CrossFit While Pregnant

Published April 22, 2014 by coachkatriel

I took an English class this semester and was asked for my final to write a 6-8 page paper about a research topic of my choosing. I chose to write about CrossFitting while pregnant and thought I’d share my findings and research with you here in hopes that something I learned might help someone else!

CrossFit While Pregnant

CrossFit is a training methodology that uses constantly varied, functional movements, executed at a high intensity to increase the capacity to do work across broad time and modal domains (Glassman). I found CrossFit a little over three years ago while looking for something that could help me to improve my self confidence and health. Through training CrossFit regularly, I have been able to become fitter, leaner, healthier, and happier. Through CrossFit, I also began coaching and helping other people to achieve their goals. One question I am asked fairly often is whether or not a woman should continue participating in CrossFit when she becomes pregnant or what exercise is best for pregnant women. Two months ago I found out that I am pregnant and this question of how I should proceed with exercise during my pregnancy has been at the forefront of my mind. As I’ve been doing this research, I have thought of all those who have been asking me this question and who I think might be asking this question in the future and chose to write this paper as the answer. I am of the opinion that women should continue with whatever exercise program they were doing prior to becoming pregnant, modifying as necessary to accommodate their new shape, weight and energy levels as those things change throughout pregnancy. I encourage all women to speak with their doctor as early as possible after finding out about pregnancy in case there are any concerns given their specific situation. In this paper, I will address some exercise related concerns as it pertains to pregnancy and go over some solutions and benefits as found in my research.

Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can lead to serious health problems for both mother and infant including gestational diabetes mellitus, hypertension, pre-eclampsia, etc. Regularly preformed physical activity can reduce the incidence of these concerns. While originally 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week was the general recommendation for low-risk pregnant women established by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, now many suggest that higher intensity vigorous exercise, can more effectively help to manage and reduce weight as well as build and maintain the muscle mass which is critical if one hopes to not suffer from a slowing metabolism. In a study reported in the Journal Of Physical Activity & Health in 2013, pregnancy practices associated with healthy weight gain were identified. This study concluded that regular exercise alone wasn’t necessarily associated with normal pregnancy weight gain, but that staying active during the day and following a healthy eating pattern had more of an association (Cohen, 1003).  It has also been suggested that “the duration of labour is inversely associated with aerobic capacity” (Zavorsky, 347). Kat Grosshaupt, co-founder of, CrossFit coach, doula, and birthing instructor shared her thoughts on CrossFit during pregnancy in an article for the Huffington Post. She noted that the labor times for the CrossFit Moms she worked with were all extremely short and relatively easy. She went on to say, “In all the births I’ve attended I’ve noticed CrossFit Moms having a great deal of stamina, mental focus and endurance, and with all the squats we do- – shorter pushing times. Oh and let’s not forget recovery. CrossFit moms have shorter, easier recoveries.” (Grosshaupt)  Women who would like to have a healthy pregnancy, shorter labor, and a quicker return to their pre-partum weight, participating in CrossFit, staying active during the day, and following a healthy pattern of eating would be critical for this to happen.

When I spoke with my doctor about exercise during pregnancy, she encouraged me to continue with the level of intensity I had been exercising at before becoming pregnant, but just to make sure I stayed well hydrated throughout the day and particularly so during and after exercise as well as to stop if anything felt uncomfortable. The research I have done supports this recommendation. According to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, doctors used to err on the side of caution for pregnant women because of the lack of research done. However, “numerous scientific studies have shown no correlation between moderate or even vigorous exercise and miscarriage or pregnancy-related complications. In fact, ACOG says if a woman is accustomed to vigorous exercise, she can continue to do it as long as she feels okay.” (as quoted by Grosshaupt)

One potential risk of exercise in pregnancy could be cardiac related. People who exercise regularly tend to have a lower baseline risk of heart attacks during exercise and the relative risk of sudden cardiac arrests during exercise only occurs once in approximately ever 565000 hours of exercise for people without known heart disease. In terms of cardiovascular health, even for previously sedentary pregnant women, the benefits of increasing physical activity outweigh the risks of myocardial infarction (Zavorsky 351).

Another potential risk of exercise training is low birth weight or higher risk of preterm birth. However, high intensity exercise during trimesters one and two does not affect birthweight but high intensity exercise during the third trimester could attribute to a 200-400g decrease in birthweight. (Zavorsky) A more recent study has come out to show that there is really no meaningful difference between infant birthweight for women who exercise and women who don’t. (Zavorsky) Regarding preterm birth, there have been several studies done that relate an actual decreased risk of preterm birth for women who do exercise (Zavorsky 352).  One study in particular showed that physical activity was not associated with late preterm birth or hospitalizations and that it was associated with decreased odds of cesarean delivery (Tinly, e103).  Another study concluded that the association between birth weight and metabolic disease is lost in physically fit individuals and that the association between low birth weight and metabolic syndrome is accentuated in unfit individuals. (Siebel) It also showed that exercise during pregnancy doesn’t adversely impact birth weight, but that it can help reduce the risk of abnormally low or high birth weight (Siebel, 948).

While women with high-risk pregnancies may sometimes be encouraged to remain inactive during their pregnancy, a study done three years ago proved that bed ridden pregnant women can still participate in an exercise program. This study used resistance bands as part of a supervised exercise program and there was no statistical difference in heart rate, blood pressure, or uterine contractions during or after exercise in comparison to the women who did not exercise during pregnancy. According to this study, women with high-risk pregnancies can engage in supervised exercise program and experience some physiological benefits with minimal risks to mother and baby (Brun, 582). These findings were interesting to me because the findings of these studies seem to consistently indicate that exercise is the answer and can actually help to avoid the concerns that previously people thought were linked to exercise.

A third risk of exercise is the association between exercise and fetal health. I heard a lot about this during my first couple weeks of pregnancy, how higher intensity exercise could potentially compromise the blood and nutrient flow to the uterus. There are many mechanisms in place to prevent this from happening. There may be modest changes in the uterine blood flow during and shortly after exercise but the body corrects that by 5 minutes after exercise (Zavorsky 352). That study would suggest that occasional high intensity exercise won’t hurt the baby as long as it is of moderate duration. This article didn’t specify what an acceptable duration would be, which leads me to go back to the advice from my doctor: if my body is used to it already, I can do it, but if something feels uncomfortable, back it off and make sure I am staying hydrated.

According to research preformed in 2013, in addition to the benefits already mentioned, exercise also helps pregnant women avoid low-back pain as well as depression during and after pregnancy. In the study referenced, only 14.6% of the participants actually followed the exercise recommendations during pregnancy. The study also found that the more educated a woman, the more exercise she performed during her pregnancy (Gjestland, 515).  After reading this, as well as the other articles mentioned throughout this paper, I feel even more that it is important for me to share the information I’ve learned about exercising during pregnancy.

CrossFit during pregnancy is particularly beneficial because it is adaptable by nature. According to, “The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience … We’ve used our same routines for elderly individuals with heart conditions and cage fighters one month out from televised bouts. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs … The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree not kind.” (Glassman) A woman’s body will go through many changes during pregnancy and CrossFit is designed to be scaleable and adaptable in order to meet each individual’s needs. According to Grosshaupt, “This “issue” of whether CrossFit is safe or not if moms are harming their babies and putting them at risk has about 50 percent to do with exercise itself, but it also has to do with, in my very vocal opinion, trusting that women know what they are doing with regard to their bodies.” (Grosshaupt). Women who would like to have a healthy pregnancy should begin or continue a regular exercise program before becoming pregnant if possible. Ideally, CrossFit is an excellent program to start in order to ideally prepare the body for the demands of labor and delivery. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. Modify as necessary to accommodate your changing body. Rest when needed and drink plenty of water. If already pregnant and currently physically inactive, slowly increase your physical activity throughout the day and speak with your doctor about how best to begin an exercise program.


Works Cited

Barakat, Ruben, et al. “Exercise During Pregnancy And Gestational Diabetes-Related Adverse Effects: A Randomised Controlled Trial.” British Journal Of Sports Medicine 47.10 (2013): 1-7. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014

Brun, Chantale R., et al. “Bed-Rest Exercise, Activity Restriction, And High-Risk Pregnancies: A Feasibility Study.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism 36.4 (2011): 577-582. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Cohen, Tamara R., Hugues Plourde, and Kristine G. Koski. “Use Of The Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire (PPAQ) To Identify Behaviors Associated With Appropriate Gestational Weight Gain During Pregnancy.” Journal Of Physical Activity & Health 10.7 (2013): 1000-1007. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Gaston, Anca, Anita Grace Cramp and Harry Prapavessis. “Pregnancy—Should Women Put Up Their Feet Or Lace Up Their Running Shoes?: Self-Presentation And The Exercise Stereotype Phenomenon During Pregnancy.” Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology 34.2 (2012): 223-237. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Gjestland, Kristin, “Do Pregnant Women Follow Exercise Guidelines? Prevalanece Data Among 3482 Women, And Prediction Of Low-Back Pain, Pelvic Girdle Pain And Depression.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 47.8 (2013): 515-520. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Grosshaupt, Kat. “In Defense of Pregnant CrossFitting.”Huffington Post. (2013): n. page. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. <;.

Glassman, Greg. “What is CrossFit.” (2003):n. page. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. <;.

Hammer, RL, J Perkins, and R Parr. “Exercise During The Childbearing Year.” Journal Of Perinatal Education 9.1 (2000): 1-13 CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Melzer, K, et al. “Physical Activity And Pregnancy: Cardiovascular Adaptations, Recommendations And Pregnancy Outcomes.” Sports Medicine 40.6 (2010): 493-507. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Siebel, Andrew L., Andrew L Carey, and Bronwyn A Kingwell. “Can Exercise Training Rescue The Adverse Cardiometabolic Effects Of Low Birth Weight And Prematurity?.” Clinical & Experimental Pharmacoogy & Physiology 39.11 (2012): 944-957. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Tinloy, Jennifer, et al. “Exercise During Pregnancy And Risk Of Late Preterm Birth, Cesarean Delivery, And Hospitalizations.” Women’s Health Issues 24.1 (2014): e99-e104. CINAHL Plus with Full Text.  Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Zavorsky, Gerald S., and Lawrence D. Longo. “Exercise Guidelines In Pregnancy.” Sports Medicine 41.5 (2011): 345-360. SportDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014


First Trimester Food Stuffs

Published April 10, 2014 by coachkatriel

I have a very weird relationship with food. I kinda feel like a toddler in that one day I’ll be totally cool with eating something and the next day, I’ll spit it right out. Breakfast is the hardest because I’m tired all the time and try to sleep in until the last possible moment and then just chug down a protein shake real quick before I head out the door. Nope. Protein shakes are not sitting well in my tummy at all.

Fried eggs were the only source of protein that sounded good to me AT ALL for the first month and a half. Fried eggs. That’s it. And I’d have the hardest time getting up to make them myself because I’d feel weak and shakey and sick .

I also have to eat super consistently. If I have fried eggs, I’ll have a little bit longer than 2 hours before my body demands more food. If I don’t have protein, it’s closer to one hour. And hunger starts as “Hmm, I think I’m hungry” and quickly escalates to “If I don’t eat now I’m going to pass out or puke” and then turns into me yelling and saying mean things to my husband.

I’m truly a pleasure to be around right now.

Whenever I start to feel stressed out or overwhelmed or icky, I like to go over to my sister-in-law’s house and hold her baby. He’ll just sit there with his cute little eyes closed and his mouth half open and his chunky cheeks going wherever gravity takes them and he’ll cuddle on into me. And I think about how little miracles like my nephew are the reason girls like me decide they want to get pregnant and experience morning-late afternoon and evening nausea. The human body is amazing and strong and capable. I feel super blessed to be carrying one of God’s angels right now.

I’m also super lucky and blessed to have such a supportive husband. He is so sweet and so kind to me. I’ve been a nightmare to be around and he’s been so good at supporting me and reminding me to be kind to myself. He’s also been really understanding when I haven’t made dinner for two months since the smell of food cooking makes me sick as well. We’ve been scavengers, but I feel like the sick part is almost over so we’ll survive. He’s such a sweetheart! I love that guy a whole bunch.

Strong is the New Pregnant

Published April 8, 2014 by coachkatriel

A little over three months ago when my husband and I were getting home from hanging out with his brother and sister on a Sunday night he said to me, “I’ve been thinking, we should start trying for a baby.” And I waited a moment to see if he was kidding. He wasn’t. I’m pretty sure he told everyone at the gym about it too the very next day,  made it feel even more real to me.

And then, about a week and a half before my period was due, I couldn’t wait any longer and took a pregnancy test. The pregnancy test said no baby. The one I took the next day in the morning agreed. I was a little bit of a wreck. I’ve wanted a baby for so long and was worried that if we didn’t get pregnant this time, that we’d end up postponing it and it wouldn’t happen for a long time.

A week later, I started feeling some “symptoms”…you know, tender boobs, some headaches, fatigue, bloating…all those symptoms meant one of two things: Either I was pregnant or about to start my period. I wanted to wait until after I’d officially missed my period to take another test, and the day I thought it would come, nothing had happened yet.

I’d ordered some pictures to hang up in my cubicle to be picked up at Walgreens and while I drove over there, I thought I’d just pick up one of the early response pregnancy tests to see if I could find out. I couldn’t get home fast enough.

I stared at the Pregnancy test for so long without blinking that at first I thought I was seeing the blue line because I was willing it to be there. But after blinking a couple times, I could see it clearly. It was pretty faint, but it was definitely there, staring at me, telling me something exciting is happening inside my body.

So here I am today, feeling pretty much just as dazed and excited and nervous as I did when I saw that first little blue line.

Assuming all goes well and this pregnancy sticks, my body is about to undergo a lot of changes. My body is no longer just my own, and now there’s a tiny little elbow macaroni shaped sesame seed sized organism that is depending on me for life. I talk often to my clients about how the human body is an amazing thing and is capable of so much and the more I’m reading in my birth books, the more amazed I am with the female body in particular. There is so much that has to go right in order for a person to come out with all the right parts with everything working. When I think about how the things I am eating are the raw materials that my baby is being built out of, it  makes me think twice about what I am putting in my mouth.

I’m accepting the fact that 2014 isn’t the year I’m going to deadlift 350. It’s not the year where I get those six pack abs. I’ll probably lose my spot on the leaderboard for a lot of my lifts and workouts. And that’s okay, because the next year of my life isn’t about me. It’s about this life I’m trying to help create.

I’ve had a rough start with feeling sick and feeling tired and with mad cravings for everything chocolate and processed. I talked with my mom the other day about writing my vision statement for my pregnancy to help motivate me to exercise and eat healthy even when I really don’t want to.

The thought that came to my mind was “Strong is the NEW Pregnant”. I want to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually strong because I think those are traits that will help me throughout my pregnancy, through childbirth, and through raising a child. I wrote that statement up on my white board at work and I’ll probably write it up on my bathroom mirror at home and use that to structure my choices and behaviors going into these next 6 months. I want to be strong in those areas, and in order to be strong in those areas I have to make the choices to strengthen me in those areas. One of those choices is going to be making it to the gym tonight even though the workout is not one that plays to my strengths at all. Strong is my new pregnant.

Do Something Healthy Today

Published January 7, 2014 by coachkatriel

Now is the time of year where people are writing and sometimes share their resolutions for the New Year.  I think New Year Resolutions can be awesome because they help people to think about and identify some ways that they’d like to improve. I also am one to make grand resolutions that are broken in a manner of days, or sometimes hours. One problem with that is many of us have an ALL OR NOTHING attitude. EITHER I will 100% follow my resolutions, OR I will 100% go against everything I originally resolved to do. If I say, for example, I will not have any ice cream in 2014, and then I have one bite on accident, then I might as well eat the whole bowl or carton and buy another one since I’ve already FAILED.

And I hate that.

That failure word.

I was talking to someone who was coming off a rough week of eating poorly and missing workouts, and she told me she felt like a big loser. And I asked this question: If one of your friends came up to you and said they had a rough week with eating poorly or missing workouts, would you tell them they were a failure and a big loser and they should just give up? I sure hope not! We should give ourselves just as much love and respect that we would give to someone that we cared about.

You can’t fail unless you’ve stopped trying. 

So this year, I am resolving to do SOMETHING healthy each day. Not to do all things healthy or to do only healthy things. Not punishing myself with new diets or ridiculous exercise routines if I do something unhealthy. Focusing on the good things I DID do, learning from the slip ups along the way, and striving to do something healthy every single day. 

Seth’s Birthday and Getting Back on Track

Published January 3, 2014 by coachkatriel

Seth turned 27 on Sunday, and I get some worst wife ever points because 1. I didn’t order his birthday presents until the Friday before and 2. We woke up at 4:30 on his birthday to catch a plane home from Seattle 3. I didn’t have anything planned to celebrate his birthday when we got home. Didn’t have the stuff on hand to make his favorite meal (or actually any meals, to be honest, since we didn’t stock up on groceries before we left town) and I didn’t have a cake. I felt like a big loser. While he said it was totally fine, I still felt awful but I hoped his birthday presents would make up for it.

Seth's Birthday-All From Rogue Fitness

Seth’s Birthday-All From Rogue Fitness

His presents arrived today, which was awesome since I wasn’t expecting them until Monday. I got him a couple shirts from Rogue for Christmas as well as his very first ever pair of Nano3.0s. He’s been stuck in the Nano 2.0s since Christmas last year. One of the reasons I put off buying his presents for so long is I’d hoped the black and grey ones would come back in stock in his size-those are his favorites. But these ones are his second favorite. And we just heard that the Nano4.0s are coming out in October of this year. I sincerely hope Reebok puts out a new pair of CrossFit shoes every year so I’ll always score when buying a birthday present for Seth. Happy birthday sweetheart!

After a couple weeks of being off track with my eating, culminating in a weekend in Washington eating the many delicious creations that my Aunt prepared for my grandparent’s anniversary, my weight is up about 10 pounds (which is up 20 pounds from where I got it during the Paleo Challenge..bummer). I’ve been trying to refocus on eating vegetables and lean proteins and avoiding treats. One thing we have been doing very religiously is starting out each morning with a scoop of protein and a scoop of Green Vibrance. Green Vibrance tastes kinda like rabbit food smells, so the trick is to drink it really quickly and then try not to gag. I think I’m slowly getting used to it. Seth said everytime I have Green Vibrance in the morning, I’ll lose a pound of fat, which I’m sure is super accurate.

Coming up in the next couple days, Seth is going to guest post his tips on getting shredded as we’re both trying to cut down a little before the CrossFit Open starts on February 27th.

What are some things that you’re doing to get your nutrition back on track after the holidays?

2013 Year In Review

Published December 31, 2013 by coachkatriel

In January, we participated in WODsomniac.

In February, I got my Wisdom teeth Removed.

In March, I got crafty at Color Me Mine

In April, my little brother was Called to Serve

In May, we learned we were expecting….a baby nephew.

In June, we went on lots of bike rides and watched my other little brother dominate at a track meet.

In July, we went to the CrossFit Games in Carson CA.

In August, we took a mini vacation to Park City when I turned 22 and we competed in WODsomnic again.

In September, we celebrated our 1st anniversary by treating ourselves to an Olympic Lifting Trainer Certification.

In October, we traveled to Washington DC for my brother’s wedding.


In November, we were sealed for Time and All Eternity in the Salt Lake Temple.


In December, I welcomed back my best friend from her mission and we went to Washington to celebrate my Grandparent’s 50th anniversary.


2013 was a big year for us with a lot of changes and a lot of learning. Grateful for the experiences and looking forward to our adventures in 2014. After trying to comb through this last year for visual aids for the post, one of the things I’m resolving to do in 2014 is take more pictures.

Thanks for following me through 2013, and I hope you stay with me in 2014!

Smiles of the Week

Published November 15, 2013 by coachkatriel

1.  Couple workouts ago, we maxed out on consecutive Pull-ups. I started filming a little bit late, but caught Miss Julia getting a PR at 49 reps! That’s the most consecutive pull-ups I’ve ever witnessed so I was very much impressed.

2. I decided on a family Christmas tradition for the hubs and myself when we start having kiddos. Red Dropseat Footie Pajamas. With customizable Dropseats. Here’s the picture from the website:

3. Last Saturday, we had the very first ever Yoga class at our box. Our yoga instructor is THEBESTEVER. She’s super cute and fun and does a great job. I’ve been looking forward to our next Saturday session ever since.

4. We also saw Thor: The Dark World  this past weekend. I absolutely loved it. I thought it kept up a good pace and had good energy and I loved all the little quotables. I saw the first Thor movie in theaters with Seth before we officially were dating. I hadn’t slept very much the night before and had been at my CrossFit certification all day and actually ended up falling asleep. We were watching it in 3D so I atleast had those little glasses on, and when he didn’t say anything after the movie I thought I might have gotten away with it. But I totally didn’t. He called me out about it later on into our relationship. I stayed awake the whole time during this Thor though and would totally watch it again. Unfortunately, Seth doesn’t like watching the same movie twice over, so we probably won’t watch it again.

5. This picture from my brother’s wedding. Josh's wedding fountainWe were lining up all pretty when a big gust of wind blew water from the fountain at our backs. They had a couple photographers and I’m glad one of them thought to capture this shot. I can’t help but smile every time I see this picture.

What things made you smile this week?