They say that women have superpowers. The inspiration of this issue of Learn It From The Best: True Inspirational Health Stories: Antoinette Pepe Jeppson, is certainly a superwoman. Being a successful lifestyle, fashion and health blogger (check out her amazing blog Letters To Antoinette), a dedicated mother, wife and friend, and a sexy, always a-la-mode lady, A. is the epitome of what the modern woman should look like. If he hum along Fergie's song, then we should say that A. definitely ‘got that M.I.L.F. money’.
In this interview we talk about how A. feels about becoming a mother to her gorgeous daughter Sofia-Malou, the struggles that she is having when it comes to staying on track with her healthy habits after giving birth, and what being a modern mum means.
2HB: Let’s start from the pregnancy, shall we? Did you have to adjust your diet when you found out that you were pregnant? What foods did you have to include or exclude?
A: When I found out I was pregnant the first thing I did was run to the bakery. I had only fruit at home (that I’d normally enjoy for breakfast), which I thought wasn’t enough for a pregnant woman. At the point I had no clue what I should/shouldn’t do so my initial reaction was to get some carb-y food. I wasn’t even that hungry, but I ate, because isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you’re pregnant?
Well… It didn’t take me long to realise that the most important thing while being pregnant was to listen to my body. As a full-time pescatarian and a part-time vegan I was worried that my baby might need meat protein. I tried to add meat to my diet, but felt sick every time I had chicken. There was no point of forcing myself to eat foods that my body didn’t tolerate, so I decided to stick to my pescatarian lifestyle. Also, the baby doesn’t really care whether the source of protein is meat, lentils or fish, as long as there is enough of it.
One of the most important changes I made was not in regards to what I was eating, but to how often. I was eating more often than I used to and smaller portions. Also, I was having fruit all the time - with watermelon and cherries sharing the first place. Seriously, at some point I was having a watermelon a day!
Even though I’ve been a healthy living enthusiast for a long time, my biggest problem has always been sugar. And when I say sugar, I don’t refer to the unhealthy packaged snacks, but foods like vegan carrot cakes, raw chocolate balls, and scones from the bakery. I was having quite a lot of those yummies, which is not so healthy, especially if there is no space in your belly for a proper meal. During my pregnancyI realised that back in the day I was opting for carbs, when my body was craving protein - in other words I was lacking energy, and deriving it from the wrong source. During my pregnancy I learned to eat lentils, beans, and made sure that I often had shrimps, raisins, cheese, oatmeal - a great source of protein and iron that also kept me full for a long time.
2HB: What about your workout schedule? Did you have to adjust it in any way?
A: I stayed active up until the last day of my pregnancy. Some days I was working out at home, others I was visiting the nearby gym. My job also required me to stay on my feet for long periods of time (often up to 8 hours a day), which made me adjust my workout schedule in order to balance it all out. I kept on doing pilates and yoga, but stopped with HIIT trainings. I kept going to Zumba without jumping too much around and went to the gym when there was no suitable class for me. As I’ve never been much of a ‘weight-lifter’ there was not a lot to adjust there.
I listened to my body and never pushed it too hard. The pregnancy is not time for dieting or reaching workout milestones. The days when I didn’t feel too well, I simply skipped the workouts and went for a long walk instead.
The fact that I never used my pregnancy as an excuse to be lazy paid off. My labour was fast and unproblematic and didn’t take any painkillers during it. The midwives assumed that a possible reason for my smooth labour experience was that I stayed fit throughout my pregnancy, which prepared my body for going into labour. Also, thanks to my yoga/pilates sessions I was aware how to properly breath, which turned out very useful in managing the pain.
2HB: In your opinion, what is the biggest mistake that most future mommies make when it comes to maintaining a healthy way of living during the pregnancy?
A: That would be using pregnancy as an excuse to overeat and spend your time cosily snuggled on the couch. Unless you have pregnancy complications you should stay active and stick to your pre-pregnancy lifestyle as much as possible. By doing that you will stay fit and won’t have to worry about the extra pounds you put on, as you will lose them in no time. However, if you have really done your best to eat for two - then that’s an entirely different story.
2HB: The five foods that the pregnant goddesses should eat every day?
2HB: What do you think about the occasional small guilty pleasures during pregnancy? Dos or don’t’s?
A: Moderation is the key. Just beware that your baby takes from you everything ‘good’ - meaning it’s interested in the nutritious foods that are full of vitamins and leaves the junk for your thighs. If your feel like having a chocolate bar - be it, but don’t say that your baby craves it. The baby craves nutrients and vitamins. With that said I was opting for home-made snacks such as ray bread with dark chocolate, pancakes with banana and oatmeal, and never reached out for packed and processes sugary foods. I realised that the pregnancy cravings are nothing but the mind tricking you.
My solution was to find healthier alternatives such as home-baked potato crisps rather than a package from the store, blueberry bran muffins, ginger oatmeal cookies. I actually learned to bake during my pregnancy, because realised that by making things myself I knew what they were consisting of and I had the freedom to add healthy essentials such as raisin, chia seeds, flax seeds, dried apricots etc.
2HB: Now that you already have your precious one in your hands and you are no longer a future mom, but a new - mom, what is your biggest challenge in terms of staying healthy, energised and fit?
A: I’m breastfeeding full-time so visiting the gym is not an option at the moment. I began working out 4 weeks after giving birth and my workouts are up to 30 mins a day. Nothing too crazy, of course, because my body is still recovering, which combined with the lack of sleep is less than ideal precondition for exercising. When I’m tired I try to do at least 20 mins yoga/pilates and every time I give myself a round of applause for the motivation. I also try to go out for a walk with Sofia-Malou as much as possible, which gives me the energy that I lack due to spending so much time at home and nursing.
The biggest challenge at the beginning was to find a way to juggle everything - look after the little one, cook for myself (essential for my milk production), and exercise. Now that Sofia is 3 months old, I have developed my own ways for doing things, such as making a quite and nutritious lunch (scrambled eggs with avocado and greeneries), while she is playing on the floor. I also make sure to stock my fridge with fresh vegetables, eggs, yoghurt and keep some raw nuts nearby to snack on if the little one doesn’t allow me to do much. I’m not good with cooking large quantities of food and keeping them in my freezer, but it’s a great idea for other moms who are better in planning their meals.
2HB: How quickly did you go back to your pre-baby way of working out and eating?
A: Right now I eat more than I ate during my pregnancy and prior to it. Since I began breastfeeding I’ve been feeling as if I could eat a horse - Sofia nurses a lot and leaves me completely drained. In order to stay energised and keep my sugar levels up I snack on home-made oatmeal cookies, drink milk, and have very nutritious breakfasts (yoghurts with nuts and fruit). Before my pregnancy I used to combine my foods properly at each meal, never mixing protein and carbs for ex., however, I’ve currently quit doing that as I’d get hungry in less than 30 minutes. So while breastfeeding, I will stick to my adjusted eating/workout habits and listen to my body rather than rush to going back to how I was doing things before. And who knows? I might never go back to my old habits as I’ve changed a lot over the last year and so has my understanding of what being ‘healthy’ means.
2HB: What advice would you give to all the future mommies?
A: Being pregnant is a whimsical time. Enjoy it! Near the end of the pregnancy I was quite tired of it and overly impatient to kiss my little one for the first time. Ironically, I missed being pregnant for weeks after giving birth - I missed the sacred connection that I had with my baby that no-one else was part of, I even missed the attention that people gave me.
As a newbie mommy you won’t be getting much sleep either, so rather than rushing through the pregnancy, use the time for yourself and your partner, enjoying doing things together, get enough sleep, smile and indulge in tons of fruits and vegetables. Your body is your temple and now it’s your baby’s! It’s not the time for dieting or obsessing over what will happen with your body. As long as you listen to it and let it guide you - it will thrive. Today when I look at myself in the mirror I see a completely different person. I no longer see or focus on my imperfections, but have started loving my body and treating it with respect.
And remember to practice the breathing techniques you learned at your yoga class. If you can breathe correctly, you will be able to manage your contractions and numb the pain.
Thank you for reading this post. For more inspirational health, wellness and lifestyle coaching read our interview with Juan Gabriel: a new age healer with a big heart, delicate soul and inspirational mind.
Welcome to ‘Learn It From The Best: True Inspirational Health Stories’: our new series where we will be interviewing inspirational health and wellness coaches and motivators from all around the world and will be sharing with you their secrets, health tips and personal stories. For more health, wellness and yoga inspiration download 2 Health App now!