Friday, March 14, 2014

36.75 weeks: the third trimester "switch" is flipped...

While I was starting to slow down and cut back further on my workouts the past week or two, overall I've been feeling pretty good. Appetite was normal, energy levels were holding steady, and other than slightly more back pain I felt like I was perhaps in the clear with what many of you had warned me would become the drawn out and uncomfortable final few weeks of pregnancy. As of about a week ago, I really thought I was in the clear. I figured if I hadn't felt any major changes physically or psychologically at this point, I could ride out the rest of however long we have to go with relative ease.


Actually, I'm quickly starting to feel WORSE now than first trimester. Easily fatigued, irritable, low energy, smell sensitivity, all familiar traits from first trimester, but now we add in back and nerve pain and overall joint pain from added bodyweight. Randomly I will experience these shooting "jabs" of pain running down the outside of my legs, sometimes around and down my knees, almost causing a feeling of buckling just while walking or something low-impact. Really, really annoying. Of course I know these short-term annoyances are temporary and I'm just bitching at this point, I really had just convinced myself I wouldn't experience these problems. I will say working out seems to temporarily alleviate these aches, but once the workout ends, the pains come back. Hell even while I type this, I'm thinking about how I WANT to workout, but I'm laid out across our bed with my feet propped up and the minute I get up to put on gym clothes, I feel like falling asleep standing up. Total first trimester flashback, ugh. 

This week's checkup was all good news. Total weight gained thus far: 29lbs. BP is good, I don't seem to be retaining much fluid (still wearing my rings), and so far I haven't experienced any weird skin issues about which some of you warned me. I did have to sit for another ultrasound after this week's check because I was "measuring small" in the office visit, but the US confirmed fluid and growth was normal for this gestational age. According to my doc, this is common for more fit women due to tighter abdominal muscles restricting how much room things have to expand internally, so the ultrasound confirmed things are normal we are just perhaps running out of room... and while I have been doing SOME abdominal work (and Kegels), I haven't been going crazy with core work, so I'm actually somewhat surprised he thinks my abs are so tight. In my opinion, they need a LOT of work, but maybe that's just the extra layer of fat now covering them and the rest of my muscles ;) 

What I've learned the past few weeks is to make the most of the days when I DO feel energetic and have the time to squeeze in a workout. I figure this is good training for post-baby workouts when I have to maximize time anyway, so better to acclimate myself earlier rather than later! The irony is most of my workouts, when I have the time, consist primarily of lifting. This time last year I was training for both a half and full marathon, lifting maybe once or twice a week if I felt like it/had time, and now it's basically the opposite: when given the choice, I lift.  This is partially because I know I just can't push myself aerobically anymore, at this point in my pregnancy, so I try to do enough to maintain fitness but it's honestly not very enjoyable. I can still jog 1-2 times/week for 3-4 miles which is AWESOME, but it's plenty to satisfy my cardio cravings. The rest of the week I'm doing very forms of lifts, and hopefully this will lay the foundation for a better body composition once I'm able to amp up the cardio intensity (and add in breastfeeding, I'm really banking on that!). 

Several people have asked me what kinds of lifting workouts I'm doing at this point. Honestly, it depends, but I try to do these exercises at least twice/week:
-Barbell incline bench
-Lat Pulldown or Assisted Pull-up
-Barbell Squats (yes, I'm still squatting)
-Barbell RDL's (these REALLY help with back pain!!!)
-Cable or machine chest fly
-Some kind of row
-Dumbbell shoulder press
-Cable bicep curls 
-Some form of tricep extensions or dips

Yesterday I added in a few supersets of assisted exercises. At right we have cable chest fly's and assisted dips, for example. For the assisted dips, I was short on time so with the forward lean, you hit the deltoids with the triceps so you don't have to spend as much time dedicated to shoulders. 

In terms of how much weight I'm lifting, this really pertains to your fitness level. For me, squatting the bar with a little added weight is not "high intensity", but I would NOT recommend squatting the bar if you're not normally squatting with the bar. I would recommend doing some form of lower body exercises however, since once baby arrives you're going to need those leg muscles to help with proper lifting from the floor (don't need to throw out your back while caring for an infant!!), but you don't have to hit the heavier stuff. 

One final note: there was an article posted in Fit Pregnancy's Facebook page last week regarding exercise and pregnancy do's and don'ts, and one of the "don'ts" was to not practice exercises where you press overhead, i.e. shoulder press, and I can't even recall the reasoning because there is ZERO evidence to corroborate this statement. Again, the key is that you not hold your breath while exercising, period, so don't lift heavy enough to restrict or limit breathing (this applies to cardio as well). But overhead presses are, I would argue, quite beneficial for expectant mothers as these exercises help load the spine and encourage strengthening of the axial skeleton as well as core musculature. This is certainly a form of "functional" exercise which is safe and beneficial unless of course you have an orthopedic limitation (e.g. frozen shoulder) which would preclude you from safely executing a shoulder press. 

I lied, one additional final note. There is consideration of penning a book after all the feedback I've received from these preggo blog posts. I don't recall how it came up, but I mentioned this to my doctor. His face lit up and I think he was genuinely excited. Did I mention how much I like my doc? :) Anyway, this would be a collaborative effort so I've got some homework to do, but I welcome your questions and comments if you want more information about something I've mentioned or experienced with exercising through pregnancy. I've got a rough outline started but obviously I would like to SELL a few books, so your questions are welcomed. Don't worry, if your question births an idea for a chapter, you'll get the credit :)

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