Friday, April 8, 2016

Exercising While Pregnant! The NEW Journey of Fitness for a Pro Triathlete!

Some people describe pregnancy as a blissful time of wonderment and joy.  For some, the anticipation of what’s to come, combined with the weekly milestones and ultrasound pictures make it an experience to be savored.  Others, riddled with joyous wonders like morning sickness, constipation and fatigue start counting down the days until their little one arrives from the moment they saw those two lines indicating “this is it!”  I probably fall somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios.  While I was lucky enough to only experience a week of the dreaded “morning sickness,” I definitely experienced the fatigue during that first trimester that made it hard not to spontaneously nap in the middle of the day.  Now, over the halfway mark (yeah! 23 weeks!), the second trimester is treating me well and I’ve got my energy back.  I couldn’t be more thankful to feel a little more like myself.  
The days of 26 hours a week of swimming, biking, running and strength training seem like a lifetime ago.  However, I have to admit, only spending about one hour a day “exercising” like a normal person has its appeal as well!  For the first time in about ten years, I don’t wait for the workout to appear in my email instructing me on what heart rate, pace or duration I’ll be doing on my run today or what wattage (power) goal I’ll be shooting for on my long ride.
While I try to alternate days so I’m not doing any one type of activity too often, I get up and listen to what my body and mind feel like doing for workouts and that guides me toward the next steps.  The preparation for these shorter days is virtually nonexistent, unlike my former life of gathering clothes for multiple sports per day or filling water bottles, packing gels and bars and planning recovery fuels for after the workout.  Right now, the schedule looks a bit like the following:

Monday: Run 40 mins – 1 hour (heart rate 140 or less)
Tuesday: Bike 1 hour indoors (heart rate 140 or less)
Wednesday: Swim 2500 yards (approximately 50 minutes) and strength train 30 minutes
Thursday: Run (or elliptical machine) 40 mins – 1 hour
Friday: Bike 1 hour indoors or swim 2500 yards and strength training 30 minutes
Saturday: Bike or run 45 mins to 1 hour
Sunday: rest up!

Just to give you a comparison, my workouts previously were usually heart rates of 145-160 most days, so the heart rate of 140 is a considerably lower number for me and this new life I’m growing!  In the weight room, I’m using the machines primarily (i.e. leg extension, hamstring curl, seated rows, lat pull down, squat simulation) and a few light free weights (10-15 lbs.) to do shoulder press, lunges and bicep curls.  I’m starting to get a few stares while I lift (they are probably thinking “has she just been eating too many burgers or is she pregnant”??), but I don’t mind.  I’ve spent my life as an athlete learning how to listen to my body and the signals it’s providing.  If I don’t feel comfortable at any point, I adjust, modify or simply stop what I’m doing.  

The health of this baby is the number one priority, but I feel great knowing what I’m doing is keeping both of us healthy (and sane while I tackle grad school, coach, teach a college class and do a number of national speaking engagements).  It’s been an adjustment at times not to have the mental outlet to go really “feel the burn” during a tough workout on the bike or hang my head exhausted after a run, but it’s just not the time for those types of workouts.  
Instead, I’m finding other ways to get that same “runners high” and am learning a lot about myself.  I’m feeling the mental and physical shift in priorities toward the new most important thing in our lives!  I miss triathlon, but I’m living vicariously through my athletes and I still follow all of my other friends who are competing.  I love cheering them on from the sidelines. 

A few of the joys that no one told me about during this time (for your laughing pleasure):
  •      My thighs rubbing together while I run and chaffing!  So fun!
  •           Buying new sports bras because I’m more well-endowed than I’ve ever been in my life!
  •          Having to pee pretty much all of the time, ESPECIALLY on my runs where I may have been known to find a secluded bush or tree along the way to water
  •           People staring (I mentioned this above), “is she pregnant”?
  •           Slowing down while!  I am now running almost two to three minutes slower than I was previously!  I also now have to use paddles to keep up with my friend Lauren in the pool!

All in all, it’s been an interesting process that I’m somewhat enjoying.  While I miss hard workouts, sushi, tuna, soft cheeses and wine, I know the payoff will be absolutely worth it on July 30th!  It’s a huge blessing to have this opportunity to become a parent and I don’t take it lightly.  Kyle and I are very excited to join the club.  I can’t wait to meet our little one (even though we are definitely not prepared with our baby gear and nursery at this point!). 

Stay tuned for more exciting times in the life of a first-time pregnant triathlete and make sure you follow Ultragrain on Facebook for more videos, blogs and fun to come!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New You in the New Year! Top Eight Ways to Nourish Your Work / Life Balance

A version article was most recently published in "Fitness Trainer," and I am sharing it below!  I hope it provides you with some value information as you journey into the New Year!

By Kim Schwabenbauer, RD, LDN, CSSD

The thought of creating all-encompassing New Year’s resolutions can be overwhelming.  We all want to continue to evolve into the best possible versions of ourselves by removing “not so good for us” habits and replacing them with ones to enhance our work, life and health.  Instead of just throwing out the old “I’m going to eat better in the New Year,” why not really take the time to make it personal to you and dial it down to specific steps that will set you up for success when the New Year arrives.  Below are my top eight ways to nourish your work-life balance! 

1.       Get a routine physical. Many of us neglect this important health checkup that impacts both our work and our personal lives.  Starting the new year knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as other key nutritional variables, are within normal ranges can help prevent a whole host of other issues down the road.  Make the appointment and resolve to keep it for your future health. 
2.       Master your scheduling practices.  Plenty of us live and die by the schedule.  Those that seem to master it have less stress and worry because of the ability prepare in advance.  Whether it’s a trusty written planner or new productivity app, ask yourself what areas you aren’t managing well, and put procedures in place to address them.  When your child’s soccer schedule is up and the annual business meeting is scheduled, put them in right away and put a reminder a week out to prepare for both.   You’ll have more time to do the things you want to do, if you manage the things you have to do, well.

3.       Set realistic goals.  Many of us would welcome losing 20 pounds, saving 20k this year and finally working out six days per week.  However, some of these goals may not be realistic considering our lifestyle and other responsibilities in the short term.  Make sure the goals you set are achievable and set you up for smaller successes along the way vs. pipe dreams that only lead to frustration.  Make your goals specific actionable steps that have a time line for completion.  Rank them in order of priority to you and your work and personal life.  Every month, review your goal sheet.  If it’s not important to you anymore, take it off the list.  This can help you stay on course to keep redefining what’s important on your schedule and what should be removed.

4.       Just say no.  It’s tempting to say yes to everything because we all want to please others and do our part.  However, protecting your “me time" both on a work and personal level is your way to refresh your mind and body so that you CAN perform in both areas.  If you’re having trouble, pull out the master planning schedule and put your “me” time on there.  It could be a workout, a facial, or a massage.  Whatever it is, don’t feel guilty about it if it’s helping you achieve your other goals of being productive in your everyday life.

5.       Commit to New Travel Routines to Help You Stay Healthy.  At home, it’s easier to be in our comfort zone and plan nutritious wholesome meals or include our daily workout.  When we travel, those habits often go by the wayside. Something as simple as a grocery store run to stock up on tuna packets, dried fruit, nuts, shelf stable chocolate milk, and other traveling staples could make the difference between eating out for three days straight vs. feeling you have control over your eating choices. 

6.       Learn something new.  Learning a new skill or delving into a new area will enhance what you’re currently doing and improve your future success.  Adding a new dimension to your life is a good way to enhance your work-life balance.  Have you been meaning to get that additional certification, go back to school, and learn how to coach your child’s team?  Think about what areas would really improve your current work or personal life and commit to learning a new skill. 

7.       Rethink your responsibilities.  There are responsibilities that we have to do, and there are those we don’t.   If cleaning your house and doing all the grocery shopping is just too much during certain times of the year, hire out or get a delivery service.  Time is money and time saved is sanity saved.  If you need help, don’t be afraid to get it.   You may just require outside assistance for a short stressful period that will allow you to focus on the work or life priorities that are truly important. 

8.       Get enough sleep.  This should actually be closer to the first thing on the list because so few people are doing it and yet it can be a game-changer in all areas of life.  Lack of sleep increases stress, feelings of helplessness, depression and undermines our immune system.  If you want to tackle the day feeling positive and ready to handle life’s challenges, get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night.  If you get 8 to 9, you’ll feel like you are simply indestructible, which carries over to both work life and personal life.  

Remember, creating better work-life balance is a work in progress.  It may seem tempting to take it all on at once with your New Year’s Resolutions, but by picking a few helpful strategies, you can continue to improve this process as your family, interests and work life change.  Keep examining your priorities and adjusting the targets as necessary to have a healthier, happier you in the New Year!