Staying in shape while pregnant with twins

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.

Sometimes all you can do is wait

Pregnancy is such an exciting time!  And it’s short.  Really, in the grand scheme of things, not very long at all.  And there is so much to do, so much to get ready!  Preparing the nursery, learning about maternity and child care leave, hunting for deals on all the baby essentials, learning how to take care of newborns, how to nurse, how to make baby food, figuring out what is cheaper to make vs. buy, touring the hospital, signing up for birthing classes, finding out the genders of the twins, thinking of names for them, throwing a baby shower, figuring out ways to earn money as I plan to stay home with the twins for the first few years, finishing up any house projects that we can before the babies arrive and take over our lives….getting the outlets fixed in the garage so we can get a deep freezer and I can make a lot of meals ahead of time that we can eat during those challenging first few months…goodness gracious, there is a lot to do.

Yet somehow, I find myself feeling a little bored right now.  Because even though there is so much going on and so much to get ready, there is not really anything I can do at the moment besides live my daily life.  I like projects.  I like to be able to throw myself into something entirely.  Or perhaps it’s just inertia–when I am used to simply living daily life, my daily life takes up all my time and energy and I can’t imagine taking on anything else!  But then when something big comes up (for example…finding out you’re pregnant with twins!) I suddenly get a rush of energy and find time in my day that I didn’t know was there, and I get used to moving a hundred miles an hour.  When things get settled and I no longer have to multitask and there is not much more to learn or do, I feel a bit lost.

I have done as much as I can for right now, and for now, all there is to do is wait.  Wait for the electrician to come next week so I can order a deep freezer and start planning meals.  Then wait for the third trimester to start making meals so they aren’t sitting in the freezer forever.  Wait for my next ultrasound so I can have reassurance that everything is still going well, and hopefully find out the genders so I can start thinking of names and getting gender-appropriate clothes.  Wait for warmer weather so I can start scouting out the local yard sales for deals on baby gear.  Wait for the baby shower so I know what others will give to us, and know what I have left to get.  Wait to finish my current job before I can truly begin anything new.  Wait until after giving birth and recovering and figuring out life with twins before trying to take on something like a new job of any sort!  Wait until my husband and I both have time and energy to work on any house projects.  Wait to give birth before I can even try to get my old body back.  Wait until the next paycheck to buy any more baby items, and even then I should wait until later in the pregnancy just to make sure that all is going well.  And then wait until it’s finally time to give birth and find out if any of my preparation was useful at all or if I have to start from scratch.

Some of these things will happen in the next week or so, others I’ll have to wait several months.  Waiting is hard!  And for some reason, God likes to make us wait.  He does a lot of work while we’re waiting.  Waiting develops perseverance, patience and trust.  Trust that everything will happen at the right time, that God’s plan is good, that I do not have to control everything with my obsessive (and often futile) planning.  In this particular waiting period, I know that each day my babies are growing and developing into little unique humans and every day is an absolute miracle even though it all feels the same to me.  It’s hard to see the blessing of the mundane days of waiting in the moment, but later I look back and realize that waiting has forced me to grow in ways that I never could have if everything happened right away as I would like.