Now that I am 22 weeks along in my first pregnancy, I feel safe to announce it to the world – we’re expecting! As someone who helps bodies of all shapes, sizes, and abilities find exercises that work for them, I’m still finding it remarkable how the changes that come with pregnancy have affected my bones, joints, and even my brain.
I’ve been a runner and recreational athlete since my early teens. As many of my clients who have been in car accidents, needed surgery, or otherwise injured their bodies, I too have had to change my expectations of what I can and cannot do comfortably while pregnant. Running has been a total no-go for my increasingly flexible pelvis, which feels extremely disappointing as it has been my go-to mental health break for over a decade. When your abilities change, be it suddenly (like an accident) or gradually (like a growing baby), it can be difficult to renegotiate your physical boundaries. The following are some ways that have helped me manage and feel more comfortable in my changing body:
Growing a human from scratch is hard work, and I’ve found breaking my ordinary exercise routine into smaller chunks has been a better way to go now that I’m pregnant than attempting my usual routine all at once. Studies show something as quick and manageable as taking a 10 minute walk at lunch cuts your risk of premature death in half, so if 10 minutes at a time is all I can manage before I need a rest, I know that my body and my baby are still benefiting. I can stop and smell the roses!
Many people believe that if you’re not sweating heavily at the gym for an hour at a time, physical activity isn’t worth doing. This can seem like an absolutely unrealistic expectation when we’re also supposed to sleep eight hours a night, meditate 30 minutes a day, work 40 hours a week, and have a social life sometimes! Turns out, smaller doses still have benefits, particularly if you’re new to fitness or managing changes like pregnancy in your body. I find doing body weight squats while I wait for the tea kettle to boil is a great way to get a bit of leg strengthening exercise into my day.
Sometimes moving from the bed to the couch can seem like enough work for one day, and that’s okay. If I’m not up for a run around the seawall or a 30 minute HIT class, I find something as simple as air boxing can be a way for me to move a little bit without having to get up from my seat. I work from my home, car, or gym; this makes it easier to manage air punches without weird looks. If you feel a little silly doing this at the office, you can try something that attracts a bit less attention, like these (exercises you can do on a plane.
These tips have helped me feel better about my changing body alongside my fitness journey, especially working in the healthcare field. I hope they can help you too!