Monday, December 8, 2014

How I'm Staying Healthy in My Pregnancy

5 weeks vs. 24 1/2 weeks 
I am often curious and usually inspired by other young blogger's posts on what they're doing and eating to keep healthy so, I thought it would be fun to share my journey of health. Today I'm going to be on the topic of staying fit throughout my pregnancy and I hope to share more posts in the near future! I haven't really posted much about my fitness experience but since I was about sixteen or so, I have been passionate about exercising and eating healthfully. Before becoming pregnant, my fitness goals were to continuously challenge myself by increasing intensity to improve my endurance and overall strength. I love challenging myself! But now that I am almost 26 weeks pregnant, my goals have shifted to focusing on just maintaining my endurance and strength; that way I can be healthy for my baby without overdoing it. At first when my midwife suggested I gain 35-40 pounds, I had an inkling of anxiety and worried about superficial things like how I would look and feel with all that added weight! But that initial fear turned into excitement quickly after I realized that the most important thing right now is having a healthy baby. Accepting that my body will change in this joyful season of my life was really the first step and now every time Lydia moves around I'm reminded that I should appreciate my body and all that it's capable of doing!

Staying fit: 
Exercising while pregnant has been interesting and often challenging since my belly is getting bigger each and every week! At this point in my pregnancy, there are days when I feel GREAT and then days when all I wish to do is lie down and veg out. So instead of planning an exercise routine for the whole week, I've become more flexible and base my exercises on how I'm feeling that particular day. I mentioned not too long ago some of my favorite prenatal exercises but didn't go into much detail, so I hope this post is helpful for any expectant moms! 

During my first trimester, I was blessed because I didn't suffer from morning sickness but was plagued with dreadful exhaustion. I honestly felt like I could sleep 10 hours a night and still would need a few small naps throughout the day. Who knew growing a baby required so much energy? With that being the case, I threw down the towel and retired from my usual high intensity interval training (HIIT). At first I felt out of shape and that made me upset but I didn't want to give up on doing cardio just because I was pregnant, so I researched other options. I quickly discovered that low impact cardio was exactly what I needed. I personally adore Jessica Smith’s YouTube channel because she offers so many free exercises that are both short and low impact but still manage to get a good sweat going; what’s not to love? (She also has a Frenchie named Peanut!) My energy is a little better now but there are still days I feel that exhaustion and on those days, I challenge myself to do one of her barre, dance walks or prenatal videos. Her exercises are fun, quick and give me more energy than a nap ever did! It's important that I add that I did and still take time out of the day to rest; which I believe is beneficial in growing a healthy baby.
I noticed when I entered my second trimester the initial feeling of exhaustion seemed to subside and now there are days when I can exercise longer or more intensely just like the good ole days! Michael and I even started going back to the gym to lift weights. My sister also loaned me Body by Trimester with Joy Southworth and gave me Leah Sarago’s Fit & Sleek Prenatal Physique for my birthday. Joy Southworth’s exercises are challenging and strengthening because she uses medium to heavy dumbbells. I mostly enjoy her DVD because she focuses on pelvic floor exercises, deep squats and she always ends with Kegels; all beneficial for labor and delivery.  Joy’s style is circuit training, focusing on multiple body groups at a time and even includes some plyometrics! The DVD comes with three discs designed for each trimester and since I’m still in my second trimester I have yet to try the 3rd disc but I know it’ll be a rewarding experience!

Leah Sarago’s DVD on the other hand is much like her Ballet Body Series which is a combination of ballet and Pilates. Her DVD features a warm up and six individual 15-minute exercises that focus on strengthening the upper body, lower back/core, lower body and a nice rewarding stretch. Her exercises are challenging and even though their designed for pregnancy, I would probably still continue the exercises well after Lydia is born! Both Leah Sarago and Joy Southworth's DVDs are excellent and provide me with the confidence that I'll be able to maintain my strength during and after my pregnancy.

Eating healthy: 

As far as my eating habits go, I've been continuing to eat healthfully and have not had any weird cravings! I personally don’t think anything is wrong with treating myself to an occasional cup of hot chocolate, pretzels or Biscoff cookie every now and then; especially if I’m eating mindfully 80% of the time. Moderation baby! I don’t think I can even eat excessive amounts of those foods without feeling terrible afterwards! Pregnancy makes me feel…fuller all the time. The only “weird” craving I had in the beginning of my pregnancy was meat and salty foods. I linked those cravings to not eating an adequate amount of iron and protein so naturally I began eating more protein. I discovered I could eat eggs again and now eat them as a regular part of my diet! That’s when I also discovered that a fried egg on a burger tastes magical! I also try to incorporate protein into every meal including my snacks such as nuts, yogurt and hummus with carrots.

I like to think of the phrase as “eating for two” as a reminder to eat not only foods that are good for me, but for Lydia too! While I didn't have weird cravings, I did have aversions to the smell of coffee and sadly raw salads. So instead of force feeding myself salads, I drank lots of green smoothies and cooked vegetables throughout the first trimester. I have a particular affection towards roasted potatoes, caramelized onions and cooked spinach. Now that coffee doesn't smell disgusting to me, I drink it but only stick to one cup a day and will occasionally buy a latte if I’m feeling especially frisky! To limit mercury I've been eating canned salmon instead of tuna which actually tastes much tastier and fancier if you ask me.

Earlier in my pregnancy I did get heartburn and indigestion but haven’t experienced it as frequently. I still eat spicy food which doesn't bother me as much as it did in the first trimester which is a huge relief! Because Indian, Mexican and Thai food just wouldn't be the same in mild heat. Because I can’t eat nearly as much as I used to eat, I get stuffed easily and this Thanksgiving I felt like a balloon after eating dessert. But I survived. My symptoms haven’t been terrible these days but every now and then when I walk, I feel Lydia digging into my pelvis which feels like cramping; not so much menstrual cramps but the kind of cramps you get exercising too close to eating. I also get the occasional calf cramp and Charlie horse too. And as of late: NO SWELLING. I am secretly praying and hoping I’m one of those rare women who don’t swell up but who knows; time will tell…

That’s all for now,
xo Jessica 

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