Pregnancy and motherhood can complicate a woman’s fitness practices. It can also be a time that women connect with their bodies most meaningfully. I “got” yoga when I was pregnant with my daughter. Prenatal yoga classes dramatically minimized my aches and pains and restless leg sensations, and gave me a new avenue to inner peace. In today’s blog post, NBA athlete Marie Ferdinand-Harris, of the Los Angeles Sparks, shares her experience of being both an athlete and a mother.
Candace: Many mothers feel like they want to nourish themselves after birth, but don’t know where to start. Can you describe your journey? Did you work with a dietician? What were your food decisions, and what was the timeline in terms of getting active?
Marie: Throughout my pregnancy I constantly watched what I ate. I drank a lot of water and carrot juice and ate fruits and vegetables at every meal. I did not work with a dietician, but I read many magazines to research how to eat in a healthy manner.
I worked out consistently during my entire pregnancy up until the last trimester. My workouts were not, by any means, extreme, just light cardio. I either walked, lightly jogged on the tredmill, or used the stairmaster, I also lifted with light dumbbells to attempt and keep my muscles active and toned. I feel that my exercise routines throughout my pregnancy enabled me to not be so far back and out of shape after I gave birth to my son CJ. After giving birth and getting an “ok” from the doctor to really work out hard, I focused a ton on abdominal strength because the ab muscles are the weakest muscles after having a baby.
I worked with a personal trainer to strengthen my ab muscles, and to lift weights and get my muscles back in shape. I went step by step, feeling stronger and more active, and eventually feeling strong enough to get on the basketball court and work on basketball skills in order to get back into basketball shape.
I believe that my conscious eating and exercise made my pregnancy much less difficult on me, and I felt pretty good throughout.
Candace: When did you know you were “back” in terms of your strength and energy?
Marie: About two months after I was doing sprints and suicides (a type of running drill) on the basketball court. Although I was not yet doing full contact five versus five basketball games, I was able to do light two on two basketball games with some contact. As I played more and more, my cardio and strength kept improving so I could push harder and harder.
Candace: How do you balance your career with motherhood?
Marie: The luxury of the sport of basketball for me as a mother is that I have at most two and a half to three hour practices every day, giving me the rest of the day to be the great mother that I aspire to be. The time constraints of basketball practice allows me to be the mother that I am and the professional athlete that I am. I try to rest up while CJ is at school or napping so that I have the energy to be a great, active mom with him when I am with him.
I would not be able to balance my career with motherhood as effectively as I am able to without my husband Cedric. Cedric is the most supportive husband, he takes a lot of pressure off me and allows me to compete throughout each WNBA season without being stressed by helping take care of CJ. While in season, I focus on making sure that I give my husband the right advice to help him help me take care of CJ.
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