It is rewarding, but there are very few women who will tell you it is easy.
You suddenly discover that your body isn’t your own anymore. It is crazy how quickly your body seems to revolt against you.
My first trimester was hard, I felt like I had low-grade nausea all the time. It probably wasn’t that bad, but it definitely wasn’t fun. As I moved into the second and then the third trimester my body seemed to start accepting my new bundle of joy.
It still wasn’t easy, but overall I felt significantly better.
At this point, I’m 33 weeks and ready to be done with pregnancy. Unfortunately, I still have some of the hardest weeks to go.
I’m definitely not perfect but have noticed that as I’ve prioritized my health, my pregnancy has gotten easier.
Obviously, every pregnancy is different, but here are four steps I’ve taken to stay healthy.
1. Mental Attitude
Healthiness begins with your attitude. As I mentioned earlier my first trimester was rough. I faked it really well, but overall I felt nauseous all the time.
Getting out of bed and going to work was hard, eating was hard, exercising was pretty much non-existent.
During my first trimester, I had two business trips scheduled, a seven-hour road trip (each way) to visit my family and a 9 day trip to Bonaire to go scuba diving. Traveling with nausea is absolutely miserable.
I realized really quickly I could feel sorry for myself or suck it up and make the best of the experience.
I’m not saying I was always in the best of moods, but once I made a conscious decision to focus on the great aspects of pregnancy I had an easier time dealing with all the negative junk that happens during pregnancy.
Once I decided it was time to stop feeling sorry for myself, I found that the easiest way to be positive was to stay busy.
I focused on work, I reconnected with friends, I started exercising again. I started blogging again.
I made a conscious effort to keep myself busy enough to mostly ignore the nausea and craziness happening to my body.
I also gave myself permission to complain a little bit.
Originally I kept it all in and just tried to put on a brave face to the world. Once I started sharing some of my struggles I realized very quickly that shockingly enough, other women understood and gave me helpful suggestions.
Reaching out and asking for help was one of the best things I did for my mental health.
I’ve always exercised fairly consistently. Aaron and I lead a pretty active lifestyle and spent a lot of time outdoors.
I didn’t I understood what an impact exercising had on my mental and physical health until suddenly I wasn’t exercising.
I’m sure there are all kinds of studies I can quote, but I think everyone would agree, that even though at times exercising sucks in the moment, the benefits are always worth the hassle.
Once I got beyond my 1st trimester and I didn’t feel like I was going to throw up every single evening I started exercising again.
I’ve kept it very simple. I listen to my body and I don’t overdo it. My simple goal is to get 30 minutes of exercise in every day. It doesn’t always happen, but just making the effort has made a huge difference for me.
Walking and lunges have become my main exercise routine these days. I’m lucky enough to have an elliptical in my home, so I can easily hop on it in the evenings if I haven’t had time to do an outside walk.
I focus on making little steps. When I’m on conference calls I pull out my exercise ball and do knee balances or lunges. I always take the stairs. At my home office, I have two-pound weights that I use periodically throughout the day. I do calf raises when I’m standing around.
Recently I’ve started to set my timer when I start a project that I know will suck me in. My goal is to stand-up and walk around for a few minutes every 45-60 minutes.
It doesn’t matter what you do, the important thing is that you are constantly moving and keeping your body active. Based on everything I’ve read, the more active you are the healthier you and your baby will be.
3. Healthy Eating
I thought I was a healthy eater until I got gestational diabetes. After tracking my food for a few days I realized very quickly that I wasn’t eating enough protein or veggies.
Was I horrible, no, but getting gestational diabetes has been a blessing in disguise. It has really made me rethink how and what I eat.
Obviously, everyone is different and I know that being pregnant is the hardest time to make dietary changes.
However, I strongly recommend focusing on your food weaknesses. You know exactly what I’m talking about. For me, it was decreasing my sugar consumption and incorporating additional protein and veggies in my diet.
Keeping a food journal is critical. Knowing what you are eating and when you are eating will help you locate your problem issues. I’ve been using myfitnesspal to track my food. It is kind of a hassle to enter the food you make from scratch. However, the reports make it worth the hassle.
The biggest surprise for me was the vitamin deficiencies I have. I thought my prenatal vitamins were enough, but have quickly learned I’m short in a few other areas.
The easiest way to eat healthily is to avoid fast food and eating out. Fortunately, I hate fast food, so this one is relatively easy for me. My goal is to always have healthy snacks around my house.
I keep a lot of fruits, veggies around for snacking purposes. To increase my protein consumption I’ve also incorporated nuts, hard-boiled eggs, cheese sticks and jerky into my snacking rotation. When I’m desperate I do the premium protein shakes. They are high in protein, but low in carbs.
I do keep a few cheater items in my house, but overall, I’ve really tried to get rid of the sugary temptations in my life.
I still have my moments of weakness, but finally found a few low carb options that have helped me immensely.
4. Personal development
This area goes back to mental health for me. If I’m not reading and growing and working towards something I end up wasting a lot of time. I need goals and lists to keep myself on track.
I recently wrote in more detail about this in Why You Should Never Stop Expressing Yourself, so I’m not going to go into details on this subject.
Why being healthy is so important
Staying healthy during your pregnancy can be really hard. The extra hormones in your body seem to leach out every last bit of self-control. I haven’t had any major food craving, but my food consumption has drastically increased.
Food makes me very happy right now.
However, I’m 39 years old and over the last few years, I’ve noticed it is getting harder and harder to loose the extra pounds. My metabolism is slowing down and my body doesn’t respond to exercise as quickly.
I knew going into this pregnancy that if I wasn’t careful I’d regret it later. It has taken a lot of self-control and discipline, but at 33 weeks I’ve gained 20 pounds. My goal when I got pregnant was to gain a maximum of 30 pounds. If I go full term, I should be right on track.
My weight gain has been very slow and gradual. I don’t want to sound cocky, but I’m really proud of myself. It is really hard to stay on track when pregnant.
However, a healthy pregnancy is more than just the weight gain. To me, the mental health behind a healthy pregnancy is the most critical part of pregnancy.
I can look healthy on the outside, but if I’m not healthy on the inside then I’m not really ready to parent my baby. Only by combining the mental and physical aspect of overall health will you truly have a healthy pregnancy.
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