dispelling myths about exercising during pregnancy
My three pregnancies have all been different because of the amount of exercise I’ve done, and my age, of course, but I’m grateful to say that I’ve had easy pregnancies.
The first time I was pregnant at 31 years old I was recovering from a back injury and didn’t exercise much. I experienced some morning sickness and some mild discomfort but overall, the pregnancy went well.
The labour and birth are another story though, for that first pregnancy! After 30 hours of labour, including three hours of pushing, I ended up having an emergency C-section. I also ended up with a spinal fluid leak and had to go back to the hospital to have a blood patch in my spine to seal the leak.
My second pregnancy, two and a half years later, was again easy, and I succeeded in staying active. I taught six group yoga classes a week and did mild exercises at the gym. I managed to have a vaginal birth after the previous C-section, and was only in labour for eight hours.
This third pregnancy at 42 years old wasn’t planned, but was received as a blessing for our family. During this pregnancy, I’ve been more active and fit than I was during the other pregnancies. At the beginning of this third pregnancy, I was still working full time and leading group classes. During the second trimester I focused on weight training, and in the last trimester I did mainly cardio.
I would like to share what has worked for me in the hope that it will help you too.
Usually during the first trimester, most women experience morning sickness and are more tired. It’s important to listen to our bodies and rest as much as needed, although I still believe in the “make it a lifestyle” motto, which means doing at least some exercise every day.
The first trimester
I stopped doing abdominal exercises right away during my first trimester. I did a few planks here and there, but it didn’t feel appropriate for me. I switched my focus to strengthening my posterior chain muscles to support my growing belly instead (see below).
The second trimester
During the second trimester I mainly focused on posterior chain exercises and upper body strength. What are the posterior chain muscles? They are muscles of the calves, hamstrings, glutes, back muscles (erector spinae, latissimus, and rear shoulder muscles).
The posterior chain muscles are, from my point of view, the most important muscles to train. First, because if your glutes, lower back and lower body are strong, it will support the extra weight of the growing tummy. It will also help prevent the back discomfort and pain that is often associated with pregnancy.
The main exercises I chose to focus on were deadlift, good morning, squats, hip thrusts, the bridge, kettlebell swings, and leg curls. During my second pregnancy an exercise specialist discouraged me from doing any lunges because of the instability in the body created by the hormone relaxin. This hormone helps the pelvis expand during birth by loosening the ligaments around the pelvis.
I followed that advice in the previous pregnancy, but this time, as I was feeling stronger, I decided to keep doing them, and everything turned out okay. Step ups were not comfortable for me; it felt like I was compressing the baby. I also did a lot of pliés, until a pelvic floor physio told me that it would be better not to do them to keep the pelvic floor soft and relaxed for birth.
Keeping the upper back muscles strong is also super important to balance all the breastfeeding and holding of the baby that will be soon happening. Most of us are already in a rounded posture simply with our lifestyle, and stretching the front side body, pectoral muscles, and anterior shoulder while strengthening the upper back muscles will help bring the body into an optimal balance/perfect posture.
The third trimester
I am quite aware of how loose everything gets during pregnancy, and the extra weight that we gain, so staying active is important. During the last trimester, I stopped doing weight training exercises and mainly focused on cardio.
After reading the book Breath, by James Nestor, I focused on doing cardio in a range that allowed me to breathe through my nose the whole time. This seems to have made all the difference for me. If I got out of breath going up a flight of stairs, focusing on breathing through my nose allowed me to go up the same flight of stairs without losing my breath.
There are so many different opinions in terms of what exercises to do and not to do while being pregnant, and it’s important to remember that we are all different. This is a time to find out what works for us, to listen to our bodies, and to honour this amazing, beautiful process. This is such a precious time; a time to appreciate the miracle our bodies can create.
Our beautiful baby boy came into the world in August 27, 2022 after labour was induced on my due date.
This was the most fantastic birth I have had so far. I felt empowered, cared for, supported, and managed to have a vaginal birth without any tears because of the excellent doctor and nurse that were with us.
My partner caught the baby, and he came out into the world peacefully without even crying. It was beautiful. We’re feeling blessed and grateful.
I keep saying how amazing I feel about the birth. The recovery has been effortless. Seriously, I am amazed! I went at the river with our newborn 2 days after he was born.
Returning to exercise after the birth
A week after having the baby I was feeling ready to exercise. Here’s the first core routine I did. I did one minute of each exercise in a circuit. Three rounds of:
walk up ceiling
open and close leg
legs go down and around 10x total
legs go out and around 10x total
Myths about exercise and pregnancy that need to change:
If you don’t exercise, you shouldn’t start during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is an ideal time to start an exercise program, and it can be as easy as walking. It is recommended that we exercise for approximately 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. If you are sedentary before pregnancy and remain sedentary, this might increase your risk for back pain and extra weight gain, and will make it harder to recover after birth.
You can’t work on your abs during pregnancy because it can cause damage to the baby, the pelvic floor, or even cause diastasis recti (abdominal separation).
Some abdominal exercises might not be appropriate during pregnancy (any exercises that target the rectus abdominis, for example), but some core exercises are beneficial. Some exercises that target the transverse abdominis and strengthen the pelvic floor might help ease and prevent back pain, and prepare you for easier delivery and faster recovery.
You can’t do high impact exercise like running during pregnancy.
This is not true. It just depends whether you are already a regular runner. If you were already running, you can keep running. Listen to your body’s cues such as back or hip pain and any pelvic floor problems like incontinence or a feeling of heaviness.
Exercising will make you more tired.
The truth is that exercise increases blood circulation and oxygen delivery to all parts of your body, which will actually make you less tired.
Lifting weights can be dangerous.
Strengthening the body will help stabilize your lower back which can help manage pain. It can also help create more stability in the joints where the ligaments have become more lax.
If you are unsure about what exercises to do during your pregnancy, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would be happy to help you during such a special time.
Follow me on Instagram or Facebook for photos of my third pregnancy and some of the exercises I did.
I want 2019 to be a transformational year. As most of you know, I am currently enrolled in a three-year Practitioners Training program to become a Therapeutic Counselor with Clearmind. I’ve started to peel off layers of myself and look at my beliefs and the different ideas about myself I created early in my life. I want to keep growing into the person I want to be and my goal for this first year of my program is to remain peaceful and centered.
New Years resolutions are great opportunities to write down intentions and goals for the upcoming year. I love making resolutions and every year I refine my process a little bit more. Last year I found Core Desire Feeling program by Danielle Laporte and it really inspired me. Danielle taught me that:
“Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.”
If you don’t know how to start, pick the 3 areas of your life that are the most important to you; (for example: relationship, work, health…) and then pick a feeling for each area of life. That will be your 3 Core Desired Feelings for the New Year.
Taking the time to choose your Core Desire Feeling will helps you align with how you want to feel. Setting this intention is powerful and important to have clear direction of where you want to go into your life. Choose how you want to feel, and move in the direction of it. You can also set your goals around your Core Desire Feeling. I also like to remind myself of my core desire feeling on a daily base, like a mantra. It can help you to make clearer decisions and to return to your center.
These are my three Core Desired Feelings:
Acceptance also called an agreement
Accepting the present moment and what’s happening without attempting to change it or protest it; see the positive, and choose a peaceful state of mind; instead of fighting against it, be miserable, and struggle against the universe. Acceptance invite us to find the lesson or purpose behind every challenge to help you embrace it instead of fighting it. Choose not to judge what happens to you. Instead, believe that everything happens for a reason and that better things will always follow. That’s the beginning of true acceptance.
Buddhism‘s first noble truth, “All life is suffering”, invites people to accept that suffering is a natural part of life. Radical acceptance is about accepting life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical acceptance is about saying yes to life, just as it is. When you practice acceptance, you are still disappointed, sad, and perhaps fearful in such situations, but you don’t add the pain of non-acceptance to those emotions and make things worse. Practicing acceptance in these situations also helps you prepare for more difficult circumstances. In order to move on, we must first acknowledge what’s happening now. Acceptance is acknowledging what’s already happened. Do not confuse with approval. Approval is consenting to more of it in the future. Failing to accept reality creates suffering where there’s already pain. It creates confusion where there can be clarity, anguish where there can be peace. We don’t accept things in order to change what’s happening, nor do we do it in order to feel better about it. We accept because it’s the only logical thing to do. Whatever is happening is happening; whatever occurred already occurred. We embrace reality because it’s already here, right now, and resisting it won’t make it go away. What becomes possible when you release your ideas about what should be and embrace what is instead? Acceptance is an active process, one that must be practiced consciously. Practice compassion to yourself alongside acceptance.
To feel free, happy and playful. Being easygoing, cheerful, optimistic and hopeful.
Feeling affection and tenderness. The act of love is when you care about other people happiness, safety, and health, because you truly want the best for them. Love is a very selfless act; love is giving away the last piece of cake, no matter how much you want it, love is giving your whole self and not holding back, love is commitment, love is that tingly feeling you get and you don’t know why, love is looking forward to waking up early in the morning, making yourself vulnerable to someone, to share experiences, pleasures, problems and pain. Love is the deepest level of emotional connection between people.
Vibrant and Alive! (Okay, I cheated and had more than three!)
Filled with energy, glowing, healthy.
After I chose my Core Desire Feelings, I wrote down my intentions. These are intentions for what I want more of in my life in 2019.
This list are a reminder to guide me throughout 2019.
Be in nature
Rest, relax, read
Be calm, joyful and center
Have faith, trust the process
Love what I see in the mirror
Complete the Course of Miracles
Be feminine, romantic and sensual
Meet new people, make new friends
Buy less, choose well, embrace simplicity
Embrace a mindset of learning; be a beginner
Change your relationship with time, no more scarcity
Follow my heart, be authentic and vulnerable; choose to stay open.
Having courage to speak up from my heart; limit assumptions, instead be open, communicate and take initiative
I H.O.P.E (helping other people evolve) everyone can envision a wonderful 2019. Let me know if you need any help achieving your health and fitness goals. Contact me at email@example.com
Why do I want to feature an inspirational person in my newsletter?
I want to feature people like Dominique who have crossed my path and touched my life, inspiring me toward greatness. Too many of us fail to see greatness in ourselves. Somehow, it doesn’t seem to matter what we have achieved; we often need others to point out to us how we excel. People display “greatness” by their attitude, their lifestyle, their choices, their actions… I want to recognize the people in my life who lead by example.
How did I meet Dominique?
I’ve met Dominique through the Athletic Club in Nanaimo. She had just moved from Quebec and started to work at that facility. She told me that she was a body-fitness competitor and also a pro. I checked her on social media and was literally mind blown. Competing in the fitness category requires so much ability, you need to be strong, flexible and agile. You need so much discipline and commitment. I really admire her and wanted to make sure everyone in Nanaimo knew that we have such an amazing and talented person in our community. Check her out.
1.What motivates you to exercise?
Since I begun weightlifting in 2008 I would say the thing that motivates me the most to keep on pushing everyday is first the chemical reaction that is so rewarding after a hard workout. We all have different body types and genetics so for me it’s to always try to create the most balanced body possible.
2. What activity/workout do you prefer?
I LOVE training shoulders and back! You feel like Hulk when I finish haha
3. What is your biggest accomplishment?
From this day I would say to have participated in the Olympia 2016 (it’s like the Olympics of our sport)
And the Arnold Ohio + Arnold Australia
4. What is your superpower?
My MIND! Everything starts from a strong mind. Instant changes can be done if you focus on positive and powerful thoughts! I’m not a super woman, I do have my days to. I simply always try to push myself outside of my comfort zone to create new opportunities.
5. What is your favorite dish/recipe?
Then my healthy treat are my home-made No-cooking Protein bars that I can share with you!
6. What is your cheat treat?
So, my favorite Treat meal is: Pizza and Glosettes!
Or those ice creams mixed with all kinds of chocolates and cookie dough in them!
When I treat myself, I enjoy a lot of yummy things
7. What are your goals and dreams?
I always live 1 year at a time. I plan my fitness shows and focus on achieving everyone. I’m that girl that takes 1 day at a time. If there are to be changes I go with the flow.
My dreams might seem to be boring, but I just dream to have a fun life! I enjoy the simple things and love challenges!
8. Advice for a newbie?
First, do it FOR YOU! Fitness is not for everyone but is certainly the thing that lights me up. Find that reason you want to push and push everyday. We have only 1 life so make sure everyday counts.
Second, find a GOOD coach. You need someone that will guide you towards a healthy and fun journey!
Third, be patient and proud of EVERY progress you make! Remember baby steps
Like any goal in life, you must start somewhere to create your empire. When you get discouraged because you find you get stuck on a plateau, give it your all because your probably just by the tip of the mountain!
Metabolism is the process in which your body converts what you put into your mouth into energy. Even when you are at rest your body needs energy for all basic functions such as breathing, adjusting hormone levels, growing, repair, circulating blood and digestion. The number of calories your body needs to carry these basic functions is called basal metabolic rate, aka your “metabolism”. Several factors determine your metabolism:
Body size and composition: the more muscle you have the more calories you burn, even at rest.
Gender/sex: men usually have more muscle and less body fat than women, so they burn more calories
Age: as you get older you lose muscle mass so you burn fewer calories
How Does Muscle Affect Metabolism?
There are still many myths and misconceptions that need to be clarified about weight training. I need to reassure everyone out there, without steroids, gaining lean muscle mass is not easy. It is actually pretty difficult for most women to “bulk” up unless you are very serious about your training, train everyday and eat lots and lots of protein. It is important that you understand how to maintain and build muscle mass not only boosts your metabolism, but can do so much more for you.
Your metabolism is not to be blamed for your weight: Ultimately your physical activity, food and beverage intake will determine how much you weigh. There are some factors that we can’t control to help our metabolism burn more calories; such as genetics, lifestyle, environment, sleep, stress. One factor that we can control is strength training to increase our muscle mass. The American Council on Exercise has found that the average person loses approximately one-half pound of muscle per year after the age of twenty. To even maintain the muscle you have today, you need to take action. If you don’t know how to get started on your strength training journey; contact a personal trainer or join a group fitness classes that focus on strength building instead of cardio.
To give you even more motivation I’ve put together this list of reason why you should incorporate strength training activities like lifting weight, bodyweight training and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) into your weekly workout schedule. Enjoy!
Weight Training, Body Weight Exercises and HIIT Benefits
Improve your health: Strength training can help you manage symptoms of chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, diabetes, obesity, in order to live a more independent lifestyle even as you age.
A stronger immune system: Exercise increases the production of macrophages; the cells that attack bacteria so you can heal faster. With consistent exercise, you can improve your immune system on a long term as well. A word of caution: Be careful as overtraining can also do the opposite. Health is all about finding that balance.
Appearance: Muscles take less space than fat, if you don’t know about this, read my article: Muscle versus fat. By increasing your muscle mass, you can look lean and toned and fit in your clothes better. Even if you have a thin frame you can create beautiful curves in your body.
Controls blood sugar and decreases the risk of diabetes: Muscle mass will help maintain a healthy weight and prevent long term disease. Part of the reason aging people experience a rise in their blood sugar is because of the loss of muscle mass.
Decrease your resting blood pressure: Strength training makes your heart stronger so it can pump more blood with less effort.
Physical performance: If you just get started, your nervous system might need up to 8 weeks to adjust to your new routine. After you will start seeing gain in strength and performance.
Decrease risk injury: When your body is stronger, mobile and flexible, your will decrease your risk of injury. When you do weight bearing exercises not only your muscles get stronger, but your tendons and ligaments will as well.
Live longer: A study from Tufts Universityfound the more muscles you have the better your chances of a longer life. More than either blood pressure or cholesterol, muscle mass was determined to be the top biomarker for longevity.
To have more energy: When you are stronger, you can handle more. You will be better equipped to deal with life’s stresses.
Stronger bones: That’s right, resistance training even strengthens your bones!
To improve your posture
To elevate your mood and reduce harmful stress. When you workout, your body releases natural painkillers, opiates.
So many people want to lose weight but it is not so often that I hear people wanting to lose fat. When I was young I did lots of cardio in the hope of being skinny That was a long time ago and now I know better!
Now I mainly do weight bearing exercises to be strong and remain injury free. I often ask people what their goals are and I am in shock each time I hear someone say that they want to be skinny. I believe strong is the new skinny and there are so many advantages to being strong and healthy. First, let’s clarify the difference between muscle fat.
Myth: Muscle Weighs More Than Fat
So many people say muscle weighs more than fat. Actually, that is not true. 1 pound of muscle and 1 pound of fat weigh the same. The trick is, they do not the same density. Look at the picture and see how much more space fat takes compared to muscle. That is why you should not worry about the scale when you start working out but see results by how your clothes suit you. So the goal is to change your body composition by having more muscle and less fat.
Body Composition, Not Weight, Affects the Way You Look
This picture show a men and women on 2 different rows having the same weight but with different body composition. The % written above them is their fat percentage. So as you can see, because an image is worth a thousand words, having more muscle versus fat can affect your body image a lot. Some of you might already be wondering “How do I know how much body fat my body carries?” There are a few different ways to find out.
How Do You Measure Body Fat?
The most accurate way is body submersion (also call hydrostatic weighing) which takes place under water. This is highly accurate, but expensive and not too practical for most people. There are many other ways of finding out your fat percentage, to varying levels of accuracy. For example, most personal trainer use a fat calliper tool (which pinches the fat at various locations around the body) to help theirs clients determine fat percentage. Another way is by using a biometrical impedance scale, if you want to know more about it, check this wikipedia link. I have used a fews different varieties of these scale and I am not convinced how accurate they are, because so many things can interfere in the reading. When I did my body fitness competition I was so surprised that my weight on scale didn’t change. I might had lost 1-2 pounds, but my body composition was changing. I didn’t use any fancy tool to mesure my fat percentage. I actually only use my eyes and the eyes of my trainer at the time, Isabelle Vincent.
The main thing to remember is that whatever method you use to track progress (measurements, photos, fitness test, etc.) to use the same method the next time so you are comparing apples to apples. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away: Fitness is a lifestyle and a journey.