Friday, November 16, 2012

Having a fit pregnancy

Crow pose
Staying healthy, keeping fit, and enjoying my ever growing body is what I truly desire out of this pregnancy. We have very little control over these things, but that isn't going to stop me from trying. When I was pregnant with little r, I had to completely succumb control and let my body focus on the challenging task of creating a child. I was working too much, commuting long hours in the car, and dealing with a high risk pregnancy. My OB had me on strict "only walking for exercise" rules, which was the opposite of what I had always invisioned for my pregnancy. I also had a reality check on how much several miscarriages can put your body through.

All that aside, I couldn't be in a different place for my pregnancy this time. My current job requires very little commuting in a car, I'm rarely at the computer or sitting in a chair, and I have maybe a wee bit more free time to take care of myself. This year I have also worked incredibly hard to focus on my fitness, and for the first time in years, I feel strong and physically happy.

Regardless of how much I enjoy running, I seem to consistently forget how much my body loathes it. I wish we could get on the same page about this, but I keep losing the battle. I also mentioned earlier that we rarely have any control over our bodies during our pregnancies, and that factor most likely didn't help me in this situation either. My dream of running a 10k in my third trimester will just need to be replaced with something else. Don't worry, I'll find something... I somehow gave myself bursitis in my hip, and although my physical therapist encouraged me to keep running, she was explicit about stopping if it caused pain. Yeah, there was pain, so I stopped. Something is telling me that I'll need these hips to be strong over the several months, what do you think?

Missing out on the amazing therapy that trail running provides me, I needed to turn my attention to my other meditative addiction: yoga. Yoga. Even the word itself pulls me in. All of the literature on prenatal yoga was informing me to avoid having a yoga practice during the first trimester. For the first 12 weeks, I kept any yoga to a minimum, but jumped right back in as soon as the risky months were behind me.

Camel pose - can you see that baby tummy?
You know me though, I needed more than a "promise" to myself to keep up a yoga practice during my pregnancy. Still battling with nausea, fatigue, and all those other fun pregnancy goodies makes it very easy to talk myself out of any motivation. That just means I needed to create motivation. So, I decided to do a yoga challenge. It's a challenge that ensures I'll keep a daily practice so I continue to feel strong. A friend of mine is doing the challenge with me, so I designed a schedule for us to keep each other honest and to push us forward. I figured 12-weeks would be a good goal. That takes me to the end of my second trimester where I can see how my body is feeling and growing. I'm hoping to continue with my regular yoga practice as far into the pregnancy as I'm able and my OB allows.

I've been practicing yoga on and off for over a decade now. It wasn't until this past year that I really feel like I was able to take my practice to a new level. My body was ready, I just needed to find the right teacher or partner to push me to try new poses. When I went into a headstand for the first time, I was so emotional I actually thought I might cry. Sounds ridiculous, but if we are being honest here, I just really never thought my inflexible and weak body could ever do any of these challenging yoga poses. It's amazing what you can do when you put your mind (and body) to something and practice.

Headstand - you never know what you can do once you set your mind to it
I really enjoy doing inversions now. In addition to my headstand, which I try to do every day if I can, I've also been working on handstand and forearm balance. These poses take arm and abdominal strength but more than that it's a workout for the mind. No matter how many times I go up in to headstand, I still have to walk my mind through the fear to prepare myself.

It turns out, inversions are also incredibly good for pregnancy (when you were already doing them before becoming pregnant). I'm curious to see how "good" they continue to keep feeling as I grow. My good friend said I had to take pictures of this through the pregnancy - that was a must. So I kept my promise. I can guarantee you there is no other way you'd get me to show you pictures of myself in these crazy poses.

Forearm balance - one of the most challenging poses I have ever accomplished
I have no idea if my pregnancy will be fit or if another injury will slow me down along the way. I'm almost anticipating these things. But hopefully I'll be able to continue this practice, even if I have to stop the inversions or go to elementary prenatal yoga. I think it's important to find something to keep your mind and your body strong, whatever that might be. It's different for all of us. Some find solace in running or yoga, others in knitting, crafts, wood work or simply reading. Remember to find something that brings your mind peace, and let yourself go there as much as possible. I guarantee your mind will thank you for it.

This past year or so of being at home has taught me how important it is to take care of yourself. You will be surprised that no matter how busy you are, you can almost always find 10-20 minutes in a day to give to yourself. And often, that little bit of time is all you need to recharge.


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