Food Aversions During Pregnancy
Well, the secret is out! I’m expecting a baby this December and am thrilled to share the journey with you! It is the first baby for my husband Alex and I, and I am honored to be documenting the experience with you. You can keep coming back here for the rest of the year (and more, I’m sure!) to find all of my informative articles on the key things going on in my fit pregnancy and how I am approaching my training, nutrition and supplements—along with everything else I’m learning along the way.
I’m already 22 weeks (two weeks past the halfway mark) – so let’s get caught up!
The First Trimester
Not much to report here. I didn’t discover I was pregnant until 6 weeks in, but it seems like as soon as we found out it was like – BAM – and the “morning sickness” kicked in. I put “morning sickness” in quotes because that term – for me – is a complete and utter deception! I was nauseous from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning until I tried to fall asleep at night.
With this nausea, came major food aversions to what seemed like pretty much everything and a serious lack of motivation and energy to get to the gym. I really struggled with this since I went from a protein junkie eating planned and pre-prepared meals every three hours, intense weight room workouts 5-6 days per week and 1-2 photo shoots and fitness events per month to a sick and exhausted couch potato. Mmmm…potato chips sounded good!
My Instantaneous Tendencies
It doesn’t help that you don’t see your doctor until eight weeks, so I had absolutely no clue what I was supposed to be or not be doing for the next three weeks (besides what I could find on the internet). My only inclination was to stop taking ALL supplements: the obvious ones like NLA for Her Uplift pre-workout and my creatine, along with the questionable ones like NLA for Her protein powder, branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) and fish oils. I was only taking a prenatal (which I was horribly sick from – I’ll explain later). I even cut out coffee cold turkey. Talk about miserable!! No wonder I couldn’t get the energy for a workout. I have depended on pre-workout and coffee for the past five years! Plus, I was worried that my workouts weren’t good for the baby.
Luckily, our doctor is 100% on board with me still working out as I was, getting back to my protein powder, fish oils (so important!) and allowing 1 cup of coffee per day. Yay!!
My Training So Far
You can always count on me to be completely honest with you about my fit pregnancy experience. So, there is no way I am going to lie and tell you my workouts have been awesome, and I’ve been training 5-6 days per week. The truth is, I’m tired. Really, really tired. During the first trimester, I would go to the gym (getting up and going there was and still is the hardest part!) and do my best. My strength was pretty much non-existent, but I tried. During pregnancy, a woman’s body produces a hormone named Relaxin, which, in preparation for childbirth, relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis and softens and widens the cervix. Unfortunately, this hormone does not target just the pelvis – it relaxes the ligaments throughout our entire body, forcing us to be VERY careful when lifting moderate to heavy and deep stretching.
I can definitely feel the weakening of my ligaments, especially in my knees – they feel weak and hurt a bit during squats. My yoga practice is still strong, but I can’t push as hard in the postures or go as deep in the stretches. I still love hot yoga occasionally, but I am careful not to overheat (I’ve stepped outside a few times to cool off and always go early to grab the spot by the door, window or fan) or overstretch.
I’m actually enjoying the caution I’ve had to take during lifting. I’ve always been a crusader for perfect FORM over how heavy you can lift (hence, the title of my column), so dropping the weight and spending each workout perfecting my form to the fullest has been really enjoyable.
It is really nice to have a break from muscle gaining to focus on maintaining the muscle I have and working on form. I’ve been lifting about three times per week and doing yoga also three times per week. I did more steady-state cardio during the first trimester (before I saw my doctor, when I was worried about lifting) but now focus on the weight room and stretching.
My Nutrition So Far
I’ll begin by saying that in November of 2013, I started working with a nutritionist for the first time in my professional career. From when I first started training for competitions in 2009 until then (a little over 4 years), I had done all of my nutrition on my own – and am very competent when it comes to my own body and how to “diet” in a healthy, fed and happy way. But I wanted to try a nutritionist (and needed one that allows me to choose my own foods and use my expertise) so I went with the very best and hired Dr. Layne Norton (he’s amazing). As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I let him know we’d be taking a break from working together. He immediately responded that NOW is the best time ever to continue working together.
Until then, I always had him keep my macronutrients set so that I stayed in photo shoot shape year-round. Being pregnant, he could now adjust everything to allow me to “reverse diet” out of photo shoot shape, adding calories ,carbohydrates and fats (I always kept protein high so that would stay where it was) along the way, feeding me, my baby and my metabolism. This will set me up perfectly for getting back into shape the right way after the baby is born. I’ve written several articles and blogs on this topic—if you start your diet already in a calorie deficit, you will end up damaging your metabolism and depriving your body. Where do you end up if you start a 10-week diet only eating 1300 calories per day? At 800 calories per day plus cardio? AWFUL. But if you start a 10-week diet eating 2800 calories per day, you end up photo shoot or stage ready at 2300 calories per day. AWESOME!
What About All Those Food Aversions?
Let me tell you…it is HARD to get your protein requirements in when all meat sounds horrible. And when only carbs and fats sound good, it’s hard not to blow past your daily goals for each of those. Besides the 100 frozen chicken burritos I ate in the first trimester just to get by (now I can’t stand the sight of them), HERE is a list of some of my favorite pregnancy foods that are daily staples for me – all focused on protein, carbs, fats and fiber.
And, I have decided to cut myself some slack and not worry about keeping my sugar super low (in photo shoot prep, my goal was always under 15g per day). I try to track all of my food daily, as I see no reason to let go of the awesome habits I’ve developed over the years. I plan to track my macros throughout my pregnancy so that getting back in shape is that much easier – cutting myself some slack here and there for restaurant meals and yummy desserts. I’m pregnant! And loving the process.
• Greek yogurt
• NLA for Her – Her Whey
• Eggs (whole eggs & pasturized liquid egg whites for shakes, etc.)
• Really finely chopped or shredded chicken or turkey mixed into a meal (taco, burrito, bowl, etc)
• Cottage cheese
• Brown rice
• Sweet Potato/Yam
• Whole wheat bread
• Cream of Wheat
• Whole wheat pasta
• Udon noodles
• Whole grain tortillas
• Udi’s Simple Granola
• Van’s gluten free blueberry frozen waffles
• Half & Half (#1 craving – I could pour a glass and drink it…and, no, I haven’t done that. Yet.)
• Peanut, almond, coconut butters
• Cheese, cheese and more cheese (I try to stick to Parmesan and Mozzerella)
Not many sound good – 22 weeks in I still cannot sit down to a plate of vegetables that I’ve cooked on my own (having them served to me is a different story…so weird!). So, I have a Power Juicer and Vita-Mix permanently on my kitchen counter for juicing. Here’s a list of my stocked vegetables (I add fruits, liquid egg whites and sometimes protein powder to my juice):
• Mixed berries
Focus on fiber
A lot of these things are in the categories above, but I wanted to call them out here as being very high in fiber and great choices!
• Chia seed
• Flax seed
• Wheat bran
• Green vegetables
• All-Bran cereal
• Bran Buds cereal
• Black beans
• Brown Rice
• Sweet Potato
My miscellaneous favorites
• Raw agave nectar
• Dried banana chips
• Justin’s peanut butter cups
• Almond Dream chocolate ice cream
• Stacy’s Simply Naked pita chips
• Pickles (so cliché!)