I knew I would be an active mom-t0-be but I didn’t know how pregnancy would affect me. Everywhere I looked it seemed like women just stopped working out in their first trimester. I went to yoga when I was about 8 weeks along and the teacher told me “Most women don’t come in their first trimester because they are too tired.” I was surprised to hear that and almost felt a little weird about attending while still in the first trimester.
It wasn’t exhaustion that was my problem, it was nausea. No matter what I did, I felt nauseous nearly 24 hours a day and though it was really hard to workout at all, I managed to do it about twice a week during the first trimester because it at least got my mind off the nausea (some…). I remember the first time I jogged a couple of miles and feeling like a million bucks because for a few minutes afterwards, I didn’t feel nauseous — I felt invincible!
Anyway, these days I’m working out 4-5 days a week for 45-minutes-1 hour and I’m feeling great maintaining that. See below for what I’ve changed up!
Things I’ve Modified
1. Lower Intensity.
There’s nothing I love more than a good, hardcore, heart pumping sweat-fest. The endorphins cannot be replicated. However, we all know pregnant ladies aren’t supposed to get their heart rates above 140bpm. Well, I’ve never been good with numbers or worn any kind of a watch so I haven’t actually calculated this. But, I’ve slowed it down tremendously and never get to the point where I’m truly out of breath. My heart rate comes down easily and I am always just maintaining. Mostly, I just “watch it” and don’t push too hard.
2. Ab Stuff.
The first thing I learned about pregnancy workouts is — don’t twist. You know that great feeling you get when you cross your leg over your other leg and twist your back in the opposite direction? Well, no more! I love that stretch but have left it aside for more moderate, open twists. I do very little twisting, if at all. Additionally, I was taught not to do any ab exercises where you lift both your top and bottom at the same time. So during barre class, I usually only do my legs — and sometimes just take a break all together if it doesn’t feel right.
3. No Running.
Oh how I wanted to be a pregnant runner. I watched my sister power through miles and miles through all 9 months of both of her pregnancies. I never aspired to run as many miles as her but had visions of happily trotting along. Well, a bad case of sciatica didn’t get me very far. I stopped running because of that initially, but even when I could tolerate it, I didn’t like the way my belly started to feel. I would get a little bit of an ache sometimes, which worried me. So, I think I may be completely done with any running or jogging until after baby is born. It sucks because it has always been my favorite quick, happy, rebound workout but so it is. I think the sciatica is pregnancy related because it appeared out of nowhere a few weeks in.
4. Less Time.
In the past, I’ve been known to squeeze in two workouts a day — say a run and a yoga class. Or when training, a CrossFit class and a run later in the day. If one barre class didn’t feel like quite the workout I needed or wanted, I would pile on walking another 2 miles or something. Well, I definitely left all that aside. One workout, whether it’s yoga or just a nice walk is all I do. I don’t want to risk over exerting myself just to burn a few extra calories.
5. Lower Weights.
So I had to switch from heavy weights back in February when my back went out of whack again. Sad story you’ve heard me complain about numerous times. But either way, I would have had to really cut back on my weight lifting. During CrossFit, I was lifting as heavy as I could, squatting as heavy as I could. But even my dumbbells at home now, I keep it light. The lower weights, higher reps is more ideal for pregnancy and believe it or not, this morning in the mirror at barre, I actually noticed my arm muscles were developed a little differently thanks to the consistency there. Those 1-pounders at barre actually get something done!
6. More Yoga Stretching.
I have been envisioning and dreading labor since before I was pregnant — and prenatal yoga is the hot ticket I always heard about. I go to yoga once or twice a week and regularly focus on stretching out my hips and hamstrings. I am hoping this will help when the big day comes but I’ve no clue how much of a difference it makes. I’m getting an epidural so apparently, I won’t be able to feel what’s going on anyway (according to friends who have had them!). It’s definitely priority for me to keep the hips stretched and that whole area…flexible. Let’s just not talk about it anymore. Ha ha.
I’ve really been letting myself sleep in more now than I have in years. Some days I’ll sleep till 7:30am, which if you know me, is late. Previously, I was up everyday around 4:30am. While I do get up at 5:15 or 5:30 several days a week, I don’t put the pressure on myself if I feel like sleeping in. Weekends I’ve been sleeping even till 8:30 or 9 sometimes depending on when I go to bed. I have a much harder time getting up these days and am trying to relish the sleep now that I know very well won’t be available soon! I also take plenty of rest days from working out and just remind myself that my body needs that right now.
So those are just a few of the changes I’ve made. Without my back and sciatica issues, I think I would have changed even less. Everyone’s body is so different during pregnancy. At this point in the middle of the 2nd trimester, head to third, there are times when I could forget I’m even pregnant. I usually have plenty of energy to power through and have to remind myself to keep the intensity low. I am curious how things will change as I get bigger and…if this sciatica will get worse or stay the same. It’s mostly stayed exactly the same the entire time except for flare up here and there.
Just like when I’m not pregnant, exercise makes me feel happy, energized and healthy. It clears my mind and gets my started off on the right foot. Gotta love that natural boost, it doesn’t come in any other form 🙂