Featured on Mum In Real Life (MIRL)

While the foot / ligament tears have kept me out of the box and tied to low-impact at-home workouts, it’s also given me a chance to write my Top 10 list of healthy pregnancy/post-partum tips for a new Brit-based website, Mum in Real Life (MIRL).

Here are my tips:

10. Drink lots of water – even more than recommended – especially when you’re working out. Your body needs it. Your baby needs it. You need it. If you’re bored with water, add citrus, herbs, and cucumber – change it up to keep it interesting.

9. Use pregnancy as an opportunity to nourish your body, not an excuse to eat junk. While obviously the cravings need to be indulged, balance-balance-balance, especially in the second and third trimester. I love making a smoothie for breakfast or lunch and pack it full of veggies, fruit, yogurt and a “chaser” (flax seed, chia, hemp seeds, etc.).

8. Strengthen your legs; they’ll thank you on those late nights when you’re up walking the house trying to get your newborn to sleep. But really, squats, lunges, walking, rowing, jogging, dancing with your partner – keep your legs moving. It helps with circulation, reduces swelling, and just feels good.

7. Keep your core strong. While most women are advised to stop sit ups in the second trimester, you can transition to v-sits, planks, kettlebells workouts, or Pilates movements. You’ll thank yourself later for spending at least 10 minutes a day strengthening your core.

For the rest of my tips and more good info from MIRL, read full article: http://www.m-irl.com/fitness/meet-mum-broke-weight-lifting-record-last-day-pregnancy/

What would you add to my list?

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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.

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: Suzanne Khuninh

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Spinning. Running. CrossFitting. Suzanne Khuninh from Sioux City, Iowa is expecting another sweet babe in June. She began CrossFit in 2014 to add some diversity to her routine and gain some muscle mass. Since joining CrossFit FS, she witnessed a number of #crossfitandpregnant success stories, which inspired her to continue her routine during this pregnancy.

Her friends within the box keep her motivated, even when she has to slow down and catch her breath. Here’s more from Suzanne:

What exercise advice did your doctor provide you? Did you follow it?: So far, I’ve been told it was OK to continue my regular workout routine. I have a high risk pregnancy, so I may have to cut down on my weights toward the end of my pregnancy. My doctor has advised me to watch how many reps I do with weights also.

Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle?: When I first started CrossFit, I followed a lean meat and veggies diet. I do have a cheat meal at least once a week. I do have Gestational Diabetes with this pregnancy and I had it with two of my other pregnancies. I have to watch my carbs and sugar intake so I am on a low-carb eating plan.

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Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered: The workouts are short, but at the same time, it’s enough to give me amazing energy.

What have you found most valuable about CrossFit while pregnant?: I love that the WODs are short. This is good for me right now since I don’t have as much energy, and can’t do long workouts. The WODs are usually less than 20 minutes, and I get a great workout.

Favorite quote: Strong is the new skinny!

Favorite girl WOD: Cindy

Three words that describe me: Strong, happy, and healthy

When I’m not in the box, you can find me: At home with my kids, who are 9, 6, and 3-years-old. I am also enrolled in school full-time, and also work a full-time job. So, you can say I stay pretty busy!

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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.

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

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.”

Pic with new Char faceView More: http://molliecostleyphotography.pass.us/joseph

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

Athlete Profile: Alessandra Wall

When I began my CrossFit journey three years ago in San Diego, there were two woman who stood out to me. Not only are they incredibly strong and agile, but they are also moms. Knowing I wanted to stand in their oly shoes someday, I watched them closely to see how they balanced fitness and family.

Today, I am excited to feature one of those women – Dr. Alessandra Wall, owner of Life in Focus Coaching. A wife of a successful anesthesiologist and co-owner of CrossFit Elysium, mother of two wildly energetic boys, small business owner, champion of Empower Charter School, CrossFitter, gardener, friend … yes, like most of us, Alessandra wears many hats. Yet, in the insanity of it all, Alessandra finds balance. It’s what she preaches and provides her clients. I know because I benefitted from her coaching after I delivered FG.

Chang Family  credit: Lot116 photography

Chang Family
credit: Lot116 photography

Alessandra finds balance in her CrossFit pursuits by managing what she eats, how much she sleeps and the time she devotes in the box. She acknowledges the recipe is more than just what happens during a WOD. It’s ultimately everything else.

While Alessandra isn’t currently CrossFitting pregnant, she is one of those women who paved the way for me to feel confident and comfortable maintaining my regime when I got pregnant. Here’s her story:

Muscle Up during a competition Credit: Karen Gallagher

Muscle Up during a competition
Credit: Karen Gallagher

A seasoned CrossFitter, Alessandra began her journey more than six years ago when a personal trainer friend invited her to participate in a Saturday community WOD conducted by a box he recently collaborated with in a neighborhood park. Alessandra was impressed with the group setting and found that it pushed her to work harder. Her competitive and enthusiastic spirit convinced her husband, Leon Chang, to join her.

Leon & Alessandra credit: CrossFit Elysium

Leon & Alessandra
Credit: CrossFit Elysium

Fast forward to 2010. Leon partnered with highly respected trainer Paul Estrada to open CrossFit Elysium. This opening happened a year after Alessandra and Leon welcomed their first son.

During her first pregnancy courtesy of Alessandra Wall

During her first pregnancy
Courtesy: Alessandra Wall

“During my first pregnancy I didn’t CrossFit at all,” Alessandra reflected. “I had been CrossFitting for three to four months at the time and was just too worried about the impact on my growing child. Forty pounds later, I realized avoiding CrossFit was a huge mistake.”

Starting them young in the Chang/Wall family Credit: CrossFit Elysium

Starting them young in the Chang/Wall family
Credit: CrossFit Elysium

A mistake Alessandra didn’t make twice.

Pregnancy two Courtesy: Alessandra Wall

Pregnancy two
Courtesy: Alessandra Wall

Three years later, she was pregnant with their second son. “I was better versed in CrossFit, but I also had a better understanding of my body and what it was capable of,” said Alessandra. “My plan was to move along, to keep on working out hard until my body let me know I needed to slow down.”

Early in the pregnancy, she was told her son’s umbilical cord only had one artery. An umbilical cord normally has two arteries that remove waste from the uterus and a vein that brings in clean blood. “With only one artery, I had to do stress tests twice a week and my son was just not thriving in the womb,” Alessandra said. “Uncertain of how best to approach this, I chose to keep moving, and working out, but replaced heavy and dynamic workouts with light explosive weight lifting and reduced the intensity of my metcons.”

This was effective for Alessandra and her son. They welcomed their full-spirited boy in an uneventful delivery in August 2011.

Alessandra and Stacie with their first borns. Courtesy: Stacie Beal

Alessandra and Stacie with their first born.
Courtesy: Stacie Beal

Alessandra credits the community at CrossFit Elysium for remaining active during her pregnancy, but admits she and Coach Stacie Beal were the gym’s guinea pigs. Now Elysium has coached a number of women through successful pregnancies. “Since 2011, we have had a lot of members CrossFit while pregnant,” Alessandra said. “Our advice is always the same: CrossFitting while pregnant is safe, but it is also your body, no one can tell you what you can and can’t do. You have to listen to your body, your gut and your brain on this one.”

Born in Iran and raised in France, Alessandra wholeheartedly believes that advice. Her worldly perspective provided her the reality that women around the world continue strenuous activity during pregnancies. “In the States, we treat pregnant women (and honestly most people) as though they are fragile and frail,” she reflects. “There are women all over the world who carry heavy loads, move long distances and put their bodies under strain and have happy, healthy pregnancies. The human body is designed to work hard and survive; CrossFitting in a safe environment is nothing in comparison!”

Comparing her two pregnancies. Alessandra had very different experiences. The differences led her to two truths she found during and after recovering from her second pregnancy:

  1. It’s not about what is right, but what is right for you. Expert advice, whether it be with diet, exercise or life means NOTHING if you don’t adjust it to your own needs, values and lifestyle.
  2. As humans, we continue to evolve and develop even into adulthood. Big changes, like motherhood, can precipitate huge shifts in our needs and values. It can be tough to negotiate those shifts, and the transition in roles that come with motherhood.

Experiencing her own shifts led Alessandra to create her business, Life in Focus Coaching. Today, Alessandra works with woman [and men] inside and outside the box as a lifestyle and nutrition coach.

And, speaking from experience, she’s damn good at helping people emerge directed and confident from those life shifts.

More on Alessandra:

Since doing CrossFit while pregnant, I’ve learned: I can do anything I want with my body; there is no reason to worry if I put on weight or lose strength because I have to take a break. It will take time, effort, and a bit of mental fortitude, while I negotiate the loss of skill and strength, but I can get back to a place where I feel/am strong, agile, capable and fit.

Biggest CrossFit and pregnant challenge I’ve faced: Arguing with others that I am strong and not foolish or neglectful.

Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle? Paleo/Primal since May 2009 (I needed it to get my body back from giving birth to my first baby).

Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered: Rest > diet > exercise. Rest has been the hardest thing to allow myself, especially as a mother and during my second pregnancy. I have done very well with diet, but that is because I understood very early on the importance of making lifestyle changes rather than reactively dieting or trying to follow “expert” advice that doesn’t meet my personal needs.

What have you found most valuable about CrossFit while pregnant?: The point of view! I love being able to see other real women’s experience in negotiating what is both an incredibly inspiring and trying time for a woman.

If you could do it all again, you would: Absolutely, except I would work out through my first pregnancy.

Favorite girl WOD: Grace, although I also have a soft spot in my heart and my very scarred tailbone for Annie.

Three words that describe me: Assertive, stubborn, and loyal

When I’m not in the box, you can find me: at work, at home working, running around doing errands and taking the kids to the playground and trying to change my world in a meaningful way

Twitter handle: @lifenfocus

Facebook profile: Life in Focus

Athlete Profile (update): Leslie Spector

Hiking

Hiking with her babies (photo courtesy of Leslie)

A year ago, we featured Phoenix, Ariz., native Leslie Spector, who was pregnant with baby #2, and an advocate for CrossFitting while pregnant. Today, Leslie is rocking a hot bod thanks to hard work and participating in a Back Alley CrossFit paleo challenge. “I had hit a plateau with my weight loss after Sean,” said Leslie. “The paleo challenge was the nudge of motivation I needed.”

Her results speak volumes:

  • 15lbs gone forever
  • 16 inches gone forever
  • Reduced performance times by at least a minute

Leslie advises that it’s more than just the box and paleo (or any diet tweaks) to get that weight off. “If the kiddos are losing their minds and you can’t make it in, you need to have a back-up plan.” She recommends having a list of at-home WODs, DVDs, or getting outside. “Anything is better than nothing!”

Balance is a struggle for this full time working mom of two. Now having two kiddos to manage and a husband with a fire fighter’s schedule, getting into the box can be tricky, but making the commitment is key.

Double unders! (photo courtesy of Back Alley CF)

Double unders! (photo courtesy of Back Alley CF)

“My best advice is to have a solid routine and stick with it,” said Leslie. “On days when your heart is tugging more toward baby than the box, listen! Those feelings happen for a reason. I love Elizabeth Akinwale’s quote about always having inches to lose and gains to make, but our babies are only babies once. That got me through last week having two sick babies and only working out twice. I really try to be in tune with my needs. If it’s respite, I find someone else to love my babies for the hour I’m working out. If I miss my babes, but know for my own well-being my butt needs to be at the gym, they come along and I work out with the annoying interruptions because that’s better than not seeing them.”

Team WOD (photo courtesy of Back Alley CF)

Team WOD (photo courtesy of Back Alley CF)

When her kiddos do join her in the box, she leverages technology and food. For her toddler, some tablet time is key, since WOD time is some of the only time she sees technology. Her baby’s distractions shift from food, to other people, to his big sissy, to the various toys in the box. “To be honest, the awesome community at Back Alley is what gets me through if he is there,” Leslie said.

Leslie’s focus on a paleo lifestyle helped with the weight loss, but she suggests finding something that works for you and your family. “Dial in the diet, but make it realistic so it works for you instead of being destined to fail. If it’s not realistic, you’ll fail. If you fail, it’s an excuse to go off the rails. At least it is for me.” Having the support of a spouse/partner or the entire family definitely helps. For other moms considering paleo, she offers this advice, “It seems more complicated than it is. Once you know the basics, and carve out prep time, it’s easy.” She turns to Paleo Grubs for recipe inspiration. “I make a spicy chicken recipe at least once a week. I also, have bacon and steak wrapped asparagus in the weekly rotation.” YUM!

Leslie didn’t CrossFit during her first pregnancy, but was a huge advocate for it when she became pregnant with her second baby. Leslie isn’t only focused on her physical health through CrossFit; she uses it for full mind, body, and spiritual health.

Endurance training with Coach Melissa (photo courtesy of Leslie)

Endurance training with Coach Melissa (photo courtesy of Leslie)

“CrossFit is my medicine! Literally, I use it to naturally treat my bipolar disorder,” said Leslie. “Chemicals freak me out and Back Alley makes it possible for me to maintain balance without having to pop pills. If I go more than a couple days without my daily dose of BACF, it’s obvious. I love being dependent on exercise and friends…the support and friendships I have built are priceless!”

How’s that for CrossFit and pregnant success?

More on Leslie:

Biggest CrossFit challenge she’s faced: Front rack lifts, due to a nagging wrist injury that won’t go away.

Greatest CrossFit accomplishment: I can see back muscles after a super successful paleo challenge!

Favorite girl WOD: I like Fran for the challenge. My best time 4:47, but that is a light and scaled version. I did it in 5:53 a little heavier, still a bit scaled too.

Biggest value in CrossFitting while pregnant?: My mental well being and there is less work on the back-end. During my first pregnancy, I gained 70# (sans CrossFit). With number two, it was only about 26# – enough said!

Favorite mom resources? (book, blog, website, toy for baby, etc.): Friends are number one. Support group is number two. I joined one specific to Nursing. Google is another favorite. When my babies were tiny, ‘Baby Wise’ was my go to book. Now I frequently delve into ‘Love and Logic.’

How much time did you take off after your pregnancy before you got back to CF?: I took the recommended six weeks and then I went really slow. CrossFitting while pregnant was much easier than after baby.