I get a few messages every week asking me about my training and diet during my pregnancy, so I am finally getting around to doing a short blogpost on it. Before I start, I would like to highlight that I am not a personal trainer, and I do not recommend anyone copying what I did unless you have a good fitness foundation before getting pregnant, and you have clearance from your doc to continue to exercise.
I was very active throughout my pregnancy and continued to train 3-5 times most weeks, as I was used to that pre-pregnancy. I figured that I am young and healthy so why should I suddenly stop what my body is used to?
I don’t enjoy going to your standard ‘run of the mill’ gym to workout on my own (I get bored, I don’t push myself hard enough, and I find them intimidating!). I train at PT360 which is essentially a crossfit gym with timetabled classes running from 5:45am to 8pm weekdays, and weekends 9am & 10am classes. The fact that they run so many classes gives me no excuse not to find an hour slot to get my workouts in. I enjoy a class environment as everybody pushes one another, and there is a lovely friendly atmosphere. I love doing partner WODS as you push yourself more than working out alone.
Up until I was about 12 weeks pregnant, I didn’t modify anything. I continued to do ab work, burpees, overhead lifts etc. From 12 weeks onwards I cut out planking, trx ab work, sit-ups , v sits, hallow holds, mountain climbers (basically anything that primarily focused on abs) and anything that involved me lying directly on my back as it can induce hypotensive (fainting) episodes with the weight of a growing uterus lying on one of the major blood vessels running along the back.
I was wary that by cutting out all ab work that I would totally lose core strength for the remainder of my pregnancy. I substituted sit-ups and regular planks etc , for side planks instead (to still work on my obliques). Even at 38 weeks pregnant I was able to hold a side plank for over 2 mins as I modified my workouts instead of taking a free pass when the rest of the class were doing something else. I also used to do upright standing knee touches with a kettle bell on the opposite side to add weight.
(Pic source …. redefiningstrength.com)
I continued to lift moderate enough weights for things like kettle bell work (swings, squats, thrusters, lunges, farmer walks, clean and jerk etc) which still challenged me.
For barbell work, I dropped my weights by approx 5kg towards the last 2-3 weeks of training before I had Ellie. Up to that, I maintained lifting what I was used to doing pre-pregnancy . In all of my training during pregnancy , I never ‘upped’ any weights that I was lifting before. My main aim was to maintain strength and obviously scale it back when needed, it is so important not to increase any weights in pregnancy. Maintaining, and eventually decreasing as the pregnancy progresses, was the main aim for me.
I still continued to do deadlifts, shoulder press (please note- many women cannot lift overhead in pregnancy as they can get dizzy and faint, so be very cautious!!! I was lucky and didn’t experience it!) thrusters, lunges, front and back squats, power cleans etc. All of these movements gave a really good full body workout and still engaged my core without too much pressure.
Things like wall balls, sprints, box step ups (not jumps!!) rowing, assault bike gave me a good cardio workout, but I defo scaled back the pace of all these from the latter stages of the second trimester.
I also continued with other forms of light exercise such as walking the dog for 30-40mins most days (I enjoy getting outdoors for fresh air and to clear my head) .
Simple things like taking the stairs instead of the lift in work also helped to maintain good cardiovascular health for me also.
In terms of nutrition, I had a lot of food aversions at the beginning of my pregnancy, and heart burn throughout , so my appetite wasn’t what it usually was outside of pregnancy . I couldnt bare to eat or drink some of my usual favs as they made my stomach turn…. such as coffee, fruit, yogurt, vegetables, fish (mostly the good nutritious stuff!).
My diet was very ‘beige’ at the start to say the least, and I couldn’t tell you how many potatoes I got through during those nine months (they were my biggest craving for the whole pregnancy!).
Having to rely on mostly carbs was difficult for me to get my head around as I love my veggies and protein. With a history of an eating disorder I of course panicked that I would balloon in size, as I couldn’t stick to my usual diet, but thankfully my weight gain was very steady and not excessive.
Towards the second trimester my food aversions subsided a good bit, so I was back to my usual diet for the most part.
Generally for breakfast I had porridge and berries or boiled eggs, tomato, avocado and a slimster/potatoes in coconut oil. For lunch, soup or a salad. For dinner, some source of protein with veg and a carb. I would snack on fruit or Greek yogurt in between if I felt hungry. I also made sure to have fish (usually salmon) at least once a week.
I kept treats such as chocolate to a minimum. I obviously gave into cravings here and there, but I wasn’t getting into the mindset of ‘eating for two’. I only increased my calories by approx 300 kcal (ish) towards the latter stages of my second trimester. I ensured that I never went hungry, and I still ate when my body told me to, but I just made sure I was keeping it to unprocessed food with decent nutritional value.
Most evenings I always allowed myself a ‘highlights’ hot chocolate. They killed a sweet tooth craving, and are only 40kcal so I felt that if the rest of my diet was decent, I wouldn’t care too much to allow myself one (even though they are totally sugar and processed! Lol)
Overall, by continuing with a good exercise and diet during pregnancy, I only gained approx 23 pounds. I lost nearly all of it in around 3-4 weeks (this was without being back to the gym obviously!) I am still holding on to a stubborn 5lbs that will not shift! Some weeks I am 3lbs off, and then it jumps back again to 5lbs! I am not stressing about it, and believe that my body is holding onto it as a reserve for breastfeeding.
At the moment I am more concerned about having a good supply for my baby, so I am not cutting out anything , or any food groups! When I stop feeding her, I may change things up slightly.
It’s true that breastfeeding makes you hungry, I can’t seem to keep myself full! As the saying goes, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, so I need to ensure I’m well fed and watered to keep Ellie well fed and watered!
I hope that gives those of you who asked, a good outline of my diet and lifestyle during pregnancy. As you can see, I didn’t do anything crazy! My main focus was to keep things as normal as they always were, and not to eat for two!
I will go into future pregnancies (not tempting fate!! Lol) with the same mindset, as this approach worked for me!
I haven’t been burdened at all with trying to lose my baby weight, and I believe my overall recovery benefited from being active and eating well over the course of the 9 months!
🙂 Jessica x