I bid you a temporary farewell as I enter maternity leave! Today’s message is simple. I hope it’s impactful though.
PS – I wrote the draft of this post on Monday 01/18/2016 at 36 weeks pregnant…later that night I went into labor. Man oh man, toughest workout of my life (and I had hit the gym earlier that day, haha). Pictures of my happy boy included!
Apparently I’m about to pop…a month early! Yikes!!
Pregnancy…oh man. For the women out there who have been through it, you know how up and down it can be. For the women who will one day experience it, I hope you drop any expectations of what being pregnant will hold for you because, to be blunt, there is simply no way of knowing until you’re in the thick of it…and even then…
While on the pregnancy train, I’ve been like many women, experiencing aches, pains and not-so-pleasant symptoms (I’ll leave bowel movements and discharge details out…you’re welcome). I had the stereotypical queasiness my first trimester (although I never threw up – hallelujah!) and experienced some major food aversions and cravings. One day I felt like I would be sick at the thought of pretty much any food…except a juicy burger. I sent my husband to fetch a Five Guy’s burger. He came back with a double patty. I scolded him for getting me something too big and then scarfed the whole thing down in a matter of minutes. The next day…same thing. All I could think about was a burger. I demanded (with a bit too much force) that he get me the same succulent slab of red meat. Basically, I felt like a caveman for two days. After that, I couldn’t stand the thought of burgers or steak for the rest of summer. A bit of a shame during grilling season. In spite of the appetite anomalies and bouts of nausea, I made it a priority to keep up working out so that I didn’t lose too much fitness from my pre-pregnancy routine.
My first meal after labor and delivery…you better bet I ate the heck out of those pancakes!!!!
During my second trimester, I kept waiting for the “return of energy” that women claim they get. I was desperately disappointed and confused at how I was increasingly MORE tired rather than energized. One day, I couldn’t believe that I could barely handle a Level 4 speed on the Stairmaster when I used to do upwards of a Level 12. I was surprised at how my abs felt stretched and tender after going out for a run. I was dismayed by the achey tension I experienced in the middle of my back…not an area I thought would have pain, especially given that my lower back was injured years ago and was the place I anticipated having challenges with throughout pregnancy. As each new obstacle arose, I tried to stay calm and address it however I could. Some days of rest were definitely in order. But most other times I found that my loosening core and achey spine were best aided by getting moving. Exercises that promoted stability worked wonders. Not only did working out help rid my body of pain, but it was the hours that followed the gym that were my most energized too. I found that if I could keep active, even if it was to a lesser degree than pre-pregnancy, I felt infinitely better.
During this third trimester, I have encountered more of the stereotypical challenges that pregnant women have: loosening hip/pelvic joints, stiff neck from side-lying sleep positions (can’t WAIT to sleep on my back again), extreme fatigue some days oscillating with neurotic nesting energy on other days, increased pelvic pressure, and a restless anxiety over all that is about to change in my life. For each of these challenges, exercise has helped.
Leaving the hospital! *Happy moment*
Doing side leg lifts, sometimes even in the middle of the night, has helped keep me mostly pain-free in the pelvic/hip region. Performing neck stretches and exercising my back has helped get my neck back into alignment and comfortable (most of the time). The subtle Kegel exercises have truly become my friend, especially as my baby’s head has engaged in my pelvis, making me feel like I should give up working at a desk in favor of sitting on a toilet all day long. After so many trips to the bathroom, your mind starts to get a little creative. And lastly, my low energy and stress tension are both improved as soon as I walk into the gym. When I walk through those doors, it’s as though I’m already pulsating with the feel-good endorphins that follow a sweat session.
Exercise has been a blessing for my pregnancy. I truly can’t imagine getting through this experience without it. It has kept me feeling relatively physically comfortable and emotionally upbeat. It has been my “drug of choice” during a time when pains med or a nice red wine buzz aren’t really options.
Instead of looking at my aches and pains as reasons NOT to workout, I found they were reasons TO workout. I strongly believe this translates into other people’s lives too. If you’re feeling physically and/or emotionally strained on a regular basis, give exercise a try! If you’re feeling physical discomfort and you’re not in a steady workout routine, I bet you my bottom dollar that finding a balanced program will help you.
My sweet baby! 🙂 Stubborn little stinker couldn’t wait to enter the world!
Yes, feeling less-than-wonderful physically, mentally and/or emotionally is tough. The easiest thing, pregnant or not, is to resign your body to the couch and mind to the television (or any number of other electronic devices). But, I can assure you, you don’t have to give up or give in. There’s more to life than feeling subpar. Don’t stand for it!! Use your frustrated energy – or lack thereof – to do something positive.
Even as a fitness professional, I wanted to give up exercise many times during pregnancy. It would be way easier than hauling my increasingly large belly to the gym. But, I decided to keep at it and, hands down, if there is one single thing that has made this pregnancy easier and more enjoyable, it’s been exercise. Whether or not you’re pregnant is irrelevant. The point is, if I can do it, you can do it.
Cheers to getting active and feeling great in 2016! See you on the “other side” when I’m postpartum, sleep deprived and trying to figure out how to get back into my exercise routine. I don’t think it will be easy, but I KNOW it will be worth it.
At least one of us will be getting sleep!!
Yours in health and wellness,