The Instagram star had to learn to love her new shape after giving birth to her daughter

By Julie Mazziotta
July 10, 2017 01:15 PM
Credit: Target

Known for her washboard abs and super-ripped muscles, fitness influencer Massy Arias had trouble accepting her post-baby body at first.

“It took me a while to get comfortable looking at the different changes happening in my body,” Arias, 28, tells PEOPLE. “Just like any woman would tell you, changes can be emotional as much as they are physical, and I had a hard time in the beginning.”

The health coach, who was recently named an ambassador for Target’s C9 Champion line, says she started to accept her new shape as she cared for her daughter Indira, born on Feb. 28.

“After giving birth and seeing how all the changes I was experiencing were for a great reason, I started becoming more loving of my new body and what it was doing — feeding and protecting my baby girl,” Arias explains. “I knew I had the tools to get my mind and body right later on, but my focus needed to be enjoying this new person.”

“My body just went through a marathon and I needed to appreciate the miracle of life. The stretch marks, the cellulite, the discoloration of the skin, and even the hair loss were all worth it once I had her in my arms.”

And though Arias felt like she had lost some control over her body, it was still in excellent shape, which made Indira’s natural water birth less painful.

“I am a true believer that I was able to have an easier delivery because of the proprioceptive awareness fitness builds,” she says. “As you become more active, you become more in tune with your body. I was able to listen to my doula’s cues during delivery and know exactly what I should have been feeling and what muscles to use to push Indi out smoothly and with no complications or major tearing.”

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After such a smooth birthing process, Arias was cleared by her doctors to resume working out in just four weeks — but that doesn’t mean it was easy for her.

“Even though my body healed, my mind took a while longer. That first workout was mentally painful for me. I didn’t feel as in tune with my body as I did before,” she says. “I wasn’t feeling any connection with my pelvic floor, my core, and most parts of my body. Everything felt out of place and that was hard to cope with.”

These days Aria is learning to tap into her mom strength, which aligns perfectly with the C9 Champion ad campaign she shot at just three weeks postpartum.

Massy Arias
| Credit: Target

“Like the slogan reads — ‘A New Kind of Strong’ — it’s exactly what I’ve had to do ever since becoming a mother. Finding within my ‘new normal’ a new kind of strong,” she says. “I’ve had to re-invent myself, adopting new roles I’ve never thought I’d be playing.”