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Read on to learn how this mama trainer learned to adapt and get creative with her fitness in pregnancy and post pregnancy, as well as what she can teach YOU.
Discalimer: This interview is not meant to replace medical advice. It is based on the experiences of one person with fitness in pregnancy and postpartum. Our position is that you should check with a doctor before beginning any fitness regimen – especially when pregnant.
When I was pregnant there was a lot of contradicting advice about fitness in pregnancy – especially weightlifting. This was true for both online research and from medical professionals. The worst part was that a lot of this advice came from people who had no experience with pregnancy, fitness, or healthcare. They were just opinions! Profiles in Power is a series of interviews with new moms and moms-to-be about their experiences with fitness, nutrition, weightlifting, mental health, and body image during pregnancy and postpartum. Each experience is different, and hopefully one you can take something away from.
Recently, I had a chance to chat with Angela Floyd. We talked fitness in pregnancy and postpartum. Currently, her most cherished role is being a mommy to her three-month-old daughter, but she’s also an online personal trainer and a certified nutrition specialist. Her company is aptly named Beyond Fitness. What I took away from our talk is that every woman will have a different experience during pregnancy and postpartum. For her, it was far from what she expected. You don’t have to push yourself too hard, just do what you can and listen to your body. However, there is always something you CAN do. Angela shares how you can get creative, as well as some tips and insights for new and future moms.
We also discuss what she can offer new moms through her extremely effective and extremely affordable online personal training and nutrition planning on beyondfitnessca.com. Personally, I’m too shy to take photos of my tush, but I’m kind of tempted to after trying her Build-a-Butt workshop – which at $79 for 8 weeks is way cheaper than my coffee habit with a lot more “perk”. This workshop (as well as her 21-day fitness challenge) can give you a taste of online training if you’re not sure if it’s right for you. (Trust me – it is!) The cool thing about her online training is that she designed it to keep you ACCOUNTABLE. Everything is done through an app: she checks if you did your workout (and if you skipped it too); you get a chart of your progressions such as your weight, how long you do your workouts for, and how much weight you use. You can even upload your photos for extra motivation. After a phone consultation, Angela designs a personalized workout plan. Because it’s an app, it’s super flexible, you can do it at home or at the gym, and get explanations and videos for all the exercises. See, I told you it’s right for you. So now let’s see what she has to say about her own fitness as a new mom.
Was pregnancy what you expected?
There was no way that I could have known what to expect from my pregnancy. I was really surprised at how exhausted I was, and how weak my body was. In the past, I’ve pushed through fatigue all the time, I’d get up really early, stay up late, work out a lot, and I’ve handled it with no problem. But pregnancy is so different than fatigue from daily activities or just not sleeping well. It was a real challenge for me. I’ve had plenty of friends who warned me that pregnancy is tough and my response was “yeah, I know, I know” and once I became pregnant I apologized to all of them. I cannot believe that I told a mom that I know how she must feel.
And what about postpartum
With all of that, pregnancy was still easier than the first bit of postpartum. During my pregnancy I read a lot of articles about postpartum and tips and tricks to prepared for it and make it easier. I tried to prepare myself as much as I could, but the first week after I had the baby, I was trying to contemplate – is this worse than labor? For the first four days I couldn’t even walk, but then everything heals and you can move, and you’re not in so much pain. Then you really have to learn to adapt to the fact that you’re not your own person. You can’t just go to the store, you can’t workout when you want to work out. Whatever the baby needs – that’s what you’re doing. And again, a lot of moms warned me, and I was like ‘I know, I know… Really, I didn’t know.
How has your fitness regime changed over the course of your pregnancy and postpartum?
One thing that was really difficult and unexpected was the change in my eating. You have to try to eat healthy and be mindful of what you’re eating. Make sure you’re eating enough nutritious food that isn’t high in sugar or overprocessed. For me, one challenge was that I hated chicken during pregnancy… (which I eat all the time) so I had to find other ways to eat well. I had a lot of weird cravings for things that I would never eat. Everyday I would tell my husband that he needs to bring me sour candy. Right Now. And when he did, I would tell him “This isn’t sour enough!”. I had to buy Warheads to keep in my purse – which I know is a ton of sugar. Push through all of that and remind yourself about the baby. That was the only way that I could make myself eat well when I didn’t really want to.
In terms of fitness, I was able to keep up with working out until 34 weeks. I started having contractions, so I was told to stop working out, take it easy, and not to overexert myself, as I could go into preterm labor. That was very difficult for me, I thought “What am I going to do with my time? This is what I do every day!” At that point, later in the pregnancy, I would recommend doing a lot of walking to maintain your fitness.
In the beginning, my doctors told me that I can continue being active but to not let my heart rate go over 140 which is actually very difficult during pregnancy – your heart rate raises so easily. So there was no cardio for me, it was just circuit training and weights. I’d have to take my time, listen to my body – if I felt very fatigued or dizzy, or if something just felt wrong then I’d stop and do something else. I didn’t want to push myself while carrying the baby – the baby is a priority. I went from squatting and deadlifts to workouts with kettlebells, bodyweight, dumbells, exercise balls, and bosu balls. I love love love plyometrics, but my doctor told me that I couldn’t jump. Eventually, after six months he told me that I could, just as long as I couldn’t fall or injure myself, but by that point, starting again was super super difficult.
In terms of postpartum, first of all, I didn’t feel too emotional about what I couldn’t do – everything is so great when you have a baby! I don’t know why, but I was thinking that I could do all of my workouts at home with my baby. Well my baby doesn’t want to work out with me all the time! But you adapt. If you check out my videos on Instagram, a lot of times I’ll try to work out and incorporate her, or I’ll work out with her in the room, or wait until dad or grandma can take over for a bit and do a quick thirty minute routine. I’ll even do squats and lunges while brushing my teeth just to get something in. You have to be creative when you have a baby, otherwise you most likely won’t do anything, and something is always better than nothing. In any case, my home workouts are pretty intense so everything works out just fine.
I know that you offer online personal training as well as a 21-day challenge on your website. If a new mom wanted to check your services out, what could she expect?
Firstly, a new mom should get a doctor’s approval before getting back to working out. The general advice with a natural birth is to wait 6 weeks and then start with mild physical activity. For C-section births it’s even longer. For a new mom, I would recommend the personalized training over any pre-made program (read more about personalized programs in the intro, or check out the Beyond Fitness page). The 21-day challenge is more intense and gets you quicker results, but I would only recommend it once she’s completely recovered from giving birth. It’s great for someone in average health with no injuries, and is ideal for any fitness level. It comes with a meal plan, and a three-day-a-week training plan that can be done at home or at the gym. There is also a bonus HIIT (high intensity interval training) treadmill workout if they want to do a little extra. I’ve actually had a client who lost eleven pounds during this challenge. It’s a good program for people who want to test out online training, and at the end of the 21 days most people end up signing up for more.
As an online personal trainer and a nutrition specialist, what keeps you going? And how did you get into it?
I started working out when I was going through a really hard time in my life. I did it to keep my mind off everything. I was also living by myself in a new city, so I did it to pass the time, and I just fell in love with it. As I started making new friends, they wanted me to show them how to work out, so I made the decision to go back to school. At first I was taking courses to work as a dietitian. Since I was also working two jobs, it would have taken me 8 years to finish and I started having second thoughts. Someone suggested that I should work as a personal trainer, and I don’t know, for some reason it never came up as a career path before. I guess I didn’t really want to just work at a gym. But I signed up with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, got my certification in personal training and my fitness nutrition specialist certification, and just started training people. I had equipment that I kept in the trunk of my car and trained people at their homes with what I called travel training. Then as things started coming along, more ideas started coming to me, and that’s how my online training business was born.
How do you spend your days now that you’re a new mom?
It’s funny, when I was pregnant, I really thought that I was going to have a schedule. I’d sit at my desk in the baby’s room so that I could work when she would nap. Then she was born? For the first month I felt like I couldn’t do anything. She never slept in her crib, so I never worked at my desk. Things got a little crazy. Now, I’ve been able to adapt. I know her sleep schedule, her feeding schedule. I can actually make time to work, eat breakfast, have a shower, all that stuff. Of course, I hear that everything changes around the three month mark.
You’ve offered lots of great advice to both new moms and moms-to-be. Thank you. On a final note, as a trainer is there anything you can add?
Of course, listen to your body, and don’t push yourself. It’s not the same. At this point you’re not training to get stronger or to lose weight. You’re training for maintenance. Don’t overexert yourself – if your heart rate gets really high, your oxygen levels drop. This means to the baby too. So listen to your body for the baby. Only do as much as your body will let you.
On top of that, during pregnancy your body produces a hormone called relaxin which helps your pelvic ligaments stretch out so that the baby can move through the birth canal. But that hormone doesn’t only affect your pelvic area, it will make your other ligaments feel loose so you have to be very careful. If you have incorrect form or you’re lifting way too heavy, you could possibly dislocate something. So take that into consideration during your workout.
Thank you Angela Floyd for sharing both your own experiences as well as expert tips. You can find Angela on her page: beyondfitnessca.com and Instagram: @beyondfitnessca her business page where you can check out some workouts, and hear about new products and promotions; and @pangeerox where you will see more of her personal life including her own home workouts.