Dixie is an avid gym-goer in my hometown of Hutchinson, MN. She’s been setting a positive example for mother’s like her for the past several years by making her health a priority through three pregnancies. She’s learned a few things along the way that would be beneficial to any health-conscious women out there who are currently pregnant or hoping to become pregnant.
There are many women out there who are wondering, “can I be pregnant and fit”? My answer is a resounding “Yes”! I will take you through my journey of over 7 years and three children and what I learned about myself, pregnancy and fitness.
Fitness has always been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. I enjoy a variety of different activities ranging from running, weightlifting, basketball, gymnastics, and softball. When my husband and I decided to start having children, I naturally thought I would incorporate those activities into my pregnancy. Things don’t always go as planned.
I remember vividly the day I returned from a long vacation. It was during the first trimester of my 1st pregnancy and I was feeling good. My morning sickness was over so I hit the gym hard the next two days.
After day three of my return, I was not doing well. The sad realization came later that evening when it was confirmed, I was indeed miscarrying. A hard blow that I then got myself to believe was that it was related to working out.
Three months later to my joy I was pregnant again. With the past still fresh in my mind I was no longer going to run and I was only lifting light weights. I was exhausted and morning sickness was bad so I avoided the gym until I felt better. My cardio had gone way down but my appetite had increased. At work, there was always junk food lying around and so, of course, my eating habits took a nosedive. By the time I gave birth, a week after my due date, I had gained about 40 pounds. That was a lot for my 5”1’ frame. They always say it is easier to put on weight than it is to take it off and now I understood.
I was not working and my gym would not take kids under age 2 so I was left with running and home workout videos. Working out alone is hard for me so I needed a goal to aim for. By the next week, I was signed up for my 1st half marathon. Working out by itself is not the only answer so I also changed my eating habits.
Fast forward 2 years and I am now pregnant with child #2.
I was in the best shape I’d been in since college – running and weightlifting regularly, and now exhaustion and morning sickness, worse than the first pregnancy, kicked in. With a big move already in motion, what would I do?
The second time around I wasn’t giving in so quickly. Soon after relocating, I joined a gym. I still did not feel the best but I continued running and lifting when I did feel good. I no longer was under the false impression that it was the exercise that had caused my miscarriage. My attitude toward food had changed as well and I watched what I ate. At 4 months along, it did not feel good to run so I substituted that with the elliptical machine. I soon realized I felt better and was less tired when I stuck with a workout routine. I stuck with it and just modified my exercises the further along I got.
My daughter was delivered 3 weeks early with no complications. This time I had only gained 28 pounds. I realize I would have gained a few more pounds had I gone full term but I was happy with the way my pregnancy had gone. Getting the weight off was not any easier the second time so I again set some goals. This time I signed up for the Tough Mudder. I had to not only run and lift weights for strength but also watch my food intake. Yes, I ate desert, but not as much and not as often, I am human you know!
As time went on I was getting back to my goals and over the next 2 ½ years I had gotten into the best shape of my adult life. I even began teaching classes at my local gym.
When I realized I was pregnant with my 3rd child, it felt less daunting than before. I had made goals and accomplished them before; I could do it again. All of my hard work thus far was not going to be for nothing.
The road ahead was not easy, as with each pregnancy I was sicker than the previous one. I hung with it and was able to teach classes much longer than I had hoped and attended them even longer than that. With my previous experience, I was always modifying moves or changing moves to fit my comfort level. My food choices and snacks were healthier this time around as well so with the combo of exercise and food choices I was feeling less tired and had more energy. Remember, I now had two kids to keep up with. By the time I delivered my third child, I had gained 25lbs. Once again, I set goals and stuck with them. I wanted to be back teaching classes as soon as possible.
After all of this time, I realized the significance of a pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and post-pregnancy health and exercise plan. It changed not only my physical state but my mental state as well. I also noticed a trend of easier labor as well as easier recovery with this plan.
I understand that every person is different in many ways and “fit” for one person looks different than for another. My goal setting was key for me and kept me motivated. Choose your end result and make a plan that is gradually progressing toward it. Being healthy should be a lifestyle. I guarantee you will not only feel better physically and mentally during pregnancy but just as importantly, afterward as well.