Pregnancy: athlete reinvention

Pregnancy: athlete reinvention

(A process, part II)

This blog post comes from a current client and fellow coach in the industry, Halley Pulli. When I met Halley at the ADK Outdoor Expo and started to talk shop, I just wanted to help her with her goals. It has been a ton of fun so far checking things off her “to do” list. Not to mention doing it with a kid on board, and one in tow. It always makes for some good laughs, and teachable moments!Bender

Woman pulling weights


Well into the third trimester and it’s all getting real. I’m now carrying an extra 20 pounds, my feet are swollen, sore, and have developed a pretty intense case of plantar fasciitis, I can’t bend over, my core is all jacked up, joints are achy and not functioning properly….the list goes on. But really, worse than any of the physical challenges, I’m going head to head with well, my head. At this point, it’s become a battle of the brain.

Pregnancy feels like an injury in reverse. There’s really no physical progression at this point and it sure seems like there’s a good amount of regression. The only tangible achievement now is in the moment of showing up and doing what I can. Yay – I hauled myself out of bed and carefully moved some weight!

It’s like falling from the pedestal (you know, the one I’ve put myself upon) – I’ve worked long and hard to achieve a certain level of fitness and strength. I know what I am capable of, or at least what I was once capable of, but it’s slipping away. And with it, the illusion of self-worth, ego, and identity. It’s sad. Real sad. And frustrating. Angering. Embarrassing. It’s change and it ain’t easy. It also turns out that being in this state gets lonely. As a result of my lost endurance, etc., I can’t keep up with most of my fitness community.

As if all of that isn’t hard enough to deal with, there are folks telling me that I shouldn’t be doing as much. “Back it down – you’re pregnant!” “It’s alright to take a break – eat what you want, put your feet up.” “Should you really still be working out like that?!” All well-intended, no doubt. I’ve heard a bunch of nay-saying regarding my continued training as I’ve progressed in my pregnancy and now I’m even nay-saying!

But there is an upside, of course. I get to start fresh post-baby. A new challenge awaits. I will become a new athlete. Different than before. Maybe I’ll find new strengths. Yes, there’s the chance things I was good at before won’t be so great afterward, however I know I’m going to emerge from this period of challenge and change an even better version of the athlete I was. And it’s certainly a great opportunity to explore old perceptions of self.

Pain and struggle can only make me stronger in the end. Every time I want to throw in the towel because I’m getting bigger, slower, less mobile, I get up and train anyway. It’s certainly not impressive but if that’s what I’m really doing it for, then I might as well throw in that towel.

So, how might this apply to my overall fitness journey? I know pregnancy isn’t going to be the last setback or challenge I will ever face as an athlete. Such is life – athleticism, fitness, health – it’s all a journey. When next I’m injured, overtrained, plateaued, burned out, I hope that this experience will remind me that I can recover. Persist. Aim, even without a straight path.

I have to remind myself to finish this journey before I start on the next one. I think that’s really tough too. Who’s got the patience for this kind of work in a world that demands your best, and damn it, right now?! But, the world isn’t walking in my shoes and no one can know the experience I’m having. I also can’t hold onto that like a crutch either. I have to look at the experience, good and bad, and face the hard stuff. Allow vulnerability to seep out and make me uncomfortable, and then use it in my training. So what if I’m not the same?! I am still showing up. I’m still giving it what I can. Brain be damned – I’m not stopping!

Staying fit during pregnancy

This blog post comes from a current client and fellow coach in the industry, Halley Pulli. When I met Halley at the ADK Outdoor Expo and started to talk shop, I just wanted to help her with her goals. It has been a ton of fun so far checking things off her “to do” list. Not to mention doing it with a kid on board, and one in tow. It always makes for some good laughs, and teachable moments!Bender


Fitness run


Staying Fit During Pregnancy


Staying fit during pregnancy isn’t always a picnic – that I can assure you. But, I’m 22 weeks in and still at it.

I started training at Contemporary Athlete just a few weeks ago. At that point I was running 1-3 times a week, teaching boot camp classes, taking boot camp classes, doing no heavy lifting, and occasionally practicing prenatal yoga. My goal was to maintain as much fitness as possible through pregnancy. However, when I met Dave and he introduced me to Contemporary Athlete, I was curious to know if I could go beyond just maintaining my fitness. I wanted to challenge myself to continue to grow as an athlete.


So what does that look like? A lot of the same but now I’m incorporating one-on-one sessions with Dave once a week to hone my technical skills. I take Boot camp Level 1 classes once a week at CA to really challenge my cardio and strength conditioning. I’m doing more heavy lifting and keeping up with the CA regulars, with only minor modifications to some of the movements and weights being moved. I’m still running a couple of days a week (albeit slowly and now with some discomfort), teaching, and taking my other classes.


How are things changing? It takes me longer to recover from strenuous training – getting enough sleep is vital. I MUST eat the extra calories recommended by doctors – BUT I haven’t strayed from my previous healthy eating habits, I just eat a little more. Every single day is different. Sometimes I am capable of more. Sometimes I have to pull back. But I still show up. I still train. Because even if my body says that it’s too much, my mind can handle all the training I can throw at it! Hello, labor and delivery!!


 Why Stay Fit During Pregnancy?


So, why do this at all? Why maintain fitness? Why train and strive to improve my abilities as an athlete when my body is constantly changing and won’t be like this in a few months time? I do it for my health and for the health of my baby. For my sanity. Because I love fitness, training, and athletics. Because I don’t want my post pregnancy climb to be any harder than it has to be. And it’s a major component of my life. Just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean I slam on the brakes and quit doing my life.

This is in no way an absolute experience. Every woman is different and will experience pregnancy fitness differently. During my first pregnancy I wasn’t allowed to workout due to a complication early on. Once it cleared up, I, unfortunately, was de-conditioned. BUT, I got out and walked, moved every day, and stayed active. With my second pregnancy, I ran my first marathon at 2 weeks pregnant. I didn’t know it. And with some resistance I’ve had to give up the mileage the more pregnant I’ve become. However, I can still put in some good cardio interval training and even log some miles every couple of days. So, I get up and do that – I don’t throw in the towel because I’m not at marathon standing anymore.

My humble, and certainly not expert, advice for those ladies who are concerned with fitness during pregnancy: don’t stop training because you’re pregnant. There’s no reason you can’t keep doing what you were doing before you became pregnant. If you’re dealing with nausea and vomiting, you might be surprised that once you get moving you can feel better. It was one of the only times I felt good during those first months with morning sickness.

Learn to accept that pregnancy will change your body and your ability to do what you were doing before. Be flexible and cut yourself some slack – if you’re still showing up and testing those limitations, you’re still training.

Do what feels good. Still push yourself. Take breaks. Drink fluids. LOTS of them. And fuel properly. Additional calories are required in the second and third trimesters – eat them! Especially if you’re still training. Know that recovery times may be extended for you. Allow for this.

Also, work with a trainer you trust. They can guide you, make suggestions, and help ensure your safety and progress throughout. (Hint, hint: The trainers at CA!)

Stay tuned….I’ll be posting again right before the baby arrives to let you know how training through the second half of the pregnancy went.