There are so many things a woman has to accept about pregnancy- no drinking, smoking, carnival rides, downhill skiing. Perhaps the hardest part is watching your body balloon out and the scale read bigger and bigger numbers. Regardless of your level of vanity, watching your body go from “hey my boobs got bigger!” to “is she pregnant or is she fat?” to “Jesus Christ I’m a walking motor home” is tough. A lot of people think pregnant women are beautiful, majestic creatures, and I agree. But you may not feel that way when you have to contort your giant body just to wipe your ass. That’s just not hot.
Here are a few tips to help you stay positive and do some damage control.
- Accept it already. You’re not going to lose a few pounds during pregnancy. You’re not going to work out an hour a day, every day. You must gain weight. It’s what is healthy for your precious baby. Please don’t fight this inevitable truth. You’re only pregnant for 9 months, you can be neurotic about the scale later.
- Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat like shit all the time. You can eat like shit some of the time. We understand that you’re moody and tired the only thing you can keep down is ice cream. But if you eat like this even when you’re feeling fine, you will gain more weight than you have to, and have a nasty habit to contend with come weightloss time.
- Wear clothes that fit. There will be an awkward phase when you don’t need maternity clothes yet, but your ass/muffin top/gut is too big for your regular jeans. During this time, borrow your fat friend’s clothes, wear skirts, get some kind of belly band. Going a size up in clothes is going to make you look much, much, much better. Even if you can’t wear your hot skinny clothes, you can at least look cute in something that fits well.
- Strength train. You need to keep your core strong to support all the extra weight on your front side and push that baby out. For appearance’s sake you should also do resistance training for your arms, legs, and ass to keep them sort of perky and toned-ish. Hey, it’s better than giving up.
- Let yourself believe compliments. Everyone will say “wow you look great for 8 months pregnant!” and you’ll suspect people are just being nice to appease the pregnant lady. You’re probably right. But take the compliment anyway without overthinking. We’re just trying to give you, the brave woman growing a beautiful new life inside of her, a little boost.
Be real- you have sore feet and tight shoulders. Maybe your shoes aren’t right or you’re just stressed out, but at the end of the day you really need a massage. Here are two cheap at-home solutions that will ease your pain.
Tight neck and shoulders
Bad form when exercising
Solution: DIY Deep Tissue Massage
Place 2 tennis balls on either side of your spine, near the bottom of your shoulder blades, then lay on the floor on your back. The tennis balls should be under your upper back. Put as much weight on the balls as you can stand, use a pillow under your head if the pressure is too painful. Slowly (emphasize SLOWLY) scoot your body down so the tennis balls move up toward the base of your spine. When you find a tender or sore spot, breathe deeply and stay on it. This will release the built-up tension in your trapezius muscle and its fascia (an intricate web of connective tissue that runs from head to toe).
Tight muscles in foot and lower leg
Solution: Effortless Foot Massage
Sit down and put a tennis ball on the ground under one foot. Slowly roll the ball around under your foot. Put as much pressure down as you can stand, and focus on sore spots. This self-massage can also help with knee and hip pain- joint problems often start from the ground up.
Both of these techniques are a type of self myofascial release. They help to release tension built up in our connective tissues that cause faulty movement patterns, joint imbalance, and muscle pain. I encourage you to find a great massage therapist or myofascial release practitioner if your pain exceeds what you can correct with these. If your pain is caused by poor posture, muscle imbalance, or bad exercising form, a private Pilates instructor at Sweat Equity can help correct these problems.
Knee pain can be caused by several factors, including damaged cartilage, torn ligaments or muscular imbalance. If your problem is the result of tight or weak muscles (ask your doctor), Pilates can help. Strengthening the quads (often the vastus medialis in particular) or foam rolling muscles around the knee can help alleviate or eliminate your pain. Here are some techniques you can do at home, or for better results, in conjunction with your Pilates program. If your pain worsens with exercise, discontinue and tell your doctor.
Form and joint alignment are paramount. Strengthening muscles with a joint in the wrong position will keep your joint in the wrong position, like ironing a wrinkle into your button down shirt. But by creating muscle balance with joints neutral, you can eliminate tension and pain for the long-term. Your instructor will watch you to ensure proper form.
At home- Wall Squat
Stand with your back against a wall, and your feet about 24” away from the wall. Lower your butt toward the floor until your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Use your legs to push back up.
At studio- Footwork
Lay on the reformer with your heels on the bar, hip distance apart. Press the carriage back until knees are straight but not locked out; bend knees to return the carriage but do not bend your knees past 90 degrees. Do 8-12 repetitions and repeat with heels shoulder distance apart and legs turned in for 8-12 reps and turned out for another 8-12.
“Three weeks after I started working out with Amber I could see an improvement in the stability of my knees. Now, three months after, my knees feel better than they have since surgery.”
-Drew, Sweat Equity Pilates client
Remember that tight muscles can pull joints out of a neutral alignment. Don’t overlook stretching hamstrings, quadriceps, inner and outer thighs, and calves if you have knee problems. Please consult a doctor first to determine the cause of pain. Then, ask your instructor to show you additional stretches.
Sit with a foam roller under your bottom then turn so that just one hip is on the roller and your body is facing the side. Both hands should be on the floor to help bear weight, but put as much weight as you can tolerate on the down hip. You can put your top foot flat on the floor to take pressure off your hip. Slowly move your body so that the roller makes its way to your knee. If you find a sore or tender spot, stay on it and breathe deeply as your IT band and fascia release. Stop just before you get to the knee joint. Go slowly.
Sit on the floor with legs extended and a foam roller under your ankles. Rotate your legs inward and outward as you slowly move so that the roller comes up toward your knees. Press down with your legs if the weight of your calves is not enough to release tension. Stop just before the knee joint. Breathe deeply and stay on any sore spots you find.
Pilates made my pregnancy awesome. Carrying a baby can be exhausting mentally, physically, and especially emotionally. It can be uncomfortable or painful. That’s why all women need to know how Pilates can make pregnancy much easier. Imagine instead of feeling tired, lazy, fat and ugly you felt strong, powerful, in control, and sexy? That’s the difference between my first pregnancy and my second.
Being pregnant the first time sucked. I was going to school to be a personal trainer, so I had to exercise. And I was pretty sure I needed to lift weights and run on a treadmill to stay in shape. Unfortunately, I dislike both those things. Lifting wore me out immediately, before I could even get a good burn going. As for the treadmill, I couldn’t walk without my round ligaments, hips, and knees hurting. Each step jostled my bloated little body to the point of pain. My exercise routine was all-around miserable. So I quit. And I started eating for 2… actually more like 3. I felt like I had no say in what happened to my body, so I just gave up and started eating. My self-esteem and body image were so bad that I plopped down on the couch and ate till it hurt, the entire third trimester. I gained 48 pounds. I looked like a man and felt like a troll. I really hated that. Even so, I expected to leave the hospital as skinny as when I got pregnant. I was young, worked at a gym, and breastfed. Everyone told me the weight would simply disappear.
It took me 9 months to get close to my pre-pregnancy weight. And just when my muffin top was almost gone… I got pregnant again.
I had started my own business, Sweat Equity Pilates, around the same time I got pregnant. And with one son on the ground and one on the way I could NOT afford to feel tired, lazy, ugly and fat. Nor did I want to! I was on the path to happiness and success, and growing a baby was not going to slow me down. Fortunately, my business is instructing Pilates, so I had the equipment and knowledge I needed. I did mat and reformer workouts throughout my entire pregnancy. The workouts felt good, I felt good. I even looked good! I felt so proud of myself that I would occasionally walk around the house in my underwear. I had Pilates-strong abs, so I had good posture. What pregnant chick has good posture? I did! I could literally breath easier because I was strong enough to hold up my heavy pregnant boobs. The abdominal strength I built benefited me in so many ways. It helped me push during labor. And it pulled my tummy in post-labor for the flat belly look.
When I did get a muscle or joint out of whack, I did Pilates to stretch and strengthen the area to completely relieve my pain. Completely. The workouts were challenging but doable. I didn’t feel tired and in pain during exercise, I felt strong and sexy. That motivated me to keep going! If you don’t care how good I felt, or don’t believe Pilates is really the best way to exercise during pregnancy, consider these numbers.
Time spent in active labor: 1st pregnancy- 20 minutes 2nd pregnancy-10 minutes
Time to get to near pre-pregnancy weight: 1st-9 mos 2nd-30 days
Pounds gained: 1st-48 2nd-28
If you want to be proactive during your pregnancy, call me. We provide the least expensive private sessions, and I will use my experiences and knowledge to keep you fit and healthy, and feelin’ good.
It's hard to balance healthy weight gain with fitness during your pregnancy. Knowing how many calories your body needs will help! The following table will tell you how many calories you need so you can plan or track accordingly. Of course, your doctor has the last say in whether your weight gain is appropriate.
Estimated Nutritional Requirements for Pregnant and Lactating Women
water calories protein carbohydrates
First trimester 3 liters 2400 k/cal 71 grams 175 grams
Second trimester 3 liters 2740 k/cal 71 grams 175 grams
Third trimester 3 liters 2850 k/cal 71 grams 175 grams
Breastfeeding, 0-6 mos 3.8 liters 2730 k/cal 71 grams 210 grams
Breastfeeding, 7-12 mos 3.8 liters 2800 k/cal 71 grams 210 grams
Estimated nutritional requirements for babies
water calories protein fat carbohydrates
0-6 mos .7 liters 570 k/cal 9.1 grams 31 grams 60 grams
6-12 mos .8 liters 743 k/cal 13.5 30 grams 95 grams
Source: Nutrition Now, fourth edition, Judith E. Brown
I am so excited to have Sweat Equity's space all set up and fancy. The brand new reformer and equipment really add to the ambiance here! Our reformer has tons of adjustments available to fit everyone's height and strength. Plus we've got the box and the jump board for lots of variety! I want to share this with everyone- so I'm blasting our new client special everywhere I can! Here it is- 3 50-minute private reformer sessions for $59! Yes! 3/$59!!
“You’re only as old as your spine is flexible.”
How many times have you seen your mom rubbing her neck, grimacing about back pain, or trying new diets to get rid of that extra tummy pooch? Too often. We all want to see our parents age gracefully and happily. So this year, forget the flowers- give your mom the gift of feel-good youth!
Pilates is the perfect way to get your mom feeling great. Her strength and flexibility will improve, along with her coordination and confidence. Aging can be a tough experience. Our bones become more porous, we lose 5% of our muscle mass every decade, and our metabolisms drop. That means mom is getting more fragile, more fat, and less strong every year. That’s where Pilates comes in. Pilates Reformer sessions will keep her bones and muscles strong, and give back some of that youthful flexibility.
Get your mother a package of private Pilates reformer sessions. They are a decidedly luxury service (at average-Joe prices through Sweat Equity LLC) and she will feel special each session. Plus, she’ll come out feeling long, lean, and limber. That’s something flowers could never do!
Maintaining a regular exercise program can be hard. Do yourself a favor and choose a regimen that works with your personality type. Knowing a little about yourself can mean a lot toward making or breaking a fitness goal. Things like how to set goals and what type of workout you’ll enjoy are important for your success, and they’re easy to figure out if you know what signs to look for.
First, figure out what personality type you predominantly are.
You enjoy people and being active. Leading groups comes naturally to you, and you’re good at motivating people. You stay focused on results and the future, and taking risks to get there is easy for you. Slow talk and too much detail really bug you.
You enjoy interacting with people and being in groups. You may be high-strung, because you’re a whirlwind of activity and naps are out of the question. This energy is also what makes you great at motivating people around you. You will avoid isolation and looking bad in front of others.
You enjoy forging deep, caring relationships with people, and work well one-on-one. You’re very supportive, but you don’t like sharing your own feelings. People may call you a chameleon because you can adapt to any type of person. Quick deadlines and fast-paced work are not for you.
You enjoy doing the research needed to do a job yourself. You are organized, detailed, and clean to the point of being perfectionist. Rules and consistency guide you. Quick deadlines, abrupt change, and too little information really throw you off.
Now, let’s use this information to set some goal and workout guidelines.
Goals- Keep your eye on the prize. Post pictures of your end result to keep motivated. For example, someone running effortlessly, you in your thinner days, or the beach where you’ll vacation all remind you that the effort is worthwhile. Small goals are imperative-make on for each week so you can get a taste of victory.
Workouts- Power in numbers. Group exercise classes or working out with a buddy will make exercise fun and accountable. Sign up for an adult sports league to appeal to your competitive nature. Once you’ve been exercising for a few months, find a 5 or 10k race for charity that you support.
Goals- Tell it on the mountain. Post your goals on a blog or social website, or just text your partner that you’ll be going to kickboxing class tonight. You’re more likely to follow through when you might look bad ditching. Opt for short-term goals and quick deadlines so you don’t lose focus.
Workouts- Teamwork. You have trouble keeping your own energy going, but are an expert at motivating others. Get in a group for exercise, and pride yourself on fostering team spirit. That way, your team members will depend on you and you won’t let them down. Join a gym with several exercise classes that you might enjoy, and try them all to keep yourself interested. You’ll also meet some great likeminded people.
Goals- Slow and steady. Set long-term goals. You don’t like short deadlines so start with a 4-week goal that will give you plenty of time to enact change. Gradually work up to the habits you are changing.
Workouts- Keep it personal. Exercising with one workout buddy or a personal trainer are ideal for you. The relationship you forge will be a source of fulfillment while you’re going through tough life changes.
Goals- Be meticulous. Do some research to set up a system and a schedule for diet and exercise changes- in fitness this is call periodization. You need this system to follow so you’ll have a reliable and scientific way to meet your goals. Space out your goals so that nothing comes up too fast, and you get overwhelmed.
Workouts- Lone wolf. You’re the only personality type that thrives on individual work. Hire a trainer to teach you the right way to exercise if you’ll work out at the gym. If you prefer to do home workouts, find a workout DVD series that appeals to you and comes with a workout and nutrition chart. Remember, a systematic approach will be the easiest for you to follow.
Let's strengthen the muscles around your hips and back to combat back pain! When muscles that support your posture aren't strong enough, other muscles will take over. This can cause tightness and pain when moving. And if those muscles have to do double-duty for long enough, they'll start to pull your joints out of alignment and cause pain ALL the time. Instead of heading straight for the pain relievers, get down on the floor for these exercises!
All-fours leg extension-20x on each side
Start on hands and knees with shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. Keep your spine neutral- long and straight, not arched up or down. Extend one leg behind you, squeezing your glutes, then bend that knee in toward your chest. Push straight back out. Do all reps on one side before switching. Do not let your back arch in response to your leg movement. Keep your stomach pulled in so that your core is stable.
Side plank with inner thigh squeeze- 12x on each side
Begin resting on one hip with one hand supporting you. Legs are resting so that knees are bent on the floor and stacked one on top of the other. Bottom foot should be in front of the top and both resting on the floor. Press your hips up to the sky so that your body makes an arc, then hold while your bottom leg pulses upward to work the inner thigh. Pulse up 5 times then set hips down; this is one rep.
Side kneeling leg circles- 10 circles in each direction
Begin on both knees, then bend to one side so that one hand and one knee are supporting you. The top leg should extend straight out of your hip, so that it's an extension of the line of your torso. Draw circles with your top leg, and keep your torso still. Make 10 circles then change directions, then switch sides.
Leg Pull Prep- 20x
Sit with legs in front and hands on the floor behind you. Try this exercise with your legs squeezed together, then with your legs wider than shoulder distance apart. Press through your heels and palms to lift your hips off the floor so your body makes a straight line, as in a reverse plank. Squeeze your glutes then release your hips back on the floor. Do 10 reps in each leg position.
Plank- hold 60 seconds
Start on hands and knees. Curl your toes under and lift your knees off the floor until your shoulders, hips, knees and heels are in a straight line. Breathe deeply and hold this pose for 60 seconds, without letting your belly droop toward the floor or your butt hike up toward the ceiling.
Toe Touches- 20x
Super-simple exercise to strengthen the low back. Stand with hip bones centered over your feet. Bend forward to reach your toes, or as far as you can. This is not stretching time so don't try to reach further than normal. Come right back up. Do this 20 times, down and up, to work your low back.
Stand in a squat position, with knees bent and back straight. Swing your left foot behind your right, just tapping your toes to the floor then returning to the starting position. Swing your right foot behind your left, tap, and return. Keep moving back and forth, similar to ice skating movement. Keep your knees bent in a "hunkered down" position. Do this 15x to each side, for 30 total.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pregnant women get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. And Pilates is a great way to do just that. Here’s why:
*Strengthens core muscles
*Relieves back pain
*Is gentle and no-impact
*Strengthens pelvic floor
*Heightens body awareness
Strengthens core muscles. Pilates teaches you to engage your abdominal muscles with each breath. Every exercises gets your core involved. This is important because you will be using these muscles to push baby out (if you’re having a vaginal birth). You also need a strong core to prevent keep your posture aligned as much as possible. After baby is born, having a strong core will help bring your belly back in place.
Relieves back pain. Pilates alleviates a lot of back pain through strengthening and stretching. You will develop strong core muscles and stretch the muscles around your back and hips, both of which will relieve that tension in your mid to low back. Pregnancy is tough enough, don’t let a weak core and tight muscles make it harder on your body.
Is gentle and no-impact. Pilates is easily modified to be more or less intense, and does not involve impact or jarring exercises. Your energy is going to fluxuate throughout the day and the pregnancy, and having an exercise program that can be custom-tailored to the intensity level you need is an asset. You are sure to get the appropriate workout regardless of how you feel. Plus, a no-impact workout is more comfortable for your strained joints and safer for your baby.
Strengthens pelvic floor. Pilates encourages pelvic floor engagement as a means to engage other deep core muscles. Also called “kegel muscles” or “love muscles,” the pelvic floor is important for all women, doubly so for pregnant women. A strong one will prevent incontinence (no more panty changes when you sneeze!) and increase sexual pleasure for you and your partner.
Heightens body awareness. Focus, concentration, and control are huge components of Pilates exercises. To perform a proper exercise, you have to be aware of which muscles are moving and which are stabilizing. You will also be keenly aware of your breathing pattern. All of these will lead to you knowing more about what’s going on within your body. This will help you notice changes in how you feel and how your baby is moving, then use that information to act accordingly.