At the start of the year, singer Ciara posted something incredibly candid to her 27 million Instagram followers (which - just to quickly put into perspective - is two million more than the entire population of Australia). She shared that she was working hard to lose the weight she'd gained during her most recent pregnancy.
Having been in the public eye for over fifteen years now (her debut single Goodies dropped in 2004), the performer has become as recognised for those abs as she is for her music and relationship with athlete Russell Wilson. And it's the subject of her changing body that Ciara wants to speak about, both on social media and during our recent transatlantic Zoom call (classic pandemic vibes).
Since giving birth six months ago, Ciara has been nothing but honest about wanting to get back to her pre-baby shape. But she's taking a new approach to health and fitness-related goals this time, she tells me, and has partnered with wellness and weight loss brand WW (formerly Weight Watchers). In a world where, in more recent years, the backlash around the pressure on women to "snap back post-birth" has seriously ramped up, was she worried about sharing her desire to "lose 20lbs more", I was curious to know?
"I think honestly, it's all about your own personal goals, that you have for yourself. For me, I've always been really driven," Ciara explains. "After every baby that I've been blessed to have [she has 6-year-old Future, Sienna who is 3 and baby Win, aged six months], that's always been a personal goal. [While] it's important that people never feel pressured, you also can't be too concerned about what others think."
This time around, Ciara says, she's going easier on herself, having admittedly been "extremist" about diet and exercise in the past. "I would be really intense about the process, but I'm more holistic now," she shares. "The WW programme is about practising good, long-term habits and educating yourself, which I love." She's also been enjoying her curvier shape while working towards her end goal. "I feel so empowered when I carry my little six month old baby around on my hip."
That feeling also comes down to the deeper level of confidence that accompanies being a mother of three, she adds. "As I've gotten older, I've definitely grown more confident – even the idea of embracing every step of this process, as I'm getting back to my base weight, is different," Ciara discloses. "There's something really beautiful about embracing those steps. I've been loving my curves, even though I'm like 'Okay, this is not quite my normal flow' I still feel so confident it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if there's more of my hips to hold on to. I think, especially as a woman, it's important for us to be able to feel like that. There's nothing better."
At the age of 35, she's now more self-assured than ever – not that she was the shy and retiring type before. "I am what I am! I am who I am, I know who I am now, which is really great," she says. "Not that I didn't know who I was back in the day, but there's a real beauty that comes with having life experiences. It gives an extra layer of confidence and wisdom, that feeds back into embracing who we are."
So that's the internal "level up" covered, but what about the exterior and working out? Ciara is a natural born dancer who can pick up a TikTok routine in the blink of an eye, something she regularly does and shares online (both now and throughout her pregnancy – even sparking her own #Rooted dance challenge). She shares that she and husband Russell were "fortunate enough to have a mini gym built out a few years ago" in their Washington home, which became somewhat of a sanctuary for her throughout lockdown. "I'm really thankful for that. When everything happened and all of the changes took place due to COVID, that was one of those things I could still look forward to every day, especially being pregnant."
In the gym, Ciara loves "getting that energy out, working on my heart rate" and notes that even on those days where it feels tougher to get going, working out is always worthwhile."I leave the gym every day and I feel energised. I feel like I've done something. I'm always trying to stay active, even if you can only go for a walk outside [it helps], walking my dog has been really fun during this time as well."
Food is another thing she's been re-examining recently, Ciara tells me. This time she's not restricting herself from eating anything while working towards a body goal, but is being careful with portion sizes. "I'm from Atlanta, Georgia! We love good food," she exclaims. "Right now I'm super obsessed with burrito bowls at lunchtime, I'll make it with shrimp or chicken and black beans, a cup of rice, a little cheese, a little avocado." For breakfast, it has to be Cream of Wheat (an American porridge), with a mix of "sugar and salt". She says she loves tracking it all on her WW app.
As our time together draws to end (she has a full day of further interviews to get through), I confess to Ciara that she's always been a big motivator for me personally when it comes to exercise (my teenage friends and I spent hours trying to master her dance routines and she's a staple on my gym playlist)... and fashion. I admit I once cut up a brand new jumper to recreate her outfit in the Goodies video (a white, long sleeve crop top over a bright blue bikini) and got a *huge* telling off from my mum after. "So funny, I love it!" she laughs, as I low-key try not to pass out.
And with that, we say our 'thank you and goodbyes' and sign off. I can't wait to see what the newly energised Ciara has in store for us all to copy next – no doubt the dance moves will be just as impressive.
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