Winter Pregnancy Exercise Round #2 (…the cheap version)

The winter is still in full affect here in Michigan and my belly is getting bigger, so I am digging into my creativity to come up with a new, at-home winter exercise plan that doesn’t include a gym membership (because we had to drop ours – *tear*).

I took stock of what I love about the gym and what I am regularly doing when I’m there. Aside from the childcare, I can easily re-create much of what I love:

1. Yoga: I love this and it’s a “must” for me right now during pregnancy. I dusted off a prenatal yoga DVD and am borrowing another from a friend so I can have some variety. It gets tricky trying to do yoga and keep two toddlers entertained, but sometimes they get involved with me and I love that they get to SEE me exercise.

2. Cardio: Yoga is great, but I’m discovering that a good cardio routine keeps me balanced on a whole, new, lovely level that no amount of downward facing dogs could produce. I started asking online about treadmills, and I found a free one from our church’s online marketplace! I can tell you over and over that God cares about how we take care of our bodies, but this, to me, was tangible proof. It’s such a huge blessing to receive this treadmill right now. We’re replacing the belt and it will run just like new (pun intended, of course!).

So there it is, my winter plan. The trickiest part will be occupying the toddlers while I exercise. But as with anything, I think once they get used to my routine, they’ll settle in and let me be. And I love that they will see me exercise and have an opportunity to get involved. That’s one reason I loved running with the double jogger this summer because I love for them to be a part of my healthy lifestyle choices.

And remember how I was talking about needing more time in my day? Well, cutting out the drive to and from the gym and the time it takes to check the girls in and out of childcare, I’m already gaining some new space in my day.

We have one more week to enjoy our gym membership, so I’m savoring the childcare and all the amenities while I can. But I’m excited to try round 2 of this exercise plan. I love a good challenge.

What free or cheap ways do you exercise and stay active?


Look, Ma, I’m Running! (…and also letting go of some judgemental attitudes)

Well, I did it…

I ran.

I loved it!

I’ve been wanting to start running again (I wrote about how much I’ve been craving it) and after getting the okay from my doctor to work it in now that I’m in my second trimester, I gave it a whirl.

The first time, I was cautious. I hopped on the treadmill and I planned to walk 5 min/run 5 min/walk 5 min/run 5 min/walk 5… So I warmed up with a brisk walk then I started a slow jog. It felt great in the sense that it was familiar – the initial jiggling, trying to find my rhythm – I had been here before. Well, 5 minutes of running passed and I kept going.

At about this time, I was starting to feel really good, finding my stride and I was tempted to yell out in the crowded gym: “I’m running!!”

It felt so freeing and seemed just what my body needed.

Although I did not shout anything out loud, I finished my run and got back on the treadmill a few days later and ran even longer, then I did it again a few days later. My sweet spot right now is a walk warmup then a 20-minute run, then cool down. After about 20 minutes, the pressure on my bladder is a little much and my pelvic bones start to ache.

But the running itself feels so good.

Honestly, I used to judge women who ran through their pregnancies and wondered what they were trying to prove. So part of what needed to happen was that I needed to get over myself and my judgements, listen to my body, and go for it.

I’m starting to realize that running seems to be such a sweet spot in general for me –  it feels good to find exercise that seems just right for my body – pregnant or not.

So I’m running – pregnant and all. And it feels great. Also, I’ve stopped judging women who continue doing hard exercise during pregnancy and I’m trying to check other judgements I have of people, too. Truth is, all of our bodies are different and we do the best service to our personal health when we listen to what our bodies are telling us.


Second Trimester and Exercise

Well, I’ve hit the magic second trimester mark…and beyond. Honestly, I wish I could report that I’m feeling better. The truth is, there’s nothing easy about pregnancy. It’s a miracle and a blessing, but it’s hard work.

One of the biggest changes for this pregnancy (my 3rd) is that I am adding a lot more exercise to my routine. In the past, I have gone easy on myself and backed way off from exercise once I got pregnant. But after two c-sections (only 16 months apart) and then training and racing a 15K and a 10K a year and a half after my second was born, I realized my body is capable of a lot more than I thought.

Granted, pregnancy is a different time for my body. Overall, I am a lot more cautious. I know I can’t push myself too hard because my body responds much louder and clearer if I go overboard (i.e. I’ve passed out a few times when I was pregnant). But, keeping that in mind, I’m listening to my body and trying to push it a little harder in terms of exercise – knowing that I’ll reap the benefits of a healthier pregnancy and a speedier recovery (hello, 3rd c-section).

I stopped running when I got pregnant because I didn’t feel comfortable with it. I took up fast, uphill walking on the treadmill, a little elliptical, and a lot of yoga. It’s been awesome for me. It’s helped alleviate nausea and push past some fatigue. Also, because I joined a gym, I get a break from my kid duties so my exercise time becomes my “me time” too – very refreshing. I’m amazed at how well my body is responding. Folks, I did my first side-plank EVER in class the other day! So I am strengthening my core even as my belly is growing.

But I miss running. I miss it a lot.

David and I were side-by-side on the treadmills and he was jogging along at a pretty good clip. I was jealous. So I upped my speed, ran slowly for a minute and went back to my fast-walk pace. It felt good to run. Everything moved differently than it did before my baby belly. But it felt good.

After getting confirmation from my doctor (it’s important to work with your doc) that picking up running again is okay for me, I’m excited to hit the treadmill at a faster pace. Even if I don’t run races or go fast or long or hard, my mind and body are craving a good run.

And since I’m doing my best to listen to my body, I’m going to give in to this urge to run. I think it’s a craving worth saying “yes” to.

Third Time’s a Charm

I’m happy to announce that we’re expecting our third child sometime in late June! We’re THRILLED!

Our first pregnancy was planned, but it was all new and a bit overwhelming. Then I got pregnant almost right away with my second. And although it was the best surprise ever, I felt I was treading water trying to just make it through. It turned out to be a difficult pregnancy, not least of which had to do with my survival-mode mentality and trying to keep up with another infant and work two jobs (oops).

This time around looks very, very different. I’m trying to be proactive.

I took a good, long look at my lifestyle during my first (and very healthy) pregnancy compared to my second (and very unhealthy) pregnancy. I decided to make a few changes to my diet and lifestyle, and I believe these changes have made a big difference so far.

***I cut out caffeine. This was my number one priority once I saw the pink line on the stick. Since my second pregnancy, I’ve been battling migraines and headaches. I know I am sensitive to caffeine and thought eliminating it would help. I weaned myself very slowly from coffee to green tea to white tea to herbal tea. But once I was caffeine free, my headaches almost completely disappeared. I also noticed chocolate gave me headaches, too, so I’ve cut it out (a pregnant woman without her chocolate – life is sometimes not pretty).

***I’m going to bed earlier. It’s easy to get sucked into TV or the Internet until past my bedtime, but this round, I’m making a concerted effort to go to bed earlier (like when my kids go to bed).

***I’m exercising. This is a big one. I started this pregnancy in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. In fact, before I knew I was pregnant, I ran a 10K. Impressive, huh? Although I did stop running once I knew I was pregnant (not necessary for all people, but something I chose for myself), I’m making an effort to stay in shape in other ways. We joined a gym so I can use the childcare (and it’s winter, so I’m not going outside to exercise!). The gym affords me a variety of exercise options: treadmill, elliptical, light weights, group fitness classes, and the pool. All great options for me during the pregnancy.

I think exercise has made a tremendous difference during my first trimester. In fact, I think this is the first, first trimester that I have exercised – and I feel a lot better. My nausea has decreased, my bowels are regulated and I have more of an appetite (this is the first time I haven’t lost weight during my first trimester). Three cheers for exercise!

***I’ve reset my expectations. My approach to this pregnancy is different. Because I know what to expect (in the fact that pregnancy is HARD WORK), I’ve reset my expectations including my priorities for each day, my to-do lists, my barometer of “feeling good” and my idea of a “cooking”. I’ve also let my children watch more TV, stayed in my pjs most days and have continued to remind myself that this will pass… During other pregnancies, I’ve felt like I’m drowning in the difficulty of managing my health and pregnancy and life. This time, I’m letting a lot of it go, doing my best, and riding the waves of good and bad (also a good lesson for life, isn’t it?). There’s a little person growing inside me, and I am thrilled…the hard work of pregnancy is all worth it.

{It should also be noted that I have the best, most supportive husband ever. He cooks, cleans, takes the kids, and makes late-night runs to JT’s Pizza Depot for Italian Subs. He’s shouldering a lot of extra weight at home as well as working full-time, and he doesn’t complain. He is awesome and supportive and I wouldn’t have had such a balanced, healthy pregnancy so far if it wasn’t for him. End gushing.}


Here’s to my third pregnancy being my healthiest, happiest, most-treasured-and-enjoyed pregnancy yet! I’m holding on through the pregnancy, trying to enjoy it and soak it in, but honestly, I’m most excited to meet my little one at the end of it all.

Group Exercise Debacle

I went to my first group-exercise class since my first trimester prenatal yoga when I was pregnant with my second child. So, it’s been over a year since I tried true exercise. I’ve had two c-sections in less than a year and a half, so my physical recovery has been slow.

But I jumped back in. I met a friend for a high-paced yoga/pilates class.

My first problem is that I got there late. So they were already started and I had to grab a mat and jump right in.

Let’s just say that it became obvious within the first two minutes that I was not going to look like I knew what I was doing. I have natural rhythm and musical theatre experience, not to mention I am familiar with yoga, but the minute I stepped on that mat, I knew things had changed.

Everything in my body felt different. Carrying and birthing children will do that to you, I suppose. I felt like I barely knew myself anymore.

After a while, I just became “that girl” in the class. You know the one. I came in late and disturbed the peace. About halfway through the class I just flat out stopped doing some of the moves (I was suddenly painfully aware of my incisions…so I was taking it easy – but no one else knew this!). Then when things started getting quiet, the music lulled, I was trying to play it cool and went for a fancy, toes-pointed move and kicked over my water bottle that sent my pager (for my children in childcare) spinning across the room.

This was all before we started into the balance section. Clearly, I have lost all sense of balance as well. But for the record, no one looks cool doing the ‘star’ move. No one.

I made it through the class. Once I realized that probably no one else was looking at me like I suspected, I just let go and embraced my terrible form and wimpy halfway poses. Because I have to start somewhere, right? That is, after all, why I was in the class anyway. I want to step it up in terms of my exercise, but after two major surgeries and two pregnancies, my body isn’t the same. That doesn’t mean I stop what I’m doing and give up. It means I take it easy and work with what I’ve got. And it also means I need to go back to the class. And back. And back again.

Like every other healthy choice we make in life, exercise takes discipline. There has been no other time that this word has practically screamed at me than when I was staring at myself in the mirror for this hour class, looking like a total flake, and hardly recognizing myself. Keep going, is what I had to tell myself. Keep going.

Plus, the corpse pose at the end of the class makes it all worth it. I have to say I was pretty good at that move.

Personal Springtime

It’s a show-offy season right now – fall. I love this season because it is nature’s big finale before the quiet stark of winter. All the trees are the brightest, fullest colors and the air is just about the perfect temperature. Here in Michigan, though, you can’t help but think what is coming next…the cold winter. Things are starting to shut down around here. Squirrels are scurrying around to gather food, we’re stacking wood for fires and hanging melting wire on our roof, and I’m roasting and freezing then end-of-summer harvest.

But personally, I feel something quite different happening in my life. Instead of working toward quiet, I am, for the first time in years, starting to really come alive. I’ve lifted out of the fog of two consecutive pregnancies and two major abdominal surgeries in less than two years.

I’m starting to come alive in so many ways. My writing is flourishing right now, I’m reading again, my kitchen has food coming out of it that I actually made. My prayer life has a steady rhythm, too, and I once again have something to talk about in the present tense. I’m leaving the house for play dates and trips to the park; and tonight, for the second night in a row, I’m meeting someone for drinks or tea after the girls go to bed. In other words, I’m starting to get a rhythm to my life and also have the freedom to jump into the rhythm of other people’s lives.

While the leaves change to bright orange and sunshine-yellow, I’m allowing myself to be a little show-offy, too. My kitchen floors are dirty, but the words I write are growing, my dates with David are lingering, my October calendar is more full than it has been in years, and I’ve got something that’s making me laugh louder and leaving me with what can only be described as a twinkle in my eye.



It couldn’t be more gorgeous outside today. Just as September is coming to a close, we get a super-sunny, high-of-84 day. I love the season changes when you never know what you’ll get – cold and rainy and thoughts of frost or full-blown reminders of summer.

My six-month-old is sitting next to me in the sunshine and she is scooching forward – almost crawling! I literally want to bottle up this time with my little ones and save it. I am trying to sit and be and soak up the days as they come – sunshine, clouds, rain, frost, crawling, walking, cuddling.

A few nights ago, I was putting my 22-month-old to bed and she had her head on my should as I  recapped her day. I went through all the activities of her day and when I got to the end, I said, “You had such a good day. It was a really nice day.” She was quiet for a moment and then she said, “Beautiful.”