Categories super nutrition academy health class
Discover How To Eat And Exercise When Expecting With Flavia Del Monte
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Yuri: Hey, guys, how’s it going? Yuri Elkaim here with another great episode of the Super Nutrition Academy Health Class.
With me today, I’ve got my good friend Flavia Del Monte. We’re going to be speaking with you about exercise and nutrition during pregnancy.
This is a really cool topic because I think a lot of women—and maybe Flavia will expand upon this—a lot of women have a fear perhaps, at least from my experience, with respect to how to work out while they’re pregnant. They don’t want to overdo things, they don’t want to under do it. There’s kind of this fine balance.
The reason we’re talking to Flavia is because she’s currently, as of this interview, she is 32 weeks pregnant, so she’s going through this right now. If you know Flavia, you know that she’s a pretty fit mummy—she will be very shortly, anyways—and she’s going to impart some really cool wisdom with us, a lot of her strategies workout-wise and nutrition-wise.
And just in case you don’t know who Flavia is, I’ll just give you a little brief rundown. She’s actually educationally trained as a registered nurse, so that’s how she started out. She worked in pediatrics for a number of years, and then I guess she just fell in love with fitness and nutrition and pursued that.
She became a certified personal trainer and nutritionist and she’s been helping tens of thousands of women all around the world for the last couple years and she’s just doing some awesome stuff. I’m very thrilled to have you with us, Flavia. Welcome.
Flavia: Thank you. Always a pleasure talking with you, Yuri.
Yuri: Great, great. Why don’t we jump right into this?
One of the first things I think, maybe just speaking anecdotally, how has being pregnant changed how you’ve been able to exercise? You’ve done photo shoots for magazine covers, and you’ve done all this amazing stuff with respect to getting really toned and lean. How has being pregnant changed the way you’ve trained previously to where you are now?
Flavia: Yeah, that’s a great question. I’ve been working out for a number of years. There’re definitely some changes that had to occur once I got pregnant, something that I was studying before I got pregnant because my husband and I were trying, so, luckily, I got to research it before I got pregnant so that I was aware of what I could and couldn’t do.
I was definitely fearful of doing too much. I actually was kind of fearful about doing too little as well and becoming unhealthy, which I definitely didn’t want to do with all the hard work that I’ve been doing with exercising my body for the last number of years.
Surprisingly, for the first trimester, my workouts were relatively the same. I was still incorporating—and still am, into the third trimester as well—still incorporating some resistance training along with cardio. The weights have become lighter and the cardio definitely less intense.
I was always used to working out with little rest periods and multi joint exercises and always keeping my heart rate nice and high just to burn extra fat. So, that’s changed now to increased rest periods with exercises that require very little balance and monitoring my heart rate, making sure that it’s not going too high. The intensity has definitely scaled down.
Yuri: Yeah, and how’s that, I know you’ve been working with a trainer, Ryan Watson, for most of this. Has it been helpful to have him kind of reel you in to make sure you’re not stepping over the boundaries sometimes?
Flavia: It has. Now that I’m more comfortable with it, it’s easier for me, but in the beginning, I was kind of afraid that I was doing too little, because my workouts were pretty intense. So, yeah, it was helpful just to have Ryan there to monitor what I was doing to make sure that I wasn’t pushing myself too much.
He’d always be like, “You’re pregnant, so you can just tone it down a little bit,” because I wanted to continue to do such fatiguing workouts. Yeah, it was helpful to have him for sure.
Yuri: Yeah, and what have you noticed when you’re working out? Have you noticed just general differences, like weakness, more or less endurance? What are some physiological changes that you’ve noticed while working out during this pregnancy?
Flavia: Yeah, good question. The first trimester was definitely the most change, because I was nauseous and so, so, so tired. Just, like, my energy levels weren’t nearly at the level that they used to be.
So, lifting weights was really challenging in my first trimester I found. I was just getting so, so tired, so my reps were pretty low, like six to eight reps. And just a decrease in the weights; right from the beginning I was cutting them about in half, so that was really surprising.
And then in the second trimester, which they call the honeymoon phase, I was shocked at how much energy I all of a sudden had, and I was able to continue to do a number of workouts during the week. Now in my third trimester, I’m finding that I’m getting very, very tired, so my cardio has cut down.
I’m doing a lot more body-weight exercises and resistance-band exercises, same thing that we incorporate into the program. A lot of body-weight and resistance training for the third trimester just because your baby’s growing and you’re sharing your energy and you start to become fatigued again, just like the first trimester.
Yuri: Yeah, totally. And just for everyone listening, the program she’s alluding to is her brand-new All-Belly Pregnancy program. It’s really, really cool.
If you’re a lady who is pregnant or kind of bound to be pregnant, this is something you definitely want to get your hands on, because not only is Flavia awesome with respect to working out and nutrition, but she’s obviously going through this process herself right now with her pregnancy and sharing all of her strategies and insights to keep pregnant women all over the place just in great shape and healthy through their pregnancy.
Again, the link to that program will be available on the blog, so just make sure, if you’re listening to this on iTunes, make sure you pop over to the blog at SuperNutritionAcademy.com/blog. There will be a link with a special offer over to Flavia’s program just for all of our listeners.
You mentioned, obviously with the workouts and stuff, how often are you working out a week right now?
Flavia: Right now I try to do something active six days a week, but that doesn’t mean workouts. In my third trimester I do three resistance-training workouts, I do prenatal yoga twice a week, and then I try to get in about 20 minutes of cardio three to four times a week. If it’s anything from going for a walk or jumping on an elliptical or a treadmill; just something to keep me active.
Yuri: Earlier you mentioned keeping your heart rate within a certain range. Just for all the people listening, why is that important, and what’s that range that you’re trying to keep?
Flavia: Yeah, good question. The range would be, from all the research that I have come across, would be around 140. You don’t really want to go above 140. This is, where it kind of gets tricky because people that are in really, really great shape can safely increase it to 150, 160, but unless you are getting doctors’ recommendations, it should be kept to below 140.
There’s actually a number of things that you should make sure that you aren’t doing when you get pregnant. I can go through that if that’s okay.
Yuri: Yeah, absolutely.
Flavia: So, things that you want to avoid are something like lying on your back. Lying on your back can put pressure on the venae cavae, which supplies the body with oxygen. It could actually potentially cut off the baby’s oxygen. After the first and second trimester, or after the first trimester, so for the second and third trimester, no more lying on your back.
You also want to monitor your temperature. Something very important that I read very early on is that you don’t want to be sweating. You want to stay hydrated.
Your workouts shouldn’t be causing you to sweat a lot. When you’re pregnant the baby’s made up of 80 percent, and there are studies that say 70 percent of women are actually dehydrated in their pregnancy, which is crazy when you consider that the baby’s made up of 80 percent. It tells you how much water you really need to be taking in.
You don’t want to be getting too hot and sweating, and you want to make sure that you stay nice and hydrated. No high-risk movements, obviously. We share our blood with our baby, so we can become off balance, which I found in the first trimester to be pretty crazy. My balance was off. I could miss stairs all the time.
Yuri: And you weren’t even drinking.
Flavia: And I wasn’t even drinking, that’s right. So, obviously, no balancing-act movements. And then abdominals. I had to come up with really, really clever ways to work my abdominals because it’s such a weird feeling not to be able to really engage your abs anymore for sitting up and whatnot, so, avoiding crunches but still trying to work those important abdominal muscles that are going to help you with labor and delivery.
Yuri: What are some exercises that you do for your abdominals and core instead of the sit-ups and crunches?
Flavia: Yeah, good question. For the first and second trimesters, I was doing a lot of planks. In my third trimester I was kind of feeling a lot of pressure when I was in a normal plank, so now I just kind of do a plank off of a bench.
I do a lot of side crunches. I’ll work my obliques a lot. And side planks work very, very well as well.
Yuri: Nice, yeah. That’s some good advice because I think a lot of women understand, well, they should understand that they’re not supposed to lie on their backs, but then when they get to the gym, they think, Oh my God, what am I supposed to do for my abdominals if I can’t do crunches? But there is a world outside of that, so thanks for sharing those exercises.
So, those are some really helpful workout reminders. Are there any common mistakes or myths? Let’s say common mistakes that you’ve seen or heard of pregnant women make? Or are there certain myths that you can dispel with respect to maybe fears that pregnant have about working out?
Flavia: Yeah, of course. I have a really close friend of mine that, when I put a YouTube video in my first trimester of me working out, she called me and was so upset. She said, “How can you be working out? It’s freaking me out. I’m just so nervous that something’s going to happen.”
So, one of the mistakes is that exercise can cause miscarriage. There’s no evidence that shows that exercise can increase miscarriage.
Now, there was a Danish study of 92,000 women, I believe, that showed no increase in miscarriage from exercise performed after 18 weeks, but before 18 weeks, there is an increase of miscarriage, but it was only found with women who worked out too intensely, so more than seven hours per week with high-impact activity, which is obviously not what our program entails.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s quite a bit.
Flavia: And I think a lot of times, maybe these women didn’t even know that they were pregnant. Yeah, that’s definitely one myth. And then, you know, I’ve been on pregnancy Web sites and on blogs.
A lot of women say that you shouldn’t work out more than three times a week. And assuming that your doctor approves of exercise, because every pregnancy has its own challenges, it’s optimal to engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, five or more times a week.
Like I said, our program has us lifting weights four times a week in the first trimester, three times a week in the second trimester, and two to three times a week in the third trimester. These are really designed to help, especially n the third trimester, to help with labor and delivery, to strengthen all the muscles not only that but to help you with carrying the car seat afterward and all the diaper bags and everything else that you’re going to put some major energy into and a whole bunch of different muscles as well.
Yuri: Yeah, it’s a really good proactive strategy because until you have the baby, you don’t realize that you’re going from no baby all of a sudden to having a baby, so you leave the hospital or if you’re doing a home birth or wherever it is, it’s like all of a sudden, you have this human, this other little human with you. Now you have to carry them, you have to carry the car seat around, which can be pretty heavy, so if you’re not used to that and your muscles are not trained properly, if your core is just flaccid and weak, it’s definitely not a great thing.
And as you said, it definitely is very helpful for delivery. I know a lot of my previous clients and a lot of friends who have been active during their pregnancies. Their, I guess, perceived stranger in delivery was, obviously it was anecdotal, but they just seemed to have a better time delivering, and they recovered faster. So, yeah it’s really important.
Flavia: Yeah, actually, my trainer Ryan, who helps me design the exercises for the All-Belly Pregnancy, he has trained dozens of pregnant women. At the same time when I got pregnant, he was training six women, and two other ones had just delivered a couple weeks before.
It was really cool to go alongside these women. I got to know them very, very well and ask them how they were doing in their pregnancies. None of them had any pregnancy symptoms, and it’s something that I haven’t had.
I haven’t had any pain, and I know that when I go to prenatal yoga classes, all the women are kind of, you know, “Oh, I have this ache, and I have this pain,” and I’m always like, “Oh, I’m doing good.”
It’s kind of been something really funny there; the women are like, “So, any pains, Flavia? Any aches, any complaints? Are you just tough or…?” I’m just like, “No, I’m very, very comfortable,” and I think it has so much to do with exercise.
Ryan’s been telling me stories of all these women that he trains. When they go into labor, they have 45-minute deliveries, and they just have no complications. I think it definitely has to do with exercise during the pregnancy.
Yuri: Yeah, definitely. I mean, my wife, Amy, we had our second child, Luca, we had him at home, and she did a water birth. Obviously it’s our second child, so obviously it’s a little bit easier the second time, but from start to finish, it must’ve been about 40 minutes. She recovered relatively quickly because she was doing a lot of the stuff you’re talking about, which makes such a difference. It’s huge.
So, everyone listening, I can’t recommend this highly enough. Obviously if you’re a man, maybe it doesn’t apply as much, but if you’re a women who… Even the principles, the stuff in the program is still applicable to everyone. Obviously, there’re different intensities and stuff, but the fundamentals are very sound. If a man ended up buying the program for whatever reason, he would still benefit from it because there’s some awesome, just sound advice, not only for the workouts but the nutrition stuff as well.
With that said, let’s shift gears to the nutrition stuff, because nutrition’s really important because, obviously, the baby becomes what you eat essentially. What are three important foods or supplements that would benefit any pregnant woman? And maybe you can share some of the stuff that you’ve been using or ingesting on a regular basis.
Flavia: Sure, yeah. Nutrition, I have a huge passion for nutrition. During my nursing career, I did pediatrics for nine years full-time. I do it occasionally still.
Whenever the dietitian came on, I was just always really fascinated with what she had taught about, in relation to nutrition. Oftentimes I’d say to her, “You know, I want to become a registered dietitian, I think,” if I were to do it all again, because I just love how nutrition impacts every single part of your body.
Like you said, whatever a pregnant woman eats the baby eats, so nutrition is so, so, so important. I’ll discuss three supplements that I was shocked that they’re so important that you never, ever read about on any other blog, Web site, or pregnancy book. It’s fascinating to me.
The first one is vitamin D. vitamin D plays a really crucial role in the development of the baby and the growth of the baby. Some deficiency side effects of vitamin D are linked to insulin resistance, increased risk of gestational diabetes. It can also be an increased risk of infant asthma, type 1 diabetes, and autoimmune disease.
It’s pretty crazy when you look at the impact that vitamins have after the baby’s even born, which you’ll find with tons of nutrition. You can prevent so many childhood allergies and colds and flus and so many things just by what you take in as a pregnant woman, so it’s pretty powerful.
The second one that I was shocked about was magnesium. Magnesium is coined the antistress mineral, which is perfect for a pregnant woman. Magnesium helps to make calcium more soluble. We know that calcium’s very important for bone development.
The body has this unique way of stripping minerals and vitamins from places in your body if the baby’s deficient, so it’ll actually take the calcium right out of mum’s bones just to help with the baby’s supply, which is pretty cool, but we have to be so careful that we make sure that we keep enough calcium and magnesium in our systems to prevent that from happening. And with magnesium, if you take it with zinc before bed, it can help improve your sleep quality, and it can also help relieve heartburn.
Magnesium helps to keep the perineum supple, so it ensures, it helps you with labor. It helps with the uterus contractions during labor. It also helps prevent premature uterine contractions. There’re just so many things; it’s fascinating.
Side effects of magnesium have been linked to miscarriage and developmental problems, low birth weight, preeclampsia, which is, you know, the high blood pressure occurring in pregnancy that can lead to seizures. There’re just so many things that magnesium is key for.
Yuri: I wonder if doing high-dose magnesium before giving birth—if you knew that you were going into labor and you just kind of shot back, like, ten thousand milligrams of magnesium would be a good idea.
Flavia: Yeah, I wonder.
Yuri: I don’t know.
Flavia: I wonder. That’ll be interesting for sure. The third one was probiotics, and I remember my husband telling me, “Make sure that you take probiotics when you’re pregnant,” and I thought, Oh, I’d better research that, because on the labels, it said “Do not take if pregnant or lactating.”
Yuri: I think every supplement says that.
Flavia: Everything says that. So, once I studied it, I was amazed that it actually helps with the baby’s gut health. It boosts immune function and treats and prevents urinary tract infections and Candida, which a lot of women suffer from when they’re pregnant, the yeast infections.
The probiotics help keeps a healthy, good bacteria balance in your intestine, which aids in digestion. And one other cool thing is that it helps in the production of vitamins B12 and vitamin K, which are really two important supplements that help with babies’ nervous development and clotting. There’s actually research that suggests that there’s fewer allergies in childhood from taking probiotics during pregnancy.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s awesome. And also when a baby comes out, its first exposure to bacteria in the outside world is through the vaginal canal, so if you’re a mother who has Candida and yeast issues, that’s the first inoculation for your baby. You definitely want to get the probiotics in there to kind of sort all that stuff out ahead of time.
Flavia: Yeah, very important, actually, in the third trimester.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s awesome. What about foodwise? What has your diet looked like over the past couple months? Has it changed at all from the first trimester to now, or has it changed at all since even before you were pregnant, because you were pretty healthy anyways to begin with?
Flavia: My food has relatively stayed the same. It’s odd to me how eating excessively and eating unhealthy is socially acceptable when you’re pregnant. It’s so odd to me, and I’ve had so many conversations with women that say, “Oh, Flavia, eat that now. You’re always so healthy and you never eat this or that. Now is the time. You’re pregnant. You can eat all that stuff.” It drives me crazy.
Yuri: It’s almost backward, right?
Flavia: It’s true.
Yuri: It’s like, why would you eat a tub of ice cream if you’re trying to grow a baby?
Flavia: This is true; this is very, very true. Everything has relatively stayed the same. In my first trimester I really wanted a lot of carbs.
I did stay away from that only because I knew that all of the hormone changes are really influenced by eating high-fat diets. I probably increased my fat a lot actually, and I just made sure that I had protein with every meal. I still keep carbs in, of course, but my diet consists of mostly healthy fats and proteins with every meal.
Flavia: Keeping the hormones nice and regulated.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s obviously important. Very nice. What are some foods that, let’s say three foods that pregnant women specifically should avoid and why?
Flavia: Yeah, good. There’s the obvious deli meats and all those things that they tell you, the soft cheeses and whatnot. I actually wrote an article on three foods to avoid while you’re pregnant and why.
They’re actually kind of not food; they’re foodlike products is what I like to call them. One thing would be sugar. Sugar, obviously it’s horrible for you at any time but especially in pregnancy; it causes rapid fluctuations in the blood sugar and taxes the body.
When we ingest sugar same as our simple carbohydrates—and this is how I kind of try to explain it to people when they tell me that you should eat whatever you want because you’re pregnant. I let them know that when we put sugar into our bodies, we have this emergency signal that our bodies give off, saying that our blood sugars have reached emergency levels. It’s actually state of emergency in our bodies, so our pancreas secretes insulin to try to lower the blood sugar.
There’re not a lot of places that the sugar goes. You don’t use that much of it. A little bit goes to the liver, a little bit goes to the brain, but mostly just enters your fat cells, where you have, your fat cells can always make room unfortunately. It’d be nice if we just ate it and peed it out. But, unfortunately, it gets stored right into your fat cells.
This is a vicious, vicious cycle, and it leads to obesity and gestational diabetes, and it makes you want more. There’re actually studies that show that having a high-sugar diet while you’re pregnant can lead to diabetes in childhood, juvenile diabetes. I always say if you need a treat when you’re pregnant, grab a piece of fruit; the best way to help with the cravings.
Flavia: Artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners aren’t really a food, but if you look on the packages of the artificial sweeteners, they’ll tell you that they’re unsafe right on them.
A number of studies have found that artificial sweeteners is super dangerous for babies, as it interferes with the baby’s ability to regulate his or her own blood sugar. It has this false insulin response, confusing the baby’s own hormonal balance, and it creates an oversecretion of insulin, which can also, in turn, lead to juvenile diabetes as well.
Yuri: And this is stuff like aspartame, Splenda, acesulfame K.
Yuri: All the stuff you’d find in, like, a Diet Coke, for instance.
Flavia: Exactly, yeah. So when things say low-fat or fat-free, yeah, be really, really careful because they’re probably loaded with artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners also have been researched to prove that they rob our bones of calcium.
It actually decreases bone density, which is crazy. And our baby, mom’s body obviously needs a lot of calcium and * (26:46—unclear) during pregnancy.
And then the last one I would talk about would be high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup, in the 1970s, was the Japanese figured out how to separate this fructose from the corn just to make some money. That caused so many problems; they should be sued.
It’s funny because—it’s not funny but a coca leaf, when you separate it you get cocaine. So, a highly refined coca leaf gives you cocaine. It’s the same kind of theory when you extract the fructose from the corn.
It’s almost like your baby is snorting cocaine in a sense and you are too. Obviously you wouldn’t be taking cocaine, so why would you ingest high-fructose corn syrup? The impact on the body is much the same. It causes a very, very quick and sharp increase of energy, and then it drops you right back down almost just as fast. Your body’s response is that you want so much more.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s crazy stuff. I don’t know how companies can get away with producing that stuff, but hopefully over time more and more people become aware of the fact that it’s just deadly for everything, from adults to fetuses and everyone in between.
Flavia: For sure.
Yuri: Awesome. Well, that’s some great advice, Flavia. Thank you very much for sharing that. All right, so we’re just about at the time here.
I want to, once again, remind everyone to check out All-Belly Pregnancy, and the link is on the blog. We’ve got a special link set up just for our listeners. Flavia, is there anything else that you want to finish with before we finish off?
Flavia: I just think that it’s really, really important to take your baby’s health into consideration when you’re pregnant. I know that when I first started my research, I was really thinking about myself and how I wouldn’t gain too much weight and what would make me healthy during pregnancy, and what I found was that there’re so many things that you can do to impact, to having the healthiest, smartest baby possible and it’s going to help them throughout their entire childhood and adult years, which is crazy.
You have that impact. Just nine months of your life to really change the life of another human being while keeping yourself healthy and helping with labor and delivery and all that stuff as well.
I think it’s so important that women really study the proper foundation of exercise and nutrition when they’re pregnant and not rely on the misinformation that a lot of the market that makes money off of giving us false information. Staying away from those kinds of things. You almost have to become your own doctor, really.
Yuri: Absolutely. That’s what we’re trying to preach. Amen! Yeah, totally. That’s awesome.
Thank you so much for sharing that, Flavia. It’s been a great 30 minutes or so with you. Once again, everyone listening, to learn more about Flavia’s program All-Belly Pregnancy, there is a link on the blog over at SuperNutritionAcademy.com/blog. If you’re on iTunes, hop over there right now, unless you’re driving the car; then obviously wait ’til you get to a computer.
We’re definitely going to help Flavia get this out to more pregnant women because this is really important information that everyone needs to know. So, thank you once again, Flavia. It’s been awesome talking with you.
Flavia: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me.
Yuri: Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening. We’ll see you guys in the next episode.
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