Athlete Profile: Andrea Signor

Meet Andrea Signor. Andrea is a recovering journalist, momma of two, Olympic weightlifter and founder of mamalifts.com. Andrea reached out to me as she was launching mamalifts. Like me when I first started out, I found there was very little research, which led me to documenting my own experiences. Andrea’s doing the same – primarily centered around Olympic lifting, but she did CrossFit for two years before she focused.

That focus is paying off – she competed in her first Oly competition just FOUR months after delivering baby #2. Talk about inspiring! Andrea’s always been active and loves to be outdoors. Living in Colorado makes it easy to rock climb, snowboard, and hike. And Andrea takes advantage, like most Coloradans.

A proud member of CrossFit Castle Rock Barbell Club, Andrea finds she’s feeling better than she did after her first mostly due to her tribe at the barbell club and lifting with other women — some of whom have had kids and some who haven’t. “Working out at the gym is “me” time and it’s nice to have a few hours a week where it’s just about me feeling good and not having to worry about anything else.”

Also doesn’t hurt that her husband also has her back. He is more enlightened than most and realizes not all women are created equal – so to tell all not to lift more than 10 pounds – is actually silly.

We agree. More from Andrea:

A funnier anecdote: When I told my (male) lifting coach that I was pregnant with my first child, he told me that I should continue lifting and not use my pregnancy as an excuse to not exercise. I believe his exact quote was, “Do you think when Running Deer got knocked up the tribe stopped migrating with the buffalo? No. So you shouldn’t stop training.”

My goal in CrossFitting while pregnant is: My goal was always to maintain strength and stay as healthy as possible. One thing I struggled with in both pregnancies was knowing the line between pushing myself and overdoing it. I think more often than not I went too easy, but I was working out by myself at a rec center and didn’t have a program or a support system to help guide my workouts. (My former coach was in Michigan and we had moved to Colorado during my first pregnancy).

What exercise advice did your doctor provide you? Did you follow it? Ugh. The nurses at my doctor’s office advised me to not lift more than 10 pounds and when I said I was lifting regularly they told me I could lift 25 pounds. To be honest, I just politely nodded and didn’t disclose what I was doing for workouts.

CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find inspiration? I love hearing other women’s stories of working out through their pregnancies. I have a good friend who is currently pregnant with her second child and she’s a yoga instructor. I have another friend who just competed in a power-lifting competition at 14 weeks. I knew women who climbed until they were seven months pregnant. Becoming a parent is such a jarring experience and I think moms especially struggle with wanting to go back to feeling like their old selves and embracing this new role. I think staying active and passionate with a sport is key to helping bridge that divide.

Since doing CrossFit while pregnant, I’ve learned: Your body is capable of so much and when you’re working out and carrying a child you are so much more in tune with your body.

Biggest CrossFit and pregnant challenge I’ve faced: Knowing when I should push more. I think I often played it safe and I probably sacrificed some strength as a result.

Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle? Not really. We cook 90% of our meals at home. We mostly eat meat and vegetables out of convenience; but I never denied myself if I wanted carbs or dessert — it just had to be homemade. So I totally ate cookies and brownies, but because it was kind of pain to bake everything from scratch, it wasn’t super often.

Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered: I always loved feeling my babies go wild after my workouts. I think I lulled them to sleep while I worked out and about 30 minutes after I stopped they would just have a dance party. That was a cool feeling.

What have you found most valuable about CrossFit while pregnant?: It lets you retain a piece of  your old self when so much is changing and out of your control.

Deep squats at 34 weeks pregnant

Modifications you’d like to share with others: Widen your squat stance as your belly grows to adjust for a shifting center of gravity

Lessons learned: There’s a huge community of CrossFitters and lifters who are going through similar experiences. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these groups for support or advice. I wish I would have done this instead of kind of existing in my own bubble for so long.

If you could do it all again, you would: Come up with a programming plan and adjust as necessary instead of “seeing how I feel” when I get to the gym.

Favorite quote: The days are long, but the years are short.

Favorite girl WOD: I don’t remember these, but my favorite lifts are squats and deadlifts – my bread and butter

Three words that describe me: Stubborn, spunky, determined

Postpartum

How was your delivery? Both of my deliveries were textbook. My water broke at 37 weeks and 2 days (for both girls), I labored without drugs (I have scoliosis and wanted to avoid an epidural at all costs), and pushed for about 10 minutes and they were out. My first was born in Frisco, Colorado, at an elevation of 9,000+ feet and, despite being on the earlier side, she didn’t need oxygen (about 50% of babies who are born up there do).

Anything noteworthy your first six weeks? I was cleared to workout with my first two weeks after giving birth. I was cleared at six weeks with my second, although I began doing easy workouts (walking, Turkish get-ups, light squats) sooner.

Are you back to working out? How’s it going? Yes! This recovery has been so much better than my first. I think a lot has to do with hormones, but I’m way more motivated to be at the gym this time around and I’m training for my first Olympic lifting competition, which will take place June 17 (at almost 5 months post-partum).

Any advice you want to share? Do not beat yourself up if the desire to return to the gym isn’t there. I phoned it in for months after my first was born and it wasn’t until I was done breastfeeding that my hormones leveled out and I felt a true desire to get back to it.

Be sure to follow mamalifts:

 

 

 

Thanks for sharing your story, Andrea! xoxo

Athlete Profile | Olivia Leblond

French-born Olivia Leblond has been CrossFitting for two years gave birth to her first born in February. A self designated ninja in the making, Olivia was supported by her spouse to CrossFit during her pregnancy. It was her daily social outing. Olivia and her husband are currently living in Singapore, where pregnancy advice is “by the book,” meaning you’re not allowed to lift anything nor let your heart rate go too high. She tried to explain what she was doing but her doctor just dismissed her. “In that sense, I did take a risk,” Olivia said. “But I only did because it was a low risk pregnancy. Had it been any different, I would have taken down the training intensity a lot.”

More from Olivia

How did you find crossfitandpregnant.com? The day I found out about the pregnancy, my first google search was “CrossFit pregnant”. Though, I’m still rather new to CrossFit, I had been educating myself extensively to become a (good) coach at the time. So I just didn’t want to throw all that away.
Why I started CrossFit: Because I did the usual aerobics. Then the Insanity videos. And then I was desperate to find something tougher. It may be a coincidence that a box opened in my city at the time.
Other exercise practices: if I had the time, I’d do gymnastics. And if I wasn’t so lazy, I’d run but I always make excuses.
My goal in CrossFitting while pregnant is: I wanted to maintain my strength and avoid all the usual pains and aches you hear of. Oh and I wanted to prove to the world that CrossFit can be adapted to EVERYONE. In the future, I’d love to help women before/during/after pregnancy; so I’m my own Guinea pig.
CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find support? In the community, the other athletes at the box, the strangers on Instagram, from my husband and my distance coach in the U.S.
CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find inspiration? I’ve been going to New Hampshire every year for the past 18 years. Two years ago, I visited a box – White Mountain CrossFit – and as I sat there watching a class, this amazing 7-8 months pregnant woman was doing pull ups better than anyone else. That day I said, if I’m ever preggers, I want to be like her! Oh and her coach is now my coach too!
Since doing CrossFit while pregnant, I’ve learned: that your body is pretty intelligent and you can trust it. I’ve learned that you can be super strong when pregnant. I felt amazing at the gym. I’ve also learned that working out stopped the morning sickness.
Biggest CrossFit and pregnant challenge I’ve faced: it’s a mental challenge – specifically not being able to do certain movements anymore. As the pregnancy advanced, I had to stop abs, then pistols, then box jumps. And I felt very heavy the last few weeks. The muscle definition went away as well.
Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle? I’ve kept my diet more or less the same as before. I’ve always eaten clean-ish. I do love candy every once in a while. Quantity wise, it’s been rather normal portions. I have kept on taking protein as usual. I just made sure the products I was ingesting were as natural as possible.
Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered: Don’t listen to the haters, but listen to your body. It’s amazing how the body knows if something is wrong. Some movements were OK the first months and all of a sudden, it felt wrong, so I stopped.
What have you found most valuable about CrossFit while pregnant?: the fact that in the box, even pregnant, you’re still an “athlete.” You’re part of something that’s not about the baby but about yourself. It’s nice for a change. The only difference in the box is your status from “one of the athlete” to “badass mom.”
Modifications you’d like to share with others: it’s not really modifications, it’s more about accessory work. I did loads to support the heavier body and the birth strains. Just bank on the accessory work! I wasn’t following the normal classes. I’m lucky to have a coach in the U.S. sending me a daily program and he looooves accessory work!
Lessons learned: time your pregnancy so you’re not completely out for The {CrossFit Games} Open – haha! I missed it all this year. ☹
If you could do it all again, you would: do the exact same!
Favorite quote: “Push it like you’re giving birth” that’s what I yell at people nowadays.
Favorite girl WOD: Annie. Simple and efficient.
Three words that describe me: mad, resilient, upright
When I’m not in the box, you can find me: At starbucks or sleeping
***
Thanks for sharing your story, Olivia! Enjoy your sweet baby!

Introducing the Newest Team Member

Nothing beats July 4th in the Midwest

Nothing beats July 4th in the Midwest. Lake DeNeveu, 2014.

Our favorite place to celebrate Independence Day is in Wisconsin. The weather is perfect, the beer is cold, and the family and friends are in abundance. We’ve been spoiled spending many a July 4th at the lake where I grew up vacationing with family.

This year, we celebrated in the second best place ….

LABOR and DELIVERY!

Smiling between contractions

Smiling between contractions

We joyfully welcomed bebe #2 in the early morning hours of July 3. A little firecracker from conception … it’s just fitting his arrival landed the celebratory weekend! Hard to believe he’s already a month old and we can’t imagine life without him. Meet Micah James:

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Big sis | already so much in love

Big sis | already so much in love

Happy One Month!

Happy One Month!

Micah was late and his delivery was fairly quick, just like his big sister. My labor started in the afternoon with contractions that quickly progressed. We were admitted into the hospital at 10:30 p.m. and that epidural couldn’t come fast enough!

Special shout-out to our OBGYN team. Not only did the same doctor deliver both our babies (unheard of in our practice), but, once he was multiple days late, they also worked with us to make sure we had a holiday-weekend delivery, which is exactly what we wanted.

We love Dr. Mayer!

We love Dr. Mayer!

I did manage a CrossFit workout on Saturday, July 2 at Chuckwalla CrossFit. It was a good one with lots of jumping, running, and lifting. I think Coach John’s programming did the trick – THANKS JOHN!

And, don’t hate me for saying this, but my recovery has been simple. I’ve been up and about … doing my mom/consultant thing. And last week, I started some at-home conditioning; nothing crazy, even simple push-ups are making me sore.

We’re so thankful to the CrossFit communities of CrossFit Full Strength and Chuckwalla CrossFit in Phoenix. While I was nowhere near as dedicated or setting PRs like I did the first go-around, it felt amazing to lift some weights when I could.

Coach Luz coaching me through one of the CrossFit Open WODs at Full Strength.

Coach Luz coaching me through one of the CrossFit Open WODs at Full Strength. March, 2016.

As I’ve recently written, working out at Full Strength with Coach Luz, a two-time Olympic contender, has been inspiring and educating. I’ve been able to focus on improving the mechanics of my lifts – especially the snatch (which I was never comfortable with prior to pregnancies!) – instead of focusing on setting PRs. While setting PRs can give you a natural high, there’s also so much to be said for working through the details of complicated lifts and the feeling of success that comes with nailing it.

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Coach John is the best!

Coach John Hazdovac is the best … even if his WOD didn’t get my water to break during the WOD! ha!

This girl loves to test herself.

This girl loves to test herself.

More rings!

Different Day. More rings!

The few Saturdays before our delivery, we spent at Chuckwalla as a family. Chad and I worked out and FG played in the supervised kiddo area. It was awesome to do that together. We’re so appreciative to the Hazdovac family for making it work for us!!!

So, not our typical July 4th and subsequent weeks, but full of fireworks all the same. Welcome to the team, Micah. We love you so much already!

xoxo,

Team Leatherman

Both babies at one month.

Both babies at one month.

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.

***

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!

Five Weeks Off …

Five weeks off from CrossFit is five weeks too long. Finally made it back to CrossFit Full Strength this week {despite being told the ligaments in my foot needed at least 12 weeks}. I’m not running or jumping to reduce impact; it did feel really good to have a bar between my hands again.

CFFS added weightlifting classes to its early-morning line-up on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Coach Luz. As I’ve mentioned before, Coach Luz is a multi-attendee at the Olympics for weightlifting, so any opportunity to learn and train with her is only time well-spent.

Coach Luz - total bad a**

Coach Luz – total bad a**

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She’s done a really good job of pushing my comfort with doing snatches. For whatever reason in my 3+ years of CrossFit, this lift was never really an emphasis {and one I flat out avoided when I was pregnant with FG}. Even after such a short time under Luz’s guidance, the lift hold and movements are becoming second nature. Now it’s time to start increasing my weight!

WODs:

Tuesday

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Warm up: 400m row and tabata planks

Snatch: 55# – definitely could have added. Squat clean + split jerk: 85# again add more. Back squat: 105#.

Thursday

Tuesday

Thursday was a lot!

Snatch 65# x2
Hang power clean 90# X1 – was struggling to get my elbows up!
Front squat + back squat (1/2) 90#
Romanian Deadlift 90# (3×8)
Weighted planks 10#. 1.55 mile walk

Definitely sore today!

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.

Six-week Challenge: Week 4

It was a good week of workouts and weather in Phoenix! We spent a lot of time outdoors, enjoying the 80+ degree weather.

My favorite running buddy

My favorite running buddy

This handsome, furry fella and I managed a two mile run to kick off the week. I haven’t hit the pavement for a run since October and it felt great! Frankie was in heaven. Really, anytime he gets some solo time with Chad or me, he’s in heaven. He’ll always be the first “born!”

Happy Valentine's Day + Getting a jump start on St. Paddy's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day + Getting a jump start on St. Paddy’s Day!

Thursday, the hubs had an early morning and I couldn’t stand to wake this hamball to make the Thursday CFFS Challenge WOD. I had every intention to make the evening session and then LIFE. So glad I got that run in earlier in the week!

I was solo in the Friday morning class – as in no other ladies showed up – boo! Selfishly, it was nice to have some very personal attention from CrossFit Full Strength’s Olympic Weightlifting pro {She’s been the the Olympics three times!}. Can you say, badass?!

***

Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning

Tenth WOD: worked on hang power snatch (65#) for two rounds / 3 sets; metcon: 3 rounds 5 hang power snatches (55#) + 10 lunges each leg + 30 singles jumping rope + 1 minute rest between rounds: 7:29

Eleventh WOD: skipped!

Front squat. 100#

Front squat. 100#

Twelfth WOD:  snatch – full and power snatch. My equilibrium was off for the full power snatches. Stuck to 55# to work on form. Front squat – ended with 100# for 5. metcon: 21-15-9 thrusters (55#) + ring rows: 7:15

***

Valentine’s Day:

All you need is love ... and CrossFit.

All you need is love … and CrossFit.