Going into my third Norcal Crossfit Regionals team competition in 2013, I knew that after it was over I was planning on trying to get pregnant. At the time, I considered myself to be in the best shape of my life, and I truly was after four plus years of Crossfit and eating a strict Paleo diet. I’m very short, compact and muscular and at the time weighed 134 pounds which sounds heavy but I was the leanest I’d ever been and had six-pack abs that I had worked very hard to get.
After Regionals was over, the reality sunk in very quickly that if I were to get pregnant, things were going to change very quickly. I had worked so hard to achieve my athletic-looking physique that I became pretty terrified at the idea of giving that body up. Everybody said that I would bounce right back after having a baby and I would say “yeah, I know” but deep down inside I didn’t believe them. I knew that I would Crossfit through my pregnancy but hated the idea of scaling wods. I was mentally ready to raise a baby, but not mentally ready to carry a baby.
About a week and half after regionals was over I was pregnant. My six pack turned into a four pack, then a two pack and then a no pack. As the weeks went on I would complain to my husband about how fat I was and he always came back to me with the same response…”you’re not fat, you’re pregnant.” He was right. I wasn’t fat at all. I naturally had a very small belly but I couldn’t see that. Despite my complaining, I set myself up for a healthy pregnancy. I trained 5-6 days a week and still maintained a 90% paleo diet (added cottage cheese and rice cakes) while pregnant to keep myself in the best shape possible so that I wouldn’t put on extra weight that eventually would be difficult to take off. Looking back, I realized I didn’t enjoy my pregnancy as much as I should have because I was constantly worried about the aftermath of pregnancy and the possibility of never getting my body back.
When I think about it now, I’m torn. A huge part of me thinks that my unwillingness to give in to the stereotypical pregnancy behavior of food cravings and little exercise put me in a great position to come back easily. However, there is a small part of me that wonders if I had just relaxed a little bit and enjoyed my pregnancy more that things still would have worked out the same. But who knows. I don’t regret anything, because when Reese came two months early, and I had extreme complications in the final week of being pregnant, I truly believe my fitness and healthy lifestyle saved me…and gave me the mental and physical strength to spend the next two months being with Reese in the hospital while she grew strong enough to come home.
So back to my abs. Two weeks after having a baby I went back into the gym and started working my ass off to earn back my strength and get my body back. Ironically, the day I started back Crossfitting I weighed 129 pounds, 5 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight. The complications of my pregnancy really took a toll on my body and I lost about 25 pounds in two weeks. Over a 12 month period I saw progress with my body. I was stronger than ever, my motor felt good and still maintaining my paleo diet. But my body just felt and looked different. And I understood that pregnancy changes things and having a beautiful thriving little girl is worth all of the physical sacrifices. But I still wanted to feel like my old self. I just felt like I had this layer of puff covering my whole body that I could not get rid of. I changed things over and over within my paleo diet but my body just wasn’t responding the same way to food.
Enter flexible eating. I posted previously about my research on flexible eating and what intrigued me. The idea of a more flexible diet where I can still eat clean but stick to a ratio of carbs, fats and protein that work specifically for my body was just what I needed. I went from “puffy paleo” as flexible eating guru Lil’ Riki calls it to a lean more muscular frame. I’m weighing 128 pounds and way more comfortable in my skin. I not only have my six pack back but I’m leaner all over, especially in the upper arms and shoulders which has always been a self-conscious area for me. I’ve gained overall strength and my once “good” motor is out of control good. Even my running feels pretty amazing. The bonus is I have found a way of eating that doesn’t leave me feeling deprived of any certain food or overeating on “paleo” options because they are so limited. For me it was about finding the right balance of those carbs, fats and protein for my exact body and goals. Once again, do not get me wrong. I love the Paleo diet and believe in it whole-heartedly. However, at this point in my life, oats, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are doing my body good. I stick to the cleanest options with the lowest amounts of sugar and that is fine by me.
Above is a side by side comparison of me, the week I got pregnant in June of 2013 (left) and me today (right) with my former teammate and current Crossfit Games badass Molly Vollmer. I thought I was fit pre-pregnancy. I’m fitter now, post pregnancy. Contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Instagram @kmorlock21 if you have questions about flexible eating and would like to know how to get started!