Lingerie model Sarah Stage first made headlines when she shared a photo of her tiny baby bump while pregnant.
“I made a promise to myself that I wanted to get into the best shape that I could before I was pregnant, and once I was pregnant I worked with my trainer, and he had little workouts you could do while you were pregnant,” Stage tells PEOPLE of how she stayed in shape throughout her pregnancy. “I wanted to maintain some sort of workout while I was pregnant.”
She also maintained a healthy diet – even while being stuck at the hospital for nearly a week after giving birth via C-section.
“I asked my mother-in-law to bring over homemade chicken noodle soup and vegetables and fruit. That was the best gift that anybody brought me at the hospital,” says Stage, adding, “I think it’s important to eat as healthy as you can, right after having the baby too, to give the baby extra nutrients.”
Stage gained 28 lbs. during her pregnancy, and says she lost most of her baby weight in the first two weeks.
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“James was a big baby – he was almost 9 lbs. – so with that plus all the fluid, you lose a lot, so it took me a week or two to get down to [my pre-baby] weight,” she says.
Now, nine months after giving birth, Stage is back to having an enviable six-pack, which she credits to eating “little meals all day long” and working out three to five times a week.
“I do mostly weight training,” says Stage, who will be sharing her workouts through an online streaming platform launching next week. “I mix that in with workouts to get my heart rate up, like lunges and squats and ab work.”
While Stage has many fans on social media – her Instagram account has 2 million followers – she does get her fair amount of criticism, from people accusing her of using Photoshop to even condemning her parenting skills.
“I’m not sure why people attack me, especially as a new mom,” she says. “I wish people wouldn’t be so quick to make judgments, especially when they don’t know me. I think as women, we should stick together, we should encourage, each other. We shouldn’t bash each other, we shouldn’t tear each other down.”
Stage doesn’t let the harsh comments affect her though.
“I try to not to read negative comments,” she says. “I try to focus on my followers that have been so supportive. Those are the ones that really motivate me.”