Exclusive Interview with Jamie Eason, Kelsey Byers and Hilary Hall

From left: Hilary Hall, Kelsey Byers, Cari Shoemate and Jamie Eason

I recently sat down with Three of Houston’s Fittest Moms to find out how they got back in shape post-baby and how they juggle family life and fitness. Below they share a little bit about who they are, their fitness journey and their top tips not just for moms – but for anyone looking to make fitness and a healthy lifestyle a priority.

Hilary Hagner Hall, Kelsey Byers and Jamie Middleton (Eason) all live here in Houston and are good friends! I’ve been friends with Hilary for years and she introduced me to Jamie and Kelsey. I’ve been following them both for a long time and have always been inspired by their workouts and healthy lifestyle. So, when I found out Jamie and Kelsey were pregnant at the same time as me – I was super excited to follow their journey!

If you haven’t heard of these 3 ladies – you must be living under a rock ; ) Hilary is super popular here in Houston and has been on local and national tv shows demonstrating her popular workouts and she runs popular Shed ‘N Shred. Jamie is a huge fitness star and has been in hundreds of magazines and on dozens of covers and can be seen each week on Lifetime’s Mission Makeover. Kelsey is an up and coming fitness star who has also been a cover girl and has competed in NPC competitions. She is the author of Eat Clean and Follow Your Dreams and she has a very inspiring 50lb weight-loss success story!

What has been the hardest part about getting back in shape after you had your baby?

Jamie: The hardest part about getting back in shape after the baby has been finding the time to make healthy and lean meals.  If you add poor eating to the typical lack of sleep that occurs, it’s difficult to find the energy to exercise.  If you don’t manage to eat well (meaning consuming enough healthy calories), when you do exercise the intensity is often really poor.  Proper nutrition plays a huge role in the success of losing post baby weight.  Fortunately my husband is no stranger to the kitchen and can follow a recipe.  I often had to put him in charge of the meal prep with all that I had going on between work and the baby and he did a great job making sure we all got fed.

What are your top tips for new moms that want to lose the baby weight?

Hilary: Take your time. This is your only chance to relax and take care of baby and yourself. After my first delivery I quickly started getting back to working out and lost my milk supply. To me, nursing my newborn and giving him what experts say, “the best nutrition” was much more important to me than getting my body back. I was devastated. I recommend taking your time and gradually building up your training intensity. 

Eat A LOT of clean and healthy foods. Your body just went through 9 months of dramatic changes and lets not mention the trauma from delivery; your body is thrives off a solid meal plan that has a balance of high fiber carbohydrates, lean proteins, and non-saturated fats. Also, while you are nursing it is very important to not be too restrictive with your food. If you’ve never worked with a nutritionist before, now would be a great time to start.

Change up your old workout routine. Once you get your doctors release to start working out again, start off by doing core strengthening exercises (i.e. planks) in your living room with your baby close by. Rather than thinking that cardio has to be done on treadmill; start going on walks with your new jogger-stroller. Your baby will love bonding with you and you’ll be guilt-free not leaving your husband (or sitter) at home while you workout. In addition, don’t overwhelm yourself by looking at your dis-configured body in the mirror and assume you will never look like yourself again. Easier said than done, I know! You can’t assume that you will have your body back after your little bundle turns two weeks old. It’s just not realistic or healthy. Each week simply try pushing yourself a little harder by either doing an extra set or by doing heavier weight. Your body fat will begin to decrease and your skin will proceed to tighten. 

Kelsey: To lose the baby weight, I would focus mainly on getting sleep and eating healthy food. When you are exhausted, it’s tough to find the energy and motivation to workout. Staying hydrated also plays a key role in weight loss and feeling well.

After college, I lost 50 pounds and found that my results consisted 80% of nutrition and 20% exercise. I lost the weight by eating small meals every 3 hours, 5-7 meals per day. I saw the biggest results with weight training. It didn’t make me bulky, but it added shape and toned my body.

When it came to losing my baby weight, I approached that challenge with the same regimen and it worked the same way. Being healthy really is a lifestyle. No restrictive dieting will ever get you healthy and lasting results.

Tell us what you have been up to since you had your baby and how things have changed now that you are a mom.

Jamie: So much has changed since having my son.  I’m busier than ever but so grateful to still be working in an industry I love.  It’s been just over a year since I’ve had the baby and I’m back doing cover shoots and layouts.  I also have a free post pregnancy training program coming out next year on Bodybuilding.com that we’ve been working like crazy to hopefully release in March.  In addition to that I’ve been flying every other week to Florida with my family to film a reality show for Lifetime TV, called Mission Makeover.  I am a co-host and supporting trainer (they have someone local) for the ladies participating on the show as they pursue their goal to finally lose the weight they have struggled for years to lose.  It begins airing on Lifetime TV in February.  Another thing I’ve been working on is expanding my natural line of supplements and products with Labrada Nutrition.  I created the line of supplements while I was pregnant because I needed something I could feel good about taking and I am so proud of how well they have been received.  It has been a truly exciting opportunity!  Anyone interested can check out the line at www.labrada.com/JamieEason.  Last but not least, I am the current Editor-In-Chief of a fitness magazine for women called TRAIN for Her.  It will be released in January with every shipment that goes out for Bodybuilding.com.  Needless to say, it’s been a crazy year and I still struggle with time management and fitting it all in but that hasn’t stopped us from thinking about baby number two.  God willing, maybe it will happen next year?

Kelsey: Since having my baby nine months ago, I left my career in the Logistics Software industry to work from home as an Editorial Manager. It is my passion because I love fitness and writing. It really has been a blessing of an opportunity for our family. Being at home with your baby is priceless, but it does have its challenging moments if you are working as well. I focus my efforts by making To-Do lists and just tackling one item at a time. I am also finishing graduate school, which is an entire job on its own. My husband helps me out a lot when he gets home from work and we are looking forward to my graduation day and starting the next chapter in our lives. I love home workouts, in fact, I hold my 25 pound baby girl during many of my exercise moves. She loves it! I recently launched The Little Black Dress Workout Plan and will soon launch pregnancy and postpartum fitness plans as well.

What are some tips and secrets you have for eating healthy when you have a newborn and are too busy to focus on cooking?

Hilary: You’ve got to plan. Get all your groceries ahead of time and cook in large amounts. My best advice is to pick 2-3 of the following: lean proteins, veggies, carbohydrates and fats. I prepare them all on Sundays and Wednesdays and keep them in large tupperware containers. Every morning I weigh out and measure my portions into small (meal sized) tupperware to take with me on the go. That way, every day I am completely set and don’t have any reason to seek out calorie loaded restaurants.  

Kelsey: My husband and I cook in bulk so we always have healthy food on hand. When we first brought our sweet baby girl home from the hospital, I was struggling to find time to focus on my health while adjusting to our new “schedule.” It really helps you as a family when you dedicate some time (maybe an hour or two), one or two days a week for cooking. It takes much less time than cooking every meal separately. You can store items like breakfast burritos, protein muffins, grilled chicken, lean burgers, etc. It really makes a difference for us and frees up more time to for our family.

Many new moms want to start working out as soon as they’ve had a baby. Do you recommend this or do you think it’s better to take some time off?

Jamie: I know that it’s tempting as a new mom to want to jump right back into and fitness program as soon as you can but I caution against that because it can lead to burnout and frustration.  Your body goes through a lot of physiological changes throughout those 9 to 10 months of pregnancy and a delivery, whether vaginal or cesarean, can really take its toll on a woman.  If you have a cesarean, that’s a major surgery and a body needs time to recover from that.  For a vaginal birth your pelvic floor is considerably weak and that takes time to heal as well.  Both scenarios also lead to core instability and weakness as well.  Your belly has been stretched out so long that it can take time and consistency to strengthen your abs and back again.  Also, relaxin (the hormone responsible for allowing the hips to spread) stays in your system for up to 6 months after delivery and affects all joints, not just the hips.  In the beginning with the inevitable lack of sleep that comes with being at the mercy of a baby’s unpredictable schedule, you’ll be hard pressed to have the energy for healing, let along working out.  I recommend focusing on the food and eating healthy, especially if nursing or pumping and waiting until at least 3 months when a baby typically starts sleeping longer and with slightly more predictability before jumping into a more consistent  or strenuous workout.  You’ll need adequate rest and sleep to recover from your workouts and maximize the benefits. 

Kelsey: Wait until you are cleared by your doctor first. I started out just walking for a couple of weeks and then picked back up on my weight training immediately. However, I also weight trained through 40 weeks of pregnancy. It really depends on your specific situation and your child’s birth. If you are itching to start a fitness plan like I was, you’re in luck. I will be launching my postpartum plan in the next few weeks if you would like some guidance.

*Be sure to check out our exclusive workout for new moms!


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