Staying Fit and Eating Healthy During Pregnancy

During the first trimester, staying fit and eating healthy can be a real challenge due to all of the hormonal changes occurring in your body.  Two of the biggest challenges can be morning sickness and food aversions. Both of which make you want to just lay on the couch and watch trashy TV rather than focus on getting outside for a walk or a run or eat those nice big salads that you once did.  However, did you know that actually making an effort to workout can combat fatigue and morning sickness? I wish someone had told me this during my first trimester! I went from training for a half marathon to the couch full time before finally convincing myself that I needed to make an effort to be somewhat active again. Not only is it good for me but it’s good for this growing baby inside of me.  It took me until the later stages of my first trimester (around week 10) to really start to get back to being active. But when I did, I noticed how much better I felt.  My morning (all day) sickness was nowhere near as extreme which made me more interested in foods that I had been avoiding due to nausea. When it comes to eating don’t get too hung up in the first trimester, make sure to eat as many whole foods as you can and any fruits and vegetables that you can palate.

Once the second trimester rolls around you will probably notice a change for the better in how you are feeling (unless of course you were one of those lucky people who didn’t have any/minimal morning sickness and food aversions in the first trimester, then you might just notice that you have more energy). The second trimester is really the perfect time to get yourself on track with your fitness and diet to make sure that you have the healthiest, happiest pregnancy possible. As I mentioned, you will have more energy and food aversions should subside or at least become more manageable.

With the return of energy, start to make time in your day to focus on staying fit.  You may notice that your favorite fitness activities just don’t feel as comfortable to you now so look at trying something new (before starting any new activities or workout plans be sure to consult your prenatal care provider). I was a runner before my pregnancy and I had hoped to be a pregnant runner but my morning sickness hit me hard in my first trimester and being pregnant in the winter in the northeast  didn’t make it very conducive to getting outside for runs.  I decided to focus on trying something new; I picked up a few different prenatal workout DVD’s, joined a prenatal yoga class and when the weather was nice made an effort to get outside for walks. Over time I went from 1-2 workouts per week in my first trimester to 3-4 in the first half of my second trimester to 5-6 workouts per week in the second half of my second trimester and throughout my third trimester.

The third trimester can start of with you feeling pretty well but you may find yourself more tired, more achey and back to experiencing some food aversions.  However, if you have created a consistent workout routine already you will notice how much it helps to combat these things and how much better you feel at the end of the day.  As the trimester progresses and the baby drops workouts may become more challenging but all that means is you need to slow down and make any necessary changes to your workouts so that you don’t overdo it.  Here are my tips for staying fit and eating healthy during your pregnancy:

Take it outside

Make time in your schedule to get outside and workout wherever possible! One of the easiest things you can do is get outside and go for a walk.  This is a great time to take in some fresh air, a little Vitamin D and connect with nature.  I suggest you bring your partner along with you because it’s the perfect time to walk, talk and connect.  Some of the best conversations my husband and I have are on our daily/nightly walks (we even chose our baby name choices during these walks!). One of my other favorite things to do now that it is summer is going to the outdoor pool or down to the lake for a swim. Swimming is amazing and such a nice low impact activity to do when you are pregnant.

Don’t Stop

Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stop going to your favorite workout class or stop doing other activities. Talk with your instructor and explain that you are pregnant and they will help you to make the appropriate adjustments to your workout so that you can safely participate.  I know many women who have kept up with cross fit, body pump and spinning during their entire pregnancy.

Take time to stretch

Whether this means you start participating in a yoga class or invest in a prenatal yoga DVD or just spend 10-15 minutes per day, gentle stretching is very important to do during pregnancy. Not sure what kind of stretches to do? Talk with your prenatal care provider and they can provide you with a list of stretches that are great during pregnancy.


Eat whole foods

During pregnancy you are not only nourishing your body but also your growing baby.  Make sure to avoid alcohol and limit caffeine, processed sugars and other processed foods as well as any other pregnancy no-no foods such as deli meats, soft unpasteurized cheeses, and organ meats (your prenatal care provider should provide you with a full list of these items).  Focus on eating whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables as much as possible and remember to take a prenatal vitamin.  However, don’t over stress about every little thing you put in your mouth especially in the first trimester when the only thing that appeals to you are mashed potatoes.

[photo credit: 1. author; 2. the mama circle]

Lindsay Ingalls

Lindsay Ingalls, a certified holistic health coach and new mom, began writing in 2006. She has been featured on Living Harvest, Meatless Monday and other online publications. To learn more about Lindsay visit her family and her personal blog at


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July 2, 2012