#FitPregnancy: What It Really Means to Be Pregnant and “Fit”

In recent years the #fitpregnancy movement has truly exploded. We see so many women today conquering this whole pregnancy thing while still being complete fitspiration. From the women still completing Crossfit Opens to the women in belly popping handstands to the ones running marathons at 30 weeks. It has become more and more apparent that we are complete badasses 😉 … and that the body can do so much more than we give it credit for!

This movement has sparked many a conversation, a critic, a hopeful. It has opened the door for more discussion about how it isn’t just totally awesome for these women to still be managing their fitness while pregnant and about how it’s also ridiculously important. For such a long time working out while pregnant was monitored in a way that limited women or made them feel as though they were doing something wrong by maintaining their own bodies during the time when the focus should be on the new little body forming inside. Too many women stopped exercise routines or became so overly cautious that there was more damage being done than there was good. Thankfully, today it is the norm for doctors to discuss the importance of exercise with pregnant women. It is encouraged that women who are pregnant get an average of 30 mins of exercise per day, 5 days a week. However, there is still so much speculation on what this should look like.

Unfortunately in a society obsessed with social media, sharing unwanted opinions, and judging others on their every move, we are never going to get rid of the haters and the critics. Just as common as the woman proudly promoting her #fitpregnancy on social media is the woman telling her that she is too skinny for 25 weeks or shouldn’t be doing this movement or that movement. Everyone seems to know just how the next women should handle their pregnancy and no one is shy about voicing their opinions when they think someone is doing too much. However, there aren’t enough people acknowledging what the battle in that woman’s own mind and heart might look like…

Being 22 weeks into my first pregnancy I am finally beginning to truly process what it means to be pregnant and “fit”.

Pregnancy has been even more of a roller coaster than I ever expected. No matter how people explain things to you or how much you know about pregnancy and the changes your body will go through, you will never fully understand what it all means until you experience it for yourself. I always keep high expectations of myself and I knew from the beginning that if there was one thing I wanted to conquer during pregnancy it was the ability to keep a good fitness routine. It became quickly apparent that this was going to mean something completely different to me than it has in the past and for most of the first half of pregnancy I struggled with finding a balance for myself… How do I live up to these expectations that I set for myself when I barely understand what is happening with my body and why I feel the way I do?!

When I first found out I was pregnant there were so many questions and emotions to be sought through. Anyone that knows me well knows that I will research until the cows come home. So that’s exactly what I did. I wanted ALL THE INFORMATION. I made comparison charts from every site I trusted to put together a comprehensive list of all the vitamins and minerals I needed to be getting and in what quantities; using this to pick my prenatal vitamin. I looked at article after article about what I needed to start or stop doing for my body. Many of the changes were easy to make – even giving up my beloved wine ;P – but the most difficult was my exercise routine.

I read many articles about movements you should avoid or how hard to work out and how to know when to stop but so many of these articles and these sites had conflicting information. Images and videos of women jumping rope when they look like they are about to pop to articles warning against any bouncing movement. People in handstands to women saying that your balance won’t be good enough to do any inversions and you should probably switch to only prenatal yoga immediately. I was overwhelmed and discouraged by how at odds people still seem to be about what kind of exercise is appropriate. So I read and I read and I read. I talked with the yogis at my studio, with experienced fit mamas, and with medical professionals. I knew in my heart that I could navigate this path with the years of knowledge and experience I have gained in the fitness world myself but I was a million times more terrified than I thought I would be.

Over the last 22 weeks, I have gone from being unsure and learning to being completely frustrated with the process to adapting to limitations and being satisfied and proud of everything my body can and is doing.

In the beginning it was about making sure to stop myself if I got too short of breath, being careful of twists in yoga, and honestly just being on edge because nothing FELT wrong but I was avoiding what I was told was wrong. What is so difficult about pregnancy is that it isn’t a broken arm, a torn shoulder, a battered knee. Pregnancy doesn’t immediately put a strict physical limitation on you but you are still tasked with the job of protecting anything that could POSSIBLY harm the little one, who is just starting its own journey. You are protecting this thing you can’t yet see or feel. You aren’t modifying a movement because you physically CAN’T do it. You are modifying a movement because your body needs something different right now… Even though you don’t feel ANY different yet. This is the first mental game.

All of a sudden out of nowhere nausea and exhaustion hit. These were the first physical barriers I felt to keeping up my workout routine. THIS is where I became truly frustrated. Let me remind you, my expectations for myself were set high. So when I came home from work feeling too exhausted to have any motivation to workout I got mad. I was mad at myself and at the process. I would take a 5 minute power nap and then force myself to at least do 10 minutes on our airdyne or struggle through SOMETHING. On days the nausea was bad yoga was NOT my friend and there were a few weeks that I only got in a workout 4x… That was not the goal I set for myself. That was not where I planned to be. My mental strength was falling, fast.

As I transitioned out of the nausea and exhaustion I was excited to get my energy back but then all of a sudden I went from gaining 0 lbs in the first trimester to gaining a steady 1lb a week and then 6lbs in the one month between weeks 15 and 19! =O I found myself in a weird “my bump isn’t a cute bump yet but none of my clothes fit and my workouts are changing and I hate all of this” phase. I felt terrible. I couldn’t keep up in spin class. I was lightheaded and winded a lot easier than ever before. Some days I couldn’t even hold a steady tree pose. It all happened so fast and I wasn’t ready. I battled with hating everything my body was putting me through but not wanting my little one to feel hated. I was in a slump. The worst kind. Then it happened…

All of a sudden at about 19 weeks and 4 days I felt it. The first kick. Or roll or whatever it was… Definitely a roll… The first signal from my little person. THAT is when everything changed.

Over the last couple weeks I have been able to find this new light, this new outlook on what it actually means to maintain fitness through pregnancy. Its not about comparing yourself to before. Its not about being able to do everything that you used to be able to do… Cause trust me you can’t and won’t be able to… And it’s OKAY. Why? Because H O L Y  S *** there is something awesome happening to your body! Your body is literally MAKING ANOTHER HUMAN BEING!

#Fitpregnancy isn’t about being extreme. It’s not living up to an ideal. It’s about being the healthiest version of yourself that you can be right now. It’s about giving your body the strength and tools it needs for the birthing process. It’s about making sure that your body stays functioning well because ultimately that will lend to your little nugget developing the best it can. It’s about loving how strong and amazing and inspiring you are just being a woman – even if one day you can barely stay in a downward dog without needing a break.

It’s also about embracing the days you feel like you can go full speed ahead. It’s about finding your own balance. It’s about ignoring the critics and the people that want to judge you and tell you that you shouldn’t lift weight or be upside down… Or tell you that you “make them nervous” because they have never in their life attempted any of the exercises you are doing, not realizing how much of a modification these things are for your normal routine… It’s about knowing your own body well enough that every single week, every single day, you can adjust to whatever you can do THAT DAY… And its about loving yourself for doing it.

Today my forward folds require a little bit wider stance than normal, I can’t go down to my belly anymore, my weights are a lot wider, and I hit the lowest power output in a spin class than I ever have before. In the last week I have worked out 6 days in a row. I have done a crossfit hero wod, I feel AMAZING when I am upside down in a headstand, my crow pose is sometimes more balanced than its ever been, I did burpees in the middle of a yoga strength class, I sweated, and I have felt AMAZING every single day. I no longer care if I can’t keep up with someone else in a workout class. I no longer think twice about if I should try that pose or just modify. I do exactly what feels right for me in every moment… And at the end of every workout session I can feel a small little person doing flips of excitement (and I like to think approval heehee). And I smile. Every. Single. Day.  

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