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What’s My Workout: Erica Sara

Erica Sara is no stranger to the fitter side of life. As president and founder of custom jewelry design company Erica Sara Designs Inc., she has created the official race jewelry for the More Fitness Women’s Half Marathon and designed pieces given by New York Road Runners to the elite competitors in last year’s New York City Marathon. Pregnant with her first child and due in early November, the dedicated runner—who changed her workout mantra from “every mile becomes a part of me” to “Baby Reese leads the way”—lives in Lehigh, Pennsylvania.

Q: What were your go-to workouts before you got pregnant?

A: I typically ran four to five days a week, took a spin class once a week and had a daily yoga home practice, as well as a weekly class. I also loved mixing it up a bit when I needed something new. Sometimes I’d hop on the erg [rowing machine] at the gym or take a kickboxing class. I’ve also always loved to hike.

Q: And your typical routine now?

A: My workouts changed the minute I got pregnant. The first trimester was difficult, as I had constant morning sickness and exhaustion. At around nine weeks I started bleeding and was put on bed rest for two weeks, which was especially disappointing—I was supposed to run the Knoxville Half Marathon that weekend. I started feeling a bit better during my second trimester and was able to run again [off and on]. By the end of the second trimester my belly became too uncomfortable to run as much. Since then, I try to hit the gym at least three times a week, where I spend 40 to 45 minutes on the elliptical [machine] followed by 30 minutes of strength training. I feel like the elliptical gives me the same type of workout as running without the impact and resulting belly pain.

On some weekends I’m still hiking, although I’m taking it a bit slower. I’m also planning a yoga birth so I’m back at my daily home yoga practice—but it’s so much different than before. Poses like warrior or triangle are less about twisting and more about opening my pelvis and helping the baby get into position. These days I’m training for childbirth!

Q: Q: That’s a pretty great reason to keep moving!

A: This will be the first time I give birth and I have no idea what to expect. I know I can’t control what will happen but it’s in my hands to do everything in my power to get my body ready for whatever may pop up. When I get tired during a workout, I imagine how tired I might be during labor and it keeps me going. I still listen to my body and if something doesn’t feel right, I stop. But I focus every workout on getting strong to push this baby out.

Q: Describe your pregnancy fitness philosophy in three words.

A: Acceptance, strength, gratitude.

Q: What has surprised you the most about working out now?

A: The moment I was pregnant my energy just disappeared. I really had to rethink the way I approached fitness so I didn’t beat myself up about not being able to accomplish what I was once able to do.

Q: Have you received any valuable words of wisdom during this experience?

A: During that first “failed” run I called my mom crying. Running had become my therapy and strength. If I couldn’t run, was I still a runner? My mom said something like, “One thing doesn’t define who you are. If you have to take a break from running, take a break. It doesn't mean you aren't a runner. It just means you aren't running right now. You're body is growing a child. If that isn't something important and special, what is?”

Q: What one piece of advice would you give fellow pregnant women?

A: Keep on working out and stay healthy. It’s important to you and your baby. Those personal records and grueling workouts can wait. The next race will always be there once you give birth.

Q: And what do you look forward to doing most once your little one arrives?

A: I’m excited to get back out there and start running again. My husband is planning to do the Jerusalem Marathon in March so I hope to be ready for the Jerusalem 10K by then since I won’t be ready for a full or even a half marathon that soon. And then I have the Missoula Half Marathon planned for July. Every time I imagine seeing Baby Reese out there on the course cheering as I run by, I start crying.

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