Some women are beautiful when they are pregnant. Some women lose all of their pregnancy weight the minute they plop out that baby. And some women are gracious. I was not one of those women. With my first two pregnancies I was big, round and complaining for most of the nine months. So when I found out I was pregnant after a ten year hiatus from childbearing, I knew I would have to take some offensive action.
I decided right away to handle the pregnancy the way I handle a new marathon or triathlon. I would train for it with all that that entails. I had been preaching the “food as fuel” theory for a couple of years to anybody who would listen and decided that my first order of business was to apply this to the pregnancy. I knew I would have to avoid the junk and fuel my body and my baby with healthy choices. This worked better than the first two pregnancies because I had no cravings and only a couple of food aversions.
The second order of business was base building. Again this was easier than the first two pregnancies because I had just completed a marathon the week before I discovered I was pregnant. I had to approach exercise a little differently than I would for marathon training since I would actually be slowing down as I progressed. But I would follow one of the golden rules at all times. I would listen to my body. The first thing my body told me was no more running. So, I switched to biking. There again though I had to make adjustments. I didn’t want to take the risk of having an accident so I brought my bike inside and put it on my resistance trainer. I rode every other day alternating with vigorous swim sessions and light weight training. I read about women who lifted very heavy weights but most of the advice I received from doctors discouraged this and I decided to follow their advice. I was able to maintain this routine until I was about seven months pregnant when the bike seat just became unbearable. I gave up the biking, kept swimming and added some yoga tapes. There are so many to choose from and unlike my first two pregnancies there are some available for women who are fairly fit. I even found some that were real butt kickings and was able to use these as a challenge. Finally, I left the yoga, swimming and weights behind in the last week of pregnancy and started walking more. Not the walking my dogs kind of walks though. I borrowed my sons Ipod and walked to Linkin Park and some of his other heavier rock and rap music. I am sure to the passersby I was just waddling but I know I was going as fast as these little legs would carry me and even if I wasn’t getting as much fitness benefit from the walks my mental health was getting a kick out of this routine.
Speaking of mental health, I decided early on that the “complaining me” from the last two pregnancies was to be avoided at all costs so I developed several strategies that worked ninety percent of the time. The most fun one of course was shopping. We all know that looking good is half the battle. So I decided to go all Rachel Green for this pregnancy (without the bare belly). I shopped for clothes I would like even if I wasn’t pregnant. No more tents for me. And while I was at it no more paneled bellies either. This helped much more than I originally thought. I even had some clothes I didn’t mind putting back on after Zane was born because they weren’t that same old frumpy mess I wore the first two times.
But my all time favorite mental trick for this pregnancy was stepping on the scales backwards at the doctors office and asking not to be told what I weighed unless these was a problem with my weight one way or the other. People are so nice when you are pregnant and love to tell you how good you look so I chose to believe them and not find out for myself.
As I approached the end of the pregnancy I decided to take the same planning approach to recovering and getting back in shape without losing my mind. First of all again I resorted to shopping. I bought myself clothes that I knew I might where for less than a month. But a month is a long time to walk around in sweats and your husband’s shirts. After I started losing some weight I gave them away to people who I knew could use them so I didn’t feel bad about the money that seemed like a waste at first. Feeling good about myself helped me to maintain a good attitude which in turn lead me back into exercise.
For the first six weeks I took the doctor’s advice and took it easy. I was able to walk some and start some very light abdominal exercises. Honestly though most of those six weeks were spent gawking at my new baby. I decided early on that since it took nine months to gain the weight I would give myself nine months to lose it. I wanted to be realistic.
At the six week checkup to get the okay for exercise I finally asked the nurse to write down how much I weighed when I came in originally, how much I weighed at the last checkup before I had the baby and what I weighed currently. I was glad to see that I only gained three pounds more than the recommended amount and had already lost twenty of that. With the final eighteen to go I resumed my old life. I signed up for some races and started training.
Zane is six months old now. I have run three races and just started training for my first post pregnancy marathon. I have made some adjustments (I now run with my jog stroller) and kept some adjustments that I made when I was pregnant (I still ride my bike in my basement). And best of all I am back to my original weight.
So no, I am not beautiful when I am pregnant. I still get round and big all over. But with my program of eating the right foods, exercising throughout and of course shopping, I felt better throughout this pregnancy. No, I didn’t lose the weight the minute I plopped the little guy out but I did lose it all and I didn’t get stressed out about it. And I would like to think with this routine I was a little more gracious throughout.
Originally published in FitPregnancy.com’s eNewsletter in 2006