Fit & Pregnant

By Michele Presciano

I know it sounds selfish but one of the things that was stopping me from having a baby is putting on weight and not being able to lose it. For me, I worked so hard on obtaining a specific look for so many years; I became afraid of the end results, save for having a little miracle in your arms.

The first time I was pregnant, I was so scared of gaining weight, that I actually started training harder. I was running every single day, increasing the miles and started to diet like a competitor. Clearly this makes no sense at all reflecting back on it. Everything I did was so wrong and in the end, I had a miscarriage. Afterward I discovered that 80% of miscarriages happen in the 1st trimester. I felt so guilty, I thought I was the cause of the miscarriage. But they said it was chromosome related and I couldn’t have done anything to prevent it. Fast forward 8 months and I was pregnant again. I had no desire to workout. I stopped drinking coffee and did everything I could to make this pregnancy as healthy as possible.
I had no idea what was going to happen. No idea how my body would react to the hormones. We hear so many stories, different experiences, but I quickly understood that every pregnancy is unique. My first trimester was terrible. I was in a bad mood every single day, all of the time. I could not imagine feeling this way for nine months. I felt fat, bloated, nauseous, moody, extremely tired. I went into this pregnancy telling myself I would stay active, try to eat healthy, but I’m here to tell you… the first twelve weeks kicked my butt. I wasn’t really able to go to the gym and all I wanted was to eat soup and crackers. Even at ten weeks I was on the scale, every single week monitoring my weight. Sounds obsessive-right? Well, I guess, once a competitor always a competitor.
After 12 weeks, I felt like I had hit a home run. I had so much energy that I went back to my training routine, went back to eating healthy again and I even painted walls and built furniture for my little angel. There is no need to really completely change your workout routine – if you already workout. I experienced some hip and belly pain, so eliminating squats or anything lying down had me changing movements to fit my needs. But, if you are comfortable, doctors actually encourage you to keep moving. We’ve seen many cross fit athletes and runners in the media that continue to lift and train. Not all moms agree and it can spark controversy but being pregnant is not a handicap. You can still function and your baby is very well protected in the womb. There are always the chance of complications and exceptions, but if you can workout when your pregnant, go for it! It will keep you and your baby healthy.

Doctors are also much more aware of weight gain. They want you to stay in your “weight gain range”. Many women bounce back quicker, and it can help keep pregnancy disorders like diabetes and preeclampsia, amongst others at bay and better prepare you for labor.

After my first trimester, the one thing that I really l lost was my ability to control cravings. My belief is indulge, but don’t abuse. You have no idea how many women told me "go ahead and eat whatever you want, you’re pregnant”. I never ate whatever I wanted. Being pregnant does not give you a pass to eat whatever, whenever you want. My doctor advised me to eat an extra 300 calories a day during my second trimester and 300-500 in the third. For me that’s an extra chicken and broccoli meal. I always made sure I had a very balanced diet. Essentially a little bit of everything. I normally don’t consume dairy products but I added them to my diet when I was pregnant, along with plenty of fruits. In the end I gained 24 pounds and then lost 20 pounds within a week after giving birth.

There is a lot of controversy in both the fitness industry and with physicians whether you should be training your abs when you are pregnant or not. After doing a lot of research and being told no, don’t work your abs during pregnancy, I did the opposite. I think you should be prepared for the marathon of labor just like you’re get ready for an actual marathon. You have no idea how long you will be in labor, how long you will be pushing, but the better prepared you are, the easier it should be.

The way I trained my abs was in the same way I was going to use them. During pregnancy, there is a widening of the gap between the two sections of the abdominal wall caused by the uterus expending and pushing out. The medical term in Latin is diastase recti. All women have some degree of diastase recti during the third trimester so it’s kind of inevitable. Common abdominal exercises to avoid are anything directly flexing the abdominal wall; crunches, jack-knives, leg lifts, it will actually create additional intra-abdominal pressure, which we want to avoid at all costs. The need is to focus on the deep core muscles and this is what I did: Gently draw your belly button backwards, towards your spine as you slowly exhale. that’s it! It can be done in a seated position with straight posture or lying down. And as always, make sure you do those Kegel exercises! start early, it will save you a lot of grief.

Now, the same exercises can be done right after you give birth. The faster you start, the better it will help you close that abdominal gap. You can also wear a splint to help. Be aware; a splint is not a waist shaper. This is a brace with velcro that will help bring your abdominal wall closer to its original position when combined with your abdominal exercises.

If you’re a fitness freak like me, I am sure you can relate to my experience. Please don’t let your body image stop you from wanting to have a baby. Trust me, I have heard this too many times. It is such a blessing and a miracle to witness, and the love you have for your baby can’t be described. Your body will change. Maybe a lot or just a little, but some women get in better shape after their pregnancy. It’s ok to be obsessed, but don’t make the mistake of not giving your baby the nutrients they need to develop that can eventually lead to other complications. If you gain more than you’re supposed too, it’s ok! Remember you have super powers that men have never have had – you’re a Baby Builder.

An example of what my daily nutrition
looked like:

3 eggs +1 yolk
1 slice multi grain bread
1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Variety of fruits
Sprinkles of oatmeal

5 oz chicken breast
1/4 cup lentils
Mix chopped veggies:
(celery, carrots, onions, peppers)
1/4 avocado

5 oz turkey
1/4 cup quinoa
Roasted beets
Raw spinach
Walnuts
Cheese Sprinkle

1 serving Hi-Tech NitroPro Protein
Almond milk or cashew milk
1/2 banana

4 turkey OR beef meatballs (homemade)
3oz sweet potato
Broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus

 

A brief example of my training during
my second trimester:

Leg extension: 3 x 15
Abduction machine: 3 x 15
Hip extension with cable: 3 x 15 each leg
Seated leg curl: 3 x 15
Calf raises: 3 x 25
Rowing cardio machine: 15 min

Bicep curls: 3 x 12
Tricep push down: 3 x 15
Lateral shoulder raise: 3 x 10
Seated front raise: 3 x 10
Lat pull down: 3 x 10
T-bar row: 3 x 15

 

Michele Presciano
Michele Presciano: Fitness model, personal trainer, mommy, wife and Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals sponsored athlete.

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