Designing Women - Jessie Mundell

Fitness isn't the centre of my day to day life but feeling happy and good about myself is important to me. Having a baby is an amazing thing and it took 9 LONG months for us to make these little bundles of joy. We go through the arduous labour of bringing them into the world and if you are like me your thinking: ok now what? Will I ever look like myself again? Is it normal for my belly button to look lived in?

There is so much talk and support during pregnancy but post pregnancy there really seems to be a gap. Nobody really talks about how hard it is to work out, have a career and be a mum. Actually some days being a mum is just about all I can be.

A friend of mine introduced me to Jessie, ladies this is a woman you want to know. She is a personal trainer and nutritionist with a focus on pre and post natal moms. Not only does she understand what our bodies have gone through she thinks we deserve a x and a bit of understanding. I thought we would feature her on the blog, I loved everything she had to say, I hope you do too. The great thing is that Jesse makes videos so that we can do these videos at home when we have time. Enjoy and take Jessie's advice "give yourself a break."

Welcome, Jessie! First of all, tell us a little about yourself.

Hello! Thank-you so much for having me on!

I'm a personal trainer and nutrition coach living in Calgary, Alberta. I'm super lucky to be able to work with incredible women, many of whom are pregnant or have had babies. I work with clients in-person in Calgary and from a distance all over the world. 

I'm originally from Kingston, Ontario, and have lived in Vancouver, Edmonton, and just recently made the move to Calgary due to my husband's job with the fire department here.

I'm really passionate about empowering women and giving them the care they need at any point in life, and especially pre and post natal as it such an emotional time of change, and, frankly, majorly lacking in supporting women! 

Looking through your website, it's clear that you are passionate about helping women transform their lives and love their bodies. Can you tell us how this passion began?

Yes! It's probably my favourite thing to talk about :) 

I think it really stemmed from my own insecurities and struggles regarding my body from the time I was a young girl. As women, this is such a pervasive theme in our lives - our bodies are "flawed" and somehow "lacking". (Ps. They're not in any way!)

The more I started to work through these ideas in my own head and body, the more I started to talk with other women about them. The stories I heard were the same over, and over, and over again. How could these girls and women I knew who were totally incredible, were role models to me, and were women I looked up to, think they were not good enough in some way?

They lamented having too much cellulite, or tummies that weren't flat enough, or that they had too much fat in some spots and too little fat in others. 

How could we start to break down these ideologies that were holding us hostage in our OWN BODIES. I realized that no one had the power to make us feel inadequate, EVER. We are the only ones that can choose how we feel, and I wanted to feel better and so did everyone else I was talking to. 

You have really taken an interest in Pre & Post Natal fitness. Where did your love of this come from?

I love my mama's! This time of life ties in so beautifully with the body image and self-love work, which is one of the reasons I love it so. 

I started training this population of women early on in my career while I was doing my undergraduate degree in Physical Education at Queen's University. I thought it was incredible to watch their determination and dedication to physical and mental health. Plus the babies are so cute ;).

I went on to do my Master's degree at the University of British Columbia in this realm and started to understand more about what the body would undergo during pregnancy and postpartum recovery, and how this effects exercise programming. And it does - big time! (note - this is not being reflected in most exercise programming for mums!)

There's such a lack of proper exercise education regarding pregnancy and postpartum. Women are so confused on what they should or shouldn't be doing, because there's not a ton of easily accessible, useful info out there. Plus, health professionals, such as doctors, tend to not be highly educated in exercise and therefore give women basic outdated guidelines. 

If you were to give new mama's three pieces of advice in regards to their health, what would that be?

1) When life stress is high, exercise stress should be low. If you only slept in 1-hour chunks last night, there is absolutely no need or benefit to do an intense strength training workout today. Walk, breathe, do some restorative yoga, or just rest! 

2) Go see a pelvic floor physio! These health professionals can accurately assess how your pelvic muscles and organs are functioning. Essential to your long-term health. 

3). Start back to exercise safely. Get the advice of a trained pre/postnatal exercise specialist who ideally has worked alongside pelvic floor physios, who can assess your diastasis recti (abdominal separation) properly, and who understands all that is happening in your body and life. 

Other than keeping yourself in amazing shape and keeping an awesome blog, what do you love to do in your spare time?

Ha! Luckily, exercise doesn’t take up much of my time anymore because I’ve learned how to get results with the least amount of effort possible ;) 

In my spare time, I love to walk. Walking is meditation for me. It’s where I think, breathe, and just chill. I love to cook for my hubby and drink wine with my girlfriends. I love to wander farmer’s markets. I love to read books on fitness, nutrition, psychology, and business.

Who in the fitness industry do you look up to the most? Why?

Oh, wow! There’s so many incredible, influential women in the industry. 

I love the ladies of Girls Gone Strong, who are doing big things for female strength training. I’m currently working with Jill Coleman, of JillFit Physiques, who has taught me a ton about mindset and coaching. 

What is your all-time favourite exercise?

Oooh! I would have to say any deadlift variation. Something so fun about lifting a good amount of weight. Plus, I love training the backside :)

You wrote a recent blog post about ditching the scale, can you give some insight into why you are so passionate about that?

Ah, yes! This is really important to me. The scale is such a massively poor indicator of progress, but probably the most used. It really doesn’t give us much, or any, useful information about our bodies and people put too much ‘weight’ into it. 

It’s crazy making for absolutely no good reason at all, and I think it’s best for most people to do away with it!

You are also a certified nutritionist, what would you say is the biggest misconception about pre/post natal nutrition? 

Great question. The biggest misconception is probably the whole “eating for two” idea. Yes, you will need additional calories (especially if nursing), however it is important as to where those calories come from. Try to get those additional calories from nourishing, nutrient dense food. Foods that are health promoting! 

I think the best thing for pre/postnatal nutrition is to really start tuning into your body’s cues. What does your body need? Are you hungry? What are you craving? Really listen in and start to gain more awareness to what your body is telling you. 

What is your favourite food to indulge in after a long day of work?

Mmm! Well, I love a glass of red wine with dinner. I’m really loving simple meals lately, like fresh veggie salads with some kind of well-seasoned, grilled protein. Usually finished off with some dark chocolate! 

What would you tell pre/post natal women who are nervous to hit the gym? 

Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel quite right, stop. Book an appointment with your local pelvic floor physio to check it out. Do your research on diastasis recti, incontinence and “normal” body stuff that occurs from pregnancy and postpartum. 

Above all, ask your fitness instructors and trainers about these things and make sure they know their stuff. You’re hiring them, so interview them.

What is a myth about working out post baby that you want to debunk?

The one that makes me the most worried is the idea that after your 6-week check up you’re good to get back to your usual high-intensity exercise routine. Even if you feel 100% amazing, it’s just not true. We need to retrain the body to move and function again. 

Your core and pelvic floor have undergone stretching, potential tearing, and stress. You truly need a rehab period, which can be tough for super active women to hear. It doesn’t need to be boring and inactive, though! 

If you train smart you’re going to be way further along and not having to take a bunch of steps backwards in 6 months. 

Can you suggest a workout/exercise that every new mama can attempt at home?

The first thing that every new mama needs to start with is the Core Breath. 

This is to retrain our abdominals and pelvic floor muscles to work together. This is the first step to healing your diastasis and any pelvic floor dysfunction. We can’t run, jump, or lift heavy weights without discomfort or eventual injury, unless our inner core unit is firing. 

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gyVREUFO68.

I also have 2, complete full-body workouts that can be done at home, available for free on my website! Head here to find them:http://jessiemundell.com

How quickly can new mums expect to start working out and see their old bodies come back? They do come back right?

Of course they come back! It’s actually incredible to watch the body change throughout the first year or so postpartum, so take photos. I would say that you need to go easy on yourself and understand that it might be a good year before you feel more like your “old self”. 

The very best thing to do is get super comfy with whatever stage your body is at. It’s just different! It’s not bad or worse. It’s probably even better than you remember it :) 

I've heard that nutrition and activity are equally important post baby, do you agree?

Absolutely! First and foremost, self-care is essential. Exercise and nutrition are your best tools for self-care. That baby needs you. It needs your energy and your health. If you don’t continuously fill up your tank, there will be nothing left. 

This doesn’t have to take that much effort either. It could be 2-30 minute strength training sessions a week, with 30-minute walks most days. Combine that with eating a source of protein and 1-2 servings of veggies with most meals and you are rocking! 

I would add into that equation sleep/rest and stress management as being just as important, too! 

Thanks again to Jessie for chatting with me! It is such a blessing to know we have someone in the new-mommy corner who truly understands what is happening with our bodies.

To learn more about Jessie, make sure you visit her website.

To learn more about diastasis recti, read Jessie's post from the Personal Trainer Development Centre.

To find a Edmontonian Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, check out Cura Physical Therapies


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