July 30, 2016

Exercise 101: Cardio, Strength, and Flexibility

Exercise

Exercise? I thought you said extra fries!

So, we had our anatomy scan on Monday. That’s the one where they take measurements, confirm the baby’s gender, and identify any health concerns.

I’m happy to report that it went GREAT! Our sweet baby boy (did I mention that we’re having a boy?!) is as healthy as can be. He weighs 11 ounces, is the size of a large mango, and has an “excellent” heart beat!

Mama, on the other hand… well, she’s doing great, too.

But… she’s gained 7 pounds in the last 4 weeks. (And ideally, she should be gaining about 1 pound per week after the first trimester.)

Insert long sigh here.

Well guys, I am struggling to find motivation. I went from an active lifestyle and healthy diet to minimal activity and the mentality that “I’m pregnant, so I can eat what I want.”

That’s about to change, though. Because now I admitted it to you. So basically, I have hundreds of accountability buddies to keep me on my toes.

I’m taking it back to basics.  This is a great place to start if you’ve fallen out of your routine, as well. 

 

Step 1:  Find Motivation

Aside from my post-natal fear of having to lose 60+ pounds, there are many mental and physical benefits to exercise. Not only can you lose weight, but you can look forward to

  • Enhanced energy
  • Better sleep at night
  • Improved mood
  • Reduced stress
  • Relieved symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Strengthened heart and lungs
  • Improved bone density and flexibility, preventing injury

The hardest part of exercise is getting started. Once you’ve started, you’re already halfway there. Here are some tips for staying motivated:

  • Set a realistic and measurable goal, and promise yourself a reward (not related to food) when you achieve it
  • Remind yourself why you want to get active
  • Think about how much more energy you will have after getting active
  • Remember a time when you felt at your peak health

 

Step 2:  Get Active

Your weekly goals should include strength, cardiovascular health, and flexibility. These are the building blocks of exercise.

Strength

Strength training includes weight lifting, machines, resistance bands, or body weight exercises. It is vital for strengthening your muscles and bones, and also important for weight loss.

The more lean muscle you build, the more calories you burn at rest.

  • Strength training can be done 2-3 times per week.
  • Focus on large muscle groups like lower body (hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes), back, chest, arms (biceps and triceps), shoulders, and abs.
  • Depending on your fitness level, complete 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise, resting 1 minute between sets.

Cardio

Cardiovascular exercises improve your heart health and can also aid in weight loss. These exercises include running, swimming, fast-paced walking, cycling, dancing, aerobics, and more.

  • For beginners, moderate cardio exercises can be done 30 minutes up to 5 times a week.
  • If you’re more advanced, you may want to try HIIT cardio exercises for 20 minutes 3 times a week.

Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the most overlooked pillars of exercise. However, it is one of the most important. Improved flexibility can prevent injury and allow us to relax and reduce stress.

Stretching should be done while warm, either after a short warmup or at the end of a workout. It shouldn’t hurt, so make sure to relax the body part being stretched and let it go further on its own.

  • Dynamic Stretching is ideal for warming up to prepare the joints for movement and impact. This can include inchworms, side lunges, forward lunges, karaokes, leg swings, high jump skipping, etc.
  • Static Stretching (or holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds) will increase flexibility in the muscle tissue when done immediately after a workout.
  • Yoga and pilates are great ways to improve your flexibility while improving your endurance and strength.

 

Step 3:  Set a Plan

Before I jump into the plan, remember that you need to incorporate RECOVERY into your exercise routine. Recovery is essential to allow your muscles and body to repair.

Setting up a game will be up to you! Remember to mix it up and find something that you enjoy. You want to keep it fresh, never letting your body get used to the same routine.

 

Below is my fitness plan, for reference:

Monday – Cycle or Weight Training

Tuesday – Prenatal Yoga

Wednesday – Yoga Roots or Barre Fusion

Thursday – Rest Day or Yoga Yin

Friday – Water Aerobics or Weight Training

Saturday – Yoga Roots or Restorative Yoga

Sunday – Rest Day or Yoga Yin

 

I hope you have found these tips helpful!  If you’re starting a new exercise routine and need extra accountability, let me know. I’d be happy to cheer you on!

Until next time,

Raquel

Image Source: http://www.sundarayogatherapy.com/treat-anxietyexercise/

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