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What I Learned About Nutrition, Exercise and Weight Loss in Pregnancy

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

I found out I was about 5 weeks pregnant with my first baby in October 2019 and had my baby girl Anna on June 17, 2020. I 100% loved being pregnant! But I remember very clearly that the entire first trimester was rough having had nausea every day, all day. The only relief I had was while I was eating carbs - crackers with peanut butter, tortilla chips, leftover starches like mashed potatoes, meals with bread, snacks with bread - I got used to eating more carbs, especially more bread compared to before getting pregnant, and more food in general. Sometimes you have to roll with the punches with your diet during pregnancy, especially with nausea, which is most common during the first trimester when your hormones are starting to get crazy as the egg implants into the uterine wall.


For baby’s sake, I was motivated to reduce my sugar intake and minimize my caffeine intake. I eliminated coffee and caffeinated teas from my diet, and ate chocolate for the little pick-me-up, plus I love chocolate. Dark chocolate seemed to be my only pregnancy craving, and I ate a couple servings per day. One of my favorite go-to snacks/small meals was (and is) about ¾ cup of whole milk organic regular or Greek yogurt with a couple tbsp of 60% dark chocolate baking chips, sometimes with a sprinkle of raw almonds and chia seeds – so yum!


During my pregnancy, I did some research to explore the “do’s and don’ts” of what to eat. I was relieved to find that I was already eating the important nutrients that I needed to get during pregnancy, like iron and calcium, because I do my best to eat a variety of foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins including lots of plant-based proteins, cheese, yogurt, oils, nuts, and nut butters, plus plenty of water. I liked “What to Expect” articles throughout my pregnancy; this is a great list of nutrients that we should get and examples of foods to choose. I took Rainbow Light Daily Duo multivitamin and DHA omega 3 fish oil for a daily boost of folic acid, iron, omega 3 and vitamin D.


I stopped lifting weights and discontinued my moderate/intense cardio exercise during my pregnancy since the doctors warned me not to get my heart rate up past 140 bpm, which always happens when I work out. My husband and I walked 30-60 minutes every day with the dogs, and it helped me stay healthy and feeling good.


I gained 25 lb. while pregnant, and when I left the hospital after having Anna, I was 12 lb. down. Because of this experience, I now know how truly challenging it is to lose weight postpartum. I found it so enjoyable to eat more food during pregnancy and I honestly have had a tough time eating less (or at least less enough to lose weight without exercise). For many months I was not as active as I used to be and lost a lot of muscle and burned less calories, was so tired with a newborn, and did not have the motivation to exercise.


It took about 7 months postpartum for me to feel like myself again, and when Anna was 9 months old, I started working out a home with a personal trainer via Zoom to commit to get back into exercise and to get my strength back. It took 5 months of the personal training to help me feel confident and strong, and to build a foundation to be motivated enough internally to commit to exercising on my own. I now have set a goal to improve my self-discipline and push myself to exercise most days per week on my own.


I talk about exercise because of its important role in weight loss and because it often helps mentally when it comes to eating less. I learned that I feel good from exercising my body and meeting my goal for the day, taking one day at a time. That helps me have a clearer mind, and I make decisions based on my hunger more often than cravings. I still eat freely and do not count calories and am finally starting to see the results with my weight loss. If you are thinking about your weight loss and want to get un-stuck, start thinking about why you want to make permanent changes. What internally motivates you to truly want to change? It takes time and practice, trial and error, but is worth every step along the way.




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