Being in shape has always been very important to me. Well, maybe not always…but certainly for the past 12 years or so, and definitely all of my adult life.
Before becoming pregnant, I always worried about how I would keep in shape during pregnancy. Since becoming pregnant, I have realized a few things:
- Fitness doesn’t disappear overnight, and fitness prior to pregnancy will definitely help in efforts to stay in shape during pregnancy! I am currently 17 weeks pregnant with twins and I’ve gained 20 pounds already, and I honestly feel pretty fantastic most of the time in terms of bodily comfort. I still walk at least 5 miles most days (sometimes it’s up to 10, when we’re on vacation!) and I do a variety of prenatal fitness videos. I carry on with my normal life routine without much discomfort. I have to wear larger clothes and I can feel stretching in my body and the random ache here or there, but I can definitely tell that my high level of fitness prior to pregnancy has helped my body cope with the changes of pregnancy pretty gracefully so far.
- My body is going to change in pregnancy, regardless of whether I work out, so I might as well embrace that fact. My thighs (always my struggle!) have definitely increased in size, even if it is only noticeable to me. My slender waistline is thicker. At times I think my face looks fuller (and very red!). Perhaps I could starve myself to prevent areas other than my stomach from changing, but that would not be good for me or the babies, of course. So I have come to terms with my changing shape, whether it is temporary or permanent.
- Even though I have reduced my exercise volume and intensity, the body works harder during pregnancy, so it all kinds of evens out. I did not blow up overnight when I stopped running. It is rather nice to have an excuse to take it easier for a few months.
- I care less about having the “perfect body” during pregnancy. See #2. My body is changing and I can’t really control it, but it is for a beautiful reason and would I really trade twin babies for slightly thinner thighs?
- I have gained a longer-term perspective on fitness. When I am running every week, it is easy to get caught up in mileage and calories and never want to run fewer miles or burn fewer calories one week than I did the previous week. It is easy to always set my expectations on doing more. Now that I have been forced to back off, I see fitness as more of a lifelong pursuit. I will certainly work hard to get back in shape after I give birth to these babies. But it’s not a huge rush, and it’s not a competition, and (God willing) I will be alive for quite a long time so there is plenty of time to lose and sculpt and tone and create a new normal. There is plenty of time to run and I think it’s interesting that so many women decide to take on the marathon after they have children.
So, how am I keeping in shape during this pregnancy? As mentioned before, I walk, a lot. I walk in the morning before work, I walk as much as I can throughout the work day, I walk after work. I aim for at least 5 miles a day, 6 is more typical. Unless I do workout videos, in which case I will generally walk less.
I have also taken advantage of NOT running all the time to engage in more strength training and varied cardio. There are many prenatal videos online for free or very little cost. Two series that I particularly enjoy is BabyFit by Amy (YouTube) and Gaiam: Summer Sanders’ Prenatal Workout (Amazon). The first one is free, and the second one can be purchased for less than $10. I enjoy the focus on taking care of the body and the importance of strengthening all parts of the body to deal with pregnancy, delivery and recovery, but without overly stressing the body. It’s fun to try out new workouts and not worry about burning a certain number of calories or achieving a certain intensity!
I am grateful for the chance to step back and regain focus on what fitness is truly about–literally, being fit for what’s required. Pregnancy is a great strain on the body, a twin pregnancy is an even greater strain, and my focus now is on having a body that is fit for the challenge.