"We should also celebrate our bodies at whatever point we feel our best again," Shay Mitchell tells Women's Health
Shay Mitchell
Shay Mitchell
| Credit: Photos by: DENNIS LEUPOLD

Shay Mitchell says she is feeling like herself again after welcoming daughter Atlas in 2019.  

The Pretty Little Liars alum, 34, opened up about her postpartum journey in Women's Health's June 2021 cover story.

Mitchell said that when the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, her daughter was just 5-months-old and she "hit the pause button" when it came to physical activity.  Then in January, she began to use Openfit's at-home fitness program — committing to working out five days a week for four weeks.  

"It changed everything," Mitchell told Women's Health. "I had way more energy; I don't have five cups of coffee anymore. I can sound preachy when I'm talking about it, but it totally altered my year." 

After four weeks, the You actress posted a side-by-side photo capturing her weight loss transformation on social media, writing that after a year of "searching for something to make us feel good" she wanted to "focus on myself again."

"I feel more healthy, energetic and engaged … which makes a better me," she added, noting that she "felt more fit than I have in a long time."

shay mitchel
Shay Mitchell
| Credit: Photos by: DENNIS LEUPOLD
Shay Mitchell
Shay Mitchell
| Credit: Photos by: DENNIS LEUPOLD

Mitchell told Women's Health that she posted about her progress because she was proud of all the work she'd put into feeling like herself again, but she also got a number of critical responses.  

"Right after I had Atlas, if I ever made a comment about how I didn't feel like myself, people were like, 'Well, you just had a baby.' Yeah, I know I just had a baby. I'm very grateful for my body, and that it gave life, but I'm still allowed to express that I don't feel like myself," she told the magazine. 

"I was strong before I had Atlas, and I wanted to feel that way after," she added. "We celebrate our bodies before we're pregnant; we celebrate our bodies with bumps. We should also celebrate our bodies at whatever point we feel our best again." 

As for what exercise has had the biggest impact on her, Mitchell says that "for me, it was always about a deadlift." 

"Getting up to 50 pounds was a boss move," she said. "I was really proud of myself."

And when it comes to her "healthy-ish" diet, Mitchell explains that her days are all about balance. 

"I wish I could say it was all quinoa, salmon, and asparagus, but it's not," she said, noting that she loves to end her days with some sweet treats, including her favorite dessert: "these crazy caramel-chocolate cookies from Costco." 

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Mitchell also spoke about her struggles with prenatal depression, and how much speaking with friends, and her daughter's arrival, helped her. 

"A new version of you will be birthed with this baby,'" she recalled her doula telling her at the time. "Yes, you are going to lose something — but what you gain, obviously is so worth it." 

"Of course, seeing Atlas for the first time, I forgot everything." she added, going on to note that while she's content with her family right now, "moments after she was born I said to [boyfriend Matte Babel], 'Okay, I'm ready to do this again!' " 

The April issue of Women's Health is on newsstands on May 25.