My Maternal Fitness Journey
Updated: Aug 17, 2018
Throughout the fitness section of FitTravelingMama, I will interview experts in different sports/activities and share my personal journey of postpartum fitness after my baby boy is born in September. I’ve learned so much more about this niche during my second pregnancy, and I’m inspired to pursue some type of certification in the next few years that allows me to coach new mamas and mamas-to-be in either yoga, CrossFit or running. I felt clueless during my first pregnancy and did not take a lot of factors into consideration that I probably should have to be safer for me and Baby Adelaide.
When I found out I was expecting in July 2016, I was completely unprepared for motherhood emotionally. Over the past year, I had just started a new job in Nashville and had run three marathons - Big Sur, Kauai and New York – and wasn’t ready to scale my fitness or accept a new normal of what a healthy routine embodied while preparing for birth.
My military provider, a tough U.S. Army captain and nurse practitioner, was not overly helpful in guiding my pregnancy fitness journey. She simply told me to not lift over 30 pounds, no cycling after the first trimester and encouraged me to power walk instead of run – which was disheartening to hear for an athlete used to running 20+ miles per week.
What she didn’t consider was that I had been doing CrossFit consistently and lifting well over 30 pounds for the past few years in Olympic weightlifting. She didn’t mention anything about watching my heart rate when doing cardio. And that stationary cycling classes are totally okay – and highly recommended – for pregnant women.
My mistake was that I did not seek any additional expert opinions from certified prenatal coaches or specialists. I immediately took a break from CrossFit, which left me feeling flabby and sluggish throughout much of my pregnancy. It was hard to get back into overall shape postpartum since my body (now) wasn’t used to lifting weights and circuit training. I did continue running and even did a sprint triathlon in my first trimester before my bump was noticeable. I won second place among the women’s division in a hilly 15K, Run for Don in Gainesboro, Tenn. at 17 weeks.
Although the race day temperatures were ideal, the hot Tennessee summer during training was not. In hindsight, I was arguably pushing myself too hard with long runs on 100-degree, humid days and not paying attention to my heart rate or my body’s needs while carrying Addie.
My 22-week ultrasound showed that Addie’s weight was super low in comparison to her fetal peers – in fact, she dropped down off the chart when the bottom 10 percent raises cause for concern. My doctor told me to eat more protein and to stop running. I didn’t listen and continued to run until 24 weeks, when a scary fall (onto my side) convinced me to stop altogether. I hardly worked out the rest of my pregnancy and gained 35 pounds total, with the majority in the second and third trimesters.
I lost about 20 pounds in the first eight months postpartum, thanks to breastfeeding, training for the (highly recommended!) Urban Bourbon half marathon and a CrossFit class designed for prenatal and postpartum women during maternity leave. It was taught by certified prenatal Coach Katie Estell at CrossFit Solafide, a knowledgeable and motivational, yet keenly aware and cautious instructor who helps athletes set realistic goals with their “new” bodies that the miracle of motherhood creates. Read my interview with Coach Katie here.
When I found out I was pregnant with my second child this past January, I was excited and determined to lead a healthier pregnancy with a completely different outlook on prenatal fitness and motherhood. This baby was planned (mostly – we thought it would take a few more months). Along with this desire to lead a healthier lifestyle and other factors, my husband and I decided this past April that leaving my PR agency job after a stressful year of being a working, commuting military mom - and after 10 years in the PR industry – would be the best thing for our family.
Since then, I have been able to attend Coach Katie’s CrossFit prenatal/postpartum class two to three times per week and was running two miles regularly until I was about five months in (and baby boy was bouncing on my bladder!). I sought a new provider off the military base for prenatal care, and am SO much happier with Clarksville OB. My doctor and Coach Katie have been extremely helpful and candid about what I can and can’t do – and advised to keep my heart rate from going above 160 in all fitness activities. I purchased an Apple Watch this summer, which has helped tremendously in monitoring this and other health statistics.
I feel blessed that we are able to afford this “extended maternity leave” until we move to our next duty station. I’m not commuting up to three hours per day to and from Nashville, and that has allowed me to spend quality time with Addie, increased hours at the gym exercising and less time being stressed. Currently at 35 weeks pregnant, I’ve only gained 10 pounds and baby boy is measuring right on target. I know the road will be long to full recovery in my fitness regimen, but I’m ready for the challenge!