After reading Megan Pepitone’s last few blog posts, and how frustrated she is waiting for her body to recover from her injury, it reminded me that I wanted to post an entry about expectations. Don’t get me wrong, my nickname is not “MVP” for my initials or my athletic performance. I didn’t really participate in athletics in high school, unless you count running (slowly) cross country or sitting on the bench in JV basketball. In fact, other than running a ton of long distance runs post college including 5 marathons and 10 or more half marathons, I don’t have a big background in anything athletic.
So what are my expectations from CrossFit? When I first started, I had a ton of goals: lose the lingering weight from my second pregnancy, be able to do a pull up unassisted, complete a WOD without passing out. Even after I became a coach, I expected to get better: hit more PRs in lifts, string together more pull ups or toes to bars, run the mile in under 7 minutes.
But what about now? After having a baby less than six months ago, realizing that I am quickly approach my late-thirties (yikes!), and having a full time job raising a six year old, a four year old and a baby, what should my expectations be? With the first of the new year, I saw a ton of New Year’s resolutions related to Crossfit for 2014 on blogs and Facebook. These included things like complete a muscle up, hit a # on clean and jerk/snatch/deadlift, string a # of butterfly pull ups together, etc. But let’s be honest, I am not 26 and did not go to the regionals in the CrossFit games last year.
Should I even set lofty goals for myself? For a few weeks last month, my answer was no. I was getting down on myself. The last five to seven pounds were not coming off, my lifts were not improving, even my runs and gymnastics were not coming back like I thought they should be. But then I looked back at my training log that I have kept since my baby girl was born. The first couple of entries weren’t even workouts, just a list of things I could physically do without cringing. The first entries (2-3 weeks after I had her) looked something like this: did air squats, completed 3 unbroken push ups, did 5 double unders in a row, etc. And I thought to myself, maybe it’s too early to give up on setting goals for myself and pushing myself to hit them.
Or maybe I should refocus my efforts and think about why I do CrossFit. I love how it makes me feel – more energetic, stronger, more confident. I love that I get to be a coach and help people reach their goals, whether it’s the 20-something year old that wants to do a muscle up or the stay-at-home mom that wants to start lifting weights. I love building friendships at the gym and getting to hang out and socialize while I work out (much to Christian’s chagrin). I love that my little girls look up to me for exercising, and I think they can already see the importance in keeping active and fit. All those things (and more!) keeping me coming back day after day to this gym. And then this morning, I ran a 7:15 minute mile during the MetCon…. Maybe I’ll go for that lofty goal of a completing a muscle up in 2014 after all. 🙂
Hey Everyone! I am still alive, just busy! Turns out having three little ones is a lot of work. J But I am still here, still coaching, still trying to get back in shape and loose those last few pregnancy pounds.
For this post, I wanted to cheat and repost an article that was sent to me and that I have seen on Facebook (seems to be my main source of news lately, sad to say). This article recaps a study done that shows that staying active during pregnancy helps boost the baby’s brain development while in utero.
But before I repost the article, I wanted to show you that my three month old hates burpees (aka “tummy time”) just as much as you do, although she is doing much better lately!
At six weeks old
At three and a half months old
Mother’s Exercise May Boost Baby’s Brain
If a woman is physically active during pregnancy, she may boost the development of her unborn child’s brain, according to a heart-tugging new study of expectant mothers and their newborns. The findings bolster a growing scientific consensus that the benefits of exercise can begin to accumulate even before someone is born.
It has long been suspected that a mother-to-be’s activity — or lack of it — affects her unborn offspring, which is not surprising, given how their physiologies intertwine. Past studies have shown, for example, that a baby’s heart rate typically rises in unison with his or her exercising mother’s, as if the child were also working out. As a result, scientists believe, babies born to active mothers tend to have more robust cardiovascular systems from an early age than babies born to mothers who are more sedentary.
Whether gestational exercise similarly shapes an unborn child’s developing brain has been harder to quantify, although recent studies have been suggestive. An experiment presented this month at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting in San Diego, for instance, reported that pregnant rats allowed to run on wheels throughout their pregnancies birthed pups that performed more dexterously in early childhood on a tricky memory test — having to identify unfamiliar objects in a familiar environment — than pups born to sedentary moms. These clever rats retained their cognitive advantage into adulthood (meaning, for rats, weeks later).
But this and similar experiments have involved animals, rather than people. Many of these studies also began comparing the creatures’ cognitive abilities when they were old enough to move about and respond to their world, by which time they potentially might have been shaped as much by their environment as by their time in the womb.
So to minimize these concerns, researchers at the University of Montreal in Canada recently recruited a group of local women who were in their first trimester of pregnancy. At that point, the women were almost identical in terms of lifestyle. All were healthy, young adults. None were athletes. Few had exercised regularly in the past, and none had exercised more than a day or two per week in the past year.
Then the women were randomized either to begin an exercise program, commencing in their second trimester, or to remain sedentary. The women in the exercise group were asked to work out for at least 20 minutes, three times a week, at a moderate intensity, equivalent to about a six or so on a scale of exertion from one to 10. Most of the women walked or jogged.
Every month, for the remainder of each woman’s pregnancy, she would visit the university’s exercise lab, so researchers could monitor her fitness. All of the volunteers, including those in the nonexercise group, also maintained daily activity logs.
After about six months and following the dictates of nature, the women gave birth. All, thankfully, had healthy boys or girls — which the scientists gently requested that the mothers almost immediately bring in for testing.
Within 12 days of birth, in fact, each of the newborns accompanied his or her mother to the lab. There, each baby was fitted with an adorable little cap containing electrodes that monitor electrical activity in the brain, settled in his or her mother’s lap, and soothed to sleep. Researchers then started a sound loop featuring a variety of low, soft sounds that recurred frequently, interspersed occasionally with more jarring, unfamiliar noises, while the baby’s brain activity was recorded.
“We know that baby’s brains respond to these kinds of sounds with a spike” in certain types of brain activity, said Elise Labonte-LeMoyne, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Montreal, who led the study and also presented her findings at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. This spike is most pronounced in immature brains, she continued, and diminishes as a newborn’s brain develops and begins processing information more efficiently. “It usually disappears altogether by the time a baby is 4 months old,” she said,
In this case, the relevant brainwave activity soared in response to the novel sounds among the children born to mothers who had remained sedentary during pregnancy. But it was noticeably blunted in the babies whose mothers had exercised. In essence, “their brains were more mature,” Ms. Labonte-LeMoyne said.
How gestational exercise can remodel an unborn child’s brain is not clear, Ms. Labonte-LeMoyne admits, since, unlike circulatory systems, a mother’s brain is not hardwired directly to that of her child. “But we suspect that when mom exercises, she generates a variety of chemicals,” including many related to brain health, which can move into her bloodstream and eventually mingle with the blood of her baby.
But that possibility is only theoretical for now. It is also unclear whether the precocious brain development seen in newborns with active mothers will linger into their later lives. Ms. Labonte-LeMoyne and her colleagues plan to retest the children on various cognitive tests once they are a year old.
But for now, the lesson is clear. “If a woman can be physically active during her pregnancy, she may give her unborn child an advantage, in terms of brain development,” Ms. Labonte-LeMoyne said. And the commitment required can be slight. “We were surprised,” she said, “by how much of an effect we saw” from barely an hour of exercise per week.
Recent CNN Articles:
While pursing Facebook in my countless hours of breastfeeding my sweet little one (yes, hours per day), I came across a post from CrossFit mainsite. The first one was a CNN article posted about an 8 1/2 month pregnant woman that was promoting doing CrossFit while pregnant. The article presented both sides of the argument for doing CF and not doing CF while pregnant, but overall the tone was that this lady was semi-crazy and putting her baby in danger. The second article from CNN (posted on the same day) was about a 2 year-old little boy, who weighs 79 pounds and whose parents allowed doctors to perform weight loss surgery on him. I am not trying to start a fire storm of controversy here (I think everyone knows my opinion, since I am doing this blog!), but I thought it was interesting point and one that was worth mentioning here…
How much is too much exercise when you’re pregnant?
By Jacque Wilson, CNN
updated 2:55 AM EDT, Sat September 21, 2013
(CNN) — The caption on Lea-Ann Ellison’s photo says it all: “8 months pregnant with baby number 3.”
“I have been CrossFitting for 2½ years,” Ellison posted on CrossFit’s Facebook page, “and … strongly believe that pregnancy is not an illness, but a time to relish in your body’s capabilities to kick ass.”
The photo of the 35-year-old former bodybuilder from California prompted a slew of comments — both positive and negative.
“This is shocking and not in a good way. Lifting heavy things during pregnancy is dangerous to you and your baby,” Natalie Rose wrote.
“Why would you risk hurting your baby just to stay in shape?” Stephanie Herrera asked. “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Others jumped in to defend the fit mom.
“I’m 6 months pregnant with triplets and am still Crossfitting as much as I can!” Carol Bolliger shared.
“Doctors say it is perfectly fine to stick to your exercise route while pregnant, in fact it is encouraged,” Kristen Funk wrote.
Exercise is encouraged during pregnancy, says Dr. Siobhan Dolan, an ob-gyn and medical adviser for March of Dimes. Ellison’s routine is an extreme example, but most moms can benefit from aerobic activity and strength training before and after childbirth, she says.
“A woman’s overall health, including obstetric and medical risks, should be evaluated before prescribing an exercise program,” the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ guidelinessay. “Generally, participation in a wide range of recreational activities appears to be safe during pregnancy; however, each sport should be reviewed individually for its potential risk.”
In general doctors recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week, Dolan says. What “moderate” means varies from person to person, and depends on how active someone was before becoming pregnant. Competitive athletes, the gynecologists’ organization notes, may be able to perform at higher rates during pregnancy and return to vigorous activity sooner after giving birth.
It would be great if everyone got in shape and started exercising before becoming pregnant, Dolan says. “But in the real world, I get it, you’re working, you’re busy.
“Pregnancy is a great motivator,” she says, but women who have never exercised before should be careful about starting a strenuous program right off the bat. Walking is a good way to start; you can begin slowly and then build up.
There are certain things pregnant women should avoid while exercising. Activities with a high risk of falling or abdominal injury, such as horseback riding or downhill skiing should be avoided, as should scuba diving.
Lying flat on your back or on your stomach can slow blood flow back to the heart, Dolan says, so pregnant women should also modify these exercise positions.
Modification can help you keep up with your normal workout routine. For instance, sit-ups can be done on the side instead of on the back. There’s even a website dedicated to WODs — or workouts of the day — created specifically for CrossFit moms.
“CrossFit is a strength and intensity-based fitness program,” a warning on the site says. “However, during pregnancy you want to concentrate on strength and keeping your body healthy, rather than the intensity.”
Intensity is the bigger concern about what Ellison is doing, says Dr. Raul Artal, chairman of St. Louis University School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health as well as the lead author of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ guidelines for exercise and pregnancy. Lifting big weights — in excess of 15 pounds — could put both mom and baby at risk, he says.
When lifting weights, Artal explains, you divert blood flow from internal organs, including the uterus, to your muscles. That can prevent oxygen from getting to the baby. He compares it to stepping on the umbilical cord for 20 or 30 seconds, or however long you are exerting yourself.
Weightlifting can also put the mom at risk for premature labor, Artal says. Bearing down could potentially lead to uterine activity — i.e. start contractions — or rupture membranes in the gestational sac, which surrounds the embryo in early pregnancy.
“What’s important to point out is that individuals may get away with this activity and nothing will happen,” he says. “What’s difficult for doctors to predict is which mother will have a problem.”
While Artal says he would advise women not to engage in this type of activity any time during the pregnancy, “this is a very personal decision. A woman would have to decide if she’s willing to take the risk.”
Ellison has obviously made her choice. “Haters will hate and it’s ok. My life is not their life thank goodness,” she posted on Facebook.
2-year-old gets weight-loss surgery: How young is too young?
By Kelly Wallace, CNN
September 21, 2013 — Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
CNN) — When you hear the story of a 2-year-old boy believed to be the youngest person in the world ever to have bariatric surgery, it’s very easy to “point a judgmental finger,” as one mom said to me.
“Wasn’t there anything else the parents could do besides such a serious surgery at such a young age?” parents will ask.
But then you hear the story of now 18-year-old Maria Caprigno, who weighed 443 pounds when she was just 14.
“I was gaining 40 pounds a year,” said Caprigno, in between classes at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. “They told me unless something drastic happened, I would not see my 18th birthday.”
Listening to Caprigno, it becomes clear that the decision by the boy’s parents — and what they did or did not do before the surgery — is not so black and white. And as parents grapple with the option of early surgical intervention for childhood obesity, they also must examine whether it’s only their child’s health on the line or if appearance and social standards are influencing these decisions too.
The boy, from Saudi Arabia, weighed 79 pounds by the age of 2, and suffered from severe sleep apnea which caused him to stop breathing while asleep.
After two different attempts to control the boy’s weight through dieting reportedly failed, doctors decided to perform what’s called a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, which involves permanently removing 60 to 85% of the stomach and restricting food intake.
Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician in Atlanta, said such a procedure should be a last resort, and only after close monitoring and dieting have been attempted and proven to be unsuccessful.
Without knowing the details of this particular case, she said that if doctors had not performed the surgery, the boy could have faced physical problems such as pain, injuries and bowed legs, heart disease and diabetes down the road and even death, from the lack of oxygen caused by the sleep apnea.
“I think what (the doctors) are trying to say is this kid may not live without the surgery or without reversing that weight gain,” said Shu, CNNHealth’s Living Well expert doctor who is also a mother of two.
Shu says the current recommendation is to wait until the child is done growing or close to it, which is around 13 for girls and 15 for boys before considering bariatric surgery.
Caprigno had such surgery three years ago, when she was just 14. To her knowledge, at the time, she was one of the youngest people ever to have it.
It was an immensely difficult decision for her parents, who were both “morbidly obese,” she said. Her dad, who also had bariatric surgery, still weighs over 400 pounds.
“My mom always said she was so nervous about putting me under this knife,” said Caprigno, who said her mom had the lap-band procedure, which involves placing a device around the top of the stomach to control food intake, before she had hers.
“She told me she wasn’t putting me under a knife that she hadn’t been under herself,” she said. “And I can’t even imagine how difficult that decision was for her to allow me to do this and it must be so much harder for the parents of a 2-year-old to do that.”
In my conversations with women across the country, a universal feeling about this case was sorrow for this little boy.
“I’m very saddened to learn of the extreme measures that were taken for the health of this toddler,” said Lori Garcia, a mom of two boys, ages 5 and 10, and host of the blog, Mommyfriend. “Were there no other or better alternatives than two failed attempts at dieting?
Renae Wortz, who is a mom and nurse practitioner, also wondered whether there might have been a less invasive treatment to help the boy lose the weight, but she also thought about what she would do if she were in the same situation.
“I think parents will do anything, even if it’s extreme, to help a sick child,” said Wortz, who is one of the co-founders of the blog, Mom Colored Glasses. “Maybe they weren’t able to stick to the diet, but maybe they were. Maybe they did everything they could to help him lose weight, but weren’t successful in the end.”
Another pressing concern is the unknown long-term impact such a surgery could have on the child’s development, including intellectual problems down the road. “The brain just grows so rapidly between birth to 3 years old, he’s still in that very phase of development,” said Shu. “So we don’t know what kind of effects the surgery may have.”
“Medicine is not a perfect science and without prior data (exploring similar cases), such impacts would be uncertain and that uncertainty would have to be factored in to the risk/benefit decision for the child’s health,” said Alpita Shah, an international finance and community development lawyer in Chicago.
Beyond the medical uncertainties and possible complications (which could include leakage, infection and blood clots), weight-loss surgery on a 2-year-old raises the question: What does this story say about us? What impact might it have on other kids and families struggling with weight?
“Skinny is not an equation for health,” said blogger and author Liz Henry, whose work will be featured in the upcoming book “The Good Mother Myth.” “This is unchartered territory and a dangerous precedent for still growing and maturing bodies.”
Henry, who is passionate about body image issues, worries about the message this case might send.
“While this may be an extreme case, it can lead to other parents looking at the rubber-band wrists and pudgy thighs of their toddler and immediately seeking medical intervention that leads to irreversible harm,” she said.
“I truly hope that pediatric gastric bypass surgery doesn’t become just another ‘norm’ in our culture of instant gratification and ‘easy fixes,’ ” said Wortz.
For her part, Caprigno, who has lost over 130 pounds following her surgery, and has completely changed the way she thinks about food, the takeaway from this story is for all of us to talk more openly about obesity and to understand what it is in the first place. The American Medical Association just recognized it as a disease back in June.
“We definitely need to recognize that there’s no one to blame for this and that there are genetic components that play a part, lifestyle plays a part, and we just need to change how we view obesity because there’s such a stigma,” said Caprigno, who currently works with the nonprofit the Obesity Action Coalition.
“We try to get everyone to understand that this is a disease. It’s not something we choose,” she said.
I’m back! Unofficially of course, since I still have a few days until that all so revered six-week mark. I started working out around four weeks, and feel great! Because of that (and because I just reread my last post from the first of July about how bitter I was about being so HUGE and so over being pregnant), I would like to dedicate this post to saying thank you to CrossFit.
First of all thank you to CrossFit for all the support during the pregnancy. I loved coaching and being pregnant. I loved commiserating with all the moms out there about the aches and pains that go along with morning sickness, tiredness, hip pain, and a few aches and pains I won’t mention here. J Misery loves company and it was nice to “share” my experience with members. It also made me suck it up and get over those aches and pains. There is no time for nausea when you are coaching a 5pm class of professionals that want to get in a great workout before going home. I loved the distraction that coaching provided.
Next, I would like to thank CrossFit for making the last little bit of pregnancy more bearable. Having your third baby due in August in Houston with two other little ones at home is pretty much a doomsday scenario for heat and discomfort. But I think having to do brutal workouts in 90+ temps in an un-air-conditioned warehouse helps you to keep perspective on how hot it really is at the neighborhood swimming pool or grocery store parking lot. Not to mention that my husband and I decided that the first of June would be a great time to take the girls to Disney World when I was about 30 weeks pregnant. Suddenly the one-arm farmers carry (my 25 pound 3 ½ year old) for miles around the Magic Kingdom didn’t seem so bad.
Finally, I want to thank CrossFit for a fast recovery after the birth. Maybe it’s because this is my third, but I think that working out throughout the pregnancy has made the recovery a lot easier. Squatting down to grab dropped burp clothes, bending over to deadlift the infant car seat (and baby!) and the hours spent walking around my house bouncing on my tippy toes trying to get the baby back to sleep in the middle of night didn’t seem as hard this time.
So now for the hard uphill climb of getting my strength back and losing the belly weight (and mush!). It’s going to be tough, but thanks to my CrossFit mentality, I love a good challenge. J
“A Little Nesting for Everyone”
So I am officially in my third and final trimester of the pregnancy. A mere 13 weeks to go – although I tend to hold on to these babies, so it could be 14 or so weeks! Since we moved from California when our first daughter, Grace, was 3 weeks old, and moved again to our current home when our soon to be middle daughter, Ginny, was 4 months old, this is going to be the first time to be in a house that we will live in for a while after baby is born. Given these facts and that I have been feeling good lately (before I get huge – which is coming quickly), to say I have been nesting around the house is an understatement.
We had some logistical readjusting to do around the house that got the ball rolling on the whole nesting craze. Ginny is moving to the guest room (good-bye guest room!), the guest bed is moving to Grace’s room, and we are trying to locate all the baby items from four years ago to set up a nursery for baby in Ginny’s current room. Oh, and did I mention that the guest bedroom doubled as a storage closet for us? So, suffice it to say, we had some moving to do. But in my crazy pregnancy mind, why stop at cleaning out the guest bedroom? Why not clean out the attic, go through the containers and containers of girls clothes that I have saved from Grace and Ginny? Or better yet, why stop there? Why not start cleaning out my closet, the kitchen cabinets,the fridge, or the garage?
So this is how I got to this stage or how Blake finds me most afternoons and evenings when the girls go to bed or on the weekends or any little free time I have. I oscillate between “wow, I am a total crazy pregnant lady,” and “wow, we had so much junk, I should have done this ages ago. I am so much more organized now!” Which brings me to the point of this post (it has one I promise). As I was cleaning out the fridge (and I do mean clean – soap, water, shelves out, everything on the counter, etc.), I noticed how much food I actually had and how much room I had for more fresh veggies, fruit, and meats. Now that I am feeling better and have more energy, I love the clean fridge and being able to see what all’s in there and what needs to be eaten. Getting rid of the mystery veggie in the back of the drawer made the fresh squash, kale and tomatoes I bought at the grocery store more appetizing.
I thought to myself, I should have done this before every nutritional challenge to prepare and everyone should do this! We will see how long this burst of energy lasts and how long my sparkling fridge and fresh produce last, especially when this baby comes in August. But for now, I think everyone could use a little spring cleaning! Ok, I am off to the Container Store… the kitchen pantry needs a little organizing. 🙂
“What to Wear”
So this week’s post is going to focus on the something a little more trivial, but still important (right?!)… what to wear to the gym when you are pregnant. I am going to make this entry two parts and then I promise to revisit this topic again at least a few more times as my pregnancy (and belly) progresses. The first stage I wanted to cover was the “I just found out I am pregnant and I am not ready to tell everyone phase.” I thought this was hard at the gym, because after loosing the belly weight from my last baby and having discovered that I can wear Lulu shorts just as much as the other girl (ok, I am no Lisa J., but I will admit that my legs look a lot better after starting CrossFit and the Zone diet than they ever had before!), My gym clothes were tight and basically showed every little cheat meal or missed workout, not to mention a baby! Fortunately, I was lucky to be newly pregnant in the fall/winter and it was actually cold here in Houston, so layers helped me. I stuck with black capri workout pants, going for my “bigger” options in the closet (read – not the ones I bought at Athleta the week after a nutritional challenge ended). I might have even picked up a size bigger at Gap’s GapFit department just for comfort, as well as a few GapFit Breathe V-nect t-shirts like this:
Between that and the CrossFit Memorial Houston t-shirt (a little too big on me already), I was set for a few weeks. Until the 10 to 12 week mark hit…
Unfortunately for me, I really began to show around 12 weeks – lots of tummy sticking out. I could still stick with the wide waist band Lululemon or Gap capris. Anything that had a waistband like this worked:
And let me set the record straight – I love the bright colors that Lulu has to offer for pants… on other girls. But for some reason, I could not talk myself into buying bright green or blue pants for pregnancy.
The V-neck t-shirts worked for a long while too, but I did have to buy a size larger. Gap makes this easy, as they have a 30% off sale (40% off sometimes for card members – which let’s face it, if you are going to have a baby sometime soon, whether it’s your first, second or third, you are going to need a Gap credit card for the discounts!) almost every other week. 30% off of $25 equals super affordable!
Another thing I had to invest in quickly was a bigger bra with more support. I love the All Sport Bra from Lulu. This bra is awesome. Coming from someone that almost maxed out at the smallest size and lowest amount of support Lulu had to offer, let’s just say this bra was a welcome relief when pregnancy hit. The thick straps are comfortable on my shoulders and the bigger size is needed for the expanding rib cage. Plus they come in all colors (after I had the staple black and white) and are fun to mix and match with the fun shirts I had from the Gap.
For my latest purchases, Gap Fit has put out some extra long tank tops that almost look like maternity tops that I have liked. In fact, I talked to a member this morning that said, “it seems like all the GapFit clothes are maternity-looking now.” Yeah for me! Here are the ones I bought:
So that has gotten me through 24 weeks. To be honest, I think the tanks are going to last me a while longer (hopefully, to the end!), but I am going to have to break down and get some shorts (or shorter capris) soon! With the weather hitting in the 80s every other day, the warm days are coming quickly. So that’s why this will be a multiple part series on what to wear… more to come, as the days get hotter and as I get bigger!
“Two Sides of the Story”
For this week’s entry, I am reprinting two articles concerning CrossFitting and pregnancy. One of them my husband found for me while he was surfing other CrossFit sites, he’s a huge CF nerd, I know! It talks about the “trend” of CrossFitting pregnant. I liked it because it was about normal people (not the crazy competitors that are way out of my league that are now having kids) continuing on with their training while pregnant and their inspirational stories.
Our own CrossFit Kids coach, Jamie Lynn, found the other article on the Tabata Times website. It talks about how sometimes things don’t go according to plan and you have to listen to your body for the sake of your health and the health of your baby. It’s a good reminder that anything can happen at anytime! I hope you will enjoy both.
“Something’s In the Coconut Water – Pregnant CrossFitters”
When I arrived for my first orientation at CrossFit Los Angeles a couple years ago, a midday workout was in progress and a man with many, many ab-packs was doing solo sprints outside in the street. I was immediately intimidated to the say the least, but what distracted me most as I was being asked questions about my then state of unfitness was a woman doing wall ball shots with beautiful form. She was fit and strong, shining with sweat. She wore a tight tank top and capri leggings. She was also eight months pregnant. My feelings of intimidation sky rocketed then settled back down to a healthy self examination starting with the question: what’s my excuse?
I often tell Norma she was one of my first inspirations as a CrossFitter. Her son, Nicolas, is now two years old and Norma is CrossFitting like normal. Norma is also twenty-six weeks pregnant with her second child.
And she’s not the only one. Lately there has been a bit of a pregnancy boom at our gym. One woman very recently had a baby and three others are currently pregnant. They all continue or continued to CrossFit during their pregnancies. Norma was not an anomaly, it turns out, and I became more intrigued by each expectant mother’s experience. What I learned was that pregnant CrossFitters are not hardcore, crazed athletes determined to keep their personal lifting records intact at the expense of their and their baby’s health. They are conscientious mothers who believe CrossFit keeps them strong and prepares them for labor, delivery, recovery, and motherhood. And despite any paranoia and panic by some friends and family, CrossFit proves to be beneficial in many, if not different ways.
For as intense as CrossFit is, I got the universal feeling after speaking to each mother-to-be that they all share an ability to lay off when they felt they were pushing it too much. For some, it was instinctual. For others, pregnancy became a concerted practice in listening to the body supplemented with gentle reminders from supportive spouses. It also helps that one of our coaches, Jeremy Jones, has a pregnant and post natal certificate for personal trainers.
Most of their doctors were cautiously supportive though Courtney, who is just four months pregnant, received advice from her doctor to not take her heart rate over 140bpm. Considering that Courtney has a persistent pre-pregnancy knee injury and has struggled with nonstop morning-day-and-night sickness, she gladly yields this advice, even if it’s not easy. “Right now, getting out of bed and brushing my teeth gets my heart rate up to about 110. No kidding!” Courtney said. She also says the only time she does not feel nauseous is while she’s working out. Courtney has started to modify the weights she uses to also keep her heart rate down during workouts. The other women I spoke to began scaling workouts such as more assistance during pull ups and push ups from their knees at around five to six months into their pregnancies.
Alisa, who gave birth to a healthy daughter Fiona three months ago, is the only woman I spoke to whose spouse also CrossFits. And while a few of Alisa’s non CrossFit friends expressed their concerns about how much Alisa was working out, her husband Eric was very supportive. “It was a little embarrassing, actually. He kept telling people about my workouts and how ‘hardcore’ I was,” Alisa said. “He still does. He did it the other day at the dog food store.” This seemed to cause even more concern with some of Alisa’s friends about her doing too much. “Which is funny,” she said, “because they had no idea how hard I trained at CrossFit before I was pregnant.”
Dr. Lindsey Mathews of BirthFit, whose program encompasses and believes in a good prenatal balance of chiropractic care, nutrition, and fitness said, “I love pregnant CrossFitters! In general, the pregnant CrossFitting woman knows that fitness is a vital component of health.” Dr. Mathews is most concerned when pregnant athletes let go of the reins nutritionally. “Some women think this a free pass to eat whatever they want or that they just need the extra calories.” But this is far from true, she says. Eating real, clean food will only help the baby and mommy alike.
The women I spoke to have had mixed experiences in regards to nutrition. While all of them still believe and try to adhere to clean eating, some have had difficulty overcoming cravings for processed carbs and food they strictly avoided as non-pregnant CrossFitters. Letting go of the idea that they have to eat perfectly a hundred percent of the time during their pregnancy has relieved some pressure, actually, just like succumbing to the idea that workouts would need to be more and more modified as pregnancy went on.
Jane, a long time CrossFitter who is about to have a baby any day, has become increasingly relaxed about everything as her due date draws near. “I can see how some women may feel compelled to prove to everyone that they can CrossFit the same way pregnant as non-pregnant. I’ve never felt like I had anything to prove,” she said. “I’ve been CrossFitting for over five years and I do it for my health, and exercise is a life-long journey. It wasn’t difficult for me to take it easy.” She stopped CrossFitting a couple weeks ago, but she continues to swim and walk. She said she misses the community most, however. “Going for swims by myself is just not the same. I really miss the companionship!”
I was most interested to hear about the effects CrossFit had during labor and post-partum recovery. Norma and Alisa had very similar experiences during labor. Both cite they were certainly able to handle the pain with more focus and without panic. As CrossFitters they are acutely aware that pain is temporary. During contractions, Alisa reminded herself, “I can do anything for five minutes.” Norma ended up having a Cesarean section because her pelvic bones were too slight, but she said her recovery was super fast considering. She got back to her pre-pregnancy weight quickly and she even was able to do unassisted pull ups for the first time because she had been working on them while she was pregnant! Alisa said that her recovery has gone really well. In fact, she said, “All my CrossFit training was a little bit of a double-edged sword. I was able to walk and move easily pretty much right away, but I wanted to do a little too much. My muscles were cool with lifting and walking, but my uterus disagreed. I had to dial it back.”
I am so inspired by these amazing women and their different approaches to CrossFit while they are or were pregnant. I’ve had the pleasure to work out with them, and it has been fun, relaxed and in many ways, particularly joy-filled. I feel their stories not only encourage future moms-to-be, but all athletic women. Just like it did me that first day I stepped foot into a CrossFit gym.
Women’s Only: Are CrossFit and Paleo Suitable During Pregnancy?
Hi there, fellow CrossFit Mommas! You might recall my first blog post with Tabata Times when I was 20 weeks pregnant. At 20 weeks I was feeling great and excited to share with you my Paleo and CrossFit pregnancy journey every step of the way. However, my body had other plans.
Shortly after I wrote that post, I began having a difficult time just being on my feet for more than five minutes — let alone getting through a whole modified WOD. Light-headedness consumed me, and I couldn’t even stand long enough to keep up with the dishes at home (though you better believe I milked that for all it was worth!). After explaining this to my doctor, he strongly urged me to put my Paleo lifestyle on hold and indulge in some carbs daily.
This news was devestating to me, but if it meant I would be able to stay on my feet long enough to keep up with CrossFit, I would oblige. After a few weeks of eating oatmeal for breakfast and whole wheat toast at dinner (and the occasional mac & cheese), I was still not feeling any better. Feeling defeated and a little frightened that something was wrong with my pregnancy and/or me, I marched back into the doctor’s office and demanded some tests to see what the problem was.
Thankfully, after a frustrating process, all tests came back negative. The doctor chalked up my state to being no more than a rough – yet normal – pregnancy. This was a particularly tough pill to swallow because my first pregnancy was absolute heaven, I loved almost every minute of it, and I thought I was born to be a baby makin’ machine.
Needless to say, I couldn’t continue on with CrossFit during my pregnancy. For weeks I tried all kinds of homeopathic things to change the way I felt, but nothing helped. Some of the homeopathic solutions I tested out included: iron vitamins, vitamin B6, folate vitamins, iron cast skillet for cooking, pregnancy tea and even support stockings. I continued to do all “remedies” through my pregnancy with little success. The vitamins were recommended by my doctor, and the only one that didn’t sit well with my was the B6m which made me nauseous. I was really willing to try anything just to be able to keep up with my very active toddler during pregnancy.
“Ultimately, I simply avoided hot showers or anything that would let my body temperature rise (including exercise), stayed hydrated with lots of coconut water, snacked often, and stayed off my feet.”
“Bummed” doesn’t begin to describe how I felt. I actually felt as if I had let the whole CrossFit community down, as I know many women have done CrossFit throughout their pregnancy very successfully. But I’d just like to see more day-to-day documentation or blogging of the ups and downs of doing so on the web. There is so little information out there for pregnant moms, and I was sincerely hoping to contribute to this dialogue. But at the end of the day, I could only listen to my body and do what was best for me and my baby.
For my next entry, I asked a fellow CFMH member, Mary D., to write an entry. Mary has been a member of our box since October 2012 and is an amazing athlete. Mary and her ENTIRE family, including two boys under the age of six, have been 100% Paleo for over a year. Did I mention that Mary is also 35 weeks pregnant and has been 100% Paleo throughout her pregnancy? She has been an inspiration to me to “bite the bullet” and convert my family as well. Enjoy!
I remember the first time I had heard about “The Paleo Diet” after my husband came home from his checkup at the doctor’s office with sky high cholesterol despite our “healthy lifestyle.” We exercised regularly, ate minimally processed, healthy, organic foods. How could this be???? My husband told me that the doctor would like him to follow the paleo protocol to determine if he had any food allergies because he was clearly battling inflammation. My first thought was ‘how could some stranger tell me that we need to eat healthier, I mean, she does not know what I cook!’ Then I heard the list of things that we could not eat and thought there is NO FREAKING WAY! I mean, I use dairy, whole wheat pasta and breads, brown rice, soy, etc. This is too restrictive! That was in the fall of 2011, roughly.
By December of 2011, I had started crossfit. I was told about the paleo diet and how healthy it was and I thought, wait a minute, I have heard of this before! This time, I listened. Two things were bugging me about our current lifestyle:
My thinking was, I would give it a try for a week and see how it was received by everyone and then go from there. A week later, I cleaned out the fridge and the pantry and never looked back. We were eating fabulous meals that my kids even loved (thanks to the wonderful paleo bloggers and cookbook writers out there). I can assure you that it is awesome watching your two year old shovel roasted broccoli into his mouth instead of noodles!!! It has been about 15 months and we are still 100% paleo at our house. I am now 35 weeks pregnant with our third child and have not missed a beat (okay, once I had coconut milk ice cream with sugar!). I was paleo for 8 months before I got pregnant so I do believe that helped me get through the first trimester, when cravings are the worst. I had already gotten the carb/sugar demons out of my system by then.
I do not measure foods, count calories or fat. In fact I eat A LOT of fat. I do believe that has been one of the most critical aspects of my transition to paleo. It was hard to get used to the fact that fat is our friend but only the right fats. I help myself to ample amounts of grass-fed ghee, grass-fed tallow, avocados, coconut oils and milks, and lard. I use olive oil for salads and making mayo and the rest is off limits. Many people ask me how I get my kids to eat this way. Here are some pretty simple steps to follow:
After the initial shock of switching to paleo, it has become very easy. I know exactly what items I can and cannot buy, I know our go to meals/snacks when I am in a pinch and it is just the way we live. So the hard part is at the beginning when you are just starting off. Here are some FABULOUS meals/ recipes that you may be interested in trying. These are some of our favorites:
Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan: Italian Sausage and Eggplant Strata. This will make you cry. Its. That. Good. Pad Thai. This will make your entire table silent because everyone is shoveling food away. Note: I half the crushed red pepper in the sunshine sauce! Meatza Pie, Shepard’s Pie, Meat and Spinach Muffins.
Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie & Charles Mayfield: Fried Chicken. Maybe not whole 30 compliant but definitely paleo and delicious. Serve this with mashed cauliflower and you will be in heaven! Also, the cave ketchup is our go to ketchup recipe.
Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso: Better Butter Chicken, Puerto Rican Beef, Everyday Meatloaf, Marvelous Meatballs, Pork Tenderloin with cherry sauce, Salmon cakes, Warm Arugula Salad, Brussels Sprouts ‘n’ Bacon, Bean-Less Chili, Egg Cupcakes, Nutty Cookies, Paleo Apple Muffins, Berry Good Cobbler!
Make It Paleo by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason: Crab cakes, shrimp scampi, Beef with Broccoli, Bacon wrapped scallops.
Almost everything I have tried from nomnompaleo.com has been fabulous. Michelle Tam writes this blog and she taught me (through the blog) everything I know about how to make every vegetable taste delicious!
Since this is a pregnancy blog and I am 35 weeks pregnant, I can say this. I have never had a better experience being pregnant. I have gained 29 lbs with this child. I gained 60 lbs with EACH of my first two pregnancies. I have cross fitted, cooked, and taken care of 2 rowdy boys during this pregnancy. I did not lift one weight with either of my previous pregnancies and relied heavily on takeout! For me, there is no comparison and there is no turning back!
Ok, let’s talk nutrition! It’s such a big part of CrossFit, and I almost think that this more than the workouts was a bigger adjustment to me when I started. It changed a lot for me: how I thought about food, how I thought about my body, and how I thought about my strength. I have helped with this box’s nutritional challenge over the last two years by either being a coach or by running it. I love it. It teaches me something more every time I do it. So the big question when I got pregnant was: what would do I about nutrition during the pregnancy?
To give you some background, I have followed the Zone diet since I completed my first nutritional challenge, either strictly during the challenges or loosely outside the challenges. I did my first nutritional challenge the Spring of 2011 and to my great surprise, I won! I lost five pounds and something like 5 inches over the six weeks. I was amazed. I have never thought paying attention to what I ate could matter so much. Before then, I was truly a believer that you could always exercise away a bad diet. This might explain my drive to sign up and train for marathons when I graduated college. If I was going to work late hours, travel and hang out with friends, I would just run more to keep the weight down, right? It wasn’t until CrossFit that I seriously thought about my diet and how that affected not only my body, but also my athletic performance. I was a believer that once a slow runner, always a slow runner. Following the Zone diet (while adding in as many Paleo friendly dishes as I could) changed all of that. Not only did my body shape and weight change, but my strength and endurance changed as well. Awesome!
So that brings us to my current predicament. When I am on a strict Zone diet, meaning I am weighing and measuring my foods and avoiding all grains, rices and beans, I tend to drop weight quickly. It’s nice to know it works for me, but how do I still eat right, but not follow a strict “diet” per se. My thought was that I would replace some of the veggie carbs with more starchy complex carbs, such as sweet potatoes, squashes, some whole grain breads, etc. That was exactly my thought when I first found out I was pregnant… then, a few weeks went by… and everything changed. I have never had bad morning sickness (or in my case afternoon/evening sickness), but the thought of brussels sprouts (one of my favorite veggies, by the way) with a kale salad and grilled chicken for dinner was too much for me.
So basically, for the first trimester, I tried to eat as well as I could if it sounded good. This worked some days and not on others. Some days I could stomach chicken, green veggies and potatoes for dinner. Other days, I was barely making it through crackers and ginger ale. The same thing happened with snacks. Some days I loved my old Zone standby snack of a cheese stick, ½ an apple and some almonds, but other days the thought of a cheese stick made me want to give up eating for a while. All in all, I had to eat as well as I could but if that meant going to the dark side (think Wheat Thins, Saltines, salted peanuts), then that’s what I did for weeks 7 through 14. It was rough, but I got through it.
Now I am at 19 weeks and am feeling great. The sickness is gone and my energy levels have returned – hurray! I am back on my plan of eating as healthy as I can, while not limiting my calories (basically, not weighting and measuring foods). If I feel like I can handle more food, I eat an extra helping of salad or I have the whole apple for the dessert. I don’t think the extra one or two carb blocks from doing this is going to wreck me post pregnancy, whereas I think the Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies that my husband bought from our neighbor’s daughter is. J So for now, I am tossing those, and eating as clean as I can. Let’s see how it goes!
Up next, I have a guest blogger that will talk about following the Paleo diet not just for her throughout her entire pregnancy but for entire family (including her two little boys) as well. Impressive!
Welcome to our first CrossFit Memorial Houston Pregnancy Blog. Is it just me or is half the gym either pregnant, have a newborn or thinking about getting pregnant? Given that fact, and that I am not running the nutritional challenge this spring, I have decided to write a blog about being pregnant, CrossFitting while pregnant (and post pregnancy when that time comes), and all the fun in between.
So first of all, let’s start with an introduction. I am a CrossFit coach at CFMH and usually teach the 9:30am class, with an occasional evening and Saturday class thrown in the mix. I have been doing CrossFit for about two and a half years and absolutely love it. For those that don’t know me personally, I would describe myself as an average to slightly above average CrossFitter. Meaning, I am good, but not great. Fast, but not the fastest. Strong but I will never be a Vanessa or Megan P. And that’s fine. I usually make up for my athletic shortcomings with hard work and determination. I love pushing myself and getting a little bit better every day.
Here is a little more background on me before we go into the fun of being pregnant and CrossFitting. My husband and I have two daughters, aged 5 ½ and 3 and just found out that we will be adding another girl to this crazy family sometime around the first week of August. I am not sure I ever imagined that I would be a mom of three; much less all girls, but I can’t imagine anything different now. J
So let’s jump into the world of pregnancy and CrossFit and how to do the two together. Since this will be our third baby, and I have been doing CrossFit for a while, I wanted to share my experience with others. I got the idea from another blog – http://www.cannoncrossfit.com/crossfit-pregnancy. So what do I want to accomplish through this blog? I would love to just share my experience (and hopefully have others at the gym that are going through the same thing and would like to share), give some advice and guidance (but I am by no means a doctor nor do I have any medical background, so please keep this in mind), and have fun along the way. My goals in pregnancy are to first and foremost have a healthy pregnancy and baby, to the extent I can contribute – some things are in God’s hands, feel good about myself and set an example for others. With all that said, let’s get started!
Finding out and the first trimester:
We found out we were pregnant right at Thanksgiving. I remember doing a workout immediately after finding out that while tough, nearly knocked me on my butt. The main difference was my breathing. Meaning I couldn’t breath at all! I know from my other two pregnancies and from doing some research online about doing CrossFit and being pregnant that really the main thing to focus on is making sure that your breathing is under control. I wanted to be able to carry on a conversation while I was working out to make sure that I was taking in enough oxygen and not letting my heart rate get too high. For the first few weeks, I basically felt fine except for the breathing…. then the six week mark hit. Ugh, did I feel bad. And I am not used to feeling bad for long periods of time (I do have small children, so we do our share of stomach bugs, colds and other fun stuff). It’s hard to go from feeling great and in shape and right off the heals of a nutritional challenge to feeling winded and tired and nauseous almost all the time. Truthfully, my fatigue and sickness hit me most days in the afternoons and evenings, and my better days were the days I worked out or coached, but then I would get hit with a wave of it on a random day at a random time. It’s like getting a hangover at any point during the day and not knowing when it’s going to hit (and not having the fun before)!
Ok, enough with the complaining. Overall, I think my first trimester was pretty typical. I didn’t get off too easy but I was definitely not throwing up everyday (Kate Middleton, you are a saint). Here are some resources that helped me through and made me feel like I was going to make it. J
Next time I’ll talk about nutrition and workout clothes (so important, right?!).