When I realized I was pregnant for the fourth time, I was still doing the Insanity workouts regularly. I decided to keep going as long as I could with that routine. There were a couple of weeks here or there where I would only do it a couple of times because I wasn’t feeling the greatest, but I mostly stuck to about 4-5 times a week. The day that I hit 20 weeks, I did my last Insanity workout. It was bittersweet. I had become very flexible (for me) and felt strong and fit, but I didn’t want to push it. I had a little voice inside my head say, “It’s time to find something else for now!” The thing that I love the most about Insanity, is that the trainer (Shawn T) spends SO much time warming up, stretching before the workout, and stretching really well after the workout. He takes about 25 minutes to warm up and do all of the stretching, which is more than half the workout time. It’s great. I strongly believe in a good stretching routine to prevent injuries and maintain flexibility.
When you are pregnant, you have a little extra hormone called Relaxin coursing through your body. This hormone causes the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the body to relax significantly in preparation for your growing belly/baby. Knowing this, and knowing that I could easily injure myself if I kept trying to stretch so deeply (like Insanity requires), I started my search for a pregnancy-tailored workout.
I read what seemed like 8 million reviews on different prenatal workout dvds. My main worry was that I wouldn’t find something challenging enough, after doing Insanity for so long. I didn’t want to just do prenatal yoga for the rest of my pregnancy (but still add it in every week to keep me stretching safely). I wanted something that would keep up my fitness and not be boring or treat me like an invalid. After reading many reviews and realizing that everyone is different and will find workouts more or less challenging depending on their prior fitness level, I settled on Suzanne Bowen’s Slim and Toned Prenatal Barre Workout.
The Barre workout method is based on yoga, dance, and pilates. It was something I hadn’t tried and the reviews were really good. It came in the mail shortly after my Gluten nightmare occurred, and right when I was ready to start exercising again. Right away I loved the workouts and the structure of the dvd. It is broken down into four segments, three that are 20 minutes each – upper body and core, lower body, and cardio sculpt. Then there is a 10 minute stretching segment that you do after whatever other segments you choose to end your workout. I love that the segments are broken up so that I can choose to do how ever many I want/have time for on any given day and still feel I got a good workout in. I have been alternating upper body combined with the cardio segment and the lower body segment each day. I am still getting really sore from this workout and I can feel my deep core and pelvic floor muscles getting stronger, which is what we need during pregnancy and to push that baby out!
Another great thing about this dvd is that Suzanne constantly reminds you to “Kegel up” and to pull in those lower abs and pelvic floor muscles. I love the constant reminder, because it’s something you don’t think about all the time, but like I said, it is so important during pregnancy to tone those muscles! I have been using this dvd for almost a month now and I really do like it. It’s provided a bit of a challenge, while staying “safe” for pregnancy and it’s nice to have the 30 minute option when I’m running behind on things but don’t want to sacrifice my workout.
I made a goal to make this pregnancy my healthiest yet, and so far so good. I have mostly been in a city during my other pregnancies, resulting in a lot more random cheeseburger runs (one of my biggest cravings). So being back at our farm has helped because I’m eating a lot better just out of plain necessity. With my troubles with Gluten, I have also been kind of forced to cut back on things I would usually indulge on during this time (i.e. DOUGHNUTS . . . mmm . . . I crave them all the time while pregnant). But now, I can’t eat them and it’s not worth it to me anymore to go through that type of pain and internal distress for momentary pleasure. Instead, I have been packing in the protein and fresh produce along with my daily smoothies, a lot of red raspberry tea, and LOTS of eggs.
This is the longest I have consistently exercised during a pregnancy as well (my previous one I made it to about 18 weeks before sliding off the wagon). Feeling great physically has helped me in every other way. I was just telling my husband last week that I am to the point now where I NEED those endorphins. I NEED to feel that boost in my morning to help me through the days. I immediately feel so much better and am more patient and less frustrated with my poor children when I exercise first. When I skip, I feel more tired, sluggish, and much more susceptible to mood swings! As I get bigger, I haven’t noticed many aches and pains like I usually would at this stage, which is a huge blessing. I’m hoping to keep up my routine of exercising at least four (hoping more for five or six) days a week throughout the rest of my pregnancy (15 weeks left!). It’s already helped me immensely to sleep better and feel straighter and taller, not to mention the fact that my weight gain has been a lot slower than any other pregnancy (except my first, but don’t we all take that blessed time for granted? ha). It probably helps that I am just too busy to notice that I am pregnant most of the time, still taking care of a baby and other little ones. It’s spring and time to get busy outside and in the garden so I know things won’t slow down yet and I’m grateful. Before I know it, I’ll be snuggling my tiny boy!