I have been a “mover” my entire life… dancing since I was six years old, working out in the gym since I was fifteen, and teaching fitness classes since I was nineteen. When I became pregnant in June 2010, I knew things would change, and in a way, I was excited to see what it was going to be like to move in a new body. What I wasn’t prepared for was how it would make me feel, how patient I would need to be, and how much I would learn.
I remember the exact moment I knew things were different. I was about ten weeks pregnant on vacation at my in-laws lake house. I didn’t look pregnant . . . I didn’t feel pregnant . . . and I definitely wasn’t acting pregnant. I got up that morning to go for a run with my husband and sister-in-law. I knew my prenatal rules (I say “my” because these are the rules I actually believe in): 1) Work out at a moderate level by making sure you can carry on a conversation 2) Don’t get too hot. (Notice, I’m ignoring the old-school notion that you’re not supposed to let your heart rate go above 140 BPM. I’ll discuss that in another post.)
As I jogged onto the trail, I became immediately humbled. I had been running with my husband just a week before in the Hamptons - how could it be this much harder just a few days later? It was frustrating to have to swallow my pride. I had run with my hubby and sister-in-law just a few months before and had finished ahead of both of them. Now, as we all took off together, I quickly fell behind. Within five minutes, it immediately became way too hard too breath. I could feel the tears welling up. My husband fell back to make sure I was alright, and I just started bawling. I just couldn’t believe how much harder it felt than usual. “What was wrong with me?” Not quite sure what to say, my husband just reminded me that I was pregnant. Duh, right? But he was right - I needed to remind myself that I was growing a person . . . an actual person. This is why it was hard. Not because I was weak, or suddenly out of shape, but because I was not working out just for me anymore.
When people used to ask me when I was going to have children, I always said, “I don’t know. I’m too selfish right now.” Little did I know how right I really was: Being a parent, particularly a mom, is the most selfless thing you can do in life . . . from your pregnancy onward. Taking care of your body is no longer about making yourself look good… or getting the endorphin high… or working off the big dessert from the night before. It’s about creating as perfect a human being as your body will allow.
So to all my new preggers out there who love working out, here are some things I learned about working out while pregnant:
- Be patient with yourself. Being pregnant is like living with an injury for nine months. Sometimes it acts up and you have to take it easy, and sometimes you’ll feel like a rock star and you can push to a moderate level for you.
- You know your body better than anyone else. Listen to it - listen to your baby - they can tell you more than anyone else can. So when that neighbor down the street whispers to her husband when she sees you jogging down the block with your pregnant belly, turn, smile, and wave. Be proud that you are doing what’s best for you.
- (If you can) get in the best shape of your life before you get pregnant! That way you can do so much more when you are! When I was pregnant I kept thinking, “Boy, this shouldn’t be this hard, but imagine what it would have been like if I hadn’t been in good shape ahead of time!”
- It’s okay to get frustrated. Anyone who usually craves the endorphin rush, the burn in your legs, or reaching the point where you are almost breathless . . . you’re going to feel a little annoyed and discouraged, but trust me, that little creature growing inside you is worth it. Plus, don’t worry, the workout of your life is coming soon - labor is much more of an endorphin rush than any workout I’ve experienced!