Fit & Healthy Mommy-To-Be of the Month
November’s Expecting More™ Fit & Healthy Mommy-To-Be of the Month is Erika Shannon!
Erika Shannon is a group fitness instructor, dancer, choreographer, and co-founder of MT College Prep, a company helping high school kids who want to go to college for Musical Theatre. She was born and raised in Pittsburg but currently lives in Hoboken, New Jersey and works in New York City. She is due with a baby girl on January 2, 2013!
As you can imagine, being healthy and fit is a huge part of Erika’s life. I think you will find, as I always have, that Erika is refreshingly honest in her reflections and advice. If you are ever so fortunate to meet her, she is simply inspiring to be around. I highly recommend checking out her classes in NYC and visiting her web site http://erikashannon.com . Her blog is a fantastic read, including her husband’s recent contribution, “If Men Got Pregnant.”
Here are some of the highlights from my Q&A with fit & healthy expecting mom, Erika:
Why is staying fit during pregnancy so important to you?
I have always been a physical person, and have always been on the move. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t dance or teach- it’s just a part of my life. Taking class and staying in the game inspires me, and the more I learn from others, the more I can bring to my students.
I must admit, too, that I am also driven by fear! I used to be overweight and I will never forget how lethargic it made me feel. My quality of life improved so much in every way after shedding 30 pounds of unwanted body weight, and I felt SO amazing. I always want to feel good, so I know if I stay fit while still nurturing baby, it will be much easier to regain my pre-pregnancy body after she arrives, and get back to the fitness level that satisfies me.
What type of workouts did you do before you were pregnant? What have you had to do to modify those workouts during your pregnancy?
Before I got pregnant, I was teaching 5 classes per week, taking yoga twice a week, and doing some sort of cardio at least 3x/week (whether that meant 30 minutes on the elliptical or a one hour kickboxing class). But not long after I found out I was pregnant, I started getting really uncomfortable when my heart rate would get too high, so I lowered the intensity, and now in my 3rd Trimester I do very little cardio. I just let go of one of my classes at the end of October, so now I teach 4 classes/week, take one aqua and at least one pre-natal yoga class per week, and supplement once or twice a week with an Expecting More workout!
Basically, I’ve had to slow way down. It has been a major adjustment for me personally, and very humbling professionally, but I just know it’s what I have to do. As a fitness professional, it’s very hard to look at other women who are able to do much more in their pregnancy (I am especially jealous of those who can still rock their cardio workouts) and not feel guilty for slowing down, but I keep telling myself that this is only temporary, and my job right now is to be as healthy as I can for my baby, and listen to my body. I feel I’ve done a good job with that so far.
What has the reaction been from others regarding you working out throughout your pregnancy? What has been your reaction to their reaction?
There are two camps of people in my life: the fitness peeps who simply expect me to keep it up, and my “normal” friends who can’t believe I’m still teaching. While I am definitely relying on verbal cueing and a strong front row as I grow larger and more limited in my range of motion, I do still demonstrate a lot, and as long as I feel fine doing it and stay safe, I’m going to continue doing it. The bigger difference, though, is how the two camps feel about my growing belly. In the gym, I have heard it all, from “Are you sure there aren’t twins in there?” to “wow, you’re so huge! Any day now, right?” Outside of the club, the general comments sound like “You are tiny for your third trimester!” and “You look amazing!” It makes me feel like a crazy person sometimes, and I have often come home from work feeling so bad about my size. But at the end of the day, this is the body I have, and this is how it’s choosing to carry the baby. What matters is that I am healthy, the baby is healthy, and at 36 years old, I am SO grateful.
Did you use Expecting More™ during your pregnancy? If so, what did you like most about it? Do you have a favorite Expecting More™ exercise?
Yes, I am using it! I love that there’s always SOMETHING I can do, no matter how much energy I have that day. If I’m feeling chill I will do Salutations and feel good that I moved by body. If I feel I can handle intervals and some more cardio I am all about Synergy (and love the exercises with the chair!)
What have been some of your favorite products you’ve used or would recommend to others that made you feel sexy, strong or were just plain fun to use while pregnant?
I love Belli Elasticity oil – I slather it on after my shower and it smells so good. And so far: no stretch marks! I am also a huge fan of the Snoogle pregnancy pillow – I almost didn’t get one and boy am I glad I did! That thing is a life saver- I love to sleep on my back, but since I can’t anymore, the Snoogle makes side sleeping so much more bearable, and even comfortable! Plus, because of the way it’s shaped, if I do roll toward my back in my sleep, it prevents me from lying flat, and that way I know baby is getting great blood flow (and so am I).
What has been the best part about being pregnant? What has been your least favorite thing about being pregnant?
The best part has definitely been bonding with my husband Brian – seeing him transform into a dad is just the loveliest thing I’ve ever seen. He is going to be an amazing father! I’ve also really enjoyed having this time to really prioritize my life- we’ve gotten rid of so much extra stuff- not just material things but commitments I no longer need to make, things like that. Simplifying for the sake of making room for this little being, and really designing what kind of parents we want to be.
The worst part has been dealing with my temporary physical limitations- I haven’t taken a lot of dance class, and choreographing has been a challenge for the past month or so because I am no longer able to jump, twist, or turn like I used to (and my bump is in the way of those high kicks!). It has, though, been such an amazing lesson on how to communicate physically in alternative ways. I’m sure in the end it will make me a better choreographer, but right now it kinda sucks!!!
Do you have any advice or information about pregnancy that you learned through your experience that you wish you had known before you were pregnant?
What I’ve learned so far is that every pregnancy is different. You cannot spend your entire pregnancy comparing yourself (or your bump) to your friends and co-workers, or you will go crazy. You don’t know how you will feel until you’re there. Just do what you can, and if you have to switch from your pre-prego Ironman training to walking around the block, it’s okay, and it’s temporary. Just move in a way that makes you feel good. But whatever you do, move.
Special thanks: To Erika’s amazing Pregnancy Photographer – Amy Cannon -. It was really special that Amy took these photos for Erika because she was Erika’s first friend. Their moms were pregnant at the same time and had the same OB – they met in the waiting room. Amy was born exactly one month to the day before Erika was, and Erika was in the hospital with Amy when she was induced with her firstborn.