The three sports I became serious about were gymnastics, dance, and track and field. By the time I reached level 6 in competitive gymnastics I was ready to quit. It takes a certain mindset to fall off the beam repetitively and keep getting back up, and after hitting my head one too many times I realized that simply was not me. However, I continued tumbling and began coaching gymnastics at the age of 16. I have stayed involved in the sport ever since and many of my patients are gymnasts. Dance was and is a huge love in my life. I did competitive, professional, and performance dance for over 12 years. Now I still take adult dance classes and have my own dance party workout in my house like a total nerd. Lastly, I was a sprinter and jumper in track and field. At the University of Arizona I was fortunate enough to compete in the long jump and the heptathlon. During that time I was in the best shape of my life. I loved training at the collegiate level (and wish I still had that body =).
Compare training during pregnancy to training prior to pregnancy.
Prior to pregnancy I did a variety of activities: weight lifting, running, adult ballet, plyometrics, gymnastics workouts, hiking, surfing, etc. The week before I found out I was pregnant I fell playing disc golf (it’s a real sport) and tore my lateral meniscus in my knee. Ironically my knee was the limiting factor in many activities, not my pregnancy. I had always pictured myself as the pregnant lady running half marathons and weight lifting for a full nine months. Instead I spent the first few months limping around, focusing on core strength, balance exercises, and upper body. My knee healed enough that I was able to resume surfing until about 6 months pregnant when I no longer could fit in my wetsuit. I was actually able to start running again at the end of my pregnancy, but at a very different intensity and pace. I took more breaks and drank more water. If something didn’t feel right I stopped doing it. I tried to stay as active as possible but it was a very frustrating time for me since I wanted to push myself much harder than my injury allowed.
As someone with a variety of training in their background and training during pregnancy fresh in your mind, what advice would you give to other women training throughout their pregnancy?
As long as you have a healthy pregnancy vary your workouts and don’t be afraid to DO EVERYTHING! You don’t have to stop any of your regular activities and you can even do something new you have never done before. I got a kick out of making people nervous doing cartwheels and handstands at 7-8 months pregnant. Variety helps prevent overuse injuries, especially when you are all loosey goosey from hormones. Secondly, STRETCH! I think a lot of women forget about maintaining their flexibility but it makes delivery easier and sure makes you feel better during 9 months of increasing body weight.
What did your diet look like during your pregnancy? Were you more ‘strict’ during those 9 months or was it more difficult to eat clean during pregnancy?
If anything I was less strict during my pregnancy. I typically eat mostly lean meats and veggies with minimal grains, avoiding sugars (including many fruits). During my pregnancy I ate a ton more fruit and craved less meat than normal. I found myself ordering more vegetarian options when we ate out. I did not have any weird cravings except for Mochi ice cream during the first trimester. Overall, my diet stayed pretty similar….except I put down a few pints of Hagen Daaz, for which my husband still likes to make fun of me.
Did you utilize anyone for body work and/or alternative therapies during pregnancy (chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, etc.)?
Yes! I was regularly (weekly) adjusted by a Chiropractor and in my third trimester I went for weekly or biweekly massages. This played a huge role in making my pregnancy a very pleasant, easy experience. The second something started to ache or feel awkward I got treatment and almost everything resolved. Regular treatment also helped to decrease my stress levels, and I slept better.
What was your favorite workout during pregnancy?
Probably hiking. Since I was unable to run this was the second best I could do. It was something I could do with my husband outdoors and still get a really good workout. Second favorite was probably when I was able to start doing some light Olympic and power weightlifting again. It felt so awkward doing cleans or deadlifts the first time my belly started hitting my upper thighs, but modifying my stance fixed that easily (and my husband liked to make fun of my modified “sumo” squat).
You have a history of gymnastics. You know discipline better than most people. Much of your past training involves a lifestyle both in and out of the gym. How much would you say a lifestyle that supports vigorous exercise, strong community ties, and a priority in nutrition played a role in the success of your pregnancy?
Since it’s my first pregnancy I have no comparison, but I feel it made a huge difference. I slept better, ate better, I was happier and more energetic when I got in regular workouts. I was surrounded by a lot of support and positive energy. People noticed that I was active and mobile, they would comment on it and that would make me feel good. I kept coaching until 1 week before my due date. My gym family got to go through my whole pregnancy with me. They were a great reminder to keep up my stretching. I never felt pregnancy and childbirth was something I could not handle.
It seems like that which helps athlete’s in a workout, for example, would also help a woman in pregnancy. From focusing on the task at hand, to trusting the process and fighting through to the end. In what ways, if any, was giving birth like the mental game that plays out in a training session?
In my mind I was preparing for the biggest workout of my life, and although it was physically exhausting it was nothing like a workout. In my active labor the contractions were intensely painful and I thought, “holy crap this is only going to get worse and for a really long time”. Mental focus was the only reason I was able to breath into the contractions and allow my body to relax. Once that happened labor progressed ridiculously fast. My husband and I never got around to attending any childbirth classes or laboring techniques. My birth plan was to “push it out”. I am not against techniques, but I knew my body and my mind and trusted my natural instincts. I just wanted to focus on that and let things happen.
Describe your pregnancy and birth.
My pregnancy was wonderful. The beginning was a little nerve racking because I had just miscarried a few months prior. My second pregnancy actually started out with vanishing twin syndrome, where 2 fertilized eggs developed but one of twins never made it to the fetal stage. I was on activity restriction for 2 weeks because of it, but everything resolved and was healthy from that point on. I loved feeling the baby move around. I loved watching my body change. I never had bad morning sickness, heartburn, or insomnia. Of course I may have whined occasionally, but when I talk to other pregnant women I know I was very lucky. My birth was very similar. 8 days after my due date, early phase labor contractions started around 2:30am and I slept, did laundry, cleaned the house and yard, and stretched. We went to the hospital 12 hours later when contractions were 3-4 minutes apart. During the active phase of labor I thought I would be moving around trying different positions but near the end I only wanted to lay on my side in the fetal position. Around 6pm I was fully dilated and my water finally broke. Things progressed so quickly my Doctor did not make it in time. When I felt the urge to push it was huge relief as though the muscle contractions where finally productive. It only took 2 pushes to get him out. Baby “Abe” Abner Lee Wong was born completely natural without any interventions at all. My husband, mother, and 7 year old niece were all there to keep me company throughout the process. I am so grateful I trusted the strength of my body and mind because I felt amazing afterwards, awake and aware. It’s amazing to know what your body can accomplish and even more amazing that I now have a son =).
WorkoutWarm Up Jog for 8min. 10 big shoulder circles forwards and backwards. 10 scapula push ups. 15s side bridge (both sides). 4 Cartwheels (2 each side). 10 glute bridges. Advanced, Intermediate, & Beginner 10 min. EMOM Every odd minute: 5 double KB thrusters (35#, 18#, 9#); Plank the remaining time of the same minute.
(rest even minutes). Then, 3 Rounds: 10m Handstand walk or 30s HS hold. 30 Step Ups (16-20″) Modifications Single KB may be used place of the double listed. Weight may be less than what is asked. Plank can be from hands or forearms. If you cannot do remainder of the minute, do 15s or 30s. Be sure you rest on the even minutes. If you do not have a handstand, put your feet on a box and hands on the ground, or try some other variation of being inverted. Lay flat at incline if you have to. Lunges may be substituted for step ups if you must.