Is a Fit Pregnancy Achievable? Absolutely.
The term “fit pregnancy” almost seemed like an oxymoron to me. Of course every woman on the planet wants to flaunt their perfectly round baby bump that lead to remarks like “you don’t even look pregnant from the back!”, but let’s be real. #donuts
My first pregnancy was much different than my second. it was extremely unexpected, our Ava-Bug (surprise!), so I had been doing nothing to prepare my body for the pregnancy. I grew up a runner so it wasn’t uncommon for me to throw on my tennis shoes and head out for a run each afternoon that I’d get off of work; but the second I saw that dark pink line on the pregnancy test, I made the decision to quit working in fear of unintentionally harming my baby.
BIG. FAT. MYTH. : It is unsafe to workout while pregnant (unless you have a health concern or your doctor advises otherwise)
I made the assumption that it would be safer for my baby if I discontinued all cardiovascular activities while pregnant, when in reality, the opposite is true! Not only does a Mama’s cardiovascular fitness help prepare her body for labor, studies have shown that cardio is good for baby’s heart health and brain activity.
The Secrets to a Fit Pregnancy: Start Months Out
As soon as my husband and I began thinking about trying for a second little babe, I started getting serious in the gym. My main goal was to gett lean but build muscle (I followed the workout and eating plan from my favorite fitness book).
This made my pregnancy workouts in the first trimester so much easier, and I also found that exercise helped tremendously with the nausea / morning sickness.
If You Didn’t Exercise Before Pregnancy…
If you didn’t do much exercising the weeks leading up to getting pregnant, exercise in early pregnancy is not usually recommended because of the increased risk factors while in the first trimester. Be sure and check with your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise plan in early pregnancy.
How Do You Know If You’re Overdoing It?
My Ob/Gyn put it this way:
Throughout your pregnancy, you should always be able to say a sentence while you are working out. If you find that you are having trouble catching your breath, you’re doing too much.
Before I go into my workout and eating plan, from Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle, let’s take a look at some of the amazing benefits exercise and fitness during pregnancy have on your growing fetus.
Benefits of Working Out While Pregnant
• Working out while pregnant helps your baby’s heart and brain develop in the womb
Research shows that children, whose mom worked out while pregnant, tested higher on intelligence tests than those whose mom did not exercise.
• Exercise in pregnancy helps prepare your body for labor
Labor is no joke, y’all. I have three children, and my worst labor of them all, by a longshot, was the first (36 hours of labor with 4 hours of pushing). When you have a stronger cardiovascular system and stronger abdominal muscles, your pushes will be much more efficient! Speaking from experience.
My most recent labor was only 4 hours long compared to the 36 hour labor.
• Working out while pregnant will give you more energy, which is especially needed in early pregnancy
I am certain that working out during pregnancy gives you more energy. On the days that I skipped my workout, I could hardly bring myself to getting off the couch to keep from laying around all day, while on workout days, I had steady energy throughout the day.
Working out strengthens the muscles in your heart, which then gives you more energy. We all know pregnant women need some serious help in the energy department!
• Working out during your pregnancy strengthens your body for an easier month 9
Back pain can be horrendous during pregnancy, especially that last month, but by working out, you are strengthening your body which will help distribute some of that weight. My back pain was little to none my second pregnancy compared to my first — I had such terrible sciatic nerve pain that I had to move very slow when getting up or sitting down.
Weight lifting is a great way to strengthen your back muscles. I lifted weights several times a week up until the day I delivered my baby boy. Be sure and consult with your healthcare provider before trying anything new.
• You’ll look pretty darn good, and feel great, too!
We all know that pregnancy isn’t the time to go for a complete body transformation, but it sure does feel nice when you see a little more arm definition or your legs stay toned throughout the pregnancy.
It’s also a great feeling when your weight gain is slow and steady, right on track like it’s supposed to be, and your doctor compliments you for working hard to stay on track.
• You’ll spit out an athlete…maybe. Fit Pregnancy, Fit Baby?
By working out throughout your pregnancy, you drastically increase the chances of having an athletic child. There have been numerous studies and extensive research now shows that there is a significantly higher chance that your child will be athletic if you remain active and continue to workout while pregnant.
Be sure to check out my blog on the best jogging stroller for when your little one arrives!
*DISCLAIMER: No promises you’ll get a J.J. Watt out of the deal, but who knows.
The Importance of Clean Eating for a Fit Pregnancy
(Goal = 90% of the time)
Working out is extremely important during pregnancy, but eating, even more-so. I ate clean, whole foods about 90% of the time, with the exception of my occasional bowl of Blue Bell ice cream (because it’s just what every prego needs after those extra-long days).
I met with a nutritionist before following the meal plan from my fitness book and she gave me the thumbs up after going over the suggested macros (carbs, fat, protein) and calorie goals for pregnant women.
This is a great FREE app to track your macros. It will walk you through creating a customized plan based on your needs to achieve that fit pregnancy you are after!
Calories: You don’t need to increase your calorie consumption until the third trimester, and then only increase by 100-200 calories a day (an apple). With my body weight, height and activity level, she found that I was to consume about 1800-1900 calories a day.
Macro Breakdown during Pregnancy to achieve a SAFE fit pregnancy
Protein is essential, and so very important for your quickly growing fetus. If you are finding that you are not meeting your protein goals, you can always use a protein supplement. Be careful when buying protein because you don’t want to take synthetic protein while you are pregnant.
I always splurge a bit more on protein powder when I’m pregnant and go for the grass-fed, unsweetened protein powder (but be sure you get cocoa to mix in, since it is unsweetened).
good for your developing fetus–is my favorite organic protein protein powder. It helps your body do what it needs to do when while you’re cooking that little bun. I ate at least 60 grams of protein a day. Minimum. I ate greek yogurt with strawberries every morning for breakfast (my pregnancy craving). I always mixed in a little stevia, but just bought PLAIN non-fat greek yogurt (because the flavored yogurts are loaded with sugar and if you are trying to stay fit, you don’t want to eat sugar regularly).
I also ate tons of salmon and chicken breast. Very rarely did I consume meat other than that. The reason I chose salmon for my fish is because it is packed with omegas, super lean, and low in mercury (mercury is a no-no when you’re prego), but fish is a great for your growing baby and his/her sweet little brains and you, to stay healthy and achieve a fit pregnancy.
I am not a big carb person. I am in a love-hate relationship with them because when I think of carbs, I think of bread, which I try not to consume regularly. My nutritionist recommended getting in at least 75 grams of carbs per day, which I realized I was struggling to do occasionally. Although a fit pregnancy is a priority, it’s more important to nourish your little one.
I started to include more fruits and vegetables in my diet to bring that number up. My favorite healthy veggies that don’t cause huge insulin spikes are: squash, zucchini, green beans, asparagus, sweet potatoes (try this recipe!), carrots, apples, strawberries & blueberries.
Fruits & Vegetables:
I ate at least two-three servings a day of fruit, and about 6 servings of veggies, sometimes closer to 10. My nutritionist says to “eat as many veggies as you want” –many are high in fiber, so they help to keep you full and you’re less likely to open that pantry back up at 3am…but sometimes, it happens.
You may also like reading about these adorable and affordable maternity dresses to show off that sweet little bump of yours!