Posts in "Fitness"
My Pregnancy Health and Fitness Routine
My Pregnancy Health and Fitness Routine | Freckled Italian

It seems a little unreal to me that I'm well into my third trimester of this pregnancy! I wanted to write up a short post about my food and exercise routine these past few months, because I like to think I'm a pretty health and fitness-oriented person but I've definitely had days (or weeks) where diet and exercise (especially diet) just weren't a priority, and I think that's okay. I'm happy to report that my mostly good habits have really carried me through and when I look back on this pregnancy as a whole so far, I think I've done a relatively good job taking care of myself (even if I've eaten more ice cream since about April than anyone reasonably ought to).


I've really relied on my prenatal vitamins the past few months. I had really high hopes for eating super healthy and staying gluten-free and even low-carb throughout this pregnancy, but after about week 8 it just wasn't an option. I wanted to thrive and eat tons of veggies but a lot of the time I was just trying to make it through. I was really nauseated for weeks and the only thing that kept it under control were carbs--rice crackers and toast especially.

Then in my second and third trimester I started craving sugar so much--I've tried really hard to eat fruit instead of ice cream but I'm indulging in my fair share of milkshakes (and Oreos...and s'mores). I think it's a little weird when women obsess too much about pregnancy weight gain but just for reference, I've gained about 30 pounds so far...and I still have 9-10 weeks to go. It's recommended that women of average weight gain about 25-35 pounds, so I'm kind of on track but I think I'm probably going to clock in closer to 40 by the time November 21 comes around.

So my diet has looked a lot like this:

  • I eat eggs for breakfast as much as I can, even if it means putting them in a wrap or on toast (usually gluten-free).
  • Have a salad a few times a week (this is usually a generous handful of spinach in a smoothie or on the side of my plate for lunch and dinner).
  • Drink tons of water and La Croix all day and try to limit my Coke Zero intake to once or twice a week, which I used to hate but now literally daydream about on hot afternoons.
  • Incorporating veggies as snacks as much as possible.

I passed my gestational diabetes test with good numbers but apparently I've developed anemia, so in addition to my prenatal vitamin every day I'm also taking an iron supplement. I didn't feel like I was overly tired or anything but I do think extra iron has helped boost my energy a bit. I'm also adding spinach to everything and trying to eat more beef, which oddly enough is really one of the only meats I've been into this pregnancy so far, so I'm not sure why my iron levels are so low. Either way, we're getting them back up so it's all good.


I feel really lucky to have been well enough to exercise consistently throughout this entire pregnancy. In March my Pure Barre studio did a 20 in 31 challenge and I felt like it was the perfect way to start out, so I worked out 5 days a week the whole first month I was pregnant! Once I started teaching I was going a bit less, since I was figuring out my schedule, but I quickly got back to it. I know every labor and delivery is different, but I really am hoping that staying in shape is somehow preparing me to actually get this baby out of my body in a way that is effective and a mostly positive experience to look back on.

  • Walks: 20-60 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week
  • Barre:
    • Pure Barre 2-3 times a week (although I teach 6 classes a week which sometimes feels the same as taking about 1/4 of a class)
    • Pure Empower 2-3 times a week--if you haven't tried this class out yet you really should! It's a lot more intense than classic Pure Barre classes, but it's only 45 minutes. I've found it surprisingly pregnancy-friendly because there's less abs, which means I have to modify less of the class (in regular class I do a lot of sitting around/stretching the last 20 minutes and sometimes it feels like a waste of time).

I'm starting to stretch a bit more than usual, especially at night when my back, hips, and now ribs hurt a lot. I'm definitely slowing down physically and trying to be patient with myself but also reasonably challenge myself to stay as active as possible for as long as I can. I feel so much better when I've worked out, gone on a walk, or even just taught a Pure Barre class than I do if I just lie around all day, so I try to remind myself of that on days when I'm extra tired--and I still make time to nap when I need it, which is usually at least once or twice a week. 


What were your food and exercise habits like if/when you are/were pregnant? Did you succumb to cravings like I have? As always, let me know if you have any questions! I've had so much fun documenting some of these things on the blog and I hope you've enjoyed reading them!

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Fitness for Life
Fitness for Life | Freckled Italian

For as long as I can remember, I've worked out because I wanted to look better. For our wedding and the honeymoon. For college theme parties and the tiny costumes I wore to them. And before that, I trained for cross country and swimming because I wanted to win. They were self-centered reasons, but at least they kept me in shape. The only problem was that they never stuck around longer than the photo or the party or the race.

The past year and a half or two have been hard on me emotionally, and they've taken a physical toll as well. I started going to barre last March and stuck with it for about nine months, but I was eating a lot of crap (and like I mentioned in this post, I never felt like barre on its own was enough of a workout for me). When my mom had her double mastectomy in September, I used it as license to eat whatever I wanted, especially because our sweet neighbors were bringing over so much food so that my brother and I wouldn't have to cook while we helped her recover.

I'll never forget the day of her first surgery--after they wheeled her back to the operating room, Sean and I rushed to the market building in downtown Roanoke and nervously ate two of the biggest plates of Chinese food you can imagine. We were anxious and scared but also felt relief that our mom was making the best choices possible for her health and would hopefully soon be on the road to recovery. Another thing I'll never forget is how impressed her surgeons were with her chest muscles--my mom has always been a badass and CrossFit definitely set her up for some successful surgeries.

For months I've been telling myself that I need to eat better and to get back in the gym, but I couldn't seem to find the motivation. My Pure Barre membership was really expensive so I ended up not going back. Back in the fall, my neighbor and I both bought these Groupons for a 30-day membership to a cool gym in our neighborhood, so finally in February we started going. They have some really intense classes like TRX, kettle bell circuits, tabata workouts, and rowing; which is my new favorite. My body was sore for the first time in months and I was loving it. 

All of this fitness inspiration coincided with my first biopsy last month, and as I took a few days off to recover, I realized that I had found my lifetime motivation. Not a dress or a bikini, but a true and important reason to physically care for my body. Here's a thing I've thought about a lot lately but haven't actually written: I want to have a few babies and a double mastectomy within the next six years. 

It's an aggressive plan and if God/the Universe has taught me anything these past few years it's to not get too attached to your plans, but I have found so much peace in working my body for nothing more than the sake of becoming as strong as possible this year. So I joined the gym, and I've gotten back into more intense, CrossFit-style workouts. I lift heavy things and I jump and do lots of body-weight exercises, and twice a week I get my ass handed to me by a rowing workout.

I want to have fit pregnancies, and I want to go into that operating room in the best shape possible. I've always been pretty thin, but I haven't always been pretty strong. I want to leave cancer in the dust as I run and jump and swim and hike and play with my young, healthy family.

I'd say that's a pretty good reason. And I think it's finally going to stick.

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A Paleo Update and Some Thoughts on Fitness (and Barre)
A Paleo Update and Some Thoughts on Fitness | Freckled Italian

I was reading some responses from the reader survey I linked to on Friday and a couple people asked for a Paleo update and for some thoughts on my fitness routine. It's been some time since I shared anything like that, so I thought it was a great idea for a post! (I'm also going to be sharing a new episode of Hello, Butter that touches on a lot of the same issues I want to write about today.)

I changed my diet in late 2011 and haven't really looked back until this year. For several years I was very strict--no rice, absolutely no sugar, really low carbs, and a lot of meat and vegetables. I felt really amazing. I lost like 25 pounds and almost felt like I didn't even need to work out. But then in the summer of 2012 I started CrossFit and became temporarily addicted. I went regularly for about two months, which I think is confusing to a lot of people who were reading my blog at that time and are still here--it was definitely just a phase for me. I still go with my mom sometimes when I'm in town (my friend Emma and I always do the Black Friday WOD together when we're both home for Thanksgiving), but I haven't gone regularly since 2012.

I started working a full-time job in Roanoke and couldn't really find the time to work out regularly--instead of CrossFit, I would go running or take a walk on my lunch break and then do some push-ups or pull-ups, but it was never super formal or even very routine. I was living at my parents' house and Rob and I were at the beginning of a long-distance relationship, so I had a lot of anxiety and found that controlling my food (i.e being very strict about not eating things that weren't Paleo) was oddly comforting. I wouldn't say I was disordered, because I ate plenty and was never hungry, but I definitely clung to the tenets of Paleo in a way that could only be described as extreme.

I was super thin and found myself feeling really anxious all the time. My doctor ran some tests and actually found that my cortisol levels were way too high because I didn't weigh enough to regulate them. She recommended that I gain five or ten pounds, which I did, and I started feeling better.

When I moved to Minneapolis I lightened up a bit with my diet, but I also started working out regularly at the gym in our apartment building. We were planning our wedding and Rob and I were really great about eating well and exercising every day. I started eating Paleo-friendly-but-not-necessarily-Paleo things like French fries and realizing that sushi didn't bother my stomach, but I was still staying away from gluten and dairy, which was easy because Minneapolis is so friendly to every single diet you could possibly imagine. I look back on that time as the best for my food/body image/exercise--I was never out of control in any way and I was super happy with my body. Looking back, now I know that I felt so good because I was living in a really successful middle ground of cardio, strength training, Paleo, and the occasional coconut milk soft serve.

Once our wedding was over I started eating a lot more foods that I used to completely ignore, for example I'll sometimes eat breaded chicken nuggets, which actually make me feel pretty sick. I've been experimenting with my gluten-sensitivity, which has led to a lot of migraines. A few years ago I never would have even tried, but now I know more about what works and doesn't work for my body. I can live without bread, but now I know that I really like craft beer, and it doesn't bother me the way a full bowl of pasta would. I've definitely gained a few pounds in the process, but that's just par for the course, I suppose. Honestly, I'd rather carry around those five vanity pounds and be less anxious than be at my "goal weight" and feel like I was about to panic every single day.

And finally, a few words about barre! Someone in the survey asked if I felt that barre was enough of a workout and if it was helping me reach my fitness goals, and the truth is that on its own it's not enough for me right now. It's a full-body workout for sure and I really, really love it; but I want to find a way to incorporate cardio as well--I miss running. The problem, though, is that when I spend an hour every day in the studio working out, I feel like I should be done with exercise for the day, so I don't do anything else. 

I currently have an unlimited membership that expires at the end of the year, and I think I may take a few months off and see if I can go back to what I was doing in Minneapolis--just working out on my own and switching it up every day. That was much more manageable then because I was trying to get in great shape for our wedding, but now that I've been doing barre for over six months, I've made time in my schedule to exercise every day, no matter what. We'll see how it goes!

So there you have it! I still love Paleo and eat that way at least 85% of the time. I definitely feel better when I'm closer to 100%, but Pad Thai and ramen and beer and gluten-free salted caramel brownies are pretty awesome, too. If anyone has any questions for me, I'd love to hear them. As always, thanks so much for your interest and to those of you who have responded to the reader survey so far!

Photo by Sarah Gatrell for Freckled Italian.

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