Exercise During Pregnancy – Healthy for Mom & Baby

Pregnancy is such an exciting time for new moms-to-be! As your body goes through endless changes throughout the 9 months of pregnancy and into the postpartum stage, it can also be a very confusing time for many women. One major area of confusion is exercising throughout pregnancy. Whether you have an established fitness routine or you are looking for guidance to begin one, exercise during pregnancy is important and safe for most women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Always discuss with your OB/GYN before beginning a fitness routine to ensure there are no contraindications.

Exercise during pregnancy is focused on maintaining health and reaping the benefits exercise can have for you and your baby. This is not a time for weight loss or personal bests.
Benefits of exercise for mom and baby include:
Maintaining a healthy weight throughout pregnancy and overall physical fitness level
Decreased aches and pains, especially low back pain when core exercises are included
Decreased risk of Gestational Diabetes and Caesarian deliveries
Increased stamina for labor and delivery
Decreased recovery time during Postpartum period
If you were sedentary before, start slowly, beginning with 15-20 minutes of daily physical activity (walking or jogging), with a goal of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week including 2-3 days of strength training. Always make sure you stay well hydrated throughout the day, wear loose exercise clothing, and avoid exercising in high heat or humidity. It’s especially important now to listen to your body, and rest when needed. You should be slightly out of breath, but should ALWAYS be able to talk while exercising.

The first trimester can be one of the most difficult times to find motivation to stay active. Many moms experience nausea and fatigue throughout this time period. Start with walking or jogging as your body will tolerate it and eat small meals throughout the day. Focus on building the deep muscles of the core by performing Deep Belly Breathing. Lay on your left side with your hand on your belly button. Gently take a deep breath in, allowing your belly to expand, followed by a gentle exhale drawing your belly button into your spine. Continue breathing deeply, but gently enough that you do not feel light headed. Glute bridges, squats, and planks are all exercises that will help build a strong support system for the lower back and better posture throughout pregnancy.

During the second trimester, many moms experience an increase in energy as their nausea and fatigue begins to diminish. Avoid exercises that require lying on your back for prolonged periods and modify strength exercises from a standing to seated position as needed. As ligaments loosen to prepare the pelvis for pregnancy and birth, many moms may experience pain in their glutes and legs, especially when lifting one leg at a time. Single leg exercises may need to be avoided. Exercises can be done in a seated or kneeling position to reduce pain. Gliders and stability balls can also be used to decrease pain.

The third trimester often requires many modifications as your center of gravity shifts and balance changes. Stability balls are a great tool to perform exercises safely and comfortably throughout this time period. Strength exercises previously done from a standing position can be done while seated on a stability ball. Challenge your balance and core strength with the bird dog exercise. On hands and knees with a neutral spine, extend your right arm and left leg while continuing to breath. Hold for 10 seconds and return to the center, and switch sides. Complete 3 sets on each side.

Throughout all three trimesters, focus on engaging the core with each exercise and performing Deep Belly Breathing. Stay hydrated throughout the day, and make sure to drink water at least every 15-20 minutes throughout your workout. Always listen to your body, modify or skip exercises that cause pain as your body changes, and rest when needed. Remember, you always know what’s best for you and your baby, and have the power to be a strong, fit mom!



Kristen Szewczyk, RN, CPT is a Registered Nurse and Certified Personal and Perinatal Fitness Trainer in Nashville, Tennessee. Kristen works with Strength in Moms to provide personal training to pregnant and postpartum women in Nashville, TN and Atlanta, GA. For more information on exercise during pregnancy or to set up an individual session with Kristen, please visit http://www.strengthinmoms.com or email Kristen@StrengthinMoms.com.

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Together Our Voices Are Louder! #WomensMarch

While I cannot march today with my fellow women, men and children, I feel like I can still show my support. Today there are women all over the world showing their solidarity for each other. There are marches in cities all over the US, in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and even in Russia (where you have to have a permit in order to march, so their are strolling around together). There are tens of thousands of people standing together in order for our voices to be heard.
This Women’s March is not about Donald Trump. It is more about the common inequalities in the world. It is not about the election in the US, but about the protection of women in every country at every level. I am not anti-Trump, because I am an American and I love my country. I do not want him to fail, but I want him to learn and understand the frustrations of many of us. I am Pro-Women!
I believe in gender equality, racial equality, LGBTQ equality, reproductive freedom, equal pay for equal work, paid family leave, an end to violence against women, and an end to the general acceptance of verbal and physical abuse of women.
Women have stood up against inequalities together for centuries. Almost 100 years ago we fought for the right to vote and today we stand together to push these rights further and further in order to protect more people.Womens Inequality
I do not think Donald Trump is evil and hates women, but I do think that he lacks respect for women. As the leader of the free world, respect for all is a MUST! Throughout the election, he made statements that not only insulted women, but also people of color, immigrants, the poor and our planet. He generalized people into categories and engaged Americans into an ‘Us vs Them’ debate. The “locker room talk” that he laughed about and tried to brush under the rug is stuck in my head. I am not okay with how he speaks to people and about women. My kids even see him as a bully.
Over the next 4 years I will pray that he learns how to work with people and not over people. I pray that he does not isolate people, instead he unites us. I pray this because I am an American and I live here too. I pray this because there are people in my community who cannot speak for themselves or who are just not heard. Together our voices are louder!
Women are beautiful and strong. Women are leaders and team players. Women are hard working and determined.
This is why, today….Women March! #WomensMarch
Womens March
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10 Easy Ways to Find 10 Minutes of Exercise Throughout the Day!

Summer can be a tough time to stay active. With vacations, day drinking, & kids home, many people find summer a time of weight gain. Here are some tips to keep up your activity in a hectic day!

Strength in Moms

  1. Take the StairsTake the Stairs
  2. Park further away from the grocery store
  3. Take a lap around the entire mall before and after you shop
  4. Walk throughout your office rather than emailing or texting coworkers
  5. Get off the subway or bus one or two stops before and walk the rest of the way
  6. Walk around, up/down stairs, do squats or hold a wall squat while on a phone call or conference call
  7. Take the groceries in one bag at a time or take the laundry to rooms one group of clothing at a time
  8. Wash your car yourself (let the kids help!)
  9. Sit on a stability ball at your desk (work your core throughout the day)
  10. Play outside with your kids (tag, sports, hide and seek)Kids Parents playing

10 minutes every day can make a BIG difference!

Reduce stress, feel more fit, relax and have fun!

What everyday fitness activities do you enjoy?

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When Life Hands You Lemons…

…you all know how the rest goes…blah blah blah! Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 10.23.43 AM

The problem with this quote is that it doesn’t address the difficulty in accepting these lemons in the first place. I have been very active my entire life. If I wasn’t at practice, I was outside shooting baskets or at the batting cages. If I was between seasons, I was running or working drills. I placed my athleticism on the top of my attribute list. I took pride in the sports I played and my athletic ability. I was a runner, swimmer, biker, basketball player, lacrosse player, waterpolo player, softball player, volleyball player, triathlete…and then I turned 40!

There is a funny quote my orthopedist told me before I went in for my ACL replacement surgery in 1993…”God gave you the mind of an athlete, but the body of a pianist.” (no offense to the athletic piano player that is reading my blog right now).

I was always a little nervous & excited about turning 40 because at every event I participated in, I saw these 40+ year old women killing it. I thought to myself that it must be because they have more time to train since their kids are older. I looked forward to that level of competition in my 40’s. I anticipated my sprint triathon times to get faster and faster. I dreamed of the endless hours spent on the open road in rural Georgia on my bike with other cyclists. Nevertheless, God seems to have another path for me.

Since my 40th birthday I have been in some sort of physical therapy working on my knees, hip, feet, neck or shoulder. Sometimes I feel like my body’s warranty is up. This is my crossroads! Many people would take this time as their chance to check out or slow down. I cannot accept that option. I have decided to take this aching body into a fitness routine that works for me. I teach fitness and strength everyday. I modify for all of my prenatal and postpartum moms, why can’t I modify for myself? I CAN!

I no longer run. That was the first thing I had to accept. The impact of running makes my knees look like cantaloupes. I lift more often with lighter weights. My squats don’t go as deep, my stretching lasts a little longer, and my cardio exercises are non-impact. Slowly my mind and my heart are beginning to accept this fact.

Now back to my opening comment.  Turning lemons in lemonade is great, but when the lemons gets dropped on you, it hurts! Each of us will have to face a fitness crossroad at some point in our lives. It is important to think about the big picture and the long term affect. Just because your mind has a bucket list, does not mean your body agrees. Many people work their body so hard in order to cross off a fitness goal, that when it is over, so is their fitness routine. Listen to your body and accept that we only have this one body here to work with…take care of it! That means keeping it strong, healthy and loving it through the good and the bad!

…off for a walk!Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 10.22.19 AM

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Tis the Season…For the Holiday Bulge!

Tis the season….for the Holiday bulge! I’ll never tell anyone not to enjoy their holiday meals & treats, but there are ways to keep some self control.Turkey Day

1. Don’t stand in front of the appetizers, grab a small plate and walk away.
2. Eat a healthy snack before you go to a party to avoid overdoing the treats
3. At the holiday meal, taste everything you want, just watch your portions.
4. Watch the amount of liquid calories you consume.
5. Work for the meal by being active!

Have a Happy & Safe Holiday Season!

Stay Strong & Fit!


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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – A Virgin Backpacker’s View

Many of you know that I recently went on a backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park with a good friend of mine. This had been on her bucket list for years and I was the lucky girl that was able to join her. A trip of a lifetime! We met up with 5 other women and 2 female guides in Yosemite Valley to prepare for the week of backpacking ahead of us. We laughed at the fear in our eyes of the unknown that was laying in front of us.IMG_3191 As we sat talking, we all noticed the smoke haze that settled into the sky above. It was caused by the numerous forest fires that are currently burning in the park. Some of these fires are purposefully set by the fire department, while others are accidentally set by hikers or lightning. In fact, the park has placed a ban on campfires because of the high risk of fires. We sat as a group discussing our hopes, fears and plans for the week ahead. The park rangers changed our itinerary first because of a current fire at our starting trailhead. Secondly we had to adjust a second campsite because the stream that feeds the area is dry….completely dried up! (see picture – stream bed)IMG_3201The scenery and views throughout the trip were amazing and I can find no words that truly capture the moments. The week was filled with a lot of laughter, some frustrations, strong fears, breathtaking scenery, some body aches and pains…but most importantly the trip was filled with some KICK ASS AMAZING WOMEN! Some of the women were in their 30’s while others in their 60’s. We hiked 33 miles as a group, we supported each other and we gave each other space. These women inspired me then and continue to inspire me today. I will carry the pictures in my mind and the stories in my heart for ever!Top of Half DomeNow that I am home and digesting all of the memories, lessons and events of the trip, a few very important things stay in the forefront of my mind. I wanted to pass on some thoughts…

– California and other areas in the pacific northwest and pacific coast areScreen Shot 2015-10-08 at 12.54.08 PM in a dangerous & severe drought! It is truly hard to imagine when you only hear about it on the news, but rivers, streams and lakes are drying up! The river beds and lakes in Yosemite National Park feed northern California! We were witness to several streams that were bone dry and Cathedral Lakes was more or less down to one lake.

– The amazing waterfalls that everyone thinks of in Yosemite National Park are just small streams over rocks. They should be rushing waters over the rocks edge. You can see the water marks to either side of the waterfall stream where the water used to run and it is gone.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 12.53.31 PM– The lush green meadows filled with flowers and wildlife are becoming a matted floor of brittle weeds and dust. I know that fire is an important park of the ecology and it the restores the forest but the current state of the forest is making it easy for these fires to get out of control.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 12.52.16 PM– We ALL need to do our part to reduce, reuse, recycle! This means our water, our natural resources, our packaged goods…it includes everything. One of the points of backpacking is that you have to carry everything! You have to carry your pack of clothes, sleeping bag and tent, your food, your water, your filter, your personal items and your TRASH! Therefore, you are constantly making smart decisions to reduce, reuse and recycle everything.

We can do our part and we can make a difference, even if it is only in our little community. Every little bit helps!

  • Recycle your plastics, glass and paper goods
  • Don’t let the water run when you are not using it
  • Buy larger bulk items and then use reusable containers to pack snacks and lunches
  • Reuse in a different way, sell or donate items that you no longer need
  • Unplug items in your house or office so that they don’t constantly draw electricity even when you are not using them
  • Make good choices

Reduce  *   Reuse  *  Recycle

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 12.53.10 PM

  •  Thank you Yosemite National Park, Call of the Wild, Cori, Sandra, Emilie, Amy, Mark, Deanna, Laura Lee and most importantly – Thank you Laura Hathaway for inviting me and sharing your tent! My life has changed for the better because of all of you!
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My Girlfriend Cup (40th Edition)

Ok ladies…now that I am 40 (which is just a number) I have the ever growing feeling to make sure that my relationships with my girl friends are as strong as ever! All my life I have been surrounded by strong amazing women. My cup has continuously been filled by the love and suppoIMG_0483rt of my girlfriends. I cherish all of the funny group texts, surprise phone calls on a Tuesday afternoon, getaway weekend trips, nights out on the town and most of all the memories we have made. As we get older and busier, we need each other more than ever. Some of us are separated by many miles and others are around the corner, you are always in my thoughts.
You are my rocks and my foundation. 😋👩‍❤️‍👩

Now that all the heart strings have been plucked….let’s put this lovey stuff into action. Each one of us needs to make plans to get together! Not talk about, but make plans! Even if it is for next year….get it on the calendar! Go grab dinner or drinks, fly somewhere amazing or meet in a podunk town somewhere in the middle! It can be just 2 of you or a group of 20! As long as more memories are made. If you can’t get away from where you are, call a friend and see if they can come to you! The important thing is to refill your girlfriend cup! And your girlfriends are the ones who know how!

Our lives can overwhelmingly be filled with events for the kids, family or work. We do not make it a priority to fill some of our time with get togethers, phone calls, etc…with our girls. Even though you may see each other often, down time together is what we crave. Laughter, story telling & catching up on old times….whatever it is, GO make a plan!

For some of your friendships….just reconnect and catch up!
For others…go make more memories this year.
No matter if you hung out last week or in 2002😱…you are important to each other and those friendships are vital to each one of you❤️. I look forward to hearing about the memories!Image

Go Fill Your Cup!

Share your reconnection stories with everyone here…

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