How My Non-Committal Approach to Exercise Turned Out to be the Key to Success

I love to eat. Deep dish pizza, buttery croissants, super premium, full-fat ice cream. I want and love it all.

“But how do you stay skinny, Bahar?” I have been asked time and time again. The truth is, it’s a mix of good genes (for now!) plus a commitment to exercising five to six times a week.

When I found out that I was pregnant, I was confident that I would be able to maintain but modify my typical workout routine throughout the 10 months (yes, it’s a 10 month long journey—tricky!) After all, experts say that if you were an avid exerciser before baby, you should remain active throughout your pregnancy because movement is good for you and your little one. But modification is key. This is good news for those of you, who like me, kinda hate doing certain exercises, like, say, abdominal work. Ughhhh. I know I need to make my core strong to maintain good posture and keep back pain at bay, but ab exercises suck so much! So back in the day, I would reluctantly do crunches and sit-ups out of necessity. But not any more! Turns out, after a certain point in your pregnancy, you’re not supposed to do any ab work or even be on your back. Yes!

Truth be told, being pregnant is tiring and the first trimester completely crushed my normal energy levels. Thankfully, I didn’t have terrible morning sickness, but suddenly, the early riser in me (yes, the same chick who spent the past five or so years waking up at 6:00 a.m. to head to the gym) wanted to stay curled up in bed. And when I did finally get out of my PJ’s, I’d often start the day with a big breakfast (eggs, toast, and fresh orange juice on repeat!) instead of going on a long run or attempting a blood-pumping circuit. I didn’t beat myself up over it though and promised myself to make some time for some fitness every single day.

Instead of hitting the gym at the crack of dawn, I decided to go to the gym after lunch and let me tell you, it was hard. Most days, I’d eat lunch and plop myself on the couch shortly thereafter. I. Was. Exhausted. Everyone kept telling me to rest and take it easy. Many suggested cat naps, but I just couldn’t do it. It’s so hard for me to shut my brain off and when I do have success falling asleep midday, I find that I wake up grumpy and groggy. So instead of setting the alarm and dozing off for a siesta, I would throw on a workout top and some capris and (reluctantly) head to the gym. Once I started moving, I almost always felt better.

I am an over-achiever, so during the first trimester, I stuck to my typical non-preggo workout flow: 50 minutes of cardio one day,  40 minutes of strength training the next. After all, my belly was small and allowed me to move with ease. But more importantly, I discovered that if I could commit to running for as little as 5 minutes (because let’s be honest, that’s all I really wanted to do) I would inevitably get the energy and motivation to actually complete a 30-minute run. And on those days (AKA: every day) when doing triceps dips and air squats was the last thing I wanted to do, I would push myself to do just one set of 10, which would inevitably turn into 3 or more sets of 10. I always felt more more energized and vindicated afterwards. I will admit: I was pretty damn proud of myself for being able to break a sweat for 50 minutes with a growing baby in my belly. That stamina and ability to move easily would change during my second trimester, but more on that later…

So my advice to all the preggo (and non-preggo) ladies out there is this: Even when your energy or motivation levels are low, try changing the course of your day by going for a brisk walk, bopping around on the elliptical for 10 minutes, or doing an easy lunge or two. As long as you stay hydrated and don’t overexert yourself, you will feel more awake, energized, and confident afterwards. Plus, you may even discover that you have the will to extend the duration of your workout for much longer than you ever expected. After time, you may even find yourself achieving greater personal milestones and working towards bigger and better goals.

P.S.: These stretchy Lululemon high-waisted leggings are everything even though they’re annoyingly expensive. If you know of some other great athleisure lines that accommodate growing bellies, please leave a comment and let me know! 🙂

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