Then I got pregnant.
And all of those things that seemed so easy when we were planning for our sea monkey weren't so easy. I was hungry all the time, plowing through planned snacks and making trips to the vending machine. Foods that used to sound good (hello, coffee!) no longer appealed to me. Foods that I had rejected for so long were the only things I could think about - hamburgers ... nachos ... cherry pie ala mode.
Exercise became more difficult. I was tired, and I didn't want to wake up in the morning to run. When I did, I felt more winded, more fatigued and more defeated than ever. I would feel sick during runs, and side stitches would stop me in my tracks. Then there were the boobs. If it were possible to make it through a run without clutching my chest and screaming, I would make everyone a dozen cupcakes.
But all is not lost. As I navigate this 40-week journey, I find that things are getting better. I'm learning. I'm adapting.
Here are my thoughts on being active and healthy during pregnancy. (Note: This page will be updated along the way.)
Olympian Jennie Finch (she’s the super pretty softball player), expecting baby No. 2, on her struggle to stay healthy in the process.
With all the changes to our own bodies during pregnancy, I’ve had to take a look at my own eating and exercise habits. This is my first year of retirement from playing, and I haven’t been as disciplined as I was when I was pregnant with Ace. Back then, I was looking to try out for Team USA six weeks after giving birth, so I was eating healthy all the time and working out regularly. This time I have indulged myself a little more, especially over the holidays!
My doctor is threatening to put me on a diet to curb my cravings after I gained 12 lbs. in between visits. I’ve been loving the spicy stuff – jalapenos, Tabasco and lots of kick. Luckily heartburn hasn’t set in yet! It’s been easier to be healthier since the holidays ended. I started to think of it as feeding a life within me. One of the best parts of motherhood is that it teaches you selflessness. It’s not about me anymore, but about what’s best for our children and this baby within.
The first thing I thought when I read the post was, “Holy mother of Grilled Cheesus! Twelve pounds between appointments? I haven’t even gained 12 pounds and she’s only a week ahead of me. I’m doing good.”
Once I got done patting myself on the back, I realized that Jennie Finch actually wrote something pretty spot on. “I started to think of it as feeding a life within me. One of the best parts of motherhood is that it teaches you selflessness. It’s not about me anymore, but about what’s best for our children and this baby within.” And that, folks, is how I do my best to eat healthy during pregnancy. I am by no means perfect nor would I consider myself a role model. I am, however, making strides day by day to make this the healthiest pregnancy … for me and the sea monkey.
What I’m doing:
Tracking. Keeping a food journal was integral to my weight loss. Seriously, you would be amazed at what you put in your body throughout a given day if you’re not paying attention to it. After the scale hit 11 pounds gained, I began to track via Google Documents my daily intake.
Sticking into a daily intake “goal”: Factoring in my pre-pregnancy weight and activity level, I needed 2,100 to 2,250 calories a day to maintain my weight. A pregnant woman, beginning in the second trimester, needs to eat 300 to 500 additional calories a day. Weighing those two things, along with random Googling, I decided that my target caloric intake per day is 2,500. I break that down to 500 for breakfast, 500 for lunch, 500 to 750 for dinner and the rest for snacks throughout the day. I do my best to stick to this but it is a target. If I’m hungry, I eat. Period.
Eating the best foods I can … for the most part: The day I got the confirmation from the doctor, Mark and I went out to Barnes & Noble to buy the requisite “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” as well as the compendium “Eating Well While You’re Expecting.” The book talks about what your baby needs – three servings of vitamin C, four servings of calcium, three to four servings of green leafy and yellow vegetables/fruits, one to two servings of other fruits and vegetables and at least six servings of whole grains. While you could make yourself crazy trying to meet the requirements, I put my focus on eating the good things before the bad things. Yes, those Raisinets look good but I have cantaloupe in the fridge, and cantaloupe is a yellow fruit with vitamin C.
Why do I want it?: It’s my favorite question to ask lately. Do I want the popcorn in my desk drawer because I’m hungry or because it sounds good? Do I want it because I’m hungry and the carrots in the fridge make me want to gag? A lot of the time, it’s because I saw it and now want it. Other times, I really am hungry and have no other option.
Water: Nuff said. Except not. Sometimes I find that I want to eat simply to get another taste in my mouth or I'm thirsty. Chugging a big ole glass of water sometimes gives me that full feeling and washes away the leftover lunch taste in my mouth.
Forgiving myself: As I said, I’m not perfect. I’ve had a few burgers, I tried the Eggnog Shake at Steak ‘n’ Shake over the holidays. Cupcakes are my friends. If I have one of these, on occasion, it’s OK and no reason to get bent out of shape.
Sample day of eating
Pre-run snack: Kashi bar (120 calories)
Breakfast: Egg white sandwich with veggie sausage (280 calories) and yogurt (80 calories)
Morning snack: Fruit (60 calories)
Lunch: Lean Cuisine (300 calories), side of vegetables (50 calories), soup (100 calories) and "treat" (100 calories)
Afternoon snacks: Fruit (60 calories), hot chocolate (100 calories), raw cauliflower (20 calories) and cottage cheese (90 calories)
Dinner: High-fiber pasta (200 calories) with pesto (105 calories), grilled chicken (120 calories), asparagus (25 calories) and tomatoes (25 calories)
Snack: Low-fat ice cream (150 calories)
Nov. 6: I ran the W.O.O.F. - a 16-mile trail race that tested my endurance, mentally and physically. I was in the best shape, or at least close to the best shape, of my life. I was running 25-mile weeks, every run at a sub-9:00 pace and regularly incorporating strength training.
Nov. 7: I found out I was pregnant.
In those early weeks of pregnancy, I did much of the same. I ran; I strength trained; I pushed my body ( albeit with mild restraint), running a respectable 10K on Thanksgiving Day. However, it wasn't easy. One of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy is fatigue, and I struggled with my runs with each passing day. I got slower, even over shorter distances, and found myself looking forward to breaks at crosswalks.
For me to continue exercising (and keep my sanity), some things were going to have to change.
Accept that your body can no longer do what it once did. For more than a year, I was training. Training for my first half marathon, then a second. I was training for a third, with a time goal in mind, and then for a distance I had never reached. I worked hard to get fast and build a base. Then, boom! Gone. It was as if I had stopped in the middle of the race and watch the new me fade away. Talk about tough. So tough that I even thought, "Hey, maybe I'll stop running." And then I realized that was never option. So what if I'm slow? So what if I can't run 10 miles? I'm not Kara Goucher.
Listen to your body. Going with the above, especially with running, it's important to free yourself from expectations and listen to your body. Pregnancy is not a time to pull out a heart-pumping tempo run. I work to keep things comfortable and relaxed but only so much that I still feel like I'm working. If I want to stop, I stop. I catch my breath and bring the heart rate down. If I feel good, I go a bit faster. If I only feel like 3 miles, I go 3 miles. If it feels good, let's go 6. Things vary day to day, and I work to be mindful of that.
Explore other areas of fitness. I was never a yogi. Sure, I dabbled. I followed routines found on OnDemand and a couple DVDs from college. I even, sort of, liked it. The stretching was good for the hamstrings and chaturangas good for the arms. When a Groupon deal came along around 12 weeks, I snatched it up. Yoga was chance to try something new, where I couldn't judge myself and work my body in a very gentle way. I also have plans to hit up some water aerobics classes once the belly starts to get in the way.