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Bridal Fitness - Exercising While Pregnant Monday, February 11, 2013 ~ 8:50 a.m.

Working out while pregnant Good morning! I hope you all had great weekends. I had a pretty busy weekend, myself, with my mom here in California, and the baby shower was definitely a success! I plan on sharing some photos from the day in the next week or two. I am here visiting family until tomorrow afternoon, and then I'll be back in Colorado in time to celebrate Valentine's Day with my favorite guy :) We're actually celebrating on Wednesday instead of Thursday, since we hate going out on the actual holiday (way too crowded, overpriced and just more trouble than it seems to be worth, if you ask me).

But before we get to Valentine's Day, we have to get through MONDAY - Bridal Fitness on Paper - today! As a pregnant lady, I can tell you that working out has become a bit more complicated for me these past 7+ months. At first, it was always a question of whether I felt well enough; if I had enough energy and if I was pushing myself too hard. Then, it was more about comfort. As both my chest and my belly grew, my exercises had to evolve into more low impact activity that felt okay for both me and my baby. With all of these questions though, I am very happy and proud to say that I have remained physically active throughout my pregnancy. I look back on how awful I felt in my first trimester, and I can't even believe that I managed to workout at least 2 to 3 times per week the way that I did! At the time, I was so hard on myself because I wasn't nearly as active as I was pre-pregnancy, but now, I feel a sense of accomplishment in what I was able to do while feeling so sick all the time.

Now, most of my physical activity consists of walking, intersperced with yoga and some strengthening work on my arms and legs. I have to be honest and say that there's still a little part of me (the pre-pregnancy part) that beats myself up because my workouts just aren't hard enough, and I'm still having to remind myself that my workouts are for an entirely different purpose right now. I'm not aiming to burn calories and lose weight like I was before (and will be again in a few months). I'm getting up and walking for my health and my baby's health. Sure, my back and hips KILL after a walk these days, but I have to believe that the benefits outweigh my own aches and pains. Plus, (TMI alert:) walking does WONDERS for pregnancy gas and digestive issues ;)

So today, Bridal Fitness on Paper is all about working out while pregnant. I tried to answer what I think are the most common questions that come up when it comes to fitness and pregnancy, and what I have personally learned about the subject over the past 7 months. If there is anything that I've missed, please do feel free to leave a comment below, and above all else, remember....when it comes to pregnancy, Google is your friend!

Bridal Fitness on Paper - Tips for Exercising While Pregnant

Push yourself, but not too hard.
There's a general rule of thumb when it comes to working out while pregnant, and that is if you can't carry on a conversation while exercising, you're working too hard. Remember that now, your heart is pumping for two and you're producing oxygen for both you and your baby, which means you have to keep twice as close an eye on your heart rate. If you can't talk while working out, slow down a bit in order to slow down your heart rate.

Consume extra calories.
Just as important as the exercise itself is the fuel your body requires in order to do it! If your body mass index (BMI) was in the normal range when you first got pregnant, you'll generally require about 300 extra calories per day while pregnant. Say what?! You might be saying...only 300 extra calories? YES, believe it or not. The old adage, "Eating for two," is not true, unfortunately. You may have trouble sticking to this rule as your appetite rages on throughout your pregnancy, but technically, your body doesn't require that many extra calories in order to thrive during pregnancy. Just make sure that you are tacking on those extra 300 calories to a normal 2,000 calorie per day diet - NOT your 1200 or 1500 calorie minimum you would normally strive for while dieting on Weight Watchers.

Pregnancy nutrition

Listen to your body and drink lots of water.
For me, a big sign that I'm working too hard has been an increased tightness in my belly. When I start to feel my belly getting tight and hard to the touch, I know that I need to let up a bit and slow down. My doctor also advised me that those Braxton Hicks contractions some women may get in their second and third trimesters can also be a sign that you're doing too much. Other obvious signs that you're working hard include overheating, light headedness and dizziness. These symptoms can be caused by exercise, as well as dehydration, so make sure that you're drinking plenty of water. According to, we should aim for eight 8-ounce glasses per day (64 fluid ounces) of fluid, plus one 8-ounce cup for each hour of light activity. Milk, juice, decaffeinated drinks, and caffeinated drinks all contain plenty of water and "count" toward your fluid intake. Another interesting fact? Don't hesitate to drink water and other fluids because you're afraid of retaining water. Oddly enough, the more fluids you drink during pregnancy, the less your body retains. So if your feet and ankles are swollen, drinking more water actually helps.

Stay off of your back.
When exercising, you'll want to avoid laying on your back for extended periods of time. Essentially, this means that you'll need to modify your ab work and resistance training routines a bit. This can be tricky, especially when it comes to figuring out ways to replace your typical crunches with other ab strengthening workouts, but it can be done! Things like planks (up until very late in your pregnancy, of course), pelvic tilts, dumbbell side bends and dumbbell chops are all great options if you're pregnant. Also remember that ab exercises where you're leaning back and not lying flat on the ground can still be done, but carefully! Your ab muscles become significantly weaker as your belly grows, so you have to take extra care when exercising and stretching them while pregnant. You'll find that you aren't able to do the same moves and number of reps as you could before you were pregnant, and that's okay!

Pregnancy exercise tips

Low impact activity is your best friend.
Generally, fitness machines are great options for you while you're pregnant. The treadmill is obviously great for walking, and for more of a challenge, you can adjust the incline as you please. If you're in great shape, you can even try increasing your speed and jogging, although I was never able to do that for long. Early on in my pregnancy when my belly wasn't too big, I thought I could keep it up, but my boobs hurt so much, that that didn't last long. Then later on in my pregnancy, my belly made it impossible! My lower back starts to kill after walking for a bit, which is why I recommend getting some sort of Maternity Belt or girdle to support your heavy belly and your lower back. It's horribly ugly, I know, but it's not so bad if you just wear underneath your workout clothes!

The elliptical is probably the most comfortable option for working out while pregnant, in my opinion, because it's easy on all of your joints. I tend to get a little bit of stiffness in the neck and shoulders after a while, but these are easily dealt with by loosening up and moving around a bit afterward. The stationary bike is also a great way to get your heart pumping, tone and strengthen your legs, although you'll have to be mindful of your thighs hitting your belly as you continue to grow! That, and the extra weight you're carrying can make your seat hurt even more than it normally would on a bike! I'm still able to hang on the stationary bike for 15, 20 minutes without problems, but that's about it.

Working out while pregnant

Stay away from extreme sports.
I almost didn't include this tip simply because it seems like common sense. While you're pregnant, please refrain from any strenuous, extreme sports that may put you and your baby at risk. Sure, skiing, snowboarding, mountain climbing and horseback riding can be fun forms of exercise when you're not pregnant, but all of these activities should be avoided while you're pregnant simply because of the risk of falling and hurting yourself.

Stretch, stretch, stretch!
Aches and pains are typical when working out regularly, but they are even worse and more frequent while pregnant, if you can believe it. For that reason, you must incorporate some relaxing stretching time into your normal fitness routine. This can be difficult, especially when you're used to setting aside 30 minutes a day to hop on the treadmill before work, but take it from really, really helps. I typically rely on traditional yoga positions like the seated spinal twist, child's pose and downward dog, as well as the foam roller to help ease my awful back and hip pain.

Bridal Fitness on Paper is a weekly blog series posted every Monday, where I share and review a wide variety of cardio and resistance training workouts, both inside the gym and out. Bridal Fitness on Paper is meant to help guide brides along their weight loss journey all the way to the altar and beyond! All of the reviews posted are based on my own experience; I am not a fitness or nutrition professional, and am not liable for any injuries incurred while trying any of the workouts that I share here on A Paper Proposal. If you're curious about a specific workout, and you'd like for me to review it, please do leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at Sarah - at - apaperproposal - dot - com.

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