By Rebecca Drew
AFTER being laughed at by her family for vowing to compete in bodybuilding after having twins this mum-of-three proved them wrong and embraces her loose skin on stage – now she wants to show other mums they can get their bodies back after pregnancy.
Personal trainer, Courtney Standridge (30) who lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina, USA, first got into fitness to help with stress and anxiety seven years ago when she met her now husband, Kyle (32) after she stopped smoking because he wouldn’t date a smoker.
In the beginning Courtney would run at night so no one could see her but eventually she joined a gym in June 2012, and she fell in love with working out.
Courtney and Kyle started to try for a baby in 2014 and she was diagnosed with hypothyroid, PCOS and was told that she may not be able to conceive as she wasn’t ovulating, a year later. With Courtney being just 26, the couple were devastated but through diet, exercise and prayer, Courtney fell pregnant with her twins, Mason and Sedona (both 3) in June 2016.
Halfway through her twin pregnancy, Courtney’s mum, who also had twins, asked her if she was sad to lose her fitness and figure but when she said that she planned to compete in bodybuilding after giving birth, she was laughed at which made Courtney even more determined to prove her family wrong. Just nine months after giving birth to her twins, Courtney competed in a bikini division and placed sixth.
Getting up on the stage showed Courtney that she is capable of anything and 16-months after giving birth to her third child, Elijah (1) in February 2018, she competed again, placing third and fourth.
Courtney is proud of her body for bringing her three beautiful children into the world and she is the most physically and mentally strong she has been in her life. Despite her muscular physique, Courtney has loose skin on her tummy which she is proud of and she embraces when up on stage.
After having her twins, Courtney weighed 12st 4lb and after giving birth to Elijah she weighed 13st 3lb. She now weighs 10st 5lb and works out five to six days a week and goes on walks with her children every day.
She shares her fitness journey on Instagram under the handle, @court_vital_fit, and she hopes to show other mums that it is possible to get their bodies back after pregnancy and childbirth.
“I fell in love with a man who wouldn’t date me as a smoker. It had been nine years and I quit overnight, cold turkey. He was an athlete and I felt I had something to prove to him but also for myself,” said Courtney.
“Smoking was my scape goat for stress and anxiety, so I remember Googling what helps with stress and everything said running and working out. I remember the first time I went out for a run – it was in the middle of the night so no one could witness how embarrassing it was.
“Fitness gave me something positive to look forward to, which I desperately needed and still need today.
“Twins were something I prayed for a long time. I knew with my PCOS I would struggle to become pregnant, so having two in one shot was ideal since I may only get pregnant one time.
“I healed my body through acupuncture, eased up on my exercise routine, and made sure my nutrition was on point, including alkaline water and herbs to assist things along. In the end, my body finally hyper ovulated, meaning both ovaries produced an egg and I became pregnant with fraternal twins.
“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. This moment will sting forever though because I felt like my family knew me better than that. For them to doubt me while laughing in my face was pretty brutal.
“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. When she competes she weighs around 9st 4lb.
She hopes to be able to inspire other mums and show them that it is possible to lead a healthy lifestyle as a busy parent.
“Bodybuilding is a whole other animal in the fitness world. It takes over your life and you just have to be prepared to defend yourself because the general population doesn’t understand why we put ourselves through this. Off season is great because you can build, eat with more variety, lift heavy and still attend social events without being labelled or judged,” said Courtney.
“After my third baby, I went ahead and built my physique up for about six months, then randomly decided to compete again. I picked a show that was 20 weeks out to allow me time to do things as slowly and healthily as possible- and I also prepped myself because my first prep just felt so wrong.
“Right away I started with ‘two-a-days,’ fasted cardio in the morning and lifting at night. This was five to six days a week focusing on a different muscle group every day. I meal prepped every Sunday in large batches so I could put a different variety of meals together every day if I chose to.
“The blander the better when you’re on prep. It’s probably one of the most strict and restrictive lifestyles.
“I witnessed my mother’s self-doubt and heard her excuses about not losing weight because of pregnancy. So many women feel the same or think it’s too hard or impossible to get their bodies back.
“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 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 to 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.
“Like I mentioned, 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.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/court_vital_fit