Today’s post by Guest Blogger Kristin (Bruce) Maguire, a great friend and mom-to-be, who’s shown me that being active doesn’t stop when the double line appears!
I was initially tempted to use this opportunity as guest-author to dispel all the nonsense I’ve heard throughout pregnancy while trying to maintain my fitness. Despite full consensus in the medical community that exercise and running (yes, running) is safe to sustain (not train!) during low-risk pregnancies, there is still much public misperception about what a pregnant gal can or should do. What’s even more counter to popular wisdom is that pregnancy is a known performance enhancer. That’s why it’s been a controversy in the Olympic community for years as a way (aka ‘abortion doping’) to gain competitive edge.
But as I listed out all the hog-wash and myths that I’d love to debunk as someone who has earned her right to be a little snarky after 34 weeks of tuning out the haters, I had a revelation: a few days ago while reclined with a book, as inactive as ever, my unborn son decided to give me a one-two punch from the gut. After saying a few choice words that will soon retire from my mommy-vocabulary, I have to admit I felt immediate pride—“That’s my boy! Strong. Healthy. Ready to BRING it!” And that’s when I decided to ditch my plan to unload pragmatic information and instead focus on the inspiration of a most obvious insight: we are born to move.
What’s more—our bodies are designed to do bad-ass things, like skipping, hopscotch, jumping rope, climbing Everest and breaking boundaries. From the time when each of us is kicking in the womb we are physically declaring: ‘I am alive and I’m a force to be reckoned with.’
So, 20, 30, 40 years later, why is it so hard to keep kicking? Now that I’m Plus Baby I can testify that exercise is no joke when there is more to move. Every motion requires more from us than, say, when we were 26 pounds lighter. Yet, running (sometimes wogging) through 8 months of pregnancy has taught me that we can do it. Here are a few thoughts for those who want to help change public perception of what is possible for ANYONE that doesn’t look like Dean Karnazes and/or need a born-again kick in the butt:
- Act like a BABY. A fierce baby. A baby that says, ‘Heck, yeah, I’ve got legs! Heck, yeah, I’ve got arms!’ Be impressed with all your 2000 body parts. Just think about how far you came in those first 40 weeks of life? What could you accomplish in 40 weeks now? With an Ipod. With awesome gear. Without being tied to your mother.
- Listen and trust your BODY above all else… This is what really defines an athlete—the ability to be completely in-tune with the body’s performance. I intentionally haven’t checked my heart rate once since I was 7 weeks pregnant—doctor’s orders—but I know faster than any Garmin when I need to let my split time dive. Learn to listen carefully and it will tell you everything you need to know.
- …but mind your MIND. This is where our limits live, if we let them. The mind loves slippery slopes—rationalizations about why we CAN’T. But if we wield this internal voice as THE greatest means for connecting with our bodies, it will take us further than we thought possible. Learn to negotiate with your mind like you’re a teenager again and it’s Friday night. (One. More. Minute. One. More. Mile.)
- Get going now to catch the Sustain Train. If you’re planning to have kids anytime in the next 1-2 years, now is the time to get to the place you want to be when you start pregnancy. Because once you’re Plus Baby, the focus is on sustaining fitness, not training. It’s like baking a cake using only the ingredients you already have in the house. Whatever routine you’re in when that second pink line appears, guess what? That’s the cake you’re going to eat a lot of for many months to come. Give yourself a due date to stock your pantry now unless you really like the taste of flour.
- Embrace the naysayers. Let their skepticism fuel your tank. Revel in the funny looks and quirky smirks that reveal their profound confusion about how you’re defying gravity. Smile. Kick up a little dust behind you. And if you really want to blow their mind, tell them you just did a Kegel. (This last point is even more effective if you’re a dude.)
- When in doubt, choose sanity over vanity. We all know great shoes and bra are a must. Everything else is just ‘icing’ on the cake: matching and cuteness are overrated. Don’t fall for the ideological Kelly Ripp-off. Sure, who doesn’t appreciate a coordinated outfit? But am I going to let a little spit-up and baby funk on my gear stand in the way of a great run? N-O. I’m actually hoping it will buy me some extra space on the path. So, if the only reasonably clean gear that fits are your hot pink running shorts and puke-green army tank, rock them like Rainbow Brite. (Trust me, you will still look a million times more together than our dear friends in the post-natal group.)
The bottom line: the benefits of getting and staying active now and if you plan to become pregnant are countless, including:
– Greater self-confidence
– Increased energy
– Sanity! Less stress
– Less weight gain (for those hot mom jeans)
– Less rapid weight gain (no/less stretch marks!)
– Better sleep and circulation
– Easier delivery and recovery after baby or other Major Life Event
Sure, I’ll be giving myself this same ‘made to move’ pep talk when I’m a sleep-deprived zombie talking to my breast pump—but let’s make a pact: on the days when we’d much rather climb back into bed and assume the fetal position, let’s throw back the covers, put a spring in our step and remind ourselves: we were born to do this.