Incorporating Yoga Into Prenatal Fitness With Wildfire Life

I’ve always enjoyed yoga, but haven’t made an effort in the past to truly work on my practice. During P90X (which we did 4 years ago – time flies!), I always completed the 1.5 hour yoga workout each week but due to the fact that it’s the same video each week, I wasn’t really learning any new postures or getting any in person form feedback. However, that was the most consistent I’ve been with my practice in the last 4 years. I’ve been incorporating yoga in various ways over the years, but never very consistently until pregnancy.

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Yoga has so many benefits to a pregnant woman including relief from stress and aches and pains, assisting in peaceful sleep, and increasing circulation. Yoga can help prepare the body for the stress of labor by strengthening and loosening muscles and the focused breathing learned in yoga can help during labor if used as a relaxation and pain management tool.

During the last 7 months, I’ve been to various yoga studios thanks to Wildfire Life  and I’ve also done yoga in the comfort of my home thanks to P90X yoga videos and the wonderful website DoYogaWithMe.com (they offer 3 prenatal yoga videos, all free!). I also have experienced outdoor yoga via the Wanderlust event and a group run/yoga session with Movin Shoes (both of which I went to with Asia who has become a serious yogi this year).

It wouldn't be a prenatal yoga photo without unopened baby gear in the background

It wouldn’t be a prenatal yoga photo without unopened baby gear in the background

If you’re in San Diego, I wanted to share with you the yoga studios/classes I have found to be the most pregnancy friendly. I was surprised when I added them all up that I’ve attended 7 different yoga studios during pregnancy! I wouldn’t have thought that pregnancy would be a time when I’d try so many new studios, but Wildfire Life has truly made this possible. In addition to using yoga to build strength and maintain flexibility, I believe the breathing techniques I practice in class will help manage contractions while in childbirth.

Remember that during pregnancy it is not safe to practice hot yoga and you should never do any deep spinal twists (also avoid most abdominal exercises in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters). Practice within your own comfort level and don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right.

1) CAP Wellness – Prenatal Yoga (not heated), Encinitas

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This is a recent favorite. CAP Wellness is an OBGYN office as well as a chiropractic and massage therapy studio that also puts on prenatal courses (such as the infant CPR class we took) and has a daily prenatal yoga class! I’m sad that I didn’t discover it until now, but I’m taking full advantage. I attended very two prenatal classes in the first week that I discovered it and they were very different from each other, but great in their own way. It’s also great to take a class and not feel like the sore thumb sticking out with the big belly since everyone else in the class is in the exact same boat as me! Not to mention, its wonderful not having to modify any poses since all poses are pregnancy friendly.

2) Mantra Yoga – Beginner Yoga (warm), Carlsbad

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Mantra is an amazing studio with plenty of hot yoga classes and a yummy cafe serving juice, smoothie and acai bowls but what makes me happy is that they also offer several warm classes, the beginner yoga being the most pregnancy friendly of all. I’ve only attended the weekend classes (they have a class both Saturday and Sunday mornings) but they were both excellent and the perfect mix of strengthening and stretching (I definitely sweat in this class as it has quite a bit of flow). The classes were not too hot and at the end you get a cold eucalyptus towel over your eyes for an added relaxation bonus!

3) Yoga6 – Deep Stretch Class (Warm), Multiple San Diego Locations

Although no longer offered on Wildfire, this was one of my favorites when it was. Although this is definitely a hot yoga studio, they do offer a few options in a warm (80s) environment, including Deep Stretch. I also tried the Yoga Sculpt class which was definitely a tough workout (warm heat). I had to modify a lot even back in the first trimester and at this point in my pregnancy it definitely would be a little too challenging for me.

4) Inhale Yoga – iFlow (Warm), Del Mar

Inhale is a small studio without mirrors (gasp!) which creates a very intimate feeling. They have several pregnancy friendly classes (there are a lot of stretching classes available), but I enjoy the iFlow class. You can easily modify to make this class easier or harder.

5) Yoga Tropics – Vinyasa (Warm), Encinitas

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The 6 pm Monday night Vinyasa class was preciously taught by a pregnant teacher, which is why I had the courage to try the class (and really liked it!). The teacher recently stopped teaching for maternity leave, so I’m not sure how pregnancy friendly it is now. I’ve heard some of the “warm” classes at Yoga Tropics can be over 90 degrees, so it’s best to call and check with the studio before signing up.

6) Foundation Yoga – Beginner Hatha

Just last weekend  I attended my first class at Foundation Yoga. It was the 8 a.m. Saturday morning Hatha for beginners and it was truly relaxing. It’s a 1 hour 15 minute class led by an instructor whose voice sounds like it’s straight out of a yoga DVD! The class was very gentle, but in a good way, and not heated at all. This would probably be one of the best classes for someone who is not experienced in yoga to try out, pregnant or not.

7) Yoga Del Mar – Hatha 1

This studio is very close to my office yet I just recently tried it. The studio is very simple (no mirrors here) and the class was VERY gentle. This is definitely the most beginner friendly of all the classes I tried.

All of the above studios are available on Wildfire under one membership fee (except Yoga6). Join me at WildFire – try your 1 week trial (no credit card required) and then use code yw3xrv for $10 off your first month! Or use this link. 

If you do yoga, do you tend to practice at a studio, outdoors, in your home via DVD/streaming or own your own? 

Bumpdate Weeks 34-35

34 weeks pregnant

I can’t stop saying it – time is flying and we’re getting close. While I have no indication that our baby girl will show up anytime in the next week or two, anything is possible at this point. The good news is that she is almost full term and would still do very well on her own if she were to arrive now. Mike and I are doing our best to soak up all the moments that we have left as a family of two, so we’ve been spending even more quality time together and also taking advantage of weekends for precious naps.

Mike and I had a coffee date before work this week which was a fun treat and in general we’ve been lingering before work to enjoy our coffee together while we have the luxury of free time before work.  We plan to do it once a week from now on until baby arrives, on top of our Sunday night fish taco date night ritual. While I’m very excited for our family to expand to three, it’s hard to say goodbye to the life that Mike and I share as a family of two.

Vanilla almond milk lattes

Vanilla almond milk lattes

How Many Weeks: This covers weeks 34-35

Baby’s Size: About the size of a honeydew melon, 5 1/4 pounds (!!!) and over 18 inches long! She’s certainly grown a ton in the last month (and so has my belly).

Weight Gain: 35 pounds (more on that topic here).

Movement: I’ve been feeling her more than ever lately, especially on my right side. Sometimes its so sudden and strong that it startles me and almost hurts! The doctor said she thinks she is head down with her back mostly toward my front and her legs/arms on my right side. That sounds about right based on the movement I feel. I tend to feel her several times throughout the day and then a lot at night, specially when I’m trying to sleep. There have been a few times that I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and felt her so I’m wondering if she’s the one that woke me up (there will be plenty of time for her to wake me up soon, so I wish she would stop this now!).

Symptoms: Easily winded, slower walk/waddle, bleeding gums while flossing/brushing (this has actually been happening for a while), weird appetite (can’t eat a lot in one sitting and then will be ravenous an hour or two later). Somehow I don’t have any heart burn and I don’t seem to have to go to the bathroom any more often than normal yet.

I’ve had some new red spots (called cherry angiomas) on my chest and arms since about June, one of which was big and noticeable on my arm. I went to the dermatologist last week and he told me although it’s totally harmless, it won’t go away on its own so I had to have it removed (ouchie!). Skin changes in general are common in pregnancy – I’ve also noticed a couple moles seem to have changed but those are apparently OK according to the dermatologist.

35 weeks pregnant

Also, as far as I know, I’ve had no braxton hicks contractions…but apparently (according to google that is) often first time moms don’t even feel them/know they’re happening. It may be a sign that I have a while to go (I have told my doctor I do not want any cervical checks leading up to birth so I will have no idea how dilated/effaced I am) but only time will tell!

Purchasing: I actually didn’t buy all that much in the last 2 weeks. I’m waiting for a few things before using my final registry completion discount (I also added a bunch of post-natal care items on there). The biggest purchases were a special mattress protector for the crib which has shown to reduce SIDS when using a non-organic mattress and more prenatal DHA supplements.

Maternity Clothes: At this point I feel like I’m rotating the same few outfits over and over again. Dresses and skirts are by far the most comfortable in this heat, so I take advantage of that as much as possible. I only have about 6 workout tops that work for me now and even a couple of those are starting to get inappropriate in the cleavage department. I’m looking forward to some new outfits once I can fit back into my old clothes.

At the wedding rehearsal last weekend

At the wedding rehearsal last weekend

Exercise: Still going strong w/ Xtend Barre 2x/week, yoga 2-3x/week and lots of walking/hiking. I even made it to spin at Rhythm and Power twice this past week. My last “run” (3.1 miles of running alternated with walking/hiking) was on August 8th and it very well may have been my last during pregnancy. It’s been hot and running doesn’t feel great so I never really have the motivation to do it. I’ve noticed a slight decrease in my motivation in general, especially on the squats! I am still doing them but definitely not as religiously as I was before.

Cravings/Aversions: I’ve been LOVING water with crushed ice in it. It has replaced my soda craving completely (which is a great thing) and luckily there is a crushed ice machine at work so I pretty much am in heaven all day long. I drink at least 5-6 of my 16 oz water bottles a day at work plus several glasses of cold water before and after work.

Interesting Moments:  At the wedding we attended last weekend I had a man approach me to ask about the pregnancy and then when I told him how far along I am, he said “oh you’re not going to get very big at all!” After the conversation ended, another man approached and proceeded to tell me how huge I am (he did preface saying he hasn’t been around a pregnant woman in years)! Hah. Just goes to show that how “big” you are is totally dependent on the person’s personal perspective had has little to do with reality!

Wedding fun!

Getting dressed up for Stephen and Parker’s wedding

Best Moments: Sometimes I just look at Mike and feel so lucky that our daughter will grow up with such an incredible father. He gave an absolutely amazing speech at the wedding last weekend (he was Best Man) and I couldn’t have been more proud to call him my husband. He has been so supportive in this pregnancy and I know it would be so much harder without him!

Another special moment was when Mike discovered that he can hear Siena’s heart beat when he puts his ear to my belly! He was pretty excited and amazed by it and now he wants to listen every day.

Missing: Running. While taking a walk on the boardwalk in Manhattan Beach last weekend I couldn’t help but feel serious envy of the runners out and about. It was hot but I still wished I could be running with them! I’ve also found myself day dreaming about my running comeback and thinking about which races I’ll sign up for post-baby. Of course, I’ll wait to sign up until after she’s here but the first race on my radar is the Encinitas Turkey Trot. I figured I can always just walk it with Siena in the stroller if nothing else!

Manhattan Beach boardwalk

Manhattan Beach boardwalk

Looking Forward To: Rocking my 36 week bump at the Taylor Swift concert next weekend!

Pregnancy Weight Gain – The Ultimate Comparison Trap!

There are a lot of comparisons and measurements going on during pregnancy. How many weeks are you? Are you measuring big or small? Does your belly appear big or small? And the whopper – how much weight have you gained?

This topic is probably one of the hottest on the pregnancy forums and often discussed among friends and family members of pregnant women. I’m subscribed to a “My Pregnancy” forum/app where I was assigned to the “September 2015″ birth group. In the group, women ask questions of their fellow pregnant “friends” and some of the most common questions are, “How much weight have you gained?” and “I’ve gained X amount at X number of weeks, is it too much or too little!?” The focus on weight gain is driven by the fact that there are “standards” for weight gain which which have been provided by various health organizations and are plastered all over the internet. Each article you read has a caveat “this is the average,” yet many women (and doctors) put too much weight on these guidelines.
pregnancy weight gain

I am not immune from this and I’ve had my own small battles throughout my pregnancy. As of now, at 35 weeks pregnant, I have gained 35 pounds. The recommended amount for a women with an average BMI (mine was 19.9 before getting pregnant, with “normal” being 18.5-24.9), is 25-35 pounds for the entire pregnancy. It’s safe to say that I’ll be exceeding this recommended weight gain range (although I have heard it’s not uncommon to lose a few pounds in the last month) and I’m OK with it. When thinking about weight gain in pregnancy before becoming pregnant, I always assumed that since I would work out and eat healthy, I’d gain on the lower end of the range. But sometimes our bodies just do what they need to do and there’s no point to try to stop it.

The weight gain is made up of a lot more than baby & fat!

The weight gain is made up of a lot more than baby & fat!

At this point in my pregnancy, I feel really good. I’ve been working out consistently (about an average of 5-6 times a week plus plenty of walking on top of that.  I eat mostly healthy (with a few more indulgences than prior to pregnancy and way more carbs in the first trimester due to non-stop nausea) with plenty of fruits and veggies (at least 6-8 servings most days).I feel confident in the way my body looks and as my belly gets bigger, my confidence actually gets stronger (the hardest part personally for me was in the “not quite showing” phase when you just feel like you look a bit chubby, not necessarily pregnant). Are there a few softer, fuller areas outside of my growing belly? Yes. Have I sent frantic texts to my mama friends asking them how much weight they had gained by XYZ number of weeks, wondering why I was gaining more than expected and looking for reassurance? Yes. Do I sometimes worry how easily it’ll be to lose the weight after baby comes? Yes. But do I think that my weight gain is “unhealthy” because I’m going outside of the recommended guidelines? Absolutely not.

Trying to figure out if I was showing at 8 weeks...HAH!

Trying to figure out if I was showing at 8 weeks…HAH!

And the guidelines about weight gain aren’t just limited to an overall number. Each trimester has a specific weight gain recommendation. Should I have starved myself or force fed myself vegetables during the first trimester despite overwhelming nausea to stop the 8 lb weight gain (recommended amount in first trimester is 2-4 lbs at most)? Even asking that question sounds crazy doesn’t it? Yet so many women become obsessed with the scale and the numbers during pregnancy. On my September birth group forum, the weight gain and losses were nowhere near this range –  some women in the first trimester lost 15 pounds from constant nausea and vomiting and others gained 15 pounds, likely as result of some combination of fluid retention, increased carbohydrate and comfort food intake to ease constant nausea, and fat storing to prepare the body for childbearing. I read on some forums that some women obsessively weigh themselves daily. Others get reprimanded from their doctors for gaining even 1 pound over the minimum of 25 while other women who gain 60 lbs get absolutely no scolding from their doctors.

Pre-pregnancy on our last hurrah vacation in New Zealand in December

Pre-pregnancy on our last hurrah vacation in New Zealand in December

35 pounds later!

35 pounds later!

Are there good reasons NOT to gain too much weight in pregnancy? Yes. Excess weight gain is associated with conditions such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, premature labor, and preclampsyia, but weight gain alone doesn’t mean that you will or will not develop any of these conditions. It’s essential to look past the scale and at the overall habits of the individual before assessing whether weight gain is healthy or unhealthy. On that same token, it’s not realistic to eat 100% healthy all the time – a few extra indulgences during pregnancy are completely normal and probably encouraged as long as the overall diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and proteins. I know I certainly enjoy my nightly ice cream! It’s also not realistic to maintain the same level of fitness that you did prior to pregnancy. As long as you’re getting out to at least walk or move in same way on most days, you’re being active enough to remain healthy.

Everyone gains differently- some gain a lot in the beginning and little at the end, while others lose in the first trimester but make up for it later on. I remember reading Beth Gerdes, the pro triathlete’s experience with weight gain in pregnancy on her blog (post here) – she gained a lot early on and then evened out, but still struggled with it. Reading her honest account of weight gain during pregnancy on her blog made me feel better about my early weight gain in the first trimester (seriously, look at her now – super fit, winning Ironman triathlons and headed to Kona with a healthy little girl, clearly it didn’t matter at all!) and I hope that sharing my experience and thoughts here will help ease some fears of currently pregnant or wanting to become pregnant women.

What are your thoughts on pregnancy weight gain? 

Baby Shower Love

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Baby Siena has had a great welcome into the world already. I was honored to have two showers thrown in both our honor on back to back weekends. The first was on August 1st and was hosted by my good friend Allison. She held the shower at my house since she was in the middle of moving and now that we moved to suburbia, we have plenty of space. This shower was for all my friends and family except for my mom’s side. My mom and my aunt Kerry threw me a family shower (plus a couple of my mom’s friends) at Kerry’s house on August 8th. Having two showers was nice because I had more time to catch up with people – it always goes too fast!

My amazing hostess Allison!

My amazing hostess Allison!

The highlights of the first shower were the incredible headband making station, delicious food, the game where I had to change a doll’s diaper (plus unswaddle, undress and dress again) and everyone had to guess how long it would take me, and the incredible decor! Allison did an amazing job and I’m so thankful to her and all the others who helped as well (my mother in law and sister in law provided beautiful flower arrangements, Asia and Sam helped with food and other preparations, Denice took some beautiful photos!). I felt so much love that day!

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The highlights of the second shower were the creative cabbage patch veggie platter, the beautiful floral arrangements, the games and the yummy chocolate covered pretzel favors. There was a station to leave advice for me and my Grandma’s was my favorite “Not every cry means ‘I’m hungry.’ Sometimes a pat will do!” She had 7 babies so I’m pretty sure she knows what she’s talking about! My mom also surprised me with the BOB stroller – so excited to log some miles with that bad boy!!!

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My coworkers also threw me a wonderful shower at work and went in together to buy me our diaper bag and some adorable gold crib shoes (a total necessity).

I was blown away by everyone’s generosity and we have all the baby essentials (plus a few luxury items).  It’s safe to say that we now have enough clothes for Siena’s first year of life too!  IMG_7564What is your favorite baby shower game? Anyone else had a baby without ever having changed a diaper!?! 

Bumpdate Weeks 32-33

As I approach my due date, I decided to try to write a bumpdate at least every other week. With my doctor appointments now scheduled every two weeks, we’re getting to the end! For some reason I’ve always assumed I’ll deliver late, so I tend to think I have 7-9 weeks left, but I’ve been hearing plenty of stories of people delivering their first 2-4 weeks early lately, so really there is no way to know when she’ll make her grand entrance.

Bumpdate pregnancy update 32 weeks

I have mixed emotions about the end of my pregnancy. On one hand, I’m looking forward to having my body back under my own control (well, mostly, as I plan to breastfeed) and on the other hand I’ll miss some of the excitement of having a baby growing inside me for the first time. At the same time, I’m excited to meet my baby girl, on the other hand I’m scared for how dramatically different it will make my day to day life and am nervous about the change.

How Many Weeks: 32-33

Size of Baby: Baby is as big as a pineapple, over 4 pounds.

Baby Position: At my 32 week appointment the doctor said the baby is facing down! We’ll see if she stays that way, but it’s a good sign that she won’t be breech, which can warrant a c-section.

Symptoms: Calf cramps have me leaping out of bed in the night! But generally, I just feel more pregnant lately – I’m easily winded, it’s hard to bend forward because the baby is in the way, and it’s harder to get comfortable in general. I get very out of  breath doing things like carrying laundry up the stairs and it’s getting harder to make it through my squats without my heart pounding too fast.

Sleep: I’m pretty much sleeping with the Snoogle every night now, much to Mike’s dismay. I’m definitely waking up more often to go to the bathroom and shift into a good position, but I’d still say I’m sleeping fairly well overall. Naps are definitely my friend on the weekends! I wish I could take one at work too…. maybe I should ask if the mother’s room can be also be used for napping.

Purchasing: I purchased 3 essential oils, 1 of which is specifically for childbirth (clary sage – this can actually induce labor so it’s best not to use prior to due date) and two are meant for both birth and recovery (peppermint, which can soothe nausea and serenity which is a calming blend, great for relaxation). I also chose our newborn photographer and put down a down payment on that!

Biggest accomplishment of the last 2 weeks: I ate almonds! I’ve been eating them nearly every day in fact. My aversion is officially over! I also ate a Cliff bar that I had in my car during a near melt-down on the freeway while stuck in traffic (this seems to be happening more lately as I can’t eat as much at one sitting thanks to the baby pushing against my stomach – then I get extremely hungry out of no where).

Best Moments: I had my first baby shower on August 1st, hosted by my friend Allison and it was wonderful! Siena and I were showered with love and Siena came out of it with a pretty awesome library (guests were asked to bring a book with a hand written note instead of a card) and a ton of headbands (there was a head band making station). She is going to be one fashionable and literate baby! Of course the highlight was spending time with friends and family, specifically those who I rarely get to see. It was a wonderful day and I wish it could have lasted forever! More photos to come…

With my sister in law at baby shower #1

We also took a baby/child CPR class last week (at CAP Wellness, the same place I have found that has prenatal yoga) which was actually pretty entertaining. It’s nice to know that we will have the knowledge to save our baby if something terrible were to happen.

He's a natural!

He’s a natural!

Exercise: Yoga, barre, squatting and walking are my main exercises at this time. I’m finding myself getting out of breath much easier and sometimes need to stop mid-exercise to take a break to catch my breath and drink water. It’s not getting any easier, that’s for sure! (see July workout recap here). I just found a studio in Encinitas (CAP Wellness) that offers prenatal yoga that is offered through WildFire and tried out a class for the first time last week – it was still a challenge but obviously very pregnancy friendly so I loved it!

Cravings/Aversions: Nothing really either way (see above accomplishment).

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Looking Forward To: Meeting this baby! Mike keeps saying how he really feels like there is a person inside me now – the bigger I get, the more she moves and the more we talk about her the more real it becomes. Despite the sleep deprivation I’m also looking forward to maternity leave. I’ll be taking 15 weeks off (last day of work is September 18th, 1 week before my due date) and Mike will be with me for the first 4 weeks after the baby is born. Thanks to California’s generous maternity/paternity leave (believe me we pay for it in taxes!) and my work’s generous short term disability coverage, financially we will barely be affected and can focus on bonding with our baby!

July Goal Recap and August Goal Setting

July was my first month in the 3rd trimester and it went better than expected when it comes to workouts! I’ve had energy to do morning workouts (ie 5:30 AM wake-up call!) about 3 days a week on average and was able to continue running, although slowly and with more walk breaks. I also started doing more hikes, particularly at Torrey Pines after work with either Brooke or Asia, a couple of which were nearly 2 hour/6 mile after work hikes! I really feel my best while hiking and doing yoga, so I’m sure as things get a harder (which I can tell is starting to happen) those will be my go-to workouts.

After work hike with Asia

After work hike at Torrey Pines with Asia

My goals for July were to go to yoga 2x/week (check!), do my squat challenge + 100 squats a day (check!) and to do my pelvic floor/birth exercises (including relaxation) whenever possible (mostly check – I really should be doing more!). I didn’t set super high goals for myself because I wanted to listen to my body. Luckily, my body has been cooperating and I’m still feeling good. The one thing that I’ve noticed is changing in the last few weeks is that I’m having a harder time doing yoga poses that involve folding over/bending forward. I think the baby has taken up 100% of the room inside my body now and is pressing on my lungs and stomach. That probably means that my belly is about to grow outwards faster than ever now that it’s officially ran out of room inside. I’m also noticing I’m getting winded more easily doing things like walking up stairs or doing the laundry!

running during pregnancy

Running is definitely becoming more difficult but it also depends on the day. I am stubborn and love running too much to quit but every time I run I say it could be my last. A couple of weeks ago I had a run where after only 1.5 minutes (I was wearing my Garmin) I really felt like walking! So I did…and ended up walking quite a bit of the run, coaxing myself to run to landmarks to get through it. But last Wednesday I did the same run and I felt way better and barely took any walk breaks! At one point I was even running in the 10 min/mile range which is way faster than I’ve been able to run in a while. One thing is for sure is that the day after a run, my body is way more tired  and tight than it is after other workouts. At some point soon running will have to stop but for now, I keep holding on hope for just one more run.

Can barely see my toes but I can run!

Can barely see my toes but I can run!

July Totals:

  • 9 Yoga Classes (met my goal of 2x/week)
  • 9 Xtend Barre Classes
  • 17.1 miles run (5 runs total)
  • 13 hours of walking/hiking (includes 4 hikes at Torrey Pines)
  • 1 Spin Class (Rhythm and Power just hasn’t been working out w/ my schedule since they dropped Thursday evening classes but I plan to go back!).
  • 5,595 squats thanks to my continuation of the Squat Challenge

August Goals:

  1. Yoga 2-3x/week. I feel my best while and after practicing yoga and I want to continue that feeling!
  2. Squat Challenge + 50 extra/day (4,445 squats a day). I’m bringing this goal down a little because toward it end it was starting to get so daunting I was avoiding it them all together!
  3. Relaxation practice at a minimum 4x/week.
  4. Continue to do something active almost every day

What is one of your goals for August? 

Bumpdate Weeks 29-31

31 Weeks!

31 Weeks!

At this point in my pregnancy, I’m starting to feel like I’ve been pregnant forever. I know these last weeks are going to probably go the slowest but so far the weeks have been flying by. Crazy to think that AT MOST, I’m 10.5 weeks away from meeting my baby girl (my doctor said she won’t schedule me to be induced until 2 weeks past my due date which is something I’m very happy with since ideally I’ll have a totally intervention-free birth).

It’s funny because although I feel I’ve been pregnant forever, to the public eye I’ve been pregnant a month or so because I haven’t been blatantly showing. Only recently are strangers/acquaintances at work confident enough that I’m actually with child and not just chubby to congratulate me or comment. My weekly baby update email this week said that this is the time that people start telling you that you must be ready to pop, but I’m having the opposite reaction as everyone is telling me it has gone so fast when I tell them I’m already 31 weeks. It’s interesting how different everyone’s bodies are when it comes to carrying a child. I must admit I’m happy to finally be visibly pregnant! Now I just have 9 or so weeks to celebrate that.

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How Many Weeks: This covers weeks 29-31.

Size of Baby: Over 16 inches long and about 3.3 pounds, the size of a coconut.

Excuse this week's terrible "oh shit we need to take the bump picture" photo!

Excuse this week’s terrible “oh shit we need to take the bump picture” photo!

Belly Button In/Out: It has definitely changed and is more flat but has not “popped” yet.

Stretch Marks: Not any yet. I’ve been religiously applying Mambino Organics Belly Butter to my belly twice a day and praying that it works (either way the belly butter helps with itching).

Rings On/Off: My rings are still on and don’t seem to be much tighter (besides when I go for a long walk and my fingers turn to sausages) which makes me hopeful that I’ll never have to take them off! I also don’t seem to have any swelling in my legs which I know can plague a lot of pregnant women around this time.

Symptoms: General sleepiness, occasional leg cramps in the middle of the night, waddling. I am thankful that my symptoms have been so mild.

Wadding up Torrey Pines

Wadding up Torrey Pines (still able to rock some Oiselle gear at least!!!)

Sleep: Mike was out of town this past week so I finally slept with my Snoogle. I think that it did help. Although my doctor did tell me that I could continue sleeping on my back at times, I have found that I’m less comfortable in that position lately.  On the weekends I try to sleep as much as possible since during the week I only get 7.5-8 hours since I tend to wake up at 5:30 several mornings to work out. Ideally right now I think I need closer to 9-10 hours of sleep based on how it goes on the weekends. Even after 9 hours I’ll still take a nap on a weekend afternoon if possible.

snoogle sleep pillow during pregnancy

Testing out my Snoogle back when I got it (in May!)

Purchasing: These last 3 weeks were all about the nursery! I’m happy to say it’s almost complete – all we need are the final touches on the decor but I’m waiting until my shower because my friend Allison who is hosting has made several decorations for the shower that she thinks would fit in well in the nursery (the theme is mint, coral and grey with arrow print accents). Over 4th of July weekend Mike’s parents came over and helped us paint the nursery and put together the crib and changing table. The glider was delivered the following weekend and I picked up some great finds at Home Goods for decor and storage as well. We ordered a floor rug from Target and it came last week. Now all we need are the final touches and a baby to put in it! I’ll be posting pictures once it’s done!

I got this art on Etsy and painted the frame myself

I got this art on Etsy and painted the frame myself

Nursery toy basket which fit the theme perfectly

Nursery toy basket which fit the theme perfectly

Couldn't resist this adorable bathing suit for Siena - so excited to have a girl!!!

Couldn’t resist this adorable bathing suit for Siena (for next summer) – so excited to be having a little girl!!!

Interesting Moments: Now that my bump is getting more obvious, I’ve had a lot more interaction with strangers. The man serving my lunch last week told me I was for sure having a girl because of the way i’m carrying and he has 3 daughters so he’s an expert. A woman at the mall over the weekend then told me I must be carrying a boy because I “don’t look pregnant from behind” and apparently girls make your whole body grow (clearly she doesn’t know that it has grown…).

I’m still wearing heels (not every day) and every time I do I get multiple comments about it!

Best Moments: Putting together the nursery was definitely the highlight of the last 3 weeks. I kept going back into the room after it was painted and the crib was built and staring at it in disbelief. We’re going to have another human being LIVING in our house! It’s crazy!!!

Mike putting together the crib the day after we painted the room.

Mike putting together the crib the day after we painted the room.

I also feel my best after a great hike or yoga session with friends.

During a hike at Torrey Pines with Brooke

During a hike at Torrey Pines with Brooke

Torrey Pines hike with Asia last week - I made her join me for 290 squats along the way!

Torrey Pines hike with Asia last week – I made her join me for 290 squats along the way!

Exercise: Still going strong with the squats (up to 290/day last week, headed for 350 a day by the end of the month!), yoga, barre, hikes and even some runs! I workout on average 6-7 times a week plus get in shorter walks a few times a week, still occasionally putting in a double day (ie workout in the morning, workout at night). The intensity and duration is nothing compared to pre-pregnancy but I’m getting out there! I feel good during most workouts but definitely feel the best during yoga. I’m also doing exercises to prepare for child birth (read more here).

After a run!

After a run!

Cravings/Aversions: Nothing crazy here, just lots of cold, refreshing foods. Lots of cold, fresh fruit, the occasional diet soda (only 2-3 a week, but highly considering making all soda off limits!) and my nightly ice cream! I’ve noticed lately that I can’t eat as much at one sitting as I was able to before and I’ve been staying full longer. I’m sure that my stomach is getting cramped in there thanks to the growing baby.

Baby/Child Birth Preparations: We only have ONE Bradley Method birth class left and I’ve scheduled our hospital tour. I already got my breast bump from the insurance company and the nursery is almost done. I still need to wash the clothes, blankets, sheets but will do that after the showers. I also need to select our pediatrician (I have a recommendation and will probably go with that one but have yet to call) and we pack the hospital bag and install the car seat, but we have a little time for that (or so I hope – one of the girls in our birth class already had her baby at 35 weeks).

Missing: I must admit an ice cold beer sounds really good since it’s been so hot!

Looking Forward To: My showers! I have my first shower, which will be with friends and some family on August 1st, a 2nd shower with my mom’s side of the family on August 8th and a work shower on the 10th. I can’t wait to spend some quality time with friends and family. Some of my friends who I rarely get to see are coming from out of town so it’ll be a treat to catch up with them in person.

Running During The 2nd Trimester

half marathon while pregnant

Running has always been my one true love when it comes to fitness. Even when I dabble in other areas of fitness focus, I always come back to my tried and true – running. However, pregnancy has presented some challenges when it comes to running and as I approach 31 weeks pregnant, I’m coming to the realization that my running days are numbered. I wanted to recap how running was for me in the 2nd trimester (and I’ll do an update on the 3rd trimester later) to help other pregnant runners know what they might expect. Every pregnancy and person is different and I’ve seen women run races up til their due date or chose not to run at all during pregnancy, so of course my experience is just one of many and yours won’t be exactly the same.

To give any non-regular readers some background on my running background pre-pregnancy, I started running/racing long distances (half marathons) in 2010, ran my first full marathon in 2011, my first (and only) Ironman in 2012 and then ran 3 more marathons from 2013-2014 trying to qualify for Boston. My last marathon was CIM in December 2014 and I trained at a range of 45-55 miles per week for the majority of the fall and winter. I ran a 3:35:26 at CIM so my “easy” pace was in the mid 8s/low 9s and my race pace for a half marathon was about 7:45. I got pregnant less than 1 month after CIM so I was in peak running shape at the start of my pregnancy.

2nd Trimester Running Mileage and Paces: 

April (~Weeks 14-18 of pregnancy): 56 Miles, average pace/mile ~10-11 min/mile

May (~Weeks 19-23): 73 miles, average pace/mile ~11-12 min/mile

June (~Weeks 24-28): 20 miles  average pace/mile ~12-15 min/mile

Running in the 2nd Trimester

I started the 2nd trimester still feeling pretty good while running. I had run a half marathon at both 6 weeks and 12 weeks and then started to train to run the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon (which I planned to run at 23 weeks). I ran 5 5ks (3 timed runs plus the 5k during Wanderlust and the Girls on the Run 5k) during the 2nd trimester, all of which were right around 28-30 minutes, which I considered pretty good since my training runs were in the 10-11 minute range at the time. I put in several runs over 8 miles and two runs over 10 miles between weeks 14-21 of pregnancy in order to train for the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon.

My first 5k of pregnancy - and my fastest! The Carlsbad 5000.

My first 5k of pregnancy – and my fastest! The Carlsbad 5000.

The first 10+ mile run felt really good and the 2nd one felt pretty bad. The first 10 miler was on the trails and I took my time and walked up hills. I ran with my cousin for part of it and enjoyed new scenery on the trails and took my time. The 2nd 10 mile run run was on the familiar coast path/street (concrete/asphalt) and I was alone. It was a struggle and there were definitely moments when I questioned how fun it would be to run the Rock n’ Roll San Diego half marathon in two weeks. I ended up getting a 24 hour stomach flu the day before the race and decided not to run it at all, my first ever DNS! I think I could have finished the race and overall it would have been a positive experience, but I also think it would have been quite uncomfortable! There was a part of me that was relieved when I had to back out of the race, but another big part of me was really sad to miss out on the experience since I love racing and I knew it would be my last of pregnancy and possibly even the year!

View from my 10 mile trail run

View from my 10 mile trail run

After missing RnR SD, I cut back on my running since I no longer had something to train for (for the first time in 5 years!). I focused on other things (yoga, barre, spin, hiking, walking, squatting) but still ran occasionally with friends or on my own. I stopped running more than 4.5 miles at a time and walk breaks started to be more of the norm. I also started using a “belly bra” to help support my growing belly and found that although it helped, I still felt some discomfort while running. The bathroom breaks started to get even more frequent (I think my record was 3 bathroom breaks during a 4 mile run).

My interest in running started to wane toward the end of the trimester due to the fact that I rarely had a friend to run with (I can’t keep up anymore and/or their schedules just didn’t fit with mine anymore), I had to plan run routes around bathrooms, my belly hurt and I there wasn’t a lot of variety in my running anymore (I missed tempo runs, long runs,and track workouts). My pace was now in the 11-12 min/mile range while actually running but I often stopped to walk so it I found it took me about 40-45 minutes to run the 3.2 mile rail loop near by house (which requires a lot of walking since it has about 1,000 feet of climbing!). I also noticed that my body took longer to recover from runs than from other, lower impact exercises. However, I still loved to run enough to continue occasionally through end of the 2nd trimester.

Girls on the Run 5k

Girls on the Run 5k

At 31 weeks, I am still running! But it’s getting slower and slower. I think I keep hanging on because it’s hard for me to imagine NOT running for months which is the reality if I give up now (2 months til due date + likely at least 1 month postpartum). I just love the fresh air, views and the way that running makes me feel a little too much!!!

If you’ve been pregnant, what was your experience with running? How far into pregnancy did you run and what was your primary motivation? 

5 Key Exercises to Prepare for Childbirth

The first week of my Bradley Method class we went over several exercises to ease pregnancy discomforts and/or strengthen the body for a more efficient labor and less painful recovery. As someone who loves to have a tangible plan to get ready for an event, I loved that there were specific exercises to get me in shape for “birth day,” just like race day! I made myself a birth training plan spreadsheet with the exercises listed out on the top and the dates listed on the side. Every day I try to do several, if not all of the exercises. Having the sheet on the fridge definitely keeps me accountable.

Just like you wouldn’t show up to an Ironman triathlon unprepared and without practice, you don’t want to show up to your child’s birth day without a strong body and mind. Below I’ll share what I consider the five most important ways you can prepare for labor and delivery.

1. Squats – Repeats.

Squatting in the backyard.

Squatting in the backyard.

Squats are touted as the best exercise to prepare for childbirth. Not only do they strengthen your legs, glutes and low back which you’ll want strong for the many hours of labor, but squatting actually will help stretch your perineum so that you are less likely to tear during childbirth.

To Do: I definitely recommend getting in on a squat challenge to keep yourself motivated. It’s so much easier to follow a plan than to just try to get in a certain number of squats every single day. In June I followed the Squat Challenge from 30DayFitnessChallenges.com  which built from 50 squats up to 250 squats a day over 30 days, with 1 rest day after every 3 days. In July, I challenge myself to add 100 squats a day, starting at 150 squats and ending at 450!

For tips on technique during squats, you can find guidance here.  Note: I don’t use any weights when squatting and it’s still a great workout!

2. Deep Squats -Hold.

Deep Squatting. Source: Parents.com

Deep Squatting. Source: Parents.com

Deep squatting is an extremely efficient pushing position in natural childbirth (it can’t be used with an epidural due to the fact that you can’t move into the position). Squatting shortens the birth canal so baby doesn’t have to go as far to reach his or her final destination. Additionally, squatting is arguably the most efficient birthing position as it utilizes the force of gravity to move the baby out. During 2nd stage labor, a woman will push for 45-90 seconds at a time. Therefore, it’s ideal to be able to hold the position comfortably for at least 60 seconds but ideally 2 full minutes. Assisted squatting is easier than unassisted, and most hospitals have squat bars that you can use to brace yourself. Your husband or a doula can help support you as well. Either way, spending a minute or more a day in a deep squat will help prepare your hips.

To Do: Come into a comfortable squat with knees wider than your hips. Feet should be completely pressed to the floor and you should try to sit up as straight as possible. To assist with balance, bring your palms together and press your elbows against your inner knees. In the beginning you may need to use a yoga block to sit on and/or only hold for 10-20 seconds. As you develop more flexibility you should be able to hold for longer and longer periods.

3. Kegals.

The exercise that can be done anywhere and is completely discreet! Kegal exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles which support your urethra, bladder, uterus and rectum. A weak pelvic floor is common postpartum and can lead to fun symptoms like bladder leakage or worse. A strong pelvic floor can help with childbirth in that they can keep hemerroids at bay (isn’t childbirth lovely?) and speed healing after a tear during childbirth. Bonus points – a strong pelvic floor will make sex more enjoyable and you’re way less likely to pee your pants when you sneeze.

To Do:  I try to get at least 50 kegals in a day and the Bradley Method recommends working your way up to 200. You actually don’t want to start off with too many a day as you can cause damage, just like if you were to go straight into 200 push-ups a day after not doing them for years. Start with a strong understanding of exactly which muscles you’re working (you shouldn’t be clenching your butt or any other exterior muscle while performing kegals).

Here’s a great workout  by Fit Pregnancy which also explains how exactly to do Kegals.

Another great resource is Hab-It – here’s a link to 5 pregnancy pelvic floor exercises.

4. Cat/Cow.

The most underrated yoga move! Stretching in this position is amazing for relieving back pain during pregnancy and I’ve found that arching my back feels incredibly soothing. Pelvic rocking, or Cat/Cow tones and conditions the muscles of the lower back and abdominal muscles, relieves pressured on the lower back and increases circulation. It has even been shown to improve digestion and when done properly can help the baby move forward, relieving pressure felt by mom. I love this one and get it in pretty much every day.

To Do: Simply get on all fours with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Start with a neutral spine and then as you take a long breath inward, move your spine upward like a cat and look down at your belly. As you breathe out, push your belly down and look upward.

5. Relaxation.

Relaxation is the most pivotal of all of the exercises and will be the thing that helps you manage pain during labor the most. Being relaxed during labor will not only help you stay mentally focused on the task at hand but it will also speed up your labor so you get to see your baby’s face sooner! Stress and tension are your worst enemies during childbirth and your body will slow down the process if you’re feeling this way. A female deer has the ability to literally suck a baby deer who is halfway out of her laboring body back into her so that she can run away if she is frightened during labor. This is the same as humans – we need to be at total ease in order to deliver our innocent baby into the world (another reason why it’s important to be prepared and only have people in the room with you during your labor who you feel totally comfortable with). Relaxation is the most important pain management technique touted by the Bradley Method and it is not something you can just do spontaneously during labor. You must practice.

Unfortunately this one is the hardest for me to fit into my day. Ideally I’d be practicing relaxation for a minimum of 10 min a day but this tends to be the one that I miss most days. I’ve been consistently practicing relaxation about 2-3 days a week. I like to think that yoga is a form of relaxation as well and when I’m experiencing a pose that causes discomfort or pain, I try to focus on my breathing and think things like “breathe in confidence, breathe out doubt” in order to stay in a pose longer than I want. It’s important to get your husband/birth partner involved in relaxation as well – there are several techniques that involve your husband either reading from a relaxation script and/or massaging you while you focus on relaxation.

To Do: There are several relaxation techniques for labor and tons of YouTube videos that will help you with a  guided relaxation/meditation. Here are some of my favorite resources:

  1.  Guided Relaxation Script
  2. Positive Affirmations YouTube Video (you have to watch this, not close your eyes since it’s all visual).
  3. Meditation for Natural Easy Childbirth and Labor
  4. 10 Minute Guided Meditation for Birthing, Labor and Delivery
  5. Easy Labor Massage For Pain Relief During Childbirth (who doesn’t want to practice these!?)

 

Running Survey and WildFire Giveaway Winners!

First, let’s start with the goods news! Congratulations to Jen, Nancy, Stephanie, Claire and Carlee for winning the 2 month membership to Wildfire! I’ve already sent your emails over to Wildfire and they should be contacting you with next steps shortly. I’d love to take a class with you if you’re in the San Diego area!

Thanks to Jen who blogs at Pretty Little Grub for letting me steal this fun running survey from her. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to talk running on the blog so filling out this survey was a fun walk down memory lane. I can’t wait to get back out there and training again !

1.  Would you rather run along a beach path or on a mountain trail? 

I would have said beach path for years but lately I’ve been loving those mountain trails. So this is a toss up. About 90% of my runs are on a beach path so I may just be spoiled!

Beach path running for life!

Beach path running for life!

2.  If you could choose the flavor of gatorade at your next race’s aid stations, what would it be?

None! I am not a fan of flavored sports drinks – they don’t quench my thirst at all! I used to drink nuun while Ironman training (always with another bottle with pure water) but now I just do salt tabs if necessary for electrolytes.

3.  If I gave you a $100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing that you would purchase with it?

Maybe a sports bra because I HATE spending money on a good supportive sports bra and they are expensive!

4.  Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far and how fast you want to run?

I’m a planner all the way – training plans make me happy. But I also know when it’s smart to change the plan so I don’t live and die by it.

Beachside running at the Long Beach half

Beachside running at the Long Beach half

5.  Would you rather start your run with the uphill and end on the downhill or start your run with the downhill and end with the uphill?

I’d rather start uphill and finish downhill – nothing beats feeling amazing and fast at the end of a good run. I’m usually sluggish for the first mile or two anyway.As for racing, same thing – Rock n’ Roll San Diego starts uphill and finish with a fast downhill and it’s the best. AFC is the worst – downhill start and uphill to the finish. I have ran that race 3 times and have yet to feel good running up that hill.

Downhill running

Downhill running with my RBF (and RLBF)

6.  When you can’t run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do?

I’ve done it all! P90X, Pilates, barre, yoga, cycling/spin, bootcamps, bring it on! I’ve always incorporated cross training into my marathon training – it just depends on what I’m currently excited about.

Swimming - not my favorite cross training but always fun with friends

Swimming – not my favorite cross training but always fun with friends

7.  What is your preference—>  Out and back, point to point or loop runs?

I think I like out and backs – it helps me break down the run into manageable pieces and I always know where I am. When it comes to racing, a point to point or loop is always the most interesting though (although I hate taking a bus on point to point races).

8.  If you could recommend ANY running related item to a new runner, it would be a—>

Good pair of shoes! I always say this when new runners come to me with some kind of pain – usually I find out they are running in their old cross-training shoes that they’ve been wearing to the gym for 5 years.

9.  Do you ever see any wild animals while out on your runs?

On the runs from my old house I’d see pelicans and sea gulls. Now on the trail runs from my new house I see rabbits and lizards.

My new home running route

My new home running route

10.  Ever gotten lost while out on a run?

I’ve never been officially lost – but I’ve definitely run farther than I had expected to run due to a miscalculation or a wrong turn!

We definitely ran farther than expected on a few of these trail runs while training for Ragnar Trail Vail Lake

We definitely ran farther than expected on a few of these trail runs while training for Ragnar Trail Vail Lake

11.  If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a run for the next 30 days… what would that meal be?

Mozy’s breakfast burrito (whole wheat tortilla, eggs, black beans, jack cheese, plantains and avocado  – it’s amazing and I have one basically every weekend)!

12.  Capris or shorts… what do you run in most often?

I used to be a capris girl until I discovered Oiselle shorts (Rogas are my favorite but distance shorts are amazing). They are so comfortable and don’t ride up!

Oiselle Distance Short in action!

13.  At what mile (or how many minutes) into your run does your body start to feel like it is warming up and ready to go?

It depends on the day but sometimes it can take up to 4 miles to really feel good! But in general, it’s at least 2 miles. Now that I’m pregnant, I don’t really ever feel “ready to go” on a run. Sigh.

14.  What do you do with your key when you run?

Put it in one of the handy zipper pockets in my Oiselle pants or shorts.

Lots of Oiselle clothing action happening at last year's bird camp

Lots of Oiselle clothing action happening at last year’s bird camp

15.  If you could relive any race that you have done in the past, which one what it be?

This is a hard one! One of the best races ever was Oceanside 70.3 but that’s a pretty long race to relive so I might pick San Diego Rock n’ Roll 2014 where I set my current half marathon PR. I didnt’ feel awesome for the first few miles but I kept a good attitude and about halfway into the race it turned magical for me. My legs felt light and I felt amazing for the last 8 miles of the race. I posted a huge negative split (in part thanks to the course profile) and had a smile on my face nearly the entire race.

Running Happy at RnR SD last year

Running Happy at RnR SD last year

What running habits/preferences do we have in common?