It’s no secret that womens’ bodies change during pregnancy.  Body image, for me, has been something I’ve struggled with since I was a little girl.  Around age 10, I first got into aerobics and other “non-sport exercise” (a phrase I just made up to create a distinction between sport-based exercise such as being on a soccer team, playing in a tennis tournament or training to be a CrossFit competitor and just exercising for fitness) because I thought it would make me thinner.  (Turns out I loved it for more than just that.)  I played sports such as soccer, softball and tennis since I was about 6 or 7, but exercising for exercise sake was something that didn’t come until I was a pre-teen.  I don’t have a small frame – I’m sturdy, big boned, whatever you want to call it.

I was a chubby pre-teen, I was a moderately-chubby high-schooler, and I was a fit college student – my lowest adult weight was actually in college.  I was teaching step aerobics and toning classes on campus and I was an Exercise Science major which meant my classes included workouts, strength tests and using ourselves as our own exercise research subjects.  Plus, I was waitressing 3-4 days a week which meant walking around for 8-10 hours straight during my late night shifts.  The weight just fell off of me.  I weighed around 130 and was a size 4.

I don’t think it’s unrelated that that time of my life is one that I look back on fondly as one of the happiest times of my life.  I remember like it was yesterday – after not seeing me all summer, one of my sorority sisters told me, “You just look so comfortable in your own skin.”  It was such a powerfully confident and happy time of my life that I even got a tattoo to commemorate my life – to have as an anchor to remind myself of how I felt as a young 20-something with the world at my feet.  Now when I look at my tattoo, it brings me back to that time.

PageBreak.jpgPost-college, as a mid 20-something, my weight stayed mostly in check and I floated between 135-145, size 4-8 during that time.


My freshman college roommates and I reunited!  June 2004

During this time, I picked up BODYPUMP, BODYSTEP and RPM and it was effortless to stay in shape.  Working out was just so much FUN!


July 2005 – Bridesmaids at our friend Kim’s wedding

Me and Fala

Fala and me, FDR Memorial, March 2008.

In 2008, my life shifted quite a bit – I split from a long, bad relationship and started commuting 90+ minutes for work.  I also met Jeff and between running around 12 hours a day, that new relationship honeymoon period where you go out to eat and get drinks all the time, and some major life stress unrelated to work or Jeff, I gained 15-20 lbs over the next few years.

RPM Launch Jan 09

RPM Launch at Gold’s Midtown (RIP) – January 2009 – Me on the left.

Despite the weight gain, I managed to keep it in check for the most part.  I did Weight Watchers here and there and I lost and gained the same 20 lbs about 4 times over the next 5-6 years.  Not ideal, but it was what it was.

Christmas 2010 113

Christmas 2010 (Hi Cal!)

I dropped back to almost college weight before the wedding in June 2012.  I bought my dress off the rack at a nice discount, but there was no room to take it out at all.  It was a fit-or-die scenario. Luckily, it fit!


My sister/MOH, Claire, helping me into my wedding dress, June 2012.

I heart DC 1

Before the Rock N’ Roll Philly Half, Sept 2012. (I set a PR of 1:56 that day!)

PageBreak.jpgNow that my body is not my own anymore, at first I felt a bit funny about all the changes taking place.  I don’t have the energy to work out as much as I used to and on one hand, I think, “Meh, whatever – It’s all just part of the process.  It’s all for a good cause, it’s another 4 months of my life and then I can get back to feeling like myself again.” And on the other hand, I feel like I should make staying fit more of a priority, because, well that’s who I am.


Jeff and me at Great Falls Park, August 2014.

At first, it was hard for me to look at old pictures compared to new pictures and not feel a little bit weird about what’s taking place.  When this picture above was first taken, I was in disbelief.  Is that really me?  Is that how I photograph these days?  I confess: it was hard to see. I certainly wanted none of these pictures on social media.

I was embarrassed about my flabbier arms and my newly minted “back fat.” Are those dimples in my thighs? I needed new everything – pants, shirts, bras, even shoes.  It felt all wrong.  Is this really my body?  Why is my face so round?

It was like I was 12 again and not in that “Woo hoo no mortgage!” kind of way.

PageBreak.jpgFast-forward a few more months and I’m glad to say that I’m feeling much better about my body.  Yes, I have back fat, yes I need to wear spanx so my thighs don’t rub together and yes, oh yes, do I have a big round belly.  Now that my bump has gotten bigger and bigger and I’ve started to feel Baby Leist kicking around inside on what seems like an hourly basis, I’ve learned to accept that this is all part of my process.  There’s no use comparing myself to other pregnant women – nobody else is the unique mix of genetics that I am. Sure, I’m not the size 4 I was in college and that’s OK.  That doesn’t mean that I’m destined to never be fit or set PRs again, it just means not right now.

I do, however, care about how my body feels, so staying fit for labor and delivery is something that I am cognizant of.  But that’s more fitness for sport than “non-sport exercise.”  (I just called labor and delivery a sport, ha!)

Lately, I’ve been doing what feels good, fitness-wise.  Long walks are great, gentle yoga is great, even some low-impact step aerobics.  But I only want to do them on my terms and only for as long as I feel like doing it.  Usually that’s about 30 minutes at a time.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my elastic waist jeans and watch this belly grow.

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My Birth Plan

by Chase on October 2, 2014

There’s so much on the internet and in literature about birth plans and natural birthing and water birth and more unusual options like lotus birth (yes, that’s a thing). Doulas and midwives and coaches and birthing methods and all sorts of things.  It’s enough to make your head spin. If you have a need as a pregnant woman, there is no doubt someone or a service out there to meet that need.

The problem is that it’s hard to know what your needs are or will be in advance, especially if you’re a first time pregnant woman like me. How will I know that I need a doula or a midwife?  Isn’t my OB enough?  My husband is very supportive; do I need to hire someone else to help me through pregnancy and delivery?

And of course, if you let yourself, you can find plenty of ways to compare your pregnancy and labor/delivery with other women on the internet. Here are some examples I made up which currently make me feel like a total dipwad pregnant lady because I have no grandiose expectations of these same outcomes:

“I only labored 90 minutes!”

“Oh I ran a PR marathon on my due date and then went to the hospital and sneezed and the baby came out!”

“I did handstands and muscle-ups up until the week I delivered!” 

“I delivered my 10 lb baby all natural and didn’t tear!” (Sorry for the visual if you weren’t expecting that.)

“Oh I delivered in the woods all natural while my naked toddler played in a crisp stream” (OK, that one wasn’t made up and yes, I watched the whole thing)

If I’m being honest, I think it’s all a load of crap and here’s why: How on earth am I supposed to create a plan about something I’ve never done or experienced before?

That’s like planning that I will first get my period on the morning of the Saturday exactly 92 days after my 11th birthday, while I’m at home so I can make sure I don’t have any embarrassing PERIOD events during middle school.

Spoiler alert, that’s SO NOT how it happened.

So who on earth am I to say exactly how this baby is going to come into the world? There are a HOST of things that could go wrong whether I like it or not and most of them are what keep neurotic first time moms like me preoccupied. Even some of the seemingly easiest pregnancies have complications when labor and delivery begin.  I’m not going to assume anything.

So with that, here’s my birth plan:

birth plan

It’s kind of like when I ran my first marathon. My goal was to “Finish Upright.”

I fully expect labor and delivery and/or a C-section to be anywhere from somewhat uncomfortable to the hardest $%&#ing thing I’ve ever done.  I plan to be at a nationally recognized hospital when this all goes down so that in case of extreme emergency, I know they can rush me into surgery or rush Baby Leist to see a respectable neonatologist.  I don’t care if I need reconstructive surgery or I have scars or lose a leg or whatever in the process.

(OK I’m pretty sure I won’t lose a leg, but you catch my drift.)

Of course, we’re going to attend a childbirth class and I’m going to eat a variety of foods and take my prenatal vitamins and exercise 3-5 times a week at a moderate intensity, but I’m still not assuming that anything will go according to any sort of plan.

I don’t want any particular playlist of music – would I even care what music is playing?  If I have to pick something, OK go for RPM releases 50-64 but only tracks 3, 5 and 7.  Who do I want in the room?  How about my husband and me and the doctors and nurses.  Sounds good.  Do I actually care if a resident is there or if my mom, MIL or sisters or sister-in-law pop in?  No, not really. I’d be more concerned with them seeing what they can’t unsee.  Sorry about you having to see the poop n’ goo n’ stuff.

So that’s it.  That’s my birth plan.


Week 20!

by Chase September 22, 2014

And like that, we’re halfway there! I felt pretty darn good this week! Whenever anyone asks me how I’m doing or how the pregnancy is going, my answer is always, “No major complaints!” I also love maternity clothes.  I don’t know if it’s the lack of a waistband or what, but I find them so […]

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The big reveal!

by Chase September 17, 2014

Jeff and I went this morning to the doctor for our 20 week Anatomy Scan.  As I mentioned in my last post, this is where they perform an ultrasound to measure all the various parts of baby’s anatomy: legs, arms, heart, kidneys, bladder, feet, brain, diaphragm, even blood flow… you name it, they measure it! […]

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Week 19!

by Chase September 15, 2014

Week 19!  Nearly halfway through! Yup, that’s a huge pile of boxes behind me!  I’m standing in our new master bedroom but all we’ve done is test a paint color on the wall and move our boxes of clothes in so we can find what we need.  A new bedroom set and a new mattress […]

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Baby Leist {Weeks 14 -18}

by Chase September 4, 2014

Wooowee I meant to give an update WAY sooner than this!  August was an extraordinarily busy month, but all good things. First things first, we are homeowners!! We settled on our new house in early August!  It didn’t take us long to decide that we needed extra space with our family expanding, so we started […]

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Returning to CrossFit

by Chase August 6, 2014

Shortly after I got pregnant, I realized that I did NOT feel like going to any kind of workout, let alone CrossFit which is still, even 2 years later since I first started, the hardest workouts I know (well, maybe that at BODYATTACK — it just keeps getting harder!)  I told the owner of my […]

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First Trimester {Weeks 11-13}

by Chase August 3, 2014

When I first found out I was pregnant, I just wanted to tell EVERYONE!  It was way too much for me to handle silently, so I blogged about my experiences and kept them as drafts to post after it was safe to share the news!  So, here’s a short trip down memory lane about my […]

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First Trimester {Weeks 7-10}

by Chase July 31, 2014

When I first found out I was pregnant, I just wanted to tell EVERYONE!  It was way too much for me to handle silently, so I blogged about my experiences and kept them as drafts to post after it was safe to share the news!  So, here’s a short trip down memory lane about my […]

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First Trimester {Weeks 4-6}

by Chase July 29, 2014

When I first found out I was pregnant, I just wanted to tell EVERYONE!  It was way too much for me to handle silently, so I blogged about my experiences and kept them as drafts to post after it was safe to share the news!  So, here’s a short trip down memory lane about my […]

2 comments continue →