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Dear Cassey: I’m pregnant and my fitness is suffering
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July 28, 2021

Dear Cassey,

I am in my second trimester of pregnancy and my fitness has really taken a hit. I’ve gained so much weight and feel fatigued all the time. In addition, I’m afraid to do a lot of exercises that might hurt the baby. I’ve been super thin for most of my life and it’s hard to work out or feel good about myself while I’m getting bigger even though I know that I should! I’m also working insane hours and in graduate school.

Do you have any advice for pregnancy-safe quick workouts / how to feel better about myself?

Thanks!

Expecting And Adjusting

Hey Expecting,

Congratulations! This new phase of life you’re in is so beautiful and exciting! However, I don’t think the struggle to adjust to some of the “new normals” is talked about enough – even though every new mom goes through them!

For example, adjusting to all the change happening to your body in pregnancy. I’ve never been through it myself, but I’m sure these changes are kind of shocking even though you know they’re coming… if that makes sense?

Anyways, I do have some advice for you! Let’s start with feeling more comfortable in your changing body/loving yourself through the change.

Keep the self-talk positive.

Like I mentioned before, some of the physical changes can be hard to swallow. Even though you expect to gain weight and grow a beautiful bump, what if you gain weight in other, less desired places? What if your “normal” clothes stop fitting sooner than you expected? What if it feels like you’re gaining weight too fast?

Through all of it, you have to commit to being kind to yourself. After all, your body is doing the most incredible thing – creating a human! Don’t dismiss any of the hard work you’re doing, even for a second.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, remind yourself that every single change you see is your body doing its thing to keep baby healthy and thriving. Flip the narrative and think about the things you love about this phase of life. Your mind is SO POWERFUL – the way you talk to yourself has a serious impact on how you actually see yourself.

Focus on what you can control.

It’s hard to feel out of control in your own body. Instead of fighting it, try to pay special attention to everything you CAN control. The main goal is to stay healthy and feel amazing and enjoy your pregnancy!

You said you’re struggling with fatigue, and that’s normal! Here are some things that might help:

Food – Skipping meals can cause an energy slump, so make sure you’re eating regularly throughout the day! Also, I know cravings and aversions are REAL, so do your best to eat whole, nutritious foods! Protein, fiber, and healthy fats will keep you full. High-sugar foods might cause bigger dips in your energy levels.

Water – You need A LOT of water when you’re pregnant. Staying hydrated can make a huge difference in your energy levels!

Exercise –  It seems like exercise would drain you more, but it can actually help you feel more energized!

Rest/Sleep – Do whatever you can to get plenty of quality sleep, and rest when you need it.

Fitness when you’re pregnant is all about listening to your body!

First – make sure you talk about it with your OB before you make any changes! Just to make sure exercise is safe for your pregnancy and to see what they recommend to avoid, etc.

Next, let go of any pressure you may feel to be the “super fit pregnant mom.” Thanks to social media and its perpetual highlight reel, I feel like moms are more pressured more than ever to “stay fit” during pregnancy. But guess what? Fitness is individual. And social media’s image of a fit pregnancy is soooo unrealistic most of the time.

Another struggle that seems pretty common is trying to “keep up” with pre-pregnancy fitness. If you were used to working out pretty hard or for long periods of time, scaling it back might make you feel like you’re not doing enough. It’s time to let go of that mindset! The ACOG actually says that 30 minutes of moderate activity, 5 days per week is best for a healthy pregnancy, prevents back pain, and keeps your fitness levels up.

Even going for 30 minutes a day might be easier said than done, because being pregnant takes up sooo much energy! If you don’t have the energy for 30 minutes right now, that’s ok! Break it up into a few 10-minute workouts a day. Or 10 minutes TOTAL per day, then slowly work your way up.

Walking is an AMAZING exercise when you’re pregnant because it gets your heart rate up without requiring a ton of energy. This can help boost your energy and mood too. It’s also a great way to keep your muscles and joints mobile, which you’ll thank yourself for later in your pregnancy.

Pilates, yoga, swimming, and riding a stationary bike are some other great low-impact workouts for pregnancy. You can absolutely lift weights too, as long as it feels good!

For any workout you decide to try, be aware of things to avoid. For example, laying flat on your back or twisting. Also soo important – staying hydrated and cool, and taking it down a notch if you feel like you’re pushing too hard.

Healthy is the goal!

This is not the time to set a major fitness goal or set personal records. Some women continue with their normal workout routine with a few modifications as pregnancy progresses. BUT some women also scale it back. Everyone is different and every pregnancy is different. However you decide to move your body is perfect!

Above all, keeping yourself and baby healthy is most important. Never be afraid to talk about your concerns with your OB! Their advice will guide you.

YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB!

PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, leave your questions below! I may answer it in an upcoming Dear Cassey post!

11 thoughts on “Dear Cassey: I’m pregnant and my fitness is suffering”

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  1. Julia says:

    This is a really important post, since I think many of us in the community are somewhere in the vicinity of the new-mom phase of life or will be someday. I just want to add that grad school is EXHAUSTING, so if you’re feeling pressed for time in general and that’s contributing to your stress levels and feeling like you can exercise, don’t be afraid to ask your partner for help! Even small contributions around the house can make a difference in not feeling so stretched, and your partner should understand however much you need to lean on them while you’re pregnant.

  2. Kelly says:

    I was so determined to be the fit pregnant lady! My body had other ideas, which was very hard for me to accept. I dealt with a lot of fatigue throughout my pregnancy and went from running or doing Pilates most days a week to only being able to walk (well, waddle). I felt like a failure because I couldn’t do what other pregnant moms seemed to be able to do. But my kid came out healthy and crazy strong and I was able to bounce back faster than I expected postpartum. I guess my body just needed to focus on making a new human and didn’t have time for other things! Good luck to you and your little one. You’re doing great.

  3. Anne says:

    Dear Expecting, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to recommend someone to you when it comes to pregnancy and fitness and everything before and after birth? Check out glowbodypt on YouTube: Ashley Keller is pregnant with baby number 4 at the moment and the bad a free prenatal fitness plan. I truly loved working out with her during my pregnancy and after, knowing how to keep my baby safe and getting back into shape afterwards. Hope that helps!

  4. Rhayssa says:

    Oh Cassey, I need to read this so much! Well, I’ve been trying a new diet but the results didn’t come, and I started to think about the future a lot. I thought that I could never be a mom, because I’m overweight, and the thought of a pregnancy and get bigger turns me into despair. I’m afraid of get pregnant and never came back to the old body, wich is overweight already. But you with your kind words make me think better about it. Thank you!

  5. Sara says:

    Dear Cassey
    Not sure if you’ve talked about it, but I really struggle with the appearance of my thighs and bum. I’ve started to be active following your calendars, but the cellulite on my legs brings down all the positive thoughts I have about working out. I keep looking at the mirror, wondering if all the struggle of working out (at the moment it’s a struggle more than a pleasure, but I’m working on it and powering through them) will eventually make my legs look different.
    Online is full of products that promise miracles but are very expensive, and I don’t know who should be trusted. Have you ever struggled with cellulite? If so, what helped you?
    Love, always worried

  6. Crystaal says:

    Dear Cassey,

    What exactly are varicose veins. and how do you treat them?

    Sincerely,
    Crystaal

  7. Emily says:

    Hey Cassey,
    I’m wondering if pre or post workout supplements or shakes are necessary tonsee results? A lot of people I know that do other workout regimens and programs swear by them and keep trying to push them onto me or to buy them from them and I’m not sure if I actually need them to see or feel results. I’m very cautious and skeptical about supplements that I put into my body considering I have issues with my kidneys so high caffeine pre-workouts put it into over drive and I don’t want to put anything unnecessary into my body. Would love your insight.

  8. Melanie says:

    Hi Cassey. I have two girls and even though you have not had children, I do completely agree with your advice. I maintain a regular exercise routine and when I am pregnant, I modify as I progress through the pregnancy. I.e.- eventually jogging becomes incline walking, lifting weights in certain positions are modified, etc. I think your advice was spot on and realistic.

  9. Junk Food Lover says:

    Hey Cassie, I’m 15 and I wanna know if doing the 90 day journey is right for me at the age I am at. I eat lots of fruits and veggies but I want to eat a lot more healthier in other things. At
    my house, I have 4 younger siblings that like to eat chips and candy, so it’s hard for me to try and healthy with all that junk food around. What should I do?
    Love, junk food lover

  10. Auntie Aku says:

    Every pregnancy is different. I’ve been pregnant twice. First one, for me, was super easy. I was in the shape of my life. I trained almost as hard as before. I was doing boxing sparring on my due date. 😅 My second pregnancy, well, not so much. Granted, I was in a dark olace mentally, since my dad died right before I found out I’m expecting. However, I was nauseous and fatigued. Even walking felt like a chore, and I got some hip problems that led into having to use a crutch. BUT all the physical problems ended right when I pushed the baby out. She’s now 6 months old, and I am steadily bouncing back. I still have some extra kg’s, anf I can’t lift quite as much as before pregnancy, but I’m building back towards it. In the end, pregnancy is only 9 months long. You don’t need to get into new records during that time – keeping what you have gained so far or even taking a couple steps back is totally okay! I wish you all good, Expecting And Adjusting.❤

  11. Lydia says:

    Is there going to be a new challenge soon?!?!

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