(This post is not to give medical advice to pregnant woman regarding exercise routines. This is simply my experiences. Have questions? Ask your doc!)
A post a few weeks over at Newlymeds made me start thinking about what other people's experiences have been while pregnant and continuing to exercise (or trying to work out).
I'm still finding my way, figuring out what works for me and what has proven to be much more difficult than I anticipated.
Having exercise be a large part of my life prior to getting pregnant, I didn't think much about how it would go while pregnant. (And now I'm hearing all of the "you just wait.." comments) Of course I'd keep running 10 milers and join Jillian Michaels on the workout videos. But, like most things at the moment, everything is a surprise. It's all new territory, and half the time it leaves me feeling like a lost sheep trying to find my way.
Stop, no. Change...yes.
I'm currently 20 weeks (halfway!), which means about every five days I wake up, look in the mirror, and I'm a bit taken back by what I see. Baby is growing, I'm growing. I'm carrying more weight than I ever have (although I did go through a chub stage around 12;) and my muscles and ligaments are adjusting to carry it, as well as preparing for the grand finale of birth. <--- all of this can really cramp this woman's typical workout style. I've spoken to woman who haven't had to change a thing in their workout routines, and to that, I tip my hat. That is simply not my experience (I wish it was!).
When I had the energy to work out during those first few months, I would feel amazing. Exercising was the only thing that would give me more energy, help me sleep through the night, curb unhealthy cravings and subside nausea. If I could exercise, I knew it would be a good day! I always felt like a million bucks afterwards and thus made it a priority (even if I needed to take a nap beforehand ;).
The adjustment was more mental (and emotional). My mindset had to completely change. Running was no longer about going longer or faster, circuit training wasn't about pushing harder- it all turned to maintenance and a new understanding of what I could and could not do. (Or should and should not do).
Now, well into the 2nd, it's gotten physical. Lunges and jump squats just aren't the same when your belly has expanded like a basketball popping our of your abdomen. If bending over is even awkward, why on earth would I think that jump lunges would be easy?! Let me assure you, they certainly are not. At least not for this momma.
It's been a bit of learning curve as to how to stay fit as I continue to be challenged to do the things that once seemed easy. I should admit that being fit and feeling fit tend to be a bit different these days. I don't think I will feel fit for a while now, but I know that as I continue to exercise I am helping my body and baby - I'm staying fit. (given that I don't indulge in cheesecake on a daily basis)
Broken down, here's how I've had to adjust thus far:
Because of some intense round ligament, running has proved to be the most difficult for me after the 1st trimester. It's taken a while for me to get used to, since that's been my go-to and enjoyment for so long. I ran only between 3-5 miles at a time up until the time that my second trimester rolled around, and the belly started to pop. I began to notice a lot of aching and discomfort while running, and also a lot more exhaustion the next day. A lot of woman use the Belly Band to keep their mileage up. Although it does hold the belly in place and keep it from bouncing up and down (that happens! what a visual!), it didn't prove to ward off the aching and discomfort of my pelvic muscles.
Since Spring is springing and nice weather is calling my name, I can't bear to not be outside when I get the chance. Walking has become my new form of running. Sometimes I'll do some walk/run routines, run 1 mile, walk 1 mile, etc etc, and other times I'll stick to fast walking for at least 5 miles. I'll try to incorporate hills to get my heart rate up, making sure that I'm still feeling like I'm pushing myself just enough (always sure to stay at a conversational pace.)
Sometimes the feeling of defeat, or as if I've failed by not running at the same level as I once did, has been very discouraging. It's another one of those small emotional battles that I had (have) to face.
Jumping, skipping, squatting, burpees, high knees...all of the fun rev-up-your-cardio stuff! The stuff I love.
I've had to modify a lot of my circuit training workouts simply do to discomfort in random positions, inability or doctors suggestions. However, modifying hasn't been too difficult...I just need to dig deep to remember alternative exercise moves that I could do. For example, if the routine calls for tuck jumps (jumping as high as possible while tucking your knees to your chest), I'll do squats with leg kicks or a round of punches with weights. Both of which raise my heart rate but keep my abdomen and surrounding muscles safe.
I've noticed that it is much easier to get tired after just twenty minutes- almost the same feeling as pre-pregnancy going 50 hard minutes. Sometimes I need to be done after just 20, and some days I can go to 40. It just depends on the workout, how much sleep I've been getting, and how hydrated I am.
I'd love to hear any of your experiences of exercising while pregnant. I still have a good 20 weeks to continue to adjust as needed.