Our cover star, Katie Willcox, is a healthy-curve model, a first-time mom, and an Instagram sensation who loves her body—and wants you to feel the same way about yours.

By Erin Bried
June 29, 2018
Katie Willcox and Daughter
Credit: Brigitte Sire

When Katie Wilcox got pregnant with her daughter, True, who turns 2 next month, she documented her entire journey—including her 60-pound weight gain—for her more than 100K Instagram followers. Just as you’d expect from the author of a book called Healthy Is the New Skinny, there was no angst about her growing size, and zero body shaming. Instead, her feed was full of pure, authentic joy, which made it one of the most refreshing and radical things on the Internet.

Now, though she’s a bit sleep deprived (True rarely snoozes through the night), Willcox says she’s feeling stronger and more confident than ever. How did she do it? Parents got the scoop.

I gave myself time.

“I’m back to my usual weight of 165 pounds, but it took me 18 months to get there. I can’t imagine the stress I’d have felt if I’d thought I had to return to my prebaby weight right away. I tried going to the gym after six weeks, and I left in tears because it was so defeating. I had no strength, and I literally peed my pants! After that, my husband, Bradford, who used to be a personal trainer, told me, ‘We’re not going back there. Let’s just take a walk.’ So that’s what we did. No workouts, just walks. After a few months, I started lifting weights again. After nine months, I did some Spin classes. It was gradual. I put away the schedule and focused on True. You can’t get that time back with your baby, so I told myself, ‘I’ll take the extra pounds for now. I’m cool with that.’ ”

I shut down negative voices.

“When you’re pregnant, everyone loves your belly, but immediately after you give birth, you’re expected to look like you never had one. That round belly everyone thought was so beautiful is suddenly shameful. No one even acknowledges how weird that is! When I started working out again, I wanted everyone to know that I’d just had a baby. Then I realized I needed to stop thinking like that. Who cares if other people know why I look the way I look?”

I repeated positive affirmations.

“Saying ‘Healthy is the new skinny’ has gotten me on track. When you replace wanting to be skinny with wanting to be healthy, it changes all of your actions. If I find myself stumbling or struggling, I make lists. What do I need to do to be healthy? I need to eat enough, sleep enough, laugh enough, have fun, and spend time with True. That’s how I define being well.”

I set goals that work for me.

“Often when you see people working out—on Instagram and in life—everything is so extreme. My approach is less about aesthetics and six-pack abs and more about being healthy. So I set goals for myself based on my own body type. I’m a normal girl in a fitspo world. I’m not trying to be a CrossFit superstar.”

I aimed for a half hour, no more.

“I knew if I had to work out for an hour, I’d never go. But 30 minutes? I can do anything for 30 minutes! Now I do two days on and one day off, and when I’m busy, I simply opt out. It’s all about balance.” I ate my veggies and didn’t stress over sweets. “I try to eat well. Bradford and I are vegetarians, but we eat in more of a Paleo format, meaning we don’t go too crazy with carbs. Instead, we eat lots of soup, chili, and salad. Because of that, I never worry when I have a treat. It’s not even a thought! True is a vegetarian as well. She loves vegetables and fruit, and she eats an avocado a day.”

I looked to my daughter.

“We’re all born loving ourselves. It’s not something we have to learn how to do. Our kids love their body because they haven’t been conditioned to see flaws. True loves herself. She kisses herself. She loves being alive. We were all like that once. If you want to understand how to love yourself, all you have to do is watch your kids.”

Katie Willcox Bikini Cover Shoot
Credit: Brigitte Sire

I learned happiness isn’t about size.

“If you’re constantly chasing the need to be skinny, that need is about something else. Once I was able to realize that and focus on loving the body I have, I was able to get all the things I’d always wanted. It turned out that none of it was dependent on my size.”

I stopped deleting photos.

“Think about the cool ’70s photos we have of our moms. Our kids are going to see pictures of us, and they’ll all be these weird, constructed images that have been Photoshopped and filtered. When you’re on the beach with your kid making a sand castle, you’re not going to look like you would if you were doing a bikini photo shoot. And that’s okay! These photos are for your child. If you delete them, you’re deleting her memories.”

Katie’s Healthy Picks

Power Snack. “I stop at Starbucks for the Sous Vide Egg Bites, double-toasted. They’re just so good and a quick, easy protein.”

Workout Accessory. “The sports bras from Lorna Jane make my boobs look amazing. Plus, they don’t do that weird back-roll thing that other bras do.”

Fitness App. “Spin classes are at a set time, which I can’t always make, but with the Peloton app [$13 per month; iOS devices], I can just go into the bike room and do a class by myself.”

No-Brainer Move“Arm burnouts! I do 30 reps each of biceps curls, triceps kickbacks, and shoulder presses with no weights. At the end, I hold my arms out to each side for a minute. It hurts!”

Exercise Energizer. “Bradford and I hit the coffee shop on the way to the gym, and I get a double espresso with mocha. Then we drop True at the gym’s day care to play while we work out.”

Parents Magazine