Fitness with a Fetus

I’m back, baby.

After a downright nightmarish first trimester filled with nausea, vomiting, poor eating choices, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, uterine cramping, bleeding, and an overall piss-poor attitude, I’m VERY pleased to report that only 4 out of those 11 symptoms are still hanging around.  Because I’m feeling semi-human again I have grudgingly triumphantly returned to working out regularly. 

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On a 2.5-mile run -- finally getting some mileage on my new Hoka Cliftons.

I’m somewhere around 16-17 weeks at this point and have been making an effort to maintain a 5 days-per-week workout regimen.  My undying love for the convenience and effectiveness of fitness DVDs has led me to two programs:

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Lindsay Brin’s Pregnancy 3-Pack, and

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Joy Southworth’s Body by Trimester.

I’ll review Lindsay’s first.  If you didn’t already know, I owe much of my 70 pound weight loss to Lindsay Brin’s Pretty Fierce workout programs (PF: Weight Loss, PF: Lean Out, and PF:X).  I adore this woman and trust her expertise without question.  Her videos feel like you’re working out with a personal trainer who’s also a friend — she pushes you, she’ll make you cuss at the TV, but she’s incredibly down to Earth and likeable about it. 

This program is broken down into three DVDs, one for each trimester of pregnancy.  I did about three weeks of the First Trimester DVD (no joke, I ordered her program almost immediately after I got that Big Fat Positive, because I didn’t want there to be any lapse in my fitness routine).  I’ve now been doing the Second Trimester for two weeks consistently, and they’re structured similarly, so here’s what you get:

– A Cardio routine, Tabata style
– An Upper Body workout (in the 2nd Trimester, this is combined with Cardio, which makes for a pretty intense thirty minutes)
– A Lower Body workout
– Yoga for Flexibility — same routine for each trimester, with modifications for the 2nd and 3rd.
– Yoga for Toning (uses light weights, moderate intensity.  More of a heart rate buzz than an “Om” chill-out.) Same routine for each trimester, with modifications for the 2nd and 3rd.
– Stackers — these are quick videos of various strength training moves for both upper and lower body.  You can follow the calendar or mix and match your own.
– Core Workout

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Weighted front lunges during the Lower Body workout

I absolutely love this program and would recommend it to every pregnant woman who wants to maintain her fitness while her bump slowly takes over her body.  I have been doing the Advanced version only, so I can’t speak to what’s different about the Intermediate program, but the option is available if your pre-pregnancy fitness baseline isn’t used to more intense workouts.

Like I said, Lindsay is just a generally likeable person.  Nothing about her style or her motivation will annoy you (and I can think of at least a dozen famous fitness personalities for whom this isn’t true, so this is a huge selling point for me).  The production quality is good, there’s a calendar to follow for those of you who like to track and cross off your workouts that way, and modifications for easier and advanced moves are always demonstrated.  My *only* complaint is that there are a lot of moves in the Core workout — which is too short, IMO — that are incompatible for diastisis recti, which I have.  No alternatives are offered for these moves, so you’re just told to skip them, which leaves the core a little underworked (and has me searching Pinterest for supplemental prenatal core workouts).  Otherwise, four stars, two thumbs up, and one big kick to the bladder from Diego the Fetus on the Pregnancy 3 Pack.

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Spandex-wrapped baby bump + weights

Admittedly, Lindsay’s program has been my go-to over Body by Trimester.  This program is fine enough, and structured similarly, but Joy Southworth is… I mean, she seems like a super nice woman.  And she is knowledgeable about prenatal fitness.  She covers kegels and pelvic floor work pretty well.  But… man, oh man; she is annoying.  She’s pretty much the kid in class who had to read her speech verbatim from her flash cards for the public speaking assignment.  Maybe due to nervousness, lack of improv skills, absence of personality, who knows?  And the series is shot in natural daylight on a beach, so she’s always squinting into the camera, her face partially obscured by shadows, and her hair blowing into her eyes from the wind.  I feel like the beach workout has a very 90s vibe to it, so the program seems outdated.

All that said, the content of the main routines are solid so I’ve included them in my rotation here and there.  They’re each more of a total-body workout rather than specific to the upper or lower body, or general cardio.  Combo moves like a lunge with an overhead press, or a squat with a bicep curl, will elevate that heart rate as effectively as a cardio-only routine, so the workouts in Body by Trimester are quite effective.  BUT, there’s no stopwatch or counter on the screen to let you know how far along you are or how much longer you have left.  And Joy’s not a great cue-er, so you’re generally not told ahead of each move what the rep count is or what size weight she’s using.  So, again, it’s not my favorite but I’ve kept it in the rotation for variety.  40 weeks is a long time to stick with one fitness personality and program, so I’m enjoying the mix.

As for non-DVD workouts, I’ve only run twice so far and I’m crossing the days off my calendar until it’s no longer a frigid, icy tundra outside and I can hit the pavement more frequently.  I’m not opposed to winter running — I actually enjoyed it last year — but my decreased lung capacity and inclination to dizziness during extreme temperature changes (coming indoors to an 80 degree house after a run in 20 degree temps is just one example) have tragically kept me out of my Hokas.  I’m aching for it, though.  The run, and my bike, and a few hundred meters of freestyle in the lake.  Hurry up, spring and summer!

So I’m going to keep it up and try to get back the hard-earned definition that I lost in my triceps during that lazy first trimester.  And hopefully it’ll pay off.  I would love, LOVE, an easier birth this time around.  Can the fact that I’m a half-marathoner and triathlete and weightlifter give me a little less prodromal labor, a little less cervical lip, a little less posterior contractions, and shave a few(/several) hours off the overall gig, please?  Please?

Stay tuned.