Many women gain a lot of body fat during pregnancy and blame this on the pregnancy.
But staying trim during a pregnancy is certainly not an unrealistic goal – especially among women who use their pregnancy as an excuse to eat large amounts of junk food (and hence “get fat”).
My lovely 28-year-old niece, Taylor, is 26 weeks pregnant with her first baby as I type this.
I was inspired to write about her fitness journey during pregnancy after my sister sent me a picture of Taylor – fully pregnant – using her Peloton bike.
“Staying fit during pregnancy was something I always wanted to do,” begins Taylor.
“I saw the women, who, from behind you couldn’t tell they were pregnant, and then they turned around and BOOM, you saw their bump.
“This was a goal of mine from even before we found out [about the pregnancy].
“As a division 1 athlete (my husband and I), fitness has always been important to us.
“Since graduating our college sports, working out was never a chore for us; we both enjoyed it — so I hoped maintaining an athletic build would be achievable during pregnancy.”
Now I want to stop here for a moment and point something out. In no way am I, a former personal trainer, recommending that pregnancy is a good time for a woman – who has NEVER worked out – to hit the gym hard or exhaust herself on cardio equipment.
However, exercise during pregnancy IS recommended by the American Council of Obstetrics and Gynecology — with guidelines.
Prior to pregnancy, my niece was ALREADY well-trained from weight and cardio workouts. Thus, maintaining fitness and a trim toned body was her goal.
Pregnancy is not the time to let yourself go as far as abandoning structured exercise and letting your eating habits fall apart.
If you’ve never been into exercising, it’s perfectly okay to start during pregnancy as long as you adhere to exercise guidelines from your OBGYN or the ACOG.
Strength training is a superb form of exercise during pregnancy because it can be done while seated or standing still and does not involve any jarring motions. Plus, the risk of stumbling or falling is exceedingly low.
Taylor continues, “I have to admit, my first trimester was harder than expected. I am very lucky in the sense I did not experience morning sickness, but the exhaustion that came along with all the new hormones, and my hour+ commute each way into NYC hit me harder than I was prepared for.
“I did not have much motivation to work out, and to be honest — I didn’t work out much.
“But, with that I knew the whole ‘eating for two’ thing wasn’t actually a good plan.
“Plus, in this day and age, there are pregnancy apps that help you and tell you that you don’t actually need to be eating that much more.
“Once I hit week 14, things shifted, and I got my energy back — and I was back to the old me.
“Working out around 4-5 times a week. I only noticed an increase in appetite around week 17, but that lasted for a week or two only.
“I have underlying back pains that date back to my sports days, so I am limited in some exercises; basically I can’t run.
“Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have a Peloton bike, and this has been exactly what I need during this process.
“I take 30 minute to 45 minute classes that involve hills, sprints, intervals and arm workouts.
“The Peloton app also includes off the bike training, yoga, stretches, so it is much more than an indoor cycle.”
Prior to the stay-at-home directives, Taylor had been attending Orangetheory classes on the weekends. Orangetheory studios offer intense training that mixes cardio with resistance.
“…But now have been limited to the classes that Peloton offer — which is just fine!” continues Taylor.
“I have 14 weeks to go and hope to maintain this work ethic up until the baby arrives, and will be ready to get back to it after the baby arrives — once the doctors say it is safe!”
One of Taylor’s goals was to “keep all the weight in the belly.”
Up until the start of the stay-at-home order, she’d been receiving prenatal care and was getting weighed.
She’s missed at least one appointment due to the nationwide crisis, but a home scale reveals a 20 pound weight gain over her usual (and stable) weight.
Moderation Is Key to Keeping Trim During Pregnancy
Taylor explains, “I have allowed myself to eat whatever I have been feeling – but all in moderation.
“I won’t have four slices of pizza; I’ll have two. I don’t have giant amounts of pasta or carbs, but just a normal amount.
“I’m a huge smoothie lover, so I make a mix between fruit/veggie smoothies as well as protein ones too.”
Hopefully, Taylor’s story will motivate you – whether you’re expectant or not – to eat more healthfully and stick to a structured exercise schedule that includes both aerobic activity and strength training workouts.
Staying trim throughout a pregnancy is not an unrealistic goal. Fitness doesn’t automatically come with having a slim frame; one MUST exercise and have a clean diet for optimal health. But a typical pregnancy is never an excuse for “getting fat” and becoming sedentary.
Again, your OBGYN will guide you on exercise parameters.