Fitness for Moms AMA: Get Back into Shape without Body Hate

Beverley Simpson
Aug 27, 2018

Beverley Simpson NASM-CPT, SFG1, PN2 is a certified personal trainer and fitness coach who specializes in helping moms navigate the pregnancy season, return to exercise the safest and most efficient way possible, build confidence through strength and lose weight without body hate.

Being a new Mom herself, Beverley knows how tough it can be to make time for exercise when you're juggling taking care of a newborn and other work/home responsibilities. She wants to help these stressed-out Moms get back in shape using a customizable combination of workouts and nutritional plans.

Before starting her business, Beverley worked her way up from a Personal Trainer to a District Fitness Manager at Crunch Fitness. She now offers in-person fitness coaching services to residents of the New York City Metro Area and online coaching for women across the United States.

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What are some of the areas that most personal trainers really need help with the most?
Aug 29, 3:55AM EDT1
What are the common requests you recieve from new moms on areas they want to fix? How do you respond?
Aug 28, 9:16PM EDT1

It's always important for any coach to meet a person where they're at. Often times people will come to me concerned about their belly, arms, and butt. I try my best to get to the root of why these areas specifically, and I want to know what they are chasing these goals. How they are hoping to feel, and then we chase that! 

I also explain how spot training isn't always the best approach to get to their goal, at least not to start. 

Aug 29, 7:13AM EDT0
How does it make you feel for you to help women get the fitness results they wanted?
Aug 28, 5:39PM EDT1

I am a service driven leader, and I want to change the lives of as many people as I can.  It drives me to serve, and if I can help someone get to their fitness goals from the inside out, it fills me. 

Aug 29, 6:53AM EDT0
How is training a new mom different than others you train in fitness?
Aug 28, 12:44PM EDT1

For my new moms we're going to start with a core and pelvic floor focus and we're going to ramp up to high impact, tension that meets the load requirement.

My clients also work from a progressive overload and we focus on the core as well, but moms are opperating from an actual structure change which might need a little more attention upon returning to exercise post baby. 

Aug 28, 1:15PM EDT1
What are a few ways new moms can motivate themselves to get back into the gym?
Aug 28, 10:22AM EDT1

It really depends on the resources available to the mom. I have found that moms who can let go of perfection and give themselves permission to do just start and do 10 minutes a day 3 times a week. Done is better than perfect. 

Aug 28, 1:28PM EDT0
What suggestions do you have in losing stubborn lower belly fat?
Aug 28, 6:46AM EDT1

Totally understand that ~ we want to make sure 3 things are in check:

1) Calories are in a defecit, but not too low that it stresses out the metabolisim. We want to be in the Goldilocks calorie deficit which is much smaller than people think. If you eat too little and obsessively workout, you will stop seeing results.

2) Hormone Balance. Now there are medical conditions that are outside of our contorl, and I would definitly talk to your doctor especially if you're experiencing chronic fatigue, hairloss, dry skin, struggle with body temp regulation, and other reasons. 

However, if you're eating well for your metabolisim, energy feels good, cravings are curbed, sleeping is easy and priortized, and you're not feeling hungry, changes are you will see results. 

3) Gut Health. This one can be a little more nuanced, but you want to make sure you're eating foods that agree with your digestive system, and that is completely indivudal. 

I would check in with these 6 dials.

1) Acceptance - If nothing were to change in your body would you be ok? Are the expectations you're holding yourself to agreeable to your body for real? 

2) Nutrition - are you eating protein and veggies at every meal? 

3) Training - are you priortizing strength training?

4) Sleeping?

5) Optimizing stress?

6) NEAT - how many steps a day are you taking?

Start there and let me know how it goes! 

Aug 28, 7:33AM EDT0
Being a new mom takes a lot of energy. What is needed to have enough energy to take care of yourself and exercise?
Aug 27, 11:41PM EDT1

Such a great question. I would say 3 things

1) Ask for help - can you delegate? Ask people to help cook? clean? hold the baby? 

2) Sleep when you can.  I hated it when people said "sleep when the baby sleeps" because that was the only time I could do something that wasn't baby related. This is why delegating and asking for help from your friends is very important. They WANT to help, but they don't know how. 

3) Done is better than perfect.  Even 10 minutes is better than the 0 minutes you would have given yourself trying to get in 50min. It doesn't have to be perfect. 

Aug 28, 7:43AM EDT0
Are there exercises that would help to reduce the common incontinence problems experienced after childbirth?
Aug 27, 11:11PM EDT1

This is a great question. Yes, lots of things that can help! First I would suggest checking in with your pelvic floor physical therapist for an evaluation. Incontinence is often joked about, therefore, moms think it's normal. It's actually not normal, and many things can be done to help reduce symptoms, but first pay a visit to the PFPT. 

You're going to want to dial in your alignment and piston breathing strategies. 

Use those techniques in all of the movement you incorprate in your daily life with an appropriate load that you can manage WITHOUT symptoms. I'd start with basic movement like floor bridges, heel slides, body weight squats dialing in breathing techniques, and then go from there. 

Aug 28, 8:38AM EDT0
How has your personal life changed since becoming a fitness owner?
Aug 27, 7:12PM EDT1

It's significantly improved because as a district fitness manager the amount of hours I put into my work didn't allow me to have the time to spend with my family, kids, and friends because my attention was given to someone elses dream. 

I train primarily online, so, I don't have the burden of managing a facility which suits me. I've also spent my career learning how to get effective and efficent with my time management. So, I still work a high number of hours, but on my time table. 

Aug 28, 9:13AM EDT0
Why is it that some women lose the "baby fat" quickly after giving birth, but others never seem to get in shape again?
Aug 27, 5:52PM EDT1

When it comes to weight loss, there are 3 important considerations:

1) Calories 2) Hormones 3) Gut Health

In order to lose weight you must be in a calorie defecit that isn't too drastic for the metabolisim. Hormones need to be balanced in order for the metabolisim to let go of the stored energy in the body, and our gut health has a profound effect on our hormones. 

The calories spent in our everyday is determined by the amount of lean muscle mass we have on our body, and so the type of workout that we priortize will matter if we're chasing a phsyique change goal. 

Also, our hormone profile changes after we give birth and sometimes what used to work before we were pregnant, no longer works. As we age our muscle and strength deteriorate, which impacts our system. 

Stress and Sleep directly impact our physique goals, and that can be challanging for moms to manage. 

Aug 29, 6:50AM EDT0

What's the best way for someone to get started with you re: online training?

Aug 27, 11:25AM EDT1

The best way would be to book a free 30 minute call with me here: calendly.com/bsimpsonfitness

and we'll talk about your fitness goals, where you're at, and come up with a solution to help you achieve sustianable results. 

Click here to see what clients have said about working with me.

Aug 27, 11:28AM EDT1

How did you get into fitness coaching and personal training?

Aug 27, 11:06AM EDT1

I grew up in the Bay Area, California and wanted to chase the dream of being on Broadway. I packed up and moved across the country to NYC, attended a conservatory graduate school and started the audition grind. For me, I believed that my perfect acting job was on the other side of fixing my body. So, I dived deep into the exercise and fitness, and I took a personal training job on in a gym in Manhattan as my “day job.” While I was there, I fell in love with helping people on their wellness journey, and my pull to stay in the gym grew stronger than my pull to live in the audition room.

 I believe that we must love the process more than the outcome in everything we do in life because we’re going to spend more time in the process than we are in the outcome. At the time I felt like I was leaving a narcissistic industry and I wanted to serve the people in my community who needed help, and I did that for many years until I got pregnant. My two daughters have been my greatest teachers in life. They helped me discover through three body transformations in a rather short period that I didn’t leave a narcissist theater industry. In reality, I had to deal with two decades of body hate and I found my calling to help an underserved community of women: moms.

Aug 27, 11:11AM EDT0
What do you think is the biggest reason new moms lose their motivation to work out? How can they overcome that?
Aug 27, 10:17AM EDT2

Everything we do in life is habitual. If we really have built a sustainable habit, it becomes part of who we are and gets housed in our reptillian brain which is responsible for our fight or flight response. Literally if we try to change the habit our brain will repsond like it is a matter of life and death. 

Motivation is usually the why behind our goal. Whatever is driving us to wake up early to get a workout in, or spending the time to plan out a meal, and then shop for it. Another word for motivation is willpower and it’s often used interchangeably with words like: self-discipline, self-control, resilience, drive, and determination. We usually have to tap into our motivation or our will power when we have to override an unwanted feeling of obligation, or we have to make a concerted amount of focused effort on a task, or we’re forcing ourselves to resist an action. The amount of mental energy and willpower it takes to do the tasks cause us to stop despite wanting to accomplish it. What’s worse is that consciously or subconsciously we attach the outcome the success or failure to our self worth.

What to do when motivation fails us?

Whether or not you believe that we can increase willpower, there will inevitably come a time when motivation is lost, but here are 4 key strategies to rely on when that happens: B.E.L.L.

1. Build Habits

Many people operate with an “all or nothing” mentality which is part of the reason these massive overhauls on diet and exercise exist. However, these overhauls tend to be too restrictive and unsustainable in the long run which cause people’s weight to fluctuate up and down with those same 10-20 lbs. 

Plus we have the urge from our reptilian brain to keep us stuck in the repetitive pattern because our brain thinks the uncomfortable change we're trying to impose is threating our life. It sounds like I'm exaggerating, but I'm not.  Your brain needs to see you BEing someone who works out in order to build the new habit. 

The key to success is not the perfect diet or the perfect strategy; success lies in staying consistent with a program that works for you.

Our brain and bodies take the path of least resistance and our system automates our decisions into unconscious daily routines. Therefore, the people that have had the most success are the people that start with small attainable “easy” actions that they can easily repeat every day. These actions become automated habits that we can rely on when we don’t have the energy.

2. Execute 3 MITs

MIT stands for Most Important Tasks. It’s a concept Leo Babuta outlines in his books: Zen Habits.

Before you start your day or before you go to sleep at night, define the 3 most important tasks of the day. At least at first while you build this practice, pick the things that you know must get done. I like to pick at least 1 item that propels my goal forward, and the other two can be anything. Here are mine today: Edit my article, post on Facebook, and eat breakfast before getting on the train. Previous MITs have included: meditate for 5 minutes, get at least a 10-minute walk in, make a dentist appointment, call the doctor, pick one new meal to make this week.

No matter how small the tasks were, knowing I was successful started to build my confidence and a positive momentum to keep going.

For more on this strategy, download the Find Time Blueprint, for a 3-part strategy on how to analyze and prioritize time and take some of it back!

3. Leave Behind Perfection

The ultimate goal isn’t perfection because that doesn’t exist. Often times we feel like we’re not motivated, but that’s because we are stuck in this “All or Nothing Mentality,” or sometimes it looks like “I’ll start over on Monday.” Getting to a place of good is good enough can often times be a game changer for us. If I missed a day or got 2 out of the 3 of my MITs done, I still celebrated the win and really clinically looked at the reason why one didn’t get accomplished. Usually, it happened because the task was too ambitious, took longer than anticipated, or life happened and my daughter got sick at daycare. Progress isn’t linear and those one-off situations are going to happen.

An automated habit based system is what helps give me the flexibility to handle the unexpected without flying off the rails.

4. Lean on Others

Accountability goes a long way, and having a support system, workout partners, and/or a coach to carry you through the difficult patches make a world of difference. I’ve told clients on many occasions that showing up is enough because you will inevitably do more work than you would if you were doing it alone.

Motivation is fleeting, but having an automated system of habits to help push through those sticky times is crucial because honestly, loss of motivation happens to everyone. Losing motivation isn’t always a reflection of your self-discipline and doesn’t need to be attached to your self-worth. Sometimes hiring an accountability coach can be just the thing you need to take your fitness to the next level.

Aug 27, 10:33AM EDT1
Anonymous
Does your plan include baby-and-mom workout sessions? What kind of exercises are included?
Aug 27, 10:17AM EDT1

It can.  It really depends on the client because I customize the program to the individual goals, experience, and resources that are available to the client. So, if that means my clients wants baby and mom workouts - she's got it. 

I put a lot of focus on alignment and breath management on the baby and me workouts because we naturally want to compensate our position based on the weight of our baby. It can be a heavy load depending on the level of experience!

You’ll find a lot of Squats, lunges, deadlifts, presses, and loaded carries with the mommy and me workouts.

Aug 27, 10:26AM EDT1
Anonymous
How did getting pregnant and becoming a mom changed the way you do your job as a personal trainer?
Aug 27, 10:16AM EDT1

It didn't really. I had to sit more, and my clients had to move more of the weights around. My the trainers that were working for me at the time ( I was a fitness manager)  helped me clean up the gym and spot my clients if I needed it. I worked up until the day I gave birth, and I returned 12 weeks postpartum. I missed my baby like crazy on the train ride to and from work, but when I get to work I completely focus and zero in on the task at hand. It helps make the day go by faster too. 

Aug 27, 10:22AM EDT1
How do you make time for your fitness routines?
Aug 27, 9:10AM EDT1

For me personally? It has taken a long time for me to get rid of exercise as punishment, and to learn to really listen (or dismiss) the cues my body is signaling. It does take practice, but now I work from here:

  • I workout because I love my body not because I hate it. – It becomes easy to allow working out to be a priority.
  • Working out makes me feel good so it becomes a priority.
  • I give myself permission to do only 10 minutes on the days I feel sluggish or I’m jam packed with activities instead of forcing it. (I usually end up doing more once I get into it, but the permission gets me in the door.)
  • I use accountability when I need it from my friends and my coach.
  • When I really feel like I have no time, and I’ve done a time audit, I usually use that opportunity to delegate a task that someone else might not do as well as me on it, but still good enough in order to make the time back to move.
Aug 27, 9:49AM EDT1
How important is nutrition for a new mom who works out consistently?
Aug 27, 7:31AM EDT2

Very important and often times must be nuanced because these are athletic moms even if they aren’t competing for sport they’re still considered athletic.

I’d want to know how the moms are doing with their goal? Are they happy? Have they reached a level of fitness where they are happy with how they look? Happy with how they feel? Happy with the amount of time they are dedicating to working out versus spending time with their family? Are they obsessed with food? Have they lost their period? Do they feel constantly tired or fatigued? Losing hair? Dry skin? Stressed? Sleeping? Those are the just the questions to ask off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are more.

A lot of important questions to review that comes from our relationship with food and exercise which is often the hard part.

Aug 27, 8:22AM EDT1
What is your favorite workout or exercise and why?
Aug 27, 5:21AM EDT1

The deadlift is my favorite exercise because it's compound hinge movement. While it does only work movement in the 

Sagittal plane (meaning forward and back). It is a triple extension hinge movement pattern that requires a lot of muscle groups to activate and stabilize to execute. It’s a total body challenge and can feel amazing when done well!

In terms of modality/tool, I enjoy working with the kettlebell because it builds strength and endurance in a small convenient amount of space which is essential as a mom. The kettlebell work can gives you the most bang for your buck in terms of metabolic resistance training, and I've seen the awkward shape of the kettlebell translate into every day movement patterns. 

Aug 27, 6:44AM EDT1
How can someone who’s new to the world of fitness and exercise and clean eating jump in? What’s the best way to start a new daily routine that includes this healthy lifestyle?
Aug 27, 5:15AM EDT2

Working on new habits starts from the inside out. I'd start every day off with a mantra: "I am someone who is healthy and fit." Seriously, you have to start believing that right from the get go, and the behavior change will follow.

Every evening or morning whenever you have time set the day's intention with 3 MITs (most important tasks.) Pick the 3 tasks that you will not go back on. Even if the tasks are, "I will shower today, go grocery shopping, and workout." Prove to your brain that you are self-integral and you will start to see the habits change and the 3 MITs will start to become challenging, but they won't feel challenging. Your brain needs to see you winning, and your brain will fight you because it's trying to protect you. Your brain literally thinks keeping you in your current habits is a matter of life and death. 

After the mantra and setting intentions, I encourage my moms to just increase a little bit from where they are. So, if you haven't worked out at all start with 2 days a week. If you've never eaten a vegetable in your life, then we ADD more vegetables and ADD more protein first, and then we'll let the rest shake out. Eat until you're full, but not stuffed and eat slowly without distraction.

If you are focusing on adding more vegetables and adding more protein to every meal while eating until full and eating slowly, you won't have room to binge on the other types of foods. If you can master those tasks, you will see a significant difference in how you feel and in your physique. 

The work is simple, but not always easy, and the goal is to make it feel effortless, and we go from there. We need to figure out what the road blocks are, and adjust. 

People get into trouble when they try to go from nothing to working out 6 days a week, cutting out all sugar, and carbs because they almost set themselves up for failure. Fall off the wagon ONCE and your brain says, "see, told you you're not someone who works out." 

Now, if you are constantly telling yourself "don't have sugar,"  what do you think the mind is always thinking about? I'll give you another example. Right now as you're reading this, "don't think of a pink elephant." You saw the pink elephant right? Your body and mind are doing the same thing with foods you're over restricting.  Then we fall off the wagon ONCE and we start potentially getting into a yo-yo dieting cycle that is damaging to our metabolisim.

It's FREEING to have all the foods in your house, but you trust yourself enough to know your hunger cues and stress cues to live comfortable in your fitness and health goals. 

Aug 27, 7:02AM EDT1
What was your method to develop customized workouts? What factors do you take into account?
Aug 26, 11:20PM EDT1

I’m going to answer this questions as if I’m talking to a trainer, so, let me know if this makes sense? I'm passionate about education, and my background is in NASM. I’ve studied and TAUGHT other people how to use the OPT model (Optimum Performance Training). I’ve since adapted to more of the CSCS programing style based on my strength and conditioning influences like Dan John, Pavel Tsatsouline, Girls Gone Strong, Dr. Pat Davidson, Brianna Battles, and the people over at Strength Faction and more.

I have a fitness assessment that comes in by questionnaire where I learn all about your pain, history, types of births, and feelings about nutrition and exercise. I also request movement videos that are FMS based, and I build out a customized program from there. I take into account their mental state, their types of birth, relationship to food, what they’ve tried in the past, if they are beginners or advanced, if they’re in pain, if they’ve ever been in pain. Do they have a disastasis or pelvic floor considerations?

I always include a hinge, squat, push, pull, press, and loaded carry. I want my clients to master the sagittal plane before frontal plane, we start with bilateral closed chain movements then move to open chain unilateral movements (NASM teaches the opposite) but I have found that training in a stable fixed position first will translate into building stronger balance capabilities.

Aug 27, 7:17AM EDT1
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