August 16, 2016 10:15 AM

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Five months after giving birth to her son Austin Michael, DeAnna Pappas Stagliano is back to having a super-fit post-baby body.

But her journey was far from easy, as the former Bachelorette says it was more of a challenge for her to bounce back after having her second child.

“I put on a few more pounds when I was pregnant with Austin than I did with [2½-year-old daughter] Addison,” she says. “The difference was I didn’t work out at all, really, the whole time I was pregnant with Austin, so I just felt like I was holding a lot of extra weight.”

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To get back in shape, Pappas Stagliano focused on eating a clean diet. She starts every day off with a USANA MySmart Shake, followed by a MySmart Bar as a mid-morning snack. Her go-to lunch is a salad.

“I’m a pretty healthy eater and I actually really like salad!” says the reality star, 34, who is a spokesperson for USANA. “Then I’d have another bar or an apple and peanut butter for a mid-afternoon snack. We typically eat pretty clean and healthy, so for dinner we eat a lot of roasted vegetables and chicken and fish.”

She also recently started getting back into a fitness routine.

“I didn’t get to start working out after my second pregnancy until Austin was maybe 3 months,” she says. “I was exhausted — he was still waking up two or three times a night to nurse. It was a little bit harder this time around to get my workouts in.”

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Pappas Stagliano, whose husband of four years is Stephen Stagliano, tries to work out three times a week — though admits she doesn’t always meet that goal.

“Whether I’m able to get to the gym or not, I do a lot of cardio, whether it’s just getting my kids in the stroller and walking them around,” the PEOPLE blogger says. “And I’m really in love with barre classes and Pilates. I really like workout classes that help me to create long, lean muscles.

“I like a class in general because I feel like I push myself a little more because I’m super competitive,” she adds.

For the mom of two, getting back into a routine of working out and eating well was more about feeling good than losing weight.

“I just wanted to feel myself again, and most importantly, I just wanted to stop wearing maternity clothes!” she says. “I didn’t care if I needed to buy jeans that were two sizes too big, I just wanted to wear normal clothes again — that was my big drive.”

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However, Pappas Stagliano says she tries not to put too much pressure on herself to lose pregnancy weight.

“It’s such a struggle, because I think about my own daughter, and I don’t ever want her to be consumed with how thin she is or how good she looks because at the end of the day those things aren’t important,” she says.

“I had two children, two vaginal births. What my body did is amazing, so at the end of the day, I have a couple of extra pounds, I’m carrying a little extra love handles on the sides of my hips, and it’s a beautiful thing,” she continues.

“I’ll never be the size I was before I had kids. I’ll never be that thin, my legs will never be that smooth. Things are different, and I’m super proud of that because moms are warriors for what we do.”

— Gabrielle Olya

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