Personal trainer Courtney Standridge, 30, wants to inspire women to embrace their post-baby bodies.
She does that by competing in bodybuilding competitions with the loose skin on her stomach on show, to prove that the chances your body goes through during pregnancy don’t have to hold you back.
Courtney, who lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina, first got into fitness to reduce her stress levels seven years ago, when she met her now-husband Kyle, 32.
At first Courtney would run at night so no one could see her body, but eventually she joined a gym (and went in daylight) in 2012 and fell in love with working out.
The couple began trying for a baby in 2014, but when Courtney was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) she worried she may not be able to conceive.
So imagine their surprise when in June 2016 Courtney learned she was pregnant with twins.
Even while carrying two babies around, Courtney was still dedicated to fitness. She told her family she planned to start competing in bodybuilding after giving birth – they just laughed, which only made her more determined.
Courtney, who shares her fitness journey on Instagram, said: ‘I think anyone feels less confident after having a baby. Our bodies went through something amazing, but we will never look the same again.
‘For me, I was so happy to have my healthy babies, that my body didn’t bother me as much as how weak I felt did. I wasn’t able to work out during my pregnancy, so going back to the gym postpartum was like starting from scratch.
‘I remember about halfway through my pregnancy, my mum asked me if I was upset about losing my fit body, she had twins and swore it was the reason she never got her body back.
‘I told her and the rest of my family that I planned to compete in bodybuilding after having my babies and they all laughed in my face – pretty uncontrollably actually. I was livid, but so determined to show them I could.
‘I guess I have a rebellious attitude because I love proving people wrong – especially when it involves bettering myself. That’s a win-win.’
Just nine months after the arrival of her twins, Courtney competed in a bikini competition and came sixth.
Getting up on that stage was a massive boost to Courtney’s confidence, reminding her that she can do anything she sets her mind to.
16 months after giving birth to her third child Elijah in February, she competed in another bodybuilding competition, this time placing third and fourth.
She wants to show that after her pregnancy she’s the fittest and strongest she’s ever been, and has embraced every part of her body.
She may be super toned but she still has loose skin on her stomach. Courtney refuses to be ashamed of this and shows it off every time she goes on stage.
The mum-of-three said: ‘I love and respect my body now more than ever. I’ve never been as strong, both mentally and physically as I am now after having three babies.
‘I have loose skin, but that doesn’t take away from any of my accomplishments. I went on stage with that same loose skin and walked away with hardware.
‘I do have moments of self-doubt, but I snap myself out of it because I’m so blessed to have my babies and I’m not going to let skin and scars shake my vibe.
‘I received so much love from friends and strangers letting me know how much I inspired them to get healthy – which is all I’ve ever wanted. If I can help someone turn their life around, it will ripple and affect many more.
‘I won’t lie, at first I was nervous about receiving backlash and negativity… things like I should be home with my kids and stop being selfish or self-centred, but I didn’t hear any of that.’
When Courtney is prepping for a competition, she cuts out sugar, sweets, soda, restaurant meals, alcohol and lattes in favour of tuna, chicken, nuts, vegetables, rice cakes, peanut butter and egg whites.
She wants to show others that it’s possible to lead a healthy lifestyle and chase down your goals as a busy parent.
To any other mums hoping to get into fitness, Courtney says: ‘I want to show women it is possible and that it can be done no matter what one’s circumstances may be. Working out at home, during lunch, during nap time, or just making better choices about what we put into our bodies. We are the most important person in our children’s lives and they deserve healthy mums.
‘Start slow, don’t feel guilty, and hire a trainer. Just because you were a varsity athlete in high school doesn’t mean you can jump back in the game and hit 20 burpees at a jump.
‘Your body just did an amazing thing- it made a human that you brought into the world. Ease back into your routine to avoid injury, which leads me to getting a trainer. A good trainer is an investment in your health and wellbeing.
‘If you want to get back in shape, build your programme with a pro who will guide you and help you avoid injury. Lastly, don’t feel bad about it.
‘You’re the most important person in your child’s life. They want you to be healthy and happy. Take 30-60 minutes a day to do something for yourself so you can be your best self.’
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