9 months post baby, and 13 months post

When I sat down with Alisa I couldn't believe how ripped she was, and how immaculately presented. She was tanned, makeup, hair, and sparkly jewelry. She was quite pretty and feminine, redefining the stereotype of female bodybuilders.

I think she was a bit shocked to hear that I did not come to her to get skinny. My goals were to increase strength, get better sleep, build muscle and most of all increase my energy. I could see her getting excited. “Can you please kick my ass?” I said to her.

She gave me this look like- “you don’t even have to ask.”
I had never worked with a female trainer before so I was curious to see if she would let me off the hook or be even tougher on me to prove a point.
Just deadliftin'
A Cheeky 110lbs (50Kg)




Turns out that Alisa's point of difference is her huge heart. She gives a shit- sometimes more than I do. Her past made her tough as nails yet she remains positive and passionate. And kick my ass, she did. For the first time, I uttered the words “I can’t,” during a PT session (very unusual for a competitive, people pleaser like myself). She knew when to push me and when I was actually working hard. We felt like a team.  

Peace out Muffin Top
She wanted me in the gym three times a week which would mean my family would die of starvation on a sticky floor wearing dirty undies. So I went twice weekly. Sometimes once.  A few weeks, none at all (life, ya know?) 
We set a goal to check in at three months. We took actual scientific measurements of my body and totes awks embarrassing photos that I’m sharing with you all right now.
I didn't change my diet but I did try to eat more consciously. I was determined to use our entire veggie box each week and cut down on refined carbs (for the record, I will never give up carbs- they are delicious). Matt and I gave up our Friday night tradition of pizza and french fries.

The results are positive. I can see and feel the difference, inside and out.  Could I have done better? Maybe. Alisa and I both know the work I did (or at times didn't) do. *

You know what’s really great?  Acceptance.  In my opinion, it’s the first step toward self-love. After all, I have the massive responsibility to relay this message to my daughter. I need to start practicing what I preach, Sisters. Beauty comes in many different body types. Health should be the number one priority always. Do I accept the fact that I'm not a swimsuit model? Yes. Do I accept that my body gave birth to a human? Hell yes. 
The scale did not budge in either direction for me during this journey- but I lost inches. I gained muscle, confidence, energy.  It’s just a bonus that my jeans fit better. 

*Within those three months there was above average partying going on so it was a bit harder to watch what I put in my mouth.  I attended two weddings, a 30thbirthday, two race days, my daughter’s first birthday (heck yeah I was drinking after that Pinterest-pressure stress), and a two-week visit from my Mom. So there was a disproportionate amount of celebrating and imbibing. No excuses, just life!


Forty Weeks
Four Weeks






I’m pleased to be taking a recess from therapy for a few weeks. My last visit sounded more like a gossip session because not much was troubling me.

My reactions are becoming much more appropriate to specific situations these days. It is normal to freak out about taking Lavinia to the emergency room, not about going for a drive. Progress.
I went from having a couple of good days now and then, to a couple of bad days now and then.
Since my brain is behaving, I am devoting my energy to physical health. After all, the two are not separate.
I’m at an age where I place no faith in diets. Tell me I can’t have something and I want it all the more. Over the years I have learned that as long as I move my body, I can pretty much eat what I want. When I go overboard I repent- yesterday's nachos are today's steamed veggies.
I enjoy a mainly healthy lifestyle. Cooking relaxes me and exercise is my stress reliever (when I have time and motivation for it). Don’t get me wrong, I indulge. I looooove food. Any meal can be made better with melted cheese on top. Carbs are not the devil. And don’t forget the wine. "Everything in moderation, including moderation itself," (Oscar Wilde).
Because I battled with thyroid disease since age 14 I understand the emotional ups and downs that accompany numbers on a scale. As a result, I don’t do scales either. No diets and no scales. I try to tune in to what my body craves, put on my sneakers and run from temptation...most of the time.
When I got pregnant just shy of my 32nd birthday I wigged. At 30 I was finally comfortable in my own skin and now this innocent little intruder was going to wreck it. A big, fat, test of my body-image belief system.
After weeks of struggling internally, I was forced to let the pregnancy do it's natural thing while I adjusted my ideas of what health and beauty looked like. Society expects pregnant women to be these buff little Mommas with toned arms. Two long legs with a beach-ball stuffed beneath a fashionable figure-hugging maternity top. Well, guess what? That's not how it works.
Every pregnancy is as unique as every human body. Rather than try to look like that ideal svelte-figure smuggling a soccer-ball, I decided to focus on the health of the little nugget inside me. I exercised, not to prevent weight gain, but to get oxygen flowing through my blood and into my fetus. I gulped down vitamins, drank spirulina smoothies and nettle tea (and of course, gave into my cake cravings).
I lovingly absolved myself from pressure to bounce back after Lavinia was born. It takes nine months to put the baby weight on, it’s only practical that it should take another nine to remove it.
Fast forward: Now that I finally had the time to think about myself again, I felt weak, squishy and fatigued.  Rather than a focus on 'losing those last few pounds' my goals became- better sleep, better moods, more energy.
I joined a gym with child-minding and a month ago started training with a female bodybuilder. It’s really hard work trying to catch up to where I was before I got pregnant. Every training day I wake up and want to cancel...but I haven’t missed one session. My strength and confidence are returning with every bench press.
Forget ideals, forget unrealistic expectations or comparisons. Worship at the altar of good health and well-being!
I will be sharing before and after photos at the end of October. Check out my results here!
One week before Lavinia was born
let's hang on the 'gram
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Dawn Rieniets is both a visual artist and brand copywriter. She uses her MA in English, journalism and sales background to craft engaging brand identity copy for small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) globally.

Dawn exhibits artwork independently and with groups; Thou Art Mum and Melbourne and Victorian Artists (MAVA). In her online store, you can find original pieces, wall art prints, and other home decor. A few times per year she accepted personalised and sentimental art commissions for clients.

Dawn creates out of her home studio in Wurundjeri country, the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne.
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