Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Exercising for two

While exercising during pregnancy is generally regarded as safe and healthy for women who were already active, it's definitely a different experience than exercising "for one".  I'll hit the 20-week milestone on Friday (20 more shopping weeks until Christmas), and I thought now would be a good time to look back at what I'm glad I did fitness-wise, what I'd do differently next time, and my fitness goals for the rest of pregnancy and beyond.

The -1st trimester:
Back in the good old days circa 2010, I was in pretty good shape.  I finally got my act together and started working really hard during my speed sessions, and, as a result, I PRed in pretty much every distance that year.  I had a running blog.  Things were great.  However, I turned 28 that fall, and while we weren't in any particular rush to have a baby, I could hear my biological clock ticking loud and clear.  We decided that after I finished the Milwaukee Marathon in Oct. 2010 we'd let nature take it's course and hopefully have a baby sometime in 2011.

But, things didn't quite work out that way.  After doing some research and talking to my doctor, it became apparent that I was going to have to cut back on my exercise intensity and possibly gain some weight if I wanted to have a baby.  How much to cut back and how much to gain was anyone's guess.  For every woman who can become pregnant when she's really really thin:

or really really active:

there are women whose bodies demand more protection against "famine".

It was really hard to deal with what was becoming a stressful situation without being able to use my normal coping mechanism, but it helped to know that there were other women out there who were at a normal weight but had to cut back on exercise to become pregnant.  By the time we conceived, I was running a 3- 4 times a week - maybe 30 minutes at a time- and doing yoga 3 - 4 times a week, and I was up 10+ lbs over my normal weight.

What I'm glad I did:

  • Rather than focusing on not being able to run, I really tried to get excited about lifting weights and doing yoga.  
  • Take some breaks from the internet - especially the big running blogs.  You can find a lot of sources of support on the internet, but it can drive you crazy if you try to compare yourself to people who appear (and it's only an appearance) to have everything going for them.
What I would do next time:
  • It's hard to say.  Things will be completely different because I'll already have one kidlet, and it will be impossible to devote as much time to working out as I did pre-children.  I'd really like to get back in shape and race at least a little bit before it's time for #2, but I'm aware that I may have to re-get out of shape again.

The 1st trimester:
Was not a lot of fun for me.  However, I was determined to stay active.  I made a deal with myself that I'd move myself - run, walk, crawl, whatever- over three miles three to four days a week and continue doing yoga four days a week.  It didn't have to be pretty, and I could be (and was) completely sedentary the rest of the time, but I had to do something every day.  

What I'm glad I did:
  • Keep "running".  Even though it was painful to get out of bed a lot of mornings, actually being outside in the cool air and moving around helped distract me from my discomfort.  I also know it would have been a lot harder to start moving again in the second trimester if I was a total lazy lump during the first.
  • Make sure all running routes pass at least one bathroom stop.
  • Buy bigger sports bras immediately.  
What I'd do next time:
  • Cut back on yoga and gone back to lifting weights sooner.  Although yoga seems like a great early pregnancy exercise because it's so chill, I actually had more problems getting hot and dizzy/nauseated in yoga class than I ever did running.

The 2nd trimester:
Has been a huge relief.  At the point I hit 12 weeks and we went to London, I was already feeling much better.  I didn't work out at all on vacation (we did tons of walking around), but I didn't feel soooo headachy and tired all the time.  When we got back I was ready to resume running and maybe even add a little mileage.  Rather than doing 3mi at a time, I started increasing my daily distance to 4 or 5 miles and cut back on my walk breaks.  I also decided to cut back on doing yoga to one time per week and hit the gym for weights on two days - partly because I wanted a change of pace and partly because I could tell it was only a matter of time until my belly was going to start getting in the way of many yoga poses.

What I'm glad I did:
  • Buy some "maternity" workout clothes.  They actually aren't maternity running clothes - those don't seem to exist - but just bigger versions of normal running clothes.  I'm not sure how long they will fit, but they've been worth the investment so far.
  • Keep running.  
  • Start lifting weights again.  I'm super weak right now, but strength comes back quickly once you start weight training again.  Plus I've heard that it's good to do squats in preparation for labor.
What I'd do next time:
  • Design my own line of maternity workout clothes and make a fortune.
  • Back off on yoga and hit the weights sooner.         

Infinity and beyond:
 I hope to keep up with running, lifting, and yoga as long as possible through pregnancy but be in tune enough with my body to know when it's time to stop doing something.  Even though we're moving off campus, I'm keeping my gym membership active through December in case I need to take my workouts in a non-weight-bearing direction.

After the baby is born, I'd really really really like to get back in shape again.  At the time I deliver, I'll have spent more than two years devoting my body to the process of having a baby, and I'd like to borrow it back for awhile.  Of course that will depend on available time, milk supply, etc, but I'm remaining optimistic.  Working out at home will be the rule, not the exception anymore, and I foresee lots of time on the treadmill (which we will finally be able to use now that we're moving!!) and boot camp-type strength workouts in my future.

On a non-fitness but still baby related note - Sarah has a review of Butt Paste (and you know you want to know what that is) on her blog this morning and is doing a $100 Visa card give away.

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