Pilates for Pregnancy

pilates reformer

I’m not pregnant, but my best friend is. I get teary-eyed when I think of my workout partner leaving me for Mommydom,  so I’m reading pregnancy blogs to stay involved and educated in all things bambino. All soon-to-be Mamas, and eventually-will-be Mamas need to check out Pregnant Chicken. Seriously, her blog is hilarious. Show her some love. I promise, you’ll be laughing out loud. My Mom and I had some good laughs over wine and her awkward pregnancy photos.

lake

Here is my BFF, Lake. She is 24 weeks pregnant, and looks amazing, right?! I, on the other hand, will not be so lucky. I have no idea where my five-foot (future) self is going to store a baby. Lake has been lucky enough to be blessed with an amazing long and lean body. She also eats very clean, and continues to workout daily. But good genes and a healthy lifestyle can’t take all the credit. She also attends twice, sometimes thrice, weekly Pilates classes. I am thoroughly convinced that Pilates is keeping her in model worthy pregnancy shape.

Pilates tightens your pelvic floor, and strengthens your abdominals. This can allow for a more “comfortable” pregnancy, and, fingers crossed, prepare you for labor. Pilates will help you build a strong spine, protecting your back as your belly grows. Pilates during pregnancy can help you from becoming, how shall I say, “a sloppy mess?”. Come on, everyone knows someone who gained half their body weight during pregnancy. Don’t let this be you! After your first trimester, you only need about 200 extra calories each day. And stay active! Active Mamas will reduce their risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, they will sleep better, and are less prone to postpartum depression.

As your belly gets larger, you will need to take caution with back lying exercises. The weight of your belly when lying down on your back can put pressure on your Superior Vena Cava, a major vein that is supplying blood to both Mama and fetus. Around 20-22 weeks, it is recommended that you avoid lying on your back. You can use the Pilates Chair instead of the Reformer for back lying exercises.

pilates chair

Although they won’t hurt the baby, stomach lying exercises can become uncomfortable even in the first weeks of pregnancy. Your instructor will give you alternate exercise to do that won’t involve you lying on your stomach. That’s another reason why Pilates is so great – every exercise can be modified to fit your body’s individual needs.

Since I’m trying to soak up as much time with Lake as possible, we hit an evening Pilates equipment class at SixPax. A special thanks to Fayth, for setting this class up for us! If you live in Chicago, and have not checked them out yet, you are missing out! Fayth, Joanna, and Molly will change your life.

Trying to decide if Pilates is for you? Check out a mat class and find out. I would not recommend starting a new fitness regimen while pregnant, wait until after the baby is born to start something new. If you’ve been doing Pilates for years, keep it up throughout your pregnancy (as long as you have a doctor’s okay). I know a woman who did Pilates up until the day she gave birth. She looked phemoninal, and only needed two weeks off before she was able to get back into her fitness routine.

How was your day? I realized during Pilates that I was wearing the recalled Lululemon pants. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Ignore me. I’ve been drinking wine.

Staying Motivated

I was recently asked by another teacher at my school, how I find the time to workout each day. It is tricky. I can honestly say, I’m probably not the most attentive wife or friend. I would much rather attend a Friday night Pilates class than an after work happy hour. I never cook dinner. Sometimes I forget to feed the cat. I should probably vaccum more. I plan my weekend activities around my workouts. My husband thinks I’m nuts.

To help my social life, I try to get my friends involved in my workouts as much as possible. Since I’d much rather attend a pilates class than an after work happy hour, when people ask me to grab a drink after work, I say, “Sure, but let’s hit a Pilates class first.” Or I tell them to bring their gym shoes, and we can jog to the bar. I am constantly trying to convince my friends to join me for a Saturday morning workout with the lure of having brunch afterwards. Yup, maybe I am nuts.

I make working out a priority. That’s what you need to do to get it done. It’s part of my day just like getting my morning coffee from Robust Coffee Lounge or going to work. It’s a nonnegotiable. I make a point to try to leave work by 5. I mean, I’ve been there since 7:30. That’s not too much to ask right? I save work that I can do from my couch for when I get home, and only work on things at school that need to get done there.

I also try to sign up for 2-3 classes each week. It breaks up the monotony of the gym, and if you’re going to spend your hard earned money on a $30 Pilates class, you are going to show up whether you feel like it or not! And now that the weather is getting nicer, there is no excuse not to throw on your running shoes and go for an easy 3 miler…or even a walk. Just get yourself moving, that’s most important! I love MapMyRun for finding new paths around Chicago. One of my favorite runs takes me through Soldier Field and around the Planetarium down the lake. I avoid this path at dusk though because spiders like it as much as I do.

And it doesn’t hurt to have some cute clothes to do it in. I would live in Zella and Lululemon if I could. I just purchased this, this, this and these thanks to my generous Mother-in-law and husband. If you’re a runner, replace your running shoes every 6 months to avoid shin splints, and foot, knee and ankle pain. I have bad knees and ankles already from years of beating up my joints in Gymnastics. My favorite running shoes are the Asics GEL-Kayano. To me, no other shoe compares.

Make yourself a workout schedule that changes each day. And don’t work so much! If you’ve been at work 10 hours, it’s time to leave. I don’t care what anyone says, I don’t make nearly enough money for the amount of hours I work.

Here’s how I mix up my workout week. Give it a try. It will not disappoint.

Sunday: 4 mile run, preferably outside. 9 minute mile pace.
Monday: 60 minute sculpt class. Check out local studios for this. My favorites are SixPax and Posture Perfect Pilates.
Tuesday: Treadmill Tuesday interval run. STRETCH!
Wednesday: Easy 4 mile run, preferably outside. 9 minute mile pace. Three, 3 min. planks, 40 pushups, 40 squats. Or, a 60 minute Pilates equipment class. I like to switch up these two depending on my energy levels.
Thursday: Treadmill interval run. STRETCH!
Friday: Pilates mat class. RELAX.
Saturday: Kettlebells studio class and an easy 3 mile run.

Don’t forget to fill your IPad with some upbeat tunes. Here are some recent additions to my playlist. Love me some throwbacks.

  • Dark Side by Kelly Clarkson
  • Boyfriend by Ashlee Simpson
  • Bringin’ Da Noise by ‘NSync
  • Flowers in Your Hair by The Lumineers
  • Hangover by Taio Cruz featuring Flo Rida
  • I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys
  • Titanium by David Guetta & Sia
  • Two Black Cadillacs by Carrie Underwood

How was your Monday?

My car got towed at work today. At least it wasn’t stolen. That was definitely my first thought. Gotta love Chicago.

Sick – Workout or Avoid?

lululemon-canada1

As I posted in SixPax Saturdays, I wasn’t feeling quite myself this weekend. By Sunday, I was running a 101 degree fever which broke sometime Monday afternoon while I was at work. Needless to say, I wasn’t working out. As a general rule of thumb, if you are feeling under the weather and wondering whether or not you should hit the gym, follow the “Neck Rule”. If the symptoms leaving you feeling uncomfortable are contained above the neck – i.e headache and runny nose, then you are good to go. If your symptoms are in your chest, muscles, basically anywhere below the neck, then avoid exercising and rest until you feel better! For me that meant Monday night in bed watching Fashion Police and other quality E! programming.

Tuesday, I dragged myself in the blizzard to a Ballet Barre class at SixPax Chicago with Fayth. It was the perfect class after taking a few days off.

Wednesday, I was ready to run again but I still wanted to take it easy. I planned a run that would keep my heart rate up and burn fat but would also incorporate short bursts of energy and periods of rest to bring down my heart rate. During a run, if you can have a conversation comfortably, your body is working at a pace where you are burning fat. During a sprint, your body burns stored glucose (glycogen) but continues to burn fat and calories after the workout is over. While running for long periods of time can cause muscle atrophy, sprinting actually helps develop muscle in your legs and abs.

Today my run looked like this:

0:00 – 3:00   3.9 MPH

3:00 – 8:00   6.0 MPH

8:00 – 9:00   8.0 MPH

9:00 – 10:00   3.9 MPH

10:00 – 15:00   6.2 MPH

15:00 – 16:00   8.1 MPH

16:00 – 17:00   3.9 MPH

17:00 – 22:00   6.4 MPH

22:00 – 23:00   8.2 MPH

23:00 – 24:00   3.9 MPH

24:00 – 29:00   6.6 MPH

29:00 – 30:00   8.3 MPH

30:00 – 31:00   3.9 MPH

31:00 – 35:00   6.8 MPH

35:00 – 36:00   8.4 MPH

36:00 – 45:00   3.9 MPH @ 3% incline

Then I grabbed some Whole Food’s California Quinoa with a Cara Cara orange on the side…and a few Girl Scout Cookies. My favorite are Tagalongs. How about you?

Happy Hump Day 🙂

SixPax Saturdays

sick

I woke up sick this morning. AGAIN. I just got over a horrendous cold that left me without a voice for a week. When I say I just got over it, I mean I literally just got over it. It’s been about a week since I’ve been feeling back to normal. Now here I am, coughing and blowing my nose all over again. What is wrong with me? Oh wait, I teach six year olds. The germs are unavoidable. At least no one pooped in their pants this week.

Despite not feeling quite myself, I got out of bed, stuffed my pockets full of Kleenex and made it to my favorite workout class of the week – Bells and Bosu with Joanna at SixPax. Bells and Bosu primarily incorporates a Bosu ball and a Kettlebell but also uses a Pilates ball, a resistance band, and 2 lb hand weights. You alternate between Kettlebell swings, and planks, jumps, squats, and even running – all on the Bosu. We also use the Bosu as an unstable surface to balance on while we do arm exercises with the 2 lb hand weights.

Kettlebells work your entire body. They incorporate cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility all in one. They tone your glutes, quads, hamstrings, inner thighs, calves, back, abs, shoulders, and arms. The movements are quite simple to learn and they get your heart rate pumping. In order to control the Kettlebell during your workout, you need to use stabilizing muscles in your abs, thighs, and glutes. These muscles tend to get neglected when we’re “eating steel”. Since Kettlebells increase your overall muscle mass, you will see an increase in your metabolism, and ultimately, weight loss. Most importantly, Kettlebells are fun, make you sweat, and burn tons of calories!

After my workout, I headed over to Waffles where I met Dean for brunch. Waffles is right next to our condo, and I love to treat myself to eggs on the weekends. I had two over-easy eggs, one slice of wheat toast, and a large plate of fruit. Whenever I go out for brunch, I always replace the potato side with fruit. Waffles does a great job with this! No cantaloupe or honeydew here. At Waffles you get watermelon and orange slices, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and green grapes. Such a refreshing mix! I even had a few bites of Dean’s bacon. He also had a plate full of delicious looking seasoned waffle fries. I gave fries up for Lent but that didn’t stop Dean from trying to get me to eat his.

For the rest of the day I’ll be nursing my cold. I might even make it over to Lululemon to spend the gift card that’s burning a hole in my pocket.

What do you do for yourself when you’re feeling under the weather?

Monday Sculpt

What’s the best part about shootings at school? You make it home in time for Sculpt! It really is not funny…but it is true. A little after 5, staff was asked to leave the buildings because of shootings next door. But that’s another story, for another time…

One of my favorite things about Monday nights, aside from the fact that Monday is over, is the sculpting class I attend at SixPax. It is a perfect end to a long day with tired kiddos. Fayth and her team do such an amazing job. If you live in Chicago and are near Michigan and 14th, I highly suggest you check them out. My husband actually commented yesterday on, “How tight my abs are.” This is a pretty strong compliment for someone who loves french fries as much as I do.

It’s a great class for me because it gets me doing all the things I would never do unless someone was forcing me. I can run endless miles on my own but weights and squats and planks bore me to no end. I’d rather sit on the couch with my cat or play on my iPad. I’m a fat kid at heart. Another one of the reasons I love this place so much – they always have a motivating quote on the wall. Gotta love chalkboard paint!

Joanna is the Sculpt instructor.  She is high-energy and motivating. She reminds me a lot of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde teaching “The Bend and Snap”. Sculpt incorporates short bursts of high intensity exercises with sculpting exercises. Think planks, push-ups and high-knees. We do so much glute work that I’m shaking at the end. While the class can be upwards of 10 people, Joanna individualizes her instruction. While she’s constantly reminding me to pull my shoulders back, she’s telling someone else to tuck their stomach under. Joanna is teaching me to break all of the bad habits I picked up from years of gymnastics.

We use a handful of props in Sculpt. A mat, obviously, 2 2 lb weights, a resistance band, Gliders (LOVE), and a Pilates ball.

Attending a class on Monday sets the tone for my entire workout week. I’ve found that if I skip Monday, it is harder to find motivation to workout the rest of the week. Classes are always my first choice on Mondays. I’m always tired, I usually have a headache, and the gym is the last place I’d like to be. I sign up for classes weeks in advance, put them in my calendar, and it’s a sure-fire way to get me there. Add some cardio by walking to your class instead of driving. I know it’s cold but Sculpt is done barefoot so throw on your Hunters and get going!

What’s stopping you?

🙂 Happy Monday