4 pregnancies. 4 massive body changes. 4 recoveries.
As a former college athlete and longtime runner, I had made a lot of assumptions about how I would continue working out and eating healthy during my pregnancies, no problem. But I was wrong about that.
Between the nausea, swelling, heartburn and tiredness, the last thing I wanted to do was lace up my sneakers for a run, which was my typical workout. When I actually was motivated to take a run, my body would feel so starved and tired afterwards, I would overeat and be exhausted all day. During my first pregnancy, my runs quickly turned into walks. While it’s always positive to get outside and moving, I could feel the slow decline of my fitness throughout those 9 months.
I didn’t learn my lesson after the first pregnancy, because I didn’t know how to adjust my workouts. During my second and third pregnancy, I continued to try and run and push through my exhaustion, even running a 1/2 marathon at 16 weeks during my third pregnancy. I also experimented with pilates, which helped me keep my strength until i realized at 25 weeks that I couldn’t keep up with the core strength exercises anymore.
Now that I’m finishing up my fourth and final pregnancy, I can tell you this one felt different, and I finally found something that worked for me- weight lifting and strength training with short bursts of cardio. It’s a regiment that I have continued throughout my 40 weeks of pregnancy, because it was easily changed depending on how I felt that day. It made me feel strong but not overly exhausted after each session. I’m confident that I retained my strength, which will help me have the baby, recover and start building back towards my postnatal fitness goals.
It also helped that along the way, I finally realized that working out during pregnancy was no longer about vanity or weight as the scale continued to creep higher each week. My personal motivation was keeping a baseline strength that would help me recover faster after the baby.
I wish someone had given me this advice about working out during pregnancy:
– Forget any expectations of what you think you’ll be like during your pregnancy.
– Experiment with different workouts and have fun. You might be surprised what feels good.
- Try to keep good habits and consistency but be kind to yourself.
- Most importantly, listen to your body.
Your fitness doesn’t have to be a linear path downwards during pregnancy. Ride the ups and downs of each week. Your mind and body never go back the same way they were. That’s not always a bad thing though. Some things come back better than ever.