August 3, 2016

My fitness journey to motherhood and the bumps on the way

UFIT Coach Tsvety shares the ups and downs throughout her three semesters so far and how she's maintained her training throughout.  

I got my pre and postnatal fitness certification a few years back and thought I really knew it all. I knew the right exercises to do during pregnancy, the dos and the don’ts whilst training, how things will be changing and what I needed to do to work around them. What I was not prepared for was the crazy flying hormones, the lack of energy, the morning sickness, the extra high heart rate, the rocky balance, everything being swollen, the growing bub in there changing positions to sabotage your range of movement, along with many more things that come up on a daily basis.

The first trimester:

Feeling drained

The hardest things I found in the first trimester were the lack of energy, the constant nausea, and the increased heart rate. There were a few weeks when I almost stopped all training, as all I wanted to do was sleep. After those couple weeks I had a serious talk with myself. The less I was doing, the less I wanted to do. I decided I needed to put a stop to that and get back into my training/working routine.

A change of direction

That’s when I went to Jia, UFIT’s powerlifting and fitness competition superstar. I knew I needed to focus on keeping my strength and keeping my muscle mass to keep my metabolism going and the excess weight off. As Jia is pre and post-natal fitness coach as well, we’ve been focused on breathing right and core activation. I cannot explain how much better I felt just after a few weeks of getting back to training. My hormones were balanced, my nausea went away, and my energy was almost back to normal. I couldn't believe it. I went back to training 5 to 6 days a week. My training was a balance between strength 2 times a week, cardio 3 times week, mobility/yoga- 1-2 times a week.

Taking it as it comes

For all future moms, my advice is to take it day by day. There are days when you can do a lot and feel like you are not even pregnant, and the days when you can’t get off the couch. The amount of times if I didn’t have the commitment to train with Jia, I was going to go straight to bed and probably eat a tub of ice cream. However, one thing never changed, after I was done with my training session, I felt this amazing increase in serotonin and an energy boost, and most of my sugar cravings were gone. I would feel accomplished, healthier, and much happier.

The second trimester:

Losing control of my body

Things were looking up. My energy levels were almost back to normal and my strength seemed to have increased. The toughest thing I found during this time is losing control over my body. Oestrogen was definitely winning and I was putting fat and retaining water where I never used to.

Adjusting to my body growing

As the number on the scale was getting higher, the things I could do were getting more limited, and body weight exercises-much harder. Jia was great in adjusting my training to higher reps to keep my muscle mass, and change exercises around my ever-growing belly. Not stopping there, she has also been the most underpaid psychiatrist, having to listen to my constant complaints of how big everything is getting and how much harder basic exercises feel now verses before. She would always smile, hand me the dumbbell and say:” OK you got 15 more reps”. Along with sticking to the same training, I also added an extra session of strength training with Jia whenever we both could. I followed sort of a clean diet, as my husband calls it “ clean, lean and brownie diet’, but hey, the baby wants it;). I kept my cardio days and even added 5-10 extra minutes to each session, as I was feeling strong and capable.

End of the trimester check up

At the end of the second trimester I went to the doctor for a check up, and in her own words “everything is going perfect and the baby and mum couldn't be healthier”. I cannot say for sure, but I do believe that one of the reasons she was doing so great was the increased blood flow from all the exercises and the nutrients going to her. As a direct cause of all the exercise I was doing, I was sleeping better and in a much better mood, which is always good for the baby.

If I have one suggestion for all pregnant ladies who are struggling through that second trimester with water retention, excessive weight gain, insomnia, leg cramps, mood swings, lack of energy and whatever else the pregnancy is bringing your way, I truly believe exercise can fix it all. I cannot express enough how much it has helped me through this pregnancy.

The third trimester:

As I am getting into my third trimester, I am looking forward to the challenges that it will bring. I can foresee the challenges I’ll likely face. As everything is growing by the day, the limit on what I can do is increasing as well. The core muscles that I used to take for granted are not working anymore, making even holding a 30 second plank extremely hard. The ligaments that hold your belly are getting more and more painful. Tying your shoelaces or picking up something from the floor is starting to be a mission. To be continued….

About the Author

Tsvetelina Ivanova specialises in strength training, plyometrics and metabolic conditioning. Tvestsy can assist anyone looking to improve their strength, body composition and overall fitness level. Tsvety is known as the wedding trainer as she has helped many brides look their best on their wedding day. She graduated from Northwood University Palm Bach USA.

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