Today I have a special guest write named Alecia. She was recently on CBS news with me showing some great lower body exercises. What impressed me most about Alecia was how hard she continued to work throughout her pregnancy as well as soon after she delivered the baby. At this point I need to say that I am not a doctor and you should check with your doctor to make sure you are cleared to exercises.
For those of you who are further along in the Fit Moms For Life DVDs you might recognize her as one of the moms in the DVD, but she did it while she was 7 months pregnant so you might not have recognized her. She is also the star of one of my new DVD programs that will be released late summer to early fall for moms who have a baby and want to workout with the baby.
Here is Alecia!
I have to say I am super excited to be writing about this! Pregnancy and exercise, I could talk about them all day if someone would let me! For me exercising while pregnant was just as important as eating healthy and taking prenatal vitamins. Your growing baby is counting on you to give it the best start possible and anything you can do to improve that is awesome. I exercised during both of my pregnancies, but after I could really tell that how I exercised made a big difference in how I felt while pregnant, during labor and then after with baby.
In my first pregnancy I exercised 3-4 days a week, running, using the elliptical and a few step aerobic classes here and there. In the beginning of my second pregnancy I was again doing cardio classes and feeling pretty good I thought. Then my sister and I decided to try a Mamatone class (same as bootcamps) and wow, was it different from what I had been doing! I was sore for 3 weeks straight (a good sore, the kind of sore that makes you feel like you did something great!) and I wasn’t even a newbie, I exercised 5-6 days a week! I had never used heavy weights before, the heaviest I had ever lifted were 10 lb dumbbells and I thought those were tough! I of course was mindful of my body and how I was lifting, certain moves didn’t feel comfortable and so I would modify them or just skip them all together. For the most part though I could do the same as everyone else. Other than being sore what I noticed most at first was how my body was different from my first go round. I was gaining weight at about the same rate but my body was so different. I was leaner looking (in a healthy, pregnant way), less swollen and my muscles were more defined. I had always thought what happened in my first pregnancy would automatically happen in the second so I was pleasantly surprised when although I gained the same I looked and felt so much better, this I credit to the addition of weight training. I stopped weighing myself after a while, I was eating healthy and exercising so it really didn’t matter to me what my weight was. I will tell you though that I gained more than is recommended (I ate very good 95% of the time, pregnancy wasn’t a free for all, so the only reason I can come up with that I gained what I did must be from decreasing the amount of exercise I would have normally been doing) so after I didn’t just have a few lbs to lose. I can tell you though it was much more difficult to move with the added weight but once it does start coming off it became easier and easier to move around and the bad aches and pains slowly become a thing of the past.
Another major bonus of doing more weight training vs. great amounts of cardio was that it was much easier on my body. As the relaxin hormone increased throughout pregnancy the pounding and quick movements of cardio classes and running were taking a toll on my joints and leaving me in a great deal of pain. I was able to do weight training right up until the end with just a few modifications. It wasn’t as strenuous on my joints and it left me in much better shape all around.
Keeping fit while pregnant is a healthy and smart choice to make but for me the best pay off was during labor and after with my baby. My first labor was long and not the most pleasant experience, so for my second labor I wanted to try something completely different. I decided to do self-hypnosis (hypnobabies), which sounds a bit kooky I know but it was pretty amazing and it fell right in line with my training. I truly felt little pain during my labor; I was able to get in the ‘zone’ that some of you may have gotten to in doing physical exercise. Your muscles are on fire but yet somehow you don’t really feel pain, you are just so focused on the end result that you press on, you are strong and you get it done! The people around me were amazed at how comfortable and calm I was, much of the time they couldn’t even tell if I was having contractions or not. Which if you’ve had a contraction or watched a woman having one you know when it’s happening and to not know is pretty incredible. For me it was just perfect, I was able to tap into skills I already had to get the outcome I so badly wanted. *Studies show that keeping up with regular exercise while pregnant can lead to shorter and less complicated labor*
Now, if you have children or have carried one for any extended period of time you know how physically exhausting that can be, throw in nursing in awkward positions and you’ve got a recipe for some major neck and back pain and even injuries. After my first baby I was getting massages weekly because I was so sore from nursing and carrying him all the time (although hmm…weekly massages, that actually doesn’t sound so bad!!). But really it was terribly painful and I felt that way for weeks on end. After realized this was because my core was weak from pregnancy and I hadn’t developed strong back muscles prior. I would not let this happen again! I did a lot of strengthening of my back and this time although I still had some discomfort in my lower back in the first few days it was nothing compared to the last time. To give example, last week when I took my kids to the zoo, I had a hungry baby and a two year old who would never think of sitting and waiting while I fed his sister. So I had to push the stroller (that of course had an infant car seat in it!) to keep up with my ever so excited two year old and nurse my 18 lb baby with no other support but my arm and for ten minutes; that can get pretty darn tiring! Things like that happen all the time, as moms we are multitasking all day long and it takes a toll on our bodies. In taking care of ourselves with exercise and weight training we can better keep up with our fast moving children and leave the massages for relaxation instead of easing our injured muscles!
-Alecia, 28 Madison