New Blessing on the Way| Carissa Johnson
I always thought I'd be the pregnant woman lifting heavy weights and killing it in the gym as I always have. I guess things don't always go as planned.
Before I got pregnant, I was making some serious strength and lean mass gains through training and supplementing with HMB, BetaTOR and PEAK ATP. . Once I became pregnant, I ended up making an emergency pre-natal checkup and my views on pregnancy fitness completely changed. Thank God the baby was doing well but when I asked about training just as a precaution the doctor advised me to not lift more than 30 lbs. The first thing that crossed my mind was, “Well if I only train arms I guess I can adjust,” but just for kicks I asked her to clarify. I told her I understood upper body but wondered about deadlifts and squats, keeping in mind that my barbell alone is 35 lbs. Not going to lie, I didn't think the 30 lb. max applied to certain exercises. My doc went on to say I should be careful with intensity, keeping it at a 6-7 on a scale of 10. This is unheard of in my training. My strategy is consistency and persistence with a huge emphasis on intensity.
I honestly didn't know what to do with her guidelines. In my head I was trying to justify more weight and intensity, but after seeing two ultrasounds my heart changed a bit and I've come to accept this pregnancy is not about me. A silly workout or exercise is not worth risking the health of my growing baby. I couldn't stand the thought of any of my actions causing harm to the baby. So rather than justify my own thoughts, I took the doctor's word to heart. Not only that, my husband, a flight medic, has seen way too many pregnancies go wrong, and as his flight nurses have warned there are some that have been caused by heavy, intense workouts. Rather than risk it, I've taken a step back realizing now is not a time for any "gains" other than baby gains and have proceeded with caution.
My first trimester strategy was to make sure the baby had a safe environment. This meant backing off on maxing my lifts and increasing cardio instead. Nausea and exhaustion have been intense obstacles to overcome, but in spite of it all I've committed to at least attempting an hour on the Stairmaster everyday. Admittedly, most days I don’t feel like going for it (the exhaustion is enough to make me want to sleep all day), but the majority of the time I've been able to complete the cardio. Although I miss lifting, I know this has been a wise choice as I've made it through the 1st trimester. In addition to cardio, I do light shoulder exercises alternating with pushups and occasional pull-ups and body weight leg exercises.
Without HMB, and with nausea and increased cardio, I've inevitably lost some muscle mass. I'm approaching my second trimester and look forward to easing exhaustion and plan on increasing my time with weights (with caution) if my body allows, as the pregnancy will be further along.
There are countless opinions on fitness and pregnancy, and I think every woman's experience is different. For me, a cautious but consistent exercise approach has been the best call as all I want is a healthy and happy baby. I look forward to continuing my training, and bouncing back post-baby with the help of HMB, BetaTOR and PEAK ATP.
- Carissa Johnson