Is It Time To Change Your Perspective?  

Before I got pregnant, I was deadlifting 240 lb. I was muscular, strong, and took pride in my abilities in the weight room. I had glutes that I was proud of, glutes that were strong enough for heavy squats, deadlifts, and kettlebell swings. 

Before I got pregnant, I could once do 8 unassisted chin ups. I did chin ups and pull ups nearly every day, just for fun. 

Before I got pregnant, I could run the full stadium at Harvard without breaks, and would do so at 6:30 am. 

Before I got pregnant, I could overhead press 85 lb. 

Now? I haven’t set foot in the weight room since I was about 8 months pregnant. I haven’t touched a barbell in months. I’ve been on exactly one run, and I can no longer do even one unassisted chin up. 

You might think I’m upset about this. 

And I could be, if it weren’t for one simple thing: perspective. 


Sure, I may be lifting right now with a 15 lb, a 16 kg (35 lb), and a 24 kg (53 lb) kettlebell, but here’s where perspective comes in: 

That 15 lb kettlebell felt heavy to me after my C-section and 6 week post op recovery time. I remember picking it up and being shocked and saddened at how heavy it felt. 

Now? It’s light again, and I now use it for warm up movements, like I used to. Progress. 

That 35 lb KB? That one felt like a monster after my postpartum recovery. I remember the first time I tried to do goblet squats with it, I felt like my core would never support me again. Now? They’re easy. It’s a moderate weight, and I’m using it for many movements, both single leg and double leg. I’ve moved on from using it for my KB swings, because I finally need something heavier. Progress. 

That 53 lb KB? Forget about that one after recovery– that felt like a dream and a lifetime away. Now? I’m using it for single leg RDLs, goblet squats, and KB swings. Progress. 

My push-ups have gotten stronger, my endurance better. 

My chin ups? Yes, those are coming back too, slowly but surely. 

None of these weights would have made me proud before. They would have been warm ups, helping me to prep and groove patterns for heavier weights. 

Now though? I am so proud of where I’m at and how far I’ve come so far. Considering I still haven’t stepped foot in a gym, and my workouts mostly consist of a few 20-30 min bursts throughout the week, I think I’ve done quite well. I may not be maxing out my big lifts anytime soon, but I’m seeing consistent progress, and that’s really all that matters. 

It doesn’t matter how much you could lift before X event, or how fast or long you could run, or how many muscle ups you could do. Life happens, we have ups and downs, and that’s just something we need to accept. If we’re always thinking back to our best and comparing ourselves now, that’s not fair. Your mind and your body change as you move throughout life. My body is not the same body that dead lifted 240 lb– it’s been through a whole lot since then, so how can I keep comparing my self now to myself then? In order to be fair to myself, I have to shift my perspective. I have to focus on where I’m at now, instead of where I was. 

As life changes, some obstacles get bigger, some get smaller, and some new ones crop up all together. With all of these things that change us, our bodies, our minds, it’s unfair to expect things to always go back to some ideal moment that you once had. I am far, far from that deadlift max right now. But to expect that from this body, my now body? Well that would be unfair. 

So if you’re feeling like you’re failing because you can’t do something you once could, or because you don’t look like you once did, think again. Think of what your body and mind have been through since that time, and focus on the progress you’re making now. Shift your perspective to the present, and you’ll probably find that you’re doing a lot better than you thought! 

Progress isn’t always perfect, and it’s not always linear. It’s not always even obvious. But take a moment to shift your perspective, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the amount of progress that you’ve made in this “now” version of you. 

Change the conversation 

For those of you who have daughters, they are listening. 

If you don’t have a daughter, but you spend any amount of time around young girls, they are listening. 

Whether she’s 10 hours old, 10 weeks old, or 10 years old, she’s listening. And it’s time to change the conversation. 


My daughter Isabelle is almost 3 months old. She doesn’t talk yet, of course, but she listens to me talk all day long. She’s picking up language and building connections in her brain, connections that will someday allow her to not only understand what I’m saying, but to speak words herself. And I want to make sure that the words that she’s understanding, and the connections she is making, have nothing to do with my self worth due to the way my body looks. 

The other day, we were in the kitchen, and I was chatting away like always. 

“Mama needs to get a workout in!” I smiled at her. 

“Mama needs to get a workout in so that I don’t get f…..” 

I looked at her looking at me, and stopped my sentence short. Of course the F word I was about to say, I’m embarrassed to admit, was “fat”. After all that I preach about working for health and energy for yourself– I was about to reduce that all to that one demeaning word. 

No, she can’t really understand yet what “fat” means. She can’t say the word, or tell me what it means. But she’s listening. 

In that moment I realized that my responsibility in that conversation is so much bigger than how I feel on any given day. It’s so much bigger than anything to do with me, because how I finish that sentence over time could determine how she feels about herself for the rest of her life. I make a point to tell her daily how strong she is. How smart she is. How brave and successful she’ll be some day. Yes, I also tell her she’s cute and pretty, but those are not the focus of my time with her. But how often do I speak about myself that way to her? It can’t be “mama needs to workout because she doesn’t want to get fat”. It needs to be “mama wants to workout because it makes her feel strong”. “Mama gets to exercise and it makes her feel powerful”. 

We have to change the conversation, and it starts with how we speak to ourselves. 

My body is not the same after having Isabelle, and it might not be for quite some time.  My weight is exactly where it used to be, but everything else isn’t. My body shape and composition has changed, and there are days that I struggle with how much work it will take to build my strength back up. 

But I can’t put that on her. She’s listening. 

She’s listening to every mention of the word fat, to every mumble about my glutes disappearing. She’s watching every time I look at my belly in the mirror or give my thighs a little squeeze. Those things might mean nothing to her now, but over time they will. And the last thing I want is to someday walk in on her giving her own thighs a disappointing squeeze, or offering up a sharp criticism of her abs. 

We are so much more than that. We are so much more than hips or bellies or cellulite. We are strong, independent, brave, powerful, intelligent, and kind. We are generous, thoughtful, inquisitive, and honest. All of these things are what I want Isabelle to strive for–  not how much fat she can pinch between her fingers. It’s up to me (us) to change this conversation and to take our bodies out of it completely. 

Because we are so much more than that. 

And they are listening. 

Don’t Fall For These Holiday Health Scams

Oh, the holidays. 

The 6 weeks out of the year between Thanksgiving and New Years when health and fitness scams are at an all time high. 

Ate too many Christmas cookies? Lose all the weight and 10 lb more by following this diet! 

Went a little too wild at one too many holiday parties? Detox with this magical tonic and lose 20 lb! Oh, you don’t need to lose 20 lb? YES YOU DO. 

Too much pie and not enough exercise? Just follow my 1000 burpees-a-day plan and you’ll be shredded in no time! 

Exaggeration, yes. But unfortunately, none of these are that far off on what people will try to sell you around this time. So today, we’re talking about those health lies and fitness scams, and how to spot them. 


The first, and most obvious rule is this: 

If it sounds too good to be true, it definitely is. 

Even though that’s a rule that most of us follow in our daily lives, when it comes to health and fitness, many people have a tendency to buy into hype and promises, no matter how far fetched a plan may seem. I think it’s just because we all want to believe that there’s an easy way out there. But trust me, if there was a magic pill, diet, or shake, it wouldn’t be a secret. 

Remember The Cookie Diet? Bingo. 

If they claim extraordinary results with minimal effort, it’s too good to be true. Likewise, if they promise something that makes you think “why doesn’t everyone use this if it works so well?”, it’s too good to be true. And if it comes in pill or powder form, you guessed it, it’s too good to be true.

Other red flags for health scams:

Specific results promised within a specific time frame. 

The truth is, every human body is different and responds differently to fat loss techniques. What works for your best friend may not work for you and vice versa. Just because Joe Schmoe got X results with Y strategy, you are in no way guaranteed the same results. In fact, I can almost guarantee you won’t get the same results.

So any plan or trainer that tells you that if you follow these rules for a specified amount of time, you’ll see these specific results? Yeah, they’re lying. 

Lose 10 lb in 2 weeks with this special diet! This, my friends, is a scam. Run away, and run away fast. 

You must do THIS exact thing to see results.  

Along those same lines, any trainer who tells you that you have to work out at a certain time of day, or eat a specific breakfast every day, or do one particular exercise in order to reach your goals is not worth your time or precious money. There is no one size fits all option when it comes to health and fitness, and if your trainer treats you exactly the same as every other client they have, you’re getting a raw deal. Health and fitness, and especially fat loss, cannot be cookie cutter from person to person. 

A magic pill, shake, supplement, etc without changing anything else in your life. 

Again, there is no magic. If you’re told that you can reach your body goals by taking a pill or mixing up some powder every morning, and that you don’t have to change anything else about your life, don’t even give it a second thought. It does not work, I promise. Even if it’s backed by your favorite celebrity or fitness guru, it Does. Not. Work. Fat loss and body change is hard work, and it’s an all encompassing project. Fitness, nutrition, lifestyle, environment– it all plays a role. And anyone who tells you different, will also probably try to sell you on my next red flag… 

Using the phrase long and lean. 

Want to spot a fitness con artist in one second? Look for someone who promises that their workout plan will make your muscles long and lean. This is impossible, yet it’s a goal sought after by many. You cannot make your muscles (or your arms, legs, or torso) longer. You cannot buy yourself the body of a ballet dancer if you’re not genetically built like one already. This is one of the oldest fitness scams in the book, but unfortunately many women still fall into the long and lean trap. Can we let this one go in 2017, please? 

Detox

The word alone makes me twitch. Anyone who tells you that you need their product to help your body detox from all of the sinful torture you’ve put it through is flat out lying to you. Human bodies have evolved to have a masterful detoxification system– it’s called your liver. You do not need to starve and survive on juice for 3 days in order to take advantage of this wonderful organ of yours, it does its job quite well on its own! Imagine that. To put it quite simply, I’m pretty sure the phrase “juice cleanse” is one of the biggest assaults against the true health and fitness industry. Don’t waste your time, money, or sanity, especially not in the name of health. 

So with all of these scams and lies out there, how can you reach your body and health goals? Good old fashioned hard work. It’s not catchy, it’s not sexy, and there’s certainly not anything to trademark. But there are real life results that you can’t get from a pill or powder. It’s hard, and it takes time, but you can do it. The right way. 

Workout Wednesday: Pregnancy Safe Circuits

So, yep, you guessed it… still no baby!

I’m now 5 days beyond my due date, which is pretty normal for a first time mama, but I’m getting a little impatient nonetheless! I can’t wait to meet this little lady and to start to learn all about her quirks, her personality, and who she’s going to turn into.

If you read my post a couple of weeks ago about my workout progression throughout pregnancy, you should remember that I’ve remained pretty active this whole time. I started out doing pretty much everything I was pre-pregnancy, minus the extremely heavy, max-0ut lifts on my bigger compound lifts. That worked for me for a while, until my body started to tell me to slow down and take it down a few notches. Slowly, this has gotten me to where I am today — long walks (but not too long, this bladder being crushed by a baby’s head can only take so much!), and some light circuits at home. Yes, I’m still getting in some near daily exercise, but it certainly is a far cry from my normal routine. For instance, I went out for a slow but steady hike on Monday, and didn’t crank it up the inclines like I normally would.

I find that I feel better overall if I move though — walks are crucial to keeping my legs and hips from feeling too tight, and light circuits just help me to feel more energized during this time when my body is literally sustaining a full sized baby!

I thought I’d share a couple of quick at home circuits that are safe for pregnancy, in case there are any other soon-to-be-mamas out there who can’t quite figure out a routine. But the great thing is that these can be used by anyone — they are great circuits for beginners, and the intensity can be ramped up for anyone looking for a quick at-home workout when they don’t have time for the gym.

My staples throughout the end of this pregnancy have been goblet squats and incline push ups. I’m trying to keep these arms as strong as possible, and trying to maintain what muscle I can in my lower body without doing too much or causing pain. My ability to do single leg exercises for lower body differs by the day, and really just depends on the amount of SI joint (where the pelvis meets the lower part of your spine) pain I’m having at any given time.

Also, you’ll note that I do include glute bridges here, which require me to lay on my back. It is a common rule for pregnant women to avoid laying on their back for extended periods of time, but has been found to be safe for a few minutes as long as you feel ok doing it. If your doctor has given you a strict “no”, or if you don’t feel comfortable doing these, please substitute a different exercise such as fire hydrant kicks on all fours to attack those glutes.

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Circuit #1:

Equipment Needed: Kettlebell and/or set of medium dumbbells, chair or bench

Exercises:

Goblet Squat: Holding the KB or one dumbbell directly in front of and against your chest, feet about shoulder width apart and feet turned slightly out. Squat down between hips, keeping core engaged and back flat.

Incline push up: Push up on bench or chair, heights suitable to your fitness level.

OHP: Overhead Press. Stand with core engaged and a dumbbell in each hand, or KB in one hand. If using dumbbells, alternate pressing overhead with palms facing away from you. If using KB, finish reps on one side before moving to other side.

Feet Elevated Glute Bridge: Lie on your back with both feet up on chair or bench, scoot your butt close to the bench. Driving your heels down into the bench, squeeze your glutes and lift hips up so that you form a straight line from knees to shoulders.

Donkey Kicks: Starting on all fours, alternate kicking each leg straight back, squeezing each glute with kick. Make sure to keep core engaged and back flat.

Circuit #2

Equipment Needed: Resistance band loop and/or resistance band mini loop

Exercises: 

Band Squats: If using mini band, place band around ankles. If using full size band loop, hold one end, and loop the remaining band around the outsides of your feet, so that you are standing inside loop, hands by your waist. Squat to your normal position.

Side Kick Outs: Keeping band or mini band in the same position, start with both knees slightly bent. Alternate kicking each leg out to the side against the resistance of the band.

Band Shuffles: Keeping band or mini band in same position, bend to about a quarter squat position. Shuffle sideways for 10 steps, then back in the opposite direction for 10 steps.

Band Pull Aparts: Grasp band in both hands, directly in front of chest with arms outstretched. Keeping arms straight, bring hands away from each other to the sides, essentially pulling band across your chest. Squeeze the muscles between your shoulder blades at the end of the motion.

Band Split Squats: Split Squat with resistance band under front foot. Grasp band near knee, calf, or ankle; holding the band lower for more resistance.

Band Rows: If using full band loop, stand on band with both feet. Keeping back flat, hinge at hips and bend forward. Grasp band low, and complete bent over row with both arms. If using mini band, start in lunge position with band under front foot. Grasp band with opposite hand and perform single arm rows for all reps before switching foot/hand.

Again, these can be great little at home circuits for anyone, beginner, pregnant, or just someone looking for a quick session on a busy day!

Enjoy, and hopefully I’ll be back with some news for you very soon!

 

 

Wellness vs. Fitness: What’s The Difference?

A couple months ago when I completed my Health Coaching certification, I had quite a few questions about what that meant. What is a health/wellness coach? Is that like a personal trainer? Is it a nutritionist? Is it a life coach?

Well, the answer is none of the above, but parts of all of the above. A wellness coach is someone who helps their clients to find optimal mind and body wellness, often helping them with and focusing on inner behavior change. This can differ from a personal trainer or nutritionist who may just “prescribe” a workout or nutrition plan, with change coming from a strictly external source (the plan) rather than being driven by the client (changes in motivation, etc.)

And the truth is, neither of these are better or worse, but one method or the other does tend to work better for different people. Some have no trouble with the motivation or desire to modify their lifestyle, and for those people, a simple plan may be the best bet. But for those who also need a little bit of help finding their motivation, finding their drive towards making those behavior changes, and realizing that all of this lies within themselves, a wellness or health coach could be a wonderful fit.

Another question I get a lot is: So what does wellness mean anyway? Isn’t that just the same thing as fitness? To me, fitness is purely physical. It is the number of reps you can do, the speed at which you can finish a particular distance, or the number of pounds you can lift off the floor. It has to do with specific markers based on your size, gender, body type, training style, and training age. Fitness helps us to compare ourselves and others objectively, with hard numbers and data to back up those comparisons (whether we should be comparing at all is a completely different blog post!).

On the other hand, wellness encompasses so much more than the statistics and numbers that are utilized in fitness. Wellness incorporates certain things within yourself that can’t necessarily be measured in hard numbers or compared objectively to someone else. Your motivation, your past experiences with weight/fat loss, your attitude toward your ability to achieve your goals, your belief in your ability to stick with lifestyle changes in the future, and so on. There is so much that goes into wellness, beyond just how many pounds you can lift or how fast you can run hill repeats. When we’re talking wellness, your mind and your body are not mutually exclusive of each other. Instead, they work together, balancing each other on those inevitable days when you’ll have set backs or less than stellar performances.

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So as you can see, while I do have my own answer to the wellness vs. fitness question, I also often turn it around on the question-asker. And that’s what I’m going to do today. What I want to know from all of you is what does wellness mean to you? And how does it differ from fitness (if you indeed see a difference?)

I will be taking a short break from all of my offerings on the blog (individual programs, personal training, wellness coaching) since I’m 40+ weeks pregnant at this point, but soon all of these services will be back in action! And during this time, aside from being a sleep deprived mommy monster, I want to reevaluate exactly what you all want to get out of this blog and coaching if you’re so inclined.

So please, in the comments below, let me know!

What does wellness mean to you and how does this differ from fitness exclusively?

What road blocks do you see in reaching optimal wellness for yourself?

What aspect of wellness do you find most difficult?

What aspect of wellness do you find most rewarding in your life?

Thanks so much for taking the time, and enjoy your day everyone! 

Are You As Active As You Think You Are? 4 Ways To Move More

So you go to the gym 3 times per week, like your doctor told you to. You lift some weights and jog on the treadmill for 30 minutes, do some abs, and call it a day.

You had a good workout, so now it’s ok if you just sit at your desk for the next 8 hours, and then in front of your TV for 2 more, right?

Unfortunately, not so much.

Yes, it is important and recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine that we get a certain amount of exercise per week, but those 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise won’t create the change that many of us are looking for. Any movement is better than no movement, but it’s also important to think about the rest of your day when you’re not in the gym.

I’m certainly not saying that you’re entire day needs to be spent on your feet or at a treadmill desk, but it is important to get in regular movement throughout your day, not just a 30 minute block at the beginning or end.

The movement fallacy.

Many people believe that if they get a workout in on a given day, it gives them the freedom to move less for the rest of the day, or to eat whatever they want for the rest of that day. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. A 30 minute moderate workout may only burn about 200-300 calories — the same amount of calories in one medium sized apple. Doesn’t seem so significant when you put it like that, does it? Regular exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, but what I find to be just as important is the amount of low intensity “lifestyle” movements you do throughout the day as well.  In other words, we need to be more understanding of the difference between exercise and simple activity or daily movement, and the necessity of both in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

These daily  movements come in the form of walking, standing, moving from place to place, even just standing for a periodic stretch break if you can’t actually get away from your desk at work. We’ve all been told a thousand times now that those long periods spent sitting are literally killing us, but we’re also told that 30 minutes per day of exercise will counteract that. Breaking up your sitting times at regular intervals throughout the day is a great way to ensure that you’re moving enough to make an impact on your health and your longevity.

So how can we move more throughout the day? It’s more than just picking a parking spot a little bit farther away; sometimes we need to be a little bit more deliberate than that. The following are 4 of the most consistent strategies that I use throughout my day to move a little bit more, a little bit at a time.

  • Pretend the escalators/elevators aren’t even there. Trust me, there are days when I’m exhausted and want someone to just push me home in a wheelchair. But I would say 99% of the time, if I’m coming out of the train station or going to one of my offices, I’m taking the stairs. Even when I’m tired, even when others are hopping on the elevator. Especially when the line for the escalator is long but the stairs are empty. Seriously — you’d be surprised at how often you can get somewhere quicker by using your own two legs rather than the machinery to get there.
  • Take a lap. If you are stuck in an office building all day, like many people are, hopefully you’re not actually chained to your desk (and if you are, you might want to speak to HR about that). Take a lap around the office in between phone calls, deliver a message to someone in person rather than through email, actually walk to the proverbial water cooler and have a conversation. If you are in the depths of a huge project and can’t do any of this, at the very least stand and do some light, unobtrusive stretching at least once every hour. I’m not talking about getting on the floor in butterfly stretch, but bring your arms up, twist your torso, and just move your body, even lightly, for a few moments. The extra blood flow may even give your brain a boost, giving you a bright idea for that meeting you have coming up.
  • Be Ambitious. Sometimes things like this do take some extra effort, and require a little bit of motivation. For some of  you, this may  not be an option at all, but is along the same lines of parking at a farther parking space. For those who are train commuters in a city, try getting off the train one stop sooner than you have to. I started this habit last year, mostly because I actually like that extra walking time on the way to and from work. It gives me just a few minutes to gather my thoughts, center myself, and decompress from the “go-go-go” of my work day. Yes, you do have to give yourself extra time, and this isn’t really realistic when the weather is miserable, but for me, one or 2 extra train stops meant an extra mile or more of walking per day. That adds up!
  • Make yourself a deal. Add in little bits of actual exercise, without turning them into a full on workout. For instance, there are certain times where I’ll tell myself that every time I walk past the pull up bar in my house, I have to do one pull up. One rep seems like nothing at the time, but when I pass through the same doorway 15 times in one day, that adds up to (you guessed it) 15 pull ups. Not bad for fitness “freebies”, right? You can make a similar deal with yourself whether or not you have equipment in your home. Commercial break during your favorite show? 15 squats and 15 glute bridges. Have a bench in your bedroom that’s the perfect height for incline push ups? Every time you enter that room, bang out 10 pushups. It’s easy, and it’s not something you have to do every day, but it’ll get you moving at times when otherwise you might just be sitting around.

 

Readers: How do you move more throughout the day? Is it possible for you to take a different train stop or find another way to sneak movement into your commute? 

 

 

My Workout Progression Through Pregnancy

As I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy, I’ve recently begun to be on the receiving end of a lot of questions and concerns about my health and the health of my baby.

It’s no secret that I’ve remained active throughout my pregnancy, and at nearly 38 weeks, I’m still going not so strong. Because of all of the questions though, I wanted to take a few minutes to address some of these concerns and paint a picture of what my workouts, and my exercise progression (or, more accurately, regression) has looked like for the past 37 weeks.

“Are you supposed to be doing that?”

This is a question I’ve received a lot, especially as I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy. I’ve also had it asked in a less tactful way, as in when my neighbor straight up asked “are you hurting your baby?” while I was in the middle of a back yard workout this summer.

Spoiler alert: No, those battle rope swings were not hurting Baby R.

Anyway, I think most people ask these types of things not out of malice, but out of concern. They’ve been told for most of their lives that pregnant women are not supposed to lift anything remotely heavy, are not supposed to exert themselves in any way, and are essentially supposed to lie in wait for their baby to be born for 9 months. I don’t get angry at people who ask me this question, but I do try to clarify the truth for them.

And the truth is, pregnant women are more than capable of physical activity, as long as it’s something that they were engaged in prior to becoming pregnant, and as long as they have gotten the OK from their doctor. Now, I’m not a marathon runner, so I wouldn’t have dreamed of trying to train for a marathon while pregnant. Likewise, I’m not a CrossFitter, so I wouldn’t join a new box and try to compete in the Crossfit games while pregnant. But weight lifting, casual running, spinning, and other types of fitness are normal parts of my life. Since becoming pregnant, I have continued with these types of activities, just modifying them as needed as things progress. Because I’ve had a low risk pregnancy, all of this is encouraged by my doctor, and by current research in the field.

Have I maxed out my deadlift or squat for the past 9 months? Not even close. But I have kept myself under and barbell and have tried to maintain as much strength as possible while still being safe for myself and for baby.

Have I set any new running PRs? Oh, hell no. But I did continue running at a slower, more comfortable pace, up until I was about 6-7 months pregnant. Maintaining strength and physical activity is great for a pregnant woman’s body during labor and delivery, and also helps her to recover after the trauma that is child birth. As long as you’re not over exerting (and remember, this is different relative to all of our various pre-pregnancy lifestyles) physical activity is a benefit in most pregnancies, not a hinderance. Of course, there are certain medical conditions and circumstances which prevent this, but the overwhelming rule us that it is more than healthy to continue physical activity into the duration of your pregnancy, as long as you are mindful and smart about it.

So how has my progression looked? And keep in mind — this is just me, for this one pregnancy. My next pregnancy will likely look and feel much different, just as each pregnancy will for every other woman out there who experiences this. What I do should shed no light on what others “should” be able to do, and it certainly is not a rule book to guide anyone through their own pregnancy. I am just an example, a unique experience, and information here should be taken as such.

First Trimester: Weeks 5-13

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I start at week 5 because that is when the test turned from one line to two!

During my first trimester, I was extremely lucky to not be plagued by horrible morning sickness. I did have nausea, but it generally came on in the evenings, which worked out well for my morning workouts. My energy was certainly not up to my normal standards, but I did find that keeping a consistent workout schedule helped to keep my energy as high as possible during that time. As I got to the end of the first trimester, I did realize that back to back workout days really took a toll on me, so I made sure to generally schedule things with at least one rest day in between tougher workouts.

During these weeks, I was still weight lifting, spinning, and running, and would base the intensity on how I felt on any given day. I did take the weights down on my weight lifting days, sticking to about 60% of my previous weight levels on the big compound lifts (deadlift, squat, bench).

One thing I realized as well, however, was that my upper body could train a lot harder than my lower body. I made a conscious decision to continue with push ups, pull ups, and heavy weight training for my upper body, as long as these things did not overly strain my core too much.

And the result? Although my workouts were overall less than before, my upper body strength actually went up in several lifts, including the overhead press. I’d call that a win!

Second Trimester: Weeks 14-27

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During these weeks, I felt excellent overall. It was the amazing second trimester energy burst that many women describe, and boy did I notice it! My nausea all but disappeared, and my appetite went back to normal. During this time, however, I did have to be extra careful about taking rest days in between workout days, in order to avoid lower abdominal pain. I learned to recognize the discomfort of over exertion pretty quickly, and listened to my body intently when it needed 2,3, or even 4 days in between workouts.

Lifting continued, albeit with even more decreases in the big lifts. I took my squat and deadlift down to about 50% of my pre-pregnancy weights, using this time to just keep my muscles engaged. This was not about building (or even really maintaining) strength, just maintaining proper movement patterns and engaging my muscles just enough to continue feeling good physically and mentally.

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Running ended between 6 and 7 months, once I realized that it had become too painful. Around this time, I did want to keep up some good cardio conditioning within my own limits, so I took to the hills by my house and would walk hill repeats for 30-40 minutes at a time. This wasn’t too strenuous, and didn’t give me the pelvic pain of running, so it was the best thing for me then, and continues to be my cardio of choice at this point as well.

Third Trimester: Weeks 28-40

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And here we are in the 3rd trimester! Lifting is still part of my routine, but it’s only about once per week now, or twice if I’m feeling good. I was still in the weight room for most of the third trimester, but as I’m nearing full term, I have been sticking mostly with dumbells and cables in the gym, and kettlebells/resistance bands at home. Workouts are short with plenty of rest, and I listen carefully to my body to make sure I’m not overdoing it. Some days I feel great and can get an hour of light work in, and some days it’s just 15 minutes! The key for me in these later weeks has been to take it one day at a time, and to remember to not compare myself from one day to the next. This little baby takes priority, and while I want to maintain as much strength as I can to keep myself healthy through labor and delivery, I also want to make sure that she’s given the best environment in there to grow and develop.

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A little tired gym selfie! 

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At this point, at just under 38 weeks, I am proud to say that I am still as active as I can be. I may move a little slower and less gracefully, but with an uncomplicated pregnancy so far, I’m doing what I believe to be the best thing for both myself and for my baby girl.

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Readers: Do you have any questions? Have any of you maintained an active lifestyle during pregnancy, and what was your experience like? Did you receive any negative backlash for doing so?