Disclaimer: Every pregnancy and mom is different. Also, I am not a physician, nutritionist, or a registered dietician. I did, however, work with my doctor to make sure all of my choices were safe for me and my baby.
I’m just a mama who tried to have the healthiest pregnancy she could. As a result, I gained the recommended amount, had an uneventful pregnancy, fairly easy delivery, and was back to light workouts about 3 weeks post-partum. And before you think that I’m a naturally fit person who loooooves working out, let me let you in on a little secret: 13 year old me weighed more than 29 year old, 40 week pregnant me. Fitness isn’t something that necessarily comes naturally to me. I come from a long line of hearty German women, and girlfran loves herself some Tbell. Making healthy choices is something I consciously do every day.
Being pregnant added a whole new dimension to my fitness journey. For the first time ever, my fitness level wasn’t measured by a number on a scale, how fast I could run, how many reps I could do, or even how my clothes fit. My fitness was solely based on how I felt and how my doctor’s appointments went. It was refreshing and empowering. I felt more connected to my body and my health than I ever had. For probably the first time, I truly listened to and respected my body. My pregnancy, delivery, and healing went smoothly for this first-time mom, and my ObGyn swears it’s because I was committed to being fit my entire pregnancy.
So what tips can I share?
- Show yourself a little grace. This is absolutely the most important. There are days when you’re going to be exhausted, nauseated, buy a Crunchwrap Supreme and eat the entire thing in your parked car next to the drive-thru, etc. It’s okay. One pint of ice cream is not going to hurt you or your baby. Probably don’t eat one pint every day, though. Take time to enjoy the changes your body is going through. In all honesty, I struggled with that bit of advice. But looking back with rose-colored postpartum glasses, I wish I had slowed down a bit and appreciated what my body was doing. It’s truly awesome.
- Shoot for activity every single day. For me, some days it was an hour-long spin class that got my heart pumping. Other days, it was a thirty-minute walk over my lunch break. And then other days, it was a “Yoga you can do from your bed!” routine that I found on YouTube. (Trust me, they exist). But every day, I really did try not to go to bed until I had done something. I also utilized some fitness apps (like Aaptiv) that have maternity-specific workouts, which usually consisted of “wogging” (what I call really slow jogging) combined with circuits of squats and lunges. Of course, check with your physician to make sure what you’re doing is safe.
- Focus on healthy meals. Everything you put in your body, you’re putting into your little one’s precious body. When I started viewing my food as not just what I was eating, but what my little one was eating, it actually changed what I wanted to eat. Picturing her tiny little face helped me to say no to a lot of unhealthy food and instead choose good-for-me (and her!) options. I wanted her to have the very best start to life. It was easier to pick an apple over a Snickers bar when I knew that she would get so many more nutrients from the apple.
- Carry healthy snacks with you. It’s inevitable that you’re going to get hungry at really inopportune times. I kept food in my car, in my purse, and at work. I never knew when my insane hunger was going to hit. If I didn’t have a healthy option literally right in front of me, I was more likely to run through Wendy’s for some nuggs. I think I still have some packets of almonds in some of my jackets. My go-to snacks were apples, peanut butter on whole grain bread, almonds, full-fat yogurt, hard boiled eggs, and veggies with hummus.
- Share your goals with someone to help hold you accountable. For me, that was my husband. He never complained when I made us the same grilled chicken breast, broccoli, and quinoa for dinner. He went on long walks with me after work if I hadn’t had a chance to do anything else active that day. If I said I wanted Taco Bell for dinner, he’d (very kindly) ask if I really wanted it and if I thought I’d feel good about it afterward. Find your person who is going to support you, help you stay healthy, and help guide you through your unavoidable cravings.
Mamas, you can do it! Listen to your body. Indulge a little bit. Picture your sweet precious baby, and make healthy choices for him or her.