Being Fit & Pregnant-a Discussion

Hey friends!

How are you all doing?

Keep the entries coming–the giveaway is a legit awesome one! And because I forget things often lately, the giveaway will run until Sunday at 5 p.m. EST. The winner will be announced on Monday.

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I’ve been wanting to write a full post on this for forever. A lot of it will mostly be my thoughts, but some of it is based in science & straight from doctors (including mine). So remember that. Also, I am an opinionated person & am sometimes wrong. Remember that too. ;)

**NOTE: I am NOT talking about ANY women who are pregnant who have been advised BY THEIR DOCTOR to not participate in fitness or physical activities. They are obviously an entirely different population (termed “high risk pregnant”). Just want to make that very CLEAR.**

-This post was mostly written to alleviate any concerns women, who were already fit, healthy & regularly exercising, might have or will have when becoming pregnant. I don’t think there is enough written on the topic.-

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Fit & Pregnant-a Discussion

When I knew I wanted to get pregnant, I also knew I would not want to simply stop teaching my fitness classes. I also knew I wanted to keep the pregnancy a secret as long as we could (and until we saw the baby/heard the HB), so I also knew I really couldn’t change too much with my fitness routine without anyone knowing or guessing.

(that’s a lot of knowing! hah)

I also really love teaching fitness classes, so stopping doing that wasn’t even a thought. Honestly, that wasn’t even a consideration.

fit & pregnant-a discussion

So imagine my surprise when people found out I was pregnant, and they were like “wow, I can’t believe you’re still doing what you’re doing!” Most meant it in awe, but some did mean it as in ‘you’re a little crazy-are you sure you’re supposed to be doing that?’

I’m not offended when people are curious or have their opinions. However, it does make me SAD that we have that stigma (or maybe I think it’s still there), that pregnant ladies should not do much physical activity.

Where does that COME from?!?

Welll……Most pregnant books recommend 30 mins of moderate cardio most days of the week. Uhhhhh that is walking or doing the elliptical. Fine stuff, for sure, but just that? Really? Furthermore, there is not much about lifting weights, balance work, stretching, participating in races, or doing more fitness than 30 mins per day in those books. In fact, the way that it’s often written about, it seems to discourage pregnant women from doing those more vigorous activities. (and I’m not talking about potentially dangerous activities like contact sports & such)

What the heck?!

Oh, and don’t get me started on the whole “keep your heart rate at 140 or below” nonsense. Because that is what it is–nonsense. It is not based in science. It comes from the idea that at higher heart beat rates not enough blood would get to the baby in between the beats; however, the danger really comes from raising your core body temperature too high. Not the actual heart beat rate.

Besides, why 140?? Seriously-so lame that some people think that still. AND some docs still tout that!! Gah. Drives me bonkers. And get this, because fitter people can actually get their heart rates higher than persons who are not as fit & still be ‘safe’ (because of a well-trained, effective heart & cardiovascular system), this really doesn’t apply to anyone that is moderately fit. At all.

A few weeks ago I talked to a spin instructor (so lots of sprints & HIIT work) who has taught spin & raced throughout 3 pregnancies (all very healthy babies & labors, btw), and she said she simply checks in with herself: if she’s breathing, the baby’s breathing. If she’s not breathing (can’t catch her breath, can’t talk), the baby’s not breathing. I thought that was a nice way to put it!

fit & pregnant-a discussion

I also think it’s sad that these ‘guidelines’ are so because I believe it  might encourage pregnant ladies who don’t feel great (trust me, the 1st tri can suck, totes understand), to not do much of anything at all. When in reality, the exercise & the endorphins that come from that, could make them feel SO much better. Our body loves endorphins–pregnant or not!!

Not to mention how much healthier the baby might be because of the activity. Using the pregnancy tiredness & being sick definitely counts, for sure, but for the entire 40 weeks? I don’t think so. You’re just doing yourself & your baby a disservice.

And here’s more evidence I’m right:

We’ve been reading a book about baby brain development (“Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart & Happy Baby from zero to five“) from one of the top developmental biologists in the nation, John Medina (he’s also the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning). Out of the dozens of studies & years of work that he’s completed, he’s found that consistent physical activity is really, really amazingly good for the baby & the baby’s brain development. He’s also found that the labors are shorter for those women who were more fit/physically active during their pregnancies. (I’ve heard that before too). Of his top 4-5 recommendations of what to DO when you’re pregnant if you want an awesome baby (hehe), is to STAY FIT if you already are, and to EXERCISE regularly if you’re a newbie. <–obv w/doc’s approvals

So why is it still so surprising to some people that pregnant ladies work out & want to stay fit (not necessarily ‘look’ fit or feel ‘fit’ though<–b/c that will not be the case!) throughout their pregnancy? Are those people jealous? And why do we think some pregnant ladies buy into that load of BS about not getting the HR up too high & just ‘walking’?

Personally, I think we as pregnant ladies need to man up! If you’re fit before pregnancy, there is NO reason (unless your doc says so), that you can’t keep doing what you’re doing. My doc 110% agrees with this & told me to do this. His only rec was that I not teach more than 1.5 hours/day –simply because it’s tough to eat enough to compensate. (And I agree).

fit & pregnant-a discussion

Of course exercises do need to be modified as the belly grows (that’s a no brainer), but stopping a safe, fitness routine simply because you’re pregnant? Lamesauce. **See note at the beginning of the post if this statement bothers you**

I think I really wanted to write this because of all the grief, questions, and nonanswers I was getting before I met with my doctor. I really was worried I was hurting the baby b/c my HR does NOT stay below 140 very often when teaching. And lots of crap on the Internet scared me. I obviously didn’t want to hurt my baby, but deep down, I knew that a 140 HR for me was ridic. Also, can you believe that one of the nurses (she was quite a bit older, mind you), told me that “yah, 150 is tops” for my HR? Yah……

Well, I actually can believe it. With some of the stuff I’ve read (even written by doctors!!) in pregnancy books, I’m astounded more people aren’t fighting back to get those editions changed!

With all of this being said though, pregnant ladies who are fit before & want to stay strong throughout the pregnancy, know this:

  • it is not a time to set goals in the realm of getting FITTER 
  • your body WILL change-but it can still be & stay strong
  • your baby comes first–so at ANY sign of discomfort, STOP
  • you must drink more water than normal -before, and especially after exercise
  • you’ll probably get some weird stares or condescending comments-ignore them
  • if you get dizzy or faint, STOP exercising

I do realize all pregnancies are different, blah blah blah, but if you’re fit & healthy before, don’t let ANYONE stop you from continuing to be as fit & healthy as YOU can be once you’re pregnant.

**Once again, this does not apply to any pregnancies that are high risk or pregnancies that are being monitored closely by a doc. Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.**

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Thankful Thursday

lunch with friend

  1. I am super grateful for a wonderful lunch hour with an amazing friend yesterday (above pic is my food)!! And the yummy food we got. MMmmmm. My friend treated me, so so nice!
  2. I am thankful for watermelon. Gosh, I love that fruit.
  3. I am really thankful for strong legs. I love my legs!

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I can’t wait to hear (!!)–what are YOUR thoughts on the discussion about fitness & pregnancy?!? What have YOU experienced or seen friends/family members experience in pregnancies with fitness?? What are YOU thankful for today??

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Comments

  1. I always imagined myself being a pregnant lady who still worked out enough to work up a sweat and still feel good. However, I have been SO nervous about doing anything more than walking/light weight training/yoga/pilates. I think I would feel differently if I weren’t having twins, but everyone I have talked to has told me to “take it easy sooner than I think I need to” to avoid preterm labor. Sooooo, that’s what I’ve been doing. ;)

    • Such a good point! I should’ve said “and pregnancies with twins,” since those are technically higher risk, but not everyone really knows that. Thank YOU so much for your thoughts!! :)

      p.s. I think it’s AWESOME you’ve been doing what YOU can. What a great example, esp with twins! I can’t even imagine….

  2. way to change many misconceptions out there… and like you said… do what’s best for YOU!

  3. Love it! You know I taught Pump right before I gave birth, so I’m on board. My doctor definitely pushed the whole 140 thing…but I went more 150/155. We had some trouble in the beginning of pregnancy and I didn’t want to take a risk. I think you’re doing a rocking good job. I bet your baby girl is going to come out like Kaylin- LOVING music. Kaylin even walks around doing “squats” its so funny (I guess I watch too much choreography around her ;))

  4. LeAnne says:

    I’m not pregnant, (or have ever been), but I definitely agree with you! Like you say….stopping or cutting WAY back on fitness simply BECAUSE you are pregnant seems goofy. Obviously women need to listen to their bodies, (regardless if they are pregnant or not), and do what is right for them. High risk pregnancies might be a different story depending upon the situation…but if I ever get pregnant one day, I hope to keep up my normal fitness regimen until birth to the best of my ability. Our bodies are meant to stay in motion!! Good post.

  5. I had always run before I got pregnant, and was actually running while I was pregnant and didn’t know it, but when I found out, my doctor told me to keep it up! She said to just do what my body felt like it could do and, kinda like your friend said, “If I’m breathing, the baby is breathing…” I am so glad that she gave me that advice because I firmly believe I would’ve stopped all physical activity due to that stigma out there that we have all been taught about pregnant women doing nothing. Now, my sister just had a very high-risk pregnancy and couldn’t do anything which is totally different, like you said, but thank you for this wonderful post! Glad to put some of those stereotypes to rest :)

  6. dotsie says:

    Yep! Pregnancy is not the same as disability!

    I CrossFit…and we have CrossFitting pregnant ladies off and on.. :) they come back from giving birth healthy, happy, and looking pretty damn close to what they were pre-pregnancy! Now, obviously they don’t do all the ridiculous things we do in CrossFit, but the coaches scale accordingly and I*think* I’ve heard they scale things according to trimester. :)

    • I agree–I feel like in this country pregnancy is handled as a disability, and not as a normal process. I think it just drives fear, and that’s why I wanted to write this.

      LOVE that example about CF!! Thank you for sharing :)

  7. With my first pregnancy I ran and took group exercise classes until about the 6th month, when stopping every 6 seconds to pee got too annoying. Even though I was high-risk with my second pregnancy I continued to work out as much as I could, taking group ex classes, running, and the elliptical. Plus I was on my feet all day at work. My kids are healthy and so am I. The way I look at it, if pregnant women spent hundreds of years on farms or in fields doing heavy labor, I can certainly take a 45-minute step class :-)
    You go rock your pregnant self and continue to set a healthy example for others!!!

  8. I agree, it seems as though a lot of pregnant women are treated as though they can’t do anything! It drove me crazy at times when people treated me like I was totally incompetent. On the same token, I think some pregnant women overdo it a bit. I still don’t think pregnant women should go balls to the wall crazy and do super high intensity stuff, but that’s just my two cents!

  9. I think staying fit through pregnancy is so important for those who were fit before. I have heard that jumping on an exercise program during pregnancy if you weren’t on one before can be a shock to the system and too hard on the baby. I hope one day if my fiance and I have a baby I can stay super active and running and such. I know I will have to slow down but I want to be as healthy and active as possible for me and the baby.

    I felt really bad for my sister during her recent pregnancy. Her and her husband tried for 4 years (via IVF treatments because he has CF) and finally got their miracle baby. But because she had such a hard time getting pregnant they told her to stop activity/exercise. So for about 6 months prior and then 9 months she was pregnant she could barely run/workout and it took a huge toll on her. Now it’s obviously worth it because they have their amazing little miracle baby…but I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to just stop like that.

  10. You know I worked out all the way through my pregnancies. Did a workout the day I went to the hospital with each, in fact. And I had great deliveries, which I attribute in part to being healthy and fit going into it. I love that you disclaim it’s not about making gains or progress…but about treating your body well. It really does help you feel better too!

  11. Love this lady! :) I worked out through my entire pregnancy and I encourage all women to do the same barring other circumstances and complications. It made all the difference in the world and I think it helped a ton with my labor and delivery as well as my recovery.

    It drove me crazy how people always told me to “be careful” or to watch my heart rate. Sigh.

  12. I love your legs too! :D

    I am so glad you posted this. I’m not pregnant or anywhere near it, but this topic drives me nuts. I feel like TONS of women use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever crap they want and sit on the couch for 9 months. Sure, there will be days/weeks/maybe a whole trimester where that is what your body legitimately needs. But bodies are meant to be HEALTHY and BALANCED and I think that’s especially true during pregnancy. When you exercise, you get the energy you might otherwise get from cookies. You also improve your heart’s health, which improves pretty much every other part of your body.

    I know I won’t be as hott as I’m anticipating you will be when pregnant…but I’m also not going to sit on the couch and lose all the hard-earned muscle I’ve worked for!

    • Haha. You’re wayyyy too kind Teddy. And p.s. when you have your babies, you’re going to look totes amazing! Promise. People who work out just do ;)

      And I agree with you–it is super sad when I see stuff like that–using pregnancy as an excuse. xo

  13. Thank you so much for the insight! Hopefully I will be able to have a fit pregnancy as well, but honestly I can empathize with first time moms who are nervous to exercise while pregnant. I feel like a part of me will be scared of doing too much or pushing too hard for the baby, but that is just me. I get anxiety easy! I am praying I too will have a great doctor like yours who encourages me and works with my fitness goals! :)

    • You might feel differently when it actually happens ;) Honestly, being super consistent with exercise helped me soooooo much with the being sick part & with having a better attitude. Because some days are real real hard. <3

      Plus, babies actually get used to the movement & it tends to put them to sleep, helping them also get used to outside ‘stuff’ and still being okay themselves! <–at least what I’ve read & talked about with my doc & sisters!

  14. Great post! I hope and dream of continuing to exercise one day when/if I am ever pregnant. It’s so important to me, and gives me so much energy! I honestly don’t know how I’d make it through the day without coffee anddd exercise. I at least need one or the other!

  15. Your post reminds me of Sex and the City when Charlotte is pregnant and afraid to run! Glad that the TV show got it right and had her run since she was used to running before pregnancy :)

  16. I think it’s all personal when it comes to pregnancy and fitness. If you feel great exercising and the doctor gave you the ok, than by all means do it! I hope I’m able to exercise when I get pregnant, but I guess I won’t know for sure until I’m at that stage.

  17. we think it is great to see pregnant woman doing some form of exercise!! we have never felt like it was a bad thing and feel more power to those moms doing it :)

  18. I’ve always been curious about this! I’m only 18 (yeah no babies for me in the near future) but being interested in childhood development, it’s sparked my curiosity before. Interesting post!

  19. Great post- I think it’s inspiring to see pregga ladies working hard in a group fitness class!

  20. Jessica says:

    Yep! I worked out and ran through out pregnancy! I ran races etc… People always stare and ask if you’re really supposed to do that. You just smile and move on with life!

  21. I LOVE THIS! Finally someone speaks up. I plan on staying extremely active as I always have and am already getting condescending comments from those not so knowledgeable. Those comments are completely ignored. You want to lay around on your ass for 9 months be my guest, not me. I’ve been absolutely exhausted this first trimester and doing much less then usual, needing to sleep after work rather than workout but I know that will get better and I will do what my body needs and right now it’s sleep, can’t wait to get my energy back here in the next few weeks. I’ve been looking for more books to read about this topic but am finding it difficult to find any.

    • Hope you’re feeling better lately! <3

      There isn’t much out there on the subject b/c of the high cost of malpractice insurance for doctors…so they err on the side of very cautious….but there are some research articles I’ve read that back me up (sadly they got thrown away on accident, and they came from a special database from my doc!) -as does my doctor who backs it all up too.

      I too wish more ladies knew that they can keep up their physical fitness routine (as long as they feel fine & aren’t doing dangerous activities)! But way to go in paving the best few months for you & the baby! <3

  22. michelle says:

    I loved this post, always encouraging to hear of someone thinking outside the box. One tidbit I thought was interesting was when I was reading a mountaineering book I have. It said, during the years of 2007 – 2012 there were 287 helicopter flights taken for women in the alps who were in labor or who had given birth. It seems in Europe the pregnancy mentality is totally different, they stay active and by that I mean climbing mountains active. I love to back country ski and after reading some European blogs will continue to do so up to my delivery date and just scale it back as appropriate. Thanks for the great post, you are seriously one cute, inspiring pregnant girl!

    • It is so true that in the U.S. they tend to treat pregnant women as ‘ill’ or ‘sick’ and in Europe they’re more lax about it all. They see it as natural process (which it is)–so kudos to those ladies who hike mountains! :)

      Love your comment!

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