Preggo Fit Tips & Feeding the Bump
This post originally appeared on our old blog Born to be a Bride.
A lot of people have inquired about my diet and exercise routine now that I’m seven months preggo. From the moment I found out about the baby, I was committed to staying healthy not only for myself but for her, too (well I didn’t know it was a her then, but you know what I mean). Historically, a lot of women would fall into that “eating for two” myth, gaining an unhealthy amount of weight in pregnancy and giving themselves a bitch of a time burning it off later. It turns out that a woman of average weight doesn’t need any extra daily calories in the first trimester, and only a few hundred extra in the second and third. My daughter doesn’t need to eat junk any more than I do, and modern medicine supports working out (safely!) during pregnancy.
KEEP MOVING! I’ve worked out from the beginning, modifying my previous routine as the pregnancy progressed. These days, I am not able to run the distances I used to, but an occasional jog on the treadmill makes me feel great. Ditto a 60-to-75-minute yoga class. My doctor told me it’s good to a break an exercise-induced sweat once daily, at least 4-5 days a week. And quitting time for preggos (especially in the first few months) is when your cheeks hit that flush point of over-exertion. It’s a careful line to toe, and you should not start or continue any exercise routine during pregnancy without the explicit okay from your physician. If you’ve never taken yoga before, you might consider a prenatal class. Yoga has been proven not only to keep you feeling great during your pregnancy, but to help retain a healthy weight throughout, and to ease the pain of labor. Anything that eases labor pain will be happily accepted here!
Because I had more experience, I’ve skipped prenatal altogether, and attended my regular classes. But even when I was only 6 weeks along and nowhere near showing, I made sure to do the research on safe modifications and informed every instructor privately at the beginning of class, so they could keep an eye on me. This is important because certain movements like twists that you might feel totally comfortable doing, can potentially harm your baby even from the start. Be informed — it’s the best thing you can do for you and your kid. Even if you have no exercise routine in place and are not comfortable starting a new one, most doctors agree that at least taking a walk helps.
EAT YOUR GREENS, GIRL! So that’s the exercise piece. Diet is also important. You have to talk to your doctor about the do’s and dont’s and how many calories you should aim for. Mine happens to be pretty lax, allowing a cup or so of caffeine a day, the occasional turkey sandwich (though lunch meats in high quantity are dangerous, so check with your doctor before having even one slice!), and calming me down from hysterical tears when I ate a runny egg in week 11 not realizing that was part of the undercooked foods rule. So, yeah, he’s great. But one thing he has stressed from the beginning: plenty of wholesome, nutrient-rich foods like good old green vegetables.
Josh and I start the day with a kale smoothie he makes in our Vitamix. He’ll blend in whatever fresh fruit we have lying around — pineapple, bananas, and so on. Jam-pack your morning with vitamins and get the day started right. We also include a big green salad and an extra side of veggies with dinner at night. I think part of what’s keeping our nutrition in check is that we don’t use anything from a bottle. I make our salad dressings from scratch using a touch of olive oil, lots of lemon juice, fresh-squeezed garlic and a dash of salt. Or, sometimes I’ll throw in fat-free Greek yogurt to create a creamier “ranch-like” flavor.
CAVE TO THE CRAVE Mid-morning, I’ll have a small bowl of gluten-free granola with skim milk. And then after yoga, it’s lunch time. I hate making complicated lunch salads at home but can’t afford to pay for one outside of the house every day. So, I typically use midday as a time to bend under the pressure of my top two cravings — sweets, and anything cheesy/bready. Rudi’s gluten-free corn tortillas are only 90 calories apiece, and topped with some crumbled fat-free feta cheese, they make a perfect sandwich. On the side, I’ll slice up some fruit. Or, I’ll skip the fruit and have a small yogurt an hour later. Thus, I’m not ignoring my cravings, but am indulging them in a healthier way.
That said! I truly believe that these precious 40 weeks are a totally reasonable time to enjoy a bit. You’re uncomfortable, you can’t drink alcohol — it’s okay to treat yourself to something that’s purely delicious now and then. I keep organic dark chocolate-covered raisins in my house at all times, and will grab a handful once or twice a day. It’s all a matter of keeping yourself in check — if you’re polishing off the container in one sitting, you should probably dial it down. Another great option for satisfying sweets cravings is a caffeine-free Diet Coke or a glass of Trader Joe’s organic lemonade mixed with sparkling water.
PEPPER IN SOME PROTEIN I am notoriously terrible about protein and it’s gotten worse in pregnancy. The first five months, I couldn’t look at a piece of meat without feeling my last meal come back up. But protein is really important for pregnant women and Josh has been a fantastic policeman about making sure I get enough. He puts peanut butter in the morning smoothie when I groan that I won’t touch meat that day. Or, he’ll make me some scrambled eggs. We also hold to a strict standard of having some chicken or (pregnancy-safe) fish on the menu at night. Even on my most nauseous days, I could always manage a bit of tofu.
And when nothing else would do, I’ve found that organic gluten-free chicken nuggets or tenders, while not the super-healthiest thing ever, were delicious and crave-worthy enough that I could get them down without thinking about the fact that I was eating meat. I also like the occasional turkey burger, and we’ll have healthy taco night once a week using chicken instead of beef, half a packet of seasoning to cut the salt, low-fat cheese, lots of salsa, and a pile of lettuce and fresh-sliced tomatoes instead of sour cream or guac.
STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALE I made the really-really stupid choice of weighing myself daily for the first four or so months. It started out innocently enough; I just wanted to make sure I was not gaining too much too soon. But after absolutely no gain in the first trimester followed by a prompt and steady catch-up, I totally freaked. The drastic pitch in the numbers just sent me into a spin. After a tear-filled chat with my doc in front of Josh who thought I was being ridiculous, we all agreed that the best thing for me to do was chill.
Sure, it’s good to check in and make sure your number is moving steadily and in the right direction. But if you’re going to fixate on it, just step away. It’s not worth it. Remember, too, edema can bring on water weight gain that does not accurately reflect your true status. I’ve been up as much as three “fake” pounds from swelling in the humidity, so it’s better to go by how you look and feel, and let your doctor do the tracking.
THE BOTTOM LINE At 28 weeks, I am exactly where my doctor wants me weight-wise (so those who have accused me of being too small can calm down). I’m sure that losing the weight after Baby will take a lot of hard work and dedication, and like with anything else, there’s no easy or cheap way out. That said, the most important thing right now is carrying to term and delivering a healthy, happy child. For me, that means appropriate daily exercise, plenty of nutritious food, and a happy and healthy ME.
And yes, when I want the fries, I order the damn fries. I hope one day my little girl will do the same.