitness – light cardio and resistance training. With that in mind, I made a conscious effort to train five times a week. In addition to exercising, I modified my diet to include six healthy, proportioned meals a day, and abandoned my new routine of three large, unhealthy meals.

Breakfast consisted of oatmeal and egg whites; lunch, veggies, potatoes, fish, chicken or turkey breast; and dinner was comfort – a stir fry with a healthy serving of veggies, rice and fish. On Sundays, as a reward for sticking to my fitness regimen and diet, I indulging in small servings of chocolate and peanut butter ice cream.

Although it was a slow transformation, I started to regain the figure and confidence I had before the pregnancy. Within only one week, my clothes were getting looser and I began to see a change in my figure. I had energy and could finally keep up with my ever-active two year-old. My post-pregnancy weight was 173 pounds. Today, at 110, I am 63 pounds lighter and healthier. Although I weigh slightly more than my pre-pregnancy self, I have a much better body composition, having gained lean muscle and less fat. I’ve never been in better shape!

My family has helped keep my eye on the prize throughout this entire battle, including the ups and the downs. I’ve been fortunate to land amazing opportunities such as becoming a sponsored athlete and brand ambassador for SD Pharmaceuticals, a nutritional supplement company,  where I’ll be featured in the company’s Canada-wide and international print advertising campaign! I also have several fitness photos shoots in the works; getting back into modelling in a different context is making me finally feel happy again.

My struggle with post-partum depression and weight gain is not unique. However, looking back now, I realize it was a blessing in disguise. I can empathize with many mothers who are coping with the exact same issues and can honestly say that while the situation can appear bleak, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  My battle with weight allowed me to overcome an obstacle I never thought I would be able to conquer, and has taught me a lot about myself, my family and my future. If I can do it, anyone can. Don’t give up until you achieve the lifestyle and quality of life you deserve!

Enjoyed this article? Check out Karen’s article on “7 foods that help you shed the poundsright here!

Author: Karen Gauvreau would squeeze her four-baby-body into a cheerleader’s uniform for you to know someone is rooting for you as a Mom – cartwheeling for your victories and offering a pep talk when you feel pummelled. If you laugh in the process, even better. You can follow her blog at LightlyFrayed.

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