Read fit mom, Jess Perry’s, top 5 tips to maintaining an active pregnancy.
I am Married and have 3 little ones, Brynlee (7), TJ (6) and Mackay (6 months). I love to do anything and everything and will always try something once. I spend my summers playing with kids, running and training for some marathon or Ironman, and water skiing and wake boarding in beautiful Lake Powell. I love to ski…water and snow. I love the early mornings which is when I get most of my training in because my #1 priority is being a wife and mom! Plus, I really love a good sunrise with the beautiful mountains of Utah!
I studied Business & Marketing at Utah Valley University and in the past several years I have expanded my education in Health and Nutrition. I also have received my Personal Training Certification & Run Coaching Certification. I was involved with Rocky Mountain Running & Triathlon Magazine for almost 3 years writing product reviews, articles and helping out with their marketing. I am also one of the founders of The Pink Series, an all women running series in Utah. One of the biggest accomplishments to date is completing the 2014 Coeur d’ Alene Ironman when my baby was 5 months old.I have completed 4 Full Ironmans, 10 Marathons (2 being Boston) and many half ironmans, half marathons, etc. I currently spread my love for health, nutrition and running at www.discoveryourhappy.com (soon to be www.4CoreFit.com) where we train, teach and help others accomplish their goals too!!!
Running and working out in general has to be one of the most controversial subjects to talk about. Everyone has an opinion on what works, what doesn’t, what you should or shouldn’t be doing, etc. Those of us who are big into fitness take a lot of flack from outsiders. We hear comments like, “How do you do that with being a mom?” or “Don’t you think it is a little much?” Sometimes you can just sense the disapproval in someone’s voice. Well take those comments and combine it with being pregnant…you can only imagine the things people would say. For the most part I believe it was coming from a place of concern but there were some along my path that I completely wrote off and paid zero attention to because their intention was to hurt and hinder any form of healthy thing I wanted to attempt during my pregnancy. At one point I even had someone send me an article about miscarriage and running. WTH!?!
I am here to tell you that you don’t need to run a marathon or do an ironman like I did while you were pregnant but there is something to be said about staying active. So many women these days use pregnancy as an excuse to eat more food, sleep more and move less. It seems contradicting to me. What a great time it is to celebrate health. Our bodies are capable of creating another human…we create life so love and take care of the amazing tool that you have been given to do this…your body. Part of loving your body is being active.
I wanted to share with you some things or tips that I think helped me to stay motivated and fit during my pregnancy. To be honest, it wasn’t easy on a lot of days, especially in the early stages of pregnancy. I was more tired, I felt nauseous or I wanted to puke mid run. Sometimes I wanted to cry but I was so grumpy that I felt all confused and perplexed. But as crazy as it sounds I knew all these things were normal! Staying active actually helped me conquer most of these things and stay happy and positive…until the last few weeks and nothing helps then! ☺
Tip #1: Exercise in general is safe and healthy for most women during Pregnancy. It is important to know this! You don’t need to be afraid of hurting your baby if you exercise, unless otherwise told from a doctor! The American College of OBGYN stated several benefits of prenatal exercise which include reduction of backaches, constipation and swelling. Sign me up for that!! I am a runner so I already knew about the mood-enhancing benefits – those endorphins did wonders! Running also provides benefits in endurance and strength which you will draw on during labor…I know I did!!
Tip #2 : Light at the end of the Tunnel. The first trimester is tough with exhaustion and nausea but generally those symptoms will go away. It does get better!! And for most runs in the first trimester I felt sick and puky during the first few miles but it went away. As the day went on I had more energy and actually felt better. I also had the mindset that I would have felt the same way laying in bed, wishing I was running. Actually on the days I chose to do just that I actually felt more sick and had less energy. Go figure! Don’t let a bad day or morning get you down!
Tip #3: Go for Duration and not Mileage. I honestly didn’t start doing this until the end of my pregnancy. I went into my pregnancy almost fully trained for the Full Ironman Distance which is Swimming 2.4 miles, Biking 112 miles and then Running 26.2 miles. During my pregnancy I successfully completed one full Ironman, one half Ironman, two marathons (including the NY marathon at 7 months pregnant) and a handful of half marathons. But even with how much I did, I did get slower throughout my pregnancy. My body changed and things shifted and so did my focus. Remember it is about you & your babies health and not winning a race. Racing for me changed during this time and not one of those races was a Personal Best. I was out there for the pure enjoyment of celebrating my health and that I was able to do this with my sweet baby boy right inside my belly.
Tip #4: Stick with what your body is used to. I am a runner and triathlete…that is what I do. I do lift weights twice a week but that is it. A friend was having a birthday celebration and we were all going to go to a kick boxing class…I was about 30 weeks pregnant at the time and let me tell you…no Bueno. It hurt so bad to do those kicks and jump and everything. My body was not used to that form of exercise and I paid for it. Pregnancy is not a time to begin a training program. You will be find throughout your pregnancy if you just continue to do what you are already doing you will be fine! And a good rule of thumb here is not to exceed your pre-pregnancy intensity and always check in with your doctor regarding your workout habits.
Tip #5: Listen to your body. Fitness includes both your physical ability and mental strength. Endurance racing is easily 50% mental. Pregnancy is a great time to refine your mind-body connection and really learn to listen to your body – knowing how hard you can push and when you need to stop. I ran a strong marathon at St. George when I was 6 months pregnant. I finished with a time of 3:17. I kept my heart rate in check and felt great the whole time. During the race and the training up to it, I noticed that whenever I started pushing 6 min/mi paces that I would start getting Braxton Hicks. So that was my bodies way of telling me to back off. So pay attention to those signs! For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed doing tempo & long runs during my pregnancy. I got really good at picking the right pace for me and I could feel when I needed to back off. Your body will have signs and will show them to you! It got slower and slower throughout the 9 months but I kept moving!!! It is also so important to recognize when you need a rest day, pregnant or not!
All in all, pregnancy is a time of celebration! Continue to set goals, continue to love your body, stay off the scale and learn to feel great with the changes that are happening. Learn to adjust to what your body is telling you and enjoy the miles you can put in with you and your baby. Don’t try to break any records and definitely do not give in to the negativity that will surround you as you try to continue your health and workout routine while pregnant.
And just to note, my third pregnancy, which was my most recent, I was the most active. I had the healthiest of any of my pregnancies, I carried my baby the longest, had no bed rest (as I had in my first 2 pregnancies), had my biggest and healthiest baby (by 1 ½ pounds), it was my best labor (no stiches required at all!!) and my easiest recovery by far (I started running 2 weeks after my baby. I started REALLY slow and it was 2 miles). I am still about 5 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant but I believe as you continue to stay active during your pregnancy your body will change. You build muscles different and for me it is a good change and I am embracing it. I love motherhood. I love running. I love that I was able to combine the two of them during my pregnancy and celebrate life!!
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