Fit Pregnancy Part 1: Diet and Exercise

Being pregnant is no easy task. Trust me on this one; I’m living proof. And trying to have a “fit pregnancy” sometimes seems like an unachievable goal. You might be saying to yourself, “Exercise and watching my diet for the next nine months is not what I signed up for.” However, having a fit pregnancy is so much more than just exercising and eating healthfully. It’s also about having a “fit” spiritual, mental, and emotional experience when you’re pregnant.

This week I’m going to focus on the diet and exercise part of pregnancy. Let me share a little of my own story. When I got pregnant with our first child I already had a firmly established exercise routine. I think I have mentioned before that I’m a little of a gym junkie, at least that’s what my husband says. So I was going to the gym two hours every night, probably about four times a week. Seems like a lot, I know. My husband and I had been trying for a little over a year to get pregnant with no luck. Then finally that sweet day arrived; I was pregnant!

Oh joy and bliss! Now I had a ticket to back off on some of my exercise routine. Plus, it’s like a subconscious free pass to splurge on all the yummy foods that come one’s way! Luckily, with both of my pregnancies I have never gotten “sick”, so keeping my food down in the first trimester has never been an issue for me. However, I did make a firm decision in the beginning to continue with exercising and to watch my diet.

I switched my exercise routine from kickboxing and pilates to the elliptical trainer and lifting weights, to which now I’m addicted. I exercised and watched my diet throughout my whole pregnancy, and when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes I was so glad I done that.

Thanks to my faithful workout routine and eating a healthful diet (low in refined sugar) I didn’t gain any excess weight besides the recommended amount. And within the first week after I delivered my daughter I had lost all of my weight, and by the second week I had lost an additional five pounds. Plus I had a healthy baby; all my hard work had paid off! I can only hope for the same positive outcome for my current pregnancy.

Now I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy some special treats every now and then. Let’s face it; pregnancy is about letting yourself be pampered a little bit–just not overindulging. It’s just as important to treat yourself from time to time, as it’s important to develop a good exercise routine and healthful eating habits. Because I certainly did skip out on nights at the gym when I was feeling tired or I would give in to my sweet tooth.

So what do the experts say on diet and exercise during pregnancy? Here’s what I found on marchofdimes.com: “In the short term, exercise helps all of us feel better physically and emotionally, and the calories burned help prevent excessive weight gain. People who exercise regularly develop stronger muscles, bones and joints. And over time, the benefits of regular exercise are even more impressive: lower risk of premature death, heart disease and other serious illnesses.

For pregnant women, however, exercise has added benefits. There is evidence that exercise can help prevent gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that sometimes develops during pregnancy. And for women who already have gestational diabetes, regular exercise is recommended along with changes in diet to help bring the disease under control.

In addition, exercise can help relieve stress and build the stamina needed for labor and delivery. It’s also worth mentioning that exercise can be very helpful in coping with the postpartum period. Exercise can help new mothers keep “baby blues” at bay, regain their energy and lose the weight they gained during pregnancy.”

The March of Dimes website also states, “According to ACOG’s guidelines, unless there are medical reasons to avoid it, pregnant women can and should try to exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days.”

What about our diets during pregnancy? Fitpregnancy.com says: “Never before have your food choices mattered so much. From conception to delivery, or longer if you breastfeed, your baby is dependent on nutrients from you for the growth and development of all his cells, tissues and organs. Every bite of food you take (or don’t take) counts.
Fortunately, providing you and your baby with the best mix of nutrients is a simple matter of eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and low-fat milk products.”

So, as you begin your own healthful pregnancy journey remember you’re not just doing this for yourself, but for the tiny, precious life that grows inside of you. The decisions you make today will impact the life of your baby tomorrow.