Don’t let her powerful photos fool you. Showing your strength doesn’t mean that you you can’t be sweet, kind, and helpful – even with pregnancy hormones. For this installment of Profiles in Power, I chatted with 27-year-old Daizi Schiano who powerlifts while pregnant, and has just entered her third trimester. How do I know her? Through Instagram (@daizileigh). Whenever I feel like skipping a workout and sneak a peek at my phone, her awesome lifting photos and videos enter my feed leading me to sigh and pack my gym bag.
During our interview, we talk about our mutual love for lifting, how things change after you find out you’re pregnant, and the heartlifting reason she decided to stick with it even after some not-so-helpful advice. Speaking of unwanted advice, We also discuss how to handle it. My way is to “accidentally” send these 9 hilarious memes about unsolicited parenting advice. She does things a little differently. Read on to get a little fitness motivation and then a little lifting while pregnant inspiration.
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.
How she breaks the mold
Even though powerlifting is pretty individual, I quickly noticed how important it is for Daizi to connect. This connection was weaved through everything she talked about. She gushed about her new “love-of-my-life” hubby who can make the worst day become the best day. When asked about her form of self-care she replied: “Other than working out, it’s making sure to spend quality time with my husband and the animals at the house. There’s probably not going to be a whole lot of quiet time in the future, so I just make sure to cherish the moment even if it’s just watching a movie on the couch, sitting and talking, or going outside with the dogs. Just the quiet moments to ourselves that we probably won’t have in a few months”
We also talked about getting unsolicited advice about working out while pregnant. “I’ve noticed a lot of people commenting about my powerlifting arch on the bench like ‘that can’t be good for the baby’ or ‘you’re going to throw your back out’ meanwhile it’s the most comfortable position ever for me, but I know I kind of look like the exorcist so I can understand them in that way”. Personally, this is where I would politely roll my eyes (read number 4 in Do’s and Don’ts for helping new moms), but Daizi has a slightly different attitude. “I try to take the opportunity to teach them that it’s perfectly safe. I’d rather them ask the question than think it in their head because that is an opportunity to teach somebody a little something – really they just don’t understand the sport”. How sweet. I mean, all things considered, that approach is probably the better way to go.
And the thing that probably struck me the most was Daizi’s recollection of a chat with her mom. After some not-so-helpful advice from her doctor, Daizi was kind of on the fence about continuing with powerlifting. “They said don’t lift above fifteen pounds and it deterred me a bit, I didn’t really want to lift because I don’t really know what to expect and what’s normal. Your body is changing so much and you have to learn to be in tune with all the different changes, motions, and feelings.” I guess that means no Costco trips for the mamas-to-be out there, because fifteen pounds is nothing. It was a talk with her mom that gave her some clarity. She said “This is YOUR sport, if this is what you want to do, you can’t just let it stop you. You just may have to change it a little bit.” Her mom then shared the story of being an avid runner during her own pregnancy with Daizi. The doctor told her that she wasn’t able to run anymore, and her response was “Well forget you. I’m going to run. I have to run. This is something I love and it’s healthy and it keeps me active”. This opened Daizi’s eyes that even medical opinions change over time. Running during pregnancy is acceptable now, so how will the opinions change about lifting? Why give up on something that drives you?
Why she loves powerlifting
So when you get two powerlifting gals together, they’ll just go on and on. Each powerlifter enjoys the sport for their own reason, but there are always some common themes. In Daizi’s case, she likes it because it’s different. It makes her feel stronger, and lets her feel accomplished at the end of the day. Truer words cannot be said. “I like the progression, I really like how it BREAKS THE MOLD of the normal way that you can lose weight. I like that it’s not what people imagine it to be.” I agree with her wholeheartedly. Personally, I love how powerlifting makes me feel (and to be honest, how it makes me look.) As for how she got into it? She was in a Facebook group called “If it fits your macros for women” – flexible dieting that focuses on counting macronutrients (protein, carbs, etc.) instead of just calories. This group had a lot of lifters (yes… macros is kind of our thing) and one of her mentors really inspired her to try it. Then, as she says, it just became an obsession.
How things have changed during pregnancy
One point that Daizi drives home over and over is to listen to your body and that you are the best judge. “Some of the best advice that I got is to listen to your body. You might have to go back (decrease weight) if you don’t feel right or you feel weak, and that doesn’t mean that the next workout will be the same, but you have to pull back. You’re the best judge of what’s going on.”
Currently, her main focus is on her form and videotaping her lifts, even though she admits to being stubborn and wanting to keep getting stronger and stronger. When pressed further about working on her form Daizi shares: “The biggest thing I’ve focused on is bracing correctly, and that my back is straight, especially since I can’t use a belt. I’ve never really had a problem with squats until I was pregnant, but now I’m noticing I’m leaning a lot more so I try to videotape my lifts just to make sure that I’m not injuring myself and that I keep moving forward.” Well, those awesome lifts go straight to Instagram, so thanks for sharing!
When asked what signs she looks out for from her body, she talks about paying attention to her baby’s activity. “If I’m sitting between sets and I don’t feel her moving, it makes me a little nervous. Then I take it back a little bit.” She also shares of her previous lower back problems which I can totally relate to: “If I feel like there’s any pulling or if I feel at all strange or that I can’t keep form, then I’ll definitely pull back on the weights or pull back on the set (do fewer reps). Sometimes there are days when I’m just dead tired. So I’ll just say ‘okay, that’s it for the day. You’re done”. Well yeah, being tired during pregnancy is a rite of passage, no biggie. She also mentioned listening to her body in terms of maintaining her regimen. “I’ve really tried to set realistic goals for myself. With the discomfort of sleeping and with insomnia, it has been tough to wake up in the morning. I try to wake up early on one morning during the week, and then workout on weekends.” That’s good advice, just because you’re pushing yourself doesn’t mean you can’t take it a little easy.
We also touched on the topic of body image during pregnancy. Prior to getting pregnant, Daizi has lost about 60 pounds – an impressive feat. She shares that putting weight back on has been a little bit of a struggle, even though she is extremely grateful with how well her pregnancy has been going. And now that she’s in her third trimester and her pregnant belly is finally obvious, things are becoming a little easier.
If you’re curious about her actual lifts, I didn’t ask. But she shares it all through her super motivating photos and videos on Instagram @daizileigh.
Advice to strong mamas-to-be
“Don’t be afraid of what other people say because a lot of people may not be educated on the topic… It’s so easy to be deterred by those who don’t know about lifting, or who say that it’s bad for you and that you shouldn’t continue doing what you love. If you know that you’re having a healthy pregnancy and it’s something you’ve been doing for a while, it’s something you love – there’s a way to incorporate it into your pregnancy. Just do the research, feel confident in yourself and find a group of women (there are groups on facebook, or follow Daizi or me) that powerlift through their pregnancy. And not everyone knows all the facts, take the advice with a grain of salt and just listen to your body.”
Thank you Daizi, better advice couldn’t be offered. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, and you don’t have to stop anything you don’t want to stop, but connect with people who will inspire you to be YOU and motivate you to find what you LOVE.
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.
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