When I found out I was pregnant, I was debatably in the best shape of my life (as seen above, ahem, I do not currently look the same LOL). But this is actually the best time to get pregnant, from what I read! About three years ago I made exercising a priority, and was able to change my body in ways I didn’t even know were possible! I lost 24 pounds, and ran my first half marathon! I achieved success with two rounds of LEAN with Amanda Nighbert, and joined Orange Theory Fitness (I have talked about both previously here!) So if we are being honest here (which I always want to be) I had some major anxiety around pregnancy weight gain, and the changes that my body was going to go through. I am incredibly blessed to be giving life to another human, and I totally respect my body for what it is doing while it grows said tiny human. That being said, it was really important to me to do everything I could throughout pregnancy to stay active and healthy, for me and my baby.
I have been really lucky to have felt so great. I maybe had one week of feeling slightly nauseous, so I will consider that a big win! I know many women who feel awful for months so I am so thankful I have felt so good! The first thing I did was talk to my doctor about what I could and couldn’t do once I found out I was expecting. I see Dr. Borders at Lexington Womens Health for those of you local (she is amazing!!). She was incredibly encouraging about me keeping up with my pre-pregnancy workout routine as long as I felt fine. So I did just that. I have continued to do Orange Theory four times a week, and started modifying the ab exercises around 20 weeks. I stopped rowing awhile ago, it just started to feel funny so I do the strider instead (between you and me, I ain’t mad about it because I dislike rowing anyway). I like how at OTF they monitor your heart rate, so I can always see where I am at. Although Dr. Borders wasn’t concerned about me keeping my heart rate under 140 or anything, I still like that I can see it the whole time. I think that keeping up my workout routine has made ALL the difference in my pregnancy experience. It helps me mentally manage my anxiety, and I am hoping it helps physically with childbirth! You read these things you know??
I also reached out early on to my nutritional spirit guide Amanda Nighbert to get her advice on staying healthy (and not gaining 100 pounds) during pregnancy. Amanda is a Registered Dietician, and created the LEAN program which I have followed since before my wedding. I don’t follow the fasting anymore while I am pregnant, but I do still follow many of the components of the LEAN program, specifically the whole food nutrition. This is what Amanda had to say (she is so knowledgeable!):
Focus on whole food nutrition and slow steady weight gain.
Many women get themselves in trouble when they become pregnant because they think they are eating for two! They use this time as a good excuse to load up on high calorie junk food. Don’t fall into this trap! In reality your growing baby only requires an additional 300 calories a day putting most women’s caloric needs at about 1800 a day. I encourage my pregnant clients to focus less on calories and macros and focus more on the quality of food you are fueling your body with. Aim for as many wholes foods as possible. Load up on veggies at every meal! Add adequate protein and then use everything else in moderation. Limit high carb foods like fruit to 1-2 servings a day and grains to 2-4 servings a day. Maintaining good carbohydrate control, about 150g a day will help to prevent pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes but doing a low carb diet is not recommended during pregnancy. Lastly, balance out your weight gain. I encourage my clients to limit weight gain to 1-2 pounds a month for the 1st two trimesters and then about 1 pound a week for the last trimester. The more you can balance out your weight gain in the beginning of your pregnancy the more controlled your overall gain will be.
Stay well hydrated!
Staying well hydrated and using electrolyte water can help you so munch during your pregnancy. Balancing your electrolytes can really help with morning sickness. Staying well hydrated can also help with constipation and increased hunger. So continue to aim for as much water daily as possible!
Pregnancy is no excuse to skip the gym. The more active you remain during your pregnancy the easier your labor and recovery could be! Exercise helps to combat stress hormones, boosts circulation, prepare the body for labor and delivery and help in fetal growth and development. If you were active before your pregnancy then you are free to continue to do what you were doing with small modifications as your body changes. If you were not active before your pregnancy then it is a good idea to start slow and ease into exercise. Remember not to do anything drastic or take up any new challenges during your pregnancy.
Supplement as needed.
Good nutrition is so important to the development of your growing baby! Most OBGYN will put their patients on at least a prenatal vitamin during pregnancy. Taking prenatal multivitamins will ensure that you get the basic requirements. But vitamin-packed, fresh foods will help your baby get the best start in life which is why whole food nutrition is so important. Discuss additional vitamins needs with your OBGYN but many women would benefit from taking more. Adequate iron is very important and many women struggle with low iron stores before pregnancy. Your best dietary source of iron is red meat, such as beef. You can get non-heme iron (found in vegetables) from lentils, spinach, black strap molasses, and many kinds of beans. To improve the absorption of plant or non-heme iron, pair the food with a vitamin-C-rich source. Magnesium is an important element for teeth and bones, regulation of blood-sugar levels, and the proper functioning of body proteins. It’s also important for tissue growth and repair, and may play a role in reducing preterm delivery. A good diet usually provides enough magnesium, so it’s not present in most prenatal vitamins. The best food sources of magnesium are: seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin, wheat germ, tofu, almonds and yogurt. You can also take Epsom salt baths twice a week to increase your blood magnesium levels. Lastly Vitamin D is an important vitamin to consider. Sun exposure is the best way to get adequate vitamin D but during the winter months, sun exposure is less for most people. Your doctor can easily check vitamin D levels and determine is extra supplementation is needed. Low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of complications including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and low birth weight of newborns. One more, omega 3 fatty acids! Omega 3s from fish oil are helpful for the baby’s development, especially in helping to optimize the brain growth of the baby. They also provide good protection against premature birth. Omega 3’s are also important for mom, as they help to fend off depression and to support cardiovascular health. many prenatal vitamins now contain important omega 3 fatty acids!
I was so happy to see that everything Amanda said fell right in line with what my Doctor advised as well. I take iron and folic acid in addition to my prenatal. I like the gummy vitamins best, it’s like a little treat in the mornings. Sometimes, I want more than two, just sayin. I am also a person that works really well with a goal, so I asked Dr. Borders for a calorie goal, and low and behold she said 1800 calories as well! So I have been tracking that in My Fitness Pal (best app ever). Now granted, of COURSE there are days when I go above that, or don’t even track it, but for the most part I am really good about it. I haven’t had any crazy cravings except for fruit. I want fruit ALL.THE.TIME. If I find myself eating the whole bag of grapes I go drink water, because I feel like maybe my body is wanting more hydration. Who knows, but grapes are delicious.
I am really enjoying pregnancy, and am trying not to take anything too seriously. If I miss a workout, no bigs. If I want some Coldstone, that is ok too. Having a solid fitness routine and nutrition plan has really made a difference for me in how I feel, and has helped me to embrace (ok maybe not embrace, but be ok with) seeing the numbers go up on the scale. I can rest easily knowing I am doing everything I can for healthy growing little baby! And growing is GOOD! It truly is a miracle, and I am so thankful God has entrusted this little someone to me!
*PLEASE consult your doctor before any fitness or nutritional changes. I always get nervous posting info on things like this, because I am not the authority by any means! This is meant only to share what is working for me, ands been approved by my OB!*