Exercising during pregnancy is a minefield of mixed messages. While on one hand all of the advice is to be physically active throughout their pregnancy, women struggle to find accurate information about when and how to exercise safely and appropriately. In fact, most women would be forgiven for believing that they shouldn’t lift a finger during the first trimester as they are excluded from so many activities by service providers.
Enter new book Your Fit Pregnancy by two time North American fitness champion Erica Willick (pictured above). Willick knows a thing or two about health and fitness particularly during pregnancy and in the post partum period, having won her second title after the birth of her first baby.
Your Fit Pregnancy is a mine of useful information, bang up to date with evidence-based recommendations. The book covers both exercise and nutrition and is usefully divided into the four time periods of first trimester, second trimester, third trimester and post baby.
With a strong emphasis on building strength and sustaining a healthy and fit body for all of motherhood, the book firmly eschews the ideologies of getting your pre-baby body back and exercising for leanness. Instead, Willick concentrates on the importance of keeping you and your baby healthy in the long term and looking forward. Taking care of your core and pelvic floor, including an easy to follow prehabilitation programme, is a theme that runs right through the book.
There are a few thing in Your Fit Pregnancy that really stood out for me:
- the nutritional section with the pictorial portion size guide is excellent. While many pregnancy books like to give you a crazy long list of foodstuffs, Willick gives you sensible guidelines that can easily be worked into your own meal plans. The portion size guide leaves you with no doubt as to what exactly “eating for two” means (less than you think!) and gives you a visual that a weighting scale never could.
- the workouts are so practical it makes planning exercise seem like a no brainer. They’re laid right out there for you on a day by day basis with something for every level of fitness.
- the second part of the book includes 50 recipes and step by step photographs on how to perform each exercise, with the author herself modelling correct postures and form.
- the book is sprinkled with short profiles of women’s experiences of pregnancy, birth and how they felt about their bodies. What’s particularly interesting about the case studies is that all of the women would have been on the spectrum of elite fitness before pregnancy and reading their personal journeys would give any woman comfort that healing after birth is not the quick fix that we are led to believe.
- The book contains possibly one of the best hacks I’ve ever read. For those of you suffering from food cravings, Willick gives you a list of healthy alternatives for the tastes your body is screaming out for. For example, if you’re craving ice cream, there’s recipes for Healthy Almond Pistachio Frozen Yoghurt or Mint Chocolate Green Protein Smoothie. For salty cravings, there’s a Sweet & Salty Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken or Veggies with Hummus.
Your Fit Pregnancy fills a very big gap in the area of pregnancy fitness for any woman who is interested in continuing to exercise after they discover their pregnant or indeed getting started during pregnancy when you haven’t been active before. It is a particularly useful guide for anyone who had a very active lifestyle before pregnancy – I’m looking at you crossfitters, runners, triathletes, lifters and #irishfitfam members out there! This book will help you make the transition to the right kind of exercise for you during pregnancy without compromising on your fitness.
Some of the strength training exercises recommended in the book require the use of a cable machine so if you don’t have access to a gym or plan on just exercising at home, you might need to mix and match some of the outlined plans. You also might need to get your hands on some light free weights depending on your fitness level, although in fairness they’re easy to come by these days.
Your Fit Pregnancy is a very easy read, taking the time to explain complex research and biology in an interesting and accessible way. Even if you never plan to darken the door of a yoga studio or gym, there’s something for every pregnant woman in this book, particularly the information and exercises for protecting your pelvic floor. I know I certainly learned a thing or two.
The good news is I’ve one copy of Your Fit Pregnancy to give away. If you’d like to win, just click on this link to my Facebook page to enter. It’s simples!
Your Fit Pregnancy by Erica Willick is published by Sterling, costs £12.99 and is available to buy now.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Your Fit Pregnancy to review. The publisher of the book will send an additional copy to the winner of the competition. No payment was received for this review. All views as always are my own.