Staying Healthy and Active Throughout Your Pregnancy
Ladies are you pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant? There is a myth about pregnancy that leads many women to believe that they cannot maintain the active lifestyle that they love, because they are pregnant. We are going to bust that myth.
I was 35 years old when I got pregnant with my first child. My first concern, after the health of my baby, was how this affects me. Maintaining some level of physical fitness and not gaining more than the recommended 25-35 pounds during pregnancy is a very difficult thing to do.
The first thing to do is talk to your doctor to make sure you are having a normal, healthy pregnancy. It is important to be very honest with your doctor about how you are feeling. If your doctor tells you that all is well with the baby, it’s time to get work.
Be honest with yourself in this first step. Determine where your fitness level was on the day before you found out that you were pregnant. Believe it or not, that is still the fitness level you are at. Having a healthy pregnancy does not have to lower your fitness. If you could do it before you were pregnant you can most likely do it throughout the pregnancy. There may be some high-impact exercises that should be avoided, but basic weight training, running and swimming are all still available. I was able to run and swim right up to the day I delivered my baby boy; I just had to adjust the speeds and distances. I highly recommend talking with a certified personal trainer about the goals you are going to establish for the pregnancy.
Focusing on full body, core strength training has many benefits during pregnancy. (It also has an added benefit once you deliver your new baby. It’s much easier to carry the new baby, car seat, stroller, diaper bag etc… when your core has been strengthened for the past 40 weeks.) I noticed that after a weight training workout in the morning I felt better and had more energy for the day. If you have never been pregnant then you will be surprised by how tired you can feel. Anything that adds energy to your body naturally is a huge plus!! When you feel tired all day it is very difficult to get motivated to work out. I would often tell myself “just workout for fifteen minutes” and I would usually end up getting a full workout and feeling much better for it.
When starting my weight training my mantra was, “Focus on what I can do, not on what I can’t do.” Make sure that you use a weight that feels comfortable. Remember, your goal is to be healthy and fit not to win a body-building competition. Some exercises I recommend are; Shoulder presses, Lat pull downs, squats, lunges and cable rows. When doing these exercises, remember to use a weight that allows you to do 12 to 15 repetitions and complete two sets. You want to focus on strengthening your back, shoulders and legs. Squats and lunges may get more difficult the further along you get with your pregnancy because of the increase in body weight. When doing the cable pulls and lat pull downs make sure to focus on your posture. As your baby grows, so will your stomach; a strong healthy back will make you much more comfortable and cut down on many of the pains you may have heard other women complain about. With the help of a personal trainer you can find new ways to work on the important muscle groups without getting bored or burned out with an exercise. You also want to avoid any exercise that focuses on your abdomen, no crunches or sit ups – save those for
You will be able to maintain an exercise routine for the entire pregnancy. Just remember that it is now more important than ever to listen to your body. If you believe you are doing too much you should slow down or take a break. Make sure you communicate with your trainer and your doctor exactly what you are feeling.
As you progress into the second and third trimesters, nutrition will move up on your list of priorities. The nutrients you take in will be a huge factor in how you feel day to day. The good news is that the foods that will make you feel the best, will also help you control your weight. Being pregnant does mean you get to eat more, but it does not mean you get to eat worse. Letting your weight get out of control during your pregnancy is dangerous for you and your baby. It can make the delivery harder and will definitely affect your post partum recovery (more on that in future articles). Make sure you are eating good carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables), good fats (avocado, nuts and seeds) and good proteins (eggs, fish and chicken). You and your baby will feel better with a good healthy, clean diet.
Being pregnant is not easy but the reward is amazing. If you are having a down day make sure you eat well and at least try to go for a walk; an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Staying healthy during your pregnancy is the most important thing you can do for you and for your baby.
Joy Murphy is a 2 time Ironman & Boston Marathon Finisher. She provides coaching for endurance athletes as well as personal training, TRX/Bootcamp and boxing classes.
To find out more about Joy visit www.enjoyfitnessjacksonville.com.
Photography by Michelle J. Varela