Ok, I’m feeling really guilty about my lack of posting lately. Let me blame it on a rough first trimester of pregnancy which is, thankfully, now behind me! Despite ongoing nausea, holiday craziness and constant exhaustion, I did manage to fit in some occasional exercising during the early weeks of pregnancy, but I’m so relieved that I’m feeling better and able to get back to a somewhat regular workout routine.
I don’t want to turn this into a pregnancy blog, although I’ll be posting plenty of tips on working out, cooking and etc. for pregnant women, and my workout recaps will obviously feature exercises that are appropriate for ladies who are pregnant. But I’ll also be talking about general fitness, and sharing healthy foods and meals that anyone can enjoy. Surprisingly, I’ve experienced some crazy cravings for healthy foods this time around (unlike during my first pregnancy, when sugar was my best friend). Of course, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been indulging those sweet cravings when they hit. Have you checked out these hot chocolate mini cupcakes from Target’s bakery section? YUM!
So let’s get started with some tips, guidelines and ideas for exercise during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Please note: While I’ve written extensively about fitness and nutrition during pregnancy, I’m neither a doctor nor a professional trainer, so the information given here is very general and is in no way a substitute for professional advice. Your doctor should always be your number one resource for deciding what’s safe for you during pregnancy. The best way to ensure a safe and fit pregnancy is to stay informed, so I encourage you to learn as much as you can about prenatal exercise; that’s why I’ve included references for the information given below.
Change Your Goals: In both this pregnancy and my last one I was given the go-ahead to continue exercising as I had been before getting pregnant. During the first trimester, I continued to run and lift weights, but my goals shifted from increasing my distance, pace and strength to maintaining my current level of fitness and simply staying as active as my body permitted.
Lighten Up: While you don’t hear a whole lot about strength-training during pregnancy, rest assured that it’s both safe and beneficial, assuming you’re already an experienced lifter and you have your doctor’s permission. But remember, your goal now is to maintain the muscle you already have rather than add to it. Use lighter weights (increasing your reps if needed) – the workout should still be challenging but you shouldn’t be working your muscles to fatigue. Beyond that, skip walking lunges, avoid holding your breath and be extra careful that you don’t hit your belly area with weights.
Follow Your Head: There are pages upon pages of information out there regarding what’s ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ during pregnancy, but in the end the choice is always yours; this is true when it comes to fitness, nutrition and so many other things. With that in mind, don’t feel pressured to keep up your regular routine if you’re not comfortable with it. I opted to stop doing Body Rock once I got pregnant, mainly because I always work to the point of exhaustion during these workouts and I just wasn’t comfortable with that. Keep in mind, though, that Body Rock can be perfectly safe during pregnancy, assuming you make modifications and avoid exhaustion, overheating, dehydration, etc. In fact, check out this 3-part series from BodyRocker Kate (a pre/postnatal fitness specialist) on BodyRocking while pregnant:
Listen To Your Body: From the nausea to the exhaustion, the first trimester of pregnancy can be rough. So even if your doctor has cleared you for regular exercise, you may not want any part of it – and that’s okay. What worked for me was taking advantage of my better days by exercising for 30 min so I could take it easy (guilt-free) on my bad days. What if every day is a bad day? Try walking or swimming when you can handle it – even if that means just a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood.
Keep Cool: Overheating is particularly dangerous during the first trimester because it’s a critical period for the formation of a baby’s major organs. Wear cool clothing, don’t exercise in hot weather, drink plenty of water and avoid pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion.
Walking: This is probably my #1 tip for staying fit during pregnancy: learn to love walking. It doesn’t matter how great of shape you’re in, you will have days where walking is all the exercise your body can handle, and it will be your first postpartum activity when you’re ready to start working out again. If you want to make walking more challenging, increase your speed or distance, or walk on an incline.
Swimming: Swimming is an ideal no-impact workout through all stages of pregnancy, and you might find that taking a dip in the cool water helps ease your nausea.
Dancing/dance cardio: As popular as dance cardio videos and classes are, you can easily get a great workout at home just by turning on the radio and busting a move. When I’m feeling lazy and unmotivated I play Zumba for Wii for 20 or 30 minutes; it was a good workout even before I got pregnant, so it definitely wipes me out now that my endurance isn’t very good.
Running: If you ran regularly before becoming pregnant, you can probably keep up your routine throughout the first trimester, as long as you’re having a complication-free pregnancy. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself moving slower or tiring out sooner than usual – just listen to your body.
Yoga: Yoga is excellent during pregnancy, since it’s one of the few forms of exercise you’re likely to enjoy even in your third trimester. If you’re new to yoga, check out a prenatal yoga DVD or try a class at the gym; just be sure to inform your instructor that you’re pregnant so she can offer modifications as needed.
Strength-training: You knew this one was coming! If you were lifting weights before getting pregnant, I strongly recommend you keep it up in the first trimester (and hopefully beyond). You know how much work it takes to add lean muscle to your body, so don’t let it waste away. As noted above, you’ll need to change your routine, but even light lifting can help you stay strong, and make it easier for you to get back in shape after pregnancy. If you’re not sure how to modify the usual moves, try a prenatal strength DVD (check out my recommendation below).
What to Avoid
- Contact sports
- Skating, skiing, water skiing, horseback riding and anything else that puts you at risk for a fall or collision
- Scuba diving (due to the pressure changes)
My First-Trimester Routine
Because I had a rough first trimester, my workouts were pretty inconsistent. But here’s what I managed:
- Running 1x a week
- Strength-training: Lauren Brooks’ Baby Bells pregnancy kettlebell workout 1x a week, plus Tone It Up workouts on occasion (usually this one).
- Zumba for Wii on occasion
- Walking 2 or 3x a week
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