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Lauren Hills: "My top 5x tips for staying healthy while pregnant"

"Who needs weights? Progressive overload... carrying 5 extra kilos of bump 🙈 was wondering why these were getting harder!" #25weeks


"Some days I went to the gym and would stare at the weights, willing them to lift themselves while I tried not to spew. 

Other days, I would have an awesome training session. And then there were days I was better off just going home..."

Lauren Hills is 26 weeks pregnant.

What is so remarkable about Lauren is that she spent 3 years preparing for her pregnancy by getting into the best physical shape possible to carry a child.

Now she is reaping the long-term benefits of weight-training and healthy eating by continuing to stay active as she heads into the third trimester of her pregnancy.

Several weeks ago she also made the long trip from Alice Springs to Melbourne to join us at the Ab Factory for a photo-shoot to celebrate all her hard work.

I asked Lauren if she would share her best 5x tips for staying healthy while pregnant.

 Check them out below :)

Trish

Pregnant and glowing - Lauren is reaping the benefits of staying healthy and active while pregnant

Lauren's top 5x tips for staying healthy while pregnant:

#1. Take the time to focus on your health BEFORE you start trying to get pregnant

Give yourself time - at least two years if possible - to invest and focus on your health and to be in the best shape physically, mentally and emotionally before you even start trying to get pregnant. 

Forget about 12 week diets and detoxes and boot camps to get fit and lose weight right before you start trying to have a family - these won't fix any of your problems and will only exacerbate your poor lifestyle habits and health while you are pregnant and beyond.

I would recommend making yourself accountable to a coach and take the time to learn how to;

  • Lift weights to build muscle and establishing a routine of intense weight training 3-4x a week. Having muscle increases immune system and therefore reduces the chances of getting sick while pregnant. 
  • Set up your environment for new habits that support your body and health, including time-saving strategies to make nutrient-dense foods more available to you, nutrient timing, and replacing the habits that no longer serve the lifestyle you are working towards.
  • Eliminate stresses that are detrimental to your happiness, health and well-being. This may include toxic relationships, alcohol, destructive emotional behaviours such as self-sabotage or labelling foods as "good" or "bad", even the social media content you are exposed to.
  • Establish a good sleep routine where you wake up feeling refreshed and energised.

The habits you have before you get pregnant are the ones that you will carry into your pregnancy and will follow you into parenthood. Getting fit and healthy should not be a knee-jerk reaction. Give yourself plenty of time to create new, healthier habits that will support the role model you envision yourself to be for your new family.

The key to Lauren's success - her fridge is always full of healthy pre-made meals

#2. Don't stress about the stuff you can't control. Focus on the things you can.

Pregnancy is pretty fucking incredible, but it can be pretty cruel too. From morning sickness, to the overwhelming cloud of fatigue and needing to nap when you have a long list of shit to do, to the thought of coffee making you want to hurl, heartburn after eating your favourite foods, the various aches and pains and propping yourself up on a tower of pillows to sleep, or when your favourite jeans no longer button up and you have to buy your first pair of "stretch maternity jeans" (that was a tough day).

Often it won't matter what you do or don't do - you can't change the symptoms. There is a lot out of your control. But the time will pass, so focus on what you can control, and you will be okay!

I was dry-reaching and very nauseous for most of my first four months, and then sporadically in the weeks that followed. For someone who has developed some great nutritional habits over the years, it really messed with my head to be suddenly eating marmite on toast or a few mouthfuls of stewed apple for breakfast rather than my usual protein-packed meals with loads of colourful, fibrous vege. Some days it stayed down. Some days it did not.

Some days I went to the gym and would stare at the weights, willing them to lift themselves while I tried not to spew. Other days I would have an awesome training session. And then there were days I was better off just going home.

One time I nearly passed out in a café, and spent the next two days laying on the couch, despite having loads of work I wanted to get done.

Don't stress. Just roll with it. Focus on what you CAN control. Food prep when you can. Eat small mouthfuls of nutritious food when you can. Stick to your training regime, and make the most of a good session. If it was crap, better luck next time. Make the most of that time on the couch chilling because tomorrow you could feel up to being productive.

Lauren says there will be plenty of bumps in the road, but don't let that stop you from prioritising your health

#3. Eat for health, NOT FOR TWO!

Suddenly the morning sickness starts to pass (fingers crossed), your cute little bump starts to pop, your appetite returns, and you start to feel excited about life again. Although you will need to consume a few extra hundred calories with each passing trimester, this is not an excuse to eat for two! It is an opportunity to eat for health and nurture your growing baby.

Eating small meals frequently packed with proteins and nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables and good fats that are full of flavour and keep you satisfied is key. As your belly gets bigger, the heartburn is real - it gets tricky to find the balance between getting enough calories in, but not eating too much you feel like you are going to pop and your oesophagus burns from stomach acid! 

I found omelettes, slow-cooked meals, vege-packed fritters and yogurt with fresh or stewed fruit were delicious go-to's that were easy to digest. Strategically adding in a small amount of higher energy carbs to a few extra meals outside my metabolic window helped too. I kept track of my food data and used photos to measure the effects. The goal was to meet the demands of nurturing my growing belly and remain as healthy as possible, not to double the size of the rest of me!

If you are craving particular foods - see if you can identify why. I realised I had started to eat dark chocolate most days (which was a new habit). Was it because I was hungry (due to smaller meals) or was it emotional (nerves about pending mum-life or stress about business/relationships/life?). 

While I addressed these possible reasons, was it also possible I could get away with eating a small controlled amount each day? Maybe - I'll record it as data and find out!

Zucchini fritters - Lauren has been making simple healthy meals that are easy to digest while pregnant

#4. Listen to your body

Just when you think you have gotten used to one thing, the next crazy change or dose of hormones hits! Learn to be mindful and in-tune with your body. It is pretty good at telling you what's what.

I took 4x whole weeks off training around week 19. Weight-training only accounts for about 2% of my week, and it's only as good as the other 98% of my life. Even though I had turned a corner from the first trimester, the quality of my training sessions were not what I thought they should be. 

On reflection, I was stressed about how to structure my business while I took a few months leave, I had spent two weekends doing photo-shoots (one for me in Melbourne, one for my clients), our social calendar was hectic, I was up at 5am most mornings for work plus working a few extra shifts at the physio clinic... I had a lot on my mind, not sleeping so well, I was tired, less enthusiastic about food prep, and my gut started to let me know about it (my reaction to stress and fatigue).

There was no point in training and adding more stress to my body if I wasn't backing it up adequately. So I made the decision to take 4x weeks off. I focused on getting sleep and managing my stress instead. Boy, did that make a massive difference! I felt fantastic! My gut was back to normal. I was enjoying my normal foods again. I was loving the relationship with my partner. I was itching to get back into a new training program, hungry to keep kicking goals! And I didn't get sick on my holidays- which is an absolute first for me!

The point is - training is important but not at the expense of your health if your other stresses aren't well managed. It is only 2% of your week. You know your body better than anyone - if something isn't adding up, something needs to change. Listen to your body.

Besides, when you have been weight-training long enough, 4x weeks off is not the end of the world.

Lauren has spent the last 3 years preparing for a healthy pregnancy

#5. Make sleep a priority

Work on getting into a good sleep routine well BEFORE you get pregnant. Sleep is crucial for a strong metabolism and healthy body, so if you don't know what it's like to wake up feeling refreshed the majority of the time, you are missing some huge potential. 

Get into a routine of going to bed at an appropriate time to allow for 8-9hrs of quality sleep every night. When you are pregnant, sleep becomes even more important (plus there is the added challenges of strategically-placed pillows).

If you are struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep - talk to your partner/hubby, friend, midwife or other trusted individual about what's on your mind. There are a lot of changes to come - it's ok to feel a bit anxious. But your sleep shouldn't have to suffer! Get to the bottom of it and enjoy those zzz's while you can (because in a few months that may just go out the window!)

Don't feel bad for taking a rest or a nap during the day. You are growing a small human! It is hard work. You will get tired. Give yourself permission to have a lie down, read a book, or just sit and have a cuppa outside with the sun on your face.

The body is amazing. Pregnancy is incredible (and challenging). Be kind to yourself. Your world is about to change forever.

Loz x

PS: You can read more about Lauren here

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