She Says… Staying Active with a Baby on Board

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.

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32 responses to “She Says… Staying Active with a Baby on Board

  1. I loved reading this post! You look great and should feel so good about how long you have continued to stay active. It is definitely understandable to kick back a little now. :)

  2. You have done an awesome job and I think it will definitely pay off during labor. I remember going through labor with my son and thinking it would have been a lot easier if I would have stayed active. With this pregnancy I have made a real effort to stay active (not too difficult with an 18 month old to run around after!). We go for bike rides, walks, whatever my body tells me it’s ready to do.

    Great job!!

  3. Wow! I am so impressed how active you have been. Good for you for listening to your body. You are looking wonderful!

  4. I loved reading this post too. As you know, I worked out a lot too (before and during), so it was mentally really hard to be on bedrest! I’m so glad you haven’t had to deal with that obstacle. Even going to the gym a few times a week is awesome. One workout that I loved was the Summer Sanders prenatal workout; her 3rd trimester portion is great!

  5. You are doing a fantastic job! I think staying with yoga definitely helped me through labor. Remember, though, that it is okay to relax! I had a hard time with that… until week 39… then I let myself relax as much as possible. I went to 41 weeks, and now I am glad I took that time to myself to sit around!

  6. I had a friend who was also diligent about working out during her pregnancy, and she said she got a lot of nasty stares at the gym…have you experienced that at all?

    I think it’s great that you’re keeping healthy – I think people that are giving the gnarly looks are forgetting that you’re not just keeping you healthy in the process, but your baby as well. Well that and they’re just judgmental. ;)

  7. Wow.

    You look stunning.

    I love your healthy outlook! The way I see it, women who live in cities walk around a ton all day. Women with other young children run around all day. So exercising in moderation at a gym is perfectly fine! Love that you feel that way and are listening to your body through and through.

  8. I agree! I’m still running a bit but walking alot more. Now that I’m in my third trimester it’s gotten harder to even do my three mile pregnancy pace run!

    I’m starting to do squats more often and stretches instead of so much high intensity stuff.

  9. Thank you for posting this! As someone who is just thinking about trying to conceive, I’ve wondered about staying active and healthy through pregancy, and exactly how it works!

  10. You look great! I had a hard time going to the gym three times a week when I wasn’t pregnant. I haven’t been since December!!

    I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly spilling stuff on myself. These big boobs and big belly are in the way – if they were normal size, the food would just land on the floor! :)

  11. You look FAB! Are you at BodyPump in the pic?! My favorite!

  12. You are AMAZING for doing the walking, let along the gym time too! Seriously! I am in awe. I barely could walk 3 miles a couple of times a week by the time I was that big. I hope it helps you through labor and postpartum!

    I have to say, I didn’t do as much exercise as I would have wanted but I’m still looking pretty good just 10 days after my daughter was born. Maybe it’s because she was almost two weeks early… I’m not sure. Anyway, you’re going to do great with all that working out! Good for you!

    Kait @ esperanzasays.wordpress.com

  13. I’m so proud of you for doing as much as you have been! And you look fantastic. I’m exhausted by the time I get to work in the morning.

  14. You are my idol! I hope I can be the active if I decide to have children!

    I hope you decide that not only should you put your feet up, but you should also get used to the phrase, “Honey can you bring me … ?” I’m sure Benjamin would LOVE to wait on you!

  15. You look FABULOUS! That’s great that you have kept working out regularly. It will pay off. I’m only 18 weeks but I’m trying to be active everyday. Hopefully I can keep it up like you!

    I’m curious, what do you try to keep your heart rate at? Do you follow the old rule of “under 140 bpm” or do you tend to go with the notion that that rule is dated?

  16. I am exhausted just thinking about working out that much. Could be the bed rest or it could be the fact that I’ll be 40 in 3 months. Either way I am in awe and totally impressed by what you have done to stay in shape. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find that it doesn’t make labor easier. Just know that everything you’ve done to stay healthy will pay off in other ways, most importantly, your recovery will be much quicker. If your doc says you can keep going than you should do what you know works for you. I agree though that at 33 weeks, taking some time off is totally ok!!!!!! You are amazing!

  17. My big motivation to work out had more to do with postpartum recovery. I didn’t want to totally let myself go in hopes of getting my pre baby figure back as much as possible. I went with “regular” workouts until 34 weeks and then switched to prenatal classes after that. Zipping my jeans up a week after L’s birth made it all worth it. It also helped when it came to pushing a nine-plus pound baby out!!

    With that said, listening to your body is key. You will know when it is time to ease off. Prenatal workout classes (like yoga) are good because you you’re surrounded by people who understand and empathize.

  18. I am hitting the point too that it is hard to workout. It is causing more pain and exhaustion. I think I can let my self relax these last 6 weeks. You too!

  19. Thank you, everyone!

    Jen, I know, I often think of you when I’m active, remembering how you went from my kind of schedule to bedrest. I can only imagine how frustrating that would be at this point. But just goes to show, it doesn’t matter whether you’re at the gym or on bedrest, because you look FABULOUS only a few weeks after little Liam’s birth!

    Casey, You’re totally right, and I’m beginning to slow down a bit. But I’m so glad to hear that the yoga helped you. CONGRATULATIONS on your little one!!!

    Maura, I haven’t noticed nasty stares at the gym… maybe I am too busy being proud of myself to care :)

    slowmiles, Good luck babymaking! I think it’s totally possible to stay fit and healthy; just don’t be afraid to sit your ass on the couch once in awhile and rest if that feels better, though. Clearly I need to continue to take my own advice.

    Kate, Yep, it’s PowerFlex, which is Bally’s version of Body Pump. Love it… Benjamin and I go almost every week together. It’s the best workout, and so easy to modify for my changing body.

    Esperanza, Thank you! A big CONGRATULATIONS to you on your little chiquita too!

    Kelly L., I do not follow the “keep it under 140bpm” rule. I’ve read that it’s outdated, and I also find that my heartrate always skyrockets when I work out (I knew this from pre-pregnancy as well). I can get to 140 just by walking with a little incline, which doesn’t really constitute a workout to me most days. So I keep it under my personal comfort level, which is 165, and I concentrate more on if I can talk a little while working out, and often take intervals to chill out and let my heart rate slow so I don’t maintain a high level for too long.

    Laurie, That is SO great to hear :) You are amazing!

  20. You look AMAZING!!! Pamper yourself.

  21. You look great – way to go! I think it is awesome to keep your body moving – as much as you are comfortable – during pregnancy. And I think you have the right outlook – listen to you body and slow down when it tells you to!

  22. Damn straights u deserve to put your feet up…my exercise regime was only walking a bit near the end. You go girl! You do look great!

  23. Wow – I totally remember that when you were working out hard and thought you were overdoing it. Has it really been over a year??

    Good for you for being diligent and trying so hard – you’ll be grateful you did!

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