Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Exercising While Pregnant: 1st Trimester

If you've followed this blog for any length of time or know me, you probably know that about a year and a half ago, I turned into a gym rat. It's partly why I started this blog. I got tired of feeling fat and gross and finally did something about it.  I'm not going to lie, when we started talking babies, I got scared. I'd done all this work to get into shape and here I was talking about undoing all of it. But we wanted a family and we weren't getting any younger, so we went for it. And other than a few weeks with crazy travel, I've continued to be a gym rat through my entire first trimester. And I'm pretty sure it's been my saving grace.

So, I'm going to pause for a minute. One - I am not an expert, just a girl that's been working out and following her doctor's and instructor's orders. Two - every person and every pregnancy is different, so what works for me might not work for you.  Your body will very clearly tell you what does and does not work. Three - Listen to the experts. They've got your back.

One of the things that I love about my gym is that we have educated instructors. One is a perinatal certified instructor meaning she's certified for pre- and post-labor exercise. She can tell you what to do based on the trimester you're in and even tailor exercises to help with labor. I can also ask any of the instructors if I need to modify exercises and they usually have really good suggestions for me. That's made it very easy for me to continue to work out.

So, let's talk the first trimester. It sucks. You're super tired, you feel gross and not quite right. I was very lucky to not get very sick and the one time I did, it only lasted two days. But I'm also pretty certain that continuing my exercise routine has really helped. Yes, I was tired, but not exhausted. A 15 minute nap a day got me back to normal. I also had to take the early glucose test because my dad's diabetic and my numbers were smack in the middle of the normal range. Hopefully this means I'll pass it again at 26 weeks. I'm not entirely certain that would have been the case before this journey.

But before I really did any major workouts, I talked to people that knew what they were talking about: my certified instructor and my doctor. And everyone will give you advice. They'll say, "Oh you can do everything you did before!" or "Oh no, you don't need to workout, just take it easy" or something in between. Again, stick to the professionals.

What the doctor told me:
  • No hot yoga. The inversions, heat and your exertion can have you going down and that's not safe. That actually almost happened and was one of the first things that had me suspecting I was pregnant.
  • No box jumps or anything that could cause me to fall. I didn't tell them that included walking for me. 
  • Don't really worry about core work. Your abs are going to separate anyway. That was slightly depressing. 
  • No more than 10-15 pounds in lifting.
  • Listen to my body. This isn't the time to push yourself and build muscle.  It's about maintaining what you have. If you feel weird or really tired, take it back a notch. 
  • Keep it up. Labor is active and focusing on cardio and keeping up my strength will make for an easier labor and recovery
What the instructor told me:
  • No deep twists
  • No heat
So, I've followed all of that advice. What does that look like for me?

One workout a day, about 4-5 days a week
For a while, I was easily doing two classes twice a week. But one class was wiping me out, so I started doing one class a day. Sometimes, I don't do a class, but will go walk two miles in my neighborhood and try to jog for a little while. I'm also very conscious about what the next day looks like. We went to the mountains a few weeks ago and I elected to not do a class the night before we left.  I knew the next day was going to be long and I didn't want to overexert myself and not be able to enjoy my days off afterward. I'm still good for about 4-5 classes a week and that's really because of my schedule.

Different classes: No yoga and more bootcamp
It's not that I can't do yoga, but my studio only offers hot yoga, which I can't do. I even asked if I could do it now that I'm in the second trimester and the doc told me no.  I keep saying I need to do a yoga flow at home, but I'm honestly lazy and haven't done that yet.  I've added more bootcamp classes instead. The workouts are super easy to modify and the classes go by quickly and I still burn a good amount of calories. At this point, I mostly stick to barre, spin and bootcamp. 

Half is good
I can do about half of what I could, even less when we get to running. I had gotten to the point where I was in the middle to front middle of the pack when we ran in class. Now? Dead last. Every time. That's a hard blow, but I had to learn to be okay with half. I do less weights, I do less running and I'm okay with it.  I was doing 15-20 lbs on a kettlebell, 15 was my heavy weights and 10 my medium and 8 my light. Now? 10-15 lb on kettlebell (15 only for swings), 8 is my heavy and 5 is my medium. And let me tell you, I still get a good workout!

Better strategic snacking.
You're probably thinking, "but this is an exercise post?!" Yeah, but when you expend energy, you have to give it back. I buy protein drinks for after class. I need to eat something almost immediately after class and I normally have to cook it first, so I have protein drinks to stave off the hunger. Hanger is real, people, worse when you're pregnant and only leads to nausea and sickness if you don't fix it and fix it correctly.  

So why even do this? Right? I follow Emily Skye on Facebook and Instagram. She's an Australian trainer is about 25 weeks pregnant. And the amount of crap she takes from people about still working out is ridiculous. And I've even heard some of it. This is the only time that calories don't count. Just enjoy being pregnant. It could hurt your baby. You don't need to workout, pregnant women are beautiful. All things that are meant to be well and good. But there are also some very real benefits and reasons to continue exercising, some I'm seeing now at just 15 weeks. 
  • The doctor says its good for you! My doctor clearly said, "well definitely don't stop what you're doing." Yes ma'am!
  • It boots your self-esteem. I'm still in the stage where I mostly just look chunky. Some days I look like I might be pregnant, but I'm not what my mom calls "cutely pregnant."  There isn't really anything cute about it. I'm hoping that's coming.  By working out, I know I'm keeping myself in shape and that helps boost my self-esteem.
  • I honestly think it helps you out with pregnancy symptoms. Like fatigue and shortness of breath.  Don't get me wrong, a set of stairs is currently my mortal enemy, but most everything else I can still do.  I've heard others say that they wish they hadn't stopped working out because now they can't do as much. So I'm sticking with my story that it's helped with my fatigue!
  • Studies (that I'm not going to quote) have shown that working out helps with an easier labor and recovery. I'm really hoping for this one!
And, because apparently I'm a sadist, I thought I'd show you the difference between my last progress post (I want to say back in May?) and about 2-3 weeks ago, the last time I took a photo in my workout clothes. It's not nearly as much fun anymore!

Gone is my almost flat stomach, my boobs are coming out the sides of my sports bras, and I can do about half of what I could. But I still love it, I love my gym, my gym tribe and that there are lots of other preggos in there with me.  I'll follow back up again in a few more months with a second trimester post with answers to questions like how do you do tap backs with a belly? I've seriously wondered about that! All this to say, if you're pregnant, don't stop working out.  Here's to a healthy baby and Sarah and a rockin' post baby body!

1 comment:

  1. It is really good for you and will help with recovery as well. I think all the advice that you received is helpful. Also, exercise is good for mental health, too, which we all need! Good for you for keeping up with it and giving yourself a little grace!