I’ve been modeling for over ten years and the unknown idea of having pregnancy take over my body was terrifying. I have trained my mind to have the healthiest habits when it comes to food and exercise. For years I was rewarded with more work when I was my fittest and less work when I wasn’t. Watching what I ate and exercising became a huge part of my life for over a decade and is now something I enjoy. I ultimately fell in love with somebody who I loved more than I loved my old body. At that point we decided to try to have a baby. I’ve given in to lots of cravings (Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Fried Chicken!) but have overall eaten clean and stayed active.
I’ve been asked many times about my fitness routine and diet. I think the key to being able to stay fit during pregnancy was being fit and maintaining a clean diet pre-pregnancy. I’ve been doing Pilates for about 5 years now. In that time I have built a very strong core and have alleviated many of the back pains my scoliosis previously caused.
Since becoming pregnant I’ve worked out 4-5 times a week. I’ve taken off a week here and there while traveling but even then I’d make sure to hike, walk or strength train with weights in a hotel gym. When I am in the U.S. my preferred workout is on a Pilates megaformer. If my schedule is busy or I’m in New York, France, Austin or Colorado I do private sessions at home combined with classes in a Lagree Fitness studio. I’ve learned i have to schedule an hour a day to workout and actually put it in my calendar. My workouts are booked weeks ahead of time. That way you build your calendar and meetings around your workouts and feel committed to them. Working out is as important or more important than any of your other appointments!
(I was about 3 weeks pregnant in these photos but didn’t know it. Photos above are from my home gym. I work out on a Megaformer from Lagree Fitness. I love Sebastian Lagree and think he is one of the most innovative fitness people of our time.)
When I was about 6 weeks pregnant I suddenly was extremely fatigued (as if someone slipped me Nyquil!) and when I was attempting a workout I was dizzy and completely out of breath after just standing up. I was in such great shape and then suddenly what was once easy left my breathless and my heart pounding almost overnight! This was my first sign of pregnancy. It DOES get better if you keep going. There were times i was eyeing the bathroom during workouts in case I had to run to it because of nausea. I was lucky that subsided after about week 10. If I wouldn’t have continued working out during the first trimester there is no way I would have been working out today at 33+ weeks pregnant.
Every pregnancy has it’s own challenges. As soon as the second trimester hit my energy was back and I hardly felt pregnant. Unfortunately this is when I started having symptoms of SPD. Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction is caused by the hormone relaxin. It’s job is to make your ligaments stretchy so your baby can ease his/her way into the world. When relaxin does its job too well, the ligaments around your pelvic bone become too loose too soon and causes instability and extreme pain in the pelvic area. Getting out of bed or rolling over in bed is enough to make tears roll down your face and lifting one foot off the ground to put on pants (while standing on the other foot) was impossibly painful. If you are suffering from SPD I found this exercise to be helpful and give me some relief. So many doctors told me it was just round ligament pain and completely normal. Not until I switched to my midwife did I find out it was the separation of my pubic bones from producing too much of the hormone Relaxin too soon. I kept working out through this and learned the exercises that were activating it and which to avoid.
It was in my second trimester I started working out with trainer Brooke Cates to learn exercises I could do to maintain a strong core, which is super important when it comes time to push during labor. Brooke taught which pregnancy safe exercises would keep my abdominal wall strong and help me avoid getting Diastasis Recti. The abdominal moves have consisted of absolutely NO crunching. All stabilizing moves like side planks, planks, pelvic tilts, wall tilts and stabilizing moves like sitting on your bottom and leaning back to a 45 degree angle and holding it. I do walk on the treadmill and swim laps in the pool in addition to strength training with Pilates. My upper body (arms) have actually gotten stronger and even more toned since I’ve been pregnant since it is what is easiest to work without pain or limitation.
I’m now in my third trimester and I feel the baby growing bigger sometimes from one day to the next. I posted a picture of my reflection on my Instagram page and within 30 minutes had over 150 comments about how small my belly is and many degrading comments about some of our readers own bodies. When you start off with a 23 inch waist and are 5’10” you have more room for the baby to stretch out length wise than a shorter woman does. (That and strong abdominals pre pregnancy!) Every woman carries every pregnancy differently. So many women commented negatively about themselves. Someone once told me to “Let go of the thoughts that don’t make you strong.” It’s a quote I now use whenever my mind starts to slip. We should all strive to be our best especially during pregnancy. To me this means keeping your thoughts positive, staying active and eating clean 80% of the time. Exercise has been crucial in keeping me happy and in great spirits. Right now I’m told the baby weighs about 5 pounds and is already 60% effaced and engaged.
Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy
- You’re likely to gain less weight
- Labor & delivery may be easier
- Lower risk of gestational diabetes
- Less back pain
- Less constipation
- More energy
- More likely to avoid forceps delivery, c-section, or other interventions
- Shorter labor
- Less swelling
- Bounce back faster after delivery
- Child likely to have healthier heart
- Sleep better
- Lower risk for pre-eclampsia
- Avoid depression
- You look better
- Keeps your immune system strong
Diet / Vitamins / Herbs
Before I was pregnant I followed the Blood Type Diet pretty faithfully. When I became pregnant I was suddenly craving foods I usually avoid. I still give in and eat what I want as long as my diet is clean 80% of the time. The only thing I really have stayed away from (minus a few cravings here and there ) is sugar. If you are interested in learning more about sugar and how your body metabolizes it I recommend watching the documentary “Fed Up.”
The picture below is the actual vitamins and herbs I take daily as recommended by my midwife. I keep four of these containers filled and labeled and keep one in each house and then also keep one in my handbag for traveling or when I’m not home to take them. (The labeled vitamin container was found on Amazon here.) The only herb that isn’t mine is the Prostate one for men I carry with me for Robert. (He also takes the Fish Oil, Vitamin D, C, and B-50.) Check with your doctor about what vitamins you should be taking and remember your prenatal vitamin has just the minimum of what you should be taking. In addition to what is below my midwife has me starting Dr. Christopher’s “Birth Prep” at week 34 and drinking Earth Mama Third Trimester Tea.
They say we spend more time researching what television to buy than our own births. I switched to a midwife from my OBGYN after about week 20. I’ll share why I made this decision and what books and documentaries led me there in the next blog. What I learned was LIFE CHANGING and if you are interested in learning more watch for the next post… I want to share it all with you.