August 2015, I had just competed at the national level and placed top nine. I was on top of the world; I was ready for more. Fast forward to March 2016. I had begun prep for nationals yet again and was having a tough time getting my weight to come down. Two pregnancy tests later and an extremely freaked out bikini competitor, I read, PREGNANT. Excited, nervous, unsure, shocked, etc. You name it, I felt all the feelings! My first (selfish) thoughts were, “OMG I was trying to turn pro. What am I going to do now? Does this mean competing is over for me? Does this mean I am done? How am I going to take care of another human?! I am not finished working on myself!” Conscious: Well, too bad. You’re pregnant and this baby is coming whether you’re ready or not.

October 30, 2016 we welcomed our son, Hunter Adam Rizor into the world, which was by far the best day (actually night) of our lives. A healthy 7 lb. little boy had just completed me. Now, the real fun was about to begin…sleepless nights and this tiny crying human next to me at all times! Ah! There really is no way to prepare for the exhaustion that comes along with having a newborn at home. Regardless of the lack of sleep and everything else that comes with a newborn, I was ready to get my body back. Ready to feel like me again. Pregnancy for me was not about “eating for two”. It was about staying as healthy as I could while trying to gain a healthy amount of weight. Some days were harder than others and it was very discouraging watching my hard work disappear over time while being replaced with my growing belly, however, at the same time, that growing belly was so beautiful. I was creating human life. I was 100% ok with that! I continued to log my food and count my macros throughout my pregnancy because I knew I’d compete again. I wasn’t finished. I knew that I would be able to figure it out once I had my son. Nothing is impossible. It becomes impossible if you let your mind think that way.

October 25, 2016 – five days before baby, I was tipping the scale at 170.8 lbs.
November 8, 2016 – 2 weeks after my last pregnant check-in (and my first check in since giving birth), I was down to 156.8 lbs.

I was cleared at six weeks postpartum to workout again and I took it SLOW. Everything that I was able to do before was so hard and I was embarrassed to get back into the gym. I wasn’t “fit” anymore. My stomach was mushy, and there was no sign of definition anywhere on my body. I am not going to lie…it was very discouraging. However, that didn’t stop me.

So, let’s get down to business…how did I really manage to compete again while juggling a baby and working from home? How did I find the time or the energy to get back into the groove of things?

  1. The Macros: My macros were not super high throughout my pregnancy because my weight gain was rapid during the first trimester (eating for two is not a true statement). Once I had Hunter I lost about 14 lbs., which was mainly fluid and a tiny human! Nothing changed much with my food at that point because so much was still changing with my body. I was so tired that I had a hard time even eating. I’d forget to eat a lot of the time, which wasn’t the best for my milk production or my metabolism. But hey, I was a new mommy trying to figure out this whole newborn thing! I went a solid two months without a single change to my pregnancy macros because I just couldn’t meet my food goal, however my weight was still dropping without working out. Breastfeeding was helping tremendously! Mid-January rolled around and the carb cycling began. I had a lot to lose if I wanted to compete before my son turned 1. With that little tweak to my diet, the weight began to come down consistently. However, my weight became stubborn here and there, so more adjustments had to be made to my macros…I had about 30 lbs. to lose before getting back on stage. I was also breastfeeding in tremendous pain while trying to function on very little sleep.  I tried everything to ease the pain and eventually decided to wean Hunter – good thing was I didn’t have to worry about my milk supply; bad thing was that I felt all the guilt in the world for weaning him. My macros were constantly adjusted from January to October when I competed.
  2. Cleared for Exercise: I was also cleared to workout again right around the time the carb cycling began (mid-January). It was like music to my ears! Now, the underlying questions were, “How do I figure out a gym schedule with an infant who is still waking up every few hours to be fed? How do I get enough rest? How do I juggle life?!” At first, I went to the gym at random times. I went early in the morning after his 3 AM feeding. I went at night after the hubs got home, which I did not like one bit. NOT a night owl! Although I didn’t like going at night, that worked best for me when I initially began to workout again. The nighttime crowd made me feel so insecure. Here I was 6 weeks postpartum, with about 30 lbs to lose and there were girls walking around looking perfect in their crop tops. However, as insecure as I felt, I did not let that stop me! I eased into my workouts for the first month after being cleared and slowly but surely I was able to build up my strength again and continue to lose the weight, while also building my confidence again.
  3. Mom Life: So, how did I manage to do this long-term while taking care of a baby full time? SCHEDULE. PERSISTENCE. EYE ON THE PRIZE.
    The first month or so after being cleared was rough since my gym schedule was very up and down and I did miss quite a few workouts because I just couldn’t get to the gym. Babies need their mommies and Hunter came first. Hunter began sleeping through the night at around 12 weeks, which REALLY was a game changer for my schedule. I was able to get back to the crazy gym schedule I had before getting pregnant – the 4 AM crazy-town gym session. This worked best for me, so I began getting up early again – IT WAS NOT EASY! After about a week of 3:30 AM alarm torture, I was starting to get into a schedule again, which meant that my time at the gym would not take away from the time I spent with Hunter – that was the most important thing to me. I was able to get back in shape and not sacrifice any time with my son to do so. Getting to the gym and finishing everything be 5:45 AM was easy, but the real challenge was keeping the house together, taking care of my baby, taking care of the animals, and working from home. When Hunter was a newborn/infant, most of these things were easy because he would sleep all day and all night and wasn’t very mobile. When the teething (and sleep regression) began, that threw a wrench in my life. He was up again at night and I began to miss workouts again because I was just too tired. The sleep regression lasted about a week (yay!) and once his little teeth popped through, we were in the clear again. Fast forward a little bit and he started to become mobile…rolling all over the place, then crawling, then pulling up to stand, and finally walking (two days before I left for my show). Once he became mobile, working from home became so hard. I couldn’t just lie him on the floor and work on my computer…I had to keep my eye on him every second, so my work had to wait until naptime or evenings, which affected my sleep. The workload continued to build and the baby continued to become more mobile…bad combination. Many times I’d work late into the night and still wake up early – lack of sleep…NOT good for weight loss!
  4. The Move from CA to AZ: If things weren’t already crazy enough, we decided to move to Arizona. I had planned on competing 9 months postpartum, which meant that the show I had locked in would happen two weeks after our move to AZ. NOPE! So, after a long talk with my coach, we decided to push the show back to October. I was relieved but also SO disappointed in myself. Part of me felt like I was failing people who were watching my transformation and failing myself. But why?! That’s crazy talk! Here I was prepping for a show, getting up before the sun, taking care of a crawling, standing, wild child, working crazy hours from home, taking care of our animals, and packing our entire home for an out of state move! Give yourself a break, sister! So, I swallowed my pride, pushed the guilt away, and kept on working hard. We moved to AZ on August 1st of 2017. It was an emotional time for me. Leaving an area, I had come to know for almost 15 years. The hardest part was saying goodbye to my younger sister. See, we have never been apart and when we moved out of the house, we were still within 15 minutes of each other. My heart was broken. That alone brought on so much stress, which again did not help with the end result of getting up on stage again. Stress also hinders weight loss – at least for me! It took us a good month to get settled into our new home, but I was lonely. I felt depression and sadness. I did not know anyone and felt extremely alone. These feelings made me want to just hide and give up. But did I? NO! Again, I pushed these negative feelings away and kept pushing.
  5. Leading Up to the Show: The first week of October (PEAK WEEK!) was finally here and I was excited yet terrified at the same time! It had been over 2 years since I stepped on stage…not to mention I had never competed after having a baby – your body changes. Every emotion possible ran through my head that week. Not to mention I was so tired and my weight wasn’t budging. Hunter also began walking that week and I was so lucky to have been there for his first steps. He was SUPER mobile, and I spent most of my day chasing him around and baby proofing our entire house – not an ounce of rest for me. Peak week was hard. I felt like I was going to break down and felt like I literally could not keep going. I had to split my days and do cardio after my husband got home from work, because I didn’t have time to do it all in the morning and on top of that, Hunter HATED kids club, so that wasn’t an option – I was only get about 5-6 hours of sleep – bad for weight loss. One night after my husband got home, I remember just breaking down and crying from exhaustion and feeling so overwhelmed. (Remember, I was still working from home – during naptime – and chasing a tiny human around – who, mind you, did not care if I was tired or not.) That night when I broke down, I still had to go to the gym and do cardio, and it sounded like torture, but my husband calmed me down and reassured me that I’d feel better once I went. So, I went, I did it, and came home. Fast forward from the break down… it was travel day to Texas for the show! Traveling was super easy because I just had to worry about myself. That night after getting to Texas, I had the best sleep I had in a LONG time. The next morning my weight was DOWN…I mean it dropped a few pounds! Sleep is a beautiful thing and does wonders for the body!

The day of the show was a blur. I ended up placing 5th in my class, not bad for 11 months postpartum! It was a tough road. Many ups and downs. Too many to go into here! Competing before having my son versus after his arrival are like night and day. When you’re not a parent, you’re allowed to be selfish and put your needs first, but once you become a parent, you are put last. Someone else needs you day and night. I couldn’t just go to the gym when I wanted. I couldn’t just do things on my own. I had a little life to take care of and that made getting back on stage tough, but the struggle was so worth it. I hope that one day my son envies my hard work and dedication.  I also must say that I am extremely grateful to have had my coach, Jami DeBernard by my side. She’s steered me in the right direction since I joined FitBody Fusion in 2013 and I can’t see anyone else guiding me in this journey.

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Jessica Quillian

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