I am so thrilled to feature my friend Frances for this guest blog post. Frances Sacripanti is a personal wellness coach who specializes in health and fitness education, motivation and empowerment. A former health and physical education teacher, Frances has a passion for movement and it’s ability to affect all areas of health. She shares her vast knowledge base through her website http://www.mindbodybespoke.com and her active Instagram page @mindbodybespoke.
Hi Ladies! Hopefully, you are reading this post with one exiting goal in mind, having a fit and health focused pregnancy!
First off, I want to give you an “A plus” for your decision to make fit pregnancy a priority. Way to go star student! As a former physical education teacher, my life has always been about physical activity and when I became pregnant I wanted to find ways to continue to exercise and stay healthy. What I didn’t realize was that building strength and working out during my pregnancy would translate to another and perhaps more important type of strength, inner strength.
At first, there was a deep connection happening without me even realizing it. I was going to spin classes regularly, attending prenatal yoga (which I believe is the BEST thing I did for myself during pregnancy), and strength training often. In addition to my healthy diet, I was really doing what I had always done – workout – but with a bit more caution, especially as my belly started to grow. I took selfies every few weeks to measure my belly growth, and as the weeks passed I noticed that my training was working. Yes, my belly was growing and I was gaining the weight appropriately but I was also seeing continued tone in my arms, back, legs, and glutes. By no means was I a body builder but I was certainly a fit pregnant chick! My work was paying off, keeping me fit and healthy, and my mental state was incredibly positive. I felt strong both inside and out.
As my belly really started to grow towards the end of the second trimester, I recognized how much my training was helping me prepare for what was ahead mentally. I felt proud of my fitness level during my pregnancy, in fact, I felt like an invincible pregnant woman! Sure I had some of the normal pregnancy symptoms and issues but I believe I handled them better because of my physical and inner strength. I felt strong to handle physical challenges, such as stairs and lifting boxes (we were moving during that summer) and mentally strong to handle the emotional and hormonal waves that often occur during pregnancy.
We can’t ignore the connection that happens (pregnant or not) between physical health and mental health. In the case of pregnancy, I believe that keeping fit and healthy better equips you to handle the mental and emotional challenges of being pregnant. Whether you are in your first trimester or the third trimester, I strongly encourage you to experience this incredible connection. Here are a few tips and suggestions for you to try during your pregnancy that build both physical and mental strength (of course, please get your doctor’s approval before starting any new exercise program):
1) Power Walk – I walked like it was going out of business! Create a few routes to do each week and get some good hill work in there for those buns. With your sneakers laced up tight and your sunglasses on, hit the road with your ipod, and totally zen out. Some days I would break a full sweat listening to hard core rap, other days I would listen to Bob Marley and get my beachy vibes on. Either way I made sure to get at least one hour (or two on a good day) of quality walking. Another great idea here is to use your headset and catch up with old friends or another pregnant friend where you can commiserate on finally having to let go of your favorite jeans. Don’t worry, you’ll be back in those jeans again!
2) Lift Weights – Don’t be afraid to pump a little iron. Keep a pair of 8 to 10 lbs weights in your living room so there is never an excuse not to knock out a few bicep curls during your favorite TV show. If you do belong to a gym, make use of the workout machines (because you can sit down which feels amazing during that those last few weeks!). If you lifted weights before, continue with caution as you get bigger and modify as needed. If your budget permits, you can hire a personal trainer who is certified to work with prenatal clients.
3) Prenatal Yoga – I indicated this earlier but prenatal yoga was the absolute BEST part of my prenatal exercise routine. Surrounded by other women, there is an incredible sense of community that makes bending and stretching that much better. In prenatal yoga, you’ll work on strength, breathing, and relaxation. Many classes teach a lot of great stretches for those common pregnancy aches and pains which will come in handy! Try Cat/Cow and squat pose. They feel amazing for back pain often caused from carrying the extra weight.
I hope you’ll try out these suggestions and feel the incredible connection between your physical strength and your inner strength. Good luck on your pregnancy adventure and remember, you are strong and able to do whatever you put your mind to!