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Things I'm Loving Right Now - January 2013

It's time for another Things I'm Loving Right Now list. I just realized that I haven't done one since last August. Oops!

What health and fitness related things are you in love with right now?

8 Tips for Exercising During Pregnancy

Can you believe that just a generation ago, women were discouraged from exercising while pregnant? Indeed, pregnancy was a time to slow down, move less and avoid undue stress and strain on the body, thereby ensuring the birth of a healthy babe.

Nowadays, the benefits of exercise during pregnancy are well known. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a doctor or midwife who doesn’t encourage their pregnant patients to work out regularly.

As a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and mother of three (who worked out religiously throughout 2 of her 3 pregnancies) I can personally attest to the benefits of exercise during pregnancy. My clients and class participants sleep better, report fewer joint aches and pains, and have a more positive image of their changing bodies than their non-exercising friends. Some also report easier deliveries (alas, I was not one of them...).

In general, pregnant women can do the very same exercises as non-pregnant women, with a few modifications (for example, minimizing moves that require you to lie on you back after about 20 weeks). Below you’ll find some of the tips and general recommendations I regularly share with my clients, boot campers and friends!

1.    Maintain the status quo; pregnancy is not the time to worry about setting personal bests or dramatically improving your fitness. Aim for consistency in your workouts and leave the adventure racing for next year.

2.    Be kind to yourself; Your body, and what it’s capable of will change frequently and tasks that were once easy, may become more difficult as your pregnancy progresses  (I distinctly remember having to take out a set of risers in step class at about 24 weeks gestation). Relax in the knowledge that you’ll be able to do it (and more!) all again, once the baby is born.

3.    Focus on safety and form rather than speed; As your belly grows, you may find that you lose your balance more easily than before. Why? Your center of gravity has shifted, both forward and closer to the floor than you’re used to. Slower movements executed with perfect form will not only reduce the likelihood of injury, they can also result in improved strength and muscle size!

4.    Ensure proper hydration during exercise; During pregnancy, blood volume increases by as much as 33% (mom’s blood provides nutrients to both herself and baby). More blood requires more water for proper hydration. Many pregnant women suffer from night time calf cramps (aka ‘charley horses’); prevent them by upping your water intake before, during and after exercise.

5.    Focus on posterior chain work; Pregnancy changes a woman’s center of gravity. Heavy bellies and breasts pull shoulders forward, increasing strain on the upper and lower back. Try adding some extra back exercises to your workout; bent over rows, reverse flys and lat pulldowns are all good choices. Not only will they reduce the back pain frequently experienced during pregnancy, they’ll improve your posture and make you look taller!

6.    Protect your knees; Relaxin, one of the many hormones produced by your body during pregnancy, results in looser, more flexible joints. While beneficial during labour and delivery, it’s effects are not joint specific. Many women find that proper knee alignment during squats and lunges is more challenging during pregnancy, due to greater laxity in the tendons and ligaments of the knees. Pay attention to form and remember that the load your knees are bearing is increasing weekly!

7.    Prepare your upper body for the work to come AFTER baby is born; Infants need to be carried a lot. And they grow continuously, making them the perfect progressive resistance training tool! Strong backs, arms and shoulders will be needed (especially if you carry your baby in an infant seat...) in the months to come. Start training them now!

8.    Enjoy being able to buy stylish workout clothes; Maternity fitness clothes have come a long way in 10 years. No longer do pregnant women have to wear their husband’s gym shorts and old cotton t-shirts to work out in (yes, I really did!). Pregnancy is a great excuse to go shopping!

Tamara Grand lives in beautiful British Columbia Canada with her husband, three children, a ginger cat and a large stash of hand-dyed yarn. She works as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor and enjoys pushing her clients and class participants out of their comfort zones. She’s happiest when they text her the day after a workout complaining about sore arms and legs.
She believes that exercise and healthy eating need to be part of everyone’s life and aims to inspire and motivate others by showing them that if she can do it, anyone can. She blogs about fitness, food, family and fiber (knitting fiber, that is) at and is always thrilled when you comment on her posts. Please follow her on Twitter @fitknitchick_1

**Although Tamara is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, she’s not YOUR personal trainer! Please see your health care practitioner for advice specific to YOUR pregnancy before you begin a new exercise program!

FitViews Favorites: Top 5 Individual Workout DVD's

Instead of doing a hodge podge list of individual fitness DVD's and complete workout systems like I did last year, this year I've broken my list into top 5 workout systems and top 5 individual DVD's. That just made more sense to me!

As with the workout systems I had a really tough time narrowing my favorites down to just 5 DVD's! There's so many great exercise DVD's out there. So many great trainers... Well, it took a while, but I whittled down my list and here are my Top 5 picks for BEST individual workout DVDs:

What's your all time favorite workout DVD?

FitViews Favorites: Top 5 At Home Workout Systems

I confess: I'm an at home workout DVD hoarder. My collection is vast. Sorry, I'm not sorry! I love fitness DVD's, I enjoy doing them, and I just can't seem to get enough of them. Hey, variety is the spice of life, right?

When I sat down to make my list for top 5 workout systems I had a really hard time. There's just so many that I love. But I've come up with my list; the best of the best at home workout systems:

Which workout system would top your list?

FitViews Favorites: Top 5 Must-Have Paleo Cookbooks

People often ask me how I've succeeded with eating Paleo for so long. I've thought about that and I believe that planning ahead and avoiding boredom are possibly the two most important factors for succeeding with Paleo (or any healthy lifestyle choice, really). 

I find having good Paleo cookbooks on hand answers both dilemmas. They spur my imagination and assist in menu planning. I wouldn't do without them!

My Favorites:

4. Paleo Comfort Foods

3. Make it Paleo

2. Paleo Slow Cooking

1. Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook

How do you avoid boredom with your healthy eating routine?

For more:

My Paleo Pregnancy - Week 16

This week I feel like I've really hit my stride, so to speak, with this pregnancy. 

I had my first appointment with my midwife (who is awesome) last week and somehow that made me relax into things more. Not sure why, but it was much needed. I think possibly that I'm just such a planner and that was a big missing piece.

I started a more regular workout routine this week. I'll be doing the strength training DVDs from ChaLEAN Extreme on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and then some from of cardio two or three days a week along with that. Also, I'll be trying to fit in yoga here and there. It feels great to have some structure to my workouts again.

Best sports bra ever.
I ordered a new purple Enell. All of my sports bras are too small. Enell is a must-have pregnancy item for me. Hmmm, that may be a post: must-have items for a fit pregnancy...

Last week's meal plan.
My eating has been much improved. With the nausea completely passed, and fatigue being much less frequent I'm back to my more normal Paleo diet. I've begun meal planning again and doing more of the shopping myself. Planning is so important with Paleo and the lack of it was really taking its toll on my families eating!

Oh yes, and this is back:

I'm having a half of a cup of coffee a day (sometimes a full cup) again. I won't lie, it's bliss.
We've decided we will do an ultrasound. As we're paying for everything out of pocket we had been on the fence about that, but again I'm such a planner I want to know what color I'm buying! That should be in February and I'm super excited for it.

Oh yes, and dearest Tracey, this is for you:

Working Out While I'm Pregnant

Even though this is my fourth pregnancy it's my first time working out while pregnant. The most I did in the previous three was walk. It's quite a new experience!

What I'm doing this time around:

Do you/did you workout while pregnant? What did you do?

My Running Shoe Collection

I'm doing VLOGuary over on my you tube channel. Which is a video every day in January! Every video isn't health or fitness related, so I won't share them all here on the blog. If you're interested in seeing all of my daily ramblings please subscribe!

Yesterday I did my running shoe collection:

Yes, I'm a bit running shoe obsessed. ;)

What's your favorite brand of running shoes?

The Secret To My Success: A Look Back At 2012

I was looking back through my 2012 posts and wondering to myself: what was different this year? Why did I make so much more progress this last year than any year previously? Why did I make it to the lowest weight I've seen in my adult life?

Was it Paleo? Was it Body Revolution? Was I magically just more motivated for 2012?

Honestly, I think the biggest factor was: I didn't quit.

In past years it was starts and stops, big pushes of "Let's do this!" and big jumps off the wagon. 

Throughout 2012 I kept making progress. I was diligent in my search for what worked for me and I just kept going.

I'm so thankful for that.

I'm grateful I didn't quit. I begin this, my fourth pregnancy, in a much happier and healthier place because I didn't quit.

It really is that simple.

I get emails almost daily with people asking my advice or wanting to know how I did it, how I lost the weight, how I went from a size 22 to a size 8... 

 Looking forward to 2013 the most important piece of advice I have for any of you beginning (or continuing) your fitness, weight loss, or healthy living journey is this: Don't ever quit.

Don't quit on you. Don't quit on your goals and dreams. 
Just. Don't. Quit.