The Struggles of Pregnancy Fitness

I inherently had high expectations coming from my full time job of working out as an elite athlete, to being a pregnant athlete. The first trimester symptoms of pregnancy honestly blind sided me, and I was forced to let my active lifestyle take a backseat. I felt very guilty about not working out, which didn't help my already wavering state of happiness. Listen, it's okay to not feel happy and glowing and positive about all the new changes and hormonal shifts during pregnancy. I give you permission :) When you feel sick and you feel unmotivated, its hard to be happy about your day to day. And for any active female or person, it can be difficult to turn off the voices in your head that tell you to keep going.

I had to come to terms with being okay with not working out like I had anticipated. For myself, I knew the most important thing was to be happy and to have a balance. I think anytime you're in the heat of a phase, especially one where you're not feeling positive, it can be very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I talked with my husband, my friends, and my sports psychologist about what was going through my head. 

Once I was in a place where I felt better and I could start working out again, I began adding hikes to the routine (the perks of living in Colorado). I was really surprised at how quickly I fatigued and became out of breath. My first reaction to my fatigue was, woa woa, this is not right, slow it down. In that moment, I understood the women who feel like working out is a negative addition for them and for their baby. And when it comes to protecting the life growing inside you, there is no compromise. Maybe I wouldn't be able to work up to how I was training as an elite athlete. Would I just fall into the category of another pregnant woman who decides working out is not for them because it's a bit more challenging?

I didn't give up, and continued to try more things over time... but slowly, very very slowly. I began to add what I knew I would be comfortable with. Simple weight training exercises that I knew would also challenge my newly repaired shoulder. My favorite exercise has always been push ups. I feel like they are the most challenging and most rewarding exercise you can do, and all you need is your own body weight! I think that is so freaking cool!

Once I was cleared by my physical therapist, I was excited at the opportunity to start killing it at pushups again! However, by that time, I hadn't anticipated having a 30 pound weight vest attached to me and what that would mean for my progress. Once again, thoughts, worries, and expectations flooded my head. I had to bring myself back to what I've learned in sports psychology, and to what I can do right now. What I think I should be doing doesn't matter. That has now become the most important tool in helping my progress. 

Since then, I have gained much more confidence in what I am capable of and what my body can handle. To my surprise, it's a lot! I do not feel fragile, but I do feel different. And different is okay. Doubt of capabilities can creep in to even the most elite of athletes. 

It is very easy to fall towards the camp of not working out while you're pregnant. It can be scary and intimidating when you feel so very different from your normal self. But there are still ways to incorporate exercise, even if it's slowly. Just as your baby is growing slowly over 40 weeks, you have plenty of time to incorporate the types of activities that make the most sense for you. And you may be completely different at every stage of pregnancy. This gives you the opportunity to adapt when you feel different. One of the biggest lessons from being a professional athlete is learning how to be adaptable with change. You may never have a perfectly scheduled rhythm, and who is to say that's not okay? 

5 Minimalist Items You Need for a Home Workout

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It can be tempting to fall into the trap of accumulating workout gear in order to get a good sweat at home. I decided to put together the 5 items that I have personally used for years and LOVE. They are good quality, long lasting, and minimal! There is no reason to have endless amounts of un-used workout gear that take up space in your home. For me, it is so important to be able to put everything away after I am done. By minimizing the workout gear clutter, you will find you can focus on and enjoy your workouts so much more!

1. Foam Roller

If you haven't jumped on the band wagon yet for foam rollers, its time to stop being such a skeptic! It is fast becoming the go-to tool for muscle prep and recovery for all workouts. Also called self-mayofascial release, it supports immediate body improvements and is a universal tool used for every part of the body. Think of it as an alternative for getting soft-tissue work done by a therapist on your fascia, or first layer of soft tissue. For most of us, its not practical to get weekly or daily massages, and a good foam roller can help in that absence. Its benefits include relaxing and prepping tight muscles, increasing blood flow, increased range of motion, reduced muscle tension, and increased recovery post workout. 

A good foam roller is a must for getting effective results. As effective as a basic soft or high density foam roller can be, you will quickly find that your body will adjust to the smooth surface. As you improve and adjust the intensity of your own workouts, your foam roller should be able to adjust to the next level along with you. The best option is going towards a sports medicine-style foam roller with grids that allow for next level focus on your muscles. The best on the market are the Trigger Point foam rollers. They carry multiple sizes, and I in LOVE with my 26" roller and the mini size. The mini allows for compact travel and is great to pinpoint problem areas. The 26" Trigger Point Roller is a fantastic investment to use before and after all of your workouts. This product is worth the extra price, as it does the job of many tools advertised. This product will last you a lifetime, and you don't run the risk of a less expensive foam roller made of expanded polypropylene (EPP) loosing its shape over time.

2. Bands

Therapy bands or exercise bands are must for your at home workout. Not only are they extremely versatile, but they can allow you to complete more movements with resistance than weights ever can. They also provide a huge range of resistance strength, from light to heavy, which help simulate using heavy weights. It comes in handy if you are traveling for business or for competition. If you are ever in a tight spot, you can conveniently travel with your bands so you can get a workout in anywhere. There is a ton of variety available, but the best bands to start out with (and best bang for your buck!) is TheraBand. They are thin, lightweight bands that allows you to do a wide variety of exercises. They are color coordinated which is super convenient, so you can record your progress as you increase resistance colors. The beginner set allows you to increase resistance as you shorten your grip on the band, and you can control the tension. You can tie the two loose ends to change the tension and to utilize a different type of workout. These are thin, so I would not recommend looping over something stationary and leaning back for a body weighted pull-type exercise. The only problem any kind of silicon rubber band is the possibility of loosing tension over time, or ripping. Take care of your bands and they will take care of you!

3. Weighted Medicine Ball

I've used weighted medicine balls in my training for years. Most of the time I would utilize a larger, soft shell medicine ball used for dynamic movements, plyometric, throwing, and partner exercises. But when it comes to my home gym, I have to be able to maximize my workout in a much smaller space. Using a smaller rubber shell ball allows for dynamic work without needing huge amounts of space. Using the rebounding and rolling capabilities, I can get creative with my at home workouts. These rubber medicine balls are extremely durable, and I can't see them needing to be replaced at any time. Find a mid-range weight (I recommend between 8-12 pounds) that will allow you to be versatile in your workouts and use it for more than just med ball slams. 

4. Jump Rope

There is no reason to have to invest in bulky equipment like stationary bikes, treadmills, or row machines. They take up space in your home and in your mind. They become a constant reminder that if you don't use them, you don't get your money's worth! Hands down the best way to add in cardio and agility is through jump roping. I love a basic jump rope, which is why I chose the one below! I am not a big fan of the jump ropes that have metal clamps exposed for adjusting. They don't allow any kind of dynamic rope turning and get twisted if you try. If I slip down on the handle, I risk getting rubbed by the metal or the exposed end of the rope. Give me simplicity and I'm a happy girl! The rope below gives the best of both worlds, with comfortable handles and no catching or hinging  problems. It still allows for height adjustment by unscrewing the handles from the rope. Everything is hidden in the handles and you get to choose your color! 

5. Tabata Timer 

I love tabata or interval workouts for home!  The best way to time myself has been using my Gymboss Interval Timer. I have used many tabata or interval timers apps on my phone, but I continue to go back to my Gymboss. It allows me to have the timer clipped right to me if I need to move around the house (or at a gym) to create my workout, which makes it so convenient! No more worrying about moving my phone near me to hear the timer, or if I want to check what set I am on but my phone is across the room. I have often used an interval app in a busy gym, and I never feel comfortable moving from exercise to exercise with it laying on the floor. I especially HATE having a big beeper on that would be distracting to others around me. Not to mention, a phone call or text message interrupting the timer or throwing you off your game. That is so NOT needed in the middle of a great workout. The Gymboss has a vibrate setting so no one needs to know my interval times but me! I bought mine in 2009 and it is still going strong! 

The Gymboss allows you to choose the number of sets, your work time, your rest time, or if you just want it to time you continuously. You can change the alarm duration as well as how loud the beep is, if you add vibrate, or use only vibrate. This little guy gives you complete control and complete focus on your workouts! 

Professional Athletes and Pregnancy

There have been some awesome articles lately about pregnancy and elite athletes. Serena Williams is pregnant with her first, and won a Grand-Slam title while 8 weeks pregnant. Track athlete Alysia Montanio was just in the news as she competed in the 800-meters at 5 months pregnant. There are also countless numbers of female athletes who have competed in their athletic career at the highest levels while pregnant.

Coming from a place where our society often dubs pregnancy and women as fragile, meek, and burdened, this narrative turns these adjectives on their head. We are finally showing that women can sustain all that comes with pregnancy, and still do amazing things with their bodies. There has been so much more research done on pregnancy and remaining active. Throughout history, pregnant women would often be treated as if they had an illness; being prescribed unnecessary bed rest and diet pills to control weight gain. Hard pass on those.

Today, we can see the focus turn towards well rounded health for expecting mothers, as well as higher expectations of what a woman can do while pregnant. Along with more opportunities to be high level athletes and career women, we are getting our voices heard that pregnancy and starting a family doesn't mean we have to limit our choices. 

It is the age-old question for women who have chosen career over family –– when do I need to stop and start a family? And for athletes: do I compete another 4-year cycle and prioritize my goals, or do I prioritize family? Can I have both? We need to continue to have strong female voices saying, "yes, you have a choice!" 

The Olympic Channel has just come out with a video on fellow wrestler Isabelle Sambou about her decision between continuing on to compete at the Tokyo 2020 games, or make the decision to have a family. She has the choice, but it will be a tough decision to make. Watch below as she advocates for both being a strong athlete and woman during this time in her life. 

Isabelle Sambou's tough dilemma

Senegal’s wrestling⭐Isabelle Sambou is trying to decide between Tokyo 2020 and a family...

Posted by Olympic Channel on Monday, July 3, 2017

At the same time, these strong voices need to advocate and appreciate every woman's path and how it best fits them. No condemning women for deciding to end their careers and stay at home, or having a baby and traveling the world to compete against the best. To each their own and to the freedom of choice for women! 

And choice may be the most important thing afforded. It doesn't make it easy or convenient, as committing to family and to sport/career are equally time-driven. I have been extremely fortunate in my path with pregnancy thus far. I have been able to stay involved with wrestling through the nonprofit Wrestle Like a Girl, coaching youths, being an advocate, and working on LuchaFIT. I have had professionals who take my training and my rehab seriously, and the support around me to pursue my goals. 

However, that still doesn't make the transition easy. Having the identity of athlete as my career of choice has conditioned me to think in athlete mode, constantly. From the way I interact with people in my day to day life, to the way I eat and sleep. It is difficult to turn off the "faster, higher, stronger" mode. 

I have been intrigued and surprised at the phases I have gone through. First trimester proved difficult to even think about doing a workout as morning sickness, fatigue, and emotions were the name of the game. I desperately wanted to continue to eat my healthy regimen I had conditioned myself to, as so much written on pregnancy stresses the importance of a healthy diet. However, I had to focus during first trimester on whatever I could get down, as strange as it would be. Saltine crackers, ice cream, and Pho were more often on the menu than vegetables and proteins, which were hard to digest and increased how sick I felt. Talking with my sports psychologist, we worked on how I could apply the techniques of mindfulness towards this part of my life. We worked on letting go of the stresses to do things perfect. That it was okay to give myself a break to do whatever it was that I needed, even if it felt counter intuitive to my athlete mind. 

It can be tempting to want to show a happy, glowing, perfect image of what pregnancy "should be," and it was difficult to only want to portray myself as a tough athlete. I certainly didn't feel like one at the time, and didn't anticipate the intense emotions that would be present. It was tough to figure out the best way to represent myself to others. How can they see me as an athlete and pregnant? Wouldn't I be written off as done and moved on if those within my community saw me pregnant? I had a lot of fears and hesitations towards telling others. It felt as if the pregnancy did the talking for me, and that others wouldn't listen to what I could want for my life. 

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I have since worked on embracing this phase of life for exactly what it is: messy, complicated, and absolutely beautiful. To devote your life to sport where you are constantly learning about your body, it is a whole new experience to trust my body in a new way. Just like the ups and downs in sport, I am adjusting and learning about my body during the ups and downs of pregnancy. And I am absolutely enthralled with the process of watching my body change and adjust with every new chapter. 

Creating normalcy around struggles and empowerment for pregnant women helps give an image that it doesn't even need to look one way. My second trimester has proven much more comfortable for me to remain active, as I have taken more opportunities to coach, teach wrestling, and resume a more normal lifting schedule.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling less than when you see Serena Williams winning a grand slam at 8 weeks pregnant, when I know I was mostly sick on the couch at 8 weeks. This doesn’t mean that these women aren't dealing with many of the same symptoms that most women deal with. As athletes, we are used to creating a space where training, eating, and napping are regular routine. I believe none of these athletes are an exception to the consistent fatigue from growing a new human. Being used to a certain level of training and fatigue certainly helps with your conditioning for pregnancy.

I am proud to show other women around me that you can be an amazing intense athlete, and still embrace the beauty of pregnancy. You certainly don't have to look a certain way to be strong and pregnant, and you don't have to compete with what everyone else is doing. 

Check out the article from Team USA on pregnant athletes here 

Check out the article on Alysia Montano and her recent competition while 5 months pregnant here 

What You Need to Know About Getting NASM CPT Certified

I am officially as Certified Personal Trainer! Starting with registering back in November, I've been navigating my way through human sciences, nutrition, and program design. If feels great to say I've accomplished this milestone! Are you also thinking of taking a route towards personal training? Here are some tips to help you know where to begin and how to prepare for the test properly:

 

What Do I Need to Begin?

You need a passion for sport sciences and a passion to apply your knowledge to help others. Mine came from years of being trained by others as a professional athlete. I learned so much through being trained, but realized when I wanted to explain what I learned to others, I didn't always have the answers. I personally don't plan on working at a gym, but this could aways change. My motivation was to provide more material for my awesome readers and subscribers of LuchaFIT, and to work one on one with people trying to reach their goals. Your end goal doesn't have to be working in a gym, your motivation for personal training can lead you to many opportunities. 

 

How Much Background in Sports Science is Needed?

The more you have, the better! My background boasts solely of what I have learned being a professional athlete, because my undergraduate degree is in business. Just realize that you may need to focus on science concepts a little longer while you are studying for your certification. It is not a deal breaker in any way if you lack any formal studying or training in human and sports science.

 

Which Package Should I Buy?

ALWAYS look for their 20% off packages. NASM is consistently running deals. Take advantage of paying in installments, they are interest free and helpful on your wallet. 

Asses where you are in your life and how much time you will be able to devote to studying. They currently offer 4 different packages, all with varying prices based on the materials you will be provided. I went with the most basic package, but I also knew I would have the time available to spend studying. Knowing that there is a lot of material to retain and knowing how well you study entirely on your own (this was my first "online" class), it can be beneficial to take advantage of a package with more resources. While you are in the thick of studying, you will never regret having more resources. It can be a long an arduous studying process, so if you think you will need it, spend the extra money. 

 

What Outside Resources Helped You?

Besides going through every video, activity, quiz, study guide, and test provided by NASM through their online portal, I spend time on as many free quiz websites and resources as I could find. Here's two that were my favorite:

FitnessMentors.com is a great website with a lot of options available to you. They have a free quiz, a free study guide, and some tough NASM test questions and answers that could be a part of your test. They also have tests you can pay for if you went with the most basic NASM package and find yourself needing more study materials.

The other favorite online resource was Quizlet.com. They have online flashcards of many of the chapter terms made by others, and you can make your own flashcards to study from. My favorite was the flashcards of over and under-active muscles. This was a harder area to memorize and I really benefited from finding it on Quizlet.

Besides the resources mentioned, there is a large thread of people discussing their NASM CPT testing experiences on bodybuilding.com, as well as others who have made study guides or areas to study. I had found a lot of these discussions when I first began researching, which were helpful, but later became overwhelming. There are so many opinions and thoughts about the test; whether its the hardest test they've ever taken, the easiest test they've ever taken, or about the million different areas you have to focus on. Reality is, if you have committed to taking this test, arm yourself with resources and dive in. You know what you are capable of, and only you can actually put in the work to retain the information. 

https://www.fitnessmentors.com/free-nasm-practice-test/

https://quizlet.com/30949092/overactive-and-under-active-muscles-flash-cards/

 

What Would You Change if You Had to do it Again?

One simple study tactic I would have done to save myself time would have been to begin writing out my flashcards while I read through the book. Flashcards are so important, don't neglect doing them! You need to know the terms throughout the book. 

Print out the study guide from NASM as soon as you are done reading. I did not get this resource until my last 2 months of studying, but I would have used it right away to help guide my study practices. 

Get through the NASM online chapter resources right away, there is no reason to have to cram that in at the end. They are helpful and get you step by step towards the mid-term and practice tests provided. I didn't realize the 50-100 question tests were hidden amongst the resources. I spent too long thinking the activities and quizzes were silly and time consuming until I realized how nicely it built into the tests. 

 

Just a Few of the Important Focus Areas to Spend Time On:

Terms, terms, terms! 

Over and under-active muscles, the recommended exercises and stretches that focus on these areas

Know the reps, sets, rest, tempo, 1 Rep Max %, and types of stretching recommended for all the levels of the OPT model: i.e acute variables

Know and understand the nervous, muscular, skeletal, endocrine, cardiorespiratory, and digestive systems

Know the calories in 1 gram of carbs, protein, and fat, as well as the daily caloric recommendations

Have your planes of motion down (sagittal, frontal, transverse) , and how they are applied to exercises

aerobic and anaerobic metabolism (ATP-PC, Glycolysis, Oxidative)

Understanding exercises and which level of the OPT model they belong to 

Subjective vs. objective information for assessments

Heart rate zones, when to use them, and the 

How to progress and regress exercises 

Hydration and dehydration concepts

Know your muscles, I used this book: https://www.amazon.com/Human-Body-Coloring-Book/dp/0756682347/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498584222&sr=1-1&keywords=the+human+body+coloring+book

Retake the quizzes, midterm, and tests from NASM. You will never regret it because its easy to think you understand a question after you see what the right answer is. Make sure you know this information! 

So many have said this and I will say the same thing, it's not about memorization, its about retaining and understanding how to apply what you are learning. If you don't understand a concept, make sure you do the research so you do. Having done the work to have a well rounded understanding of concepts helped me on the test when it asked something I felt I didn't know the exact answer. 

 

Best of luck!

 

 

Podcast, Partnership, and a Journey of Adversities

We are absolutely thrilled to announce our partnership with The Inside Trip Podcast! 

The Inside Trip Podcast will be featuring our top female wrestlers in the country, and each of those podcast will be brought to you by LuchaFIT and Wrestle Like a Girl ! To kick off all this awesomeness, I was featured on their 30th episode of their podcast.

Take a listen to learn more about my journey, the highs and lows, some funny moments, and some tough questions. We discuss adversity in the face of loss on and off the mat, and we talk about what LuchaFIT and Wrestle Like a Girl are doing to advance women in sport! 

Brandon and Ben of The Inside Trip have been fantastic advocates for forwarding the efforts of women's wrestling, and are ready to dive deeper into the promotion of women in this sport. 


Make sure to listen and follow them on social media! 

The Inside Trip on Twitter: @TheInsideTrip1

The Inside Trip on Facebook: The Inside Trip

Subscribe on iTunes: The Inside Trip