★MomStars: Interview with Track Star Lashinda Demus
Talk about a fit mama! Mom of twins, track star and one of the best female hurdlers in American track and field history, Lashinda Demus knows a thing or two about being a mom and an elite athlete. She had twin boys in 2007 and missed out on the 2008 Olympics, but she’s come back strong, with the third-fastest time ever to become the 2011 World Champion Gold medalist. She’s also busy preparing for the 2012 games in London. We caught up to her (not literally, as I’m not a fast runner) to ask her some questions about how twins rocked her running world and how she jumped the postpartum depression hurdle. Read on!
Interview with Lashinda Demus
- FBM: What was your reaction to finding out you were pregnant—with twins—while at the top of your career?
- LD: It definitely wasn’t planned, so I was totally shocked. That soon turned into being depressed because I didn’t think it was any way possible to get back to form. I felt as if all my dreams had been taken away from me, yet one of my dreams was coming true, so I was mad that I couldn’t have both when I wanted them instead of one dream stopping the other.
- FBM: As an elite athlete, what did your exercise routine look like when you were pregnant? Did being pregnant with twins cause you to slow down your workouts a bit more quickly than you’d anticipated?
- LD: When I was pregnant I had morning sickness from the very early stages of my pregnancy, so my energy level was really low. I couldn’t keep any food down, so I just gave up on trying to workout.
- I expected to train until about five months, but the morning sickness the first four months led to being put on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy by the doctor because I continued to go into pre-labor. So my pregnancy was a hard one. I learned one thing: you can’t plan anything because it never works out how you anticipate it.
- FBM: What are your top exercise tips for pregnant women?
- LD: One thing I tell every mother who wants to stay fit during pregnancy is to listen to your body. My body would have sudden pains I never felt before and different things going on that I never experienced where I figured out I might be doing too much. So be mindful of what your body is telling you.
- FBM: What did your transition back to working out postpartum look like?
- LD: For being someone that has been athletic all of their life, I thought that I would be able to get right back out there and start running, but it didn’t work that way. I took baby steps because this time my body wouldn’t allow me to do otherwise. I started back four weeks after my pregnancy, which is kind of early. I began with walking a nice brisk pace the first week, the following week a very SLOW jog—so slow my mother was beating me—and moved forward in that fashion.
- FBM: Did you find that working out during pregnancy helped you bounce back?
- LD: I know that it would have helped if I was able to work out during pregnancy but only to a certain point. We tend to forget that having kids changes the whole dimension of our bodies; our old body doesn’t exist anymore, and it takes time to get adjusted to the new-found body we have.
- FBM: Did returning to running help you with your struggle with postpartum depression?
- LD: No, I wouldn’t say that I was more depressed because I didn’t feel like I was capable of being the same type of athlete. What helped a lot was my mother coming to stay with me for two months, reminding me that she went through the same feelings because she had a child while she was competing and came back. So every time she saw me trying to quit or being depressed, she would always say it gets better, and I believed her, and it eventually did.
- FBM: Any tips for other moms who are affected?
- LD: I definitely will tell them to find someone to talk to because it makes it harder on yourself if you don’t have some type of support. You will be surprised how much your friends and family want to help you.
- FBM: What are your plans for your career?
- LD: Well, I hit two out of four of my goals competitively. One being capturing the American Record and two winning a world championship gold medal. I dream about breaking the world record, which I’m really close to and getting that gold medal at the Olympic games in 2012!
- FBM: Any more kids on the horizon?
- LD: I love kids and always wanted a big family and since twins run in my family (my great grandmother had four sets of twins), I’m making sure I wait until I’m completely done competing.
A big thanks to Lashinda for taking the time to answer our questions. It’s so amazing that she’s gotten back to top running form—a true inspiration. You can follow her on Twitter or check out her Road to Gold on Facebook.
Ever known someone who’s kicked postpartum depression? Or returned to top form post pregnancy? —Erin