The new mom admits that prioritizing fitness has been hard, but there are lessons she hopes her daughter learns about balance.

By By Sara Gaynes Levy
July 18, 2018

When trainer and fitness influencer Emily Skye first had her daughter, Mia, nearly seven months ago, she had a vision for how her postpartum fitness would look. But as most new parents find out, even the best-laid plans don't last long. "Honestly, I thought I might come back a bit faster [than the norm]," she tells Shape. "I've been training for so many years, and I had really strong abs before. I thought once my baby was out, my abs would go back!" (And truth be told, many trainers and docs are encouraging more women to work out to "prepare" for pregnancy-and to help them "bounce back" faster.)

As her loyal followers (all 2.4 million of them) know, things didn't go quite as she expected. But that's one of the great things about Skye-she didn't hide it or pretend things were perfect when they weren't.

"I've always been real with my posts," she says. "But when I found out I was pregnant it was my goal to not just talk about the positive things." As a result, she's seen huge responses on her posts that show the realities of working out after having a baby-like the fact that sometimes the only time she can squeeze in a workout is at midnight. Or, you know, stretched-out skin.

"I initially was really scared about putting up things like that," she says of the stretched-skin photo she recently shared. "I thought people were going to judge me. But now I love doing it. The reaction is 99 percent positive, if not more than that. I have women-and men!-saying how much they love the realness. I'm happy in my decision to share it; it makes me feel good that other people are getting something positive out of it."

That includes her daughter Mia, whom Skye hopes to inspire with her serious dedication to fitness and resilience. "Before I had her, I was [working out] not only for me but to inspire other people to live an active style. That's even more important now," she says. "I'm trying to teach Mia the right things. I really try to show myself love and acceptance, even if I'm not happy with my body at the time."

She explains that she's learned that having a daughter means modeling a healthy body image and not making exercise seem like punishment. (In fact, sometimes Mia tags along with Skye to the gym so Skye can show her firsthand.) What she wants Mia to take away? "I love myself, and I train because I love myself," she says. (Related: Mommy-and-Me Workout Classes That Keep Your Fitness the Center of Attention)

That attitude has proven to be a big driver on days when she, like any new parent, is low on sleep and motivation. "I don't feel like working out most of the time," she admits. "I try to go into robot mode-I just do it, I don't think about it too much. I know that if I do it, I won't regret it," she says. "Having said that, I don't push myself too much. I sat around a lot when I first had Mia and I knew if I got out for even just a little walk I'd feel better-it's for my mind, mainly." (Related: This Mom Has a Message for People Who Shame Her for Working Out)

All in all, Skye seems to really get that self-care isn't just about finding time to exercise. "Sometimes I do choose sleep!" she says with a laugh. "I make a choice each day on how I feel. I know if I work out, I'm better able to deal with life and everything else-but if Mia isn't going to sleep on her own, I need to choose sleep."