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?