I have posted several times about the issue of working out while trying to conceive. It’s something a lot of women struggle with, as some doctors say “chill out on the cardio” and others say you don’t need to change a thing about your routine, and that exercise is a key part of making a healthy baby. When I first went off birth control pills back in February, I was the slimmest and most physically fit than I have been in my entire life. I had shifted my eating habits and lifestyle to be more conscious and health-focused about 2 years prior, and slowly but surely the extra pounds came off. I felt like I was at the top of my game. I worked out pretty hard about 5 days a week, and ate a balanced flexitarian diet of mostly veggies and whole grains, lots of low-fat dairy, and some meat (when it was high quality and hormone free).
When I didn’t get my period for a few months after stopping the pill, I began to wonder if I was working my body too hard in my workouts. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was certainly NOT training at the professional level, but I began to realize that maybe my body had a lower tolerance for extreme exercise than others, and maybe it was inhibiting my babymaking. So I called it quits on the really rough stuff — no more 4 mile runs a couple times a week, no more back-to-back weight lifting and cardio kickboxing classes, etc. I started practicing yoga at a studio near my house, and tried to get my kicks (pun intended) through power walking and shorter/easier stints on the stairmaster. While I realize now it was not my exercise that was keeping my period away (it was my PCOS), I still think this shift from gym rat to yogi was a really important one for me and my babymaking efforts.
So, I’m not gonna lie, I’ve gained a few pounds since changing my schedule. Nothing major, just about 5 pounds, and I’ve realized that this is probably my “happy weight”. I’m happy, healthy, I have a normal BMI (which I always did… I was never underwight) and I don’t have to push my heart rate out of my comfort zone 5 times a week to maintain it.
But I still enjoy going to the gym to feel like I’m keeping my body fit. So I took it VERY easy during the two weeks wait, just in case there was a little egg (or two!) trying to implant in my uterus. I did yoga a few times, and walked a lot, but skipped the gym for the most part. Then when I found out I was pregnant, I decided that plenty of women exercise while they are pregnant, so I probably could too. I have been trying to keep my heartrate around 140 bpm (which is recommended for pregnant women), but I’ve noticed that my body feels SO DIFFERENT while working out now.
- My resting heart rate is faster. Which means that my heart rate while working out is faster. Which means that I have to go very, very slowly or with very little resistance before my heart rate reaches 140 bpm.
- Almost as soon as I start exercising, I feel little dizzy spells. While this is a common pregnancy symptom, it is sort of scary if you’re on a stairmaster or treadmill.
- Pregnant women are supposed to avoid extreme twisting, stretching or tension of the stomach muscles. That means no deep twists in yoga, no ab work, etc.
Yesterday at the gym I was so exhausted after 30 minutes on the stairmaster that I was dreading coming home to walk the dog. That’s when I realized that maybe I should just be relaxing, at least for the 1st trimester. My body has a lot going on, and why test the limits of what I can withstand just because I want to workout? And while I am slightly nervous about gaining more weight than I need to for my baby to be healthy, I think I will be happier if I know that I’m resting as much as possible and not doing anything to stress little piccolini out while he/she/they are developing in these very important first three months.
If you’ve been pregnant, did you work out during your first trimester? Have you heard doctor’s opinions one way or another?