Hello Ambitious Athletes, My name is Tara Lamond. I have trained with Carmen for several years, and he has asked me to write an article about exercise during pregnancy. While I have no board certification when it comes to this topic, I have given birth to two amazing, healthy and happy children and I exercised from beginning to end during both pregnancies. I will try to keep my first column here as PG as possible, so guys, it is safe to stick around if you would like.

I have always been avid about fitness, so I had no doubts that I would want to stay active when I became pregnant. It is well known that exercise during pregnancy leads to healthier moms and healthier babies. From conception, to labor and delivery, to postpartum recovery, exercise makes everything better. And before we go any further, let's clear up one of the biggest myths about pregnancy: it lasts for TEN months, ladies. Whoever started the "nine month" rumor was probably a man, because it is ten. 40 weeks. Just had to put that out there because when you get to the nine-month point and still have four more weeks to go, you could get very upset. Now that we have that cleared up, I figured that I would think of some questions that you might ask me about how I stayed fit during the 20 months I spent pregnant. So, yes, I will go ahead and interview myself!

Q: How was it working out during the first trimester? Did you have any morning sickness?

A: I have to start out by saying that you should ALWAYS discuss your plans to exercise with your doctor first. I was fortunate to go into my pregnancies with a high level of fitness and no complications. Any good doctor will give you the green light to maintain an exercise program throughout your pregnancy. Now, if you are a casual jogger, it probably wouldn't be the best idea to become a Crossfit competitor once you find out you are pregnant. But that is not because you might harm the baby, it is because you might harm yourself! The most important thing is to listen to your body. I will say that I had the hardest time of my life motivating myself to exercise during the first trimester. I felt nauseous all day long and was overwhelmingly tired. I was not one to use pregnancy as an excuse, though, and then there's Kerri Walsh: She won an Olympic gold metal for beach volleyball while in the very early stages of pregnancy!

My main battles during my first trimesters were morning sickness (which to quote Prince William truly is "all-day sickness") and fatigue. Oh my gosh, was I tired!! For those who don't know me, I think it is safe to say that I am a high-energy person. According to my own mother, from the day I turned one, I never took another nap. But do you know the scene in "Old School" when Will Ferrell gets a tranquilizer dart shot in his neck? I reenacted that scene every day at 1:00pm on my desk at work. Thank goodness I had a lock on my office door because I was literally incapable of keeping my eyes open. I would have to put my head down and sleep for 30 minutes! And did I leave work, go home and sit on the couch for the rest of the day? No, I wiped the drool off my cheek, tried to rub the sleeve prints off my forehead and dragged my butt to the gym! It was hard and I did what I could, but I always felt better and more energized when I was finished.

Q. What types of workouts/modifications did you make while pregnant?

A. Like I said earlier, the most important thing is to listen to your body. If I were to boil down my workouts during pregnancy, I would say that I worked out for half as long and half as hard as usual. That just felt right to me. I also found that I had to avoid high impact activities. This was not because I thought that running or jumping would be detrimental to my pregnancy. It was because it made me feel like I had to pee every ten seconds! I have many girlfriends who were able to run throughout their pregnancies and felt great doing so. I personally felt like there was an 8-lb dumbbell laying on top of my bladder. For me, the elliptical machine was my best friend when I was pregnant. As Carmen has said, they should have just presented me with the machine after I gave birth like one would a retired jersey. I am no longer a fan of the elliptical, but it served me well during both pregnancies.

As for strength training, I kept up with that during both pregnancies. Obviously, I had to modify some of the exercises I did and work around the belly. You should know that the hormones produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to become more relaxed. Always make sure you are adequately warmed up. It was interesting to see others' reactions to my lifting weights while pregnant. Most folks were supportive and would say things like, "Your baby is going to come out in running shoes and flexing its muscles". There was one guy at the gym, though, who was visibly stressed whenever I picked up a dumbbell. He would literally rush over to me at the end of the set, take the weight out of my hand and put it back on the rack for me! I so wanted to find him after I gave birth to tell him how perfectly healthy my baby was, but alas, I believe the stress of seeing me do bicep curls with my big belly drove him away from the gym.

I must mention two final things. You may read some articles suggesting you not lie flat on your back while pregnant because it could restrict blood flow to the uterus. When I questioned my doctor about this, he informed me that this would only become a concern if one did so for long periods of time. I would recommend checking with your own doctor, though. And balance can also be a concern during pregnancy. You are now carrying significantly more weight in the front, so make modifications as needed.

Well ladies (and gents if I didn't completely scare you away), I hope that sharing some of my personal experiences have been informative. Stay tuned for next month's edition when I answer more of my own scintillating questions such as: How much weight did you gain? Did you have any cravings? How did you lose the baby weight? And if there are any topics that YOU would like for me to cover, just leave em in the comments field below!

Tara

Note: Ambitious Yoga Coach Emilie Dworkin is certified to work with pre and postnatal women and advises all pregnant women to work at their comfort levels within a safe and guided exercise program.