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Fit & Pregnant - How to Have a Fit Pregnancy

It has been a while since my last blog. I was going through a very long recovery from health issues I faced after a car accident in 2013. But when my Core Nutritionals asked me if I would like to start writing about my journey as a newly pregnant physique competitor/fitness model, I was very excited to share this unique and crazy time with you all!

So let me catch you up a bit. First trimester I was definitely very tired and fatigued. I was unsure how my body would react due to my health issues- being diagnosed with hypothyroidism and adrenal issues two years ago triggered by a neck injury and stress from the car accident (among other stressors in my life). I was almost feeling back to my old self when my husband Jordan and I found out we were pregnant in January. It was a beautiful surprise and our little girl, Arabella Jeanne, is due in September!

I didn't know what to expect as the crazy symptoms appeared out of nowhere one after another. I was nauseous when I ate and nauseous when I didn't eat, which was a no win situation. I was also falling asleep after each meal. Now in the second trimester I'm feeling a lot better and working out even more then I did in the first trimester. To be honest, even though I have a good amount of time left (I'm about half way through the entire 9 months) before delivery, I'm still anxious about it and the possible complications that may arise. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate doctors and despise needles so maybe that is part of it. As a fitness model I definitely feel, like most other athletes or fitness enthusiasts probably do, a little uneasy about the changes in the body that have to come; fears of not being able to lose the baby weight, and the dreaded stretch marks.

As isolating as that already feels I think a lot of people shame mothers that want to be fit and not gain excess weight during this time. They are often shushed to not to even talk about it and told to "not worry about it" or  that it is “unhealthy to workout a lot during pregnancy.” The truth is it's very normal (and okay) to not feel super great about our bodies during this time.  It is very understandable for individuals that took pride in staying healthy and fit all their lives to feel anxious about the weight gain.

The biggest challenge I feel I've encountered is to have self-love and positive self-talk during this time. This is especially important for me because I spent the time to really recover in terms of my adrenals and non-functioning thyroid with medication, time, and praying. It has taken a very long time and been a rough road back to normal health because I was unable to look and feel like the person I once was. My go-go-go personality and type-A dedication was tested by the back seat they had to take by my health. Not being able to do what I love to the intensity I once was doing was now in past. I am so looking forward to seeing her sweet little face but I'm not one of those women that LOVE being pregnant. That being said there is lots of things you can do to help ease the symptoms of pregnancy and make as enjoyable a possible.

Most women are confused about what to eat and what fitness plan to follow while they are pregnant. They also wonder what exercises they can or cannot do and what modifications you need to make in order to be safe. I know as an athlete who worked out pretty hard and intense, I was nervous about doing something wrong that could hurt the baby. I have been researching how to produce a lot of milk for breast-feeding while still working out and eating to lose any weight that was put on during pregnancy; as that was a big question on my mind. I will continue to go into subjects like what to eat, supplements and vitamins to take while pregnant, body-image, breast-feeding, what clothes to wear without having to buy an entire wardrobe of maternity clothes, and what to do post-labor to enhance recovery and get back into your normal fitness routine. Each blog will also include a pregnancy workout or healthy recipe that can be used during your pregnancy!

Prenatal Exercise

Let’s go into why we should workout while pregnant. If you haven't been active before pregnancy this is the time to definitely get some walks in and become more active for you and your baby. The common recommendation is to not make any drastic changes to your activity level if you've never worked out before- and instead develop a moderate, consistent workout routine. If you were pretty active before getting pregnant then you can be just as active, as long as your doctor sees no contraindications to you or the baby.

Various studies have shown that vigorous exercise does not hurt your baby.It actually helps improve blood and nutrient supply to the placenta at rest therefore enhancing fetal growth. Signs of when to slow down or reduce intensity during exercise, whether you were active before or not, are: shortness of breath, dizziness, pain, bleeding, swelling of the ankles, calves, feet, hands, or face, contractions, or cramping.

I was happy to hear that my OB/GYN suggested it was safe for me to be as active and train as intense as I was before getting pregnant. Make sure to stay conscious of your breathing and to not get very out of breath often, because once you are short of oxygen, so is the baby. Basically, you want to make sure you are listening to your body and always carry water to prevent dehydration and overheating, as it can be very dangerous for the baby. It's possible that you may need to slow down a little as your body and belly get larger.

Preventing Excess Weight Gain

Why is it important not to gain excess weight? While the body is always going to be changing throughout the pregnancy, too much weight can cause a plethora of problems. Here are some reasons why you would want to make it a priority to have a consistent workout program for you and your baby.

Excess weight gain can:

  • Make it harder to sleep well.
  • Leave you feeling overly fatigued.
  • Often said to make labor harder and longer.
  • Lead to feeling more self-conscious.
  • Increase chances for pregnancy induced diseases like diabetes and thyroid disorders.
  • Lead to more challenging post-pregnancy weight loss.
  • Increase your chances for permanent stretch marks.
  • Increases cellulite.
  • Increases aches and pains.

By gaining only a healthy amount of weight you will most likely have a more comfortable pregnancy and delivery. Exercise also helps strengthen your heart and lungs so you don't get as tired as easily and also helps you get ready for the baby's birth. It reduces the risk of getting gestational diabetes and a cesarean delivery. Not to mention it helps with sleep quality. I definitely feel that exercise and eating healthy also helps improve self-image and helps to prevent depression while pregnant which is really important. Your mental health affects the baby more than you realize.

So what is this healthy amount of weight that everyone recommends? It's so hard to know because everyone is different but the current recommendation based on your pre-pregnancy weight is:

If you were "underweight" pre-pregnancy and your BMI was below 18.5, the suggestion is between 28-40 pounds.

If you are of an  "average weight" with a BMI of 18.5–24.9, then it’s suggested to gain between 25–35 pounds.
Individuals that are "overweight" with a BMI between 25–29.9 are recommended to gain 15 to 25 pounds.

Individuals that are over BMI 30 are suggested to only gain between 11-20 pounds.

Since I was I was considered "normal BMI" based on my height and weight (remember BMI doesn't consider muscle mass of the individual) I have been told to aim for a weight gain of around 25-35lbs during my pregnancy.

Remember much of all that weight is from the baby and body fluids. Let's break down a few main aspects and their contribution to additional body weight:

  • 3-4lbs - Increased blood &body fluids
  • 2-3lbs - Amniotic fluid
  • 6-8lbs - Average weight of the baby near the end of the pregnancy
  • 1-2lbs - Breast
  • 1-2lbs - Uterus
  • 1.5lbs - Placenta

As I continue to write these monthly blogs I want to pass on to you some things I've learned along the way and some of my experiences thus far. My hope is to help new mothers who want to stay fit and healthy during this time and leave excuses behind. It's important to have a pregnancy where we can be active and fit for not only the mother but for the baby.


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