Exercise in My Pregnancy

I briefly talked about the exercise that I have been trying to keep up with during my pregnancy in my last update, but since I have made a point to try to stay active over the past eight months, I wanted to dedicate a post talking about what I have done. I need to stress, however, that I have been incredibly lucky to have had a pretty easy pregnancy thus far (knock on wood) and that has been a huge factor in my continuing to exercise regularly. If at any point, my doctor had told me to stop being so active for my baby’s health or my own health, I would have listened and stopped in a heartbeat. I know I have been very lucky.

Remaining active has been a lifesaver for me over the past eight months. I realized pretty early into pregnancy that when I went more than three days in a row without some form of physical activity, I would begin to feel sick. Perhaps it’s a “chicken or the egg” thing for me – Have I felt good because I remained active or have I remained active because I felt good? – but that’s what it was. As I progressed through my third trimester, it was reaffirmed: Thanks to the complete and utter exhaustion that followed for the entire week after this year’s marathon charity podcast and then four days of non-stop traveling the following weekend, I ended up unintentionally taking two weeks off from my regular fitness routine. I think I worked out maybe 2 or 3 days during the first few weeks of April. Sometime during Weeks 31-32, I developed a lot of stiffness and hip/leg pain. Even the process of standing up from a chair or couch hurt. I thought, “This is it, that sciatic pain everyone complains about from the baby sitting on a nerve; I’m going to be sidelined for the next two months…”

So, I did what any gal would do: consulted Dr. Google to figure out what was going on and any possible solutions. On the same day, I noticed that the more I moved around at work, the less it hurt to walk. When I sat for long periods of time, it would hurt again. I read something on Google that said one way to combat the particular discomfort I was feeling was to build up muscle mass to support the area. That is when I realized that the several week break I had taken from exercising meant I had lost muscle mass. I began to wonder if there was a correlation between my decrease in physical fitness and my increase in pain. So, I forced myself to move around more and go back to walking and taking classes at Pure Barre. After a week, I felt much better and much more mobile in general. And that is why I’m going to do my best to stay active until the end of my pregnancy. I may be waddling down the sidewalk or doing heavy modifications in class, but I’m still going to do my best to keep moving because it helps me feel better, physically. Sure, I’ve cut back to 3 or 4 days of light exercise a week and as the weeks progress, that may go down to 2 or 3 days, but I’m going to do my best just keep active as long a possible.

So here’s what my exercise routine has been for most of my pregnancy. I had to stop running sometime during the second trimester because I couldn’t make it more than 3 minutes without having to go to the bathroom, but other than that, it’s remained pretty much the same throughout. I did want to start swimming again but finding a bathing suit that fit was a frustrating challenge that I couldn’t meet, haha.

Walking – Ah, walking. I love loading up my iPod with podcasts then going on a nice, long walk. It helps keep me relaxed. I was able to keep up with nine mile walks (once a week) until probably Week 25 or so (I can’t remember exactly), then I had to keep decreasing because I was getting tired. I went down to seven miles, then six, then five. Now, I aim for 60-90 minutes, twice a week. Some days, I can only walk for an hour; other days, I can walk for almost two hours. It really depends on the time of day and my level of energy. I’m pretty sure I was waddling down a trail on Monday afternoon, haha. I want to keep walking until the end because I’ve read that walking is one of the things that will help with labor.

Pure Barre – As of writing this, I have taken 50 Pure Barre classes since finding out I was pregnant. I have two more classes left on my class pack and I’d really like to finish them before he arrives. Taking Pure Barre classes (1-2 a week) allowed me to maintain muscle tone and kept me strong, particularly in my legs and my core. When I took a few weeks off at the beginning of April, I really felt the difference in my body. I just overall felt crappier and weaker. The great thing about continuing these classes for me was that I could modify at will and the instructors were always very understanding and helpful in coming over to show me modifications or alternative positions. I know they’ll probably never see this, but an especially big thanks to Ami, Cheryl, and Stephanie at the Cary, NC studio for always being attentive to my “special needs,” particularly as I got bigger and certain parts of class have become more difficult for me to do.

Kristen McGee’s Prenatal Yoga & Pilates – A friend was kind enough to recommend Kristen McGee’s Prenatal Yoga & Pilates DVD to me. I focused mainly on the Pilates and Express workouts. What impressed me most about this DVD is that unlike other fitness DVDs, this one didn’t automatically assume that everyone who picked it up was a beginner. I was challenged each time I did the routines and I really appreciated that. My muscles were even sore the next day after my first few viewings. Here’s a link to check it out:  http://kristinmcgee.com/shop/dvd-prenatal-yoga-pilates

Pure Barre, Prenatal 1 & Prenatal 2 DVDS – Since I’m such a big fan of the Pure Barre classes, getting the prenatal DVDs were a no-brainer. I have mixed thoughts on them, though. I didn’t like the thigh sprints in either DVD; they were way too easy for someone with a lot of PB experience. On the other hand, both DVDs had great, challenging seat sprints. I did get some good tips about pregnancy form that I carried over into actual class with me and that was incredibly helpful. I think both DVDs are worth checking out, but if I had to pick one, I’d say go with the first one. Here are the links to each one: http://purebarre.com/shop/dvds-equipment/prenatal-1.html and http://purebarre.com/shop/dvds-equipment/prenatal-2.html

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