Healthy, Fit and…Pregnant!
When I first found out I was pregnant, I took one week off from the gym because I was so unsure of what I could do to keep my body and baby healthy. After talking with my doctor and several personal trainers, I was informed that I could still complete the same exercises as before I was pregnant, with a few modifications. For example, I was told to modify any exercise involving lying on my back to an exercise on an incline bench or stability ball (e.g. bench press and crunches). My doctor said that since I was lifting weights before I was pregnant, I could continue to do the same throughout my pregnancy. However, I’m not a runner, so obviously I don’t plan to take up a running exercise plan.
Many people have told me that it’s dangerous to lift above the head while pregnant, but my doctor informed me that there is no truth to that claim- whew! I love lifting weights and training, but I don’t want to put my baby or body in danger or risk miscarriage. I still perform the same exercises as before, I just choose lighter weights and perform more repetitions. Since starting my journey with pregnancy, I have met many fit moms who maintained their exercise regimen while pregnant. These exercises include lifting weights, running, Crossfit, yoga, pilates and more. Each pregnancy is so different, so I believe that you have to listen to your own body and make your own decisions regarding exercise. For me personally, I simply avoid straining my lower abdominal muscles.
There are so many fitness options these days and I believe it’s becoming more acceptable for women to take part in fitness training while pregnant. My grandmother and mother laugh when I tell them I work out four days a week at 19 weeks pregnant. Their experiences with pregnancy involved the “eat for two” state of mind, which involves indulging in whatever you want, whenever you want. It’s important to check with your doctor and/or nutritionist to determine the correct amount of extra calories for your body.
Typically, you don’t need more calories during the first trimester. Personally, it was during the first trimester that my morning sickness kicked in and I could only stomach the thought of spicy foods. That was a hard time for me because I had vowed that if I ever got pregnant I would stick to clean meals, no excuses. Hello food aversions. The smell of lean steak or egg whites made me sick to my stomach. Once the days of nausea were over in the second trimester, I eagerly picked back up on my clean meal plan. I felt so much better once I did. During the second trimester, the typical caloric need is about 300 extra calories per day. The third trimester generally calls for around 450 extra calories per day. Again, these numbers depends on your specific weight and body. If you are overweight when you get pregnant, doctors will often recommend that you gain less weight with your pregnancy. I have a nutritionist who helps me plan my portions according to my caloric needs.
It’s so important to monitor your weight gain during pregnancy. Gaining too much weight can lead to gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, among other things. Gaining too little weight can lead to a low birth weight for your child. That’s why it’s so necessary to check with your doctor and make a plan for yourself.
I have already experienced a fifty-pound weight gain in college, long before pregnancy. I know what it takes to lose fifty “bad” pounds. My goal with this pregnancy is to maintain an active lifestyle and healthy meal plan. I do allow myself one to two cheat meals per week to indulge. Before pregnancy, I typically allowed myself one cheat meal every two weeks. I guess you could say I want the best of both worlds while pregnant: I want to enjoy my cheat meals a little more often than normal, yet still feel energetic enough to get in the gym during the week. Following a clean meal plan all week allows me to accomplish these goals.
Hydration is also very important while pregnant. I still drink a gallon of water daily. I find that if I miss meals or water intake, I don’t feel like working out that night. That’s why it’s imperative that I take care of myself during the day. I want to keep the baby and myself healthy. If you are pregnant or considering getting pregnant, I would recommend staying a healthy weight and body fat percentage beforehand. For women, a healthy body fat range is between 20-25%. You can have a nutritionist or trainer check your body fat using calipers.
Whether you are with child or not, taking care of your body should be a priority. That way, when it’s time to start a family, you won’t have to worry about starting a completely new lifestyle.
Eat clean and follow your dreams.
About the columnist:
Kelsey Byers is the author of Eat Clean and Follow Your Dreams, available on Amazon.com. She has a fifty pound weight-loss success story and inspires thousands of people daily through social networking. She prides herself in offering helpful tips on nutrition and exercise to help others make healthy lifestyle changes, just as she’s done.