As of this Sunday I am officially 28 weeks and 7 months pregnant! I am trying my best to stay active through this journey into motherhood a second time, and in the wintertime no less. My hope is that by sharing what has worked for me it’ll encourage you to find your thing.
After having my first daughter Paityn, in late January 2013 I was back in the gym as soon as I was cleared at the 6 week mark. I was fired up by the rise of fitness accounts on Instagram that I had started to run into while I was up late unable to sleep from being uncomfortably pregnant or nursing my daughter once she arrived.
Something these accounts all had in common were beautiful girls of all heights and ages, with lean athletic bodies. Gone were the days of weightlifting and women conjuring up pictures of women on the ‘juice’ and necks three times larger than average. With this newfound excitement I stepped away from my comfort zone of cardio machines and into the intimidating weight lifting area. Paired with a balanced diet and the help of breastfeeding, over the space of 12+ months I found myself in the best shape of my life.
Lesson #1: Be positive in your results. Trust your body. You can do great things after becoming a mom. You will do great things! You are doing great things. Find your niche, your thing, your passion. And don’t let the world tell you you’ll never look the same, or as good, as you did pre-baby.
The exact process that I had initially feared would set me back forever from achieving a certain aesthetic, a sacrifice I had deemed worth it to begin our family, turned out to do the exact opposite. As I began to read more about the concept of fitness after becoming a mother, I learned I wasn’t the only one to see better results than what I was achieving prepregnancy. I read about Kara Goucher running a PR on her marathon at the Boston, just 7 months after giving birth. Paula Radcliffe a few years before Kara winning the New York Marathon, less than 10 months postpartum. Said Alex Allred, a U.S. National Bobsledding Champion in the mid 90’s, “you come back so much stronger.” I felt so buoyed up by these and many other moms. So I continued to wake up early and lift weights following a few different training programs over the space of a year and a half until morning sickness brought all my goals for an extra fit pregnancy to a screeching hault.
Lesson #2: Be Flexible
I had known morning sickness would most likely would be a part of my second pregnancy like it was the first, but I didn’t anticipate just how soon it would start. My ‘morning sickness’ phase lasted til 5pm on most days, and phased out around 13 weeks or so. I don’t think I lifted a single weight that entire time. Unless a can of ginger ale and crackers count. No? Didn’t think so.
What did work was hitting up the rock climbing wall 3x a week with my husband, toddler and another couple. My climbs were quite possibly the weakest in the gym some days but that didn’t matter. I was out of the house, in the gym, and moving my body.
The drastic energy depletion that happens in the first trimester really took me by surprise. If you’re there currently, I’m sorry! This too shall pass. And hopefully you’ll feel like a new woman in no time.
Lesson #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Push Yourself
Now listen to your midwife or doctor first and always first, because we’re all different. But my journey has thankfully been a safe pregnancy both times, where I am free to have the mindset that I’m not sick, just pregnant. I am growing a second precious life, but I am free to trust that my body will protect that life as it is designed to do.
I recently switched to an old school type of training, (think Arnond Schwarzenegger era) focused on increasing strength now that I’m feeling like myself again. Now don’t let that bodybuilding name dropping fool you, my lifts are fairly weak. I’m still struggling to top 100lbs on my squat with a full range of motion. But I’m working on it, and it feels so good. Lifting is my thing, and the squat rack and the weights area are my happy place.
Find your thing. Is it swimming, cycling, yoga, walking, running, or crossfit? Or maybe you’re like me and don’t mind skipping cardio. Whatever it is, be all there. Don’t feel like you have to automatically drop down to a certain mileage, pace or dumbbell weight just because you’re pregnant. Listen to your body. Work with your doctor or midwife. And you can do great things, with your baby along for the ride.
Now I don’t know what the third trimester is going to bring for me this go round. But I’ll continue enjoying the bliss of this extra energy while I can, and focus on being flexible and listening to my body once I feel the need to slow down. I truly believe that as mothers to be that we are doing great things. I don’t know that we are reminded that idea enough.