As you can see from my belly pics, I’m big. My stomach is quickly moving from beach ball to torpedo, and, for a petite person especially, this can cause quite a dramatic change in balance, general coordination and motivation to hit the gym. Yet still, I know how important it is to stay active and fit.
My workout schedule has varied widely throughout my journey to get pregnant and my pregnancy. In February of 2009 when I went off birth control, I was working out a lot. I had lost some weight and was very diligent about a weekly schedule of cardio and weight training. Once I realized I wasn’t getting my period, I did the first thing a lot of women in my situation do — I questioned if I was working my body out too hard and it was stressed. So I cut back. I switched some of my hard cardio sessions to yoga and skipped the gym a few days a week. I put on a few pounds, but I didn’t care, since it was all for the most important cause in my life at the time: babymaking. When the docs figured out that my missing period wasn’t a result of working out too hard, and I started fertility diagnostics and treatment, I kept my yoga-heavy schedule to keep my body and mind calm, cool and collected through the stress.
Once I got pregnant I planned to increase my workout schedule a little, but the complete and utter exhaustion of the first trimester took over, and I couldn’t do much more than walk to and from work each day without feeling like I had run a marathon. Then in the second tri I started feeling like myself again. Not just myself, but better than I had in months. I had more energy and a renewed sense of motivation to be fit and healthy. But this time I was working out to energize my body and prepare myself for an awesome labor; not just burn calories, so I had to change my workout a bit. No more intervals or running several miles at a time. I stuck to the elliptical, treadmill and recumbent bike (the regular bike caused me to knee myself in my stomach too much!). I kept my workout sessions to 45 minutes or an hour at the most. I watched my heart rate monitor carefully to make sure I wasn’t blasting too hard. I was not afraid to turn down the resistance and just “phone it in” on the machines if that’s what my body felt like it could handle on a given day. I lifted weights and continued strength training, but used only 5 lb weights or my own body weight. For the first time in a long time, it wasn’t about pushing myself, it was about enjoying my time being active, and “training” for a new kind of endurance event — birth!
Now I think I’m entering a new phase. I can only really handle the gym 3 times a week (max). More than that and my body starts to let me know I’m doing too much — I get pains in my pelvic area and my legs cramp. My body gets tired, and it feels like a chore just to hold my belly up. I walk every day with my dog, and/or commute to work, which means I generally walk about 4 miles even before I hit the gym. On non-gym days I try to find time (and energy) to do a quick prenatal yoga session at home, or at least some stretching and squats.
Little by little, though, I’m choosing to sit and put my feet up rather than lace up my sneaks for another walk. And you know what? At 33 weeks, I think that’s totally ok.