preggo chronicles

18 Mar 2018 – The Preggo Chronicles: Mindfulness & Education

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Pre-pregnancy, I remember thinking how weird it was that whenever you asked a pregnant woman how far along she was, they would always answer you in weeks. “I’m 22 weeks along.” Yeah, ok cool. But how many months is that?? And then as soon as I got pregnant, I immediately switched to tracking time in weeks and days.

Why is this?

One guess is that things are changing so quickly, that speaking in months is pointless. A week is a much more sensible unit of time. The other reason that was more applicable for me is that pregnancy, especially my first trimester, was a Game of Inches. Everyone tells you that your pregnancy will fly by, but every day of my first trimester dragged on, slowly inching to the big day when we would get to see our Baby Coach, things would get really, really real and maybe, just maybe, the sense of dread that gripped my soul every time I felt even the slightest twinge in my abdomen would subside, because 12 weeks is the safety point, right? Right.

Between Google, the NHS website and your friend’s friend’s cousin’s sister-in-law’s nightmare pregnancy story, it’s nearly impossible to keep a cool and level head, regardless of how many times people tell you that the worst thing you can do for your baby is to stress out (which in turn causes you to stress more!)

What better time to discuss Mindfulness and Education??

Mindfulness

I have seen Mindfulness defined as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Sounds great, right? However, I am naturally a very stressy, highly strung person. Imagine how much more stressed out I got when I had a tiny human growing inside my belly, relying on me for its survival! In the first few months, I had a lot of what I now call “growing pains”. With every twinge and every subsequent Google search, I became more and more stressed out. Following some very sound advice from a trusted friend (more on that later!), I decided to improve my mindfulness, starting with regular meditation and mantras.

Traditionally, I am not a big fan of meditation. Before baby, I was convinced it didn’t work for me. Most likely because I'm shit at it and I hadn’t practiced it at all. Surprisingly (or maybe not at all!), meditation is just like any other skill – it needs to be practiced. 

I knew I would need guidance to begin meditating, so I started a subscription to Headspace, (not just for preggos!) which worked perfectly. You can either follow their daily meditations, or they do a pregnancy pack which focuses on visualisation. In my second trimester, I transitioned to Expectful. I’ve been using this since my second trimester and it has been great as well. They offer specific meditations for each trimester, from helping you get to sleep, walking meditations, trusting your body, and dealing with uncertain moments. The getting to sleep meditation has been an absolute Godsend as of late!

Meditation is what helped me get my daily stress under control, but my mantra is what kept me sane. Whenever I felt a twinge of pain, whenever I felt uneasy, whenever I would hear advice or stories that scared me (more on this later as well!), I would repeat my mantra:

“I trust my body, I trust my baby. My body is healthy, my baby is healthy.”

I would say this again and again and again until the pain subsided, the thoughts left my mind, and I felt comfortable and confident again. Is it cheesy? Yes. Will people stare at you when you’re walking down the street chanting out loud? Probably. Does it work? A million times yes.

Education

I read once that women are often divided in to two camps when they find out they’re pregnant. The first camp is the “take it as it is” mums-to-be that breeeeeeze through pregnancy without so much as flipping through a Parenting magazine, and the other camp that treats pregnancy like it was a PhD. As you might have guessed, I fall squarely in to the second camp. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I got straight to work downloading every book and podcast, set up meetings with women I knew and respected who had trained through pregnancy, bookmarked websites and essentially became a Training during Pregnancy Information Sponge.

Prenatal resources are abundant and the information supplied is an absolute minefield. To help you navigate, I have put together a list of the resources that I found the most useful. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but this is as far as I’ve gotten!

Meet with a Friend

Before you do anything else, meet with a friend, a coach, or someone you know and trust who has been through a similar situation. They can help answer any questions, calm down any fears, and, considering most women keep their pregnancy quiet during the first trimester, it’s great to have someone to finally share all your excitement with! The day after I found out I was pregnant, I met up for a chat with an incredible woman who was both a friend, a trusted coach, and superwoman of a mom. I made a list of questions before our meeting and she answered every single one and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m still sending her questions to this day!

A word of advice about meeting up with friends… Sometimes, it’s good to hear things you don’t want to hear. For example, when your coach tells you you should cut back on alcohol or sweets. No one WANTS to hear that, but sometimes, we need to. On the flip side, when you’re pregnant, aim to get advice from people that you know are on your side and that will be supportive to what you want. For example, if you have always dreamed of having a non-medicated home birth with your husband being the only one in the room with you, it’s probably not a good shout to seek advice from someone you know had a traumatic birth story, swears by an epidural and thinks home births are a recipe for disaster. For the most part, it’s good to get all sides of a story, but at the moment, there’s no need and no point for people raining on your parade. However, if someone does offer advice that doesn’t mesh with your plans, don’t curse them under your breath or unfollow them on Facebook. Odds are, they are sharing their advice because they want you to have the best experience possible. Although their idea of ‘best experience’ might differ from yours, their advice is still coming from the heart, so be respectful. Nod, smile, and carry on thinking your own thoughts.

2) BirthFit Podcasts

As I mentioned in my Training blog, the BirthFit website has been a key resource throughout my pregnancy for my training, but also for my mindset and education. Their podcasts cover a wide range of topics and have also helped me find other useful resources.

My favourites so far have been:

Episode 2 with Dr. Elliot Berlin
Episode 6 with John Welbourn
Episode 25 with Dr. Gina Sirchio-Lotus
Episode 59 with Jacki Carr
Episode 63 with Dr. Lindsay Mumma
Episode 87 from the BirthFit Summit

Super informative and funny, these make for great commute listening!

* Update: now that I’m in my third trimester, I have also been listening to a lot of Modern Mamas Podcasts. A similar vibe to BirthFit, in addition to prenatal information, they have loads of great information on what to do when Baby arrives!

3) Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

This book is borderline mindset and borderline education. The book begins with a collection of birth stories from Ina May’s experience at the Farm Midwifery Centre (most of which took place in the 70s). What I loved about this book was not just the educational aspect (there’s so much about having a baby that I had - and still have - no idea about), but the way that it re-framed the way we speak about and understand the birth experience. It helped to shape my ideas of what I would like my birth experience to be and also indirectly introduced me to hypnobirthing. If all you’ve been hearing and all you know of pregnancy are horror stories, this is the perfect book to get your head straight.

4) Resources for Pre- and Post-Natal Nutrition

With my focus on my training, I’ve always eaten well (aside from the occasional donut) and I’ve always known what my body needs to perform at its best, but when it came to knowing what to eat when pregnant, I was beyond lost. I knew that I wanted to be a bit more cautious than previous generations' approach, “We had aspirin, drank wine and ate tinned tuna and you came out fine”, but a little bit more relaxed than the present-day approach of: “If you have raw eggs, peanuts, a slice of cake or don’t rinse your organic vegetables with filtered water, your baby will come out with three heads”.

Here are the resources I found most helpful…

Webinar: Prenatal Nutrition Basics with Dr. Gina Sirchio-Lotus
Before you do anything watch this webinar. It provides an excellent summary of prenatal nutrition and I liked it because I think it hit the exact balanced approach I was looking for.

Beautiful Babies: Nutrition for Fertility, Pregnancy, Breast-feeding, and Baby’s First Foods
By Kristen Michaelis

Super Nutrition for Babies: The Right Way to Feed Your Baby for Optimal Health
by Katherine Erlich, Kelly Genzlinger

These books were both great resources and chock-full of information (I’m still working through Super Nutrition for Babies!) FYI, these follow more of an all-organic, Paleo nutrition approach, so there was some information I took on board, and some I decided was a bit too strict for my lifestyle.

Real Food for Pregnancy: The Science and Wisdom of Optimal Prenatal Nutrition
By Lily Nichols

I have only just heard about this book, but after listening to a few podcasts with Lily Nichols, I’m very excited to read it.

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I’m 34 weeks now and getting closer and closer to seeing our beautiful Baby Coach. Through my training, my improving mindfulness practice, my education, and the love and support of my nearest and dearest, I am becoming more and more confident every day that I am ready to take on this new adventure.

Given how long this blog has taken me to write, the next Preggo Chronicles will probably discuss Baby Coach’s first Scaled Teen’s CrossFit Competition….


WORKOUT OF THE DAY

Women's Only Class (11 am – Noon)

After the heavy barbell work in 18.4 yesterday, we are focusing on gymnastics today.

A) Gymnastics: This week we shift focus to working on handstands (towards HSPU).

A1) 1 attempt at max strict chin/pull-ups

A2) Box pike: 5 x 10 second push-up support, into 10 second pike support

A3) Chest to wall handstand hold: 5 x 15-20 seconds

A4) Handstand kick up practice 20 attempts

*Get hands as close to the wall as possible
*Focus on soft contact with the wall/heels


A4) 5 sets:
20 Dumbbell lateral raise
20 Scapula push-ups
20 Second hollow hold
20 Second arch hold

Specialist Sundays (10 – 11 am)

A) Snatch balance: 6 x 1, building to a heavy single

B) Snatch: 5 x 3, drop and re-set each rep

C) Snatch pull: 5 x 3

Engine Work (9 – 10 am)

5 rounds for time of:
100 m Farmer's carry (24/16 kg)
30 Double unders
20 Wall balls (9/6 kg)
10 Pull-ups

* Rest 1 minute between rounds

14 Nov 2017 – The Preggo Chronicles: First Trimester, Pt. 1: Training

Not sure if anyone noticed, but you can kinda see the crippling effects of First Trimester Fatigue written all over my face...

Mr. and Mrs. Coach are having a Baby Coach! Wooohooooooooo! A very exciting, very BIG surprise, to say the least!

I haven’t written a blog in a while, but felt the need to start penning down my experiences. I realise that this might not apply to the majority of my audience, but to be honest, it’s more for my own selfish purposes. And to be doubly honest. I’m pregnant. I do what I want.

Thus begins the Preggo Chronicles, detailing aspects of each trimester that I found the most interesting. My first trimester is split into three parts (obvs.): Mindfulness & Education, Nutrition and, the topic of this entry, Training. Now, in an ideal world, you would always address your nutrition first, but I’ve decided to write the Preggo Chronicles in the exact order that I have approached my pregnancy. And one of my first worries after learning I was pregnant… what am I going to do for my training tomorrow?!

I have worked with quite a few pregnant women before. I know exactly what they should be doing and how to adjust their workouts, but when I found out I was expecting, all I could think was, “What about me?! I have been following competitive programming since about 2014. I must surely be a special case”. So, I immediately set up a call with my coach to tell him the news. We discussed a few options and decided that I would think about where to go next, depending on how I was feeling over the next few days.

The following day, I listened to a podcast with a competitive CrossFitter who was, at the time, about 36 weeks pregnant. One of her comments really stuck with me.

When you’re pregnant, your goals and priorities change suddenly and drastically (maybe this is getting you ready for parenthood?). For this athlete, her goal was no longer to go to Regionals or to get her team to the Games. Instead, it was maintaining her health and fitness so that she could have a healthy pregnancy, the best labour possible, and a speedy recovery. When she found out she was pregnant, she decided to put her competitive programming on hold and stick with regular CrossFit classes. And she never felt healthier.

Hearing that gave me pause for thought. Who am I to think that, at this point in my life, I need some super special programming to keep me on the competitive track right through my pregnancy? Does that type of programming even exist? Why should my goals be so different from the pregnant women I have trained previously? I then re-visited my priorities and realised that I no longer gave a flying rat’s ass about my next competition. The only thing in my mind was doing my absolute best to give the little lima bean growing in my belly the best chance it could possibly get.

With that, I decided to put my competitive programming on hold and started following our class programming regularly, which has been amazing.

But that’s not all!

I also knew there was extra work that needed to be done to prepare my body for the changes coming its way. For this additional work (and also many of the resources that you’ll read about in the Education section), I sought out BirthFit’s Prenatal Programme. BirthFit has completely opened my eyes to a new, holistic way of approaching my training, both prenatal and postpartum. They have loads of information and advice on training, and I recommend anyone who is planning to get pregnant, is currently pregnant, or has just had a baby, check out their website with the quickness.

So now, what everyone REALLY wants to know…

What You Should & Shouldn’t Do for Training during Pregnancy*

This might be a bit disappointing because I’m not actually going to break down the movements that you should or shouldn’t do during your pregnancy (barring one or two). Everyone thinks pregnancy is all about the Black and White. The Do’s and Do Not’s. But, especially for women who have been training for a while, there is so much more Grey area. I’ve seen some women do handstands right up until the final weeks of their third trimester, and some women decide not to go upside down after their first month. Some women are completely comfortable going for a PB back squat, while others are perfectly happy never going above 75%. Every woman is on a different journey with her pregnancy and what was comfortable for me might not be comfortable for you. With that in mind, here are some general guidelines based on my training and coaching experience so far....

Repping out some clean & jerk for Kilos for a Cure at 13 weeks

What you Should Do

Get a good sports bra

I’m sorry to break this to you, but your boobs, they gon’ hurt. Reeeeeeeal Bad. These have been my favourite so far:

Nike Zip (thanks for the recommendation Jos!)
Nike Classic Swoosh Modern
Lululemon Energy Bra

Train as regularly as possible!

I was very fortunate in that I had no morning sickness and no food aversions in my first trimester. What I struggled with the most was an absolutely crippling fatigue. Contrary to what you might think, the only thing that helped me manage this was my training! The more I could move around, the better I would feel and, as the weeks passed, so did the fatigue. My training consisted of modified CrossFit sessions, but your training could be anything: bodyweight movements (always squat), running, yoga... whatever gets you going!

Listen to your body and go by feel

At the very beginning of my pregnancy, I felt ridiculously strong. Then there were other days where I felt walking lunges were tough work. Other days, I felt I could Rx the weight on a workout if I broke it up in small sets.

In every session, I always give myself a rest period, even if it’s a short break in between reps. I use this rest period to check in with my body and make sure I’m happy with all the movements I’m doing. If it’s not comfortable, don’t do it. If a movement makes you uneasy, leave it. Heavy weights, max intensity, and ‘pushing through the pain’ will always be there. These precious weeks of your first trimester won’t, so listen to your body and prioritise what it needs during this time.

Warm up and cool down completely

This might just be me, but I feel like it now takes a bit longer than usual to get myself ready for a workout and settle down after a session. I make sure to structure in plenty of time for mobility and a thorough warm-up before the WOD and a cool down on the assault bike and stretching piece afterwards. This gives me another opportunity to check in with my body and with baby to see how we’re going to approach training for the day and check in on how training went and how we’re feeling post-session.

Cut yourself some slack

Last week, I did “Nancy”, 5 rounds for time of 400 m run (I rowed), and 15 overhead squats @30 kg. I logged my workout and saw that I was over 3 minutes slower than my previous attempt. I felt shit.

Whoa. Time for a reality check! Time to cut myself some slack. You are building a human. Your body is literally piecing together new organs as you sit here reading this. That is an incredible task, whose importance far outweighs the time on any workout. So, if you don’t feel like training on a certain day, it’s fine. Cut back the volume on your training. Want to move, but don’t feel like going all out? No dramas. Fancy going a bit heavier and pushing the pace a little bit more? You go do you, mama. There are way too many negative opinions in the world, don’t add any of your own to the mix. 

Practice your belly breathing

This is crucial for so many reasons, from labour practice and relaxation, to bracing for a lift. More on this will come in the Mindfulness part of the Preggo Chronicles, but for now, check out this video from BirthFit.

What you Shouldn’t Do

Leave out toes to bar, sit ups, knees to elbows, etc – you don’t need them!

Sub these with kettlebell windmills, overhead carries, farmer’s carries and functional progressions to focus on deep core strengthening (which you definitely WILL need)

Don’t get bogged down with what you can’t do or compare with what you used to be able to do.

It’s hard not to get upset when you realise you shouldn’t go for that 1RM lift or you can no longer do as many strict pull ups as you once could. I remember the first day I was coaching a class with toes to bar and I couldn’t demo anything, I went home and cried my eyes out. As mentioned before, the weights and the movements will always be there. Your first trimester will not. Focus on the big picture and your priority at the moment – keeping mama and baby healthy and happy!

* If you need a specific, movement-by-movement list of things that you should or shouldn’t do or your pregnancy is considered high risk, speak with a trusted and experienced coach, book a PT session or e-mail me, maria@crossfit1864.com. It is crucial that you find the exact and unique shade of grey that your training will take over the next 9+ months!

Baby Coach at 16 weeks, loving sumo deadlifts.

I am currently riding the 16-week wave and I am falling more and more in love with pregnancy as each week passes. Even more so, I am loving training during my pregnancy. I love knowing that I am training with a purpose – to better learn how to tune in to my body and to prepare myself for the most intense athletic endeavour I will ever undertake. The more in tune with my body I get, the more I am amazed and in awe of what it is capable of doing. I love knowing that my training is the best thing I could be doing for my baby and for myself (and if you would like the research backing up this claim, let me know and I’ll send it your way!). And finally, as someone who normally trains on her Jack Jones in an empty gym, I love the fact that now I always have a training buddy who dances to my favourite Ciara track with me in between sets.

"See you in Spring 2018, homies!"


WORKOUT OF THE DAY

A) Strength
Back squat with a 5 second pause, build to heavy single

B) Conditioning
B1) 8 rounds of:
20 seconds: Front squat (42.5/30 kg)
10 seconds: Rest
20 Seconds: Double unders
10 Seconds: Rest

– 2 minutes rest –

B2) 8 rounds of:
20 seconds: Dumbbell snatches (22.5/15 kg)
10 seconds: Rest
20 seconds: Toes to bar
10 seconds: Rest