Sara Haley is a fitness expert who specializes in pre- and postnatal exercise. Drawing on more than twenty years of fitness and dance training, Sara has developed her own brand of fitness DVDs, The Daily Sweat®, which includes her award-winning prenatal workout program, Expecting More®. Follow @SaraHaleyFit on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Strong, Sexy, Fun:
Loving and Moving Your Pregnant Body
By Sara Haley
‘Empowerment’ is not just a buzzword. It feeds our self-esteem, our confidence, and our identities. I think that’s why motherhood changes so many of us for the better. While parenting always has its challenges, it can also make us feel strong, feminine and joyful, all at the same time.
Another thing that has always given me a feeling of empowerment is exercise. I would never say that exercise is equally empowering as bringing new life into the world, but working out does fulfill my desire to feel strong, sexy and happy.
Before you roll your eyes and turn the page, let me define what I mean by exercise. I’m not insinuating grueling hours at the gym (unless that’s your thing, in which case, go for it!) For me, exercise means waking my body up, keeping my muscles alive and enjoying the ability to move.
I’m a pre and postnatal exercise specialist and as I write this, I’m 35 weeks pregnant with my second child. I’ve always preached that every pregnancy is different, and now I know that for sure. With my son, I had no pain, no bothersome symptoms, and was still doing jumping jacks on the day he was due (He made his debut ten days later.) This pregnancy has been a different ride in many ways, and no, I don’t think that necessarily means I’m having a girl. I just think I’m three years older and my body is coming from a different place, or perhaps this baby simply has his or her own unique needs, just like all of us! Despite the differences in my pregnancies, one need has not changed for me; I’m still determined to keep my body fit and healthy so that I can have the best possible pregnancy, labor and birth, as well as an easier postnatal recovery.
When I created a DVD fitness program for pregnant women, I had three main goals in mind. The first was to include exercises that allowed expecting moms to feel and be strong. Secondly, I wanted to inspire and motivate pregnant women with movements that made them feel womanly and sexy. Finally, I wanted to create fun routines so moms-to-be would smile, laugh and enjoy their workouts. I believe the combination of these three powerful elements – strong, sexy and fun – is the perfect recipe for an empowered workout, body, and life.
A strong body and mind are essential for a successful labor. I’m sure all expectant mothers would love to feel the strongest and healthiest they’ve ever been when they go into labor. Lunging to keep your legs and butt strong, stretching your back and chest to release tension and stay limber, and elongating your limbs to work your balance and core are some of the best ways to keep your body safe and strong through your pregnancy.
When I refer to feeling ‘sexy’ during pregnancy, what I mean is accepting and enjoying your pregnant body. Not only are you undergoing the amazing task of growing a child, but you have the opportunity to flaunt and move the most womanly assets you have – your breasts, belly, hips and butt. Instead of ignoring them or hiding them away, get off the couch and find ways to make those body parts look and feel good. Freedom to move without any inhibitions is sexy. Why not put on your favorite maternity dress and go for a walk outdoors somewhere that you love? Feel the sand or the soft grass between your toes, enjoy the breeze blowing through your hair, and hold your baby bump close. Be proud of your amazing body!
As you progress through your pregnancy, movements that once seemed fun and enjoyable may start to feel awkward and uncomfortable. Rather than getting frustrated, I’ve found the best way to handle this challenge is to work on changing your state of mind. Working out during pregnancy should not be about burning calories, looking a certain way, or sweating your butt off. Instead, focus on just moving your body each day and finding ways to stay active and have fun.
If traditional workouts aren’t for you, just do something active that makes you smile – head to the beach, run and play with your older children or the family dog, hold hands with your spouse or partner, and enjoy being fully present in the moment. After all, no matter how many children you already have, a new arrival changes everything!
I wish you a healthy and fit pregnancy and a joyful introduction (or re-introduction!) into motherhood.