Shay Mitchell Says A 4-Week Workout Challenge 'Changed Everything' For Her Post-Baby

Photo credit: Dennis Leupold
For the first year and a half of her life, Shay Mitchell's daughter Atlas Noa Babel learned how to crawl, walk, wave, point to birds in the sky, pick up stones and offer them as gifts, spinach from her parents eat plates and parrot things that her mother says like, "I don't know!" It was the same amount of time - a year and a half, with her baby changing countless times - before Shay finally felt like her pre-pregnant self.
"I'm hitting the pause button," she says of the confluence of a newborn, a pandemic, and a life without travel and social activities. The actress was fortunate to be in attendance with her partner Matte and Atlas, who were 5 months old when the pandemic broke out, but she was also unmotivated. "I thought," Well, what am I preparing for? "She says, thinking about how little she moved. Atlas wasn't mobile, so Shay spent a lot of time with her on the floor." Everything just went like that, "she says, articulating the slowed pace of everything.
In January, she launched a partnership with Openfit, in which she and her friend Stephanie Shepherd had committed to training for four weeks, five days a week via courses in the app, balance sheet. Part of what attracted her to the partnership was that she had to treat training like a job. Twenty days of accountability. "It changed everything," says the 34-year-old when she finally felt like herself again. “I had a lot more energy; I don't have five cups of coffee left. I can preach when I talk about it, but it totally changed my year. "
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But then came the internet. Shay posted a photo on Instagram showing split screens of her body before she committed to the plan and after. She wrote that she felt "healthier, more energetic, and more committed". The comments surfaced. People claimed this was just the same photo taken from two different angles. that she criticized people for being overweight; that she was not grateful for her body after the baby. It bothered Shay because she took pride in the work she had done - and in her view it promoted health, not vanity. “Right after I had Atlas, if I ever commented that I didn't feel like myself, people would say, 'Well, you just had a baby. 'Yeah, I know I just had a baby,' she says pointedly. "I am very grateful for my body and that it gave life, but I can still express that I do not feel like myself."
Shay dealt with prenatal depression while wearing Atlas, and being frank taught her that honesty is the only way to go about motherhood. "I was strong before I had Atlas and I wanted to feel that way afterwards," says Shay. "We celebrate our bodies before we're pregnant. We celebrate our bodies with bumps. We should also celebrate our bodies whenever we feel best again."
Trainer Kelsey Heenan guided Shay and Stephanie through a mix of cardio and strength training that changed daily. They did HIIT workouts, EMOMs (every minute of the minute), jump squats, arm and leg raises, and squat presses. "For me it was always about a deadlift," says Shay. “Getting up to £ 50 was a boss move. I was really proud of myself. “She can now do pushups and has added a“ life changing ”list of stretches to her post-workout routine - spidermans, chest rotations, arm movements. Occasionally she compliments jumping rope or hiking in Vancouver, where she has spent much of the past year with her parents and benefits from their 24/7 childcare.
I reach her in Vancouver when we talk about her newfound fitness routine, but also about the mood in her parents' house. The day before, eight people - six of them Asian women - died in a shooting in Atlanta. Shay, whose mother is Filipino and whose father is white, saw some of her own experiences in the wave of Asian American racism in the United States. "It's something my mom has been concerned with all of her life," says Shay. “When she and my father were together in Toronto in the 1980s, their relationship was looked down on. She would look the worst on the bus with my father. They told me about going to a restaurant and people who didn't serve them. I've seen it in real life too, ”she continues. “My mother got derogatory comments like, 'Are you the cleaning lady? Are you the nanny "And she said," No, but what's your problem if it were me? “Shay wasn't spared either.” At school I was bullied - I got questions like, “Are you going to clean the bathrooms?”
Photo credit: Dennis Leupold
It's something she thinks about from a different perspective now when raising a mixed race child. “Matte is half white - his father is from Trinidad. And Atlas is a mix of all of us. But she's very fair skinned and has light eyes and hair so she doesn't look like the two of us, ”says Shay. "We learn how to have the appropriate conversations. It starts with her dolls, with the toys she plays with and the books we read to her, all of which are different colors and ethnicities."
Shay didn't think about these kinds of discussions when she was pregnant. Even after 18 months, she still has moments of disbelief that she is someone's mother. "To be honest, I think it was related to my prenatal depression," she says when she realized that the life she was living was going to come to a standstill ... and that it was okay. Her doula said to her, "A new version of you will be born with this baby." In other words, "Yes, you will lose something - but what you gain is obviously so worth it."
Photo credit: Dennis Leupold
Shay's prenatal struggles were helped in part by talking to friends. "And then, of course, when I saw Atlas for the first time, I forgot everything," she says. (By “anything” she refers to hormonal tears, fatigue, and hands that are so swollen they wouldn't close.) “Moments after she was born, I said to Matte, 'Okay, I'm ready to do this again ! '”At the moment, however, there are only three. And Shay continues to focus on getting back to herself, which includes nourishing her body with "healthy" food. "I wish I could say it was all quinoa, salmon, and asparagus, but it isn't," she says. It starts the day with water and lemon, followed by the “perfect breakfast quesadilla” from TikTok: eggs, spinach, cheese and olive oil. She has a snack around 11 am; With her parents, it's fruits - mango, grapefruit, strawberries. For lunch she has soup - something like pho or chicken and macaroni. Then there is cheese and vegetables and a glass of wine around 4 p.m. Shay has dinner around 6:30 am, usually a balance of starches and vegetables, like pasta and vegetables, with a salad. For dessert there are two of these “crazy caramel chocolate cookies from Costco” or Lily's chocolate-coated almonds.
Now that she has used that sense of balance, what will life be like for Shay when everything opens up again? She will be happy to be with co-workers in real life. meet friends for a bike course. She will follow her curiosity as to whether this means making a bucket list of places to show Atlas. Overseeing the appearance of two companies she co-founded, Beis and Onda; or to express the protagonist in Netflix's adaptation of the Filipino graphic novel Trese.
"People say," Why? "And I say," Well why not? "She says about jumping into a variety of projects." Look, I have a life to live. I don't want to say, "What if?"
Photo credit: Dennis Leupold
This article originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of Women’s Health; The digital version has been updated with additional quotation marks.
Photographed by Dennis Leupold; Fashion Director: Kristen Saladino; Stylist: Monica Rose; Make-up: AshK Holm for Buxom Cosmetics at The Wall Group; Hair: Jesus Guerrero for OGX for The Wall Group; Stage design: Ward Robinson for wooden ladder
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