Pregnancy. It's not for the weak or faint-hearted.
1st trimester is the start of a 10 month game of roulette:
- Morning sickness: yes or no?
- Heart burn: yes or no?
- Mood: happy or sad?
- What to eat? (when you just ate)
- Will you be tired or energized?
- Swelling? Headaches? Back pain?
For almost all women, bottomless hunger and fatigue take over as the placenta is being designed to support the baby. It seems counterintuitive to eat as much as you crave when you're less active than you've ever been.
You don't really know what card you'll pull with pregnancy. Even if you're super fit. Even if you're really positive. And yet some don't even notice they're pregnant. (What!?!?) The symptoms are variable from woman to woman and even within the same woman - they change from one pregnancy to the next.
Somewhere around week 10 - I began to wonder if I'd ever exercise again.
I would wake up and only get out of bed because of hunger. Often times, I went back to bed after. I was sleeping in between the meals I ate every two hours and feeling much like an infant myself. It reminded me of raising my puppies. Eat, get 30 minutes of something accomplished, sleep, repeat. Oh, and "go potty". I suppose this is nature's way of preparing you to care for an infant.
I could have set up camp in the bathtub for the 1st three months, one of my favorite places to be. Luckily, when the 2nd trimester rolled around, "what they say" was true. Energy levels rose, I felt less nauseous and could eat normal meals again. As I understand, it's not always this way. Feeling better didn't necessarily make it easier.
I got accustomed to NOT EXERCISING and the thought of starting up again was daunting.
Thank goodness for the dogs - they have a way of nudging a person outside... They eased me back into walks around the neighborhood. Hiking dates with friends got me back onto the trails. After my first 2nd trimester hike, I was reminded of my love affair with the mountains and back at into a routine (with a little less speed).
But, it felt like starting over.
Hiking was fairly easy and natural. Resistance training was a different story. With the extra weight I put on, doing squats seemed impossible. I moved my way through a set here or there, but much preferred 1st trimester now. At least I had an excuse to be sedentary and lazy!
One day around week 17, I bent over to pick up dog poop and got cut off by the bulge of my belly and internal pelvic pressure. I widened my legs to scoop the poo, but felt my legs wobble. I wondered if this was the end of squatting. It seemed too early! As it turns out my adductors just needed some strengthening.
Since that time, I've had several similar valleys and peaks. Stepping out of the vulnerable pregnant woman that I feel like at times and back into my fitness professional mindset, I can see it very clearly. Hind-sight really is 20/20 isn't it?
I've been in this dance for the past 9 months of putting on weight, feeling weak and then my muscles adapting to become stronger. At 35 weeks, I can squat with ease to pick up dog poop because I've kept with it. I hiked for 6-7 miles all through the 2nd trimester - pound by pound, all the way up to the extra 20 I have on me now. It's not until I look back upon the progression that I see it so clearly.
I've been participating in the most natural form of resistance training on the earth.
My husband recognizes this too. He was holding our 4-month old nephew a few weeks ago and commenting on how he needs to build more muscle. His brother gently reminded him that the little guy wasn't that big when he first arrived and that dad builds muscles as the baby grows. With that being said, I think we'll both cancel our gym memberships! Oh wait - we don't have any.
The gym is a great place for many people. When you hire a personal trainer they implement a gradual progression for you. They start you where you're at strength wise. As you adapt to exercise, they increase the weight. I remember many clients over the years saying, "It doesn't ever seem to get any easier!" And then - the "aha" when I tell them I, the personal trainer increase the challenge as they adapt.
The human body is incredible and does adapt for what needs to be done if you just keep moving and don't give in to the lazy voice in your head. It's been fascinating to witness this from a new and very personal perspective.
Whether you're pregnant or not - the take home message is to trust your body. Give it time to get stronger and adapt when beginning a new fitness endeavor or getting back on a workout routine after time off.
Listen quietly to know the difference between weakness, laziness and pain.
Work with your body, trust it, honor it, admire it and respect it.
Movement, body awareness and mindset are key components to a healthy lifestyle. I can't claim that pregnancy has been fairly easy (relative to what I've heard) for me because of healthy habits, but I'm pretty certain it has a lot to do with it!
P.S. Don't tell my husband I can still bend over to pick up dog poo.
Stay grounded, consistent and keep stepping forward,