I have been asked recently about what exercise I did while I was pregnant and also how I eased back into fitness after having the babies, so this post touches on those two things. It also showcases the workouts I did starting out with strength training at home, great for beginners.
Being part of a happy and healthy family growing up, my sisters and I were always involved in sport and were lucky enough to have a mother that was and is still, an ahhh-amazing cook! We enjoyed several treats, but mum made a real effort to ensure we enjoyed home-style, nutritious family meals almost every day of the week. So I’ve always been conscious of healthy foods and enjoyed an active lifestyle. When I fell pregnant, I endured a pretty decent bout of morning sickness both times, and for the first trimester of both pregnancies – would work, come home and lay on the couch and go to bed. Driving and even food shopping was an effort. So, exercise was the last thing on my mind and I really didn’t do any for those first 3 months.
When the second trimester hit, I felt an overwhelming sense of energy and excitement kick in and after having spent the best part of the last 8 weeks feeling like I was hungover from morning til night, it was a magic feeling that I wanted to embrace! So I started doing nice long walks, swimming and yoga. Something didn’t feel right for me to be running or exerting myself to a breathless state, so I didn’t do any high intensity exercise. I focused on nourishing my body with healthy foods, plenty of water, massaging coconut oil on my body and low intensity, gentle exercise. I tried to do something most days.
In my first pregnancy, when the third trimester hit, I started to feel a little uncomfortable with my longer walks, as I could feel the muscles surrounding my pelvic area and groin really starting to relax and loosen, getting ready for the birth. When I went for a walk, sometimes I’d feel like my leg would give way and I’d nearly fall over! So I spent more time in the pool just with my kick board and added in an extra yoga class when I could. I did Yoga up until four days before my daughter was born. My favourite Yoga studio is www.peaceyoga.com.au
My pregnancy with the twins was a lot different. As I was carrying more weight, particularly on my hips and pelvis, by mid way through the second trimester, I gave away my walks and enjoying the pool and water running. I absolutely loved getting in the pool with my running belt and feeling my legs, hips and joints enjoy some weightless freedom for a while.
My legs and feet suffered as well in that pregnancy, I had fluid retention, varicose veins popping out everywhere and minor clotting that was scanned regularly. So the sensation of floating in the pool and moving effortlessly was amazing!
The last month of the twin pregnancy saw me pretty much couch bound. I would play on the floor with my 18 month little princess, give her a push on the swing and then with feet like puffer fish, would return to the couch!
I had a completely natural birth first time round and was back doing light running after 8 weeks. I had a c section with the twins and was back doing gentle walks at about 2 months. At around the 4-5 month mark I could do a few light runs, but it didn’t quite feel the same, which is why I decided to start strength training when the twins were around 7 months old.
I started off with learning how to squat, lunge, plank and do push ups properly. My planks were done in 30 sec intervals and that was a struggle at first.
Some of my beginner strength workouts looked like this:
3 x rounds
10 sit ups
30 sec plank
3 rounds for time (trying to get quicker each round)
10 push ups
10 sit ups
3 x rounds
20 walking lunges
10 push ups
20 penguin abs
2 x rounds
15 tri dips
15 box jumps
15 push ups
On days when I felt too tired or knew it was going to be an effort to just go to the loo on my own – I would just aim to do 50 squats and 50 lunges for the day.
I would strength train twice a week and go for a long walk with the pram one or two days a week. I really didn’t have an exercise routine in those early months. When I felt like exercising, I would. It was about 10 months on from the twins that I started running once a week – mainly for the peace of mind it gave me and to do something with the twins in the pram.
Basic squats and lunges have really shaped my legs and helped in their toning. They are great for building muscle and also lengthening them. It’s the first thing I recommend to my family and friends that ask me about exercises. If you haven’t done anything before, learn how to squat and lunge properly and just start off doing 20 every day and each week increase the number. I used to do them in my pj’s while waiting for the kids toast to pop up!
Once I learnt the right technique doing the above exercises, I invested in a kettlebell and some dumbbells so I could add some light weights to them. Kettlebell swings are now a favourite of mine as they work the stubborn butt and thigh areas while also activating your core and upper body. There are plenty of YouTube clips that demonstrate technique and different ways to use a kettlebell.
As I always mention, a nutritious, clean and healthy diet low in sugar, grains and dairy goes hand in hand with strength training. Not only does it give you the energy and clarity of mind to exercise, it lowers body fat levels (that essentially covers your muscles), so that your muscles can shine through, toned, strong and lean.
Exercise really doesn’t have to be a chore. By adding a few basic ones into your day, you will notice a difference within weeks. If transforming your diet feels like it’s in the too hard basket, then as a beginner I would start by just implementing a green juice (see my fav below), 2.5 L of water and 50 squats a day. You will notice glorious benefits to your skin, glow and muscle definition. You will probably find that your energy levels increase a little and you’ll be ready and more focused to have a decent crack at clean eating and strength programs.
Remember, wherever you are is exactly where you are meant to be. You’re a gorgeous woman and mummy. You’re doing a great job.
(My fav green juice that I make every morning and was given to me by the amazing www.kirawestwick.com.au is cucumber, mint, ginger, turmeric, coconut oil, chia or hemp seeds, lime, stevia or organic maple syrup, water and ice! Just blend it all up and enjoy its vitality and freshness!!)
Kira has some great green juice tips here http://www.kirawestwick.com.au/my-fav-green-smoothie-tips#sthash.ZRvRfvjG.dpbs