When fitness model Karen Gauvreau became pregnant, she says she took “eating for two” way too far. Gaining over 55 lbs during her pregnancy was a drastic change, and resulted in postpartum depression – something that plagues many women regardless of their former lifestyle. During a sit-down interview with Vancity Buzz, Karen shares her story in hopes that it will have a positive effect on other women who are looking for balance in their lives.
Nicolle: What was life like before pregnancy?
Karen: Since I was a little girl, it had always been a dream of mine to become a model when I grew up. My dream came true for me in my early 20’s, and life was surreal. Being in the modeling industry, I was constantly under pressure to maintain a bikini figure year round. Eating healthy and exercising regularly was a huge part of my daily routine in order to maintain my figure.
Nicolle: So what happened once you learned you were pregnant?
Karen: I was so overwhelmed with joy! I always wanted to have a family of my own! I took that as an opportunity to relax, take a break from the daily gym visits and eat all the foods I never allowed myself to eat while I was modeling. Morning sickness got the best of me during my first trimester and the only types of foods I wanted to eat were sodium and carbohydrate rich foods, such as burgers, fries and pizza.
By the time I was about four months pregnant, I had already gained about 25 lbs. I continued eating unhealthy and the next thing I knew I was seven months pregnant, gained a total of 55 lbs and I still had two months left in my pregnancy. I weighed 189 lbs when I checked into the hospital the day I gave birth to my son.
Nicolle: What made you realize you needed to make a change?
Karen: I felt really uncomfortable, both during and after my pregnancy. I avoided cameras as much as I could. Not only was I physically uncomfortable, but I started to feel emotionally depressed very shortly after giving birth. I found myself crying for no reason; I would be smiling and happy one minute and the next minute crying again. It was a roller coaster of emotions I’ve never felt before. I saw my doctor and was diagnosed with post-partum depression. I was offered prescription drug treatment but I denied it. I convinced myself the depression was just a phase and it would eventually subside on its own.
It never did.
I hit a breaking point when my son started walking. I couldn’t keep up with him at all. At this point I knew I needed to change something. I also knew I needed something to pull me out of my depression. So I started to go back in time and think of the things that made me happy. Modeling! I needed to start doing the things I used to love that made me happy.
Nicolle: So what are you doing now?
Karen: I am 109 lbs now, I have dropped all of my pregnancy weight, back into the modeling industry and I am finally happy again. It was a slow but healthy transformation. I have cleaned up my food choices and started exercising regularly and feel amazing! Since dropping the weight, I am back into the modeling industry and have become a sponsored athlete and brand ambassador for a nutritional supplement company, SD Pharmaceuticals. I am also being featured in their international print advertising campaign!
Nicolle: And how do you now maintain a balance in your life?
Karen: Balance is key when it comes to overcoming any challenging obstacle in life. I follow a healthy diet and exercise program, some days are harder than others. To keep myself balanced, I like to reward myself. I’m a food lover and my favorite is chocolate and peanut butter. So at the end of every week after I’ve committed myself 100% to my diet and exercise program, I reward myself with a little treat! This gives me something to look forward to all the time. I never spend hours in the gym either, 45 minutes is plenty actually; switch it up and go outside for a hike or fun speed walk with a friend once in awhile.
Nicolle: And finally, do you have any advice for women who are suffering from post pregnancy depression?
Karen: Take it one day at a time, small steps. Set yourself a small goal every day. Start with something small like going for a 20 minute walk or visiting a friend for lunch or dinner. Talk to someone about it instead of trying to deal with it on your own. Being a new mother is hard and can consume all of your time in a day, so make sure to make some time for yourself to relax at least once a week. Find a hobby and try to make time for that hobby when you can.
Watch Karen below!
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Follow Karen on Twitter: KarenGauvreau
Filmed and Edited by:Tim Tulloch