Athlete Profile | Jenni Stockwell Woelke

So, this profile is super special for me to write. Within the last year, I learned one of my high school friends was also CrossFitting during her second pregnancy. Hard to believe, but I’ve known her for 20 years!! She’s been a rock star during her pregnancy and being consistent in the gym. I’m so proud of her!

Meet Jenni Stockwell Woelke.

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Husband to fellow CrossFitter Steve Woelke.

Momma to Duncan (4), and the newest Woelke, the gorgeous Delaney, who entered this world June 22.

Member at CrossFit Barbell Battalion.

Tennessean. Ohio State Buckeyes fan. Nurse.

Jenni started CrossFit just after Duncan turned one and she and her husband have gone full-force, participating in competitions and making their health a priority with very busy schedules to balance. I’ve so enjoyed watching her CrossFit experience unfold, especially during her pregnancy and I love that she is willing to share her story.

Jenni’s story:

Steve & Jenni

Steve & Jenni

What does your spouse/partner think of you CrossFitting during pregnancy? Steve and I CrossFit together, we competed right before conceived so he is very supportive of my goal to stay active all the way through. Of course he makes sure to remind me to be careful and modify movements and pace, he knows I can be stubborn.

Why I started CrossFit: To try a different style of fitness. We had been running and doing hot yoga, but wanted to do weight training without the expense of personal trainers. They started a ‘functional fitness’ with our Gold’s membership that was included and we loved it right away! That is how we came to train under Alex O’Bryan, our CFBB head coach, before he branched out and started his own affiliate.

Other exercise practices: Does keeping up with my four-year-old boy count? {YES!} I still run, but not as frequently or as much distance, and I love yoga.

Big lift!

Big lift!

My goal in CrossFitting while pregnant is: To attend classes three times per week, which with our schedules is a reasonable goal. After setting that initial goal, I added on to participate in The Open, scaled and modified, of course.

What exercise advice did your doctor provide you? Did you follow it? She said just listen to my body, I will know what to avoid by how I feel.

Bump buddies

Bump buddies

CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find support? It is great to get feedback from the other members of our box and social media friends and family. I really don’t feel like what I am doing is that awesome since I feel slower and more sore than usual, but I am fulfilled to know I am making a healthy choice to be active while pregnant. When people tell me they are in awe of what I’m doing or inspired by it, I just tell them that is why I love CrossFit; everything can be scaled and modified to where you are at on that day with your body and abilities, just show up and do the work!

CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find inspiration? Other awesome CrossFit pregnant women like my friend Emily who is just two weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy, and gave birth to her little girl Cora a few weeks ago! And the women profiled on crossfitandpregnant.com! Anyone who takes the step to make a healthier lifestyle for themselves and goes outside their comfort zone, or attempts what others say is impossible or difficult.

Tire flips

Tire flips

Since doing CrossFit while pregnant, I’ve learned: To BREATHE along with reps and to pace myself. That just being there and moving is really and honestly OK. That my body is amazing! For a few magical weeks I could jump rope again so I did. I set a small PR on my deadlift. I completed a very modified Murph on Memorial Day at 37 weeks pregnant and enjoyed every minute of sharing in that HERO WOD with the members of my box.

Biggest CrossFit and pregnant challenge I’ve faced: Recently my husband and I both changed work schedules, I now work night shift as a nurse in critical care and trying to sleep, take care of our son, and make it to the gym can be exhausting. In terms of workouts the biggest challenge is stamina, and movements just making the modifications to not be on my back, not kip or pull too much on my belly, and getting around the bump with the barbell for lifting.

Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle? Try to be as clean in my eating as we can, but we are never 100% any particular diet in my house. Just focusing on nutritious and budget-conscious. Baby girl loves sweets and potatoes, so I indulge.

Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered: We love Advocare products, and since I learned that I can have VO2 bars pre-workout that has really helped me from being breathless!

What have you found most valuable about CrossFit while pregnant:  Even though I have gained weight in more areas than just my belly, I feel stronger and more aligned. With my first pregnancy I felt like I got swayback but this time I feel like my posture and range of motion is a little better.

Modifications you’d like to share with others: Box push-ups are still really challenging and give you full range of motion.

Lessons learned: Listen to your body, it is capable of more than you think!

If you could do it all again, you would: Still CrossFit!

Favorite quote: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein

Favorite girl WOD: Grace

Three words that describe me: Determined, patient, happy

When I’m not in the box, you can find me: Running around town with my son or cooking for my family

Delivery and Post Partum. Where is Jenni now?

Delivery-day WOD

Delivery-day WOD

Sweet Delaney was born June 22. Jenni did well and has been enjoying time at home with both her kiddos.

Successful delivery!

Successful delivery!

“So far I haven’t done much CrossFit, just a few body movement workouts when I can, since I am adjusting to having both kiddos and Steve is working a new schedule. I am anxious to get cleared by my doc for weightlifting next week and for Duncan to go back to school so I have time to do it! I have some goals to get working on-body weight clean and unassisted pull-ups.”

Snuggling

Snuggling

You’ll get there, Jenni! Thanks for sharing your story.

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CrossFit and Pregnant Headlines

Lots of #crossfitandpregnant news circulating. Love the continued coverage this topic gets. I believe the more attention {positive and negative}, the more women will feel confident to continue their exercise while pregnant and eventually normalize it. Healthy mommas = healthy babies!

Some of the recent news:

From Fit Pregnancy: Male Trainer Tries CrossFit with Fake Bump

Guerrilla Fitness Coach tries working out with a bump.

Guerrilla Fitness Coach tries working out with a bump.

Falae was surprised by how much the bump changed his ability to power through the workout.” Pretty funny – of course the bump changes a woman’s ability to power through … and sometimes find equilibrium when lifting … and keep the bar close to your body … But kudos to Coach Falae for giving it a try!

From Fox News Insider: Fitness Instructor Gets Flak for Intense Workouts While Nine Months Pregnant

This CrossFit momma is looking pretty fabulous!

This CrossFit momma is looking pretty fabulous!

Despite having approval from her medical team, Coach Emily Breeze Ross Watson, from the CrossFit MidAtlantic Region, is getting criticized for her workouts late in her third trimester. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?!

From Fox 13 News: This Utah Mom Did CrossFit Until the Day Before She Delivered Leveraging those crazy pregnancy hormones, CrossFitter Chrisi Hammer is setting some personal records. Again, sounds familiar, doesn’t it?!

From News Channel 3: Mom Still Does CrossFit While Pregnant Women in Virginia Beach continue to find support from their affiliate to CrossFit during pregnancy. {Support makes all the difference!}

So happy for these mommas to continue to make strides in their fitness and pregnancies. Cheers to healthy and {hopefully} easy deliveries because of their dedication.

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My WODs:

Mother’s Day Hike with the family. 2.5 miles in some pretty high temps. Despite the heat, everyone had a ball!

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Team Leatherman loves to hike!

Team Leatherman loves to hike!

Lots of at home workouts and walking.

Back Squat - 143#

Back Squat – 143#

Thursday at CrossFit Full Strength // Feels great to be getting back into my normal strength range!

  • Back squat: 143# x1 … not a PR, but getting back into that range – finally!
  • Romanian Deadlift: 143# x4
  • Push Press: 93# x5 My PR is 110# x3, so not too far off.
#hopeforhollis

#hopeforhollis

The hubs doing work

The hubs doing work

Saturday was a Valley-wide WOD #hopeforHollis. Hollis is a young boy here in Phoenix, who is battling a rare brain cancer. A WOD was established and all proceeds went to benefit the family. Chad’s been WODing at Chuckwalla CrossFit, so we went there Saturday morning.

So inspiring to see athletes sweating really hard to honor and help such a young kiddo. It’s truly what CrossFit does best! If you want to support the family, there’s a GoFundMe account established.

Great turnout at Chuckwalla

Great turnout at Chuckwalla!

Athlete Profile: Fi Davidson

Hailing from across the pond, in London, is CrossFitandPregnant momma Fi Davidson. Two years into her CrossFit career, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Ella, this February after a grueling 40+ hours of labor (and two extra weeks of pregnancy!). Fi, like most of us who have headed down the #crossfitandpregnant path, credit CrossFit to getting her through – mentally, emotionally, and of course, physically.

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Fi killing some kettlebell swings

“I wanted to keep fit throughout pregnancy as I believed that it would help me to be prepared for labour and help to keep the baby healthy,” Fi said. “I also didn’t want to give up one of my favourite hobbies for nine months and lose the gains that I had worked so hard to achieve.”

Fi is a member at CrossFit Tooting in London and maintained her dedication thanks to the many other mums. “All of the members and the coaches at CrossFit Tooting have been a huge support,” explained Fi. “They have a dedicated post-natal group who I have worked out with some of the time during pregnancy and they have offered amazing support to me.”

What an incredible service to its female members – way to go, CrossFit Tooting!

Squats!

Squats!

Fi credits CrossFit for giving her the opportunity to maintain her identity while preparing for Ella’s arrival {something I can definitely relate to!}. “{CrossFit} also really helped me manage some of the psychological and emotional changes that happen during pregnancy,” Fi shares. “It also made me feel like I was actively keeping myself healthy and happy ahead of the arrival of my first child.”

That you were, Fi! So proud of your work, dedication, and we send you joyous blessings as you adjust to life with sweet Ella.

CrossFit Baby Ella. Isn't she a peach?

CrossFit Baby Ella. Isn’t she a peach?

More from Fi:

Why I started CrossFit: I was trying out new exercise options (including KPop dancing) in Cambodia and stumbled across a boot camp class that was being run in a car parking lot. The trainer then set up the first CrossFit affiliate gym in Cambodia. I signed up for their first ever on-ramp course and got hooked on CrossFit from that point. Since then I have trained on an ongoing basis. I love that CrossFit focuses on build strength and fitness (not being skinny) and technical skills. I relocated to London in August 2015. I reached out to some possible boxes and found that CrossFit Tooting had a specialist post-natal recovery programme. I had an initial free trial and chat with one of the owners Danielle Ren’e Gaskell who has experience of training women throughout their pregnancy and gave me a lot of encouragement and confidence to continue training.

Number of years CrossFitting: I started out working out in a car parking lot with Corbett Hix for six months and then started formal CrossFit training when he opened the doors of CrossFit Amatak {Cambodia’s first CrossFit affiliate!} in the summer of 2014.

Planks - great core work!

Planks – great core work!

Other exercise practices: During pregnancy I have done yoga or Pilates in combination with CrossFit. I also go for walks frequently. Pre-pregnancy, I also cycled and ran.

What exercise advice did your doctor provide you? Did you follow it?: The doctors and midwives that I met during pregnancy have been supportive of me continuing to train. The advice has consistently been that if it is something that I did before pregnancy it was OK to continue during pregnancy, but to be sure to listen to my body and to tailor the workouts. The focus of all advice was not of any risk to the baby, but a potential risk to myself as my body changed throughout pregnancy.

How did you find crossfitandpregnant.com?: I was a bit nervous about continuing to train throughout pregnancy so I did a lot of online research and found crossfitandpregnant.com – it really helped to encourage me that training throughout pregnancy could be done. {So happy to hear!}

Since doing CrossFit while pregnant, I’ve learned: It’s really important to find the balance between pushing myself and keeping my fitness up and listening to my new limitations. There have been numerous times that I have had to stop mid-workout or just miss workouts to rest (especially during the first trimester – the coaches at CrossFit Amatak really helped during this stage) and I have been gradually scaling down my routine on an ongoing basis during the pregnancy. It has also been really important to listen to the advice of my coaches and to trust their knowledge and experience. I’ve also learned that it’s possible to keep training throughout pregnancy – I never thought that I would be able to back-squat at 39.5 weeks!!

Biggest CrossFit and pregnant challenge I’ve faced: Accepting that I need to scale back and accept some of the new limitations of my body. There have also been a lot of times when rest has been more important than going to do another workout. Constantly revisiting my own expectations of myself has been really key to managing the pregnancy against the fitness regime.

Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle?: I am a seafood eating vegetarian. I eat healthily, but don’t follow any particular diet or regime.

Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered: It’s even more important to eat and drink carefully when working out. I have made sure that I drink a lot of water and have healthy snacks available for after workouts.

Modifications you’d like to share with others: During the last weeks of pregnancy I did a lot more squatting and lunging that normal. I found that it helped ease some of the pelvic discomfort I was experience.

If you could do it all again, you would: do it the same – ask coaches for a lot of advice and keep adjusting the workouts

Favorite girl WOD: FRAN

Three words that describe me: happy, open, determined (others say stubborn!)

When I’m not in the box, you can find me: hanging out with friends.

16.2 + 16.3

That cough knocked me down for an entire week. Every time I tried to lay down at night, I’d end up coughing the ENTIRE night. After five days, that equated to total delirium of not sleeping + bruised ribs, I went to the doctor and got some heavy-duty cough syrup.

16.2a

Two days after getting some solid sleep, I tackled a scaled 16.2 to manage 174 reps. I squeaked out one last rep just as the clock was buzzing. Was pretty proud of myself considering I got to eight minutes and it was a total lung-burner.

16.2

My 16.2 cheerleaders

16.3

Last week, I was still nursing my bruised ribs. I did a few of the 21-Day Fix workouts at home and Friday, I completed 16.3-scaled. I never strategize before I do a WOD (though I should!); had I done some calculations before, I would have gone for seven rounds + reps. Instead, I took too many breaks and did six rounds + six reps, for a total score of 96.

Here’s hoping for more time at CrossFit Full Strength this next week!

Six-week Challenge: Week 5

Another great week at CrossFit Full Strength!

Lots of {much needed} focus on the core. Many of the movements are great for pregnancy. Twice this week we did tabata sit-ups and planks. And Thursday, during the strength training between sets, we did oblique side bends with plates. Really feeling it all!

CFFS has placed a lot of emphasis on the power and full snatch during this challenge. This is honestly a lift that I wasn’t comfortable with prior to this challenge. I’m gaining confidence and ease every time we work on it. It’s pretty exciting considering I’ve been an on-again / off-again CrossFitter for 4+ years. That’s something I love about CrossFit, it’s an opportunity to constantly learn and improve. The sky is really the limit.

I’ve also refined my rowing ability. I was explosive out of the gate and would easily wear myself out. Coach Emily took a few minutes a few weeks and taught me how to slow down to actually gain more power and speed. It worked! Every day, we start with a 400m row and I can see and feel the difference of slowing down to gain power.

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Monday: ran another two miles with my Frankie boy. Great way to get some extra vitamin d and exhaust our pooch!

Tuti was my workout buddy this week!

Tuti was my workout buddy this week!

Tuti is one of many mascot dogs at CrossFit Full Strength. Love that the community includes four-legged friends, too! #WODDogs are the best.

Thirteenth WOD: warm up: tabata sit ups + planks; strength: power clean + split and push jerk – 7 rounds / last round 100#; metcon: 3min AMRAP for 3 rounds / 1 minute rest in between rounds – 3 hang power clean (65#) + 5 push ups + 7 sit ups: 15 rounds + 13 reps

Day 14's WOD

Day 14’s WOD

Fourteenth WOD: warm up: med ball partner core work; strength: Started with power snatch 3×3 at 65#; then back squat 5×5 – last round was 125# / in between sets we did the oblique work using 15# plates; metcon: 21-15-9 overhead squats (35# bar) + hand release push ups + step ups: 8:02

Day 15

Day 15

Fifteenth WOD: warm up: tabata sit ups + planks then 2rds 5 pulls ups + 10 squat jumps + 15 wall balls; strength: deadlift 5×5 115# each round; metcon: mini Helen: 200m run + 21 KBS + 12 pull ups (green band): 4:07

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Athlete profile updates: I’m in a holding pattern, waiting on news of baby arrivals + people filling out the questionnaire. If you or someone you know is interested in being profiled, please contact me. I would love to feature some more #crossfitandpregnant mommas!

Athlete Profile: Alex Amodeo

While I’m embarrassed by my delay in sharing some of these fabulous stories, the silver lining is I am now able to share their delivery and post-partum stories. There is so much joy in virtually meeting the sweet babies of #crossfitandpregnant mommas. Alex Amodeo is one of the patient moms who reached out to me last fall and is now finally getting to share her story.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada Alex Amodeo native has been CrossFitting for four plus years. Similar to me, Alex began her CrossFit pursuits through running. She didn’t consider herself an athlete growing up, but when her mom started training for a half marathon and Alex saw her killing it, she thought, “why not me?”

As many of us who run know, it can come with a number of injuries and setbacks. Alex’s experience was no different. “My running muscles and cardio were great but the muscles around those muscles were terrible and I constantly had to take time off,” Alex said. “I realized I needed to do some sort of cross training and my massage therapist at the time had joined CrossFit Kingston and made it sound like a lot of (sweaty, terribly painful) fun. So I talked a friend into it and we joined.”

Since taking the plunge, she considers herself a “Recovering Runner.” “CrossFit is enough for me right now and I love it so much more. Best part: I haven’t injured myself once since joining!”

And that includes CrossFitting during two pregnancies. She welcomed baby #2 in August to join her husband, Matt, and her daughter Bailey (23 months).

Here’s what Alex has to share:

My goal in CrossFitting while pregnant is:

To keep showing up and doing what I can until I can’t anymore. By the end of my last pregnancy, I had often joked that I was going to the gym to “see my friends and move around a bit.” And if that’s all it is, I’m fine with it. I love my gym, I love exercising and I love my CFK family. I’ll do as much as I can for as long as I can and keep myself healthy for my baby.

What exercise advice did your doctor provide you? Did you follow it?

My doctor is awesome. I’ve never used the “CrossFit” word with her, but she’s very supportive about continuing with whatever I was doing before I was pregnant. I’ve mentioned weightlifting and even done a hollow rock in the office (“Is this cool?!”) and she’s just like “As long as you feel good, go for it.”

My last pregnancy I was a little stricter with myself in terms of what I thought I should and should not do while I was pregnant. I stopped anything that put me on my back after 12 weeks, stopped box jumps right away (I was afraid of falling), dropped my weights pretty significantly, etc. This time I feel more confident in my body and what I can do. I, believe it or not, got a whole lot stronger in the short time between these pregnancies (I was PR’ing every single lift!) and I just feel so much better going into this pregnancy. Sites like {crossfitandpregnant.com} are ones I use for inspiration – people who pay attention to their bodies more than the “shoulds” (obviously within reason).

CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find support?

My coaches, Andrew & Kate are fantastic. They help me modify and hold me accountable to come regularly. Plus I think having gone through all this before has left us all a little calmer about the situation. J

Everyone at the gym is amazingly supportive as well. I feel the love even when I’m no t pregnant and when I am it’s so nice to have such a great group of people rally to support me and my baby. The other mothers at the gym, even if they didn’t exercise during their own pregnancies, are such a great source of support because they get it.

CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find inspiration?

Honestly, I don’t feel like I need to be “inspired” to continue CrossFitting while I’m pregnant. It’s just something I did before and will continue to do. I love looking at websites like yours to see that other people are doing – “She hit a PR in her third trimester! Maybe I can too!” or “She stopped rope climbs so maybe it’s okay if I don’t do them anymore.”

Since doing CrossFit while pregnant, I’ve learned:

People are easily impressed. J I get so many pats on the back and “Well done, Alex! I can’t believe you’re doing this!” and it’s kind of embarrassing. My go-to response is “It looks more impressive than it is.” As far as I’m concerned, I’m basically just doing the same as I’ve always done, though I appreciate every well wish.

Biggest CrossFit and pregnant challenge I’ve faced:

Not sure if this counts, but getting back to the gym after Bailey was born was very, very hard both physically and mentally. I had a pretty terrible delivery with her (all that stuff about staying active and having an easier labour/delivery is great if it works for you, but not a guarantee!) and recovery was a long, long process. I was 12 weeks PP before I was cleared for exercise.

Those 12 weeks I was off were LONG.  And I’m not going to lie – I had a couple pretty down days. Everything with the baby was great and she was perfect and I was so thankful. The adjustment to motherhood went fine for me (sleep deprivation and all!) but the adjustment to being away from the gym? HARD. There were days where I’d see the WOD come up online or a friend post that they’d hit another PR and just become so incensed. I was jealous and I pitied myself – I wanted to be that person in the gym. I didn’t care if I wasn’t going to PR I just wanted to be able to do a damn burpee!

It was hard having worked out my whole pregnancy and then having that routine and fitness taken away from me. This is actually something I haven’t read much about and I wish I could know others’ experience with it. Most of what you read online is “I kept WODing until the day before I had my baby and was back in the gym 3 weeks later!” or similar. That’s not always the case and there’s nothing wrong with taking that time to heal. You have to respect your body and what your body went through. It’s hard, but I really feel as though the more respect you have in giving you body time to heal the better you’ll be after. I 100% believe that my fitness helped me heal so well from the delivery.

Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle?

I eat when I’m hungry and try to keep it as good-for-me as possible, but I’m not saying no to those salt and vinegar chips.

Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered:

I think the biggest tip I could give someone is to just keep showing up and doing what you can. Try not to get frustrated when seemingly easy things get difficult and focus on the fact that you’re there and still working as hard as you can/is safe for baby. Also: look at this time as an opportunity to lift with new members at the gym or people who don’t generally lift as much as you do. New friends are fun!

What have you found most valuable about CrossFit while pregnant?:

I just feel so much better when I go. In the first trimester I wasn’t feeling so hot but the nausea always seemed to disappear once I started moving at the gym. CF helps make you feel better physically and mentally – which are a couple of things you can really need while growing a person.

Modifications you’d like to share with others:

There are so many great resources out there and your coaches are sure to have great advice and give you modifications for movements. I followed crossfitmom.com to the letter last time and this time I’m more feeling it out for myself but they have great ideas for substitutions. Everybody is going to be different. And when in doubt: push press and row.

What does your spouse/partner think of you CrossFitting during pregnancy?

Matt is incredibly supportive.   He’s my biggest fan and even though he’s not a CrossFitter himself (he prefers to cycle), he trusts that I will do what is best for me and our baby. Every time I leave the house for the gym he says “Have fun! Be strong! Be safe!”

How did you find crossfitandpregnant.com?

I was just googling “CrossFit and Pregnancy” and you came up! I wanted to read up on some stories of other women, see what kind of workouts/modifications they were doing.

Lessons learned:

Just show up. Don’t look at the WOD ahead of time and try to figure out if you can or can’t do it – just show up and do what you can and modify the rest. The hardest part sometimes is just getting to the gym, once you’re there let the

I’ve also learned (even though everyone says it) that no two pregnancies are the same. And just because you’ve done it before, doesn’t mean it’s going to be as easy the next time around.

If you could do it all again, you would:

I kind of am doing it all over again!

Favorite Olympic Lift:

Hang snatch all the way!

Three words that describe me:

Friendly, energetic and genuine

When I’m not in the box, you can find me:

Out and about with Bailey, drinking stupid amounts of tea or napping.

Delivery and Post Partum. Where is Alex now?

The sweet Amodeo Family of Four!

The sweet Amodeo Family of Four!

Her delivery was a breeze (comparatively speaking) and she felt much, much better after.  Because her son came so quickly, she was able to get up and shower a couple hours after he was born!  Amazing.  “I was able to return to the gym after the standard six weeks and though progress has seemed slow, it’s actually come along quite nicely,” Alex says. “I’m just shy of six months post-partum now and I’m lifting as much as I was before I got pregnant with Marshall. I’m feeling stronger and more like me these days though my cardio is still quite sluggish. I swear I was purple after a recent weekend workout!”

In early November, she was diagnosed with gallstones and has really modified her diet as a result.  Terrified of another “attack,” she’s eliminated “bad” fats and is limiting fats in general, which has helped in shedding the baby weight. She gained 40# during pregnancy and during her first go-around she gained 60#. “The weight loss is my silver lining in this health scare,” says Alex. “But I miss chips so very much.”

Adjusting to life with two has been a challenge (especially with a fussier baby) and trying to find time to get to the gym has required a lot of trial and error but she’s making it work. “I was going twice a week up to January and now I’m back to three days a week, which is great.  Matt {Husband} is so supportive and willing to do anything to make sure I get my workouts in.” We love those supportive partners!!

Fussy or not, isn't this the sweetest face?!

Fussy or not, isn’t this the sweetest face?!

Congratulations Alex and Matt on another beautiful baby and successful transition back to CrossFit. We’re so proud of you! xo

Athlete Profile: Julie Shepard

RedTail CrossFit in Prescott, Ariz., is home to Julie Shephard, another #crossfitandpregnant rock star. Sweet Julie delivered her second baby in October and I was remiss in writing this profile on her in a timely fashion!

View More: http://molliecostleyphotography.pass.us/babyboyshepherd

Momma to Charlotte and now, sweet Joseph, and wife to Steven, she has been CrossFitting at RedTail for three years. During that time, Julie has endured some difficult pregnancies and a knee surgery. Her CrossFit career started thanks to good old family peer pressure – and with the support of her husband – nothing better than family to get you to focus on health! Because of some of her struggles to get pregnant, Julie didn’t CrossFit during her pregnancy with Charlotte, but she and Steven are proud of her ability this go-around. So are we!

Julie’s story really is remarkable – and she’s quite open with her struggles. She is another shining example of why I continue this blog (even with a long writing hiatus!). Thank you loyal followers for continue to support me and all the #crossfitandpregnant mommas out there!

shepherd party of 4

Julie’s story:

What does your spouse/partner think of you CrossFitting during pregnancy? My husband, Steven, is a CrossFitter too and thinks it is awesome.  He actually texted me out of nowhere while he was at work to tell me how proud of me he is for still going consistently and for doing so well. {What a guy!!}

How did you find crossfitandpregnant.com?  I actually googled “CrossFit and pregnancy” because I had read an article on Facebook about a woman pregnant with twins. She posted a picture of her lifting a barbell weighing 65# and was getting TONS of criticism for it.  I was thought, “what?? I just back squatted 115# that day!” So I was curious if there was any information out there for me.  And also, at the time, my little guy had a growth spurt and I was really starting to feel ‘pregnant’.

Why I started CrossFit:  I started CrossFit, well, mainly out of peer ‘family’ pressure. Both my sisters and one of my brothers had started when our first box opened in Prescott. I had just been running A LOT…five miles a day, five days a week.  I was put off wanting to start because I had it in my mind that I just needed cardio.

I have an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and suffer with hypothyroidism, which is why I had a hard time getting pregnant the first time. I ended up having my thyroid removed in 2007 because I had a nodule the size of a golf ball growing on it. Up until then, I had always been super thin and always physically minded.  But once that darn thyroid was removed, weight gain came, along with other crappy symptoms.  Losing weight and having hypothyroidism is like trying to breathe under water.  So I ran.  I ran a lot.

After recovering from a breast reduction in 2012, which was a medical necessity for my spine, I finally gave in to CrossFit…and fell in love.  Shortly after starting CrossFit, I had a really bad accident climbing the military wall. My right knee snapped in half when I went to step up to the wall. I ended up with a torn meniscus, completely torn ACL and a partially torn MCL and a fractured femur. Needless to say, I was out of commission for a long while, June to November 2012.  It was during that time that my husband and I began trying for a baby.

Flash forward to March of 2013, I got pregnant! I quit CrossFit because of fear for losing the baby.  My mother and sister both struggled with infertility and I was just plain scared. After Charlotte was born in December 2013, I went back to CrossFit in March of 2014 and have not stopped since.  I have not been able to perform 100% since then, I have also suffered with a bulging disc in my lumbar vertebrae due to the terrible positioning of Charlotte in my belly (I had a c-section, her shoulder was stuck under my rib).  But that didn’t stop me.  I did what I could.  When I finally found a doctor who could help, I had an MRI and began spinal decompression. He told me that if it weren’t for my ‘huge’ para-spinal muscles (that I got from CrossFit) holding my spine in place, the disc would have ruptured.

My goal in CrossFitting while pregnant is:  This is a big one! I did not CrossFit while pregnant with Charlotte out of fear.  But this pregnancy came all by itself…well with the help of my husband…after only one month of trying.  No medication, no nothing.  So, this time I wasn’t scared.

With Charlotte, I gained 30#, most of which came in the last month and was all water.  After two weeks of having her, I was back down to my normal 150#.  So I got a little ‘cocky’ and started eating whatever I wanted during those six weeks of recovery.  Since it was winter, I wasn’t able to go on walks because it was too cold outside. I got pretty dang chubby.

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Like I said before, losing weight with hypothyroidism is like trying to breathe under water. With running, CrossFit, a clean diet, visits to my endocrinologist and a lot of bloodwork and medication adjustment, it took about a year to lose the ‘cocky’ weight I had gained. Literally to the WEEK that I found out I was pregnant again. So my goal is to be the complete opposite with this pregnancy. Healthy eating, exercise, and routine with hopes I can go right back in to it after the six weeks of recovery from my scheduled c-section.

What exercise advice did your doctor provide you? Did you follow it?  My doctor is awesome.  She is the tiniest little lady. She told me to keep doing what I was doing, but to listen to my body. I have done just that. During my second trimester, we did maxes, and although I knew that I could physically do more, I didn’t feel good about adding weight.  She thinks it’s awesome, despite the fact that I lost weight at the beginning from not lifting as much and losing muscle mass. As of today, I am back to my ‘pre-pregnancy’ weight.

CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find support?  I find support from the people that come to my class. I go to RedTails’ 3:30 p.m. class, which is after nap time…both Charlotte’s and my nap.  It’s usually the same group of ladies…yes…ladies…they call it lady hour.  Occasionally, a guy or two shows up! But the group really cheers me on. They encourage me and compliment me on the fact that I am still working at it and it makes me feel really good about myself.  Also, RedTail Coaches Tony Burris, Janine Pereira, and Brandon Rollins support me tons.  And of course, my husband Steven.

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CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find inspiration?  My inspiration comes from two places; my daughter and myself.  My daughter because I love seeing her watching me while I work out; I really hope she understands that it is a good thing and a part of life to work hard for something.  And of course, I love seeing her imitate the things she sees me do!

Saying I find inspiration in me seems super arrogant, but it is not meant to be.  A lot of people criticize CrossFit because it is so intense.  I tell them that anything can be scaled.  I remind them that I had a bulging disk and had knee surgery, and it didn’t stop me from trying.  I say, if I can do it, anyone can.  I am even trying to talk my 64-year-old father, who just had his second knee replaced to start, once he is cleared from physical therapy.  So I figured that I should put my money where my mouth is….why should pregnant stop me from something that I love?  I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I finish something.  A lot of times, the trainers tell me to cut the reps in half if I want to, but I don’t. I just take my time and that makes me feel validated.

Since doing CrossFit while pregnant, I’ve learned:  Consistency.  Having an 18-month-old and an awful first trimester (was in the ER for a day from extreme dehydration), every day is something new. Even when I felt like complete death, I still made it a point to get up and go to CrossFit and make it part of my day. That mindset made it a routine! I think that is important in all aspects of life.

Biggest CrossFit and pregnant challenge I’ve faced:  My expanding belly, the lack of decent maternity exercise clothing, and running with sore boobs.  {Sore/nursing boobs = the worst! Am I right?!}

Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle?  Before this pregnancy, I tried gluten free to help with my hypothyroidism, but it didn’t make much of a difference.  I did my best to eliminate processed foods as well.  I am a sucker for fruit and vegetables. I stopped drinking soda, too.  But once the morning sickness hit me, I was advised to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it (which was not much and not often). Now, I am just back to normal.

Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered:  You can sleep when you’re dead. Get up and work, make the best of the exhaustion.

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What have you found most valuable about CrossFit while pregnant?: Being aware of my body. I find it incredible to push your body to see what it is capable of, but with limits.

Modifications you’d like to share with others:  Ball slams are a fabulous replacement of burpees.  Elevated pushups. Oh, and this one isn’t just for pregnancy, but cleans from a high hang, a bit lower than the hips.  It helps you HAVE to drop under the bar in to a squat more. {Excellent tips!!}

Favorite quote:  Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud.

Favorite girl WOD: Grace

Three words that describe me: I let my hubs pick:  motivated, determined, passionate

When I’m not in the box, you can find me: At home or with my mom! Weekends are with the husband.

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Delivery and Post-partum. Where is Julie now?

Julie CrossFitted until 37 weeks, when she had to stop for her scheduled c-section (docs in Prescott don’t perform v-backs).  She was scheduled for the birth on October 23. She developed an umbilical hernia that was getting pretty painful and her doctor said she would fix it during the c-section. Contractions started two weeks before the c-section. “I had some other things going on, so I figured I should just try to wait it out, so another doctor wouldn’t have to do my c-section and NOT fix my hernia which would have resulted in another surgery and recovery,” Julie said. “I didn’t want that.”

She made it to October 23 and it was completely different than her first delivery. “I threw up from the spinal which didn’t happen with Charlotte,” said Julie. “I could feel and move my feet by noon, my c-section was at 7:30 a.m. I was up walking laps in the hospital by 3 p.m. that day, but that night was awful. My husband went home to stay with Charlotte, so I was on my own. I was looking forward to the alone time with my baby and to sleep some. I was hooked up to all sorts of things and couldn’t get out of bed without a nurse. There was some emergency birth that night and all the nurses were occupied – to the point where my IV beeped for more than 10 minutes before I had to call someone to fix it. AWFUL. I got zero sleep and every time Joseph woke up, I had to MacGyver a way to get him out of his bassinet.”

Thanks to the grace of a compassionate nurse, and because of Julie’s health, strength, and mobility, Julie was permitted to go home. “I’m pretty sure I can thank CrossFit for that,” said Julie.

She took the traditional six weeks to recovery, but like most of us, was anxious to return. The first week of December, she started back and took it easy, “partially because I was told to, but mostly because I felt I had zero strength.” Most recently, RedTail was working on one-rep maxes for a number of lifts. Julie PR’d on power cleans at 120#, 85# strict press, 75# snatch, and she got to do Grace again, not Rx, but still 75# at 4:57. “I’ll take that at being back from having a baby via c-section and a hernia repair in only a month and a half!”

“I am glad to be back. I love my sweet little baby more than anything. We just found out that he has problems hearing this past week. We aren’t sure how severe or why, we are going to do some more testing, and today was my first day back since finding out.  I broke down crying talking to my friends about it.  I am so thankful for the support I have at RedTail. There were times during my pregnancy that I wanted to quit (not CrossFit, but life).  The RedTail community and mentality of CrossFit truly was my lifeline, and it seems that it will continue to be that for me.”

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We are so proud of you Julie! She clearly has the strength and tenacity to face anything. Her family and the RedTail family are lucky to have YOU. xo