Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Working Out When Pregnant

Is it safe to workout when pregnant? What modifications should be made?  How am I staying fit while #BabyB grows?
What did people post before selfies?
These are questions that Kyle and I get a lot,however even more so now that I am expecting.  This post will be a both personal and real-life look at how you can include fitness in a healthy pregnancy.

1. The first thing that I want to stress is that EVERY PREGNANCY IS DIFFERENT.  What one mamma-to-be is capable of may be totally different than you.  And that's okay.  Your physician is your best resource if you have questions about the safety of a workout method or exercise.  He or she knows your pregnancy and medical history better than a blogger or colleague ever will.

2. The second key point that I want to stress is that it's a GREAT idea for pregnant women to exercise.  It has many benefits to both the mom and baby and it can actually be a great way to boost energy that has a tendency to lag during pregnancy.  TMI alert but the circulation boost from exercise can also help alleviate other pregnancy symptoms like varicose veins, ankle swelling, hemorrhoids, and constipation.  Other studies point to easier labors for Mom's who worked out and had an overall higher level of fitness. Yippee!

3. Another point I want to make is to understand and respect your pre-pregnancy fitness level before you start working out pregnant.  Pregnancy might not be the best time to start a weight lifting routine if you were sedentary before.  However if you were running, spinning, and lifting before baby then it's safe to keep doing those things keeping an eye on your level of exertion and heart rate.  It's widely recommended to keep your heart rate under 140 BPM when pregnant.  You can track this with a heart rate monitor, heart rate sensors on your cardio machine, or using an app on your phone like S Health on my Samsung Galaxy.

4. The final thing I want to stress before talking about my personal pregnancy fitness is that it's SO important to listen to your body.  If you are exhausted and stressed then you don't need to put MORE stress on yourself and your baby by forcing yourself to go to the gym.  The benefit just won't be there.  This is especially key during your first trimester when you are just totally run down.  It's okay to sleep in, reduce your intensity, and rest.  Your body wouldn't be telling you it was so exhausted if it didn't really need the rest.

Now let's talk about how I've been exercising throughout the growth of #BabyB.  And if I'm being honest it's NOT how I expected my pregnancy fitness to be.  I always had a vision of me working out and running while pregnant, even sporting a "Running For Two" top crossing the finish line of a half marathon.

If you've been following along with our journey then you know we had some complications early on in the pregnancy.  I was put on bed rest essentially for a week and then asked to NOT workout at all until my 12 week ultrasound.  See point #1 above.  Many people asked if it was hard to go from a #BeastMode machine to sedentary, but it really wasn't.  My only concern was my Baby and if sitting on my butt helped that then there was no question.  Ironically I lost about 5 pounds the first 2 months of my pregnancy from lack of appetite and loss of muscle.

Once we passed our 12 week ultrasound I was cleared for "moderate" exercise again.  The tricky part that what was moderate for me pre-pregnancy and what was moderate now had changed.  Your fitness level falls off fast when inactive, so I had to be very aware of starting slow and taking it easy.  Since there was no sign of a hematoma at my 12 week ultrasound I was told that I "could" run, but my doctor said that if it was his wife he would have her stick to lower impact exercise.  So I did.  That meant no running, but walking, incline walking, the elliptical, and stair stepper were fair game.
I also went back into the gym 1-2 times a week for strength training depending on my energy and schedule.  At home workouts were frequent too since my intensity level was lower (here's my go-to workout). I started light and didn't do any jumping exercises.

Into the second trimester my energy really returned and I tried to take advantage of that.  I also started Operation "Keep My Butt Perky Through Pregnancy" and focused on gluteal exercises like single leg lunge, deadlifts, and single leg - leg press when at the gym.
I'm at 25 weeks now and here's a look at the weekly workout schedule I'm trying to stick with.  Keep in mind I follow point #4 above and will move or miss workouts if I'm exhausted, sore, or in the midst of a sleepless week announcing the Princess Half Marathon.

Monday - Off
Tuesday - Strength training - Home or Gym
Wednesday - 30 minutes of cardio - 20 minutes stair climber (boost that butt) + 10 elliptical
Thursday - 1 hour prenatal yoga
Friday - Off
Saturday - 30 minutes of cardio
Sunday - Strength training in gym (my biggest workout of the week)
I have already noticed that some moves like squats are getting harder as #BabyB grows but there are modifications that can be made.  I'm also just now getting terrible sciatica, so I'm learning to deal with that.

If you have any specific questions about pregnancy exercise then please let me know.  I'd love to do a Q & A type post.  I didn't go over any specific exercise modifications here, since this post was already long but I'd be happy to if there is interest.

How did you keep fit when pregnant?

Love and belly rubs,
Carissa & Kyle

Friday, February 13, 2015

Team Sparkle Friday 5

Friday - raise that roof friends!  I would say that I am less excited for this Friday than last.  Why? Well last weekend I spent here....

...and tomorrow I have a forecast of 30 degree weather for some 5k announcing.  Time to rock the uggs!

But instead of fearing the cold ahead here are 5 things on my radar this week that I want to share with you.

First up - RUN THIS.
1. Team Sparkle Virtual Run
Sparkle Athletic is a fave company of mine.  Not only are the 3 woman that own it brilliant, but they do great things too like fight Rett Syndrome.  Here's the 411 on their virtual 5k from their blog:
"We are proud to announce the very first ‪#‎TeamSparkle‬ virtual 5K...
Once again #TeamSparkle is running the So Cal Ragnar Relay Series in order to raise awareness & money for Rett Syndrome & Girl Power 2 Cure. This terrible disease has trapped close to half a million girls in their bodies, leaving them unable to speak, walk, or even use their hands. #TeamSparkle is running because these girls can't, but we believe someday they will!
We will be running 200 miles for 200 girls during our ‪#‎ragnar4rett‬adventure. But just because you aren't running Ragnar with us doesn't mean you can't participate. 

This year we invite YOU to join #TeamSparkle and participate in our #ragnar4rett journey by signing up for the #TeamSparkle virtual 5k (& yes, all profits will be donated to Girl Power 2 Cure).
Want more information? Ready to sign up? Check out our website for all of the details:
You must sign up by 2/24 and if you're in Orlando I want to welcome you to come to our gym, Evolution Fitness Orlando, on Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 8am and take on the 5k with us.  If you decide to join us send me an email so I can make sure to have enough donuts for all!

Second, Read This
2. New Cholesterol Info
So eating egg yolks increases your cholesterol?  Not necessarily.  Dietitians have been saying this for several years, but here's new research to support the facts that saturated fats and NOT dietary cholesterol have a bigger impact on overall total cholesterol.

3. Tart Cherry Pie Bites
I'm been slowly trying to accumulate recipes and things I can make about a month before Baby B arrives to have frozen for quick meals and snacks once life changes FOREVER.  I saw these cherry pie snacks on Anne's blog and I have decided that I must make some ASAP.  Tart cherries are great to reduce inflammation and a good pre-workout energy boost.

4. Carissa on The Daily Buzz
Are you a fan of green juice?  I am.  It gives me the mental feeling that I've gotten some good veggies in whether it's homemade or store bought.
Evolution Fresh makes a great green juice with less than 10 grams of naturally occurring sugar and vegetables as the first ingredient.  They asked me to appear on The Daily Buzz to share their "3 Days to Green Challenge" - take a look!
5. Baby B Update
Baby B is almost to the 24 week mark and we'll have another doctor's appointment next week.  I definitely had some uncomfortable days this week, so I think she's growing.  I've also had some anxious moments. I thought the emotions calmed down a bit after the first trimester, but mine are showing out big time.  I know all mommies-to-be worry, but I have had some serious panic moments this week.  I keep trying to tell myself to focus on positive thoughts and they will keep our little angel growing healthy.  In exciting news, my BFF mailed out invites for my Baby shower and they are perfect!  Actually, themed!
Next week I'll be spending a lot of time out at Disney for the Princess Half marathon weekend.  If you're there say hello.  Even if I "look busy" say hello! I'd love to meet you!  I'll be at the expo periodically, the 5k, 10k, half marathon, and all the kids races.

Here are some past Princess recaps to get you in the fairest of moods.
Who's your fave Disney princess?
How's the weather where you are?

Love and frozen glass slippers,
Carissa & Kyle

Monday, February 9, 2015

How to Improve Your Heart Health

February is all about heart health and heart disease is still the #1 killer of Americans. No bueno.
Since I feel like one of the benefits of blogging is to share health information and make readers healthier, I'm going to step on my soapbox to dish out some info on heart health. 

Here are 6 simple (yes, simple) things you can do to help reduce your risk of heart disease. Share these with a friend, family member, co-worker and let's all fight heart disease!

  • Stop Smoking
    •  Why are you still smoking?  Stop!  Particularly for your heart smoking is a “gradual killer” in that it causes plaque to build up in your arteries, which narrows your arteries making it harder for blood to flow through them.  No blood flow?  The heart is not a fan.
  •  Keep a normal BMI
    • This is a simple one that can reduce your risk of SO many diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and about 50% of cancers.  So many times we categorize the need to lose weight as something "cosmetic". It's not. If your BMI is classified as obese or higher please seek out a professional (aka Registered Dietitian) to take a look at your diet and recommend some changes.  I do offer online counseling and I'd be happy to assist.
  • Exercise at least 2.5 hours per week
    • Sound crazy? Most of us spend that much time in the shower a week.
    • That’s 30 minutes, 5 times a week or 20-minutes roughly 6 ½ times a week.  This is moderate activity outside of what you do at work or in your daily life.  Make a date with a friend for a walk or group exercise class.  Just get that blood moving. It makes your heart happy.
  • Keep a “healthy” diet
    • What does that mean? Confirm to the “recommended” eating pattern.  Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy.  Not skipping meals and fast food 5 times a week. Remember we should be exercising 5 times a week, not hitting the drive thru 5 times a week.
  • Watch less TV
    •  I cringe writing this, because I admittedly watch a lot of TV. It’s not only the screen time, but the time sitting.  New studies are showing that sitting is just as dangerous as #1, smoking, and that even when you exercise you can’t outdo the damage of sitting.  
    • “Too much” TV is typically over 7 hours a week. Gulp.
  • Drink alcohol
    • Yes, I didn’t try to confuse you.  You “can” drink alcohol ,but in moderation. Several studies have shown that women who drink in MODERATION have a better chance of aging healthy than those who don’t.  Moderate drinking has the capability to lower inflammation, improve insulin resistance, and help your blood vessels work properly.  But don’t over-do.  Alcohol means extra calories (see #2).
    • Ps – moderation for women means 1 drink a day and 2 for men.  (And zero for team #BabyB)

These are all relatively “simple” steps that can go a long way to not just improving your heart health, but your overall wellness. But don’t wait!  Don’t put off getting in shape until your doctor tells you, the scale tells you, it’s bikini season, or time for a reunion.  Take these small steps now and every day for a healthy LIFE!

Have you had your cholesterol numbers checked?
What are you doing TODAY to help your heart?

Love and lub dub,
Carissa & Kyle

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My Pregnant Life Eats

What does the pregnant lady eat?

I guess that depends on the month of the pregnancy and my energy level that day.  If I had written this post back in week 8 then you'd likely have seen pretzels, OJ, pasta, and very little vegetables.  Now that I'm in the second trimester I have been really trying to use my energy to meal prep, workout, and focus on consuming nutrients and not just junk.  Sure, there is junk and more sweets than usual and I have no good rationalization for that.  Except that what Baby B "wants", Baby B gets.

I haven't done a WIAW post since this summer when I was in New York City, so here's a look at a random weekday of eats.

Green Juice
I've been trying to start my morning with a green juice that I make at home.  It's comforting to know that I've crammed a lot of nutrients in before my cup o' joe.  In today's mix is organic spinach, 1/4 cucumber, 2 small gala apples, 1 lemon, and 1/4 cup parsley.  I add water and a splash of orange juice and blend in my Vitamix.

After the juice gets consumed, the floors cleaned, and the cats fed, I sit down for my breakfast.  Today I forced myself out of my "English Muffin with peanut butter" routine and had Quaker's Weight Control oatmeal made with almond milk, fresh blueberries, and Lindwood's pumpkin seed and sunflower seed mix.  Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are SO nutritious and good for you.  I challenge you to find ways to add them into your day.  They're a great source of iron, zinc, and Vitamin E.

Pretty ugly, but he did the trick pre-cardio.

Chex Mix
So this one time I went to the store after the gym.  And I saw Chex Mix on BOGO, so I "had" to buy it.  Then I realized I was hungry and I "had" to open it before even attempting to drive home.  Had to.  That's real life. Not my proudest moment.

Lunch - Leftovers
Lunch came together quickly thanks to leftover PF Chang's chicken and broccoli from Super Bowl Sunday.  I added a few crunchy noodles for pizzazz.


One of the perks of being pregnant is the frequent snacking.  This afternoon since I didn't have my usual peanut butter for breakfast, I added PB to Stacy's pretzel crisps and some cherries.


I love to say I'm going to try to make more vegetarian meals.  Then I succeed with about 1 every month.  Tonight I was trying out a new stuffed mushroom recipe to take to my friends house on Valentine's night, so I made a larger portabello version for dinner. It was a success!  To my normal mix I added some olive bruschetta topping and shredded Cabot Alpine cheddar.  I'm just sad that I didn't make enough for lunch tomorrow.  On the side we had an organic spinach salad with a Roma tomato and asparagus in a yogurt Caesar dressing.

4th Meal
Sometimes after dinner I get what I call "legitimately" hungry.  I made a sad face at Kyle and he went to the kitchen and poured me a bowl of Special K with red berries, fresh blueberries, and almond milk.  What a gem!

Also just a heads up that I'm be making an appearance on The Daily Buzz tomorrow (2/5/15) morning with a 3 day green challenge.  Tune in if you can!

What was the best thing you ate today?
Any good vegetarian dinners to recommend?

Love and 22 weeks,
Carissa & Kyle

Monday, February 2, 2015

At Home Workout

Somedays getting to the gym just doesn't happen.  It's okay.  On days like that, and more and more frequently since Baby B has been growing, I've been working out at home.  I take the "something is better than nothing" approach.

I know that sometimes a workout done at home isn't as focused or productive then one in the gym, but it still elevates my heart rate and gives each muscle group some focus.  Somehow watching reruns of Grey's Anatomy doesn't inspire the same effort level as Kyle coaching me through a workout...go figure.

If you ever find yourself at the end of the day and needing a quick, at home lift then check out this "Living Room Lift". All you will need is 1 set of moderately heavy dumbbells.  I use 8 pounds, because that's all we have at the house, but anywhere from 5 pounds to 15 pounds depending on your fitness level should do the trick.

Comment or tweet me if you have any questions about the exercises.
Two important points to remember:

  • Move quickly between exercises to keep your heart rate up.
  • If you find the weight isn't challenging, focus on form.  Slow down your movement.
Good luck and good lifting!

What's your favorite at home workout?
How often do you lift at home?

Love and baby B approved,
Carissa & Kyle