Thursday, March 31, 2011

Staying Fit During Pregnancy

     I've been trying to do a lot of research on staying fit while pregnant (for obvious reasons) and so I decided I'd do some posts on just that, staying fit while pregnant. Before I jump right in I'd like to make note that you need to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program because every woman's situation is different and there may be some things that are safe for some and not for others. I would also like to point out that because your body changes so much during pregnancy it is important to keep in mind that because of certain hormones present in high levels in your body, ligaments become much more relaxed and are subject to injury much easier than they were before, and your balance is compromised, especially later on during your pregnancy. Also, pregnant women should not lay flat on their backs past 20 weeks and should never assume and inverted position during exercise (where your head is below your heart) so you may have to modify some exercises that you normally have done in the past. Please listen to your body, check with your doctor, and stop exercising right away if you experience abnormal pregnancy symptoms.

     For a very long time it was thought that pregnant women should not be active at all or they were putting themselves and their babies at risk. Fortunately it was discovered that this was not true at all and was in fact, the opposite. Women are now being encouraged more and more to be active during pregnancy. This answers the question then, is exercise safe during pregnancy? And the answer is a loud and clear, YES!

     The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (hereafter known as ACOG) has stated that if you were active before there are few modifications you need to make during your exercise now. They've also come out with a statement saying that if you were not active before becoming pregnant, now is a great time to start. This is wonderful news because it means that if you're not active now, or not as active as you'd like to be, pregnancy in no way means you're doomed to nine months of further inactivity and health issues associated with inactivity. Now is a perfect time to make the lifestyle change and live a healthier, and more active lifestyle for you and your baby. For ACOG's educational pamphlet on exercise during pregnancy, click here.

     Along with staying strong and healthy during pregnancy, keeping fit can help ease the pains of labor and delivery. Don't get me wrong, it's still going to hurt, but your body will be more prepared to take on this natural challenge that our bodies were made to take on and your recovery will be so much easier. I'm a huge fan of natural childbirth and was able to birth my first child naturally (I'm aiming for that again this time) and I give all the credit to exercise. Through exercise I was able to prepare my body for what it was made to do. If natural childbirth is not your cup of tea, exercise will still help you to have a shorter labor, an easier delivery, and a smoother recovery (and there is no epidural for recovery so you're on your own on that one, better to be prepared with a fit body that is ready to handle it).

     I'm really excited to share my experiences with you on staying fit during pregnancy (and I'm working on guest posters to add their experiences to mine as well) and please stay tuned for some great workouts that are safe for pregnancy and will help you to prepare your body for the day when you're little cutie pie makes it's grand entrance into the world!

More Motivational Tips

     I decided that even though this is the last day of March I'll probably end up carrying on with this motivation topic for a little bit (partly because I didn't start it until the middle of the month and partly because I seriously need this too!). Besides my last long post on motivation, feedback, and all that good stuff, there are some silly little things that I do that help to keep me motivated and I wanted to share those things with you in hopes that some of them might spark a motivational flame for you as well!

     This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I love to read success stories! I love to read stories where the writer's situation is very similar to mine so that their success seems real and do-able for me too. Whenever I get into an exercise slump I look up fitness success stories and I read away. And I don't just read one or two. I read pages and pages of success stories and before long, I'm itching to get up and start working out. No joke, this works wonders for me! All that being said, if you have a success story of your own that you would like to share, please email me at and I'll post your story here on Turbo Fit to help motivate and inspire other readers.

     Another motivational tool I use is to first think of why I'm working out. As I've mentioned in previous posts I wanted to lose weight in preparation for trying to get pregnant with my second child (check and check!). Reminding myself that the reason I wanted to achieve my weight loss goal was for something as important as wanting to expand my family helped me to push through those tough times when it seems like you've asked too much of yourself. If your reasons for weight loss or toning are important to you and you keep those reasons in mind, you're much more likely to carry though. Now my reason for staying in great shape is that I'll be pregnant through swimsuit season and if I can't have my tight, flat abs back, at least I can have the rest of my body look amazing and not flabby. (I know, not as awe inspiring as my first reason of having another baby, right?) Not being a flabby pregnant lady is very important to me (as is the ability to have an easier labor and delivery because I stayed in shape) and so it's something that helps me keep moving when I'm too sick or too tired.

     Social peer pressure is another motivator for me. About a year and a half ago one of my best friends told me she was going to run a half marathon and asked me to run it with her. I hate running. Oh how I hate running! But the silly thing about running is that I feel so good after and I'm a prideful person so I though it would be cool to be able to say "Why yes, I did run a half marathon." So I agreed to train with her. It was slow going, we had some injuries at first that we had to work through so that we could actually start serious training but we ran faithfully together three times per week, both pushing strollers, from about January until May 1st, race day. I can tell you right now that there is NO way I could have done that on my own. I would have made it through that first week and then given up. I can't speak for my friend because she's totally amazing and probably could have done it without me, but I know I couldn't have done it without her motivating me every step of the way (literally). Sometimes it takes friends to keep us going and so I would suggest working out with a partner. Even if you only go on morning walks with your partner, having someone depend on you while you're depending on them keeps you from quitting. This very much follows what I talked about last time about being accountable to someone.

     Please write in with your success stories you want to share and please leave comments on things that help you stay motivated! (Remember, feedback is an important motivating factor so please leave feedback for me! I like to know how I'm doing!)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Motivational March!

          Okay, I know that was a cheesy title for this post. :) It's very ironic that the vote was cast and motivation won. I'm having an extremely hard time staying motivated to update this blog frequently which has forced me to think about motivational techniques that can be applied to our every day lives and not just to fitness (though I promise these tips work super well in the fitness area as well). 

          There are basic things we need when starting out with something new (fitness routines, blog updates, home projects, and so on) to keep us going and I've found that these things are vital to success. Sure there may be some of you out there who are super good at keeping yourself motivated and can plow through whatever it is you're trying to achieve. Most of us are not so lucky and we need help! I've got a list of things we need to help us and bear in mind that these are in no particular order. I couldn't come up with a good order to do these in since it really depends on you, but here are some things that can help you stay motivated:

1. Be accountable to someone! Every day I have a list of things I want to do (yes, exercise is on there) but no one is checking up on that list to see what I've done everyday but me and it's really easy to come up with excuses about why I didn't do things. I can't always make myself do things but I can let other people know what those tasks are and have them ask me how I'm doing on my list. My husband frequently asks how the list went and I always want to report something good (so he knows I don't sit home all day and do nothing) so I'm extra motivated to get things done. When I joined Weight Watchers for four months last fall I joined with my sister-in-law, We both chose the online program and we chose the same weigh-in day. Every Friday we would sent a text to report how much we had lost that week (or gained,  heaven forbid). I never wanted to report weight gain so I made sure I stuck extra close to my routine in order to always report a weight loss. (And I'm super competitive and I didn't want her to lose while I gained haha.) My husband recently wrote out some fitness goals of his and was having a very hard time keeping to them. He asked me to remind him every day that he had some exercising to do and he was able to stay more on track with his goals.
Having someone there to remind you (even if they live far away, they can still call you) that you have some work to do, or to ask you how well you've done this week helps you to keep pushing through those tough days because none of us want to report anything bad!

2. Get feedback! This one goes a little bit with number 1 simply because a great way to have feedback is through the people you have made yourself accountable to. If you had a bad week, tell them why you think that is and don't be afraid to ask them for help to avoid those problems you had. You can also get feedback from yourself. Sit down at the end of each week and write down how you felt throughout the week. Did you have more energy this week after exercising more? Did you slip up some days? Were there things that kept you from doing your workout? What were they? Write down everything you felt about your goals and then divide that into things that went well and things that didn't. Take some time to find ways to make those things that went well a habit, and find out how to make things that didn't go well disappear.

3. Take measurements! Whether you want to lose weight or tone up, taking measurements is a great way to see if you've stayed on track. It's also a great motivator. When your measurements improve, you get positive feedback and it makes you want to keep doing well. When we slip up and our measurements plateau or regress, it gives us negative feedback which causes us to have a deeper resolve to do better next week. Keep in mind that taking measurements every day is not a good idea. These things take time so only measure every week or even every 2 weeks. Some ideas of things you want to measure are: chest, waist, hips, thighs, biceps, calves, neck, shoulders, and of course, the weigh-in. You don't have to take measurements for all of those things. You can pick and chose which parts you want to measure but be sure to be consistent. Always measure the same things at the same time of day (I like to do my weigh-in and measurements in the morning before breakfast), and the same amount of time apart (I weight every week and measure every 2 weeks).

4. Give yourself a pat on the back. If you're constantly too hard on yourself you're going to give up. Recognize that no one is perfect. The only reason our favorite celebrities look the way they do is because they have constant access to personal trainers, nutritionists, planners, and massage therapists. If we could afford what they do and if our careers depended on having a perfect body, we could do that too. Any success needs to be rewarded (though preferable not with pigging out all weekend because you did such a good job out your workout this week, that's a little counterproductive haha) and realize that even small successes should be rewarded. Back before I lived off student loans I would reward a certain amount of weight loss with a shopping trip, or new fitness equipment (or yes, sometimes eating out, but only one meal!). Let yourself feel good with what you've accomplished even if you haven't reached your long-term goal just yet. And enjoy the journey! We learn a lot about ourselves through our successes and our failures. Give yourself a pat on the back and if things don't go your way, try, try again!