Lea-Ann Ellison birthed a healthy baby – DUH

CrossFit HQ shared a story yesterday that controversial momma-to-be Lea-Ann Ellison birthed a healthy baby boy, despite CrossFitting late into her term.

My response? DUH!

Easy delivery? Check. Up on her feet the next day? Check. Thank you, CrossFit, for preparing mommas-to-be for the physical and mental challenges they’ll face during and after birth.

Lea-Ann Ellison

Lea-Ann Ellison

Watch Ellison’s new interview here: http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2013/11/lea-ann-ellison-controversial-crossfit-mom-gives-birth-to-health/

My friend Sara recently shared the following with Leslie and me. Thought it appropriate to share in this post:

“Exercise is good for your baby, too. Studies show that babies born to moms who exercise during pregnancy may benefit from better stress tolerance and advanced neurobehavioral maturity. These children are leaner at five years of age and have better early neurodevelopment.” From Eat Right for Your Baby by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo with Catherine Whitney. Copyright © 2004.

Think that says it all!

Athlete Profile: Leslie Spector

Leslie, Meghan and their bumps

Leslie, Meghan and their bumps

When I first started writing this blog, one of the first women I reached to was my friend Leslie. We met at our current affiliate and she was more than willing to share her experience. I’m so impressed by her dedication to CrossFit, while balancing being a wife, mommy to a toddler, full-time educator, and preparing for baby #2. And you guys, she looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I hope I look this fit when I’m 30+ weeks into pregnancy.

Leslie: 30+ weeks and lifting strong, while looking amazing!

Leslie: 30+ weeks and lifting strong, while looking amazing!

Leslie’s story:

Leslie pre-pregnancies

Leslie pre-pregnancies

Phoenix, Ariz., native Leslie Spector began her CrossFit journey September 2010 in an effort to train for Ragnar 2011, a 200-mile team relay race and to medicate her recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder, naturally (i.e. sans drugs). CrossFit, in combination with paleo eating, did the trick, shaving more than two minutes off her mile time and balancing her moods like never before.

“Unfortunately, I suffered a hip flexor injury during the race, earning me three months of physical therapy and rehab,” said Leslie. “Shortly after this I became pregnant, exercising very moderately. Despite being healthy and active, my body decided it needed a reset and after only a few weeks, I miscarried.”

Following the devastating loss, Leslie suffered some depression (understandably!) and self-medicated with “laziness in combination with deliciously gross food.” She became pregnant again almost immediately and was terrified of everything this time. The result? A sedentary pregnancy and a total of 70 lbs gained.

Leslie & Sophie

Leslie & Sophie

After an emotional roller coaster of a pregnancy (she chose to go without medication for her bipolar disorder) and the somewhat traumatic birth of her daughter, she was determined to get healthy again. And Leslie wasn’t merely focused on her physical health; she wanted the full mind, body, spirit health. After walking, then running, then a round of Insanity, she craved more and found Back Alley CrossFit, a Central Phoenix Box, in October 2012. She was able to shed those 70 pounds with CrossFitting Rx, until pregnancy #2 happened.

Now, at the end of her second pregnancy, Leslie has maintained her CrossFit and paleo lifestyle, feeling better than ever and more relaxed for baby Spector #2 to arrive.

30+ weeks pregnant

30+ weeks pregnant

More on Leslie:

Other exercise practices:  When I am not CrossFitting I love to hike, run, and do yoga.

My goal in CrossFitting while pregnant is:  My first pregnancy was less than healthy and resulted in major weight gain and crazy mood fluctuations. My goal this time around is to continue to CrossFit since it is truly my medication. My goal is not only to make healthy weight gains, but to also maintain a healthy mental balance.

What exercise advice did your doctor provide you? Did you follow it? I love my doctor! He is very liberal as far as doctors are concerned.  He seems to follow the latest research and keeps his recommendations up to date. I have been totally honest with him about how active I am and he fully supportive. At my very first visit this pregnancy he began rooting me on as far as exercise and CrossFit goes. He has continued to be supportive even through my own fears when things feel off. His best advice has been to listen to my body and I do it every minute of every day and especially in the box!

CrossFit and pregnant: Leslie

CrossFit and pregnant: Leslie

CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find support? I have a friend who CrossFitted through her pregnancy and she was the first call I made. She sent me to CrossFit Mom and there was lots of great information there. I also lean on my own coaches, CrossFit buddies, and of course the amazing, Dr. Harris.

CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find inspiration? I work out with some amazingly fit women. I find inspiration every time I step foot into Back Alley. I know the more I do while pregnant and the more consistent I am the faster I will be able to catch back up to everyone else I am ogling during my slow, paced WODS now.

Since doing CrossFit while pregnant, I’ve learned: That exercise of any kind is even more mental than I thought prior to doing it pregnant. There are times when body can do way more than mind will let it and there are times when mind wants to keep pushing through and my body is screaming slow down. When I can control the mental side of CrossFit, I find the most success.

Biggest CrossFit and pregnant challenge I’ve faced: Hands down, my biggest challenge has been slowing down and scaling back. I am competitive by nature and strive to always beat my own best. Being pregnant, the recommendation from around the CrossFit world and the mainstream is to slow down. The easiest way to do this is the “talk test.” I should be able to maintain a conversation throughout the WOD.This is not a time for getting better or pushing toward PRs, but rather a time to maintain. It has taken great mental dedication to follow this recommendation, I mean, when is the last time you could carry on a conversation during a WOD?!

Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle? As far as eating during pregnancy my goal is balance. Nothing has been eliminated, but we definitely lean towards a paleo-ish diet…with ice cream. We definitely indulge in ice cream!

Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered: Just show up!  You can scale and modify any WOD to make it work for your ever-changing body. Throw expectations out the window and listen to your body.

What have you found most valuable about CrossFit while pregnant?: I have proven to myself with this pregnancy that no matter how much exercise and diet balance I maintain, my body will gain weight to support my pregnancy. However, CrossFitting while pregnant has given me energy and mental balance, which in my situation is far more priceless than hot preggie bod.

Favorite quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  Ghandi

Favorite girl WOD: Honestly, none stood out and I had to look them all up to pick a fave. Kelly is fun one; I like when running is incorporated.

Three words that describe me: Dedicated, neurotic, fun

When I’m not in the box, you can find me: At home with the fam!  They are my world!!!

The bump, getting pumped!

The bump, getting pumped!

If you have a CrossFit and pregnant story to share, email meghan@backalleycrossfit.com.

Pregnancy: Week Ten

This week took me on another adventure to see family and friends in Wisconsin. I was able to share our joy in person with a handful of family and friends … and even bump bellies with another dear friend who’s just a few weeks ahead of us. So fun!

The first thing out of many people’s mouths in the great state of Wisco was, “I hope you’ve stopped lifting weights.” “Um, NOPE!” Most of my cousins haven’t had a baby in 10+ years, so times are probably a bit different.

One cousin, who is an occupational therapist, told me when she was pregnant her three times, she continued lifting pediatric patients during therapy, but now the women she works with who are currently pregnant won’t lift the kids at all. I said to her, “that’s just weak women trying to shirk responsibility.” I couldn’t believe it; I understand wanting to be cautious, but to avoid things your job requires seems over the top.

The best conversation was with a close family friend who is a retired OB-GYN. When I mentioned the fuss I was receiving about CrossFitting, he said he recalled sitting in a training class years ago that told the doctors to tell their patients to stop any sort of physical exercise/strain throughout the nine months. After that class, he returned home to his patients, who by majority were farming women, “working seven days a week shoveling sh*t, hauling grain bags, driving tractors, dealing with cattle, and I was supposed to tell them to stop?! Those were my healthiest patients.” After that realization, he stopped telling women what they couldn’t do and instead advised them to “listen to their bodies as maternal instinct kicks in early and often.” He was glad I was working closely with my coach and monitoring my heart rate, but told me to otherwise keep it up.

Being able to CrossFit and workout has kept me feeling normal. I know my body is no longer mine, but by exercising, I am maintaining strength and health for myself and our baby. Taking that away from me could be much worse.

Week Ten WODS:

Oct. 1 Warm up

Strength/skill: 5 rounds (not for time) – 5 deadlift, 1 hang squat clean, 3 front squat, 1 thruster Rx: 135/95 5 burpee penalty for dropping the bar Heart rate: 155; rpm the thruster didn’t feel right so I omitted that.

Metcon: Three rounds – 1 min. max rep push ups, rest 30 seconds, 1 min max rep wall balls (20/14) rest 30 seconds – total reps 133 Killer after the strength portion!

Oct. 2 Warm up – 3min row

Strength/skill: Front squats 10×5, build up weight to fail. Made it to 105#, failed after 5 reps Heart rate around 150 rpm

Metcon: Partner WOD, 15 min AMRAP, alternate every 5 reps – 10 shoulder to overhead (115/75), 25 deadlifts (115/75), 50 box jumps (24/20) – we managed 3 rounds + 73 reps. I felt great during lifts, but do step-ups instead of jumps on the box.

Food: About the same, but fruits and veggies are much more appealing this week. Enjoyed some raw veggies with Greek yogurt dip one day, lots of honeycrisp apples and veggie soups. Still not paleo, but trying not to beat myself up. My body is definitely craving carbs of all kinds and dairy (preferably ice cream!).


Pregnancy: Week Six

We got an appointment this week to confirm the pregnancy. According to the nurse practitioner, I’m six weeks along. After seeing the baby on the ultrasound, she gave me a bunch of advice – amount of water to drink, what to eat, vitamins to take, medicines to take/avoid, and exercise. With exercise, her advice was, “exercise for 20 minutes, three days a week.” I had to refrain from snorting in laughter.

I said, “I’m a CrossFitter and am used to lifting significant weight.”

Her response sent me into a tizzy …

“Well, you shouldn’t be lifting more than 25#.”

Um, lady, you have no idea what I’m capable of, I thought to myself.

Online, I was reading all sorts of great articles about women CrossFitting while pregnant, but nothing was really adding up. That’s when this blog dawned on me. Maybe if I started documenting my experiences, it would help others. Worth a shot.

Week Six WODs:

So, I was feeling the first trimester exhaustion and squeaked in one measly WOD:

Sept. 4 Warm up

Strength/skill: double unders; 15 minute time cap; increase reps by 5 every minute. So, I suck at double unders and haven’t mastered even one. I did a ton of singles and broke a sweat.

Metcon: 6 rounds for time – 200m run, 10 deadlift (225/155; I did 135), 10 wall balls, 10 ground to overhead (45/25 plates) Time: 25:27, which was consistent with the athletes I workout with regularly. Felt good during and after.

Food: craving salty foods this week. Our box is in the final weeks of a six week paleo challenge, so all week, I ate some salami with cucumbers and added banana peppers to just about everything.