You Don’t Have to be Alysia Montano to Keep a Fit Mind & Body in Your 3rd Trimester

You know the stories about those women who ran marathons on their due dates? Kind of like Alysia Montano, the Olympian who was 8 months pregnant and ran the 800M last month. While it is an impressive feat and was probably safe for those athletes whose bodies were used to this kind of activity, know that that doesn’t have to be you.

Don’t Make Comparisons

path, journey, pregnancy journey, fit and healthy pregnancyStaying in touch with your Fit Self can be a challenge during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester when you feel large and unwieldy. It may feel as if you’re waddling through each day. But it’s important not to compare yourself to anyone else. Alysia Montano had her own pregnancy story. Her goal was to just go out there and enjoy the race and hopefully not get lapped.

But that’s not your story. Your pregnancy journey is your own and changes each day. Do what makes you feel whole and don’t worry about anyone else. Reject the idea that you have to be fit with someone else’s mind and body.

Keeping a Fit Mind

To keep your sanity, strive for balance between obligations, such as work, and aspects of life that help you feel good, such as time outside. Focus on the things that you can control, such as the ways you can nourish your mind and body, and let go of the things you can’t, such as other people’s reactions to your fitness activities or how you look.

baking, dough, sanityTurn to those activities that you love like baking or wandering around farmers market in those last months when your stress is overwhelming and you need some you time. Simple things like these will be positive diversions from the physical discomfort you’re feeling and the baby-centric conversations. They’ll also help nourish your independent identity.

Third Trimester Exercise

And if you have been exercising regularly during your pregnancy and continue to feel up for it during your third trimester, that’s completely safe as long as you’re listening to your body and fueling yourself properly. Another great benefit of fitness is stress release, which many women could use the closer delivery gets.

Whether you’re like Alysia Montano or not and want to continue running during your third trimester, here are some guidelines for you:

  • As long as you’re comfortable, hydrated, and careful not to overexert, you can feel confident going for a run.
  • Stay comfortable and wear a loose, moisture-wicking shirt to reduce chafing.
  • Carry a water bottle with you to prevent overheating and dehydration.
  • Electrolyte drinks and coconut water are great hydration go-tos.
  • Don’t start running in your seventh month if you haven’t been running during the pregnancy thus far.
  • Focus on your rate of exertion, comfort, and sense of wellness during a run rather than a specific time or number of miles.

pregnancy, third trimester, pregnant woman, healthy pregnancy, fit pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyIf you’re reading this in your third trimester, this is the home stretch. Whether you’ve loved pregnancy or hated it, take comfort in the fact that you’re nearly there. For those of you in the beginning stages of your pregnancy, you might find some of our earlier posts helpful like How To Start Exercising During Pregnancy or Fueling Your First Trimester.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

Olympian Is 8 Months Pregnant and Runs the 800M

davetrendler:

Olympian Alysia Montano recently ran in an 800m race while 8 months pregnant. Running coach Jeff Horowitz offers a few thoughts and links to the story on Washington Post.

Originally posted on Jeff Horowitz Running and Triathlon Coach:

In case you missed this, Olympian Alysia Montano recently ran in an 800m race . . . while 8 months pregnant. Her goal was just to be back on the track and enjoy participating, and, as she put it, to not be the first person ever lapped in the 800.
She sets a great example with this run. The idea that pregnant women have to be sedentary is a myth. Unless there are complications, a woman experiencing a normal, healthy pregnancy can maintain an active exercise regimen. The key work here, though, is “maintain”; this would not be the time to start up a new, more aggressive training schedule or routine. Also, it’s important to watch for signs of overheating.
For more on Alysia’s run, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/early-lead/wp/2014/06/27/olympian-alysia-montano-runs-an-800-meter-race-while-34-weeks-pregnant/

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More on Exercise, BMI, and Getting Pregnant

Pregnancy, Healthy Pregnancy, Fit & Healthy PregnancyWith many women having babies later in life, fertility struggles aren’t uncommon, and many women who are frustrated and emotionally spent from trying to conceive say they cut back on exercise as a way to feel some control over a situation that even doctors have trouble explaining with certainty. This is a normal coping response to a stressful and difficult experience. Ultimately, though, fitness activity is your ally because it relieves stress and helps you maintain a healthy body that can support the growth of a baby. When you think about your workouts, strive to find the mental space between exercise as a stress-buster and workouts that cause anxiety about your fertility. Whether you’re a recreational athlete or an elite competitor, exercise jeopardizes your fertility only when it is the reason that your body doesn’t have enough fat to ovulate and, therefore, conceive.

Most women likely will not have fertility trouble that is exercise-induced. Fertility might become more difficult for those who train at the elite level because their bodies have so little fat, but you can safely maintain a moderate to vigorous fitness program of 4 to 7 days of cardio and strength building exercise per week without concern about conceiving as long as you get enough calories from fat to menstruate. Such a program includes 30- to 45-minute workouts and longer sessions of up to a few hours for endurance athletes. It’s all about fueling to replenish what is burned. However, as mentioned previously, new exercisers should always begin a program gradually, particularly if they’re trying to conceive. As you think about planning your 9-month ultra-event, try to establish a realistic sense of your fitness habits and physical baseline, whether you’re concerned about fertility or looking to determine your pregnancy fitness goals. Print out a calendar and write down your physical activity for the month before conception to get a real idea of your workout baseline.Biking, Bike Riding, Woman Bike Riding, Fitness, Healthy, Exercise, Cardio, Fit & Healthy Pregnancy

Establishing your BMI is another good frame of reference for understanding your fitness and health baseline, but keep in mind that the formula and results rely on your height and weight without taking into account your aerobic capacity, genetics, bone mass, or ratio of fat to muscle. Nonetheless, your bodyfat percentage is important information to consider. A healthy woman is 20 to 25 percent body fat, and a specialist can give you a reliable measurement and analysis of your particular case using skinfold calipers, which might look like a torture device but are actually more like tongs.

Your individual body and fertility will probably have different needs and patterns for metabolizing food depending on the type and intensity of your different activities. If you’d like a specific dietary plan for your fertility and fitness routine, get the input of a nutritionist, fertility expert, and/or exercise specialist who can address the specifics of your lifestyle and health. When it comes to your cycle and fertility, individual variation is as important as the energy intake–use relationship.

See the first article on this topic: Exercise, BMI, and Getting Pregnant

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

Exercise, BMI, and Getting Pregnant

You might be thinking, “Hold up; I thought pregnancy meant the freedom to gain weight. Why measure my body fat?” Body-mass index (BMI), is calculated from a formula based on your height and weight and can be factor into fertility and healthy nutrition for supporting the growth of your fetus.

fertility, pregnancy, pregnant, healthy pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyIf your BMI is either too high or too low, your periods can be disrupted, affecting conception. Specifically, a BMI that is below the 10th percentile, meaning your body fat is less than 22 percent of the total, means you could experience irregular periods or amenorrhea. Eating fewer calories than you use during the day can disrupt your body’s ability to produce estrogen and progesterone, which regulate your menstrual cycle and by extension your ovulation and fertility. However, when your diet includes enough fuel to support your exercise routine and energy use, there will be no change in the hormones responsible for fertility.

If you’re having house guests, you buy more groceries. If you’re going to house a baby in your body, you need enough nutrition for both of you. Your kids won’t just raid the fridge as teenagers—they’ll do it in the womb, too.

On the whole, medical experts agree that there is no real evidence that exercise intensity threatens fertility—as long as you get balanced nutrition to maintain a healthy fat store. In fact, research shows that overweight women experience a higher rate of infertility than those who have lower BMIs, with 12 percent of cases attributable to being underweight and 25 percent to obesity.

What’s more, vigorous exercise actually lowers your risk for ovulatory infertility, as long as you maintain a healthy BMI. Every hour that you exercise each week is associated with a 5 to 7 percent lower risk of infertility related to ovulation.

If your doctor or midwife is concerned about your BMI being too low, you might be advised to decrease your workout intensity or training volume temporarily while you boost your calorie intake to meet your body’s demands (based on what you’re burning). If that’s the case, don’t fret about lost workouts. Consider replacing one calorie-sucking cardio workout per week with a yoga or dance class. You might not tap into your aerobic endorphins, but you can still achieve the delicious feel of a sweaty workout.

archery, low-impact exercise, exercise during pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyThis is a great time to try a new fitness activity you haven’t been able to fit into your regular routine or specific training regimen. It could be your chance to try belly dancing and archery—just don’t do them together. Fitness isn’t a threat to pregnancy; it’s an asset. As long as your training or exercise program increases gradually in intensity and volume, it will be less likely to jeopardize your menstruation because the reproductive system adapts to changes in exertion and metabolism. Older studies that linked exercise and infertility sampled women who started very intense programs or who had other complicating factors, such as stress or nutritional deficits. More recent research that compares exercisers of various levels of intensity with nonexercisers finds that the rate of conception is similar between groups and that approximately 5 percent of women in both groups experienced infertility.

Check back soon for the next article: More on Exercise, BMI, and Getting Pregnant

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

General Medical Guidelines for Exercise During Pregnancy

stretching, toe touching, exercise, aerobics, health, fitness, fit and healthy pregnancyIn Fit & Healthy Pregnancy, Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD, offer guidelines for women who would like to exercise during pregnancy. They suggest:

  • Warming up for 5 to 10 minutes is important to ease into a workout and determine how your body is feeling that day. Start slowly and build to more effortful exercise during a session.
  • Exercising regularly on most days of the week is better for your fitness than a burst of exercise that’s followed by days or weeks of no activity.
  • A moderate workout of 30 minutes on most days of the week will be beneficial for most women.
  • hydrating, hydration, woman drinking water, drinking water, healthy, fit and healthy pregnancyGenerally speaking, if you’re able to hold a conversation while you exercise, your exertion is in a safe zone. Use Borg’s Rate of Perceived Exertion scale (see Chapter 2) to monitor your effort level, and don’t exceed a 16 on the scale.
  • The extra weight you carry as you progress through pregnancy will make easy exercise feel harder. Stop if you feel dizzy or exhausted.
  • Drink a glass of water before and after exercise and drink based on thirst while you work out.
  • Avoid exercise with a risk of falling or blunt force to the abdomen, such as downhill skiing or soccer.
  • Be careful with any exercise that might strain your back, such as overstretching to touch your toes or the floor in yoga.
  • Avoid sit-ups or any exercise while lying on your back after the first trimester.
  • Always inform the instructor, trainer, or coach that you’re pregnant.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD

Fit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

Fueling Your First Trimester: Tackling Myths, How Much to Eat, and What to Eat

Myth busting

salmon, fish, eating fish, eating fish during pregnancyThere are lot of myths out there in terms of how much diet and nutrition during pregnancy. One recent controversy is the FDA’s recommendation of pregnant women eating more fish. Fish is your friend; you just need to watch how much and what kind of fish you eat to avoid the intake of too much mercury. Steer clear of shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish during pregnancy, but you can eat halibut, rainbow trout, wild shrimp, salmon, canned light tuna, and catfish, all of which have low mercury content.

At this point, you might be asking yourself what other lies have I been told about what and how much I can eat during pregnancy? What about the “eating for two” myth. Contrary to stereotypes about expectant women, pregnancy—particularly the first trimester—isn’t best served by a caloric free-for-all. U.S. News and World Report recently came out with a great article entitled: “The Best and Worst Foods to Eat During Pregnancy” The first point the article makes is “eating for two” can lead to overeating.

How much should I eat?

While cravings come along with the territory, overeating can put you at risk for complications during pregnancy. Physiologically, your body has no need for extra calories during those first 12 weeks. However, women active in endurance sports (or other activities) need sufficient caloric replacement for what they’re burning. Remember to talk to your doctor about your specific training and eating additional calories when you’re using energy through exercise.

In terms of how much to eat, aim for small meals every few hours during the day to avoid a drop in blood sugar, which is a risk in early pregnancy because of the major metabolic changes happening. Eating small, frequent meals also helps prevent nausea and dizziness, particularly an hour or so before a workout and right after you finish, when your blood sugar is likely low.

What should I eat?

beans, complex carbohydrates, carbs, carbohydrates, carbs during pregnancyGoing back to the U.S. News and World Report article, they say, “carbohydrates are a pregnant woman’s best friend.” Indeed! They’re essential to fueling your performance as an active woman, and they help fuel the workout happening inside of you. Your body is using more carbohydrates while you’re pregnant, which can lead to low blood sugar when exercising, so replacing carbs immediately after a workout is essential.

In terms of what kinds of carbs, you’ll want to focus on replenishing your calories in the form of complex carbs such as whole-grain pastas, quinoa, nuts, beans, and brown rice, because complex carbs offer more fiber that slows digestion. (Not to mention that high-fiber can help alleviate the oh-so-unwelcome constipation and nausea that comes along with the first trimester).

On top of complex carbs, you’ll want sufficient protein from meat and/or legumes to build muscle and promote healthy growth. Hydration is also one of the most important factors throughout a fit pregnancy, but it’s especially critical in early pregnancy. Dehydration can prompt uterine contractions, so it’s extremely important to stay hydrated when exercising—make sure your urine is clear! And ask any woman who’s been pregnant, and she’ll probably tell you that prenatal vitamins are like a gift from the gods. Your prenatal vitamins will give you the extra iron and folic acid you need because of increased blood volume and an increase in red blood cells.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

Warning Signs You Should Stop Exercising During Pregnancy

woman running, happy woman, well-balanced lifeYour fitness practice will be most healthy for mind and body when you can see it as your individual plan without holding it up against an ideal. Try not to compare your own activity with what your best friend did when she was pregnant.

Your body will tell you how it feels; attend to those cues. Strive for balance when it comes to the reproductive process and your exercise routine, and be willing to adapt to factors in your lifestyle such as stress, work, and family dynamics. If you can avoid being rigid with your fitness program, your pregnancy and your workouts will do you much more good in body and mind.

Exercise, even vigorous exercise, is healthy for a growing fetus, provided your body is accustomed to that level of exertion. Monitor your level of effort because overexerting yourself in a workout can be problematic. If you experience bleeding, hyperventilation, blinding headache, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness, stop immediately and contact your health care provider.

warning sign, warning, dangerThere are a few conditions that point to drastically reducing or eliminating exercise, and these are nonnegotiable. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising and talk to your doctor:

  • Relentless vomiting
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Severe illness (e.g., flu)
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Injuries

Other circumstances that could influence your workout efforts should be discussed with your provider at your initial visit. These conditions include:

  • Anemia
  • Arrhythmia
  • Bronchitis or asthma
  • Diabetes that isn’t well controlled
  • Morbid obesity
  • Severely low weight or BMI
  • Intrauterine growth restriction in this pregnancy
  • High blood pressure
  • Orthopedic problems or sports injuries
  • Epilepsy
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Smoking
  • Any other medical condition that makes you unsure whether exercise is okay

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

How to Start Exercising During Pregnancy

spin class, spinning, exercise, fitness, womenAs a general guideline for beginning a new fitness practice, you want to keep your exertion below your maximum heart rate. Strive to top out your workout exertion at 60 to 70 percent of your nonpregnant max as well as consulting Borg’s scale of Rate of Perceived Exertion. Keep your exercise plan light to moderate at first, measured by time, not distance. Gradually build your base of cardio exercise, such as walking, spinning, swimming, and prenatal aerobics, as well as light core and weight training to build muscle strength. A great starting point if you are totally new to regular exercise entails a few weeks of the following program before adding 5 minutes per session every three days or adding another workout day to the routine:

  • 20 minutes of cardio at a conversational level, 3 to 4 days per week
  • Low-weight strength training 1 to 2 days per week
  • Flexibility exercises 2 to 3 days per week

light weights, weight-lifting, exercise, fitnessPower walking, an elliptical machine, and an upright stationary bike are wonderful ways to begin a fitness program, and on this site, we’ll introduce some exercises that are ideal for starting a strength and flexibility routine. Not only should you ease into a program but you also need to consider various factors that can play a role in how your body adjusts to exercise. You’re striving for balance, not overexerting yourself in any one area of your life. Give as much attention to sleep time as to work time, and make sure you achieve balance in nutrition and hydration as well. Take a look at this article Can I Exercise During Pregnancy Even If I’ve Never Worked Out?

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD

 

Fit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD. Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

Can I Exercise During Pregnancy Even If I’ve Never Worked Out?

women on treadmills, women exercising, treadmills, exerciseIf you’re new to fitness activities, congratulations on making the move to build fitness into your daily routine as you head into this 40-week fun house, where the mirrors sometimes seem distorted and it can be hard to find your bearings with fitness.

When it comes to advice for those new to fitness, the Department of Health and Human Services offers a great maxim: “Start Low and Go Slow.”

Anyone who is training—whether new to exercise or a competitive veteran—must balance activity with recovery periods. It’s tempting to overdo a workout when you’ve made a new commitment to fitness, but more is not always better, and it’s key to realize that your body actually strengthens from rest between workouts.

Here are some guidelines for getting started:

  • Build your program from a conservative base, such as walking on a flat treadmill before increasing the incline or walking hills.
  • Your program should be based on your BMI (see earlier in this chapter) and individual fitness history. Talk to your doctor and consider working with a trainer who will personalize your workouts and keep you motivatedand accountable.
  • Read Fit & Healthy Pregnancy to educate yourself on prenatal fitness so you can perceive your body’s cues regarding when to stop and when to persist witha workout.
  • Diversify your workouts to include cardio sessions, flexibility, and strength training. The variety will keep you motivated and build whole-body fitness.

water bottles, water, hydration

  • Trade sodas and juices for water (flavored water and coconut water are good alternatives), and c
    arry a water bottle with you throughout the day.
  • Seek medical attention if you develop warning signs of dehydration (headache, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, cramping).

Check back for another article on How to Start Exercising During Pregnancy

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

Is Exercise Good for Babies?

Research shows that exercise, and even vigorous training, are safe for you throughout pregnancy. So go ahead, exhale.

Not only is a fitness practice safe, but also it will improve your health during and after pregnancy. Even better, research shows that your fitness routine or training is both safe and healthy for your growing baby. Here’s your next one-liner comeback for the doubters: “Fit mama, fit baby.” Let those words help guide your 40 weeks, not to mention the postpartum family life you’re going to build.

baby, boy, curious,

The research on the effects of exercise on fetal development has kept pace with studies of the impact of exercise on women’s bodies during pregnancy, and results show that your activity brings benefit to the baby in utero. Babies of women who were active during pregnancy tend to be leaner at birth and exhibit somewhat better neurobehavioral maturation. These babies also have lower rates of long-term weight issues at age 5 as well as slightly higher brain function during childhood.

From early pregnancy through the third trimester, a fetus can tolerate your exercise very well because a woman’s body adapts to pregnancy in a way that regulates the impact of her activity on the growing baby. For instance, your body has an improved ability to regulate your core body temperature by cooling itself through sweat and heat dispensation from your skin. Similarly, fetal heart rate can increase when you exercise, but it returns to normal after you finish working out. This and other fetal responses to your activity are temporary and have no permanent effects on the baby’s development. Regular and sustained workouts can increase the placenta’s volume in early and mid-pregnancy but have no adverse effects on any pregnancy outcomes.

Fetus, sonogram, baby, pregnancy, pregnant, ultrasound

What about intensity? Well, maintaining a fantastically sweaty and vigorous level of exercise does not carry any negative health consequences for your growing baby, either, as long as that level of exercise is familiar to you and your body. There are no significant differences in the fetal heart rate (FHR), Doppler health, birth weight, and Apgar scores among babies of vigorous versus moderate exercisers.

The upshot is that training is good for your pregnancy health, and it actually benefits your baby as well. The base you’re building for a fit pregnancy is achieved by the concept of wellness: doing what feels good to the body for the sake of mom-baby health. It’s safe and healthy to train and work out, but scale it back if you experience any of the adverse symptoms listed earlier or if you feel depleted and stressed by it to the point that it fails to enhance your general wellness. As athletes, we feel empowered by our agency over our bodies in the world, and pregnancy is no time to lose that self-possession.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.