Exercising While Pregnant
I wanted to pop in today and thank you all so much for the sweet comments and e-mails you sent following my last post on HG. My heart was overwhelmed by the love and encouragement I received and I was so blessed by each of you who took time out of your busy day to pour into me and my family. So, from the bottom of my heart….thank YOU!
A few people asked how my workouts are going now, so I figured I would dedicate a post to the topic of working out while pregnant.
First, let me start with a disclaimer. I didn’t work out at all while I was in the middle of fighting HG. For those of you who have suffered from it, you know exercise is impossible. Even after I found the medications that worked for me and I entered the second trimester, which is known for bringing more energy, I still wasn’t able to exercise. I had to initially work on getting my strength back for daily living. I had to focus on gaining back the weight I lost. I had to get my stomach to a place where I could eat normal meals and hold them down. That took some time and patience and eventually I got to a place where I felt ready to sweat again. So, first things first! Don’t exercise until you feel ready! Even when you aren’t battling HG, your body is working overtime while pregnant, so respect what your body is doing by listening to it.
With that said, here are my tips for working out/running while pregnant.
- Always eat before and after exercise: Gone are the days where I could run for 45 minutes and then wait 2 hours to eat. These days, I don’t stand a chance unless I eat before and immediately after my workout. My go-to recovery meal is a Juice Plus Complete Shake mixed with vanilla almond milk. I usually drink this within 20 minutes of finishing a workout or run. I try to fuel up with something healthy (apples, blueberries, string cheese, etc) but
sometimesusually I end up grabbing 4 cookies before a run and that works too. I just can’t do anything on an empty stomach or the nausea hits me hard.
- Always cool down: I never cooled down after a run or workout. Especially after I had Atlas. I was always moving quickly from 1 activity to the next and that meant I didn’t have time to cool down. I can’t do that now. If I finish a run or workout and immediately go into the next task, like laundry or unloading the dishwasher, I get very dizzy. I have to take time to let my heart rate come down gradually and stretch to avoid feeling like I’m going to pass out. This usually looks like a 5 minute walk following a run or various stretches on my yoga mat following a boot camp style workout.
- Rest days are a necessity: I can’t workout 5 or 6 days a week right now. My body gets fatigued if I push it too hard, and when the fatigue sets in it can quickly turn into nausea. When that happens, Atlas suffers because I am not able to care for him and play with him so I am very strict on not skipping rest days because I don’t want his life negatively impacted over something like running. I usually shoot for 3 or 4 days a week of exercise. Most of my runs are 4-6 miles and most of my workouts are the 30 minute advanced Nike Training Club workouts. This schedule works for me because I’m able to push it on the days I run and play with speed work and still allow my legs and joints plenty of recovery time.
- Don’t shower immediately following exercise: Okay, fine. This is something I rarely did before I was pregnant. I shamelessly fall into the category of the “I worked out 5 hours ago and still haven’t showered” stay-at-home-moms. But, on the rare occasion I have tried to shower immediately following a run or NTC workout, I get extremely nauseous. I have no clue why. I assume it has something to do with overheating? I have to cool down, drink my Juice Plus shake and then wait a while before getting clean. I know…how unfortunate for my family.
- Be flexible: I am a morning person when it comes to workouts. Always have been, always will be. I love starting my day by sweating. Those morning workouts went out the window real quick though when HG set in. I think a lot of pregnant women deal with some level of morning sickness, so I assume a lot of pregnant chicks can’t workout in the morning. I have to wait for my medicine to kick in before I begin a workout to ensure I don’t end up puking the rest of the day. Now I squeeze in a sweat session in the afternoons, which isn’t so bad but it definitely took some getting used to. An afternoon workout is better than no workout at all, right?
- The treadmill is your friend: Since I’m currently running with a baby on my bladder, the treadmill has become my best friend. I still prefer running outside with Ob, but most days I find it easier to run on the treadmill because I can quickly hop off and run to the bathroom if need be. Some days I can make it 5 miles without stopping to pee. Other days I literally have to stop every 1.5 miles. Is that TMI? Probably.
- Listen to your body: The other day I was running and I set out to do 5.5 miles, but I cut it short at 3 miles because I could tell I wasn’t in it that day. I rarely did this before pregnancy because I’m more of a “suck it up and do it” person when it comes to my running goals. However, with this pregnancy I am trying very hard to respect my body and that means listening to it when it is screaming “STOP!” I fought some serious nausea that day and I was thankful I didn’t push myself to run farther because I’m confident that would have only made my sickness worse. To be honest, I still feel a little gun-shy when it comes to exercise because of how sick I was, so if I’m feeling even a little ‘off’ I don’t workout.
I think the most important thing to remember when working out while pregnant is to be PROUD of yourself. Who cares if your pace slows down and you have to modify your pushups and you have to omit the burpees. At least you’re fighting to maintain a level of fitness. And some days it is absolutely okay to blow off the workout and just go for a nice long walk with your dogs. Heck, I did this before I got pregnant and it was a good decision back then too. I think the important thing is to find what you love doing and do it to the best of your ability.
A few of you also asked if I plan on running through my entire pregnancy and the answer is NO! I’ve heard too many stories about women who have permanent bladder damage due to running when they were full term. As much as I love running, I am willing to put it on the back burner to avoid peeing my pants every time I sneeze. 😉 I would like to run up until 24 weeks and then see how I’m feeling from there. If I start feeling too much pressure and strain, I may stop sooner. I wasn’t able to run at all during my pregnancy with Atlas due to HG and a pulled ligament, so I am just thankful for the weeks God is gifting me to run with this child. If I have to stop running next week, I’m okay with that. I’ll just countdown the days until I can slip my Mizunos back on and hit the pavement.