Let’s be real for a sec

It’s been a couple of months since my last post… truthfully, I didn’t post because I didn’t think I had much to say. In my last couple of months of pregnancy, I had the flu, some other gross but uncomfortable pregnancy related ailments (I’ll spare you the details) and then the flu made its rounds through my husband and 3 year old. So I didn’t do much in the way of hardcore training. I was getting outside most weekends, and I did have a 12a that I was top roping right up until the end, but I just wasn’t feeling superb. In fact, in hindsight, I was dealing with some pregnancy depression. They always talk about post-partum depression, but no one ever mentions depression while pregnant.  Here’s the deal, when I first got pregnant, I came down from my climbing high pretty hard. I found out I was pregnant the day after the World Cup in Vail. So I was basically in top shape, but then bam! My body was high jacked. I had wanted/intended to get pregnant, but then the reality of pregnancy and recovery and having a new baby did come crashing down around me.

The pregnancy this time was not very easy. My cravings were much more intense than my last pregnancy, and my cravings were for things that contain lots of grease and cheese.  With these eating habits my weight gain was more than my last pregnancy; this was also likely linked to a lower energy level and in turn, I just didn’t feel good. Also I think having a three-year-old at home doesn’t allow one to rest or relax or “bask in pregnancy“. All of these things paired with crazy hormones left me drained and unhappy.   My husband who also happens to be a psychologist, noticed these changes in my demeano. One day, he asked me what I found joy in. I was forced to step back and see what I had become. This was a real wake up call because the only thing that I found pleasure in was hot showers.  My time spent with my son left me feeling guilty because I was too irritable and tired to really play with him.  A few weeks before giving birth, my son actually asked if I would ever be fun again. Heartbreaking! Additionally, I would take out emotions on my husband, so my time with him wasn’t very quality. And,  while I love my job as a teacher, I certainly have not felt that I’ve given 100% to my students this year, so this left me feeling unsatisfied. The last month of my pregnancy was physically really challenging, and I began to worry that I would struggle with postpartum depression.   So I didn’t blog.  I should have, it might’ve helped. But part of me felt embarrassed that I’d mostly given up on training, and this bright cheery attitude that I had adopted was too hard to fake.

So now let me fast-forward to the present. I had my baby girl on February 3. When I first laid eyes on her, my worry and stress melted away. I am currently almost 3 weeks postpartum, and I feel amazing. I’m happy, I have a desire to be social again,  and although I had a C-section which requires a good deal of recovery, I feel physically way better than I felt in the last few months of my pregnancy. My next blog post I will tell the story of the birth and my recovery so far and my plans for getting back into shape, but today I wanted to rewind and be real about the final weeks  of my pregnancy.

For those of you that are struggling and find these training while pregnant blogs more disheartening than helpful, I get it. Pregnancy is really tough. I wish I had some magical words of wisdom, but I don’t. The best I can do is be real with you and admit my own struggles and challenges.

Mamas to be: Darrah, Maggie, and Natasha

Today I will feature three amazing climbers who also happen to be mamas to be. They have shared their training plans and a picture with me to share with all of you.

Darrah:                                               33 weeks, 27 years old, 1st baby. Due Jan 3

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Darrah has 2 workouts that she does each week:

Workout 1 – start with laps on auto belay: 3-4 sets of 5 climbs on 10’s and 11’s
– mini circuit: 1 min of alternating one arm shoulder presses with kettle bell, 1 min kettle bell deadlift, 5 push ups (on knees trying to focus on body position), 30 seconds plank, leg/butt exercises down on all fours (lifting leg to side, in between side and straight back, and then straight back – five leg lifts for each angle), then last is a 45 second wall sit with a medicine ball between my knees
One minute break, and then repeat the circuit.  She does the circuit 2-3 times

Workout 2 – bike or do the elliptical for 30-45 minutes low intensity
– then weights for shoulders and arms: 7 reps of bicep curls into shoulder press, then 10 reps of a behind the head tricep extension, then 5 reps of side arm raise with very low weight and hold it for a count of 10 seconds each time  – repeat this mini circuit (NOT the biking, just the weights) 3 times

Workout 1 twice a week        Workout 2 once a week

About Darrah: She is currently a student and she also works. Darrah is primarily a sport climber, and she climbed 5.11s pre-baby. She is planning a natural birth at a birth center. She is still getting up 10s, and is looking strong! (I just climbed with her on Saturday)

Maggie: 36 weeks, 31 years old, 1st baby. Due Dec 12

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Throughout her pregnancy, She has seen huge changes in what her mind and body wants to do to stay in shape. At the beginning, not much of her climbing and HIIT workouts changed, it was more mental to fight the fatigue and find the motivation to get going.
About halfway through the 2nd trimester, she started noticing that her body couldn’t do everything she used to do.

She followed the HIIT timing, 50 seconds high-intensity, 10 seconds rest/transition with 4 sets and repeat 3 to 5 times with a total of 12 to 20 minutes. Her high-intensity workouts still include weights but don’t include jumping, quick rotations, crunches, or anything on the stomach. But other than that she can still include lunges, squats, presses, curls, leg lifts, rows, flys, etc.

Maggie is also still tope-roping 5.10 max.  Pre baby she bouldered V5 and 5.11+. A big issue Maggie faces is that she is the manager of the gym which means she works a lot AND everyone at the gym knows her, so it’s hard for her to workout uninterrupted. She plans a natural birth at a birth center.

 

Natasha: 22 weeks, 27 years old, First baby. Due March 18

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Natasha is still rocking her regular harness, although she said she might not be for too much longer. Pre-baby Natasha climbed 5.11+ and she seems to still be climbing in that range.  Natasha doesn’t have access to a good climbing gym, so she does a lot of lifting and high intensity intervals. She also is running. Fortunately, Natasha does live near some great outdoor climbing, so that has helped.

Natasha doesn’t have any super specific workouts she does, but she seems to stay pretty active. She gets outside and climbs 1x per week, and hits weights and running in between. She is still leading climbs she has done before in the 5.9 or 5.10 range. As the pregnancy has progressed, Natasha has stopped doing so much core (no planks) and she does more asymmetrical loading such as farmer walks with weights, squats etc. I can still see her abs in the pictures!! Damn girl!

Natasha is interested in the nutrition aspect of pregnancy and has focused on natural remedies such as elderberry syrup, apple cider vinegar etc. She is planning to have a natural birth at the hospital in which she works.

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These ladies are all badasses! I will try and keep you posted on each of them as they progress. It would also be cool to see an after the baby post about each of them.

My next blog will be a little update about me and what I am doing as I am entering the 3rd trimester!!! But just in case you are wondering, see my pict below:

Molly: 33 (as of Nov 17), 27 weeks, 2nd baby. Due February 17

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Managing Expectations, and a good endurance workout for the mom to be

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Hey Everyone! Well, I have made it to 21 weeks!! Here is a current picture of me and all my baby glory. I found out last week that I will have a girl! Yay!

Man, I have been struggling with expectations! First of all, I really have been putting on the weight this time! I also have had a hard time controlling the cravings. Turns out, I really like Arbys. Like a lot. That gooey cheese in the beef and cheddar is pretty much the best thing in the world. Oh…. how am I am going to avoid becoming a blimp??

Anyway, this pregnancy is much harder. I can’t really seem to ever put in the full workout. Because my motivation is wavering at times, I tend to jump at any excuse I get to cut it short. My 3 year old has recently decided he LOVES to climb, so he has been hitting the auto-belays and kiddie boulder at the gym. While I am thrilled that he is so interested, this also means a lot of my gym time is spent spotting him, hooking him into the auto-belay, or simply cheering him on. I have been trying the whole “let’s take turns” approach, but he is so stoked to climb, he isn’t really willing to give me a turn.

So, my expectations need to be re-evaluated. One, I need to accept that any gym time is good gym time, and two, when I climb outside, I need to realize that 12s are now really much harder than they used to be! I remarked to my hubby the other day that 11s aren’t really as fun as they used to be. I really love the feeling of flowing and climbing “well”, but that seems to be harder now because my body doesn’t quite do what I expect. So, I am losing the “flow” while I climb anything harder than 11a/b. This is sort of taking the fun out of it. I realize now, I need to take a different approach. Hard 11 is now in my mind hard 12. So, I should approach it that way. I also need to spend more time on 10s and even 9s to get that fun feelin’ again! So I am gonna try.

Endurance Workout

I am doing a weekly or 2x a week projecting/endurance workout. This is of course courtesy of Power Company Climbing. Essentially, the plan is as follows:

1-2 easy warmups (currently, these are low 10s for me)

2 “rooting” routes (currently, these are hard 10s or easy 11s) Rooting is where you focus on pulling with your arms and pushing with your legs all the way through a move. You feel like you “root” into each hold. I also feel like I am squeezing my glutes and back. Here is a link to the rooting exercise explanation:

1-2 attempts on a project (this is typically a hard 12, but the auto-belay doesn’t always offer this, so sometime I make it up by taking holds out of a low 12) I am still onsighting easy 12s on the autobelay

My program then calls for steep and vertical laps, but I don’t actually have access to that on the auto belay. So, instead I either hit the tread wall OR I just do 3-6 laps on 10s and 11s. This is truthfully the part that might get cut short due to my 3 year old.

I most enjoy this workout of all my workouts. I think it is the most enjoyable because I am actually climbing! And, because so much of it is climbing easy stuff, it feels like I still know how.

Cheers!!

The realities of pregnancy: 18 week update

Sorry it has been so long since my last post! Work has been crazy, and I haven’t been super motivated.

One of the main reasons I chose to create this blog is a selfish one. I wanted to have to be held accountable for my training. I didn’t want to get lazy and simply binge watch Netflix with the whole “I’ll train tomorrow” plan. One thing I forgot about with regard to being pregnant is the fact that no matter how much you train, each week, you will only get weaker. So I ask, how on earth can someone keep training!? We have been going out to Las Conchas in NM each week, and I usually get on the same series of 12s. A technical 12a, a steep 12c and a super thuggy/pinchy 12d. The 12a is still feeling ok. But man, that 12c and 12d are HARD!! I have the moves on the 12c dialed, but I absolutely cannot get up it without a rest or 2. I get about half-way up and essentially run out of gas. I sit on the rope for a few (in my really uncomfortable preggo harness) and then fire to the top. The 12d is really tough because even in top shape, it would be my anti style. Big thuggy moves to wide pinches. Not my jam. I will admit it…I did cry the last time I was on it. It is really steep, and you have to make sure you don’t fall right after the un-clip or you swing out too far to get back on. Top-roping is so frustrating! Each week, the climbing gets harder, I feel weaker, and I leave more tired. I will NOT get back on the 12d again, maybe ever, and I am not sure how many more weeks I have on the 12c. The same goes for the gym’s auto-belay routes. Each week, the same routes get harder.

So again, how do I stay motivated to train when I only get weaker? Well, for me, I have set a LONG term goal. We are planning a trip to Fontainebleau May 28-Jue15. This is exciting, but assuming I have the baby near my due-date, I am looking at being only 3 months post birth, and I am likely going C-section (I had an emergency C last time…this is what the doc says is best). So, 6 weeks of NO training will put me back at training again 9ish weeks pre-trip. That is not much time.  The best I can do is “be fit” now to make the re-bound less difficult. I read a comment on my FB mama climber group that climbing while pregnant should just be for fun and mental sanity, not to get strong. This mama went on to say that with all the time off one takes post birth, they will basically be starting at scratch again, so taking the pregnancy off or climbing all the way through won’t really matter. This rubbed me wrong for 2 reasons 1: What if she is right!?!?!?  2: How on earth is it possible that taking 6 weeks off is the same as taking 9 months plus 6 weeks off?

Clearly, this math doesn’t add up. AND, I have been here before. I trained the best I could through the last pregnancy, and I bounced back pretty quick. Within 9 months, I was stronger than ever, and prior to the pregnancy, I was in the midst of a 2 year plateau. So, it isn’t as though I was a beginner with no-where to go but up.

Earlier in the post, I mentioned that my motivation has been low. This is due to a few reasons. 1: I am struggling mentally with the whole getting weaker thing…bah 2: I am just tired! And hungry! And bloated! And grumpy! And busy with life!                                                                                        Sometimes, I am all ready to head to the gym, and then I realize I am starving. So I head to a restaurant instead. Or, I am hungry, and I eat a PBJ. Then to my dismay, I remember that gluten has been rough on me this pregnancy, so I am too bloated to do anything but lay on my couch. Yesterday, my husband and I were about to head to the gym when I suddenly turned into an emotional two-headed monster. I became annoyed when no one was ready to go except me, and then I just boiled…for no apparent reason. When we got to the gym, I nearly opted to stay in the car for a nap. I didn’t. Instead, I went in to the gym to track my steady regression. Yay. But, by the end of the session, I was feeling much happier and didn’t feel all that guilty about the chicken strips I had to stop and get on the way home.

So, the realities are, this is really hard! I guess the best I can do is ask people to keep me accountable. Kris at Power Co tracks my progress, so I know he knows if I haven’t trained in a bit. You all know…because I tell you, and my hubby knows because he is my training partner. The best advice I can offer to anyone embarking on this is to find people to keep you on top of the training plan. Without them, I for one am not mentally strong enough to do it.

Well, here’s to the almost half-way point…oh…man

Training Core for the Pregnant Climber

First off, my next post is going to be about the challenges of pregnancy and training. I am starting to worry that you all think I am in the gym every day training super hard. Not the case. Sometimes, I just watch Netflix with a corndog in one hand and a milkshake in the other. So…yeah, stay tuned for my reality check!

Now…on to core!

I have been getting a few questions regarding training core, and again, while I am not an expert, I can tell you what I have found with the help of Kris Hampton at Power Company Climbing.

It seems obvious that we shouldn’t be doing sit-ups etc while pregnant. It also isn’t a good idea to do any sort of twists (russian twists) or planks or push ups as these put us into positions that may cause strains. The weight of the belly can pull down and hurt our backs while in plank, and of course, I think that Russian Twists are just an obvious no-no. But, if your previous core workouts included a ton of sit-up variations, you might be lost right now!

Core is important! Remember, core isn’t just abs (and mine have separated) Apparently, this separation is called diastasis recti and is common in pregnant women. It happened to me during my last pregnancy, and I thought it happened to everyone until I did some research. When you look it up on WebMD, you will find that it sounds kind of extreme, and the site cautions you against push-ups and plank and some yoga poses. That makes sense. It also cautions you to avoid heavy lifting, which is true, BUT, you can lift if you are doing it right and not pushing too far. So, if ever there is a time to drop the ego, now is it. I take all of my weights down so that my form can be as close to perfect as possible. I am also one of those lame people that film myself a lot in the gym. But filming is great for looking at form.

Anyway, my abs came back together no-prob after the last baby, and I suspect they will again. We shall see. But this post is about some great core exercises we CAN do. They mostly involve kettlebells as low weights. Kris Hampton did his research and put together my workouts which include some other things in the super-sets, but to avoid giving away all his training plan, I will just share the core aspect.

Turkish Get Up

This is awesome because it is slow, focused and safe! For me, I really have to focus on being “perfect” which in turn causes me to really focus on stability. And what keeps us stable? Core. The weight I use is 20lbs, but I would start with no weight to get the hang of things. Also, there are great youtube videos out there if you want instruction. Follow this link to a good instructional video. These things are a bit complicated! https://youtu.be/CCV02JdQkwI

Half-Rack Kettle Bell Squat

A lot of these exercise aren’t just working core, but they are working the whole body. If you are fit going into labor, surely labor will be easier! And recovery will be much easier.

Kettlebell 1 Arm Overhead Press

My husband at first questioned why I was including this one, but the truth is, when I do this, I feel not just my shoulder and arm work, but I also engage my core. Try it! You will see.

Kettlebell suitcase carry

You will look stupid doing this one, and if you video it, people will make fun of you. But man, it is hard to walk a straight line with absolute control (slowly) while carrying weight. You really have to focus on form for this to be effective. Look at it as training for carrying the carseat!

Half Kneeling Pallof Press with Vertical Lift

I had to watch the video of this one a bunch, but I finally got it. I did make the error of not having my back toes curled under me. So note that. This one is another simple core exercise that doesn’t seem like it is doing much, but by the end of your set, you will find yourself starting to lose stability which means you are obviously working!

Why do women stop training while pregnant?

I am part of a Climbing Mama FB group, and despite the fact that all of us are seasoned climbers and moms or moms to be, we all still seem confused about what’s ok to do. Whenever someone asks a question that starts with “while pregnant, is it ok to…”, everyone talks about what they do, and then the consensus is, “just do what ‘feels’ right”. I for one hate this answer! I personally am the type of person that might be like, “ok, well I’ll just do everything to my max because it feels right to push myself”, while someone else who has a lot of pregnancy fears might go, “ok, well I’m terrified of hurting the baby, so my exercise will be limited to walking”.

Assuming we are fit to begin with, and assuming we have no issues or health problems, ( this is where we talk to our doctors) then we should all be able to do similar excercises and NOT rely on some vague mama super-sense (which I may lack because I don’t know what ‘feels right’ ever).

So what influences our feelings of what is right and wrong? Typically, I think it could be our family (particularly older generations telling us we shouldn’t be lifting heaving things etc). Or perhaps it is society. If we aren’t confident that squating with weights is safe, and we are on our 3rd rep at the gym and we are the recipient of some snarky comment such as “oh that’s how you got so fit right after the last pregnancy, you never let your body be pregnant”, then yeah, we might avoid that. Western society used to dictate that women were delicate flowers prone to fainting whenever we encountered stress, heat, or exertion. And a pregnant woman? Well, this woman was especially susceptible. I mean just look at the birth practices of the early 20th and even mid 20th century! There was NO faith in a woman’s strength or power. They were strapped down to beds, drugged, and birthed. Family couldn’t even be in the room for fear of women being seen as un-lady-like. Of course it was the drugs that caused  women to behave like deranged animals, and they didn’t remember it (because of the drugs). So yeah, my point is that we have a lot of societal expectations and old wives tales to overcome when it come to training during and after pregnancy.

Am I saying train with reckless abandon? No. Am I saying ignore aches and pains while training? Absolutely not! Should you ignore your doctor when he/she advises you to stop climbing while pregnant? No, but you should make sure you explain climbing, show them your harness AND maybe ask a 2nd opinion. Also, it’s important to take pregnancy day by day. There are certainly days where energy is really low, nausea is strong or you just couldn’t sleep the night before. Should you go and “train through it?” Maybe it’s a good day to just go for a walk or just lay on the couch. So my point is, don’t make a big decision about what you will and will not do regarding exercise without some research. Certainly don’t base decisions on what your grandma suggests or even on fear, because likely this fear is a product of antiquated beliefs. There is good research based info out there! It’s just not common knowledge.

Kris at Power Company pointed me to a great resource called girlsgonestrong.com. She has a great article that talks about training and talks about the do’s and don’ts AND explains why.  Check it out! She also has a FB group and an Instagram page.

https://www.girlsgonestrong.com/blog/pregnancy/exercising-and-pregnancy-how-to-plan-your-strength-training-workouts/

Finger strength tests

First off, I don’t at all want to lead anyone to believe I’m an expert in training or pregnancy fitness or even being a mom, but I’ve done a lot of it, and with guidance from some awesome professionals, I think I have a pretty good plan.

My training plans are custom tailored to me by Kris Hampton at Power Company Climbing. My doctor is a climber, so she understands the process and looks over my training for approval. And, I read and research a lot. Also, it helps that this ain’t my first rodeo.

So some general training while pregnant thoughts…

-bring snacks! I eat the entire time I train. I also drink a ton of water.

– listen to your body. I feel little aches here and there, and they remind me to consider my form and maybe lighten my weights.

– if it’s a training day and I’m wiped out, I skip it! I go for a walk instead. There is a clear difference between being a little lazy/tired and being pregnant tired. Pregnant tired demands attention and maybe a nap.

So on to finger strength. Currently, my training program has a lot of kettle bells, weights and hang boarding in it (more about that later) but the area I am going to share today is my 2x per week finger strength tests. The goal is to find a 3/4″ edge to hang on and add as much weight as I can to still stay on for 10-12 seconds. Then I record total weight (because I’m putting weight on each week). So in the video, I have 70lbs added bringing me to 195lbs total. I use a waist belt that sits safety below the baby and feels very safe. I stand up and drop very controlled, and this all feels controlled and safe. So tips? Be sure you know how to hang on a hangboard with good form first. I used to let my shoulders disengage. Don’t do that! Also, try to find your edge in a place that is close to the ground. If you slip off, you don’t want to have a big drop! And, I am thinking I should consider wearing shoes…just seems like a smart practice.

I’m looking forward to these finger strength tests to keep track of where I am at. Hopefully I don’t lose much ground!