Read an Excerpt
The 30-Minute Pregnancy Workout Book
The Complete Light Weight Program for Fitness
By Anna Aberg
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2008 Anna Aberg
All rights reserved.
The exercises featured in this chapter are:
Clean and Snap
Okay, first off, this book is for everyone. If you're one of those people who looks at magazine covers and photo spreads and thinks, I could never be like that, then it's meant for you in particular. Don't be put off by those pictures. Anyone can get in shape and stay in shape. It might not have been easy for you to find the motivation to be fit before now, but this is a great time to do it.
I'm a personal trainer and a fitness model, and I've appeared in numerous national magazines. Exercise is such a part of my everyday routine that I didn't want it to change when I discovered I was pregnant. Like most women, I'd heard stories about what pregnancy could do to your mind and body: the pregnancy weight you could never lose, the cellulite, a loss of identity, being overwhelmed by the new baby and a whole new lifestyle. I wanted to be able to keep my weight down and keep my body in roughly the same condition — for me, but also for my baby.
Actually, that brings me to a good second point — let's take a moment to talk about personal trainers. As I said, I'm one myself, and I've worked with many others. However, there have also been long stretches when I didn't have a trainer, and I worked alone. People think having a trainer is some kind of exclusive privilege, almost elitist, but in reality it's usually more of a social occasion than anything else. Sadly, many people don't want a real trainer; they just want someone to hang out with at the gym.
A trainer will not make you lose weight. He or she can help you only if you really want to do it. Money can't buy health, and some people would rather have surgery than spend an honest hour in the gym. If the motivation is coming from you, your trainer will be a guide to help you along the way. If all the motivation is coming from your trainer, you could probably be doing something more useful with your money.
Also, let me warn you: Throughout this book I'm probably going to slip a lot and refer to your baby as she or her. I'm not a psychic — I'm just very biased, going by my own experiences with my daughter, Elli.
Healthy Eating and Nutrition
Lots of people cringe at the world diet. It's come to have many negative connotations. Don't be scared if I mention diet over the next few pages. No one is going to suggest starving yourself or your baby. All we're talking about is what you eat, not how much of it you eat.
Too many people grab health bars and protein shakes instead of real meals. Have you ever read the ingredients in one of those shakes? More to the point, have you ever understood them? Don't fall victim to a corporate marketing ploy. Eat meals that have real food in them.
Eating right is one of the easiest ways to good health. A few years ago, a friend of mine decided to start seeing a personal trainer. The day after his first meeting, though, he was in a bad car crash that sprained his right arm and fractured several of his ribs. At first he was depressed, since he obviously wasn't going to be exercising, but he decided he could at least start following the new patterns of eating his trainer had set out for him. After a month of mending, doing nothing but sitting on the couch and watching television, he'd lost eight pounds.
If you want to make changes to your eating patterns, it's important to start the process before you become pregnant. Pregnancy is not a time to radically alter your diet.
Eating Meals During Pregnancy
First of all, meal portions should be frequent and small, roughly the size of the palm of your hand. While it is not a good idea to overeat, a pregnant woman should be eating enough to provide fuel to her baby. One of the worst things a pregnant woman can do is starve herself during the day and then eat one big meal at night. Protein is very important for a pregnant woman, and she should also remember to eat vegetables and carbs, and to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially when exercising.
There's no need to exaggerate one's calorie intake and consume more than is required. It's not recommended to take in much sugar during pregnancy, because it stimulates the baby. Coffee, because of its caffeine content, is also a no-no, as are fast foods because they are high in fat and sugar. Pregnant women should allow themselves a "pig-out day" when they can indulge in having one of their favorite foods. That, however, will produce a sluggish, overworked feeling, and they are likely to want to pass up the chance to go on a food binge again.
Smart Meal Planning
How many of us have been to restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory? The meal portions are huge, easily enough for two or three people, and then you follow that up with dessert. ...
We have choices in everything. My favorite saying is "You are what you eat." Few people really think about what that means. Everything we eat while we are pregnant is actually what the baby is going to become. It is said that even the fat cells in your baby are determined while you are pregnant.
Stop for a second, consider what's on your plate, and ask yourself, Do I need this? Do you really need a second helping of it? Is your mind just playing tricks on you because you're depressed or need to comfort yourself? Smart eating and meal planning are essential to having a healthy baby.
There's a current trend in fitness that reflects our fast-paced society. People are rushing through exercises, cramming weights, cardio, and kickboxing into half an hour and then forgetting about it for the rest of the day — sometimes the rest of the week! That works fine in the short term, but years from now you'll be finding or developing injuries, and you'll have no idea where they're coming from. Why? Well, because you forgot about them.
The results of exercises should be functional — you should be able to see and experience them. If you can't be aware of your body, something needs to change. When you're pregnant, it's even more important to take the time to do things right.
The exercises in this book offer you a full-body workout in about half an hour, working whole muscle groups instead of focusing on individual body parts. When muscles are isolated and worked, your body will become imbalanced and look disproportionate. That is why you frequently meet people at the gym who have phenomenal builds but seem hunched or badly proportioned. They've developed some muscles but not others.
Here is the routine I'd been doing before discovering I was pregnant. It incorporates Olympic-style weight lifting exercises. That may sound a bit scary at first (much like that word diet), but the exercises will give you that functional improvement we were just talking about. There is no single repetitious move that will put strain on your joints and ligaments. Instead, this routine will help improve your strength and flexibility.
Drop-Down Press (Snatch Drop)
Clean and Snap (Clean and Jerk)
Drop Press (Snatch Press)
NOTE: Snatch Drop, Clean and Jerk, and Snatch Press are the correct Olympic terms for the exercises described in the following section, but we've changed them to more commonly understood terms.
Olympic training exercises could be done by women before pregnancy, but any healthy woman can also do these exercises. There are five exercises in this chapter, but throughout the book, the equipment needed is very basic — an Olympic bar, a variety of free weights (preferably silver weights, which stay tighter to the body than rubber weights), a flat bench, and a floor mat. The recommended starting weight is five to twenty-five pounds. All the necessary equipment can be purchased at any major fitness retailer.
As we start to go through the routines, I'll explain each new exercise you will be doing.
With a ten-pound Olympic Bar
Stand up straight with your feet hips-width apart. The bar rests on your shoulders behind your neck, with your elbows pointing down. Your hands should be wider than your shoulders, and a good way to check placement is simply to raise the bar. As you do, your arms should lock at a forty-five-degree angle.
Take in a breath, and drop into a squat beneath the bar. Arch your back and keep your chin up. The object here is not to raise the bar, but to drop under it and straighten your arms, locking your elbows to hold it in place.
Now that you have the bar over you, straighten your legs and lift, exhaling as you do. All the work is being done by your legs, not your arms. Once you're standing straight, lower the bar slowly back onto your shoulders. That's one repetition.
Stand with your feet hips-width apart. The bar hangs in front of you, with your hands about shoulders-width apart. Keeping your chin up, chest out, and back arched, bend at the knees until the bar is below your knees. This is your start position.
Inhale and push up hard. As the bar passes your hips, push out and give it a nudge. When your legs straighten all the way, give an extra push and make the move a little jump. You should land in the start position and exhale. That's one repetition.
Clean and Snap
This exercise starts just like the Jump. Stand with your feet hips-width apart. The bar is on the floor in front of you. Bend at the knees, keeping your chin up, chest out, and back arched, until you can grab the bar with your hands shoulders-width apart.
Inhale and push up hard. This time, as the bar passes your thighs, give it a little bounce and let it roll up under your chin. Don't let it swing out and throw you off balance. Keep the line of motion close to your body. End with your hands under the bar, palms up, elbows pointing out. Don't let your elbows drift down, because that can also throw you off balance.
Once you're standing straight, you can let the bar drop to the floor and exhale. That's one repetition.
This can't be stressed enough: Go slow the first few times you do this exercise. I've come dangerously close to smacking myself in the chin with the bar, so until you feel comfortable, take it slow. Nothing is more embarrassing than knocking yourself out with a piece of gym equipment.
Feet are hips-width apart, and the bar is already under your chin, resting across the front of your shoulders. Palms are up, elbows are up, and your hands are shoulders-width apart.
Inhale, tighten your abs, and squat. Keep your back arched, chin and elbows up.
Drop down until your knees are slightly bent and arms are locked above your shoulders. Remember, back arched, chin up, elbows up. When you return to your starting position, lower the bar slowly back to your shoulders, keeping your knees soft and slightly bent. This prevents too much weight being borne by the knees. When you're standing straight again, that's one repetition.
Stand with your feet hips-width apart. Hold the weight in front of you with both hands, keeping your elbows as high as you can. That will help stop you from leaning forward with your squat.
Inhale, drop your body under the bar, and straighten your arms. This won't be a big drop, since the bar is starting fairly high, so you shouldn't end up in a deep crouch. Keep your back arched the whole time to maintain your balance. Once your arms lock, push your legs straight, raising the bar. Once your knees are straight, exhale and lower the bar back to your shoulders. When the bar lands across your shoulders, let your knees bend to help absorb the weight. That's one repetition.
If you don't have the flexibility to perform this exercise, put a board or a rolled-up towel under your heels (and only your heels), so your feet are tilted forward slightly. This will give you a little lift and should make the exercise easier.
Remember, go slow at first.
The exercises should be performed three times a week straight through as outlined in the order presented in the book. It is better to work the body as a whole rather than to exhaust the smaller muscle groups in your upper body. It's not a good idea to isolate the exercises for different body parts, meaning you shouldn't do exercises for arms one day, then do leg exercises another day.
Doing the exercises three times a week is ideal, but if not, once a week is better than nothing at all. The weight levels used largely depend on the fitness and health of the person. And remember, the weight range is only recommended levels.
Weight levels increase and decrease depending on the exercises performed. When doing upper-body exercises, it's generally accepted that small weights (five to twenty-five pounds) be used, for lower-body exercises use bigger weights (ten to forty-five pounds). The upper body is weaker than the much stronger and firmer legs and torso, so small weights are needed when doing these exercises. Of course, as a person becomes more flexible and their fitness level increases, larger weights can be used on an upper-body exercise routine.
Back in the Exercise Game
If you did the Olympic training program prior to becoming pregnant you should wait at least four to six weeks after giving birth before starting any kind of exercise program. The length of time before starting to exercise also depends on whether you had a C-section or natural childbirth. If you had a C-section, it's not advisable to start with the Olympic training program right away, but start with the Time Trials (outlined in chapter 2) as a way to rebuild your body first. Then, in about two months, you can begin to incorporate the Olympic training program and alternate it with Time Trials.
A Few More Notes
You're starting now, and that's good. You've begun to make positive choices for yourself that are going to reflect on that baby you're thinking about having, even if you're not planning to have a baby right away.
Try not to worry about those changes. Lots of people think changing their eating habits will have a huge impact on their social life, and on their life in general. Make up a simple and smart meal plan that you can stick to and live with it. The same holds for the exercises. They shouldn't be a chore, or something you have to do. Make them something you want to do.
And now that you've made these choices, let's move on to the next big step, probably the reason you picked up this book.CHAPTER 2
The First Trimester
The exercises featured in this chapter are:
Stiff-Leg Dead Lift
Crunches (straight leg)
Part of my regular exercise routine was neuromuscular massage. It's a deep, hard, cleansing form of massage that helps rid the body of toxins. My massage therapist, Barrance, had been doing this work for years and was a consummate professional.
Since my previous session, though, I'd been sick with an upset stomach and I had thrown up almost every morning. Barrance had worked on my stomach quite a bit that last time, and I wondered if he had done something wrong. I called him, and he reassured me that nothing he'd done was causing my symptoms.
"You probably just have the flu, a mild case of food poisoning, or something," he said. Then he chuckled and added, "Hey, maybe you're pregnant." We had a good laugh and hung up.
After another week of nausea, though, I started to wonder. ...Maybe it wouldn't hurt to check. I bought a home pregnancy test, used it the next morning, and was shocked when it gave me an immediate positive result. I scheduled an appointment with my gynecologist, and it was confirmed: I was eight weeks pregnant.
"Congratulations," Dr. Katz said. "I guess we'll be seeing you again."
My situation wasn't unique. Many pregnancies are unplanned, and many women don't discover they are pregnant until well into their first trimester. There is very little weight gain, so it's easy to make my mistake and write off other symptoms to this or that.
Morning sickness is the classic first sign of pregnancy. It strikes only some women, and even then some worse than others. As I said, I was one of the lucky ones.
No one knows exactly what causes the queasiness and vomiting, although rising levels of hormones are a prime suspect, especially human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone produced by the placenta that maintains the corpeus luteum during pregnancy. It can occur at any time of the day, even all day long.
If you suffer from morning sickness, you may not feel like eating, but it's even more important that you do eat. An intake of complex carbohydrates can help decrease your nausea. Eating smaller, more frequent meals will also help because acid production increases in an empty stomach. Drinking fluids may make you feel worse, but preventing dehydration is vitally important, especially if you are vomiting.
Excerpted from The 30-Minute Pregnancy Workout Book by Anna Aberg. Copyright © 2008 Anna Aberg. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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