Sunday, 4 February 2007

Fit Pregnancy: Taking it indoors

Filed under: ,

In our Fit Pregnancy feature, blogger Jennifer Jordan speaks her mind about maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Every two weeks through March 31, 2007 she'll weigh in on exercise, diet, wellness and other health-related issues as she manages her own journey from pregnancy to motherhood.

Remember how a few weeks ago my "get up and go" got up and went? I recall lamenting feeling so lethargic given the unusually warm winter weather, realizing even then that I should take advantage of being outside while it was warm enough to do so. instead I made excuses and stayed indoors. Sure enough, the colder weather is now upon us here in NYC, with AM temperatures of well below freezing, making it too cold for a waddler like me to keep warm. As a result, I've had to take my workout indoors.

Working out inside has re-shed some interesting light on my pregnancy. As I am in my third trimester I've been feeling more and more of the aches and pains associated with the last few months of pregnancy. Even when I feel like I just can't get up in the morning, if I can just get myself out of bed and into the living room for a little stretching, I feel infinitely better...for the whole day. It's amazing but true. Remembering this is incentive to haul it out of bed when this very tired mommy-soon-to-be would otherwise turn over for a little more shut eye.

Of course, I've had to modify my workouts. The larger I become the harder it is to do certain things. When I was walking, my indoor workout consisted mostly of some stretching, some modified sit ups and some push ups. I was out the door in less than thirty minutes. Now I have nearly an hour to focus on things, which gives me the time to really concentrate on what I'm doing rather than hurrying through the steps so I can get outdoors to what I formerly considered the "real" part of my workout.

So what exactly am I doing? Well, I still stretch out from head to toe (in that order). I hold each stretch on each side for at least 30 seconds and focus on breathing, breathing, breathing. Now that the baby is truly sizable enough to mush my diaphragm, just breathing is exercise in itself.

I've continued with my modified sit-ups, although at this point I feel I'm doing them more to keep with the routine than for any other purpose. I don't really feel any sensation in my abs. In fact, I'm not even sure where they are anymore. They seem to have been replaced by the giant superdome holding my baby. I miss them, yes, but they are otherwise occupied. The modified sit up consists of sitting on the floor so my back and legs form a "V." With knees bent and toes angled down I lower my feet to the ground in unison, then raise them to a 90 degree angle. This move works my quads more than anything which is also beneficial.

I've also spent an inordinate amount of time stretching my calves. This move perhaps more than any other has been beneficial in warding off the aches and pains of the last trimester. Although it may have nothing to do with the extra attention I've paid my calves, I've avoided leg cramps all together. From what I understand they are extremely painful and hard to get rid of, often striking in the middle of the night. That doesn't sound like fun. The move I like best is the runner's stretch: Hands on the ground, body stretched in a straight line behind you and feet together, raise on foot off the ground and dig the heel of the other foot into the floor. You should feel the stretch in the calf of the foot on the floor. Make sure to hold for at least 30 seconds.

I've managed to this point to not only keep up with my push ups--the modified version on my knees--but I've actually seen gains in my strength as I've added to the total number I can accomplish. I do a set of 30, break, do a set of 20, break and then do a nice, slow set of 10. Having frequently held a friend's newborn for extended periods of time I've realized one thing: babies don't seem heavy, but they are. So build up that upper body strength while you can!

In addition to the push ups I've been using my free weights, doing bicep curls and tricep dips in sets of 20. I also do a move I call "picking up the groceries" which is a modified bicep curl that has been particularly effective. Instead of keeping your elbows at your sides as you life the weights to your chest, turn your elbows out with the weights facing your hips. Curl the weights toward your inner elbow as if you were raising bags of groceries.

Regardless of what moves you incorporate, and what works best for you, the best thing to do is to keep doing it. Stick with your program, even if you need to modify it along the way. Getting up in the mornings--albeit not every day as I used to--and doing something (anything) has helped me maintain a rhythm, and, at the very least, has alleviated my cabin fever.

When is the best time to workout, morning or afternoon?

Filed under:

I think this question is one of those unanswerable ones, along the lines of which came first, the chicken or the egg? It seems like there are always going to be arguments both ways, depending on how you want to look at it. But it doesn't hurt to hear the arguments because it can help you decide which one is better for you.

Working out in the morning might help you burn more calories over-all, due to giving your metabolism an early boost that will last well into your day burning energy long after you're done working out. But on the down side, often when people try to fit their exercise in by getting up early it doesn't happen consistently. So if working out in the afternoon is when you have more time, and when you're most likely to stick with it, then that's the best time for you.

Weirdly enough, I actually prefer evening workouts. I feel like such an oddball.