Written by Kate Branciforte, editorial intern
It’s no doubt that it takes a special kind of woman to be a mother. Moms everywhere are some of the most inspiring women we know! And Lashinda Demus has given us a full cup of motivation mojo to sip on. In 2011, she captured the title of USA Track and Field Champion and set the American record in the 400-meter hurdles in 52.47 seconds. Oh, we should probably mention that she accomplished these goals after she gave birth to twins, lost the 50 pounds of baby weight she had on her 5’7” frame and overcame postpartum depression.
Six short weeks after giving birth, Demus was back on the track with her coach, training to get back into tip-top shape. But her coach isn’t your ordinary trainer. From the household to the track, 29-year-old Demus is taking hints from her mother, Yolanda Demus, another accomplished athlete who was a former NCAA 400-meter champion at California State University in Los Angeles.
We caught up with full-time mom, wife and 2012 Olympic-medal hopeful Lashinda Demus to find out how she clears the hurdles that come with being a crazy-busy parent.
Your journey from new mom to Olympic competitor is truly inspiring! How long did it take you to get back into elite shape after you gave birth?
A doctor typically advises mothers to wait six weeks before you do anything, but I thought I was Superwoman and decided to start training again four weeks after having the twins. I quickly came back down to reality; I really had to figure out how to run with my new body because everything that I was used to had changed. Even though I still moved forward with my training, I paid special attention to any body signals that I might be pushing too much. In total, it took me about nine months to get back to elite shape.
You also dealt with postpartum depression. Did training help you overcome this?
Actually, I was really depressed while I was pregnant, so the training after was more like an outlet of all these mixed emotions I had during my pregnancy. It helped me snap out of it and realize that I was getting something I’ve always wanted—a family. I didn’t have to make a choice between my career and being a mother. Relieving myself of that pressure changed my way of thinking, so in turn, I got so excited about bringing my two sons into the world.
What did it feel like to come back after pregnancy to stand on the medal podium in Berlin at the World Championships in 2009?
It was totally amazing! To see your hard work come to fruition was totally worth the wait. I love the fact that I have a legacy to leave to my kids; something for them to look at and aspire to do better in whatever it is they choose to do.
You must see your mother as a true inspiration since you chose her to be your trainer. How long has she trained you and how’s that going?
She was my very first coach when I started as an amateur athlete at five years old. She coached me until I was 14 and then we took a break in high school and college. We reconnected for my professional career almost four years ago in 2008. My mother also used to be a track athlete, so I love the fact I’m able to live out her dreams while living mine as well. I always talk to her like we are one entity and I’m just the instrument being used.
How has that affected your relationship with her?
I’ve always been a disciplined athlete and knew from a very young age that you have to listen to your coach in order to be the best. I realized at a young age that my mom brought the best out of me. It’s easy for me to maintain that coach/athlete relationship with her because I know what I want and she’s passionate about helping me get there. We both know our roles, which is why our dynamic works so well.
How do you define being a mother?
“Mother,” to me, is being the backbone of the family. We’re the glue that keeps everything together; it’s like being the conductor of an orchestra. We might not have all the key things in life, but we know how to bring the best out of everybody to make beautiful music.
What do you think your status as an athlete, and your experience as an Olympian, means to your kids?
As of now, they don’t really care, but I know that when they’re old enough to understand that at one point I was the best in the world, it will make them reconsider not listening to the advice I give them!
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