Exercise while Pregnant: 22 weeks

I am 22 weeks today.  Probably the most surprising aspect of my pregnancy so far is been that I’ve been able to continue my normal exercise routine, with a few slight modifications.   I had no idea what to expect and am continuing to learn that just like every person is an individual, every pregnancy is completely different and there really is no “normal.”

I continue to be very lucky in an extremely easy pregnancy, which probably makes my routine possible, but I do realize that the second go-round might be completely different and what works for me would never work for another person.

The advice I received from my doctors is that exercise is one of the best things you can do for your developing baby due to:

  • Increased blood flow to the uterus
  • Prevention of gestational diabetes
  • Increased stamina for a safer labor & delivery

With that said, her advice was to continue my normal routine of running, spinning, yoga (no hot yoga though), Pilates, dancing, etc and make any necessary modifications –  stop if too tired, too winded or dizzy or faint.    I have followed this advice closely and found that I’m able to continue to do most of my normal routine, although maybe slower and not as gracefully 🙂

Evidentially there is a misconception that pregnant women should not do exercises on their back after the 2nd trimester; however my doctor assured me that only applies if the mother is obese or has known complications.

At 22 weeks, my usual routine consists of some combination of the following.   I try to follow the guidelines to get at least 30 min of moderate activity once a day.   Some days that’s not feasible due to my work schedule or other commitments, so I generally follow a per week goal of 200 min with my trusty FitBit keeping me honest. 

I am also taking mental notes of what will be easiest to stay on track with after the baby’s born, as I know my time will become even more limited and I will need to find alternate and creative ways to fit in exercise.

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Running/Jogging/Walking
Running has never been an enjoyable exercise for me; however I also find it the most effective and most efficient way to exercise, period.   I’ve noticed that my pace is considerably slower than my pre-preggo pace, but I’m ok with that.   I shoot for a 25 min jog 2x per week at a pace that I can hold while talking.    This usually amounts to a 2.5 -3 mile run.    After doing the half-marathon a few weeks ago, its amazing how easy and fast 3 miles go!
With the nice spring weather in Charlotte, I’ve also been trying to squeeze in more quick walks with our Charlie dog.   He loves it obviously and its a great way to get some fresh air, catch up with neighbors and decompress with my husband.

Spinning/Flywheel
    Because of its low impact, spinning is one of the best cardio exercises for expectant mamas so Flywheel classes continue to be part of my routine.   Although every spinning studio is different, Flywheel’s draw is its competitive nature as you can compete against yourself (individual scores) vs the rest of the class (Torqboard) for an added boost.    I’ve had to completely disregard trying to set a PR or get a good score and instead focus on breathing, cardio and flushing out my legs.

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The other great thing about Flywheel is the community.   Many of our friends are regulars and I’ve gotten to know the instructors well (many of them first time mamas too) so its really combination workout + social time that we enjoy here in CLT.

Yoga
Funny enough, this has been the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make.   Bikram (aka “hot yoga”) is off-limits due to the risk to the baby for the mother’s temperature getting too hot.   I’ve had to cut off doing this and instead stick to gentler pre-natal focused yoga classes.
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Another caution from my doctor:   pregnancy relaxes your joints & ligaments so be mindful of over-stretching & overuse to prevent injury.

Pilates/Barre
I thought I’d have to cut back on this after the second trimester, but my doctor assured me its fine.   Evidentially the “don’t exercise on your back” only applies if you’re obese or have a known complication during the second trimester.

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Another great find has been the Tracy Anderson Pregnancy Project DVD series.   These are 45 min workouts with light weights and barre-like exercises specifically designed for pregnant women, with each month having its own specialized workout.   Added bonus is that Tracy filmed the series while pregnant herself – so no reason or excuse to slack off during!

Zumba
    Not only is it great cardio, but the added bonus of following choreography is a great workout for the brain too.    Whenever possible, I try to go right after work because having to focus on something other than what I was just working on is one of the best mental releases there is.
    I can’t imagine my life without being able to dance.   With my favorite Zumba class 5 min away at a gym that has affordable childcare, this will become a non-negotiable. HIIT/Tabata
HITT (or high intensity interval training) is a workout designed to elevate your heart rate for short bursts of time to boost cardio efficiency.    These are known as “Tabata” style workouts and my favorite example is OrangeTheoryFitness, a boutique studio that just opened several locations in Charlotte.
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Everyday the workout changes and will be some combination of free weights, treadmill and rowing designed to keep your heart rate in the “orange zone” for 12 minutes of a 60 min class.
Participants wear a heart-rate monitor throughout class and a giant TV screen tells you individually exactly how hard (or not hard) to work to achieve the correct heart rate zone.    It’s not designed as a competition, so there are no goals to track other than 12 minutes in the orange zone.
This is great instant feedback for pregnant mamas as its just another gage of intensity and not pushing yourself too hard.
I love it.


Bottom line:   Exercise up to 22 weeks has been fairly easily and I’m hoping it will continue that way for the duration of the pregnancy, although I know I’ll have to make some more modifications as my bump gets bigger.
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Weekend in White Sulphur Springs

12816969_170417293348569_1316349968_n(1)Credit:   @the_greenbrier (Instagram)

A few weeks ago, my husband and I joined family at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV.

The purpose of this weekend was to attend the West Virginia State DAR conference.   The DAR runs deep on my grandmother’s side of the family, with my great-grandmother Jessie Henshaw Fiedler an active member up until her death at age 104.   My great-Aunt Jessie has continued her mother’s involvement and is an active member of the Buford Chapter in Huntington, WV.


My great aunt Jessie Fiedler McClain

Several years ago, Aunt Jessie asked me and several other women in our family to join her chapter and we greatly obliged.   My aunt, cousins and second cousins all joined in a testament to her, someone we greatly love and admire.    Aunt Jessie is the last link I have to my paternal grandmother’s side of the family and I cherish every minute I get to spend with her, especially with an organization that has been such a big part of her life.    At ninety-four years old, she is in excellent health and someone I consider to be a model citizen and example of grace and class.    We all love her dearly.

My husband’s side of the family also has ties to the DAR, with his aunt a member.   We also humorously discovered that both sides of our families are members of the Mayflower Society, and both of us had relatives on the Mayflower.

Luckily, not the same person!

It was a memorable weekend for many reasons and one that I’m so glad I was able to participate in before weekend trips become more challenging.

Pregnancy Update: Week 20

This week, I hit the halfway (!) point of my pregnancy.   20 down, 20 to go.

I continue to be blessed in having a fairly easy pregnancy, with fatigue being the biggest change (my husband would attest to my falling asleep by 8:30 on the couch, most nights).   My FitBit confirms a solid 8+ hours each night, consistently over the past week.

 
I know this will not last once the baby comes.   I’m aware.   I’m cherishing every last drop of sleep that I can right now and know that I also probably won’t sleep well for the next 18+ years.   Yawn.

We’ve also seen this sweet face via ultrasound and I’ve felt him kicking a few times.  

 
We’ve decided that he’ll be named after my father & my husband.   Two of the most important men in my life and also two of the most incredible men on the face of this Earth.   So no pressure, Baby Ricks.   You have a lot to live up to, with these 2 namesakes.

Size of the baby (per ‘What to Expect’):   mango
Weight gain:  On track
Cravings:   Pizza & ice cream –  in other words, nothing new or unusual to this pregnancy 🙂
New symptoms:   heartburn & round ligament pain
Exercise:   still continuing my weekly routine, which is a mix of running, Pilates/barre, yoga, Zumba, Flywheel and sometimes a strength/conditioning workout like a bootcamp or Orange Theory.    I don’t push myself too hard and instead focus on working out for the baby’s health, not overall fitness.
What I’m looking forward to:   some upcoming family weekends

Road to the Disney Princess Half Marathon

A few weeks ago, we participated in the 2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon with a group of our closest friends.

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This race was especially memorable for me because it was my first half marathon ever and also because I ran it 4.5 months pregnant (major disclaimer:  my ob said it was ok!).

My girlfriend Lindsay had the idea in early 2015 to run a half marathon and picked one that would be fun to train for as a group and would also result in a fun vacation:   enter the Disney Princess Half.     When it comes to exercise, our group of friends in Charlotte is extremely active, spanning the many boutique fitness studios here in the QC to distance races and Iron Mans.   One of the things that my husband and I love about our group of friends (and the broader social scene in Charlotte) is the combination of fitness + social activities.   Gone are the days of just “drinks after work” –  here its meet up, run 4-5 miles, then eat, drink & relax.   Charlotte is a growing, thriving city of 30 something professionals and many with young families, so these fitness + social scenes have become something that the entire family participates in, even toddlers & dogs.

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With this background, our group training for the half marathon evolved into an opportunity for us to keep up with both our fitness & social lives.    Lindsay started “Sunday Runday” in the early part of 2015, where the “host” for that week picked the time, meeting place & distance and posted it on a Facebook page of 150+ members, with about 20-30 regulars.    These have become some of our best friends over the past year and ones I was honored to share both the road & race.

 

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When I found out in November 2015 that I was pregnant with our first baby, one of the first things I did was talk to my doctor about doing the race.    Her advice?  First and foremost, the mother & baby’s health is most important so not to do it if I ever felt it was too physically demanding.   Otherwise, since I was already an active exerciser and had been training for it already, she saw no issue with continuing to do the race as long as I felt good.    I have been extremely lucky to have had a very easy pregnancy, so I decided to continue training for the race and set a goal of “completion” for the half marathon.   No time goals.   No pressure.    Just do it for fun & fitness.

I asked my husband to run the race with me and he kindly obliged, being the wonderful and supportive person that he is.    I know the slower pace was tough for him but he knew that doing this race was important to me, so stayed by my side the entire 13.1 miles, carrying a beltpack of sugary snacks and energy gels to get me through it.

What happened?     I finished, accomplishing my goal.    I took many walk breaks and ended up with a good combination of jogging/walking that resulted in about running 9 miles out of the 13.1.  After about 6 miles, it was not fun.   I repeat:  it was not fun.  Although I never felt myself getting too tired or too breathless, by mile 7 my feet & legs were hurting from the repeated pounding and I was just ready to push through and be done.

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The race itself was extremely well organized, with many Disney characters and entertainment along the way.    Running through Magic Kingdom and people watching with all the crazy costumes were highlights.

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We capped off the race with a celebration at Epcot, eating and drinking “around the world”.   I’m so proud of my best friends, several of whom had done other Disney races (5k & 10K) that weekend.    We want to raise our family that fitness & health is extremely important and our active group of friends is a big part of that.   We hope to continue what friends with small children are already doing and teach them that exercise is an important part of our lives.

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As for the half?   I’m glad I did it.   I will have amazing story to tell this baby one day.   He knew it too, as the night before the race, I felt him kick for the first time.   Or perhaps, was it a tiny fist bump to say “we got this, Mom!”.

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Disney Trip: 14 adults, 0 kids… yet.

In February, the entire Ricks pack (Charlie too) spend an extended weekend in Walt Disney World with a group of our closest friends.   The primary purpose of the trip was to participate in the Disney Princess Half Marathon (separate posting on that!)  however we decided to make it an extended weekend because Florida in February is always a good idea.

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Impressions:    All positive.    Disney is a world class operation and while expensive, a trip worth considering for any family looking for a one-stop shop with something for everyone.    On our trip home, my husband and I were analyzing how 14 adults can spend 4 days at Walt Disney World with no children and have a such a fantastic time.   To sum up:   easy to get there and easy to relax once you’re there.   Hotels & service are superb, parks (while crowded) have something for everyone, food & drinks always available and the network of buses & boats make it super convenient to easily travel around the massive resort.    Our group was 14 adults including a CEO, an overworked and overstressed attorney, an oncologist, and other fulltime working professionals who find downtime rare.

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Side note:   For more on the seamless operations of Walt Disney World Resort, I highly recommend the book “Creating Magic” by former WDW  Chief of Operations Lee Cockrell.   I heard him speak at a leadership forum several years ago and his leadership & insights into the operations of WDW is worth the read.

We had hoped to book-end this trip with a family trip to Captiva Island the weekend prior; however logistics fell through and that weekend was instead rescheduled.    Nevertheless, we made the 8 hour drive to Orlando, which meant our furry-first born Charlie came along for the ride and enjoyed his stay at the Best Friends Pet Care Resort Disney World.

We also enjoyed an afternoon with family who live in Orlando/Tampa.  We did the “monorail hotel crawl”, decided the Polynesian Resort might be a good “next time”, had dinner at Disney Springs and evaluated my ever-growing baby bump.

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Overall it was a great extended weekend that wasn’t long enough, as many good ones are.

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Highlight:   Eating & drinking our way through the 11 different “countries” in the World Showcase at Epcot.   Following our half-marathon, our group celebrated with a fun afternoon touring “Around the World” at Epcot.   We thought each was a good (albeit “Disneyfied”) representation of England, France, Germany and Italy with Morocco departing the most from real-life, with far less trash, smells and terrorists (my husband would know).

Biggest surprise:   The Little Mermaid ride (“Journey Under the Sea”) in the Magic Kingdom.   My husband and I rode very few rides in each of the parks (mostly because we weren’t organized enough to take full advantage of the FastPass reservation system and opted not to wait in 60+ minute lines).   This one had a short wait time, so we breezed right through the queue hopped right onto the “slow moving clamshells” for a highly entertaining ride with dancing fish & crabs & the music from the movie we all know & loved as kids.

Magic moment:   Our last evening, we ate at the California Grill above the Contemporary Resort.  The restaurant overlooked the Magic Kingdom and we had a front-row seat to the fireworks.   Pure magic.

What I’d do different next time:   Nothing!  Maybe stay longer 🙂

What I’d do different with children:   FastPass.  FastPass. FastPass.   Whoever thought up this idea was a genius.

Must- do:  The safari ride at Animal Kingdom.    Long wait (again, FastPass) but well done.

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Worth it:   The Fort Wilderness Lodge.  Our group picked this for its location (easy transport to the Magic Kingdom) and style –   think grand lodge in the Pacific Northwest.   The lobby is huge but also somewhat intimate & cozy, the rooms are comfortable & cozy and the hotels many meeting spots (fireplaces, pool, lounge bar and restaurants) are intimate and…. cozy.    Highly recommended for busy families or those just looking to relax.

Skip:   IF you’re not a die-hard fan of the movie, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.   It’s exactly as it was in the 1970’s, with a few Jack Sparrows thrown in.   However, if you’re a fan of the movie, you must cross it off your Pirates fan bucket list.   If you’re not, skip it and save yourself the huge wait time.

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The Rock-a-Fire Explosion: An evening with Aaron Fechter

My husband and I were recently in Orlando, FL and had the pleasure of spending the evening with Aaron Fechter, creative mastermind behind the beloved animatronic rock band The Rock-a-fire Explosion, firmly entrenched in any 80’s child’s memory of going to Showbiz Pizza Place.   Not familiar?    Showbiz Pizza was the precursor to what we know today as Chuck-E-Cheese, a story chronicled so well in the most excellent documentary “The Rockafire Explosion.”   Check it out (Netflix or Youtube).   And that’s where our story starts.

Several years ago, my husband and I were enjoying a newlyweds Friday date night in when we stumbled across this documentary on Netflix.   This image flashed upon our screen:  IMG_0585.JPG

And I was instantly transported back to my childhood summers in the 80’s/90’s in Wrightsville Beach, NC where my cousins and I loved to go to Showbiz Pizza.     Here’s my Delorean now…..

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My cousin and I celebrating her birthday, circa 1989.

As it turns out, 1989 was one of the last years before the Showbiz Pizza concept was converted to Chuck-E-Cheese.   Then everything changed.  And, as the documentary so brilliantly captures, everything was wrong.   The magic was gone.

Not so fast.   Because as it turns out, when the Rockafire Explosion was removed from Chuck-E-Cheese in the early 90’s, the 100 some “shows” of these animatronic characters did not just disappear into oblivion.   Many were purchased by restaurant investors overseas, many  were saved for & purchased by now-30 something fans (again, Youtube) and one remains in the Creative Engineering warehouse of inventor Aaron Fechter in Orlando, Florida.   Where Aaron will gladly oblige any Rockafire fan with a 3 hour private tour.   Enter the Ricks pack.

This was one of the most unique and entertaining evenings we have ever had.   Aaron indulged us with many songs by the band, spanning the Beatles to Springsteen to the Oakridge Boys (scroll to the bottom for a special treat) and even CeeLo Green, followed by a tour of his still-working warehouse, which includes an archive of past characters and ones in future development.    Enjoy a few pictures & videos from this evening.