Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fitness Workouts while Pregnant: Weights, belly and abs

Today I am entering week 24 of my pregnancy! And I've just starting feeling comfortable sharing with you on the affects pregnancy has been having on my body and my workouts. Last week, I shared how my running has been affected during the first trimester. Today, I wanted to share on how I've had to edit my lifting and group cardio workouts to fit my newly changing body.

I'm lifting half this weight now, and teaching
much less frequently.
The most impact the pregnancy has had on my lifting workouts so far is weight selection. In wanting to take it somewhat easy, while still staying active, during the first trimester, my first decision was to decrease the weights that I lift. Most of my lifting takes place while I'm teaching BodyPump these days, as I just want to let my body recover fully between workouts and so I have enough energy to teach my next class! :) The biggest shift that I have seen is in my squat and lunge weights; I have basically cut those in half and am not even attempting to increase while I'm pregnant - I'd rather just maintain the strength that I have. Everything else has just gone down slightly.

I usually recommend to my students that they focus on two or three body parts during a particular class and try and increase their weights on those and see how they feel. I'm following my own philosophy, however, I also recommend they create a new baseline weight selection for themselves, and I have mostly been only increasing weight for one class and then going back to my previous weight. For example, this past Monday I increased my biceps weight. Usually, I would recommend that my students then stay with that weight in the future while also increasing another weight, let's say squats, at the next class. This way, they will gradually increase their overall strength over time. Since I have a different focus now, to maintain strength, instead, on Friday, I will take my biceps weight back down to my "pregnancy baseline" and maybe increase my chest weight. This way I am still challenging myself, while also not over-exhausting myself and the baby.

Pre-pregnancy, when I could still do this on my toes!
As far as my belly and core, this is where I have also seen a difference. During the middle of the first trimester, I modified my core workouts by doing most of my planks on my knees rather than on my toes. I was surprised at how early on (as early as 10 weeks), I felt that I had less control of my abs than I am used too. So, any ab work that I did in the prone position, I modified early on.  I am still able to do crunches and leg extensions as well as other moves while on my back, however, I just take more frequent breaks. Just last week, while finishing up BodyPump, we were doing planks with hand pointers. I was feeling good, so I started on my toes, but after about two hand pointers, felt a pull/strain in my belly and basically lost strength control of my abs, so I finished on my knees. I am assuming that at some point in the next few months, prone work won't be possible for me and I'll figure out some alternatives when I get there. ;)

What is most important for all of us, even if you aren't pregnant, is to listen to your body. I was pretty fit going in to pregnancy, so I've been able to keep up a pretty good workout routine thus far. If you are just starting with your fitness BECAUSE of the baby growing inside you, remember that it's okay to start slow and to take it easy! Slow and steady wins the race. Walking, alone, can help keep your heart nice and strong and your blood flowing for both you and your baby. And always remember to talk with your physician before starting any exercise's even more important when you're pregnant.

How have you modified your exercise program during pregnancy? What has surprised you on your fitness journey through pregnancy?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

HBBC Week #4 Recap

We've finished week four of the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge and, while I stepped back a bit on my level of exercise, I'm perfectly okay with that. This is the lowest points week that I've had yet in the challenge, but I was traveling and we just had a busy week in general, so I did what I could and I still feel good. I have kept on track with the fruits and veggies and that is helping me to feel great. There was a day and a half of traveling/conference/dinners that I had no control over what I ate, but I still managed to stay on with my freggies. 

HBBC Week #4 Roll-Up: 
Miles Run/Walk: 12.04
Strength/Core Workouts: 2
Yoga Practice: 1
Group Cardio Workouts: 1
Swims: 0
Days w/ Complete Freggies Intake: 7

Total Weekly HBBC Points: 28.04
Bonus Points: 8
It was in the 30s and I was running:
This is actually a big victory!

Week 3 Goal: Keep up my run/walk mileage. My goal will be to get in between 10-15  miles between runs and walks.

Even though I was traveling mid-week and was too lazy to pack workout gear ;), Matt's early morning-week encouraged me to get out there and jog with the dog on days where I would have otherwise stayed in bed! And when Sunday morning rolled around and I was short of meeting my 10 mile minimum goal, Matt asked me one more time if I wanted to join he and the puppy on their run. Even though it was super short (because I just wasn't feeling it), it was enough to get me over 10 miles for the week! Small victories, right? 

Surprise of the week: Well, my surprise this week was how pregnancy has already affected my yoga practice. Last week, I had practiced yoga each day in order to help relieve the stress in my back, which I am sure is a side effect of the baby. However, during the yoga class last Saturday, I realized about half-way through that I needed to take it a little easier, so I did. But I am still feeling like I've overstretched  (another side effect of being pregnant) my hip flexors and groin and so I've been taking it easy on the stretching front.
My running buddy, asking
me why I'm so slow!

Week 4 Goal: Pick back up on the overall exercise level. Matt is supposed to be getting home early from work this week, so our plan is to get to the gym together after that!

Are you letting holidays affect your workout routine? Are you letting that get you down, or accepting it and then setting your #bestfoot forward again?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Running While Pregnant: Early on affects of pregnancy

I'm not an awesome runner, but I can usually trudge along for a fair distance and have been blessed enough to be able to do that with very little training. I think a lot of that is a benefit of growing up as a swimmer and the strong lung capacity that gave me. But there are two things that really shocked me early on in my pregnancy: 1. how greatly my lung capacity and endurance was affected and 2. how early on in my pregnancy my bladder was affected!

In May, Matt and I signed up for the Army Ten Miler, which takes place annually in the fall in Washington D.C. I had taken over a year off from training for anything after I caused plantar fasciitis training for the Miami ING Marathon. So, this was going to be my encouragement to start training/racing again. We started training in July and then at the beginning of August, I realized I was pregnant. Having gone through a miscarriage exactly 10 years before, while training for my very first Army Ten Miler, I was a bit apprehensive about continuing to train, since I was basically starting over running from scratch. I know that the doctors recommend that if you're fit and used to working out, you can usually continue to maintain your exercise regimen as long as you are mindful of your body, but I was still scared to somehow do anything to jeopardize my newly growing baby. With that in mind, I shared with my running partner, who was training for the ATM as well, that I wanted to take it easy with running for a bit and she fully supported that. While I didn't stop running altogether, I did run much less frequency than our training program called for.

Baby at week 10 with a strong heartbeat
makes for a happy mom!
But on those few runs is where I noticed these dramatic bodily changes that just blew me away. As early as week 6, I already felt pressure on my bladder as soon as I started running. Crazy! How can such a tiny little growing baby affect me so early? Additionally, I became winded so early in my runs. From about week 6 to week 10, I did not run more than 3.5 miles at one time. Because I was not running long distance, I attempted a few times to add in some interval training work, but noticed how much more difficult that was than I was used to. I am still amazed each day to learn new ways that this little baby affects my body, but it's all for a good cause. :)

I definitely listened to my body and walked when I felt too winded to run (as well as when my quickly growing chest asked me to!). While I doubt that my running had anything to do with my miscarriage years ago, it was hard to get that possibility out of my mind. But, this time around, I managed to run 2-3 times a week for that 5 week stretch and then picked up my mileage a bit to help prepare me for 'race' day in another month. And here we are at week 23, with more to come in this continuing series on running while pregnant!

Were you shocked by the affects of being pregnant to your exercise/training regimen? How did you alter your routine when you learned you were pregnant?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

HBBC Week #3 Recap

Started the week with broccolini
in my ham and eggs.
Another successful HBBC week! I am really happy with how the group and the challenge is motivating me to get out there (mostly out of bed in the morning) when I'd rather stay tucked in!  I blew both my run/walk mileage and my points totals out of the water. Part of that was due to Matt being away on business and so I was encouraged by a wet nose to get out and run and walk more than normal. But, hey whatever it takes, right? Can I keep up the mileage? That's my plan! As far as freggies, I'm doing very well and am so happy about that. I'm still craving fresh fruits, but I also picked up a bag of dried mangos and cherries for when I'm on the go (and maybe to go in my belly in lieu of gummi bears!) Additionally, I've started keeping a bag of spinach in the fridge for my morning eggs. That's just too easy to do, but for the longest time, I just didn't feel like it!

HBBC Week #3 Roll-Up: 
Miles Run/Walk: 13.69
Strength/Core Workouts: 3
Yoga Practice: 7
Group Cardio Workouts: 1
Swims: 1Days w/ Complete Freggies Intake: 7

Total Weekly HBBC Points: 48.79
Bonus Points: 8

Week 3 Goal: Swim!

I got my swim in. I had to overcome a few obstacles...old equipment and then being out of swimming shape. But once I got through that, I got in a 30 minute swim on Friday and am so happy that I did. My back felt great while swimming, but the second I stepped out of the water, gravity kicked in again. (can we live in the water) I intend to continue to get at least one swim in a week, maybe even more!  

Surprise of the week: Yoga practice on Saturday was great in that it was like it was planned for me. Our instructor lead a whole practice on hip openers! Awesome, that's just what I've been working on to help loosen up my back. My buddy and I left feeling awesome; she felt so great that she came over in the evening and took the puppy out for a 4 mile run!

Week 4 Goal: Keep up my run/walk mileage. My goal will be to get in between 10-15 
Tired puppy post run.
miles between runs and walks. 

Have you had to overcome some obstacles to meet your weekly goals? Have you ever felt like a group workout was created with just you in mind?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Jumping back into the pool

Me and Noni, sometime in the 80s.
My goal for the HBBC this week was to get into the water at least once. It's Friday and I met my goal! Whew! It was close! I planned on starting the week off right and swimming on Monday, however, upon pulling out my swimming gear, realized 1. that my goggle straps were dry-rotted and 2. I might not even have a swimsuit that fits! Yikes! Being a swimmer, I should know better, right? I guess, if I really am still a swimmer, I wouldn't have gone a year without swimming and I wouldn't be in this predicament! But, such is life, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it. :) Monday afternoon, I ordered some new goggles, as well as a new swimsuit, and they should be in tomorrow. But, I won't have time to swim tomorrow and I just know me and won't do it on Sunday, so I had to fit it in while I was at the gym today.

I remembered that I had another pair of goggles in my boat bag; they are sunglass goggles, but they'll work. And I figured I could just wear my training two piece that I normally reserve for summer outdoor laps. So, I packed up my stuff before BodyPump class and told my girlfriend that I was going to swim after class so I couldn't back out!

After BodyPump, I headed to the pool. (Thankfully, the top of my swimsuit can still hold me in, even though my chest has grown 4 sizes in the last 5 months!) Once at the pool, a pro-aqua jogger made sure that I knew I had to shower beforehand; she must've read swimmer all over me...'cause, um, we don't shower...that's what the pool is for! But, I didn't want to get kicked out, since I work there, so I showered and then hopped in.

2009 Alumni Meet;
goggles pre-dry rot!
And holy cow, the first 400 yds almost kicked my butt! Long gone are the days of 6,000m workouts. I went in with a goal of 30 minutes and realized early, that wouldn't get me far, but that it would be enough! The next two 400s were much better, once I found my stroke again. I also needed to tweak my flip turn. Apparently I arch my back too much when pushing off the wall and it pulled on my lower abs, which are really tender and stretchy now! So, once I started bracing my core, things felt much better. I finished off with 4x25yd sprints and 100yd cooldown. 1400 yds, but, wow, I was pooped and starving!

Good news, I was happy to be back in the water. During the HBBC, I plan on setting a new goal each week, and adding that to my new baseline. So, the baseline is set, at least one swim per week. I know swimming will come in extremely handy over the next few months, so I'm glad I had the HBBC to push me back into the pool.

What goals is the HBBC helping you to reach? Do you have any goals for the next 4 weeks?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Don't Leave Home Without 'em: Dried Plums...

...aka prunes! Whatever could be the topic for today? If you know me, like Jamie Lee Curtis, I'm not shy about talking about regularity. ;) I wrote a bit on how and why I incorporate probiotics into my diet awhile ago. Check it out here. Growing up, I was always regular, but a few years ago, when I did my first serious juice cleanse to start the new year, I learned first hand what it's like to not be, and I was not a fan. That is when I really understood the importance of probiotics as well as an added benefit of healthy fats: to keep it all flowing smoothly!
This is my prebiotic, probiotic, enzyme powder.
See "Note"!

When I became pregnant, I began to read pregnancy books and websites and read that a possible side affect of pregnancy is hemorrhoids. Thankfully I've never had them, but I really don't want to find out what they feel like either. And a means to prevent them is to stay regular! So, I wanted to take probiotics as they are my go-to in this department, however everything says to 'consult your physician' before taking while pregnant, right? Even the back of my probiotics bottle and packets say that. So, at my first appointment, I ask my doctor if it's alright if I take probiotics. He looks at me funny and says, "why do you want to take probiotics?" Now, I know why...because it helps to keep my stomach and intestines healthy. But in that moment, queried by a Professional, of course I froze up and imagined him envisioning me with Jamie eating yogurt! So, like a dork I just said, "uh, because I eat a lot of vegetables and like to stay regular." And then he didn't say anything. So, I still don't know if it's ok or not! What did I do at this point? Turned to a food that I know helps with this matter as well;

And here's how we have come to prunes! 
Look: Fiber and Antioxidants!
I had one questionable day in the regularity department about a week after the aforementioned appointment. And somehow prunes popped into my head, so I ran to the store and grabbed a package. Guess what, I ate just one that night and before the night was done, I was good to go. I was also sold. Since that day, I have eaten the package stated serving size of 5 a day and all has been running smoothly! I have converted Matt as well and we are so serious that, when we traveled to DC for the Army Ten Miler in October, our first stop was the store where we picked up prunes, Naked Juice, and bagels. :)

If you haven't tried prunes yet, and you've been searching for something to keep things moving, by all means, please join us on the prune train! You'll never go back! As an added benefit, I get two fruit servings per day, plus FIBER! (If you're on the HBBC, you know how big that is this month!)

Do you have any secrets to keeping yourself running smoothly? ;) Please share!

Note: Head to head comparison by Matt and I between Sunsweet and Del Monte and we overwhelmingly preferred Sunsweet, so I was stoked to find this huge bag at Costco this week. Sunsweet's were more plump and juicy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

HBBC Week #2 Recap

Week #2 of HBBC is in the books. I did well this week; although not as many workouts and points as last week. I did manage to increase my whole Freggies intake as opposed to just from whole fruit and veggie juice. And I did meet my goal. I want to build on this base and continue to meet my goals in the rest of the HBBC.

HBBC Week #2 Roll-Up: 
Miles Run/Walk: 4.07
Strength/Core Workouts: 3
Yoga Practice: 7
Group Cardio Workouts: 1
Days w/ Complete Freggies Intake: 7

Total Weekly HBBC Points: 36.57

Finishing up yoga, followed by foam rolling

Week 2 Goal: Practice at least 20 minutes of yoga daily

I managed to practice at least 20 minutes of yoga each day and I really do feel like it's slowly making a difference with the pinch in my back. I am focusing on opening up the hips and hamstrings and I think that is making the difference. I just have to keep it up this week. 

Surprise of the week: I started craving whole fruit opposed to the gummi bears and sour patch kids that I've been craving. (not to say I haven't stopped craving those). We went to a party on Saturday and they had a huge fruit tray - I ate half of it and took the other half home (ok, that's a little dramatic). But it tasted SOOO good. So, I picked up some fresh berries at the store today and already ate a whole box of blackberries today. (I guess the baby likes fruit - good news)
Extremely dry-rotted straps=
no swimming today

Week 3 Goal: Swim! I decided a few days ago this would be my goal. I planned to start the week off right and swim after BodyPump this morning, but while putting my things together, realized my goggle straps had dry rotted! Yup, I'm ashamed to say that I haven't swum in over a year! So, I quickly ordered Matt and I some goggles tonight and we'll be back in the pool soon...hopefully I will be later this week so I can meet my goal! (I know I'll be relying on swimming in the next 4 months to help relieve some back pain and get some low-impact awesome cardio in).
Did you set and stick to any new goals this week? Have you found yourself actually craving your Freggies and not just eating them for points? :)