Riding for two: Keeping fit during pregnancy

Emily is an exercise fanatic and mother of two boys. She credits Ride Republic with keeping her happy and healthy during and post-pregnancy. Here’s her story.

I don’t mean to brag, but four days after giving birth, I was back in my skinny jeans – both times. No, I didn’t eat like a squirrel and no, my parents aren’t supermodels, waifdom doesn’t run in the family. The secret to taking off the weight? I remained active throughout my pregnancies. In fact, the only time I wasn’t aching with joint and ligament pain was while I exercised. (Thank gawd for Ride Republic.)

While working out helped me get a jumpstart on losing the 12 kilos I packed on my 160-centimetre frame, for those who took it easy during pregnancy or in general just have some excess weight they want to shift, it’s never too late to get in gear.  Below are the tenants I lived by and still adhere to.

Rules for remaining fit during pregnancy:
1) Listen to your body, you know it better than anyone else. The MOST important rule of pregnancy.

2) Don’t be afraid to push if that’s what makes you feel good. (Yes, you can get out of breath when you’re pregnant.) I jumped rope, took barre and HIIT classes, did Insanity DVDs at home and of course, spun at Ride Republic through the end. The instructors thought I was crazy with my burgeoning belly, but they understood. Again, listen to your body – it will tell you exactly what it needs.

3) That said, take up something new. Completely against all advice that pregnant women not take up a new sport or hobby, you have to if you want to remain active. No, you won’t run longer than you ever have before successfully, but if you’re used to logging 7-minute miles, when that becomes too unbearable, find an option that gives you those endorphins without the undue pain.

4) The number one muscle group to work during pregnancy and immediately following: the pelvic floor. Don’t neglect it.

5) Pregnancy is not license to eat for two, but neither should you be overly worried about counting calories. Strive for balance – throughout the term and each day. Weight gain isn’t necessarily linear, so jumping the scales early on due to intense carb cravings doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll continue on that trajectory. (I was at my heaviest in the 6th month of my pregnancy – mostly thanks to initial hankerings for macaroni ‘n cheese – but ended up losing a few kilos by the end as the desire for junk dissipated and I returned to eating more nutritious fare.)

Rules for getting back to fighting form:
1) Work that pelvic floor. It will help draw everything in, nice and tight. If you have to set a reminder on your phone every day, do it. Otherwise, use the opportunity whenever you’re say feeding or changing the baby to contract those muscles. Remember: a full release before each contraction will build strength faster than mini ‘pulses.’

2) Don’t look at yourself in the mirror for at least a good week. You won’t like what you see and you shouldn’t care at this point.

3) Don’t compare yourself to others or set an artificial time line for when you need to be back in your skinny jeans. However…

4) Don’t use lack of sleep and the baby as your excuse to take your time getting back into said skinny jeans. If you need a reason, studies show that more active nursing mothers have greater supply than their sedentary counterparts. For those who don’t give a sh*t about that, a workout will always provide more energy than that venti latte will. Plus, the endorphins exercise releases will enable you to deal better with whatever curveball baby throws your way.

5) Work out when you can, not when you want to. As all new moms will testify, kids really f*ck up your schedule and cramp your ‘me’ time. Make working out a priority, but remain flexible as to the how, what, when, where.

6) Multi-task. Your date night with your husband may also have to be when you workout. The couple who rides together…
Burping the baby is also a great time to sneak in some leg work. You get the drift.

7) Be prepared for insatiable hunger if you’re nursing. The combination of making food for the baby and being sleep-deprived creates the perfect storm for binges. Sure, eat a lot if you’re hungry (remember that listening to your body part?), but reach for nutritious offerings. Remember to drink water all the time.

8) Last,  but not least, give yourself a break. Rest and recovery are equally as important to achieving your goals as is putting in the hard work. It’s not only ok, but also necessary that you take a day off to enable your body to repair itself. The same goes for your diet. We can’t be perfect all the time, so if you overeat a little, just re-commit to your diet the next day. Or, you can do what I do and plan a cheat day (so you’re more apt to stick to nutritious choices the rest of the week). Mine’s Sunday and for those who know me, I allow myself WHATEVER I want – but only on Sunday – no exceptions. All about that balance after all.

Spot Emily on the Burnboard – “EMILYCOO”



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