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My first memories of being in “the gym” are my high school’s tiny weight-lifting room that smelled of rubber, iron, and sweat. I had enrolled in “Advanced” Physical Education, which is what all the other athletes took as well. We’d weight lift Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and do strength and agility exercises on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
My memories from those classes are filled with fondness: working out with my friends and teammates and trying to challenge each other into who could get the coveted “100# POWER CLEAN CLUB” t-shirt.
In college, I had not one, but TWO, knee surgeries and was forced to re-examine all of my habits related to exercise. My orthopedic surgeon did not have a knack for sugar-coating as he told me, “You will never run a marathon on those knees. Or a half. Maybe a 10k, if you’re lucky. Don’t push it.”
But, he actually advised me to continue weight lifting. So back to the gym I went.
Even when my husband and I taught overseas for a period of time–we got up at 5am and got our butts in the gym. It didn’t have air conditioning, despite always having 100% humidity and most days hitting 90+ degrees. It didn’t have screens on the window, so sometimes there were birds flying around the rafters.
I say all this to really say: weight lifting has always been a part of my fitness routine, one of the healthy habits I’ve continued for over a decade now, and I believe it’s a habit that would serve many other moms (pregnant or not) well.
This is a guest post by Alison Gillespie of Unbalanced Woman Blog. If you’d like to learn more about Alison, check out more about her at the end of this post! And please note the opinions in this post are not meant to take the place of actual medical advice. You should always seek medical attention from your provider if needed.
Lifting Weights While Pregnant
When I first got pregnant, I didn’t know what kind of exercise rules there were, if any. I soon found out that besides not laying flat on your back after the first trimester (potentially reduces oxygen flow to uterus and baby), pretty much low-risk pregnant women can go about their exercise routines as normal.
Obviously, the later trimesters will get challenging, as the growing baby starts to invade your lung capacity, but I had no hopes of that marathon still, so I wasn’t too worried. I was in the gym even at 36, 37, 38 weeks pregnant. I swear with some of the looks I got, some of the guys in there thought I was going to have the baby right there next to the dumbbell rack (wouldn’t that be a scene?!)!
Now, I am a mom of 2 under the age of 2, with very little “free time” and even less energy most days.
But still–I schedule in my workouts when my husband can be home to watch the kiddos, I grab our dumbbells, and I get a workout in, most days of the week.
Even when I have a million other things on my list, I choose to pick up the weights again.
Here’s 3 benefits of weight training for moms:
1. Weight lifting actually burns MORE calories than cardio.
Your muscles continue to burn off calories, even after you put the weights down. Now, I am actually against all dieting and counting calories, but I do know that science is accurate when it comes to being in calorie excess or calorie deficits. As I’m not trying to lose (or gain) weight, I strive for a balance.
2. Daily life is easier
When we go on our neighborhood walks, typically I have my baby in a carrier in front of me and am pushing the toddler in her stroller. We’ll walk for miles some days, up hills, and they need me to be strong enough to do that. Also, have you ever tried lifting a 25 pound stroller into and out of the back of an SUV? It’s no easy task!
3. It helps me sleep better.
On days when I lift weights–I always have no trouble falling (and staying) asleep, which is quite different from the days when I don’t.
Why I choose to add weight lifting into my busy mom routine
My kids are actually most of my “why.”
Of course, I should still be working towards maintaining lower body strength to support my knees, but throughout my days of taking care of two little ones, it’s much easier to remind myself that THEY need me to be strong.
When we go for our weekend hikes, my husband puts one kid on his back in a carrier, and I put the other one on mine. Our 6-month-old is already over 20 lbs, so that’s no small sack of potatoes to heave up the mountainside!
Soon enough, we’ll have little ones who want to play soccer, basketball, or maybe just go for a run, and I never want to have to tell them that Mama can’t do this or that because I’m not physically fit.
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Setting a good example for your child (Monkey See, Monkey Do)
Just like how I have the added motivation to eat ALL the broccoli on my plate when I know my toddler is watching whatever she sees Mama do, I know that it’s equally important to be modeling what it means like to exercise in a healthy way.
It will be hard to begin. It will be even more difficult to continue, especially when you feel like you’re not seeing any results. Take a moment to really think about that. If you stay consistent for four entire weeks in a row, doing four workouts, something is bound to change.
It might not be the scale. It might not be the extra fluff on your tummy.
It might be something even better. It could be that your mind is starting to form a habit that will continue for the rest of your life. Your mind might be developing more perseverance to use in the next challenge that life throws at you.
Your heart might be putting more of your self-worth into things that actually make you worthy: the joy you bring to relationships, your generous spirit, and your integrity in staying true to yourself, instead of measuring your self-worth by your outward appearance.
I don’t lift weights so that I can have flat abs or look like some bikini model. I do it to show myself I can do hard things–and so that when my kids get older, they’ll believe that they can too!
Do you plan on lifting weights while pregnant? Share your thoughts below in a comment!
My name is Alison, and before becoming “Mama,” to my two under two, I taught high school English. I love coffee, reading, and pretty much anything that brings me outdoors. I write about living a life unbalanced at Unbalanced Women because I know not one person who is balancing it all like we’re told we ought to be. Articles range from everything you need to do once that pregnancy stick shows a positive sign to ideas to help your toddler engage in independent play so that you can take a minute in the morning and drink your coffee, while it’s still hot!