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Fit Pregnancy Profile – Amanda, 2 Months Postpartum, Body Pumped Until Delivery

In this series, Fit To Be Pregnant is highlighting inspirational mamas from around the globe and how they made their pregnancies fit, comfortable, and healthy. If you’d like to be be featured, get in touch! We’d love to have you!

Fit Pregnancy Profile - Amanda, 2 Months PostpartumAmanda had her first baby just two months ago. She was able to have a complication and intervention-free delivery, and even took a Body Pump class the day before she gave birth! Here is her inspiring story.

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Describe your food choices during your healthy pregnancy.

I ate a wide range of foods from fruits and vegetables, lots of greek yogurt, whole grains, peanut butter, meat, but also lots of vegetarian dishes.

What was your exercise routine during pregnancy?

Before getting pregnant, I went to the gym six days a week. I took Body Pump and Body Combat on alternating days. I continued this regimen for the first few months, but as I became further along, I lowered my intensity as needed and started using options for the ab tracks. I also started going four days a week up until the last month I would go two days a week and take walks in between.

What was your greatest obstacle to staying healthy during your pregnancy, and how did you overcome it?

I would have to say staying motivated going to the gym, especially after a long day at work.

Did you experience morning sickness? How did you manage it?

No – none!

Did you allow yourself to give in to any cravings?

Yes I did. I knew I didn’t eat ice cream or greasy foods a lot, so I would treat myself on occasion.

Read here for the Top 10 Foods you should be eating during pregnancy.

How did birth go?

My birth went exactly as I planned. My active labor was about five hours and I did not have any interventions. The nursing staff and doctor were great! I was able to deliver in a position that was comfortable to me. They also let me walk around to help move things along and work through contractions.

How long did it take you to bounce back after birth? 

I would say after about a week I felt “normal.” I have mostly been going on walks and I have been breastfeeding/pumping. I still have a little bit to go to get back to my pre-pregnancy shape, but I plan on resuming my exercise programs when I am cleared by the doctor at my postpartum appointment.

Do you need a postpartum diet and exercise plan? Read here.

Were you leading a healthy lifestyle before pregnancy, or did pregnancy inspire you to become healthier?

Yes, it was very much part of my life.

What was your favorite thing to eat during pregnancy?

Peanut butter and nutella sandwiches on whole grain bread.

What is your proudest accomplishment of your pregnancy?

Taking Body Pump the morning before I gave birth.

What advice do you have for other moms who want to have a fit and healthy pregnancy?

People think that continuing your exercise routine cannot be done being pregnant and that you can hurt yourself and/or your baby. But if your body is used to a certain level of intensity, then continue with it because it helps tremendously throughout the pregnancy, during delivery, and postpartum.

What book, website, person inspired you to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy, or did you find useful?

I would have to say all the people who were in my classes at the gym inspired me. They were supportive during my entire pregnancy, and it was also a big part of my “social” life.

What was your favorite product that helped you stay fit and healthy during your pregnancy? 

Body Pump and Body Combat – the instructors helped me along the way with options

Did anyone judge you or say anything negative about your exercise routine during pregnancy? 

No – they were amazed with my ability to stick with it!

What was the one thing you did for yourself during pregnancy that you would recommend to anyone else who is expecting?

I didn’t give myself many breaks when I probably needed it. I would recommend taking a break once and a while because once the baby is here, there are no breaks!

How did you feel about your body during pregnancy? Were you excited about the changes, or was it difficult for you to deal with? How did you deal with those feelings?

I was lucky because as people said I was “all belly”, so I never felt self-conscious about the changes occurring. I was excited to see the changes. Since I continued my exercise routines I didn’t out on weight too quickly, and this helped me stay motivated as my body gradually changed.

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Fit Pregnancy Profile – Gwen, 36 Weeks Pregnant and Still Active with Crossfit

In this series, Fit To Be Pregnant is highlighting inspirational mamas from around the globe and how they made their pregnancies fit, comfortable, and healthy. If you’d like to be be featured, get in touch! We’d love to have you!

Fit Pregnancy Profile - Gwen, 36 Weeks and Crossfitting

Today’s Fit Pregnancy Profile features Gwen, who has stayed active with Crossfit through the end of her pregnancy with her baby girl, due in just a few weeks!

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Describe your food choices during your healthy pregnancy.

From week 5 to week 18 I was throwing up a few times a day so I honestly went with whatever food choice was going to make me feel “better”. Some weeks it was salad, some weeks it was leftovers but I had a hard time with meats and acidic fruits. I found at that time that bread or a sandwich was helpful in keeping things down. After week 18 I could successfully return to my 80/20 paleo lifestyle. I eat eggs and farm bacon every morning, sometimes adding in an almond milk smoothie. I eat a lot of beef, chicken and pork as well as sweet potatoes, spinach and brussel sprouts. My husband and I have been paleo for about 3 years now and really feel great. I wanted to be able to provide that same nourishment to my baby.

Read here for 50 healthy meal ideas for pregnancy!

Describe your exercise routine during your healthy pregnancy.

I have been a Crossfitter for 3 years but before that I was a competitive gymnast for 14 years. Before getting pregnant I had visions of continuing my workout routine and staying physically healthy throughout pregnancy. That constant state of nausea week 5 through 18 really put a damper on a good workout routine but I did manage to make it to the gym occasionally, even if it was only once or twice a week at that point! Now I’m able to get to the gym at least 3 times a week and continue with regular Crossfit workouts, modifying weights or movements as necessary. It has helped that everyone at our gym has been supportive and encouraging along the way.

What was your greatest obstacle to staying healthy during your pregnancy, and how did you overcome it?

My greatest obstacle was just getting myself to the gym. I knew in my head that if I stayed active I would feel better and usually after leaving the gym even if I wasn’t feeling my best going in, I felt better after working out.

Did you experience morning sickness? How did you manage it?

Yes! All day sickness week 5 to week 18 of my pregnancy. It became pretty consistent in that I could sort of plan ahead for it. Most importantly, I had to eat something for breakfast. Keeping crackers next to my bed never helped me like everyone said it would but breakfast was important. I made sure to have many different types of snacks with me throughout the day never knowing what my food preference was going to be. I napped on my lunches at work and kept plastic bags in my car/purse for that emergency. I was often in bed at 8pm because any later than that I knew I would start to get nauseous again.

What motivated you to exercise and eat healthy food during your pregnancy? How did you manage when you didn’t feel motivated?

I am an exercise junkie. If I didn’t get to the gym to workout at least 4 times/week I would feel badly about it pre-pregnancy. Once pregnancy came along, it was a different story and I found that I really had to listen to my body and know my limits. I read so many articles and books about working out while pregnant and found that exercise was great for pregnant woman as long as they listened to their body. I repeated this to myself (and still do)! Knowing how healthy food and exercise make me feel, it’s easier to make these healthy decisions for my baby so she can reap the benefits too!

Have you allowed yourself to give in to any cravings?

Of course! What’s the fall fair without cotton candy? Or a late summer night without an ice cream?

What is your birth plan? How does your healthy lifestyle factor in to your hopes for birth?

My birth plan is to provide the most natural introduction into the world for my baby girl without medical intervention unless absolutely necessary which is essentially how I live my life now. Of course I know that a birth plan is just a plan and change can happen but I feel more comfortable knowing I have positive thoughts that will help me through birth.

Were you leading a healthy lifestyle before pregnancy, or did pregnancy inspire you to become healthier?

My mother belonged to a co-op of organic foods when I was younger. She has influenced my healthy eating and lifestyle since then. I had just found the paleo lifestyle 3 years ago after being misdiagnosed with Celiac disease and feel great. I feel that pregnancy has reaffirmed my belief in paleo eating and Crossfitting to stay healthy.

What was your favorite thing to eat during pregnancy?

Italian food (eggplant parm, lasagna) anything with tomato sauce.

What is your proudest accomplishment of your pregnancy?

My first would be making it through week 18 haha. My proudest accomplishment would honestly be continuing my Crossfit journey, opening the eyes of so many who are afraid of exercise during pregnancy and in turn teaching myself a few things about the human body during pregnancy 🙂

What advice do you have for other moms who want to have a fit and healthy pregnancy?

Be your own best advocate. Don’t let other people tell you what you should be or shouldn’t be doing during your pregnancy (unless of course your doctor has strict rules for the health of you and your baby of course). Do your research and listen to your body. Fortunately and unfortunately, there is a lot out there about pregnancy and working out/eating healthy, however; most of it is hearsay and opinion. Check your references 🙂

What book, website, person inspired you to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy, or did you find useful?
Obviously I read a lot on Fit To Be Pregnant or I wouldn’t be here answering your questions 🙂 I also found crossfitmom.com to be helpful and then just getting out there and reading random blogs to compare notes. My husband and doula have been two of the most helpful people during this pregnancy. They are 100% positive and that positive energy plays a big role!

What was your favorite product that helped you stay fit and healthy during your pregnancy?

Chewy prenatal vitamins helped me stay on top of taking my vitamins. Without them I’m not sure I could have stomached swallowing pills.

Did anyone judge you or say anything negative about your exercise routine during pregnancy?

Many people commented “you do that crazy stuff while pregnant?!?” Or “you shouldn’t be lifting that/running/jumping etc”. Most of the people that have commented have been people who don’t typically exercise and are usually of older generations who were taught to believe that working out while pregnant was dangerous.

How did you feel about your body during pregnancy? Were you excited about the changes, or was it difficult for you to deal with? How did you deal with those feelings?

I have always wanted children and couldn’t wait to be pregnant.  Pregnant women are beautiful!  However, I have weighed the same since high school (15 years ago!) and although I don’t own a scale at home and I’ve never really been one to obsess about numbers, seeing the numbers go up at the doctor has been something I am not used to.  We have been taking weekly photos and it is both exciting and fascinating to see the changes over time.  My husband thinks I’m beautiful and he tells me every day, this has been a huge confidence boost and I think something that has made the changes that much easier to accept.  Knowing that my body is changing to provide for our little girl makes everything worth it!  I do have to say though, I can’t wait to climb a few flights of stairs without being completely winded!

What was the one thing you did for yourself during pregnancy that you would recommend to anyone else who is expecting?

NAP if you can! I was not a napper pre-pregnancy, just never had the desire but napping when I can has been a blessing. Once you get into that tired feeling thinking you can’t make it through the rest of the day, a nap will revive you!

 

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Best Workout Clothes for Pregnancy

HIIT Workout For Pregnancy - Burn Baby Burn WorkoutIf you’re going to continue working out during your pregnancy, finding the right workout clothes is really important. You need to be comfortable, you need to have support, and you need to look cute, right?

Here are my top recommendations for getting all of these things accomplished:

Maternity Workout Tops

I LOVED my stretchy, bamboo material Alo tank so much that I recently decided to make them available for other fit moms too! This tank was breathable so I could work out outdoors even in the summer heat, and the material stretched with my growing belly but didn’t stretch out – I still wear it now, more than a year since pregnancy. The new design (below) even features an adorable image of your baby to remind you why you’re still working out, even though you’re expecting! 🙂

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I also really liked my For Two Fitness shirt for the same reasons – super cute, stretchy and comfortable.

Maternity Support Belt

This last pregnancy was healthy and fit, but it was BIG. I mean, BIG. My belly was ridiculously large (turns out it was holding a bowling ball of a baby) and certain workouts could be uncomfortable because of that. But thanks to this support belt, I was able to jump rope and jog all the way through my pregnancy until the week of Austin’s birth. It was supportive in just the right places, and took all of the pressure off of my hips and lower back.

Maternity Sports Bra

I’ll be honest – I just can’t find a supportive sports bra that is also good for nursing. I really love my Motherhood sports nursing bra for its comfort and nursing convenience, but it isn’t supportive enough for running and jumping. So I wear that one for strength training days and my favorite sports bra of all time, this one from Nike, when I need more support.

Maternity Workout Pants

You cannot beat comfortable AND affordable, which is why I never took off my Old Navy yoga pants. I used them for yoga and I used them for my other workouts too, as well as these. They also have some newer styles that are super cute and ALMOST make me want to be pregnant again. ALMOST.

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Update – Six Months Postpartum

Baby’s Age

6 months old

6 months PostPartum Update - Fit To Be Pregnant

 

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6 months PostPartum Update - Fit To Be Pregnant

1 month postpartum vs. 6 months postpartum

Notes From the Pediatrician

Austin is 18 lbs 13 oz (70th%), 26 inches long (25th %), and 18″ head circumference (98%). We had our first vaccination this round…just one now, one in a month, and the next at his 9 month visit. The shot itself wasn’t bad, I let him nurse during it and he just stopped and yelled at the nurse like, “HEY!” but happily went back to nursing. Then that night he became very fussy and would scream if I touched his leg 🙁 . But it was all ok by morning.

We discussed solid foods – he is currently eating veggies for lunch and the pediatrician suggested avocado for dinner. Since it is a fat and not just carbohydrates, like veggies, it should be more filling for him and help him to sleep longer at night.

I have not yet started making my own baby foods just yet but plan to soon.

As far as sleep, we had another rough couple of months. He got to a point that he was waking up every 45 minutes at night. I had to weigh my sanity against beginning to sleep train. I decided first to night-wean him, which actually only took one night of him crying in my arms for about 45 min, and was over. Then after a few weeks of me just getting him when he woke and putting him in bed with me, I started to just give him back his pacifier and put my hand on his back when he woke, which put him instantly back to sleep. Finally, this past week, I started putting him in his crib with his blanket and pacifier and just sitting with him at bedtime with my hand on his back until he goes to sleep (I was nursing him to sleep then transferring to crib before).  This week he has slept for 8-11 hours every night! And I’ve never had to make him cry it out, which was my goal to avoid all along. Such a relief, let’s hope it holds.

Food

The last two months I have really gotten used to my “flexitarian” lifestyle! I’m able to be vegan/plant-based for about 95% of the time. Once you figure out how to make substitutions you can easily modify almost any meal. I will just say that lentils are a LIFESAVER. Ditching the all-or-nothing mentality has really made this change a piece of (vegan) cake. I don’t have to worry about being a social outcast or making others go to great lengths to accomodate my dietary needs, and I can eat out at any restaurant. I could write a whole other post about this subject so I’ll just leave it at that (Unless anyone is interested in how I have managed, in which case I will be glad to write a post!)

Here are my typical meals: 

  • Breakfast – ezekiel english muffin + almond butter/raw honey, green smoothie with fruit/spinach/celery/flaxseed
  • Lunch – salad with a ton of greens (spinach, kale, baby greens), veggies, nuts and seeds, and legumes like chickpeas or lentils, with tahini based dressing.
  • Dinner – 2 ounces of lean meat, 1/4 cup legumes OR 1/2 cup legumes only, vegetables and fruit. Example: Lentil tacos (taco “meat” made with lentils and walnuts), avocado, sauteed summer vegetables like zucchini and squash, and watermelon. Whenever it’s easy to replace meat with legumes and avoid cheese/dairy, I sub for myself and my husband.
  • Afternoon Snack – oats, raw honey, and peanut butter, or mixed nuts and a piece of fruit
  • Pre-Bed snack – Apple and Peanut or Almond Butter

Supplements

Exercise

I am excited to report that I have totally upped my game over the past 2 months and have felt more and more like the old me! This, even after dropping most meat from my diet!

6 months PostPartum Update - Fit To Be Pregnant

A few weeks ago after some frustration at not making much progress, at my husband’s suggestion I decided to take a week to “de-load”. I hadn’t had a week off of exercise in 4 months, when it is really a good idea to periodize your workouts every 12 weeks or so. I spent the week still working out but with low reps and weight, or just doing yoga. I also took a break from my diet, staying clean and plant-based when possible but higher calorie.  The next week I started a new training program and have seen amazing gains in strength and endurance! I also saw my abs and quads for the first time since before pregnancy.

  • Monday – high intensity interval training, 30 min + 2 mile run
  • Tuesday – strength training yoga
  • Wednesday – 45 minute strength + cardio workout
  • Thu – rest day (in the future this will be a 4 mile run)
  • Friday – strength and cardio circuit training, 30 min
  • Saturday – run 5-6 miles
  • Sunday – rest

This is all a Nike Training Club program from their app. It’s nice to let someone else write my workouts for a bit as I tend to get into a rut.

In my last update I had expressed concerns about not recovering from my workouts, but as of right now I am feeling great. I think my body just needed to adjust to the new diet.

You can see my entire plan for postpartum diet and fitness here.

Thoughts

I am now, at 6 months post-partum, feeling like the old me. It is the first time in 4 pregnancies that I have felt this way so soon! Not only do I feel like the old me, but I am now where I pictured myself being at post-pregnancy. When I began this journey, my goal was to be back in shape within months of delivering. There have been many points along the way when I didn’t think that it would happen. While I’m not exactly where I was, I am very happy with how close I am and with all of my progress.

I recently read my old journal I kept during my youngest daughter’s infant months and was absolutely shocked at how sick she had been. By Austin’s age now of 6 months, she had already had the flu, pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, and stomach bugs. By a year old we were having her kidneys checked because she was getting a mystery fever every month for no reason.

In six months, Austin has never been sick. Never. Not so much as the sniffles.

Genetics? Maybe, but I doubt it. He is still half me. I have to believe it’s our lifestlye. I don’t believe in regrets, but man, my life would have been so much easier and less stressful had I just known how to eat and feed my family back in those days.

Which just brings it all home for me – while it’s fun to see my abs and fit into my old clothes, this is just one tiny part of the journey. This whole thing is about living my best life, feeling my best, taking care of myself so I can get the most out of my days, and doing the same for my babies. It’s all about quality of life, feeling great, and yes, reaching goals too. 6 months PostPartum Update - Fit To Be Pregnant

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4 Month Post-Partum Update – Big Changes

Baby’s Age

4 months old (20 weeks as I write)

austin

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4 months postpartum Progress Update

One month vs. 4 months postpartum

Notes From the Pediatrician

Austin weighed in at 15 pounds 14 ounces (70th percentile), 25 1/2 ” (60th percentile) and was in the 99th percentile for head size 🙂 We delayed vaccinations for yet another 2 months so no shots til 6 months! This is a personal choice we made with our pediatrician, since he does not attend daycare he felt there was no rush.

We discussed breastfeeding, sleeping, milestones, and what to expect in the next two months. Austin is rolling tummy to back and trying to go back to tummy, right on schedule. Breastfeeding like a champ still, every 3-4 hours during the day. The only issue is nighttime he sometimes still wakes up every two hours, and I came into the appointment extremely sleep-deprived and frustrated. The pediatrician said he is now capable of sleeping without waking up to eat for 6-12 hours. Co-sleeping was wonderful the first 4 months but now it seems to just be keeping us both awake, we have a queen-sized bed so I have to sleep with him in my arms and anytime I change positions he wakes up wanting to nurse himself back to sleep, which either results in him waking up completely angry or me having to nurse every 1-2 hours. The crib didn’t work for longer than 15 minutes of sleep, until one time I let him sleep on his tummy and he slept two entire hours. I know that doesn’t seem like much but he hasn’t slept longer than 30 minutes in anything but my arms since he was born. The pediatrician gave her blessing to tummy sleep since he is holding his head up well and rolling over, breastfed, and still in our room with us. I’ve never had a tummy sleeping infant – I was always too paranoid – but since turning him, he is finally sleeping in 6 hour blocks and sometimes, all night long for the first time, ever, and I’m getting quality sleep for the first time in 4 months as well.

Food

There was a big change in my eating habits between month 3 and month 4. I have been thinking of going vegetarian/vegan for a long time, and started to before I became pregnant but gave it up during the pregnancy. Recently I attended a meeting with a speaker who discussed eating meat, the harmful effects of the meat industry on our environment, but also the effects on our spirituality. During that same time-frame my husband was reading The End Of Dieting by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a book he found incredibly informative about eating a mostly-plant based diet and the impact of meat and animal products on our health. We both decided it was best to cut back on meat and animal products wherever we could. The last time I tried to go 100% vegan I ended up frustrated and giving up because I was cooking an entirely separate meal for my kids and husband. So for now I am eating plant-based meals for breakfast, lunch, and all dinners when I’m not cooking (choosing plant-based meals at restaurants) and then cooking my normal meals for us and the kids at dinner (3-4 times a week, subbing vegan when it’s easy). So far I feel really good! It’s impacted me positively in almost every way except fitness, which I am still trying to figure out (see below). Here are my typical meals:

  • Breakfast – ezekiel english muffin + almond butter/raw honey, green smoothie with fruit/spinach/celery/flaxseed (cut out eggs and cheese)
  • Lunch – salad with a ton of greens (spinach, kale, baby greens), veggies, nuts and seeds, and legumes like chickpeas with tahini based dressing.
  • Dinner – 2 ounces of lean meat (reduced by 1/2 of my norm), 1/2 cup legumes, vegetables and fruit. Example: stuffed sweet potatoes with shredded pasture-raised chicken, black beans, and wilted spinach, with a side of cucumber and watermelon. Whenever it’s easy to replace meat with legumes and avoid cheese/dairy, I sub for myself and my husband.
  • Afternoon Snack – oats, raw honey, and peanut butter, or mixed nuts and a piece of fruit
  • Pre-Bed snack – Apple and Peanut or Almond Butter
He loves to "help" me eat :)

He loves to “help” me eat 🙂

Supplements

Exercise

Exercise is my lifeline to sanity these days. I’m making some progress with muscle and strength growth, however it has been limited and I’m having some issues with recovery. My muscles have been overly-fatigued and I’m lacking some energy during workouts. I’m not sure if this is from my new mostly-plant diet (my protein intake did drop considerably, although calories stayed the same) or if it’s the lack of sleep.

  • Monday – circuit training 30-40 minutes
  • Tuesday – active rest – walk 2-3 miles
  • Wednesday – Interval Plyometrics and agility drills, total workout time 25-30 min
  • Thu – HIIT Interval running, see my workouts here
  • Friday – HIIT strength + cardio, total workout time 25-30 min
  • Saturday – active rest (walk)
  • Sunday – walk or Yoga Meltdown (Jillian Michaels)

You can see my entire plan for postpartum diet and fitness here.

Thoughts

Finally this month I am seeing some progress in post-partum fat loss. I saw a huge difference in my pictures, the scale and body-fat measurements are dropping (I’ve lost another 5 pounds and 1% bodyfat), more and more clothes are fitting. I am also slowly seeing my muscle tone return in my legs and arms. My core is still having trouble catching up to the rest of me but it housed a 9 1/2 pound baby so I forgive it 🙂

I don’t know if the sudden progress is because of the new eating habits or because all the hard work finally caught up, but I feel great other than trying to figure out how to make my new diet work with fitness training. I have no doubt I’ll figure it out with some trial and error.

Breastfeeding is still great, even with the change in diet I have not lost any milk that I can tell, in fact I was able to increase my supply by pumping twice a day. He is thriving too, not short on growth or chub that’s for sure 🙂

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11 Ways To Naturally Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy

11 Ways To Naturally Reduce Pregnancy SwellingSwelling and bloating is a very common side effect during pregnancy (it can also be a sign of a problem like pre-eclampsia, so always check with your doctor or midwife first!). Swelling or edema in pregnancy is normally caused by the larger amount of blood in the body, which can pool if circulation is poor, especially in the lower extremities.

Having a fit and healthy pregnancy with a nutritious diet free of processed, high-sodium foods and a daily exercise routine will be your best bet in preventing swelling. In fact, I had very little swelling through my fit and healthy pregnancy, even though I was puffy and swollen through my first three. Here’s a comparison of my fittest pregnancy and my unhealthiest pregnancy.

Here are a few ways you can naturally reduce swelling and bloat during pregnancy.

Lemon Juice

Adding just a dash of pure lemon juice (not from concentrate) to your water not only helps flavor your water, but can help reduce swelling. Lemon juice is a mild and safe diuretic that will help your system rid itself of excess water. This was the number one method that worked for my swelling during pregnancy.

11 Ways To Naturally Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy

Cucumber

Cucumbers are also a natural diuretic, containing sulfur and silicon, that stimulate the kidneys to be more efficient. Eat them raw or you can also add them to your water.

Dandelion Tea

Dandelion is a good source of phytochemicals that encourage the elimination of excess fluid. Dandelion tea was recommended by my midwife and although it didn’t work that well for me, I’ve heard of others having great success with it. You can drink a cup of dandelion tea 2-3 times a day to relieve swelling.

11 Ways To Naturally Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy

Exercise

Staying active is one of the best ways to relieve swelling during pregnancy. Because circulation slows during pregnancy, the blood and fluid in our body can pool, causing a buildup of fluid. Moving and stretching gets the circulation going, reducing the amount of fluid that builds up. For a complete guide to fit pregnancy, check out my ebook here!

Compression Socks

Compression hosiery and socks help improve circulation by improving venous blood to the heart. As an added bonus, compression socks can prevent varicose veins in your legs, which can be common during pregnancy. While they certainly weren’t the cutest thing in the world, my compression socks helped a ton with swelling.

Epsom Salt

A warm bath with some epsom salt added can help draw fluid out of the body. Add 1 cup of the salt (magnesium sulfate) per gallon of warm water and soak your hands, feet, or your entire body.

Essential Oils

Grapefruit, Lemongrass, and Cypress essential oils can be used together to massage onto swollen feet and ankles to reduce swelling. Mix these with coconut oil and rub in 2-3 drops on the swollen area (it’s best to avoid essential oils in your first trimester).

Foot Massage

While you’re down there with the essential oils, go ahead and give yourself a good foot and leg massage. Better yet, get your partner or a massage therapist/reflexologist to do it for you. This not only relaxes you and feels amazing, but will increase your circulation and reduce fluid buildup.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is said to help improve circulation and fluid metabolism. Make sure your acupuncturist is licensed and experienced with pregnancy.

Cabbage Leaf

Wrapping a cabbage leaf around the swollen area for 20 minutes can draw out excess fluid and reduce swelling.

Chiropractic Treatment

Another way to increase circulation is to have chiropractic treatment. I used a chiropractor who specialized in pregnancy and these treatments instantly reduced my swelling, the minute I walked out of the office. Chiropractic treatment takes pressure off of vital joints and nerves that tend to be compressed during pregnancy, which in turn promotes healthy circulation to extremities that pool with fluid.

How did you reduce swelling during your pregnancy?

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Interval Running for Maximum Postpartum Fat Loss

Interval Running Guide for Maximum Postpartum Fat Loss | Fit To Be PregnantInterval running is the workout I am using once a week to stoke the metabolic flame and get that extra fat from pregnancy moving. I do this workout in addition to 2-3 more HIIT style workouts per week. Read my entire fitness and diet plan for postpartum here.

Running in intervals is not only an excellent way to burn fat, but it builds both your endurance and speed. Following this style of training, I went from a 12 minute mile to an 8:45 min/mile, training only with intervals once per week, no other running.

There are a million ways to run in intervals, and you should experiment with different interval combinations as much as possible to keep your body guessing. The last thing you want is to let your body get “used” to what you are doing. You need a big oxygen deficit with each workout to keep your body burning calories for up to 72 hours after your run. The more of an oxygen deficit you can create, the more fat will be used as energy to replenish that deficit over the next few days. With steady cardio running, additional calories are only burned while you are running – stopping the minute you stop.

It’s a tough 20-30 minutes but it’s effective and efficient!

Tips:

  • If you are nursing, feed your baby right before you run. Wear a compression sports bra or two sports bras if you need to for extra support.
  • You can take baby along on the run with you in a jogging stroller, but make sure you are on a flat, wide surface and are tethered to the stroller and that baby has developed head control (around 6 months old).
  • When you are running the fast intervals, your goal should be to reach at least 90% of your maximum effort. Run as hard and as fast as you can, like someone is chasing you.

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Workout Type

HIIT intervals, creating an EPOC effect for massive calories burned in less time. You will be alternating intense bursts of running with walking or slow jogging. With these style workouts, there is no need to run for longer than 30 minutes.

Equipment Needed

Go to Workout -> One Offs -> Add New Workout. Here you will create any combination of intervals that you want. You can use fast, slow, jog, walk, the possibilities are endless.

IMG_5295I select “Repeat until I stop my activity” but you can set a time limit or a distance limit.

Exercises

The only exercise you’ll be performing is running. When you perform your “fast” intervals, make sure you are running full speed. If you do this correctly, you will be sore the next day not just in your legs, but your entire body, even your core. A full sprint requires every muscle in your body.

Workout Breakdown

Here are a few different interval running workouts you could try. Feel free to experiment with your own combinations!

I start with a 5 minute warm up – dynamic stretching (stretching while staying moving, unlike static stretches where you hold the stretch), progressing to some jumping jacks and high knees.

Workout 1-Beginner

This workout is what I’m doing now since I haven’t performed interval running in over a year.

  • 1:00 Walk
  • :30 Run
  • Repeat for 20-30 minutes

Once this becomes easy, decrease the amount of walk time and increase the run time until it is challenging again. Keep decreasing walk time and increasing run time until you can run hard for 1 minute and take 30 second walk breaks. From here, just change your walks to slow jogs and start all over (1:00 slow jog, :30 run)

Workout 2- Track

Go to the local track. Start with a slow jog around the track to warmup, then sprint the straight parts of the track, and walk the curves. Repeat this 5 or 6 times.

Workout 3-Split

  • 15:00 – slow and steady jog
  • 15:00 – pick up the pace and run fast (not a full sprint here, but as fast as you comfortably can without stopping)

Workout 4 – Hills or Stairs

This workout is my favorite! Find a local stadium that will allow you in to run, or find a park with a steep hill. After a warmup, run to the top of the hill or stairs as fast as you can, then turn around and walk back down. Repeat for 20-30 minutes. If you are lucky enough to have a park with dirt trails and hilly terrain, jog the flat parts and sprint up the hills.

Workout 5 – Total Burnout

This will zap your energy fast and is an advanced workout that’s tough but over fast!

  • :10 sprint
  • :10 walk
  • :10 sprint
  • :20 walk
  • :10 sprint
  • :30 walk
  • :10 sprint
  • :40 walk
  • :10 sprint
  • :50 walk

Once this gets easier, you can change the walking to a slow jog. Take a break, repeat if desired, but definitely not required!

End with a 10 minute stretching cool down. I like to stretch out my arms, then my hamstrings, my inner thighs, my quads, and then perform a few sun salutations. I also add in cat/cow to stretch out my back and hips, and end in child’s pose.

Try these out and let me know what you think!

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6 Lessons Learned From My Fit and Healthy Pregnancy

Six Lessons Learned From My Fit And Healthy Pregnancy | Fit to Be PregnantNow that I’m a couple of months out from being pregnant, I can look back at the entire experience and share what I learned from those 9 months. Here are the biggest lessons I took away from my fit and healthy pregnancy. (For a more comprehensive guide to fit and healthy pregnancy, make sure to pick up a copy of my ebook – Fit To Be Pregnant: 12 Steps to the Healthy, Comfortable, and Fit Pregnancy of Your Dreams.

1. Pregnancy is the ultimate conditioning.

I worked out until the last week of pregnancy. I remember the first time I tried jump rope again 5 weeks post-partum, I was expecting it to be really difficult. The last time I had jump-roped I had been 7 months along and HUGE. What I found instead was that I felt like I was bouncing on springs!! Jumping up and down 25 pounds lighter was, duh, certainly easier! Running and other endurance activities felt much easier as well. In fact, studies have shown that women who exercise during pregnancy actually are healthier and fitter throughout the rest of their lives (lowered risk of heart disease and osteoporosis) than women who give up exercise while pregnant [1].

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2. Speaking of jumping, don’t do it.

Around 35 weeks I was sluggishly still jumping away through my workouts, hopping on step-benches, performing broad jump burpees, and feeling pretty great until nighttime, when my hips and back would have this horrible, dull ache that kept me awake all night. I just thought it was part of the pregnancy, until my chiropractor set me straight (literally, ha). Because of all the relaxin in my body, when I was jumping my hip and pelvic joints were all getting knocked around like crazy, and nighttime was when it was catching up with me. Once I stopped, the nighttime aches and pains went away almost immediately. In hindsight, I wish I would have removed all jumping exercise when I hit the third trimester, if not sooner.

3. A fit and healthy pregnancy is a comfortable one.

Other than what I mentioned above, I am still absolutely DUMBFOUNDED at the differences in my first three pregnancies from my last. I never had the majority of the pregnancy woes with this guy that I had with all the other kids. I had energy, I slept well, I had very few mood swings, and generally felt like myself up until the day of delivery. In my second trimester, we took a 5 1/2 week road trip that involved hiking and camping for the majority of the trip, and I never felt like I wasn’t up for it – I felt great! I felt so regretful for having sentenced myself to discomfort in my past pregnancies with my unhealthy lifestyle. Read my comparison of my healthiest and unhealthiest pregnancies here.

4. You are not as in control of your body as you think.

When I did discover health and fitness several years ago, I absolutely loved knowing that I could manipulate certain things to make my body do what I wanted. If I wanted to get lean fast for an upcoming event or vacation, I knew just what to eat and how to exercise. If I just wanted to stay in my same size clothes but relax my eating, I knew just how far I could take it without overdoing it. If I wanted to run a faster 5K, I knew how to do that too. Once those pregnancy hormones hit, my body went into autopilot somewhat. I was certainly still in control of how I felt, but my body put the fat on that it needed to, and I lost muscle regardless of what exercises I performed. I was sad about this at first but as I have learned to do, I trusted my body that it was doing what it needed to nourish my baby. It’s a lesson I’m using even now as my body refuses to drop fat while I breastfeed.

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5. Healthy diet = healthy placenta = healthy baby

This might be gross, but my midwife was so thoroughly impressed with my placenta. She raved about it to her assistant, “Look at this placenta! That’s one of the biggest I’ve seen! You must be a really healthy eater!” I had never thought I’d say this, but I couldn’t help be proud of that placenta with all that praise! I knew I was eating for my baby, giving him as many nutrients as possible with a very strategically planned diet, but it was really rewarding to see the culmination of that dedication: a 9 pound 7 ounce bowling ball of a baby, and a placenta that made my midwife proud. 🙂 Read here for the foods I made sure to eat lots of, and that you should try to eat during pregnancy, too.

6. A fit and healthy pregnancy does not guarantee an easy birth.

Now, it may stack the odds for an *intervention-free* delivery, which I still had, but this was a far cry from an easy birth. Austin had a giant head (holding a big brain, thanks!!) and linebacker shoulders (like his daddy!), was posterior AND had shoulder dystocia. I was surprised at all of it, because as fit as I had been, I expected to push a little and be done, not the movie-quality scene that actually went down, complete with my screaming at the midwife to JUST GET HIM OUT.  Had I known this, I wouldn’t have done anything different except to not have my children and parents waiting downstairs where all could be heard. I’m not sure either of my daughters will ever want to give birth now ;).

What lessons did you learn from your own fit (or not) pregnancies? Share in the comments!

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A Postpartum Diet and Exercise Plan While Breastfeeding

A Postpartum Diet and Exercise Plan While Maintaining Your Milk SupplyI have had so many requests for my postpartum fitness and eating plan. The secret here is to find balance between fat loss and maintaining your milk supply. I’ve always had trouble losing fat while breastfeeding (read this if you do too!), and so the first thing I needed to do was to accept that this might be it for now – I won’t endanger the baby’s milk supply to fit into my old clothes, my priority is mine and baby’s health. Here is what I’m doing to slowly try to drop extra fat while staying healthy and keeping up my milk supply. Be sure and stick around to the end of the article for a bonus.

Nutrition and Diet

When I first left the birth center after giving birth I was so hungry I thought I’d eat my own arm before we made it home. The appetite has not let up since then and I decided to listen to my body and EAT! When breastfeeding, the average mom burns an additional 500 calories a day – that’s like a high intensity workout!

The first several weeks were all about establishing my milk supply, so I did not cut calories at all. When I was hungry, I ate. At about 5 weeks postpartum, I reached a plateau and decided to start adding up the calories to give myself a starting point.

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Calories, Macronutrients, and Nutrition

I don’t normally like calorie counting, in fact I hate it. However, I do recognize that calorie counting can be an extremely useful tool in special situations like this. I added up what I was currently eating, which was about 2400 calories per day.

Next, I checked my macronutrient intake using the app LoseIt (after simply logging what you eat, LoseIt adds the calories and breaks down the macronutrients for you).

  • The number one macro I am keeping an eye on is protein. Without adequate protein, my milk supply will suffer, my body will shed muscle, and I won’t feel my best. The absolute minimum protein intake I want each day is 80 grams, but I aim for 100+ grams, even more now that I’m strength training again.
  • Next, I made sure I’m getting enough healthy fat, about 30% of my total calorie intake.
  • And last, I filled in the remaining calories with healthy carbohydrates. This is a MUCH higher number than I am used to, but with the amount I am moving, not sleeping, and energy it takes to keep a high milk supply, healthy carbohydrates are a must!

As far as nutrients, 80-90% of my calories consist of lean protein (3-5 servings), fruits (2-3 servings), vegetables (at least 2 leafy greens per day and 4-5 servings total), a variety of healthy fats (2-3 servings), and whole grains (1-2 servings). The other 10-20% of my calories I save for “fun foods” – as long as they are whole foods free of preservatives, chemicals, trans fats, artificial sugars and sweeteners, food dyes, etc, I eat what I want. For example, homemade blueberry muffins, organic tater tots, Amy’s Pizza Roll Snacks, or dinner at a local restaurant (with a little research on ingredients first).

So here is what my typical day looked like at 2400 calories:

  • Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs with spinach and onions, 1 sprouted grain english muffin with a tablespoon of cream cheese and a little raw organic honey
  • Snack 1 – Larabar
  • Lunch – chicken breast, spinach, red peppers, cucumber slices, and homemade guacamole on 2 pieces of toasted sprouted grain bread, 2 clementines
  • Snack 2 – Smoothie with greek yogurt, spinach, 1 cup of mixed frozen fruit (cherries, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, etc), and chia seeds
  • Dinner – Beef and Broccoli over cauliflower “rice”, fruit
  • Snack 3 – sliced banana, raw organic honey, greek yogurt, and walnuts mixed together
  • plus 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil daily

I eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and snacks every day, so I know what my base calorie intake will be. Depending on the calories of my dinner, which varies each night, I may or may not have a few hundred calories left over that I will then fill with my fun foods. I plan this out at the beginning of the day using LoseIt, then decide what to add in, like tater tots with my lunch or even a couple of tablespoons of Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter in my greek yogurt snack.

Typically I hit a macronutrient ratio of 25% protein (about 130g), 45% carbohydrates, and 30% fat.

When I hit a plateau, I drop 50 calories per day, one week at a time. Yes, this is a much slower way than the typical recommendation of 500 calorie deficits, but with the milk supply at risk, it’s better to take it slow. This will also help your metabolism to adjust so that it’s not adapting to the lower calorie range.

Are you overwhelmed with your own postpartum plan? You don’t have to do this alone, I can help.

Measuring Body Composition

If you’re going to weigh yourself, do yourself a huge favor and take your body fat composition reading as well. This is especially true if you are strength training. I have been 135 pounds and a size 8, and I’ve also been 135 pounds and a size 2 – the first I was a much higher body fat, the second I was very lean with more muscle. Personally, if I’m not trying to reach a specific body fat % goal, I just go by how my clothes are fitting. You can pick up a pair of calipers to measure your body composition here, or have a personal trainer take the measurements for you. For me, I want to increase my muscle mass and decrease my body fat. More muscle means more strength, higher metabolism (muscle requires more calories for upkeep than fat), and a more athletic look.

Creating a Plan

If you have no idea where to start with your calories, first try our very helpful breastfeeding calorie calculator and subtract 15%. This is the average daily calories you want to consume. Give this number 2 weeks before you make any adjustments. Remember fat loss takes time and you have to be very patient if you want to do it right!

If calorie counting seems like a big pain, don’t do it! Just plan your meals out once and get a feeling for how many calories you’re eating, then just eat and don’t worry about it. As long as you’re dropping fat and keeping up your milk supply, don’t make a big hassle of it.

And finally, if the number this calculation puts out seems shockingly high (I have never been on a “diet” that involved me eating more than 2000 calories a day, so I was certainly shocked too!) don’t worry. If your weight starts creeping up, just lower the number a little. It won’t be anything you can’t undo quickly. Don’t underestimate the adaptability of your metabolism, and use it to yours and your baby’s advantage!

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Exercise

I began daily walks at 1 week postpartum. I started with just 20-30 minutes of walking and worked up to an hour (about 3 miles). I sustained only this level of activity until 5 weeks postpartum. Here is my exercise plan from here out to get me back to my intense workouts and athleticism:

  • Week 5 – add in 15 minutes of light circuit training (Monday), and a 12-15 minute HIIT workout (Friday)
  • Week 6 – increase circuit training to 30 minutes, add 1 more 12-15 minute HIIT workout (Wednesday)
  • Week 7 – add a 30 minute cardio routine in for Thursdays (jumprope, running, trail running, kickboxing)
  • Week 8 – add a track, stadium, or hill workout for Sundays (sprints, plyometrics, hill sprints, stadium runs)

This timetable gets me back to my pre-pregnancy routine by 2 months post-partum:

My focus is short, intense workouts because I have very limited time in between baby feedings and baby naps! I’ll also be continuing daily walks with the baby, probably more like 2 miles. It’s good for both of us to get out in the sun each day!

Note: if you are also choosing the intense, shorter workouts, make sure you’re feeding baby BEFORE your workout. A few small studies have found a buildup of lactic acid in breastmilk following high intensity (to the point of exhaustion) exercise, and also a small decrease in supply in the 90 minutes following the workout.

Troubleshooting

Here’s a checklist for any plateaus or problems that may come up for balancing fat loss and breastfeeding:

If milk supply begins to diminish and/or you’re losing fat too quickly (more than 1 lb per week after initial post-pregnancy weight loss):

  • increase daily calorie intake by 50-100 calories with protein and/or fat, or add in 1-2 higher calorie days per week
  • decrease intensity of workouts and focus on longer, less intense exercise
  • make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and add an extra glass before, during, and after workouts

If fat loss plateaus:

  • decrease daily calorie intake by 50-100 calories with carbohydrates (start with starches like whole grain breads, or remove a few “fun foods”)
  • increase intensity of workouts, make sure you are adequately strength training
  • add in a form of low-level activity, like walking, to increase activity level

It’s possible that your body may not want to drop fat while you are breastfeeding, no matter what you do. We all have different hormonal profiles. My body likes to store fat in my legs and rear when I’m breastfeeding (and pregnant), no matter what I’m eating or how much I’m exercising. It’s such a short and important time for my baby in the grand scheme of things, so I have to tell myself that some things will just have to wait. The number one priority for baby and for me is good health and feeling well.

If you need help figuring out your own postpartum plan, visit my coaching page here.

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UPDATE – I am now 7 months postpartum and back to my pre-pregnancy size for the most part (update and picture here). I ended up with a daily average of about 1900-2000 calories a day after a slow decrease over several weeks. My milk supply never has suffered and I feel better than ever. The fat loss really revved up around the 4 month mark, when prolactin levels dropped, and I saw the biggest difference between the 5th and 6th month.

Bonus

I’ve put together 4 of my favorite interval training workouts for you, all of which can be done in your living room with minimal equipment. Click here to download.

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39 Week Update – Over It

PSST-I’m now on Instagram updating with pics of my healthy meals, workouts, and other pregnancy stuff 🙂 Find me here, or username FitToBePregnant

Week: 39 weeks, 4 days

Days to Go: 3 Days to go

Picture:

39 Week Update | Fit To Be Pregnant

Trying to smile 🙂

Symptoms: Just heavy baby running out of room, pressing his head on everything. Lots of pressure down low in my pelvis. Otherwise, I feel really good. First pregnancy I’ve ever made it to my due date and still had my wedding rings on (comfortably, they can slide off).

Signs of Labor: Still a little nauseous, braxton hicks every 8-10 minutes since Sunday afternoon, so intense that we were convinced it was time at one point.

Midwife Appointment Notes: no midwife appointment this week until Friday.

Food: still a light appetite, so most of the time:

  • Breakfast – 2 eggs, 1/2 sprouted grain english muffin + smoothie w/ spinach, greek yogurt, frozen blueberries or strawberries, mango & cherries, and flaxseed
  • Lunch – chicken, guacamole, red/orange bell peppers wrapped in collard green leaf
  • Snacks – banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter, apple and greek yogurt/almond butter “dip” before bed
  • Dinner – Lean meat, 1 green veggie and 1 other veggie. Example meal from this week: Apple Cider roasted chicken, butternut squash, broccoli

Supplements:

Exercise: The goal is a daily 2-3 mile walk with 3 days of strength training per week, to keep from losing strength and muscle mass before the birth. This week we had an ice storm so I missed a lot of walking.

  • Thursday – 2.76 mile walk
  • Friday – no workout
  • Saturday – no workout, cleaned the house to stay active
  • Sunday – no workout
  • Monday – 50 pushups, 100 air squats
  • Tuesday – 2.64 mile walk
  • Wednesday –

Thoughts and Feelings:

While I was prepared to be patient to meet my baby, I am not doing very well with this whole constantly thinking I’m in labor thing. Sunday afternoon I started having pressure waves that just never let up, no matter what I did. They were getting stronger and stronger, then more regular. We were totally convinced “this was it”. We packed our bags up, made plans for the kids, and even sat down and did a Hypnobabies track together. I was sure that it was just a matter of time. We decided to try to sleep as long as I still felt I could. I laid down and put more Hypnobabies tracks on in my headphones, and he laid down next to me. After my first track, I realized that the pressure waves were slowing down and losing intensity. I wanted to cry when I rolled over to tell him.

The pressure waves have. not. stopped. since then. They are every 8-10 minutes, non stop, all day, all night. Some are more intense than others, waking me up in the middle of the night or causing me to stop in my tracks. But I’ve just had to continue life as much as I could. An ice storm this weekend and being home-bound made it hard to distract myself from the constant labor but once it started melting, I was able to get out and get some things done, like getting my haircut, to get my mind off of things.

So it’s not that I am not anxious to meet my little guy, I am, but I could mentally deal with waiting a little longer. I understand these are my last nights to sleep soundly, to not be breastfeeding, to be able to do so many things independently. But physically I’m exhausted from the constant pressure waves. I’m also mentally exhausted from wondering “is this it?” And by “it”, I mean one of the most physically demanding challenges of my life – unmedicated childbirth. That will mess with your head!

Anyways, I’m a little grumpy and a little anti-social and just trying not to think too much. This can’t go on forever!

Saturday is the due date. My one child that was not induced was born 2 days after his due date, after a 24 hour labor…so I don’t think it will be much longer. Even still, I’m mentally preparing to go through this until Christmas 🙂

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