Global fitness phenomenon Kayla Itsines has opened up about how she found herself fighting anxiety after becoming a mother, and how she had to regain her confidence as an athlete.
The Sweat trainer, who welcomed her first child with fiancé Tobi Pearce back in April, admits she wasn’t expecting the toll pregnancy and birth would take on her body as an athlete, telling Yahoo Lifestyle the first few weeks after becoming a mother were the ‘hardest in the world’.
“Arna is the most beautiful little human in the whole world,” Kayla tells Yahoo Lifestyle during a recent trip to Sydney. “But as someone who has come from a high level of fitness to being a beginner, I had a lot of anxiety and felt a lot of pressure - which everyone does - I just hadn’t felt it before.
“I was trying to adjust with my emotions and feelings, and then there was Arna to look after, and I was recovering from a caesarean, so there was a lot going on,” she adds.
While she found it relatively easy to settle into a routine as a mother, the 28-year-old says being bed-ridden and reliant on other people just to move in the first few weeks after her c-section was extremely hard to come to terms with.
“When I couldn’t move that was the hardest thing in the whole world, it was so alien,” she tells us. “I almost thought it was a dream, there was just no way that I could physically sit up out of bed.
“I would put my head up and my body wouldn’t follow. It was debilitating to realise that I was actually stuck and someone needed to help me. You almost feel embarrassed, especially for an athlete. I’m 28 years old and needed someone to lift my head up.”
The young mum is thankful for the support she’s had from her family, admitting if it wasn’t for them she doesn’t think she’d be “doing so well”.
“They give me that break and that release I need,” Kayla says, adding how her mother and grandmother would come over during her recovering to cook dinner and make sure she was eating and drinking enough.
“So credit to all the mums out there, that don’t have family, because there is a time and moment where you realise ‘this is a lot’ and I experienced that, so I’m grateful I have people that can just watch her for a second.”
Kayla says her struggle of going from an elite athlete to a complete beginner again was what spawned the idea for her two new Sweat fitness programs BBG Beginner and BBG Post-Pregnancy.
“The doctor clears you at six weeks but you don’t really know what they clear you for. Do you know me? Do you know what I did before?” she remembers, admitting she felt confused and lost the first time she tried to go to the gym again.
“I wanted something that wasn’t available so I created it. It’s like the way you feel when you have a baby and they send you home from the hospital and you have no idea what to do. I’m the oldest of lots of cousins so changing nappies, I knew all that. But when I got back to the gym, for an athlete to feel lost, I didn’t want other women feel like that.”
Now that she’s back to doing what she does best, leading a global community of 40 million women on their own unique fitness journeys, Kayla’s advice for new mums is to listen to your body.
“When people used to say ‘just listen to you body’ I just didn’t understand it. I was an athlete and I just knew my body. I knew it. But that actually made sense to me after I had Arna, I couldn’t just go for a run,” she explains.
She also wants new mums to know that while things may seem difficult at the time, you are on a journey and things will get better.
“You are so tired and hungry and you’re not in the right state of mind,” she adds. “I definitely lost my confidence, worrying about when am I going to be able to walk, when am I going to be able to run. So let it be a learning.”
But despite some of the more difficult moments, Kayla says she and Tobi will definitely continue to add to their family - ideally a boy, that looks like his mum, named James, Kayla tells us.
And while some of her followers might think now is the perfect time to plan their wedding, Kayla is still in no hurry.
“I literally just want to go to the registry and sign the papers,” she laughs. “The thought of writing a guest list, picking the food, and having to create a wedding dress. 2020 is not going to happen.”
Got a story tip or just want to get in touch? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or sign up to our daily newsletter here.