Tayler Shrader: Peacock to Proud Mama!
Tayler Shrader says that she used to be a little bit of a peacock in the gym. Living for the compliments she got on her rapidly developing physique. Then life happened in the form of a bundle of joy that changed her priorities and caused her to appreciate the beauty and strength she has inside as well as out. Find out how she’s leveraging her new mental and emotional strength to bounce back after baby!
Tayler thanks for sharing your story with us. To begin, how long have you been training? Where did you get your start?
TS: I have been training for a little over 5 years now, starting in mid 2011 at a commercial gym in Nevada. At the time I was actually the head baker of a cafe, and my heaviest of 220lbs.
And now you train at home. Where in your house is your gym located?
TS: My home gym is located in one of our unused rooms.
Tayler, home gyms often start out bare bones. I know mine did. I started with a set of 70lb dumbbells and a wooden box to use for bench press and Bulgarians. What did you start out with?
TS: We were lucky with all of our equipment in our gym. My in-laws were moving to their new home 3 states away and decided that they didn’t want to take any of their workout stuff with them. Having just cancelled our gym memberships due to money limitations we jumped on the offer immediately.
What are some of the pieces of equipment you have in there now and what’s on your wish list?
TS: Right now we have an elliptical, an adjustable bench and a Smith machine/standard squat rack which conveniently turns into a bench press, and has cable work as well. Also, because we don’t have enough room for a full dumbbell weight set, we managed to snag a set of awesome interchangeable dumbbells that surprisingly reach 80lbs.
Are your dumbbells Power Block Adjustable Dumbbells? How do you like them?
Yes, the dumbbells we have are the PowerBlocks and I love them! The weights are easy to adjust to exactly what you need with just putting them back into their holders, and adjusting the pin. Also, they have small cylindrical metal weights inside that are 2.5lbs so you can even adjust them to that extent as well.
I’ve used Bowflex SelectTech but never that style. You put your hands into the weights to use them, how does that feel on your wrists?
While you do have to put your hand “inside” the dumbbell, there are two other bars on the top of the weights that you can grab, and I find that its much easier for curls and tricep extensions that way. If the weight gets to heavy, I always resort to a good pair of straps that way I can still push myself, but not risk form or hurt my wrists in the process.
What’s on your most wanted equipment list?
TS: A NEW BENCH!!! The one we currently have is torn to shreds from a bull mastiff! It is super scary wobbly, and only inclines. We would love to have one that inclines and declines.
You said on Instagram in one of your early posts: I was 16 weeks out from my first show with my husband when I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant with my little girl describe how that affected you mentally to have spent so much time getting in shape and knowing that it was all about to go away? I realize that having a baby is a blessing but Tayler, did you have mixed emotions given the situation, like why not AFTER the show?
TS: Not only was I 16 weeks out, in the middle of a lean-bulk, I had my wedding in 18 weeks. There were a lot of emotions going on when I found out, and I did not know how to handle them. I hoped it was a fluke, but I had all the symptoms and I just didn’t want to face it. I was depressed for most of pregnancy, because I was just watching my hard earned work and dedication vanish before my eyes. I was told by my doctor to not work out because I wasn’t gaining weight, but actually losing quickly because of morning sickness. By the time I was 8 months I had only gained 12lbs and was living off of yogurt and saltine crackers. I thought I would never get back to what I was before, I was almost resentful of what was happening to me. It wasn’t until after I had her that I understood what the female body was capable of and how amazing it is.
By the way, what type of show were you preparing to compete in? Fitness, Figure, Physique?
When I first signed on with my coach at the time, I decided that I wanted to do a Bikini competition just to get my toes wet. Also, since my husband does Physique, we would roughly be in the same type of competition. However my coach was dead set and determined for my first show to be in Figure due to my body type. I’m stocky, I build bulky muscle if I’m not careful, and I build it where the Figure competitors like it, legs, back, and shoulders. So we trained like I was going into Figure, but because of the large amount of veggie’s I was eating, my coach ultimately decided I was right to do a Bikini show, and hopefully, blow them out of the water.
Tell me how your training has changed post pregnancy versus what you were doing before you decided to train for your show. I know you were restricted for a while because your body had to recover from the physical changes related to giving birth.
TS: My training has changed ten-fold since before baby girl. Before I was taking my supplement stacks, eating my 6 meals like champ, waking up at the butt-crack of dawn to get my 45 min of HIIT cardio in, and then staying up late to do my 1 1/2 hour of heavy weight training. Now, I can barely get 20 minutes of cardio while baby takes her nap, have a hard time eating meals because sometimes we don’t have everything/anything I need in our pantry, or honestly, I forget. And my weight training has now dwindled to a measly 30 minutes at the most. Belle harbored in my right hip and when I gave birth to her so she twisted my pelvis, so I had to wait for a clearance (almost 8 months of easy body weight )on that as well before I could even think of weight training again.
Do you do dedicated ab/core work or are you still restricted?I would think a lot of anti rotational training would be great for a mom because of all of the awkward twisting that you have to do.
I hate core days, not just now but ever since the beginning of my fitness days. Core workouts typically fall into my morning cardio time on days I now I’m not going to be lifting heavy such as leg and back day. Since you already use (at least you should be!) your whole core on those days from deadlifts and keeping yourself rigid to avoid lower back injury, I tend to take it easy on those days. However I firmly believe that it’s from leg and back days that you build your best core.
Babies always seem to need to be picked up exactly when you already have your arms full of other stuff. (Like I said, my wife and I have six kids!) Plus we tend to carry babies on one side or the other which can also throw off your spinal alignment. Do you do anything to counteract that?
Yes, baby girl always wants to be picked up at the most inopportune times, and since my “little one” is 40lbs already it is a chore. I typically do a lot of Sun Salutations every day, at least 4-6 rounds too keep my spine loose. Cat and Cow pose are your friends!!!
You’re coming from the background of someone who was in pretty good shape before, one Instagram post mentioned that you used to get compliments on your traps at the gym and that you were a bit of a peacock. Is it tough to train now without all of the instant feedback from other people complimenting you?
TS: Peacocking is putting it lightly! For someone who had no self-love, I loved the instant feedback, fed off of it actually. Now I am trying to find my own self-love, and the only feedback I have coming back to me is from my husband (which is where it should have mattered the whole time). It is a breath of fresh air actually, realizing that I was so self -centered and letting it go, it has really helped me train harder. You make your body. Your own mental feedback makes your body, your thoughts and words.
I love your post where you said you were grateful for the six stretch marks your baby gave you. Was it tough to get to the point where you could accept that your new body isn’t better or worse than what you had before; just different with different needs and challenges?
TS: It was very tough for me to accept my new body, especially since I hadn’t accepted the one I had before. Looking back at photos I saw how in shape I was and I told myself one day, “You were crazy thinking you were fat. What was your problem?” I don’t consider myself heavy or overweight even now, I just went through a one year healthy bulk.
I love that you said that pregnancy was a one year healthy bulk. That’s such an awesome way to look at it! That causes me to ask what were some physical advantages of going through this process? I mean the mental and emotional growth is obvious from this conversation but how have you benefited physically?
Since having Belle, I know now that my upper body is a lot more stronger than I was giving it credit for. She was never a small baby, being born at 9.5lbs she was always my added weight to everything I did, so despite not actively working out, I was always working out my upper body with her. In the middle of my training I could not do a single push up without my knees, or a pull up without assistance. Now, while I still can’t do a pull up, I can do 5 full push ups, which is a huge deal for me!
Tayler, tell me the toughest part about being a Stay At Home Mom who’s trying to get back in shape.
TS: There is no one thing that is tougher than the other, all of it is tough. From balancing your time, to trying to eat, keeping up on the house work, school work, sleeping, none of it is easy. I can only imagine how tough it is for moms who work as well and I applaud you. Being on a one person income is hard, especially when you are so used to being able to spend 200 bucks at a time for all of your food twice a month, but now you have to somehow manage 250 bucks a month including diapers and baby necessities. You really have to prioritize what is important and what isn’t.
Do you ever have to battle feelings like “It’s not going to happen, the days of having abs or traps people envy aren’t coming back?”
TS: Every. Day. And its not about the envy anymore, its about me being my best self, and it bothers me. I have little patience, I want it all back yesterday at 8 A.M but I have to tell myself to be patient, that the best progress comes in time. I am no where near where I was, and sometimes its hard to realize that I don’t have the quads, arms, booty, back, and waist, but that’s okay. Now, I have the ability to re-do everything that I did before, but better.
How do you keep yourself mentally strong? I mean fitness is an incremental process, you don’t see changes every day. How do you keep going day in and day out?
TS: My mental battle has always been my toughest and I’m afraid that I will never not have to fight with myself every day. I grew up in a family where if you wanted to be thin, you didn’t eat, and if you wanted to eat, you better drink your two glasses of cold water before. It led to an eating disorder of binge eating. Not every binge eater is skinny, I was overweight my whole life and having to battle my family and my own mind was tough, and still is. Now I distract myself with either playing with baby girl, reading a book, going to my motivational quotes on Pinterest. I also chew a lot of gum. A LOT of gum.
Let’s unpack another post you put on Instagram:
I have the “Monday’s,” ugh someone help me. I’m tired of tripping and instead of just getting right back up I lay there in the dirt a while longer and wait. Until. Monday. So today (literally an hour ago), “Yes your daughter is very sick, you have been up since one a.m., welcome to motherhood. Now you’re waking your happy ass up EVERY MORNING for your fasted cardio. Shut up and take your medicine.”
Like I said before I’ve spent the last year nurturing my daughter, now I need to nurture me. I can do this, we can do this, we all can do this. The mind is the biggest hurdle.
When I read this I could completely relate! I’ve had to adjust my expectations about training dramatically when I was the one watching our toddler during the day. Sometimes I felt like a hero for just getting out of bed after she’d been up all night. How do you motivate yourself to get through those times when you want to just throw in the towel?
TS: My little family helps motivate me to be my best self, by helping me stay sane even when I feel like I’m going insane, and I couldn’t thank them enough. If I don’t show up and own up how am I going to be my best self for my daughter, how am I going to be my best self for my husband, and for myself? How can you pour from an empty cup?
What’s your favorite part about training in your home?
TS: It’s 24/7/365. I don’t have an excuse of not having enough time to go or it being closed.
Being in a home gym doesn’t mean you’re on house arrest (unless you are). Do you ever visit gyms outside of the home? I know that sometimes with a young baby you need a break. Do you ever just get a day pass to one of those gyms that offer childcare and say, “Mommy needs some me time”?
TS: No house arrest thank goodness! (Though yes, it sometimes feels like it.) Unfortunately no I don’t, we have a thin budget, and anything that really is “free money” is savings money. Mommy time is my workout times, and the occasional, if not VERY rare, bathroom time, and an alone shower.
Also it seems with a baby, the chore list is never done. How do you find the strength to put laundry on pause and say, “If I don’t get my workout in; I won’t be as good a mother as I’m capable of being?”
TS: I believe that the chore list is a stigma of a stay at home parent. Because society says thats what you have to do, you HAVE TO DO IT, its engrained. At the beginning I believed that I needed to clean everything, everyday, and have dinner in the oven by 4:30. I NEEDED to be the good housewife, done up an everything else. I felt drained, emotionally and mentally unbalanced, irritable and an all around terror to be around. Working out was a way for me to slow down, and take it all in stride. If I didn’t vacuum that day, oh well, theres tomorrow, the dishwasher didn’t get ran, alright. My mental and emotional health was more of a priority than those things that could easily be done at another time. Trying to get your chore list done completely every day? You might as well not sleep.
My wife and I have six kids and I’ve learned to include the kids into my training, they enjoy it and they grow up seeing fitness as a normal part of life. My wife and I saw a new mother’s class in the mall where they were training with their babies in strollers next to them. Do you do any classes like that? Have you begun including your daughter in your fitness routine at home?
TS: I have thought about it, but they are so expensive and could never bring myself to spend the money to go to a class once a week. She’s a little young to be really included, she’d rather play and be a monkey, but she sees me do my morning yoga, and will watch me for a moment then scoot on off. Most of the time she is my 40lb weight for my leg days. I do plan on encouraging her to go outside with me later on, when she can walk better or ride a bike, maybe we can do mommy/kid yoga classes, its so important to me that she does.
Nutrition is a key part of getting in shape. You’re trying to get back into shape but you also were breastfeeding your baby how did you strike a balance between making sure you had enough to feed your baby and still achieve your goals?
TS: Most women struggle with breastfeeding and working out because they are concerned about losing milk, or that their milk will taste funny because of lactic acid. I was concerned as well but I found that that was not my case, in fact I had more than enough for baby girl, and the only negative I had was she had more energy and wouldn’t take her naps. Each woman is different, the only thing you can do is try and see what happens, don’t just believe what you read on the internet, no woman is the same.
Speaking of nutrition, you mentioned that you eat your big meals an hour before training legs and then load up on the veggies afterwards to keep yourself from being hungry in the middle of the night. Is this something you learned training to compete or something you’ve learned since having the baby?
TS: It’s something that I learned from training and I still find it helps a lot now. I portion out my carbs and proteins like a normal meal plan but I have certain veggies that are unlimited. Meaning that if I’m hungry after a meal, and its not time for me to “eat” yet, I can go ahead and eat a head of cauliflower or broccoli, a stalk or 5 of celery. Food is your fuel, and since I’m still breastfeeding intermittently, its fuel for my baby. I don’t want to give her weird stuff from proteins and protein bars. Unless I’m on the run of course, I’m not perfect.
What is your favorite tool for burning off the fat?
TS: Right now its lots and lots of water, steel cut oats, and fasted cardio. Before it was a thermogenic stack from Cellucor, with raspberry ketones.
You mentioned that your family keeps you motivated. How else is your family involved in your fitness journey? I saw a picture of your husband doing meal prep and I think you mentioned that he was involved in you getting ready for your first show. Describe that dynamic.
TS: When my husband and I first started dating 3 years ago, he had just begun his fitness lifestyle change, and we both leaned on each other for help. At the time I was going to school for my health wellness/ personal training certificate. He was my mental rock, and I was his nutrition and workout coach. He needed help with his food, and working out, because he is a hard gainer, meaning it takes EVERYTHING to get him to gain a pound of fat or muscle (lucky guy). I’ve helped him train for his last two shows since we couldn’t afford a coach, and his third show was going to be with me, but we both had to bag it for obvious reasons. It’s a mutual agreement that works great for both of us.
Tayler before we close this out, what advice would you give to a new mom who’s thinking about starting to work out at home? A lot of moms feel guilty about spending time getting in shape instead of thinking about their child every waking moment.
TS: You need to take care of yourself just as much as you take care of that little baby. If that means you need your workout time, take it, please. You will be happier, and your baby will be happier. Stress and a baby do not dance well, one of you, or both will be crying. Guilty. Been there. It’s a new journey for both of you, take it one day at a time and while you may not see the results right away, they are happening.
How can people follow your training or get in touch with you if they want to ask you questions?
TS: They can follow my instagram, @tayler_dane_fit or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, I’ve been juggling a life blog in the back of my head, where I’ll be blogging about my fitness, and life in general. I’m always open for questions, I have nothing to hide, and encourage people to reach out to someone for help in whatever it is they need. It’s important to have each other’s backs.