“You go girl!” I heard that a few times and even got 2 high-fives on my Saturday afternoon run (or should I say jog) this past weekend.
I was a little surprised at these reactions. I was just doing my thing, in my normal zone, focused on my running as usual. Then I realized I probably did look a little strange running because I am ALL belly these days.
I tend to forget that running with a big belly does look a bit unusual because this has been my normal routine throughout my pregnancy. I have stayed active and made it a priority to eat well so that I could have a healthy pregnancy ultimately hoping it helps me have a healthy baby.
I recently read a study that showed a woman’s diet and activity level during pregnancy can affect a child’s mental development, specifically when it comes to developing ADHD. Sure, we know that a woman’s health during pregnancy will affect her baby, but studies are showing how it correlates with the health of the child as it grows. I realized that what I do now will affect my future 10 year old. That is powerful!
I’ve been asked how I have stayed healthy during pregnancy. People wonder how I have the energy to still be working with clients, organizing a nursery, sticking some of the yoga poses in my regular class, and going for a Saturday afternoon run in the park. No, I don’t have it all together (the nursery is still a work in progress!), but I have energy to keep focusing on all the balls I am trying to juggle.
The key: prioritizing taking care of myself.
Even on long, busy days, I make sure to take care of my body. I know in taking care of me, I am taking care of my baby. I also know that this helps me care for my husband, my clients, and my friends as I have quality energy to give to them. If I wasn’t taking care of myself, I wouldn’t have the capacity to take care of others well. It is a core value of mine, to be present for those that matter most.
What’s my secret? Below I share the top priorities I focus on every day to ensure I am living out that core value:
Eat my greens
I am so thankful that I still enjoy eating green vegetables. I LOVE a good salad. I was worried that I would have an aversion to greens during pregnancy as I had heard horror stories of this happening to other women. Thankfully, I can still enjoy every bite of my all time favorite: a Greek salad.
Rich in tons of vitamins and minerals, eating greens is essential to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Folate helps develop the baby’s brain and nervous system. Iron supports me and my baby’s red blood cell supply which is critical for getting oxygen to all parts of our bodies. Calcium helps build baby’s bones and keeps mine strong.
Here is my weekly green consumption:
- Spinach - I always have it on hand for a quick salad. Top it with grilled chicken or walnuts, strawberries, red onion, and drizzle with a olive oil and fresh lemon.
- Kale - I use it in salads, stir-frys, and omelets.
- Brussels sprouts - I roast them in the oven for a quick side dish. Check out my go-to recipe here.
Eat healthy fats
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for a baby’s development, specifically their brain development. Plus Omega 3’s help boost the mother’s mood (aka prevent pregnancy depression), which my husband has found extremely beneficial for the sanity of our home during the past 8 1/2 months.
I get my healthy fats through the following foods:
- Wild Alaskan salmon - I cover it with olive oil, lemon, and fresh dill then bake it in the oven on 350 degrees F for 15 - 20 minutes. Easy and so satisfying!
- Extra virgin olive oil - I literally cover every salad and vegetable with olive oil, whether I am eating it raw or cooking it. I also love to dip a few pieces of a fresh baguette into a bowl of it. Yes, I’ve craved a good fresh loaf of bread during pregnancy. I’m going to have to reduce my consumption after baby Streib is born!
- Avocado - I add an avocado to any of my salads or use it in my black bean and quinoa bowl.
Eat quality protein
Amino acids in protein are the building blocks for every cell in my body and my baby’s body. I have concentrated on making sure I am getting enough protein every day.
Foods I eat to help ensure I get good protein:
- Eggs - A staple in my home. I scramble them in the morning for breakfast or make a frittata for dinner. Check out my spinach and tomato frittata for a quick and easy dinner.
- Lean meats like chicken and salmon - I keep these in my refrigerator or freezer to make quick dinners like this roasted chicken and vegetables from Real Simple.
- Lentils - Protein-packed and loaded with B vitamins that are vital for forming baby’s brain and nervous system as well as keeping my hair and skin glowing and healthy during these 9 months of pregnancy. I love making my French Lentil Salad for dinner and eating as leftovers for lunch. A simple meal that goes a long way for my and baby’s health!
Maintain consistent exercise
I’ve maintained my exercise routine for my own sanity. I love running, and I love yoga. If I couldn’t do these two things while being pregnant, I would be depressed. Of course, I am running much slower than I did before pregnancy, and I modify many poses in yoga, but I am still working hard to maintain a fitness routine. I aim to exercise 6 days a week, alternating yoga classes with running days. I put it on the calendar and prioritize that appointment with myself. I need it not just for my physical health, but for my mental and emotional health.
Drink LOTS of water
Being pregnant during the summer in the south, enough said. I walk outside for 1 minute, and I am starting to sweat. Staying hydrated is key for my health and my baby’s health as it helps build new cells, deliver nutrients, and flush out toxins. Plus the dangers of dehydration are real: it ups the risk of early labor. I aim to get half of my body weight in ounces of water every day.
Listen to my body
Being this is my first pregnancy, everything has been new to me. I’ve had to learn to be gracious with myself and listen to what my body needs during this season. I have craved more carbohydrates than I did before my pregnancy. I figure I need the nutrients in those foods so I am allowing myself to eat those few slices of bread that I normally wouldn’t eat. I am craving salt so I enjoy some corn chips and salsa with my chicken salad at dinner.
I am learning to enjoy slow runs instead of trying to beat my last timed mile. Restorative yoga has been what my body needs at times over a vinyasa flow. Though I am one to push myself, I am learning to stay tuned to my body’s needs, which ultimately is my baby’s needs. I guess this is part of learning to be a mother, right?!
The great news is that even if you are not pregnant, you can apply all of these priorities to your own life. We all need to eat good green foods, healthy fats, and quality protein to fuel our metabolisms, stabilize our energy levels, maintain our muscle mass, and prevent overindulging on a pint of ice cream. We all need to drink lots of water every day to flush out toxins in our bodies and maintain a healthy weight. Listening to our bodies is crucial to knowing how to truly take care of it for the long haul.
If I have learned anything during this pregnancy, it is to be gracious with yourself during the various seasons of life. We all will inevitably go through times of winter, where times are hard and the landscape is bleak, as well as times of spring, where times are joyous and new adventures are awaiting to unfold. Taking care of your health will look different with each season. You have to learn to be gracious with the process of learning how to make it a priority as seasons change. You will figure it out. Then you are prepared for that season when it rolls around again!