March 16, 2018 11:12 AM

Latina influencer Massy Arias gets real about motherhood — its joys and challenges — in the April/May cover story of Parents Latina. The Dominican-born fitness coach, 29, who welcomed her first daughter in February 2017, has inspired more than 2.5 million followers on Instagram by sharing her personal triumphs and struggles, as well as workout and nutritional tips. “I’m stronger, mentally and physically, than before I had her,” says the Insta-famous personal trainer of life as a mom. However, she admits she felt the so-called “baby blues” when Indira, now 14 months old, was born.

“Postpartum depression was really tough. And here I was trying to breastfeed with bleeding nipples. I felt like an awful mother because my child never latched on.” At the same time, family help wasn’t always uplifting. “Then I had my mom barking in my ear, ‘Just give her formula. She’s too skinny. It’s sad.'” Arias found a way to gently tell her mom that urging her to supplement was intensifying her uneasiness. “I told her, ‘Ay, Mami, you are actually adding to my anxiety. You’re making me feel like 
I don’t know what I’m doing.’ That’s how I broke it down to her. She’s my mother, and she loves me. Once I spoke about it, she supported me through my breastfeeding efforts.”

Asking her loved ones for what she needed was crucial to her self-healing: “Being able to tell my family, ‘Hey, I’m vulnerable right now. I know you see this powerful woman, but I’m not myself. Can you help?’ was important for me to get better,” she told the parenting magazine, adding: “I ended up pumping for six months — my boobs don’t feel the same— but I figured out a way of giving my daughter what she needed.”

(Mei Tao/ Parents Latina)

Her recovery wasn’t swift, however, and the pressures of being a first-time mom in those early weeks took a toll: “I wasn’t showering. I wouldn’t eat. I would spend my days crying for no reason. And I didn’t feel a connection to Indi until weeks after,” she said.

The trainer also talked to Parents Latina about being mom-shamed on social media for exercising four weeks after Indi was born. “Some people would say, ‘Look at her, she’s working out because she wants her body back. She’s supposed to be enjoying her baby,’ ” she recalled. “They didn’t know I was trying to beat my depression the best way I knew how — through exercise.”

Fitness has been the road to salvation throughout her life.  Years ago, in fact, it even helped her get out of a toxic relationship. “Through fitness, I realized what I’m capable of doing,” she said. Now she is inspiring her “tribe” of followers on @massy.arias with her fitness tips, empowering words and rockin’ body-after-baby. “Fitness can be anything: dance, calisthenics, hiking, swimming. It is all about progress, not perfection,” she said, emphasizing the importance of cultivating self-confidence.

(Mei Tao/ Parents Latina)

“It wasn’t until I understood the female body and the miracle of motherhood that I appreciated fat — the same fat that was going to feed my child. Cellulite is functional.” And while she might not be as cut as she usually is, “I’m loving my body. When you love yourself and know your worth, that’s when you’re going to attract the right people — those who love you with all of your imperfections,” she said.

That self-affirming attitude may have helped her snag husband and business partner, Stefan Williams, who’s loved her through several physical iterations: “Stefan has seen me skinny, super-shredded, über-pregnant — it hasn’t mattered. This man continues to love me no matter how my body has changed over the years,” revealed Arias. “And while I did get breast implants to feel more womanly, I didn’t get them for him. I got them for myself.”

The busy mom, who is a brand ambassador for CoverGirl and Target’s C9 Champion Activewear, is working on a cookbook for 2018. Besides cooking, which is therapeutic for her, she said, she keeps her sanity by meditating and putting “me time” on the agenda once a week. “I take a whole day for myself once a week. This is my beauty day,” she says. “I get my nails done, get a massage, or meet 
a girlfriend for lunch.”

Arias is proof positive moms can have it all and beat stress while they’re at it: “If you don’t like where you are,” she noted, “you can change your outcome.”

For more Massy, check out her story at Parents Latina.

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