After going through the trauma of losing her first baby in her early 30s, Maggie Cieslak gained weight dealing with her grief and the medications she needed to take in order to try for a second pregnancy. Keep reading to hear her inspiring story of how she was able to have a second healthy baby, and then lose 25 pounds afterward.
Maggie was very active in her 20s and into her early 30s, going to the gym almost every day. But in her 30s, her life changed drastically after the loss of her premature baby boy in 2009. As you can imagine, she and her husband experienced a few extremely difficult years of grief.
After losing her first child, Maggie told POPSUGAR, "Staying fit and caring about my body in terms of working out suddenly became the last of my thoughts. I had to dig hard not to drown in grief and then stay strong to try a second pregnancy during which I took all sorts of preventive medicines (heparin, cortisone, progesterone and then insulin as I developed the pregnancy diabetes)." Thankfully, Maggie's second pregnancy was successful, and she now has an almost-7-year-old daughter.
Maggie shares, "During those tough years I gained a lot of weight and slowly started to think about my shape — I was approaching 40s and was thinking nostalgically about how my body looked before all these events happened." In January 2015, "One day I had to run for a few minutes to catch a train and I was left completely breathless for what seemed like eternity. My hurt was pumping so hard I thought I would die and feared for my life." That was the day her weight-loss journey began, the day she decided not to wait anymore to start caring more about her health and her body.
She started with running because it was the simplest thing she could start as a working mom, which meant she didn't have the time to head to the gym. She ran for about 10 months, five times a week, and lost some weight but "wasn't satisfied." An injury prevented her from running anymore, so she looked for another type of exercise.
"In November 2015 I stumbled upon Kayla Itsines and her BBG program on Instagram and could not believe so many women were transforming their bodies with 30-minute workouts directly at home. I continued stalking all the big Instagram accounts and transformations for a few weeks and then I decided to go for it. It revealed itself as the best decision ever," Maggie says.
The BBG program was all she did for two and a half years since December 2015. It was perfect when working from home because the workouts were short but very effective. Maggie shares, "All the current results are from following Kayla's program strictly, although I've recently decided to challenge myself into other type of workouts, too." She also started doing yoga last year and loves inversions.
Maggie didn't weigh herself since she knew it wasn't the best measure of progress, but she thinks she started at around 65 kilograms (143 pounds). Overall, Maggie hasn't stopped exercising since December 2015, and believes she's lost about 12 kilograms (27 pounds).
"There are few days in my life I don't eat pasta or pizza."
Living in Italy, Maggie says she adores Italian cuisine. "There are few days in my life I don't eat pasta or pizza." She learned a lot about nutrition and the importance of getting all your macronutrients from the BBG guides and all the fitness community on Instagram.
Maggie shares, "I've tracked macros for some weeks to better understand what I was actually eating and adapted my nutrition to it." Her perfect weight loss/muscle gain macros are 40 percent carbs, 30 percent fats, and 30 percent protein. She's experimented with different foods to reach her macros while still eating the things she loves, and now she intuitively continues doing this on a daily basis.
Here's what a typical day of eating looks like:
Breakfast: cappuccino and muesli with Greek yogurt
Lunch: small pasta dish (with all kinds of sauces), and a quick protein-based dish plus veggies
Dinner: protein dish with lots of fresh veggies or a salad. "My preferred protein sources come from fish, seafood, lean chicken, turkey, beef, or eggs (in this order)."
Snacks: fresh fruit, nuts, or Greek yogurt
Maggie uses a lot of raw extra-virgin olive oil and says, "I cook daily at home, quick simple dishes and try to plan my daily meals ahead. If I know I'll have pizza for dinner, I don't have pasta for lunch. I balance things out on a daily or two to three days basis." Maggie leaves space for fast food and desserts too, but not every day. She does "have chocolate and gelato very often." One of the biggest changes Maggie made was not adding sugar to her coffee and tea.
One new thing Maggie has been experimenting with for some weeks is intermittent fasting (IF). She says, "I found it very beneficial for my digestion. I've been doing IF for some weeks now but not every day, just five days a week."
Maggie says "Discovering you can still get fit and completely transform your body in your 40s is the best feeling ever." She loves seeing herself getting stronger and being able to complete the exercises she couldn't do at first. She's now stronger than she's ever been in her entire life, and "wearing the same size I was wearing when I was a teenager." She adds, "But probably the biggest victory is FEELING confident again in my own skin."
She finds motivation when she sees results, that all her hard work and consistency is making a difference. Being part of the Instagram fitness community has also helped Maggie on her journey. "There are so many women all around the world doing the same thing and sharing it. Seeing their pics and stories daily adds so much to my life and inspires and motivates me every day. If they did it, I can do it!" She sees how they've transformed themselves completely — and not just on the outside — and it's truly beautiful and inspiring.
If you're on your own weight-loss or fitness journey, Maggie says don't try to do everything at once. "Fitness is a journey, but there's no destination, just periodic goals. It has to become a part of your lifestyle to really work." Put in your best effort but don't rush progress. Be patient and believe in yourself. Remember that changes will come but they may take time. If you don't give up and stay consistent, you will find success. She adds, "Never doubt you can achieve your goals, but remember that if you quit you will never know how far you could go."