I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about my exercise routine, now that I’m pregnant. People see on @getinspiralized that I’m still spinning and jump squatting and I’ve had a lot of panicked, “is that okay for the baby?!” messages.
I’ve loved getting to know some of you pregnant mamas out there, and I’m happy to share my experiences with you.
So today, I’m talking about how my exercise has changed throughout my pregnancy – where it started, where it is now, and everything in between.
First off, you can see what I do at every workout over on @getinspiralized, I always post a sweaty selfie afterwards. AND I’d like to say this, as always, everything you read on this blog is just an opinion. It’s what works for me. I’m not a doctor and I’ll never tell you to do something, I’m merely sharing what works for me!
What I will say is this: I have an unbelievably amazing and relaxed OB-GYN. Funny story. At one of our very first prenatal appointments, Lu was worried about me exercising (I was barely 12 weeks) so intensely, especially spinning. He asked the doctor, “Is it okay for her to spin and run like this?” and my doctor said, “Think about the women who had to sprint at 9 months pregnant to escape wild animals, like tigers! Your wife will be okay spinning.”
After she said that, I got it – our bodies are designed to carry babies, we don’t need to act like we’re gentle flowers while pregnant – if anything, we’re stronger than ever during this time!
I also just want to say a little something about pregnancy fear. There are so many women out there who are afraid during their pregnancies. I can’t tell you how many messages I have received asking me, “You do this – but is that okay for the baby?” Someone once told me I shouldn’t drink too much cold water because it could lower the baby’s body temperature. What the?! I’m sad for women who spend their entire pregnancy afraid of making decisions – should I put collagen in my smoothie? Is it okay to eat pre-sliced fruit? Is exercise going to cause the baby to jiggle too much and fall out?
Of course, you should consult your doctor before eating anything you’re unsure of or doing certain types of exercise, because every BODY is different. For example, I was used to doing very high intensity workouts consistently before I got pregnant, so to continue those during pregnancy is perfectly fine. If your body isn’t used to it and you decide to start a new workout regimen of jump squatting and high intensity workout classes, you may injure yourself. AND, I’ve found after talking to many mothers that a lot of our labor, delivery, and body changes are genetic. So, there’s only so much you can do!
Long story short, don’t live your pregnancy in fear. It should be a time of joy and excitement! And you know what’s worse than eating pre-sliced cantaloupe? Stress. Stress isn’t good for you or your baby.
Reason for exercise
Before pregnancy: To feel good and energized and to also look good. It’s a delicate balance of vanity and just wanting to feel good. When your body is working optimally because of a good diet and consistent exercise panel, there’s no better feeling – you literally glow! The added bonus? You look better. Clothes fit better, you can’t help but have more confidence when you’re proud of how your body looks and what it can do (especially when you know the level of effort it took it to get there!)
During pregnancy: There’s less of a care on vanity and more of an emphasis on keeping healthy for the baby and exercising for a hopefully easier labor and delivery. Vanity-wise, I figure, if I can’t have a flat tummy, I better have nice legs and arms to complement the beautiful bump! Also, I workout because it makes me feel lighter – it’s probably psychological, but knowing that I can make it through a 45 minute workout makes me feel lighter on my feet. With so much extra weight, it’s nice to feel toned and strong. PLUS, a big motivation to making it to the gym, especially during these later months in pregnancy, is for an easier post-partum return. I have NO desire to be one of those women who has abs 4 weeks post-partum, but I definitely don’t want to totally start from zero, so having a good muscle tone base and memory will hopefully help me recover more easily and not have to stress. I want to take those first post-partum weeks to myself, letting my body recover fully before I jump back into the gym.
Types of workouts
Before pregnancy: I love to spin, run, lift, and do full body HIIT. I love sweating and getting my heart rate up. I love heart-pumping music and I want to leave my workout dripping with sweat. For HIIT, I love the Nike Training Club App’s 45-minute full body HIIT workouts, and I’ve always loved Tone It Up and Kayla Itsines for supplementing. I lifted 15 pound dumb-bells mostly, with the occasional 20s if I was doing something with lower body, like squats.
During pregnancy: I still spin and do full body HIIT, but I have to modify everything from intensity to duration to the actual movements. I actually stopped running entirely around week 20 because the pressure of my belly was causing my bladder to give out – I would literally pee myself 10 minutes into a run and it was embarrassing, so I decided to give it up completely. Some of the moves in my HIIT workouts I had to modify or stop (ie nothing on my belly.) I also added my new favorite workout into the mix, to replace running: walking uphill on a treadmill. I really love it, it’s so challenging, a great booty workout, and goes by so quickly. I prop my iPhone up, sync up my headphones and literally watch Instagram stories. It’s my way to catch up on my favorite bloggers’ and brands’ content! I walk at 2.6 speed for 30 minutes, starting at 13.0 incline and ending at 15.0 incline (the max.) I’m always dripping sweat!
Frequency of workouts
Before pregnancy: I was doing 45-minute spin rides on the Peloton bike (read about my obsession here) about 4-5 times per week and doing full body HIIT workouts 1-2 days per week. I was working out consistently 5-6 days per week. My motivation for workouts was definitely to feel good, but there was definitely some vanity in it – I wanted toned arms, legs, tummy, and the works. I saw the correlation between exercise consistency and muscle definition. There’s no better feeling than feeling great on the inside and looking great on the outside.
During pregnancy: In the beginning of the pregnancy, I was sticking to my 5-6 days/week quota. Around weeks 23-26, as I got a bit larger and started feeling heavier, the workouts came down to mainly 5 days a week. Once I hit my third trimester and was waking up more tired than usual and missing those morning workouts more frequently, I felt so tired by late afternoon that I’d have to skip the day’s workout completely, and I started working out 4-5 days per week. I just listened to my body – I knew if I pushed myself while I was exhausted, I’d overwork myself or worse, injure myself due to improper form.
Intensity of workouts
Before pregnancy: Pretty much full throttle. I’m the kind of gal who likes to be out of breath for most of the workout. When I’m in a spin class and the instructor gives a metric range for resistance (ie ’40 to 50′), I’ll go 50, or maybe 51/52. I love to push my limits and challenge my body. If I’m not dripping in sweat by the end of a workout, it was a waste of my time! Unless it’s yoga, of course – that’s more restorative for me.
During pregnancy: I definitely lowered the intensity. First, the moment I became pregnant, I started lifting 10 pound dumbbells instead of 15s and 20s. Up until about week 25 I was fine with high intensity, but once my belly got larger and I started experiencing back pain and sore hips, I started to lower the intensity and modify my moves. I tried doing 30 minute spin classes instead of 45 minutes. I took longer breaks in between moves and sets during HIIT. Now, at week 31, I get out of breath easily, so it’s hard to keep up a high intensity, so again, listening to my body is important!
Time of workouts
Before pregnancy: In January 2017, I made a resolution to become a morning person and I did this by pushing my typically afternoon/early evening workouts into morning workouts, waking up at 6:15am. I was consistently working out at 6:30am (with a 6:15am wakeup call.) In 2016, I was the exact opposite – 90% of my workouts were after 5pm.
During pregnancy: In the first trimester, I was pooped by 2pm, so I knew there was no way I would exercise if it wasn’t first thing in the morning. When I wake up (still to this day) I have the most energy – I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to hop out of bed. Knock on wood, I haven’t had any issues sleeping. So basically, I set the pattern of working out early in the morning. Towards the middle and end of my second trimester, I started building back in 5/6pm workouts, but I found that I wasn’t as consistent as I was with those morning workouts. Now, in my third trimester, I feel SO much bigger and heavier in the afternoons, so if I don’t make the workout in the morning, it likely won’t happen – or if it does, it’s really uncomfortable, so I’ve been trying to make those 6:15am wakeup calls!
Duration of workouts
Before pregnancy: My workouts typically lasted 45 minutes to 1 hour. I’d say it was 50% 45 minutes and 50% 1 hour. Like my work days, I am very efficient during my workouts – there’s no checking Instagram in between sets, there’s more squatting or running in place. And on the spin bike, I’m too sweaty and out of breath to do anything else but spin! I always take my before and afters, but during the workout, it’s balls to the wall!
During pregnancy: I have been much more lenient with myself. However, I try to get 45 minute workouts in 80% of the time, and the rest of the time, it’s 30 minutes. Sometimes I’ll just do a 30 minute spin ride and be done or I’ll do a 30 minute HIIT workout and call it a day. I’m more lenient, because I know that my body is simultaneously growing another human, so I try to practice a bit of self-care. When I feel like my workout wasn’t ‘grueling’ enough, I sometimes supplement with extra walking outside that day or something like that.