Dear Fitness Expert,
I am 26 years old and 36 weeks pregnant with my first. I was about 25 pounds overweight prior to the pregnancy, and while I realize that I'll be losing quite a bit through delivery and the subsequent few weeks just due to natural processes, I feel absolutely enormous now!
I would really like to start a great fitness routine with the baby once I'm feeling recovered from the delivery, but I can't afford to join a gym. I'm already doing fairly well with my eating habits (I don't want to call it a diet, since I don't want it to be a temporary thing). I feel confident that by sticking to the new eating routine after delivery, I'll be on the right track -- but weight loss isn't my only goal.
I come from a family where eating disorders abound, and the women in my family are excessively focused on the number on the scale rather than how they feel. I won't go into that in detail, but please understand that to me, getting in shape is more important that being a size 4. I don't want my baby to grow up in an environment that carries such negative attitudes about food and body image.
What I'd really like to know is: How can I get from being a person who walks 30-45 minutes 3-4 times a week as her only form of exercise to someone with the energy and stamina to keep up with my child at the hockey rink, soccer field or park?
You are well on your way right now! You have a great attitude and an even better perspective. I hope you mean what you say when you recognized that the numbers on the scale do not equal overall health. I cannot tell you how many times I have a very lean/trim woman come into one of my kickbox classes and she cannot last half the time of some of my women who are 20+ pounds overweight. Focus on good nutrition and try to stay active throughout your pregnancy.
You mentioned that you can not afford a gym. That is fine. We have many exercises on the pregnancy.org site that will keep your muscles strong for both labor and delivery and also the recovery period. But in terms of endurance and "keeping up with" your child at the hockey rink ... build on what you are doing right now. If you are walking up to 45 minutes 3/4 times a week, this is a great, great start. Now, when you return home from those walks, add in arms and leg exercises that we have on the site. Adding a 20 minute muscle workout will really build strength.
The benefits of this will truly sneak up on you (in a good way!). You are acclimated to walking but as you begin to build greater strength in your legs and arms, you will become more toned and your metabolism will increase. All of this ensures a fast recovery after the baby is born.
But aware that the summer is upon us. While I do not know where you live, there is a good chance that you will get overheated and/or dehydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water and also check out our information about inner core temperatures (and the taking of) after walking.
When you do have the baby and are ready (with doctor's permission) to drop baby weight and really get toned, we can talk more about a more rigid cardio workout. Meantime, keep doing what you're doing. You have a winning attitude to be a positive role model for your baby.
Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.
Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!