Like Lea-Ann Ellison and me, Katherine Martinko (@feistyredhair), is making waves with her blog post, “Pregnancy should not be an excuse to stop exercising.” That was my point exactly and the reason I started CrossFitandpregnant. It’s thrilling to see other women continuing to remain active and healthy during their pregnancy. And it’s awesome to connect to other bloggers – especially when sharing a similar message!
Little did I know, Katherine actually found me first. She was traveling in Brazil with her family and while visiting a local box in Recife, a large city in northeastern Brazil, she was shown a clip of my news coverage last year.
“There, it’s a really different culture surrounding pregnancy in Brazil; most pregnant women are treated as if they’re extremely delicate and sick, so people were shocked to see me being active, let alone training at a box,” Katherine shared. “One day after the WOD, one of the girl showed me a video clip she’d found online of Meghan. It was the only other example of a pregnant CrossFitter that she’d ever seen. She found it shocking, but I found it wonderfully inspiring. It led me to write a post for TreeHugger about working out while pregnant, in which I linked to an article about Meghan, and then she found me.”
Katherine, a Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada resident, is currently pregnant with her third, due in April. Katherine didn’t CrossFit during her first two pregnancies. She was an active biker with her first son, now five, and didn’t do much of anything during her second (another son, now three).
Wanting to get into shape after baby two, Katherine tried CrossFit. Her husband, Jason, made her stick with it for 90 days, but it didn’t take that long to get her hooked. “Jason is hugely supportive and encouraging. He’s been doing CrossFit for 6+ years and was the one who got me started on it after the birth of my second son, when I needed to get active again. He works as a coach part-time at our box, EAG CrossFit in Port Elgin.”
Like most of us, Katherine has struggled to slow down and listen to her body. But she’s relishing the strength in the hormones. She recently hit a deadlift PR of 200# by three. Awesome work!
“I’m not a competitive CrossFitter by any means,” Katherine says. “I’m nowhere near as good as some of the girls at my gym. I’m just a normal mom who goes two or three times a week in order to stay in shape. Working out during pregnancy is just a continuation of the lifestyle I had already established.”
She’s also packed on the pounds like I did. “A number of women cite not gaining as much pregnancy weight thanks to CF, which I found so interesting, because I’m heavier than I’ve ever been,” Katherine said. “With my first pregnancy I gained 25 pounds, second was 30 pounds, and now I’m well on my way to 40 pounds, despite being WAY more active. At the same time, I feel fabulous, even though I weigh almost 190 pounds. I wonder if it’s because I’m building a lot more muscle, thanks to those crazy pregnancy hormones?!”
Still looks fabulous to me. You inspire us, Katherine. Keep up the great work, momma!
More from Katherine, in her own words:
My goal in CrossFitting while pregnant is: to keep going for as long as it feels great. I’m not trying to get any crazy PRs, although when I hit a three rep max deadlift at 200#! I’m also eager to see how the birth differs from the first two, if my increased strength and level of fitness will make a big difference.
CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find support? My husband is my biggest supporter. Since our box is new and relatively small, I’m the first pregnant member, so nobody really knows what to do with me. I do feel like I’m forging my own path, which can be daunting, and I often rely on my husband’s encouragement to assure me I’m not insane to be doing this.
I struggle with the societal double standard that exists, where pregnant women are told to stay active, but at the same time pregnant women like me who go above and beyond the standard “gentle yoga and walking” are criticized or, at the very least, challenged. I often hear, “Are you sure? Should I be worried? Are you crazy? etc.” I wish more people would respect my instinct to protect my baby and to listen to my body.
CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find inspiration? Meghan’s website and that first video I saw in Brazil have been inspiring, as is CrossFitMom.com, just because I need to know that other pregnant women are doing this, too. I’ve checked out a few of the CF forums to read other people’s opinions, and watched some YouTube videos of pregnant WODs. Mostly, though, I just keep going because I want to prove it can be done. I disagree with the assumption that pregnant women should let their bodies go completely. This is the most important time of my life to be healthy, and I do it for my baby.
Since doing CrossFit while pregnant, I’ve learned: I have to slow down! My mental game doesn’t always match where my body’s at right now. Some things I can do better (like that deadlift), but I have to be careful with the metcons; I watch my breath and heart rate. Forcing myself to take breathers and slow my heart rate is frustrating but necessary.
I’ve also learned it’s possible! I’m in my third trimester, and it’s going wonderfully. I guess you could say that I am out to prove something – that pregnant women have a responsibility to themselves and to their babies to stay in shape, and that pregnancy is not an excuse to sit on the couch for nine months and gorge on junk food (which horrifies me every time I hear about it, which is often).
Biggest CrossFit and pregnant challenge I’ve faced: The first three months were tough because I felt nauseous and exhausted, so I pretty much quit completely. Getting back to it in the fourth month was hard, and then I went travelling for almost three months in Brazil with my family. That meant having to do WODs in foreign gyms at suffocatingly hot temperatures (35 degrees Celsius) every day. I’m from Ontario, where it rarely gets that hot, so I’m not used to working out in heat.
Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle? No, but I love to cook and make everything from scratch. I source almost everything we eat locally, from a year-round vegetable and grain CSA program and the local butcher shop. It’s a clean and green diet!
Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered: Sometimes those crazy pregnancy hormones can turn the most seemingly impossible lift into reality!
What have you found most valuable about CrossFit while pregnant?: It has made my pregnancy feel easy. Although I’ve already had two great pregnancies with no complications, this time I hardly even feel pregnant. My body is strong; I don’t have aches and pains, swelling or bloating; and I feel much more energetic.
Modifications you’d like to share with others: Doing burpees and pushups off a box has been helpful. I’m careful not to do anything that makes me doubtful, i.e. I quit GHDs entirely at the beginning and HSPU. I use a band for pull-ups, just to be safe and not pull my abs too much. I don’t stress too much about not squatting below 90 degrees for things like wallballs, although I usually stick a box under my butt when doing thrusters or front squats, since there’s added weight.
Lessons learned: People will be SHOCKED – and won’t be afraid to say it, which is annoying. But some others will be thoroughly impressed, and those compliments always make it worthwhile. The greatest thing I heard the other week from a guy who just joined our gym was, “You are a tank! You killed that WOD!” I never thought I’d love those words so much!
If you could do it all again, you would: Do it all over again, without a doubt, and encourage other women to do it, too. To not be scared of being active.
Favorite quote: From author Michael Crichton: “Work inspires inspiration. Keep working. If you succeed, keep working. If you fail, keep working. If you are interested, keep working. If you are bored, keep working.”
Favorite girl WOD: Anything with double unders, bring it on J
Three words that describe me: Passionate, driven, creative
When I’m not in the box, you can find me: At home with my kids, where I love cooking and reading. Travelling, or dreaming about travelling. I also work from home; I’m a writer for TreeHugger, an environmental news blog, and write daily columns for the Living section.