I am Julie, currently residing in Hillsboro, OR. I work here for Nike, Inc. as a Network Engineer. I have been married to Pradeep, a Design Engineer at Intel for 3.5 Years now and have recently blessed with a beautiful baby boy – Kenneth.
Through this blog, I’d like to share my experience and journey as a fitness-lover before, during, and after pregnancy. The hope is to inspire and encourage as many women as possible.
It all started when I came to the USA for my Masters in 2009. I pursued my M.S. in Missouri University of Science & Technology, Rolla. Until then, I stayed with my parents and hence the sudden transition to an independent life in the United States got me all excited and nervous to explore this new world!
I am a huge food lover and have fallen prey many times to binge-eating. My love for junk food – especially cheese and chocolate met its true match when I got into the habit of eating out every day with my friends. I just enjoyed eating and sometimes we used to stay up all night in the 24×7 restaurants, ordering food, talking just about anything that crossed our minds. Such was our care-free life! All was well until the first 8 months of my Masters when I suddenly started noticing something that had never happened before. I put on about 10 Kgs!! Maybe I just got too comfortable in my track pants or I didn’t pay too much attention to my clothes getting tighter, I was not really sure – but when the realization of weight gain struck me, I saw a dip in my confidence levels. What was I doing with myself? I was in self-denial for a few days and then self-pity followed. I took comfort in ice-creams and desserts imagining they would melt away all the fat I gained.
Finally, 2010 January – I began to take notice of the gymnasium in my university that I never cared about until then. I started off with the treadmill. Having never been to the gym, I was absolutely alien to the idea of exercising or running. All I was ever told during childhood was that – ‘yoga is good and the gym is bad as the weight comes right back once a person stops working out’. Nevertheless, I wanted to give the gym a try. I started running for 15-20 minutes a day at 4-5 miles/hr. It felt good to do something for myself although I didn’t notice any difference in weight for the first month. Like any human being, I wanted results and was on the verge of giving up when suddenly, a 2 Kg drop in my weight felt like ‘the first step to motivation’. Feeling encouraged, I then thought – well, let me change my diet a little. I stopped eating outside completely and started cooking at home after my classes, allowing myself a couple cheat meals on weekends. Slowly, but steadily over a period of 3-4 months, I lost all of my recently gained weight and I couldn’t have been happier! My body was totally in my control now.
I slowly increased the duration of my workouts (running, elliptical and core-strengthening) to an hour. My weight has been consistent and so were my workouts (5-6 times a week). I still treat myself to 2-3 cheat meals a week, eating whatever I feel like – sometimes in moderation and other times indulging myself wholeheartedly. But I make sure I hit the gym regularly without slacking.
Fast-Forward to 2017 September when I conceived, I was clueless about how pregnancy would change me physically and mentally. Most mothers can relate to this – the advice galore begins from well-meaning neighbors and friends, not to mention overzealous family members. Some of the most annoying and repetitive suggestions I kept getting –
“Now you should stop running and working out as it will harm the baby.”
“Take bed rest in the first trimester as it is crucial for baby’s growth and development.”
“Eat a lot of ghee – it will ease the delivery process.”
“Only brisk-walk and make sure you eat for 2 people.”
My favorite one being – “Exercising during running causes miscarriages!”
I politely nodded my head and simply consulted my gynecologist. All she asked me is to keep working out like I did before pregnancy as long as I feel comfortable. She recommended that I keep myself hydrated at all times without overheating my body. I reduced my running pace to 6 miles/hour and took frequent water breaks whenever needed.
In the first trimester, since I had been running and working out for almost 8 years, I continued running indoors in the mornings (6-7 miles, 5 times/week) as it gave me easy access to restroom and water breaks. In the evenings after work, I felt tired, but that was expected – I was making a baby inside of me! I was fortunate to not have any morning sickness, just aversions to certain kinds of food. My calorie consumption was the same prior to pregnancy as the baby was still so tiny. Prenatal Vitamins – I had religiously every day. My midwife once mentioned that the baby is a very efficient parasite and can absorb all the necessary nutrition and vitamins from the mother throughout pregnancy. I even traveled to India and Singapore in my 2nd month without any issues. There is no hard and fast rule that pregnant women shouldn’t be flying during the first trimester, save for a few exceptions or if your gynecologist tells you otherwise. All I had to do was frequently walk around and drink lots of water.
Come second and third trimesters, as my bump got bigger, I started getting the looks in the gym. Some of them openly appreciated my consistency with the workouts. I added Kegel exercises to my daily routine and increased my calorie intake by 300-500 healthy and fiber-rich calories with 2-3 cheat meals a week to satisfy the ‘pregnancy cravings’!
I went to the gym until the day of my admission into the hospital, labored for a total of 14 hours and pushed for 40 minutes resulting in a normal delivery with a 2nd degree tear. Post-delivery, after 10 days of recovery, I returned to pre-pregnancy weight after losing all of the body fluids. I jumped back on a low-impact exercise routine – walking and elliptical. It was very tough to exercise as the baby demanded constant attention, I was constantly hungry, and very much sleep-deprived. But, thanks to my mom and husband, I was able to find some time to hit the gym. We also have a home-gym setup now so that I do not have to leave the baby whenever he wakes up hungry and crying.
Honestly, pregnancy is no excuse to eat unhealthy and gain unnecessary weight! True, we will gain weight because of the baby but why put on the extra pounds by overindulging ourselves? A diet rich in plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meat, protein, and fiber goes a long way in keeping a pregnant woman full and contented. I did a mix of running and elliptical until the day of delivery and in contrast to what people normally assume, the belly never felt heavy or uncomfortable when I worked out. Moderation, determination, and self-control were key to my total pregnancy weight gain of only 12 lbs. My midwife was very happy with the way my baby was growing. His birth weight was a perfectly normal 7 lbs.
Few big benefits from my personal experience with exercising regularly throughout pregnancy:
1) High possibility of avoiding stretch marks and itchy belly – Skin stretches more than its elastic allowance if there is a sudden weight gain in a short span. The key is to maintain weight gain at a controlled, slow and steady pace. Of course, there are all kinds of oils and creams out there in the market (Bio-Oil is a good one) – but nothing helps you more than keeping yourself well hydrated, moisturized, and fit.
2) Minimal chances of swelling, muscle cramps, backaches, gas, bloating, and constipation.
3) Increased stamina and endurance – It helps you feel less tired and more energetic throughout pregnancy, especially during the last phase of labor while pushing the baby out.
4) High chances of ending up with a normal delivery
5) Reduced mood swings and solid mental stability.
6) Guarantees a good night’s sleep without having to deal with insomnia.
7) Less weight gain during pregnancy = Quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight after delivery.
8) Most importantly, your fetus is getting fitter along with you as his/her heart rate improves.
We are all tough and strong women. Let’s not allow the pregnancy to be an excuse to not stay fit and be couch potatoes. For those who have been exercising prior to pregnancy, keep up the good job and continue the same throughout pregnancy. For those who have never exercised prior to pregnancy, start at a comfortable pace during pregnancy (it can be brisk-walking/jogging/elliptical/swimming, etc) and ramp it up slowly, always listening to your body. If you have a negative environment around you discouraging you to exercise, politely educate them about its awesome benefits but never give up or discontinue!
Nike rightfully quotes -�IF YOU HAVE A BODY, YOU ARE AN ATHLETE�.
Exercise until it becomes an addiction! You will be amazed as to what your body is truly capable of! Stay fit and inspire others! Good luck my comrades!!
Attached are my pictures pre and post pregnancy!
Extra weight gain during pregnancy while on normal health conditions is a myth. Women either take advantage of being pregnant and binge eat or stay away from fitness which is completely wrong.
If you’re starting pregnancy at a healthy weight, expect to gain 1 to 5 pounds in the first trimester and about 1 pound per week for the rest of your pregnancy. Keep in mind that eating for two doesn’t mean eating twice as much as you usually do – you don’t even need any extra calories in your first trimester.
Hope this story inspires many mothers 💝 if you take care of yourself you can take very good care of your family ☺️
Know how much is normal & how much is too much for your own body and act upon that !