Exercise While Pregnant

A question I’ve gotten a lot, given my profession (Group Fitness Director at the Y), is if I’m continuing to teach classes, followed up by how I’m continuing to teach classes and exercise in my current delicate state.  (That delicate is total sarcasm btws.  I feel a lot of things.  Tired.  Big-bellied.  Kinda sweaty as it relates to my bra area.  But certainly not delicate.)

As kind of a frame of reference, here’s what I’m teaching in a typical week.  This is definitely down from my old usual – I used I teach one or two classes on Fridays (Zumba and Barre as needed), and I used to teach every Saturday morning Zumba.  I usually try to add a little bit of elliptical or treadmill in on these days – I do NOT do that on Mondays typically.  On Fridays, I work out with Jill, for a half-hour, down from the hour we used to do.  I’ve begun to make arrangements for my Mondays for over the summer, and the same for my Wednesday mornings.

Mondays – Zumba 7:20pm

Tuesdays – Total Body Strength (TBS) 5:30pm 

Wednesdays – 7:30am Cycle

Thursdays – 5:45am BodyPump™, 6:15pm TBS

Fridays – 5:45am BodyPump™ Express (this format is only 45 minutes)

The answer is that it’s doable, it’s all doable, but it’s definitely different.  Here’s how.  (And seriously, keep in mind that this is all going to be very different for everyone.  And that I’m not a doctor.  So don’t go doing something weird.)


So early in, even before I knew I was pregnant, something was different.  I was really fatigued in Flywheel, and assumed that it was the holidays, and that I just needed to sign up for a marathon or something to get my butt into fighting shape.  I continued with HIIT workouts, went to hot yoga, and continued to notice some fatigue, almost as if I was fighting some sort of illness.  In reality, I was starting to make a baby, and we were starting to fight for air, and the hormone dump in the beginning was contributing to my  fatigue and headaches.

  • Certain Core/Ab Work doesn’t really work for me anymore.  For weeks and weeks into the pregnancy, I was able to continue with some core work without much issue.  At some point, being flat on my back became sort of uncomfortable, so I’ve made the switch to demo-ing a lot of these moves quickly, and then switching over to planks, side planks, and standing core work, where my focus is really maintaining a strong core, and not getting a six-pack (obviously).  I believe it has helped some with lower back pain, but I’m not far enough in my pregnancy to definitively say that it’s working against back pain.
  • Lifting feels really good.  Lifting weights is probably one of the things that I’ve not only maintained, but gotten a little stronger with, and I really credit teaching and taking BodyPump™ with that.  My upper body is really strong, and my glutes/quads/hamstrings are really really strong from tons of squats and lunges.  I am careful with weighting squats, and I’m careful with lower back, even though clean/hang and clean and press are some of my favorite lifts.  I make sure to lift juuust enough, and not overdo it, and to really watch my form.  I have not really done a truly heavy deadlift, but just enough, once again, so that I’m engaging my lower back  muscles without completely overdoing it.
  • Running is a challenge.  I was a woman who swore that pregnancy would not affect my mileage, and when it did, it wouldn’t be huge.  It has been a big change.  The way things are set up for me, my son is having a great time, and all the equipment he comes with is really restricting my bladder.  The second I empty my bladder, it begins to fill back up, and when I do higher-impact exercises, I find myself ducking into bathrooms immediately.  So I tend to keep runs to 20 minutes or so.  It was definitely sort of discouraging at first, but I’m keeping up with it in other ways, so I feel okay about it.
  • Cycle feels good…even though I have to dial the crazy back a bit.  I have fallen in love with teaching Cycle, and I really enjoy how I sweat when I’m on the bike.  It really reminds me of a running sweat, without the damage I feel like I’m doing to my bladder.  As I get bigger, I may have to figure out how to accommodate my belly, but for now, it has been really awesome.  I do find on some climbs, I feel like I’m fighting for air, so I have to deal some of the up/down/up/down that shoots your heart rate through the roof back a bit.

I think pregnancy and remaining active is one of those things in which you walk a really really fine balance.  It is a necessity, to sweat each day.  However, within the bounds of a growing and changing body, it it necessary to sweat safely, and more so than ever, do so with proper form.  When you go for a run, the goal isn’t necessarily to kill yourself or burn the most calories, but perform this daily routine in the hopes that labor, delivery, and recovery (that one is the biggie) is as smooth as it is supposed to be.

Anyways, I’m enjoying figuring out what modifications work for me, all while eyeballing things I may like to challenge myself and do once I don’t have a belly in the way.

Pregnant or not, what’s your favorite way to stay fit?


Before we get all silly –

I alluded to this last week, but unfortunately, at the close of this week, I will have attended two funeral services.  Cancer absolutely sucks, and prayers for folks that I consider family would be greatly greatly appreciated.  And forgive me if I’m extremely weepy this week.


So, the other day, I posted a photo from Buzzfeed’s timeline of Jennifer Lopez.

I’m gonna let you feast your eyes for a second.

Jennifer Lopez 45If you’re not aware, this is Jennifer Lopez, of “In Living Color” fame.  She also was partner to Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, had an excellent MTV diary, married Marc Anthony, and starred in Selena, Enough, and The Wedding Planner.  I still have questions about the vocals from time to time, however, J.Lolas doesn’t have student loans so I’m just being a hater.

One thing I’m not hating on?  Her body!  At the age of 45, she looks better than I do having had 0 children.  To review, Juannifer has a set of twins.  That grew inside of that stomach.

But, upon checking out some of the Facebook comments on the picture, one of my biggest pet peeves started to rear its ugly ugly head.

Catherine Claridge REMINDER: Jennifer Lopez is a celebrity with a team of nutritionists and personal trainers on her payroll. Fuck off BuzzFeed.

Okay.  A few questions for this charming commentator.

  1. Does Jennifer’s team of nutritionists force her to eat the right things?
  2. Do Jennifer’s personal trainers run on the treadmill for her?
  3. How about her lifting?  Does someone else do her lifting?
  4. And under this assumption, this would mean that all famous folks with teams of personal trainers and nutritionist have similar bodies and never struggle with food.  Stars that have had very public battles with food, our Carnie Wilsons, our Janet Jacksons, our Oprahs, are just not a thing?

Laura Miller It’s also her only job too.

  1. Jennifer Lopez has no other job than to work out and look amazing?
  2. Isn’t she a mom?
  3. Isn’t she an actress?
  4. Isn’t she a singer?
  5. Isn’t she a judge on American Idol?

The point of this is all to say: working out and staying healthy is hard, AND we should give credit where credit is due.  Mama looks good, and we should celebrate that.

Do you look up to any celebs for their exercise and healthy eating habits? 

Remember our friend, Maria Kang? Maria, on #tbt

Maria was our hot mama who posted the photo on the web that created a viral firestorm.  If you missed my post on the action, click here.  I wasn’t sure that I loved her tagline, but I still am pretty impressed that she looks so great after 3 kids.  After working so hard at fitness before kids, I imagine it must be difficult to get back there after you have not one, or two, but three critters to chase around after.  It definitely makes me think twice before making an excuse to skip the sweat session.

Maria KangWell #tbt came around, and Maria posted this old photo of herself.  And I have to say it now, I’m now 100% jealous, and motivated to work a little harder.  Her “before” photo is really nothing to be ashamed of, she looks fabulous.

From her original photo, I’m still not sure I loved her tag, but kudos, our hot mom quite obviously made some steps to get where she is.  So Maria, kudos.  You were obviously a very pretty girl before, and obviously very hardworking after.  (She seems intelligent and well-spoken too, so she rocks.)

I was weight-gain pescatarian girl :(

Shape magazine posted this article from POPSUGAR Fitness.  How I Gained Weight as a Vegan: Don’t Let It Happen to You!  Check it out.  And it’s so true.  Everything she says is hella true.  I was that girl.

And by the end of school, beginning of graduate school I’d gotten to here.

ME…and had to fix it to go to here

Me 2

A good, 40ish or so pound difference.

Now look.  I know, I’m not delusional.  I recognize that I’m no ‘Biggest Loser’ Contestant, but I had to take off some lbs.  It wasn’t going a good way. 

And it wasn’t completely about the way I looked, either.  I felt tired and sluggish all the time.  But I won’t front.  I totally wasn’t confident in the way I looked, in particular, I hated my stomach, but I think that more had to do with the fact that I never worked out, and I generally felt crappy.  That crappy feeling, from eating crappy food, will spill over and cloud your view of yourself, so it was just a nasty cycle.


I transitioned to a veg/pescatarian lifestyle my sophomore year when I was living with this girl.  The food at Elon at the time wasn’t my fave, and truthfully, I’d never really been a beef person.  Chicken was my friend (let’s perpetuate the stereotype, Cheri), and that was the one thing I’d have trouble giving up.  I’d switch back and forth between Pescatarianism (eating no animal products but fish) and Vegetarianism, and despite the fact that I wasn’t chowing down on Big Macs, I packed on a little bit of pudge without even really noticing until swimsuit season snuck up on me.  And that was always traumatic.

But the main reasons why my veg-ish lifestyle packed on a little pudge?  

    • I worked out sporadically, at best.  Once a week here.  A few weeks off.  Once there.  Off.  And I never gained a sense of why and how exercising was important to maintaining a healthy weight.  Plus, when you exercise more, you don’t necessarily want to eat all the crappy stuff that’s gonna make a workout miserable.  Now, I’ve changed it by doing something every day, with about one day off a week.  I run, run, run, cycle, yoga, and then I teach class on the side.
    • I didn’t realize how important diet was in how your body looked.  I literally remember one of the Real Housewives of Orange County, Alexis Bellino, saying how diet was like 80% of how your body looked, and feeling horrified in the knowledge that if I were ever to lose the bottom part of my belly that I didn’t like, that I’d have to stop drinking Cokes to stay awake in class.  Which brings me to this…
    • I drank my calories.  I had no sense of what percentage of my calories were liquid.  I drank Cokes to stay awake in class.  I drank fruity alcoholic beverages with whipped cream on top.  I just was doing too much.  I’ve since switched to waters, sparkling waters, Kombucha, and nonfat lattés with skim.  Obviously, I’ll treat myself, to a Gatorade or a fancy drink from Starbucks, but definitely, it’s more far and few between than it was.
    • I didn’t know how to read a label/what a calories was.  I had this abstract sense of labels and calories, but not really how it applied to me and what I was eating.  It really wasn’t until I consulted with a nutritionist at Camp Pocono Trails, where I was working, that it made sense.  And I kept track of everything that I put into my mouth until I had a firm grasp of what I was eating.
    • I was still eating fast food. I can’t even…okay.  I ate at the most disgusting places.  All vegetarian mind you, but all disgusting.  One of which included the Filet-o-Fish from McDonalds with the nasty piece of cheese and a glob of tartar sauce on top (who puts cheese on a piece of cod?!) and the Sampler Platter from Applebees, which included mozzarella sticks, spinach and artichoke dip, and cheese quesadillas.  All of these items were fried in some way, shape, or form.  I am so kind of ashamed when I tell people that.
    • I didn’t eat any “whole” foods.  I didn’t eat salads.  I didn’t read labels to see what ingredients (ingrediences, right Teresa Guidice?) foods included.  And I never packed my own lunch.  How can you maintain a healthy weight when you don’t even know who’s making your food, right?

So if you’re contemplating vegetarianism or veganism, bravo! However, if you’re doing it for weight loss, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You can just as well fall into a nasty trap and gain a ton.  Balance is absolutely key and without all the pieces of a healthy lifestyle, it’s just not gonna work.

Cycling Carrie Bradshaw.

So, if you’ve been following, we lost my grandmother last week.  It’s been hard, even logistically speaking, to get my runs and my workouts in, especially when we we had to make flights and travel plans last minute.  I’m desperately trying to balance working out with real life, and as of last week, it’s become tricky.

Despite the fact that it’s gotten a little hard to squeeze in the physical activity (especially considering that I have a marathon in less than 6 weeks,) let alone some of my shorter runs.  I’m trying.  I’m desperately trying to make all of this work.

So Saturday, after the funeral, I took a little bit of time to decompress and to figure out what I could do after spending some of the day on a plane, and the rest in a heightened emotional state.

The Z Hotel Opening Night 6/21/11 Long Island City, NY www.naskaras.com

I was really sort of surprised when I saw what hotel my dad had picked for us to stay in. Not that my dad is, by any means, a lame or anything, but it was so cool, and so hip that I was pleasantly surprised.  My parents are more the Charleston crowd, so this was a little different for them.


Like this was our view. This photo was taken, no filter, with my iPhone, of the Queensboro bridge into Long Island City. Not bad, right?

Anyhoo, so following the service, and the fact that I felt worn down from that, and from sitting around all day, I decided to figure out something I could do to get the blood pumping.  I pulled out that little hotel binder of info, and found out the hotel had some hipster bikes they loaned to guests.  So I google mapsed the nearest Starbucks, and got in the bike lane.

I felt, like absolutely overjoyed for 2 seconds.  I pulled my locs out of their little like hair tie thingie, and let the breeze blow them around.  I even smiled a bit.  Woo-hoo!  I’m Carrie Bradshaw, but with a bike!  And in Queens!  And then the terror set in.  It’s not my city, and I have never, never ridden in a bike lane with traffic before.  So yeah, I was a little terrified.  But black Carrie made it alllll the way to Manhattan for some snacks for us and my brother, and I came back, alive and well to tell the tale, and dang glad I did it.

Will I ever be a cyclist? Probably not, because I’m an absolute weenie, but it sure was fun to play one for a while.

I saw the Queen last Saturday.

In the midst of moving and rocking and rolling with everything that’s been going on, I took a break to see the Queen Bey last Saturday evening, bringing the grand total of times that I’ve gone to see her up to 3.  Every show has been phenomenal, and if possible, her body, and her sense of physical fitness has gotten better, even since the birth of her child last year.

Queen Bey

Now I promise, I’m not just posting to brag about the fact that I saw Beyzus, and to make you all jealous. In fact, this all has a health-related point.

So anyhoo, the first thing we (me and Deb, the younger sis,) do when we finally got seated, was to go on the hunt for some food.  We’re kind of dorky, and both of us looked at each other and almost simultaneously said, “I wish we could find a salad here,” as we circled the stadium.  There was certainly some tasty-looking food there, but we were prepped to dance for 2+ hours, and nothing sounded grosser than slamming some cheese fries and then going in for Bey’s workout plan with a belly full of that stuff.

I settled on a saltless pretzel and a beer, and I think poor Deb just went for a teeny tray of fries that set her back like almost $10.  Not kidding.  Highway.  Robbery.

As we were waiting in line for the pretzel, Deb turned to me, and said something really profound.  So a little context here, Beyonce’s audience was mostly black women, like us.  She goes, “I’m actually shocked at how many overweight women there are here.  We really have a problem,” which she said with a sense of genuine sadness.

As I looked around, I saw she was right.  The women were beautiful.  And beautifully dressed, but it was true, it was evident that most of these women were overweight, if not obese, and at a concert to worship a woman who clearly works out, and works out hard.

And of course, I did a little research.  And the numbers for us, black women, just weren’t good.

Obesity Stats

Scan it quickly. 4 out of 5 African-American women are overweight. That’s kinda bad. And I don’t need to lecture you and bore the eff out of you with the bad things that come with being overweight, but I will say this.

I’m doing my part not to become a statistic, if not for anything else, for the sheer fact that I like to feel good about what I’m doing for and to my body, and working out keeps me sane.

So ladies, the next time you’re kind of not sure if you want to sweat it out at the gym, turn on Queen Bey, and let her inspire you to do something good for yourself.  We have GOT to change these numbers.