Whoever told you being fit and healthy while you're pregnant is impossible lied to you. As I near the 37-week mark, some people have commented that it's easy for me to work out and eat healthy because it's my job.
They couldn't be more wrong. Sure it may be a smidge easier than someone who doesn't work out or eat healthy on a regular basis, but I've definitely had my ups and downs.
Being pregnant has been a learning experience unlike any other – mentally, physically and emotionally. For the first 16 weeks, saltines and Sierra Mist were my best friends. I slept a lot, and the last thing I wanted was to do any physical activity. Thankfully, it got much better during the second trimester, but I started to experience another downfall: pain in my lower back. I was finally excited about working out again, so it was a huge rain storm on my parade. I am now in the third trimester, and although my work outs are few and far between, I continue to live a fit and healthy lifestyle, taking it one day at a time. It's all about finding a balance, and it's something you can definitely achieve in your life as well.
1. Go at your own pace. The moment you find out you're pregnant is not the day to take up training for a marathon. Don't worry about keeping up with your previous work out partners, either. As long as you're cleared by your doctor, it is safe to continue working out as you were prior to getting pregnant. It's very beneficial for both you and your baby, but keep it controlled. Don't worry about hitting new PR's (personal records). Be happy that you have the ability to work out at all. Bonus: It can help once you go into labor. Think endurance.
2. Listen to your body. It's important that you don't overdo it. (See point No. 1.) If you feel like your body needs a day of rest, take one. Remember, you're growing a human inside. It's OK to take some time off. Feel like you have the energy to climb a mountain? Take advantage of the extra boost and hit the treadmill or lift some weights.
[Read: Prenatal Yoga: What You Should Know.]
3. Don't use pregnancy as an excuse to eat at the buffet every day. The average suggested weight gain for an average-size woman is 25 to 35 pounds – more for underweight women and less for overweight. The suggested amount of extra calories a day is 300. To give you an idea of how many calories you're looking at, that's about the size of a banana, an extra chicken breast and a half ounce of nuts. Not much. By all means, enjoy yourself every now and then because now is not the time to go on a diet, but keep in mind that the calories do add up quickly. You'll be happier going through your pregnancy without putting on unwanted and unnecessary pounds.
4. Stay hydrated. Pregnant women can have the same eating habits as a woman who isn't pregnant – eating out of boredom, stress and dehydration, for example. Try to be mindful. If you notice yourself "hungry" only a half hour or hour within eating your last meal, drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If you're still hungry, have a small snack but make it nutrient dense; fruits, vegetables and nuts are all great choices.
5. Don't sweat the small stuff. Part of being fit and healthy, in any aspect of life, is having a clear mindset. It can get overwhelming choosing car seats, doctors and paint colors. Breathe. It will all fall into place. Be grateful that you have the opportunity to bring a child into this world, and cherish every challenge you're faced with. It will only make you stronger.
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Jolynn Toma has a bachelor's degree in marketing and is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, as well as an ISSA Specialist in Fitness Nutrition. She owns a private personal training studio in Illinois, specializing in strength training, cardio endurance and nutrition. Connect with her on her website, Lift Pray Love, or one of her many social outlets: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.