Well – today marks 37 weeks. Baby boy is officially full-term and (probably) weighs over 6 lbs!
Instead of the regular pregnancy update formatting where I discuss symptoms, changes, nursery updates, etc., I figured I’d finally do the comprehensive fitness recap I’ve been promising!
I just want to start by saying… anyone who knows me well – family, friends, husband, coworkers – will be the first to attest that they usually don’t think of “fitness” and “working out” when they think “Alaina.”
I know I’ve said before I’ve never been a big workout enthusiast. ie I simply don’t work out often. I’ve never REALLY liked it and I don’t get that “high” so many people claim to get after finishing a great workout. I don’t love sweating. And washing, brushing, and drying my hair takes at least an hour so adding that on to any workout makes it just a time suck in general… one I frequently avoided. Typically replaced by work, personal projects, or hanging out with friends.
I’ve never found group classes particularly enjoyable–even if all my best gf’s were going together… I’d pass. And I’d always prefer swimming or dancing or playing a sport like volleyball to getting on a treadmill or elliptical – but rarely sought out the opportunity to get active in a way I enjoyed.
During the summer, I’d occasionally go on 20-30 minute run/walks around my neighborhood, but not enough to make a difference.
I’ve just always been comfortable in my size 6/sometimes 8/sometimes 10 body – never feeling some need to be a size 2 or be as skinny or skinnier than those around me (which let me tell you – in the world of blogging/online media is basically everyone). Whatevs.
I just don’t equate body size to my human value. Like at all. (Probably because there is no relation between body size and human value… a duh.) I hate that this is such a part of female culture… I didn’t even follow a strict (or not strict) workout or diet plan for our wedding… and don’t get me STARTED on women who comment on other women’s bodies. [Anger brews just thinking about it.]
Yet since January 1, right when I was 20 weeks pregnant, I have been working out regularly – 2-5 days a week. Whaaaat happened?!
REASON 1: My main weight gain goal during pregnancy was to not gain more than 20 pounds for two reasons: I knew losing it would be especially challenging for me – on account of my aforementioned lack of exercise discipline and love for wine and tacos and food in general. (I type as I polish of the guacamole Dan made with dinner tonight.) And 2. my BMI was teetering on the high end of normal as it was going into this pregnancy so I technically shouldn’t have gained much over 25 lbs anyway.
REASON 2: Well, I read somewhere that certain exercises and staying fit while pregnant could make labor and delivery easier. Could. Absolutely no guarantee. Still… enticing. 🙂
REASON 3: That coupled with weeks on end of single digit winter temps and feeling like we were on house arrest, I was so eager to LEAVE THE HOUSE in January that the GYM became a respite to get away. Who knew.
REASON 4: Healthier for the baby. Ok, this is officially trumps reasons 1 through 3. If me getting my butt to the gym helps, then I got you, baby boo.
I was very active in my youth. I played every sport and had something going on year-round. I was even on the dance team in high school which kept me in great shape. It wasn’t until my senior year when I began devoting ALL my time to the high school newspaper (we’d literally be there until midnight sometimes!)… and then the dreaded college years… when I really fell off the workout wagon and became a lazy computer sloth.
Fast forward to age 32. 20 weeks pregnant. Feeling slothy and stir crazy and fearing the labor/delivery process… I decide, “I belong to a gym. Why not go use it?” So I did. It was 7am on a Saturday and 2 degrees outside. (Yes – pregnancy has me on this whole early riser schedule which is also new but I love.)
I think what helped is that the exercises you are advised to do while pregnant are VERY… how do I put this… well, easy. There is no killing yourself in a circuit class or on the treadmill. That wouldn’t be safe for baby. The “fitness” goals during pregnancy are simply to get moving, improve circulation and blood flow and heart rate and oxygen and all that good stuff moving through your body. All of which keeps you healthier and more importantly – keeps baby healthier. That’s the best motivation if I’d ever had any! Way more motivating than killing myself in a cardio class just to fit into a dress to impress… people? Somebody? I don’t know.
So motivation = healthy baby, healthy me, possibly an easier labor. All great things.
It all began right after Christmas. I was 20 weeks pregnant. Stir crazy at home. And I started slowly…
I’d head to my gym and walk on the treadmill for 30-50 minutes, trying to mix up speed, jogging just a little bit, then ending with some strength moves, stretching, and foam rolling my sore muscles in one of the empty fitness classes (lunges, squats, planks).
YOUTUBE VIDEOS AT HOME
Coupled with some online prenatal workout videos I found – I recommend Bodyfit by Amy which are short videos you can easily do in your living room – I did that through February, and it was quite nice! I felt really good about myself! Will probably pick these back up in my final few weeks.
SWIMMING DATES WITH DAN
Then at the end of February, I was very lucky to team up with Equinox for a membership to try out their gyms, which has been amazing because… drumroll… their Gold Coast location HAS A POOL!
Swimming is my most favorite exercise of all! And it’s amazing. We don’t live super close to this location so Dan and I mainly just go swim early weekend mornings. I like to do 40 laps (that’s 40x one pool length, not 40 there-and-backs). Here’s my usual routine:
- 100 free
- 100 breaststroke
- 25 free
- 25 breaststroke
- then I do ten laps with just a kick board which Dan thought was easier but realized… it is not
- then I do another 20 laps alternating freestyle and breaststroke…
I definitely take breaks at the wall to catch my breath and bring my heart rate back down. But it’s so great and I love it so so much.
Then he gets to utilize the steam room (I cannot womp womp), while I take a long glorious shower using their Kiehl’s products, and we meet upstairs, get an almond latte, and head home. The whole process from home and back is like 3 hours and really fills up the morning but it’s so fun. It’s become sort of a date ritual. (This is the maternity swimsuit I bought for laps!)
In addition to swimming, I’ve been meeting with a personal trainer – Jodi – at Equinox 2x a week since late February (with a break the two weeks I was so so sick and displaced from home). I’ve never worked out with a personal trainer in my life–and it’s been really amazing for a few reasons…
- She designs a workout suitable and safe for me based on my goals and physical needs, so I never had to worry about whether I’m going to injure myself… I probably would have avoided weights altogether if it wasn’t for my PT sessions.
- She designs a plan and adjusts it as I get stronger. I would never know reps/weights/best combinations of strength training exercises to do. I’d just keep walking on a treadmill. But these sessions have increased my strength and flexibility – not to mention just kept me moving!
- These sessions ensure I stick to my workout. It’s one thing to say “I’m going to go to the gym in the morning” then simply not… and another to have a standing appointment with an individual I can’t miss. Heck – I’ve even been known to back out of workout classes I paid for. But when a certain PERSON is waiting for me and schedule depends on me, I’m showing up.
- It got me into the “intimidating machine” side of the gym… where I never dared venture before because I’d spend more time trying to figure out how any of the machines worked versus actually using them. Plus that area is usually filled with the regulars who are in crazy good shape, go all the time, and trying to get through their workouts… I always just felt in their space. Well NOT with a trainer. This was HER space. And she’d set everything up for me and tell me exactly what to do and how to position my body – getting the most out of every move. My pregnant belly was a unique sight in that area but I liked it. 🙂
- Every workout was different. We’d sometimes do similar moves, but literally every session was new and different and that kept it fun and interesting. I’d go twice a week and never know what to expect from a session.
- I learned I’m a lot stronger than I realized! I own 2lb tiny little weights at home. 2!!! And my trainer had me using anywhere from 10-20 lb weights!
As for what we did during our hour-long sessions? LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF squats and lunges – almost always with weights or bands around my ankles to up resistance– opening up my hips, strengthening my pelvic area and legs… all for my main goal of MAKING LABOR/DELIVERY EASIER (fingers crossed fingers crossed!!!). We also did a bit of arm and upper back/bra strap area work knowing summer is around the corner.
We didn’t do a ton of cardio… it was mostly strength and flexibility with a smidge of cardio mixed in some days. But I’d try swimming and taking my pups on walks regularly were my “cardio” exercise these past two months. Oh and vacuuming every inch of our house every other day. That gets in more steps than you’d ever know! Plus it’s kind of an arm workout so my right arm is extra strong. Hah
THE FINAL 4 WEEKS
Last week Saturday was my last training session when I hit 36-weeks (I could’ve kept going I just ran out of sessions!).
The next day, early Sunday morning, I hosted a pilates class at Equinox with readers in the morning and ohhhh let me tell you my thighs were HURTING when I went to bed. In a good way! So I’m hoping to attend a few of Equinox’s classes (they offer SO many!) – all adjustable and safe for pregnancy and post-partum ladies – while maintaining swimming 1-2 times a week and walking 15-40 minutes a day (depending on how many walks I take my dogs on).
Walking longer distances is actually getting more difficult due to cramping. I feel the weight of baby boy pushing down on me.. anyone who has experienced third trimester probably knowwws what I’m talking about. I had to stop moving at one point I thought I was going to go into labor on the street corner at one point the pressure was so intense. Turns out – all good!
So obviously I won’t know the payoff of my fitness efforts until I’m guessing a few months after baby arrives… seeing how my body recovers and what not.
Of course I REALLY just hope for a safe delivery… as for it being “easier” or not… who knows but I will report back! Granted I’d have nothing to compare it to anyway other than other women’s stories so it’s all relative.
But overall I think it’s helped me in feeling generally great DURING pregnancy. My employees at the office last week said to me, “You don’t seem 36 weeks pregnant at all. You’re such a happy pregnant person!” Hah so that was nice!
So the big question – overall weight gain: so as of last week at 36 weeks I was technically 16 lbs heavier than the number on the scale at my first appointment. But I lost 3-4 lbs my first trimester which puts my overall weight gain closer to 20 lbs (even though I’m personally still going off the ORIGINAL number, and not the 14wk lower weigh-in because come on…). I just weighed myself today and I’m still 2 lbs shy from going 20 lbs over my initial weigh-in…. BUT…
…I still have 3 or so weeks to go and my appetite has reached the point of insatiable. I’m hungry ALWAYS. Which I literally haven’t dealt with in 8.5 months. Not sure what changed there. Argh! Dan’s actually heading to the grocery store tonight and we’re planning some healthy meal options because all I want is chips and ice cream and all the unhealthy stuff I literally haven’t really craved this whole time. Blurg.
I’ll likely end up going over my weight gain goal but that’s ok. I’m happy with the efforts made and hope I’ve picked up a new healthy routine that will continue after baby boy arrives!
Recent unhealthy cravings aside, what has been surprisingly positive is that I haven’t needed to buy a lot of maternity clothes at all. All of my leggings (ie my pant of choice) and a good enough amount of my tops still fit – all thanks to non-maternity slouchy fashion. Double thanks to the abnormally cold spring we’ve had which has allowed me to keep wearing said slouchy sweaters and not struggle with slinky summer wear!
Going into pregnancy, I was worried about how many clothes I’d have to buy… did I need a new winter coat? Would I have to get a new wardrobe and to transition for crazy Chicago weather and multiple seasons? But so far so good. The chambray shirt on the top left is just a regular top from Lou and Grey (not unlike this tunic style) that I wore this past week at 36 weeks. The white jeans, however, ARE maternity with an amazing stretchy waist. I made it through this LONG cold Chicago winter with my go-to black wool wrap coat from Everlane (my zip-up coat did start getting a bit snug there at the end of March).
What I Have Needed to Buy, Maternity-wise:
I bought two pairs of fancy maternity jeans back in October that I’ve 100% gotten my money’s use of the past 7 months (these dark denim and these black distressed). Then I got the white pair of denim since I figured I’d wear those well into summer, post-partum.
I also got this pair of over-the-belly support maternity workout pants that I LOVE and wore to every single workout – but I really think regular workout pants would’ve worked fine, but it was nice having the support.
And my mother-in-law gifted me a pair of black maternity leggings that have been great and I recommend! Fortunately my favorite non-maternity J.Crew ankle zip leggings have continued to fit and I wear on the reg as well!
I also got these two dresses from Ingrid and Isabel that I’ve worn on repeat –the striped one on our babymoon and I’ll wear it this summer, and then I wore the black one to anything remotely fancy I had to attend – or for our team photo shoot this past week in the office! I’ll continue to wear that into summer and fall, as well! It’s super comfy and works pregnant or not.
I definitely needed a maternity swimsuit.
Oh and the big one. I ditched underwire bras way back in November and have been sporting this super sexay style ever since (a set of 3 is $20!). Waaaaay more comfortable.
Today is 37 weeks. 3 weeks to go, give or take.
I didn’t get to the gym at all this week – sad. But I walked at least 20-50 minutes a day with the dogs which was something? Maybe? And I do squats around the house when I think to – even in the shower. Hah We were going to have a swimming gym date this morning but I had a serious case of the sleepies + headaches + neckaches all weekend… probably not sleeping great. So more long walks with the dogs is what I did.
Nursery is 100% finished. Baby’s clothes are all washed. Home is clean and ready.
I am working more than ever – actually picked up an interior design job that I’m super excited about and have been spending the past two weekends and nights working on!
And that’s that! I hope this was helpful in some ways? Maybe?
Did you workout during pregnancy? Did you find it helped in any way, if at all?Feel free to leave any questions in the comments!