Photos: Timothy Aushunas
Be honest. Whether you’re pregnant or a new mom, you probably can’t remember the last time you went on a leisurely jog in the park (or leisurely anything, really). Frustrated by her lack of free time after work, sports model and 2012 track and field Olympic Trials qualifier Lauren Collins set out to empower women with an efficient workout plan that can be done anywhere, anytime in 34 minutes or less. Collins, who is a heptathlete (yes, that’s seven events), is currently expecting her first child, so her newest workout plans are designed especially with the demands of motherhood in mind.
Collins’ company SISSFiT (launched last year with her sister), sells downloadable e-books to help women train on the go. Each book acts as a personal training guide catering to individual needs and fitness levels. The company offers four guides so far, covering all things cardio, resistance, and even nutrition. Each will run you between $30-60 – peanuts compared to the price of a gym membership on top of personal training sessions. The sisters also host boot camps locally around the Orange County area, as well as online challenge groups through social media to inspire women to achieve their workout goals as a team with a little more personal – albeit virtual – coaching.
I tried out SISSFiT’s Elevate guide and brought it along with me on a recent weekend getaway. With just a hotel treadmill and a bench, I was pleasantly sore after their efficient and easy-to-follow plans. There were detailed photos of each exercise, so I didn’t feel confused about my form when asked to try something new. I also liked that the strength days were circuits, so by the second or third rep, I was able to complete the workout by memory. The kicker – I was in and out in about 30 minutes – no one wants to spend their whole vacation in the gym.
This week, we sat down with Collins to talk all things fitness and pregnancy. Read this interview if you’re looking for that pregnancy or post-pregnancy motivation to workout, accountability, and an easy to follow fitness plan in limited time.
Spoiler alert – even professional models and athletes have body aches, fatigue, and food cravings while pregnant. It’s too bad we can’t train to be moms.
Tell us about your e-books, and what differentiates them.
We currently have four volumes - Nutrition Guide, Elevate, Elevate 2.0, and Accelerate. The Elevate guides are comprehensive eight-week guides with day-to-day workouts and exercise demonstrations. These guides include both resistance training and cardio in a way that can be personalized to your lifestyle.
Accelerate is our newest release and the guide we’re most passionate about, being runners. It’s a four-week treadmill guide that is very personalized and has been well-received by runners and non-runners willing to give running a try. It helps with speed, weight loss, overall toning, and provides a definite sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment.
Our Nutrition Guide starts with the basics of nutrition and extends through topics such as healthy on-the-go snacks, a seven-day meal plan, a grocery template, recipes, and more.
How has your own training changed since becoming pregnant?
I haven't been able to run for months now because of pelvic pain. I've spent a lot of time doing elliptical intervals (which, done right, can still totally kick my butt). I've been doing more resistance training circuits (a lot of our SISSFiT workouts with slight modifications), walking on an incline, hiking, Pilates, yoga, and stairs. I did have to alter what I was used to, but I'm enjoying the challenge of getting creative and mixing things up. Changing up your workout routine is actually incredibly healthy for your body and mind.
What are best/safest exercises women can do while pregnant?
Every pregnancy is different, but it’s very important to strengthen your posterior chain (glutes, lower back, hamstrings) because, as our bellies begin to grow, they put a lot of pressure on our lower backs and overall alignment. Pelvic floor exercises, chest opening exercises (because we are constantly hunching over and even more so when our bellies pull us forward), and general fitness are important as well.
What should women avoid during pregnancy and when?
It is generally advised that all women avoid crunches/twisting/core work after the first trimester. However, there are still some safe and effective core and pelvic floor exercises that can be done, such as pelvic tilts, kegels, and exercises using an ab ball. Doctors often advise patients to keep their heart rates at a moderate level, as well as to avoid lying on their backs after the first trimester. I've personally found interval training to be satisfying because I can still push myself and get my heart rate up a little, but then bring it down between sets so that it is never up for an extended period of time.
Can you share some exercises that can be done on the go/while traveling/for working moms/moms at home during naptime?
Yes! All of these were a big motivation while writing our SISSFiT Elevate guides. These were designed as at home workouts with minimal equipment (dumbbells and a step bench). Though some modifications will likely be needed for those who just recently gave birth, these are ideal "fit them in" type workouts that pack a lot of bang for your buck.
How can moms look to lose pregnancy weight safely?
When it comes to post-pregnancy, it's all about a healthy, nutrient-dense diet. If you’re breastfeeding, you do need extra calories and nutrients for your baby; but cutting out the added sugars, carbs, and indulgences will go a long way when your body is on overdrive.
The amount of weight loss that is “safe” depends on what you’ve gained, but most women would be surprised to hear you generally don’t want to lose more than 1lb per week. Weight loss is all about consistency, and it takes time. A lifestyle change takes commitment and, unfortunately, there are no quick fixes (believe me, we wish there were!)
As for post-baby, some of the weight tends to come off a bit quicker in the beginning (water weight and other pregnancy "gains"), but once that initial weight comes off over the first few weeks, the same general rules apply.
Any tricks to curb pregnancy cravings?
I wish I knew! I was plagued by nausea and hunger in the first trimester, and then I began feeling "heavier" than what felt necessary. I find that when I eat healthier (less salt and sugar, more greens and unprocessed foods), I feel so much better. That has always been the case, but I feel like this is magnified during pregnancy. So, knowing that I'll feel better has definitely been motivating. One trick that’s helped me is to drink a lot of water when I feel hungry instead of reaching right for the sweets.
As for my indulgences...ice cream and chocolate! I really try to only have a small sweet treat after dinner (and not all day) and aim for ice cream once a week (otherwise I would eat a carton of Ben and Jerry's every day!)
Best foods for moms during pregnancy and to lose weight afterward?
Whole, unprocessed foods, always. Free range, pasture raised eggs are nutrient-dense (if you're not vegan), healthy fats (nuts, avocado, hummus), lentils, quinoa, veggies, grass fed meats, fruit (although not too much because of the sugar), etc. Limiting salt, sugar, dairy, and gluten seem to be foolproof ways to cut unnecessary calories while still getting all of the nutrients you need. That being said, I personally live by the 80/20 rule: I do my best to eat healthy 80% of the time, while allowing 20% room for error and indulging.
Other things you do to stay healthy aside from working out? Do you drink coffee/wine while pregnant?
I've been trying to walk a lot. I've been wearing a Fitbit since the nausea hit me, and I have a steps goal I make myself hit everyday. Some days it is super easy and some days walking sounds like the worst thing in the world, but every single time I feel at least a little bit better.
The short answers to the ever-controversial questions: yes to coffee (but just one cup!) and yes to wine (a half glass here and there because it hasn’t tasted as good while pregnant).
What's been the greatest challenge about pregnancy thus far?
All of the aches, pains, and little ailments I did not expect! Women are rockstars. I am so impressed at how gracefully women cruise through pregnancy because it is NOT easy. The nausea was pretty rough because it lasted until 18 weeks, and I really started to fear it might last my entire pregnancy. Aside from that, the pelvic pain is a bit of a bummer, and I just started getting the dreaded round ligament pain. Lately, I haven't been sleeping well. I used to be the best sleeper! But that's all over for good now, right?
Excited to learn more? SISSFIT features free 12-20 min workouts every Tuesday on their Instagram (find an office chair and get sweating at @siss_fit).
Lauren Collins styled by TILDEN in our Enza Costa Rib Sheath Tank Slit Midi Dress
Photos: Timothy Aushunas
Lauren Collins is the co-founder of SISSFIT and is an AFAA certified group trainer. She received her BA from UC Irvine, where she was a Big West Athlete of the Year. She competed at the NCAA and USA track and field championships as a heptathlete and qualified for the 2012 Olympic trials in the high jump. She has spent the last seven years as a professional sports model and has shot for Nike, Under Armour, Athleta, ASICS, New Balance, and Carbon38 (among many others); and graced the covers of Runner’s World, Shape, and Women’s Health.