I am thrilled to share our big news! We are expecting a baby in November! It’s our first so we are so happy and couldn’t be more excited! These first few months have been really interesting. I have learned some good life lessons that I think could be helpful to an endurance athlete, whether or not you are pregnant!
1) Really listen to your body - This is a popular mantra among athletes. When I was sponsored by Polar, our race kits had the slogan boldly written across the back. The idea is that your body knows best – it doesn’t make mistakes so listen to it and don’t second-guess. What I have learned during the first trimester is that if I listened to my body every time I had an impulse to eat something I would be in some trouble. I have studied and written about food cravings extensively but I had no idea how strong they would be in the first 12 weeks! At Week 7 I craved macaroni & cheese, meatballs, and banana bread nearly every day. I also had a day of weakness where I broke down and had Cool Ranch Doritos and a Reuben – not exactly healthy fare for the nutritionist! I think my husband thought I had lost my mind. After a week of eating way too much salt, sugar and starch I decided I needed to get things under control. I set out to make healthy versions of what I was craving. Instead of a big slice of banana bread I made ezekiel wraps with almond butter and sliced bananas. Instead of a giant bagel with lox & cream cheese I made a slice of sprouted grain toast with plain greek yogurt & wild smoked salmon. From here on out I’m going to listen to my body, but not use it as an excuse to indulge every craving.
2) Slowing down is ok! Running is my passion, it’s my first love and always will be. I love running fast and hard, pushing myself until my legs and lungs burn. What I’ve quickly realized is that this kind of running is going to have to take a backseat for the next 9 months. Instead, I’ve been flirting with some other activities and discovering the joys of hiking, yoga and “easy” jogging. I’ve found a new rhythm to my running that’s a sustainable, comfortable pace. Listening to classical music has helped make the adjustment smoother. I can run slowly and happily, not worrying about my pace but just enjoying the feeling of moving my body and breathing in the clean, mountain air.
3) Swimming is the best - I am a strong believer that swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for your body. The perfect activity for a pregnant woman, it’s also wonderful for anybody who needs a full body workout and could use a break from the pounding of running and intensity of cycling. Feeling weightless in the water and having no impact on your joints just feels amazing! That’s probably why my body always feels better after swimming than it did when I started. If you are coming back from a running injury or your body just feels stiff or tight, take the opportunity to get in the water. Your body will thank you for it.
4) Don’t skimp on sleep – This might be the most important lesson that I’ve learned thus far. I’ve been advised by many of my wise “mom” friends to rest up. This was one friend’s warning: “You will experience true exhaustion like you have never experienced while your body transitions to make more of everything including blood for the little fetus.” I trust this friend completely and so I took her words to heart. I made it a priority to get lots of sleep every night. I turned off the tv, shut down the computer and got into bed by 9pm every night. Most nights I would sleep soundly all they way to 7am. I never thought I needed 10 hours of sleep but apparently I do. You don’t have to be pregnant to need more sleep. When you are in periods of heavy training sleep is a critical part of the equation to perform at your best. While we sleep our body is healing, repairing, recovering. Never underestimate the power of sleep.
5) Heightened awareness for toxins – My sister told me that her sense of smell became much stronger during pregnancy – boy was she right! I can detect smells from far away and most of them are not pleasant: cigarette smoke, perfumes, air fresheners, scented candles to name a few. We live in an environment containing hundreds of endocrine disrupting chemicals: BPA (found in plastics, and food can liners), phtalates (plasticizers found in many cosmetics), pesticides (from non-organic produce). Exposure to these toxins have been linked to an increased risk in infertility, diabetes, ADHD, autism, cancer, thyroid disfunction, PCOS, allergies/asthma and obesity. Being pregnant has certainly made me much more aware of environmental toxins and avoiding them. I urge all of us to increase our awareness and take steps to prevent your exposure.
Here are 5 Tips for Prevention:
– Limit exposure to plastic (plastic toys, bottles)
– Throw out plastic food containers, especially if they are scratched. Use glass for storage
– Don’t drink out of plastic water bottles that are marked #7 or #3 on the bottom
– Get rid of cosmetics containing “Fragrance” – can contain 100s of chemicals and trigger allergies
– Buy organic produce to avoid pesticides
I would love to hear from any active moms out there if you would like to share. How did you stay fit and active throughout your pregnancy? Any bizarre food cravings? Any tips for the newbie?
Eat Well, Train Well,