There are lots of misconceptions in life. We all have them. When I was a child three of mine were: 1. To be beautiful you must look like Pamela Anderson. 2. You’re not truly in shape unless you look like Arnold Shwarzenegger. 3. If you get pregnant, you get fat. (I don’t know where I came up with any of these, I was a crazy 8 year old). Obviously I was just a kid then and maturity and education have taught me that none of these misconceptions are true; they were likely picked up from watching TV and listening to other media that we’re all subjected to. But with the pregnancy misconception in mind, I have outlined three essential tips to staying fit while pregnant.
Core strength is paramount for a pregnant woman. Pregnant woman are prone to lower back pain due to the simple fact that they are carrying anywhere from 20-30 extra pounds focused directly in their midsection. To build core strength in the first trimester you can do everything from sit-ups and planking to fire hydrants and lower back raises. Planking is the first thing I would recommend because it is a support-based exercise that can strengthen not just the abs but the core as a whole. When implementing stabilizing exercises into your workout, focus on diaphragmatic breathing. This will help in strengthening both the accessory muscles.
Don’t shy away from the things you like. There are many fallacies about fitness training during pregnancy. Most people think they need to drastically alter their program, or even completely cut it out when honestly, unless you have complications, there is not one good reason to stop. There are, however, two guidelines to follow when pregnant and working out: 1. Listen to your body. How does my body feel? If lying on your back makes you dizzy, don’t do it. I have worked with women who have been able to lie on their backs and who have been able to do bridges through their entire term. Others found they couldn’t do it past the first trimester. So again I’ll stress that you need to listen to your body. 2. Stick to what you know. If you were dead lifting and using a TRX before you were pregnant and are proficient at it feel free to keep doing it. There are many women who continue to do compound exercises into their third trimester. But I will also emphasize that pregnancy is NOT the time to try new things. If you’re questioning whether a move is good for you or not, just ask yourself; how does my body feel?
Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. Diet plans aren’t necessary if you just make good choices. Keep in mind the old adage: “you are what you eat.” It only became an old adage because it is 100% correct. What you put into your body gets broken down and is used to sustain your life and the life of your baby. Nutrition is crucial to giving your baby a head start in the world and to keeping you alert and healthy. And let’s face it, nutrition isn’t rocket science! Stick to basic foods: green leafy veggies, lean meats, healthy fats like nuts and avocados, and certain fruits like tomatoes and berries. Stay as organic as you can to get away from neuro-toxins and added hormones.
I know I promised 3 tips but here’s a bonus for you: Sleep! There is no excuse for a lack of sleep, especially during pregnancy. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Sacrifice your TV shows if you have to but please be sure you get 8 hours of sleep a night. Also, really focus on your self-discipline. It’s bothersome to me when I hear about how pregnant women are eating whatever they want due to “cravings”. I certainly understand that hormones and changes in your body give you a different perception of food, but stick to your guns and stay healthy. Being pregnant should not be an excuse to fill up on junk food and things that are not only not good for you, but also not good for your unborn child. Stay focused on the long term goals and don’t give in to instant gratification.
I know the steps above will provide a strong foundation for a healthy pregnancy. It will also provide a great jumping off point to getting your body back after the baby is born. So live healthy, eat healthy, and sleep healthy. Your body will thank you and so will your baby!