After my husband and I got married, we knew we wanted to start a family relatively quickly. Some may say that my age was a factor in our decision (I was 33 when we married), but more than that, we were just ready. Many people told us that it can take at least a year to get pregnant once you start trying, but exactly six weeks after my walk down the aisle, I missed my period, took a test, and it came up positive. We were surprised, excited, scared, and happy all rolled into one. Most of all, we just felt lucky and grateful for this blessing.
The only thing that helped quell my nausea was eating, so I literally ate all day. I gained 12 pounds in the first 12 weeks.
As a personal trainer, I had trained countless pregnant women through their pregnancies and even helped women get back into shape postpartum. I knew all the dos and don'ts and fully intended on following my own advice. I had it all planned out, and I was going to be great at being pregnant. But the problem was, pregnancy was nothing like I expected. The first 12 weeks were miserable. I was sick every day, all day. The only thing that helped quell my nausea was eating, so I literally ate all day. My once strict vegan diet was now a mess of whatever I was craving. I gained 12 pounds in the first 12 weeks. While my doctor was supportive, she expressed concerns about my health and weight if I kept up this pace.
As a personal trainer by profession, not being in control of my body was the hardest pill to swallow. When I got home from work, the last thing on my mind was my own fitness. In fact, most days when I got through my front door, I headed straight for the couch. Exercise was not on my radar as I was just trying to make it through the day. After 13 weeks, my morning sickness subsided, and I knew something had to change. I could either keep eating the high fat, high carbohydrate comfort food that had helped me through my first trimester, or actually start feeding my unborn baby the nutrients he was needing. It was a tough transition, but thanks to a newfound bit of energy and some really great support, I was able to turn it around.
I'm now 26 weeks along and feeling great. The key? For the last few months, I've been working out five times a week and packing preplanned meals to take to work every day. I start off each morning with a fruit smoothie of frozen mixed berries, spinach, half a banana, and soy milk. For my morning snack, I eat a granola bowl with fruit and peanut butter. Lunch is a combination of veggies, beans, or brown rice, and sometimes a salad. I eat about six times a day whenever I feel hungry and truly listen to my body. And yes, I absolutely still give into my cravings with no guilt, because I know I've already eaten the vitamins and minerals I need each day.
Since I'm working out five times a week (and do something physical almost every day), I do a combination of cardio and weight lifting, usually on alternating days. I watch my heart rate and follow all the cues my body is giving me. I realize that this isn't practical or even possible for every women, but there are so many ways to make it work for you. On some days when I've had either a full day of work or I'm just too tired, I simply go for a walk around the block. My pace is slow, and I don't even break a sweat, but I'm still moving. Just doing a 20-minute walk is a great step.
These two things — preplanning my meals and exercising — have changed my pregnancy experience 180 degrees. My blood pressure is normal, the swelling has gone down in my legs and feet, and I no longer crave mass amounts of simple carbohydrates. I've now gained a total of 18 pounds, which is healthy and normal. But most important, I feel great. Even though this pregnancy had a surprising and very uncomfortable beginning, I've finally figured out how to be happy and comfortable.