Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Exercising and Keeping Fit While Pregnant

When I was pregnant with Liliana I did a horrible job at keeping fit. I felt so sick until I was 20 weeks along that I RARELY exercised. When I got pregnant wiht Liliana, I was doing home workout DVDs about 4 times a week and was pretty fit so it was a huge hit to my happiness that I had to cut out those workouts. Once I started feeling better, I started doing some pregnant workout DVDs (although I must admit, I don't care much for any of them) and before you knew it, I was put on "exercise bedrest" at around 30 weeks because I was having contractions when working out. Moral of the story: not much exercising happened while pregnant with Liliana.

For this pregnancy, I promised myself it would be different. I was adamant my exercising would continue being a big part of my life.

Weeks 6 - 10, I was a shameful act. I rarely made it to our gym and the daycare at the gym looked shocked when they would see Liliana. I was just too sick to get the energy to do anything other than being a Mom, a wife, and having a full-time job. Some days, I barely managed to be honest.

But things turned around and about 5 weeks ago, I started regularly attending the gym once again.

Now that I have the experience with this, I felt compelled to write this post because let me tell you ...

exercise for a pregnant woman is absolutely AMAZING.

I leave feeling SO much better, so rejuvenated, and believe it or not, even though it sounds silly because no matter what your belly is growing ... IT BOOSTS YOUR CONFIDENCE!

Even though I know my belly is bigger this time around at 15 weeks than it was with Liliana, I feel sexier than I did with Liliana. I embrace it more because I know I'm staying physically fit.  You feel proud of yourself and that's something a pregnant woman struggles with.  Seeing our belly growing is beautiful yes, but that doesn't mean it isn't hard to see the changes.

Now, I should say that they recommend to not start exercising if you didn't really exercise prior to getting pregnant. However, I don't see anything wrong with trying to stay fit.  you don't have to train to be in a marathon all of the sudden, but even if you weren't in to working out prior to getting pregnant, I highly doubt that occasionally getting your body moving is going to be bad for it!  In my case, I was working out about 4 - 5 times a week when we got pregnant this go around so it hasn't been a big adjustment for my body.

During this post I'm going to try and recommend workouts for each stage of pregnancy because I know I search Google on a regular basis asking what kind of workouts are recommended and don't find real life experiences easily.

I would LOVE to swim since that is probably the best workout for a pregnant belly, but our gym doesn't have a pool. The only gym with a pool in town is $100 more a month and it's just not in the budget. My husband does go every now and then and pays $5 for a good swim. Evan is a swimmer though. An All-American swimmer at that. I am not. I was on student council. So instead I make my workouts apply at the gym.

For starters, I should add that being pregnant at the gym isn't nearly as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. I was scared I would get looks like "why is she walking so slowly?" or "why is she here? She's a big pregnant lady!" Instead, you got comments OFTEN saying "that is so awesome that you're staying fit while pregnant!  Good for you!"  Other Moms tell me it will be a breeze to take the weight off if I keep exercising throughout. Others have told me the delivery will be easier.

As for recommended workout regimens, here are my experiences so far:

First trimester exercise tips:

- Goal: do what you can do without vomitting. I personally did sit-ups until I was about 12 weeks along and then my belly started growing and it felt like I was pinching some nerves so I stopped. I definitely toned down my workouts from the beginning, both because I am pregnant, because they say to keep your heart rate at 140 or lower (which I never adhere to because all I would be permitted to do at that rate is walk), and because it's what my body could do. I should note about the blood pressure.  I spoke to my OB about this and he said "your body will talk to you."  And it does.  Certain days, I could run all day and feel fine and certain days it just feels exhausted. I listen to it and tweek accordingly.

First trimester motto: DO WHAT YOUR BODY IS CAPABLE OF.

- Example of a first trimester workout for me: walk/ run 2.5 miles (I would walk half a mile at 4.2 with an incline and then run half a mile around 5.7). This is SIGNIFICANTLY slower than what I do when not pregnant, but it's what I felt comfortable with. After the treadmill, I go lift weights for 2 body parts and do a cardio interval between each. Since I'm pregnant and since your joints are much more sensitive while pregnant, do less weight and add more reps. In other words, when doing biceps, I'll do 10 pounds each arm and do 30 reps straight. After that, I do 40 jumping jacks. Once I work out the biceps and triceps (as an example), if there is time left, I go to the elliptical. The elliptical is a pregnant woman's FRIEND. It's much easier on the belly and on the round ligament pains than the treadmill. I have a feeling I will start switching my time on the treadmill and elliptical as I get further along. I do about 10 minutes on the elliptical after that, varying intensity, and that's it!

- Two ESSENTIAL tips: DRINK LOTS OF WATER!  When I don't, I feel incredibly dehydrated the next day which is dangerous when you have fainting spells when pregnant (like I do).  ALSO, don't be scared to invest a little money in a bigger sports bra (helped immensely with growing boobs) and maternity t-shirts so that your belly isn't suffocating.  I bought both at Target and didn't break the bank.  Plus I use them 4 times a week so the way I see it, it's not a waste by any means.

This is exactly the one I have, in this color even.  Evan went out and bought it for me because he thinks I'm hurting my boobs when I squish them in to the old ones.  He acts seriously concerned for them.  I told him the boobs would survive, but men are funny like that.  Invest in a good quality one (well, good quality for Target).  The boobs will thank you when you're running on the treadmill.

Second trimester exercise tips:

- Side note: I don't feel too confident giving recommendations on this just yet since I've only been in the "second trimester" category for 3 weeks, HOWEVER, at the 12 - 15 week range I can say I've actually done MORE intensity since I've been feeling better. I still do the same routine (treadmill, weights, elliptical), but I walk less and run more. I also run faster. It feels wonderful cutting a couple minutes off my time with a nearly 4 month belly.

- as I continue more in to the second trimester, I will update this and give more advice.

I hope this helps some pregnant women out there! Stay fit if you can! It can only do good!

PLUS, another point of incentive: the men notice! My husband always liked my belly, even with Liliana, but this go around he is even more complimentary and keeps saying "you look so stinking hot!" While I think he's crazy (I am by no means hot people ... but it's kinda the husband's job to think we are right?) it sure does put a smile on my face every time I hear something sweet.

HECK, if that kind of compliment doesn't get a woman to the gym, I don't know what will! : )


  1. So proud of you! That is my fear one day when I get pregnant because I am a HUGE runner! I will run until the doctor says no. Gap also has good workout gear and always on sale!

  2. I'm excited to hear if/how it affects labor and delivery! I might have to get my butt in gear before we try for #2.

  3. Wow, definitely impressive. I was too scared to work out during the first trimester and didn't work out at all during my pregnancy. Gained 50 lbs! Now slowly getting rid of it. I definitely need to exercise next pregnancy...cannot gain that much again! I am not a runner though...but walking/weights/stretching would be more than I did this time!