Whether you’re a first time mom or a seasoned vet, at one point or another, the last thing on your mind will be working out. At least that’s the way I have been feeling for the last 28 weeks. The mere ritual of motivating myself to go to the gym, take a walk, or work out at home results in a distinct and audible, “Meh, ugh”.
But, trust me, this is a necessary evil…
Admittedly, I did not work out at all during my first two pregnancies and I was not living a “healthy” lifestyle. I did not have a workout routine, I was not conscious or concerned with what foods I was eating, and I made little to no effort to even walk around throughout my work day. This lax lifestyle was not doing my pregnant body any justice, and I feel that I paid for it in the end.
With my first pregnancy, I packed on an additional 52lbs to my 110lb, 5’ 2” frame. According to textbook recommendations, a woman should gain between 25-35 lbs during her pregnancy. I am all for healthy weight gain, and believe that every woman is different, but I took those 40 weeks (41 in my case) as a pass to consume whatever I wanted with no regrets. Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast sandwiches every morning? Check. Bagels at snack time? You betcha. Two and a half servings at dinner? Coming right up. But, in the last few weeks of my first pregnancy, I was reaping the consequences of my prenatal bliss. While I did not suffer from severe conditions like gestational diabetes, I did experience elevated blood pressure, tons of swelling, and a heck of a hard time returning to my pre-pregnancy weight.
Here I am at roughly 34 weeks pregnant with my first child. And little did I know, I still had 7 weeks to go!
On April 16, 2012, I delivered a healthy, beautiful 7lb 10oz baby boy. Liam looked so tiny to me. But days later when the storm of delivery calmed, I realized that the remaining 44lbs was all me. *sigh*
It was a long road, almost a year to be exact, but I was able to return to my pre-pregnancy weight by eating more consciously and making small strides to incorporate light cardio into my life. Having a spring baby allowed me to take advantage of the nice weather and get use out of that stroller!
I would consider my second pregnancy to have been more textbook. I gained about 30 lbs and delivered a beautiful 7lb 9oz baby girl. Throughout my pregnancy with Emilia, I maintained more conscious eating habits and I had the pleasure of chasing after my then, two year old Liam! I also made a drastic lifestyle change around 6 months pregnant, and quit my office job to be a full time stay at home mom. I definitely attribute the more moderate weight gain to being more active through typical daily activities and not being so bound to a desk chair. But still, I did not have a consistent workout routine.
About 7 months before conceiving our third child, I began working out moderately (weight lifting and cardio mix) 3-4 times per week. We knew we wanted a third child, so I prepped my body for what was to come and have continued with this routine (so far) through my third pregnancy. I am currently 28 weeks along, and I can already see the difference that consistent exercise and a healthy diet make. To date, I have experienced no swelling, a total weight gain of 12lbs, and assuring news from my doctor that this child is developing normally.
Moms-please allow me to let you in on a secret. Not everything you put in your body has to be Instagram or Pinterest worthy. Being pregnant with our third child and having two free-spirited children to tend to, does not allow me a lot of time to prep and cook food. But, I encourage myself to swap out unhealthy choices for things that are, well, healthier. Instead of those Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast sandwiches, I opt for scrambled egg whites with whatever vegetables are laying around the house and a side of fruit. Instead of office bagels, I choose much simpler options like nuts, cheese, and fruit/yogurt smoothies. And as for dinner, I am a big fan of one pot meals that the whole family can enjoy. They are simple, usually require minimal prep time, and once they are in the oven I can sit back and relax. Just kidding! This free’s up some time to clean the house, which by the way, is a never ending project.
As for working out, I really struggled with finding a happy median and making time to do it. Pre-pregnancy, I would hit the gym around 7:30pm-after the hubby came home from work, after dinner was served, and kids were off to bed. However, around week 8, I just could not bring myself to go-I had absolutely no energy. So, I tried working out at home. That lasted all of about 2 days, as it became painfully obvious that I could not separate home-life from working out (the chores and kids’ constantly asking for something was just too distracting).
In the end, I found that I was able to get up 45 min earlier in the morning and be at the gym by 5:30am before the kids are awake and the hubby leaves for work. A half an hour workout 3-4 times per week has been sufficient for me, and beneficial overall. I have modified my workout to include 15-20 min of light to moderate weightlifting and 10-15 min of cardio each time. When something becomes too difficult, like running, I opt for something more low impact, like incline walking or the stair stepper.
I truly believe that the three secret ingredients for weight control and a happier pregnancy are as follows:
- Drink TONS of water-I cannot express how amazing the benefits of drinking water are for weight control, especially for a pregnant body.
- Eat decisively and consciously-Think, what will grow a HEALTHY baby.
- Consistency in activity-Pregnancy is not the time to reach for those goals of running a 15K, but it can be a time to do a LITTLE each day. Whether that’s doing reps of walking up the stairs of your own house, doing squats with your toddler, or hitting the gym…something is better than nothing.
All in all, I encourage every woman to strive for a healthy pregnancy, whatever that entails within her own limits. Everybody is different and every body is different. May each mama find joy in her pregnancy; it is truly an amazing thing!
Amanda Cifuentes Walchli