Pregnancy is such a beautiful thing…ask yourself that again during month nine and I bet all you want to do is punch someone in the face. Yes, everything is heavy: your weight, uterus, and especially emotions. I remember crying at a simple commercial where a kid scraped his knee and I found myself balling. Imagine carrying the weight of life but magnify by 10 due to pregnancy hormones. “What the…!” is all I would ask myself when I find myself snoring in public, lack of muscles cooperating (like when you sneeze with a full bladder and no core to help), and the swelling of hands that make you feel like Gumbi when you try to lift yourself up.
Then there were the days my hormones got the best of me. I had to find a sanctuary, I went to my place of peace, the gym. Believe it or not, I worked out until five days before my due date. It’s always been my obsession of staying fit and healthy, but even more so for the little bun in the oven. Keep in mind, the bigger I got, workout routines were limited to certain movements. For example, weight lifting, power, crossfit, and cardio kickboxing turned into heated yoga with weights at week 39.
My preach today is to eat well, work out/stay active, and rest because it contributes to a healthy pregnancy and speedy recovery. I know, I know, these are things you always hear from us medical and fitness professionals [insert eye-roll], but truly it made me a happy woman overall.
With my first pregnancy, I worked a corporate job, as a matter of fact, I was a marketing executive for a consulting company, so I was working 12-16 hour days and I was constantly at my desk. I did work out until I was seven months, however, the baby was getting heavier and walking would become uncomfortable. I remember my recovery time was about 6-8 weeks (having a c-section) and I felt like a whale trying to get out of bed. Then, post-baby, my eating habits weren’t consistent and maybe three meals a day. This may sound familiar, I would just have a cup of coffee in the morning, then meetings consumed my day, my next meal was at 3pm, and by dinner time, restaurant delivery was my best friend. I was able to get back to pre-pregnancy weight within six months.
The transition between my former profession to my current is that when Courtney and I realized that as goals (and being trainers), we needed to incorporate nutrition to our workouts. Thus, this will help educate our clients the importance of nutrition. Courtney and I hired dietitians and specialists to help with our nutrition plan. Yes, we spent well over $5K for custom nutrition plans for shows and daily plans for the average person and tried them all ourselves. So in the long run, we invested in the education and knowledge that we’ve become certified nutritionists. The proof is in the pudding…well, look at the both of us!
With my second pregnancy, I worked at the gym, I was on my feet about 6-8 hours a day and worked out until nine months. I definitely felt the leanness this second time around. Including, energy increased by about 30% than my first pregnancy (there’s no doubt that insomnia would win some nights), but overall, I felt more alert and in great shape. To the left are some pictures from 3 months, 5 months, 8 months. I am so happy to report that this pregnancy went so much better because I had a great fitness base, stayed active (I know some women are white-knuckling the toilet), but because I felt great, I continued! My doctor is still baffled my muscle condition and strength that she released me to workout after two weeks (very rare to release someone especially after another c-section). People at the hospital called me “abs of steel.” Some of you are asking what did you eat? Here’s the thing, even post-baby I continued to eat my pre-pregnancy way and I even added more calories for my growing boy. So, six meals a day and I eye-balled portions. I enjoyed some nights with home-made Asian food, like stir-fry, teriyaki chicken, green vegetable and rice (these are staples in our house…hey, I’m Asian!). However, I had food aversions during my first trimester, meat and some oils. I couldn’t stand looking at meat so I opted for protein shakes, vegetables, oatmeal and cereals. Ask my husband that our blender was a great investment (and I think it’s broken now because I would blend 3-5x a day). Pastas and pizzas were too heavy for me and I was very particular with eating out so we found alternative/lighter types of foods or we would make everything from scratch. Here’s what I tell my pregnancy clients, “eat healthy to benefit the two of you, not eat volumes for two people?” I still enjoy an occasional sandwich with chips but it’s been instilled to make my next meals cleaner. If this is still hard for you to comprehend or do, my recommendation is to seek a medical or nutrition professional because it may be an emotional relationship with food.
To the right is a recent picture of me, two weeks post-baby. My little pooch makes me quite blithe and I wear it proudly because it’s a “war wound” reminder. I am determined to get in pre-pregnancy weight and better! My goal is to stay between 14-16% body fat and gain lean muscle. Including finding recipes that my family and myself can eat. So, please follow me in this journey. I will be posting meals, recipes, and other fun stuff so that you may try. Whether you’re trying to fulfill: pregnancy, motherhood, and/or womanhood.
For more information: personal training, nutrition, or competition prep
Jennifer Samuel, BA, NASM-CPT