My big challenge this year was taking on the Ironman 70.3 in Galway with my teammates Rosanna Davison and Kathryn Thomas.
Little did I know that while completing the event, there was a fourth member on the team. Yes, I was already a couple of weeks pregnant then, and now I’m 16 weeks and counting into my first pregnancy.
I have to say, I’m feeling particularly good and I can’t help but think it’s down to a really good diet and plenty of exercise.
I decided to take a two-week break after the Ironman and then get back to the gym to keep as fit as possible during pregnancy — but my body had other plans.
It started with morning sickness — not exactly easy with 5am starts and clients every hour.
I had three full weeks of utter exhaustion and I was starting to panic. This was the longest I had ever gone without training.
I had a lack of motivation and I was more tired and grumpy. I found food hard to take, and without that, it was difficult to have a happy face on when with clients. I couldn’t even keep down my morning cup of coffee.
I needed to rest a lot and I did. It was a tough time but I kept going and there was a turning on the road. One afternoon I had a cup of coffee and enjoyed it, knowing it would stay down.
With that my spark was back and I couldn’t pack my gym bag fast enough to hit the weights.
Now I’m fully back to training mode. There is not much I wouldn’t do in the gym at this stage. I don’t push myself as hard and I take more rests in between sets, but that feeling of being energised after a good workout still sets me up for the day.
I don’t avoid core workouts; I just change them to what works for me. Squats and deadlifts are my big favourites but I’ve just altered them or chosen other exercises that are less demanding on the lower abdomen. Although my diet is good, I make an even bigger effort to eat only clean healthy foods and to keep sweet treats at a minimum.
I’m finding I have no particular cravings and foods that are appealing tend to be lean meats, vegetables, pickles and roll mop. That’s my advice on food — keep away from the rubbish and your body will crave the wholesome food you feed it.
As regards training, the first thing I would advise is to talk to your doctor before taking anything on.
I’ve trained many pregnant clients right up to their due time and there are key things that you should be aware of. Certain exercises are no-go, like squats etc which put pressure on the lower abdomen. You also need to be careful of anything that gets the heart rate up too high, like overhead exercises etc.
Remember, if you’ve never been in a gym before, this is not the time to start lifting weights.
If you have been training, seek advice from experienced trainers on what’s okay and see what classes would suit you. Otherwise get out for those long walks to keep the energy levels up.
And the one thing I’ve discovered is to listen when your body is telling you that it needs a rest.
This article appeared in Fit magazine, free with the Irish Independent every Thursday.