I originally wrote this article as a guest blog post (published 9-20-12) on Freaking Fitness, an incredible blog written by fitness and healthy living expert, Joyce Cherrier.
I’ve been in and out of sports and fitness for most of my life. Growing up, I was a swimmer…not an Olympic swimmer or anything, but a 2-4 hour a day in the pool swimmer with some pretty good time records and a lot of great memories. In my early adult life I got into your standard gym rat-type working out which fed my inner need for adrenaline and endorphins and kept me out of trouble (sort of) for a while. It wasn’t until I found myself trying out a Tae Kwon Do dojo in my late 20’s that I realized I have a real problem; I’m a competitive freak. I’m straight up addicted to it. Not an in-your-face, I-have-to-be-better-than-you type of competitive, but more of a quiet, looming, deep-from-within competitive junkie.
Those beginning Tae Kwon Do classes led to a lot of bruises, some serious dabbling in other self-defense training like Krav Magah, knife and gun defense tactics, a red belt in TKD, a bad back, and a deeper understanding of that inner competitive freak; I found that I absolutely love to feel and use my own strength. There’s nothing I have come across in this lifetime that is more gratifying than experiencing my own physical and mental limits and then surpassing them. Talk about adrenaline rush!
Fast forward to now…40 years old and no longer involved in martial arts, I’ve discovered the cult they call “CrossFit”. As I was in the midst of developing a somewhat healthy addiction to this newfound “drug” our dreams of getting pregnant came true! I have to admit, as excited and grateful as I was to be pregnant, one of the first things that crossed my mind was “will i still be able to CrossFit???”. Here I’d just found my latest fix and might have to give it up. Enter Google! I spent hours scouring the ever-loved Internet for information on pregnant women, exercise, and the dangers and benefits involved. Specifically, I looked for moms who continued to CrossFit during their pregnancies and was surprised to find some websites and groups dedicated to just that! While there wasn’t a lot of solid medical research on the subject, there were a lot of women out there saying that they had nothing but positive results from continuing to CrossFit through their whole pregnancy. I was encouraged! After all, the only official medical data that I could find told me that I couldn’t lift more than 20 pounds or let my heart rate get above 140. I don’t know about you, but that just wasn’t gonna cut it for me and my adrenaline needs.
Our baby boy is due October 17th, and I’ve faithfully shown up at my CrossFit box at 6am 2-4 days a week through this whole pregnant adventure. I told my trainers that I was pregnant the day after I told my husband and together we went from there, taking it day by day. One of the beautiful things about CrossFit is that each and every workout is scalable, in other words, I can tone it down to fit my needs no matter what we’re doing. The workouts are constantly varied between Olympic lifting, cardio, plyometrics, and mobility exercises. I do as much as I can without pushing myself to my normal limits, but still break a sweat and get a good workout in.
Being pregnant, the most common question I get, hands down is “how are you feeling?”. My very truthful answer since day 1 has been “I feel great!”. Besides some minor morning sickness in the first trimester and an affinity for the occasional nap, I’ve had a wonderful pregnancy. At 34 weeks, I’ve gained a grand total of 15 pounds and I’m still working out. Sure, I’m a lot slower than I was before and I’ve had to learn to ignore that competitive freak inside of me that screams to work harder, but I honestly do feel great. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from women about their pregnancies, but have had nothing but a great experience so far. Now, I’m not going to say that it’s completely due to the fact that I’ve continued to workout…but I will give that a LOT of credit. I’m a generally healthy person and as my husband likes to say, I don’t complain a lot, so maybe I just have a higher tolerance for being uncomfortable, who knows? What I do know is that this body wasn’t meant to sit still for very long.
As I’ve traveled through this pregnant experience, I’ve talked to a lot of people and spent a lot of time thinking about those “rules” that I mentioned above. The ones that say pregnant ladies shouldn’t lift more than 20 pounds…blah blah blah. Obviously, I’m no doctor, but I do know that the female body is a powerful machine! We are capable of a strength far deeper than what the rules afford us. I’m not saying that pregnant women should run out and start bench pressing for personal records, but I am saying that maintaining a certain level of fitness can benefit both the mother and her unborn baby. After all, how can something that keeps me mentally, physically, and emotionally more balanced be bad for my baby?
Sidenote: As of this posting our baby boy, Samuel Liberty, is 3 1/2 weeks old and incredibly happy, healthy, and loves it when I do air squats while feeding him his midnight bottle!
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