Sunday, 22 June 2014

15 weeks

It's amazing to me how two pregnancies can be so different from one another. Aside from feeling much more pregnant earlier this time (which, apparently, is to be expected with second/third/fourth.... pregnancies), and feeling the baby move 6 weeks earlier (yay!) my body is just reacting differently.

Nails: this time are brittle and breaking, last time were long and strong
Skin: constant breakouts vs. beautifully clear
Breasts: bigger and more sensitive
Body fat: accumulating in my hips and thighs vs. moved away from my hips and into my arms
Weight gain: ok, I've only actually gained about 2-3 more pounds than last time.
Muscle loss: practically no muscle loss so far! We'll see how the rest of the pregnancy goes, but with baby #1 I had lost about 7lbs of lean muscle by the time I delivered. This probably explains why my weight gain has been greater this time, too.

Please excuse the hair - we had just gotten back from the beach. Also excuse the blatant posing....
as any of my girlfriends will attest, I literally cannot help myself.

Ok, onto the good stuff: Workouts.

I felt so strong this week - I was almost lifting my regular weights. I've been on my current program for about 4 weeks now, so my body is likely adapting to the routine. Which means one thing: it's time to change it up! Although pregnancy is not a time to be increasing the intensity of your workouts, there are lots of other variables you can play with to make sure your body isn't adapting and you keep moving in the direction of results.

-Change the order of your exercises: instead of doing lunges then pushups, do pushups then lunges. Simple, but it keeps the body guessing.

-Change the type of cardio you do: treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, outdoor walks/runs, swimming, stair climber..... You hit different muscles with every piece of equipment, so change it up!

-Increase or decrease the number of sets and reps you do: Having said that, this is not the time to be lifting SUPER heavy (for safety reasons), so stay out of that 2-6 rep range.

-Change your resistance equipment: As you become more pregnant, your joints will get looser and your centre of gravity will shift. For this reason, I would recommend moving away from free-weights and instead towards machines, which are safer. But don't worry - the change in equipment will hit your muscles differently, thus challenging them in a new way :)

-Change the exercises you are doing: Again, unless you are an advanced lifter, this is not the time to start experimenting with new exercises.  But do switch up the ones you're already familiar with. Like pull-ups instead of pull-downs, or glute bridges instead of glute kickbacks.

-Change your split: If you usually pair back with biceps, try pairing it with chest instead. Or do legs and triceps one day - why not?  Or how about doing full-body workouts for a while? The sky is the limit when it comes to splits!

So this week I'll be changing my split, moving away from the full-body circuits (See ya, circuits! It was fun..... sort of) and back to a more standard 4-day split, keeping in that one day of just cardio/yoga.

Keep on challenging yourselves, ladies! These phenomenal bodies of ours are designed to grow babies AND still keep doing our regular activities. Pregnancy does not make us weaker - it's a celebration of our true STRENGTH!


Sunday, 15 June 2014

14 weeks

Happy Father's Day to my husband - the best dad a kid (or wife) could ask for :)  

Well this week certainly came with its own set of challenges: first of all, I've been fighting a head cold all week which has been a little bit draining. Second of all it has been h-o-t HOT here in Pensacola, meaning I've had to walk the dog and baby as soon as I get home from the gym before it gets unbearably hot out. I get up at 4:30am for my workouts, so by 7:00am I kind of just want to crawl back into bed... not take a long sweaty dog walk, lol. But all that being said, I only missed one cardio session and one walk this week. Actually, I always find working out while I've got a cold makes me feel so much better and speeds up the recovery process.

The changes I implemented since last week worked beautifully - no pains or strains this week :) This is what my workouts looked like:

Upper Body
Lat Pulldowns
Hammer Strength Chest Press
Seated Cable Row/Dumbbell Bicep Curls
Incline DB Chest Flyes/DB Tricep Kickbacks
Dumbbell Reverse Flyes
Dumbbell Front Raises

Full Body 1
Pullups/Plie Squat
Bent-over BB Row/Walking Lunges
Upright Rows/Plank

Lower Body
Donkey Kicks
Single-leg Leg Press (*instead of squat)
Single-leg Deadlifts
Cable Pull-Throughs
Kneeling Cable Crunches
Reverse Crunches/Single Lying Leg Raise

Full Body 2 (circuits on TRX)
Split Squat (*on bench)
Single-arm Row
Single-leg Squat

Hamstring Curls
Plank (*instead of Pike)

Note: "/" indicates a superset. In general, I stick to about 3-4 sets and 8-15 reps, depending on how I'm feeling.

You may have noticed that I'm still doing some crunches in my routine. I was actually able to incorporate crunches all throughout my last pregnancy, albeit with a much restricted range of motion. I haven't been feeling any kind of discomfort when I do them, so I'll keep them in as long as possible (I'm one of those crazy people who LOVES to train abs!!)  I've always done my ab exercises very slowly (there are too many people speeding through ab exercises, using momentum, shoulders, hips, and neck muscle to get them through the movement.... very little actual abdominal recruitment going on) and now more than ever I keep my movements very controlled and go VERY slowly, keeping my mind very connected to the muscles and what's going on.

As I mentioned, I do also limit my range of motion:

Reverse CrunchesUsually I would bring my knees much closer to my forehead to hit a bit of upper abs as well, but now I am just bringing them to about the same place as this woman. I still get the lower ab contraction but don't squish my belly ;) 

Kneeling Cable CrunchesTypically you would bring your elbows down and in with this exercise, but I am just bringing my elbows to the ground (going nice and slow) and stopping there, making sure to pause and really squeeze at the bottom.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

13 weeks

Phew! Finally, the second trimester!

Our 13 week old jellybean <3

Thankfully my first trimester wasn't too bad at all, but it's still nice to be out of the "danger zone", be able to announce the pregnancy to all our family and friends, and of course get some energy back :)

The second trimester made a definitive entrance this week as for the first time I experienced some strains in my lower abdominal muscles from exercises that usually don't cause me any problems.  Because I've been feeling kind of bloated lately (blame hormones, heat, and a slight weight gain) I decided to switch to a full-body circuit-type workout for most of the week, but still focussing on just upper and lower body once per week... because too many circuits make Tess an grumpy-ish girl :P

Day 1 - Full body circuit
Day 2 - Upper body
Day 3 - Cardio + yoga/karate
Day 4 - Rest
Day 5 - Full body circuit (TRX)
Day 6 - Lower body

The three exercises that caused discomfort this week were all exercises that demanded a lot of core strength. Obviously this is my body telling me "Hey, your uterus is getting kind of big btw!" so I have taken note and will adjust accordingly.

-Squats - I'll try widening my stance (to allow for my bigger belly), lowering the weight, and being extra strict on my form and see if that changes anything.  If not, it may be time to switch over to the leg press machine.
-Single-leg squats (with TRX) - I'll try these using a bench instead of the TRX (which demands an extra element of balance) and see how my core feels after that.
-Pike (TRX) - I'll switch to regular planks and plank variations from now on.

Overall my energy was good, though it always takes me a week or so to get back into the swing of circuits.

I also did a slow jog this week, stopping every 5 minutes or so to assess how I was feeling, and everything felt fine! That's great news as I now live near the ocean and morning beachfront runs are a real treat to wake up to :)

13 weeks

Progress Pictures

4 weeks - Just found out!!!

4 weeks

7 weeks
10 weeks

12 weeks

First Trimester - Recap

Because I wasn't nearly on-the-ball enough in the first trimester, and because I didn't actually have access to a computer for those entire 12 weeks, I'll have to do a first trimester recap.  If you have any follow-up questions, please leave them in the comments below and I will elaborate :)

My entire first trimester I was in the midst of applying for my American Green Card.  As a result, I stayed in 4 different places (Ottawa, Midland, Florida, Montreal, then Florida again) and thus multiple different gyms.  Now, I'm not one to make excuses, but it was HARD to get into a good routine especially during those weeks when I was a "single parent" and/or without a vehicle. 

Having said that, I still managed to hit the gym 3-4x per week (as opposed to my usual 5x). The only exception was a two week stretch where I suffered from TONS of fatigue and nausea, at which point I only went once or twice each week.

In general, my workouts stayed the same:
Warmup - 10 minutes on cardio of choice
Weight Training - 1-2 body parts per workout
Cardio - 10-15 minutes HIIT
Stretching - lots of stretching post-workout

For women who are continuing their regular exercise regimen during pregnancy, exercise intensity should not exceed pre-pregnancy levels. The intensity of exercise should be regulated by how hard a woman believes she is working. Moderate to hard is quite safe for a woman who is accustomed to this level of exercise." - American College of Sports Medicine

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have kind of a problem with slowing myself down in the gym :S Having said that, the body has this nifty built-in mechanism that makes you fatigue sooner during pregnancy - this mechanism is a 50% increase in blood volume output. That'll get your heart pounding faster and fatiguing sooner!

How that translated to my workouts was: I played it by ear; I lifted as much as I could when I could, took longer breaks between sets (sometimes up to 3 minutes), and went to "easier" exercises when I felt the previous one was too demanding.  
-Step-ups -> Stationary Lunge
-Pushups -> Flat bench Dumbbell Press
-Pullups -> Lat Pulldowns
-Barbell squats -> Bodyweight Squats

Sprinting was cut back quite a bit during this time, not because I was tiring sooner, but because I have a really hard time self-moderating when I'm sprinting - I go all out, or not at all. There were a couple times I would finish up a session and think "damn, I hope that wasn't too much". I decided the worry that came along with that wasn't worth it, so I limited myself to HIIT on the elliptical, stationary bike, and brisk walking on an incline.

During this time your belly is not so big that it gets in the way, or that it strains your ligaments when you exercise.  For this reason I took FULL advantage of my dimensions and did every type of crunching, lying, inverted exercise you can think of.  

-Reverse crunches
-Decline crunches
-Shoulder stands
-Handstand pushups
-Reverse hyperextensions
-Plow pose

Hopefully that gives you all some ideas for exercises and modifications during your first trimester :) Honestly, as long as you have the energy for it there's not much you can't physically do during this time, so take advantage of your range of motion while you can!

Saturday, 7 June 2014


DH and I decided around the time our son was 11 months old that we wanted to start trying for our second.  So I stopped breastfeeding and a week later got my period.  As soon as we had made the decision, I started to train HARD; I knew full well that I wouldn't be able to train at that intensity once I got pregnant, so I trained to my fullest capacity while I could.

Lifting heavy - Due partially to lowered strength, partially to a restricted range of motion, and partially to a concern for safety, it becomes more difficult for me to lift super heavy when pregnant; I took full advantage of my strength while I could.

Plyometrics - As my belly gets bigger, it becomes uncomfortable to be jumping around.  It's also a safety concern to be box jumping really high boxes (even on a good day, I tend to bail at least once :P). After I had finished a heavy lifting phase, I did a few weeks of really challenging plyometrics.

Inversions - Ok, there was really just one inversion.  I incorporated some handstand practice into my cool-down routine as I don't really like the idea of being up-side down as I become more pregnant. Here's an article I found about the safety of inversions during pregnancy:

Sprints - I'm not much of a runner, but when I do I like to SPRINT! Only thing is, that's a lot of bouncing around when you've got a big belly.  It's also very very intense.  So I did lots of post-workout sprint work on the treadmill and outside.

Stretching and Relaxing - My chiropractor had told me that my adrenal glands were way too active, and that I would have a hard time conceiving until I calmed myself down a bit. So I made an effort to get more sleep, I practiced positive thinking in stressful situations (a one-year old throwing a fit at the grocery store can be pretty dang stressful!), I took deep breaths whenever I remembered to, and I practiced a lot of Yin Yoga while we were TTC (trying to conceive). My workouts are so intense that I really do need those 90 minutes to devote to stretching and relaxing.  Yin also focusses a lot on hips: "Some experts also believe that specific poses can help promote baby-making by increasing blood flow to your pelvis, stimulating hormone-producing glands, and releasing muscle tension." - Couldn't hurt, right? I swear, it helped!  Within a week of practicing Yin I noticed a change in my cervical mucous and though we didn't conceived right away, I do think it sped along the process.

A Note About This Blog

What this blog IS
This blog is a journal of my own experience during pregnancy; more specifically, it is a chronicle of how I have adapted my exercise program to reflect my changing body.

What this blog is NOT
I am NOT a doctor, and this blog is not to be used as exercise prescription for pregnant women.  Although I am a certified Personal Trainer, I am NOT a specialist in pre/post-natal fitness.

Please speak to your doctor before starting any exercise regimen during your pregnancy.