Ultrasound – January 20th (11 weeks and 6 days)

Today I am 14 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Earlier this week, we had our second prenatal appointment, where we heard the baby’s heart beating at a healthy 140 beats per minute :). Although our families and closest friends already know, I didn’t want to make the news more public until we’d successfully passed the 14 week milestone; hence the somewhat late start to this blog.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I did what every mom-to-be does nowadays: I scoured the internet for information about pregnancy. In particular, I was interested to know about any special dietary and exercise considerations. For the past five years, I have been doing some fairly intense physical training, including CrossFit, trail running, mountain snowshoeing, yacht racing, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, and training for a military pentathlon. I have also been following the Paleo Diet to various degrees (sometimes modified; sometimes very strictly) for almost two years. I am as fit, healthy and happy as one could ever ask to be, and I credit my current diet and exercise routine for helping me to have such a high quality of life.

But back to the internet…  I was curious to see what the experts said I could and couldn’t do during my pregnancy — and I really didn’t like what I found! Here are some examples of conventional pregnancy diet and fitness recommendations:

– Increase your carbohydrate intake
– Don’t bench press more than 40 lbs
– Don’t squat below parallel
– Don’t let your heart rate get beyond 140 beats per minute
– Don’t lie on your back after the first trimester
– Eat lots of grains
– Eat constantly throughout the day to make sure the baby is always supplied with nutrients

Now, to the uninitiated, this might all sound very logical, but if you know anything about the Paleo/CrossFit lifestyle, you will know that this advice just doesn’t compute. Over the course of the next six months, I will talk about some of the common pregnancy guidelines I have encountered, including the list above, and why I have chosen a different path for my journey. I will also share my successes, challenges and experiences, both from the early weeks, and as my pregnancy progresses. Of course, I am not a medical professional, so none of what I say constitutes professional advice, but please feel free to use my discourse as a launching point for your own research.

There really isn’t a ton of information out there about The Paleo Diet and CrossFit during pregnancy. Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson have all briefly addressed The Paleo Diet and pregnancy, and I have found one blog and some forum posts here and there, so I wanted to add my voice to the chorus to help other women who may be struggling between following “doctor’s orders” and following their instincts. I hope you find this useful and informative, and at times, entertaining. If you ever have questions about the topics I discuss, feel free to post in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them, or to direct you to more appropriate resources.

15 responses to “WELCOME (AND A BIT ABOUT MY BLOG)

  1. I’m so glad Mark’s Daily Apple posted a link to your blog. My husband and I try to live a Primal lifestyle and are currently trying to conceive, so this is all super relevant to us.

    • I’m thrilled that you’re finding this useful. I wasn’t able to find a whole lot of information about the primal lifestyle in relation to pregnancy (although MDA definitely has a few great postings), so I’m hoping this will provide some encouragement to anyone else who is considering bucking conventional wisdom. Best of luck to you and your husband! 🙂

  2. I’m so glad I found this blog! I’m 7 weeks an pregnant and have been trying to find the “truth” about what I can/can’t safely eat during pregnancy that still aligns with my paleo/Crossfit lifestyle. Looking forward to reading more and growing a healthy paleo baby! Thanks so much!

  3. Hello, I was interested to know how your baby’s health is since you have delivered. I was started on paleo by my doctor due to inflammatory diseases, so I don’t have dairy, grains, legumes, nor sugar. I eat when I’m hungry, which is a lot less often than before when I ate grains. Sometimes I only eat 800 calories, but as you probably already understand, I can be quite satisfied with the protein and veggies. I don’t believe I will be able to go back to grains and dairy when I am pregnant due to the disease so I was just looking to see how healthy your baby turned out. Paleo women obviously had babies so I’m not expecting any problems but I’m sure modern society and doctors would disagree about me eating more low carb than the standard American diet.

    I’m going to read about your breast feeding and weaning now to see if you’ve posted about your diet during that time. Thanks so much for making this blog!

    • Hi Sarah,

      As you’ve identified, it makes intuitive sense that pregnant women (and their babies) could safely eat Paleo, as women have been having healthy babies since long before grains, legumes, processed foods, dairy and sugar made their way into the human diet.

      I had a *very* easy pregnancy, a healthy baby and a quick recovery. I am still eating Paleo, and we are weaning our baby on a 100% Paleo diet, and he’s doing wonderfully – healthy, happy, active, growing, etc.

      One interesting thing I discovered during pregnancy was that the dietary recommendation for women to “increase their carbohydrate intake” during pregnancy actually refers to women increasing their carb intake to 150 g/day. I don’t know about you, but I doubt that most women eating a conventional diet are eating any less than that — and in fact, most are probably eating close to double that amount!

      You will probably find when you get pregnant that you don’t feel like eating quite as much meat, and that you will intuitively start to obtain more of your calories from fruit, which will naturally increase your carb intake. That was the case for me, and I have heard that from other Paleo women as well.

      When it came time to discussing nutrition with my health care provider, I simply told her that I was eating meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds; no sugar. When she asked about grains, I just said that they don’t agree with my stomach, and I didn’t get too many hassles.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

      • P.S. You are very lucky to have a doctor that recognized Paleo would help with your inflammatory diseases! Even though it is becoming more mainstream, it’s still quite unusual to find doctors who are willing to stray from the government-mandated food pyramids and “HeartSmart” diets.

  4. Hi Carli, it’s great to find your blog. I’ve been crossfitting for about a year and recently pregnant, about 4 weeks. Could you share what your wods are like during the first trimester? Also, the link for Pregnant and Crossfitting is broken, do you have the updated URL? Your blog is going to be super helpful for me. Thanks!

    • Hi Veron,

      Thanks for the feedback and congratulations on your new pregnancy! During the first trimester (especially before I knew I was pregnant), my workouts were actually pretty rough, and of course I didn’t even know why I was having such a hard time. I was exhausted, got out of breath easily, and was lifting below capacity. I was still training about four times a week, but it was definitely a struggle to get to the gym. Then, around maybe week 14, the fog lifted and I started to really enjoy (and excel at) my workouts again.

      I think the Pregnant and Crossfitting blog has been taken down. I discovered that the link was broken several months ago, and tried to find it through a Google search, but was unable to do so. It’s unfortunate because it was a great little blog.

  5. HI. I am 6 weeks pregnant and I love crossfit. I have had a few workouts since I found out I am pregnant and was able to really scale it back. But I am really unsure about how much is to much.
    Is there a difference on how much I can push myself in the first trimester compared to the second and third? I ask as I constantly hear people say lifting heavy things can cause a m/c. especially in the first 3 months.
    I would love some advice on where to look online for pregnancy and crossfit and paleo! All of which i just love!!
    Warm regards

    • Hi Sarah,

      Congratulations on your pregnancy! The good news is, there is no evidence that exercise, including lifting heavy things, causes miscarriages. The only concern is that raising your body temperature a couple of degrees (such as what happens when you have a fever) may increase the risk of certain birth defects, and there are some doctors who recommend that women not exercise too hard in the early weeks so as not to raise their body temperature. That said, if you’re not working out outdoors in a hot climate, and you make sure to hydrate throughout your workouts, it is extremely unlikely that you can overheat your body to the point of being a concern.

      All that said, you might just find yourself too tired in the first trimester to really work all that hard :). Remember, you are always going to be the best gauge of your own abilities. Do what feels good; don’t do what doesn’t. Most pregnancy exercise recommendations are devised with the “average” woman in mind – an athlete or a CrossFitter is at a very different starting point.

      Here’s a really good book to check out, which will help alleviate all sorts of concerns about diet and exercise during pregnancy. It even says you can eat sushi and have the occasional glass of wine – my kind of book! 🙂


  6. Hi, I would love to know what is your advice to me? I am someone who has dipped in and out of paleo eating and crossfit exercise over the past 3 years. I keep on returning to this way of eating not really knowing how much more convincing I need, knowing how much better I feel eating this way. I am 24weeks pregnant and now really starting to see the effects of not following a paleo led eating habits. This isn’t purely a vanity led question it is more guidance and a little nudge of confidence I need to say, yes, this is better for you and your baby at any point in pregnancy! I am very fond of yoga and see this is my fitness path whilst pregnant (i am completing my teaching qualification so I can concentrate on classes pre and post pregnancy exercise for moms after my Baby is born), so crossfit I don’t see as an option maybe till afar birth as i haven’t trained that way for a while. I would truly appreciate your thoughts.
    Kindest regards
    S x

    • Hi Suz,
      Sorry for the late response to this! Yes, yes — definitely — you will see the benefits of returning to Paleo eating at any point in your pregnancy. I found that especially in the third trimester, the few times we went off the rails with our eating, I would start to suffer from edema and aches. As soon as we cleaned up our diet, I felt great again. Paleo will also help prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy, which means that you’ll lose the baby weight much more quickly, and you’ll feel better about yourself in those first few difficult months. All the best with your pregnancy 🙂

  7. I am so glad I have found your blog! Boy am I sick of reading “eat whole wheat grains!” and “drink your milk!” on all of the pregnacy websites! I’ve been eating paleo for a year now and started cross fit about 6 months ago and love them both! I have my first OB appointment coming up next week and I’m wondering what your experience was with doctors and dealing with their idea of a “healthy” diet. Did they ever challenge that you didn’t get enough minerals from grains or calcium from dairy? Let me know what you experienced! Thanks so much for starting your blog – there is not enough information about crossfit/paleo during pregnancy! : ) PS Oliver is just the cutest little guy ever!!

    • I think Ollie’s pretty cute myself 😉

      When I was pregnant, I mostly followed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” philosophy. I let my midwives share all of the Health Canada guidelines regarding pregnancy nutrition and fitness, nodded politely and smiled, and then did what I felt was truly best for me and baby. If asked about my diet, I usually said something along the lines of, “I eat lots of meat, eggs, fish and fresh fruits and vegetables.” A couple of times I was pressed about the grains and dairy, admitted that I wasn’t eating either, and then I just allowed them to say their piece about why they felt those were important components of my prenatal diet. I didn’t stir the pot much, as I know that a) their area of expertise is not in nutrition and fitness; and b) they have a mandate to encourage their clients to follow government guidelines.

      If asked about exercise, I said that I was doing lots of walking, some running, and was going to the gym several times per week. There were a couple of times where my midwife asked me outright if I was lifting “heavy” weights. Er… um… I can’t actually remember what my response was – something evasive 🙂

      Interestingly, I got the most push-back of all from a doctor (not Oliver’s regular doctor) when I took him for his 12-month checkup. She was not at all happy that he was eating so much meat and egg, no dairy and no whole grains. But hey… then I was vindicated by Health Canada when they recently changed their infant nutrition guidelines. I think we are slowly but surely seeing a shift in the mainstream opinion, so hang tight and do what you know is best!

      Hope you have an enjoyable pregnancy 🙂

  8. Thank you for this blog! I am in a little different boat as I started doing crossfit style exercises/paleo just 2 weeks ago and have found out I am pregnant with my 3rd child. I am pretty comfortable with exercising during pregnancy because I have been exercising all along and ran alot during my 2nd pregnancy. My question has more to do with Paleo eating during pregnancy. I have been reading and my concern is about ketones. Do I need to worry about ketones on the Paleo diet. I am eating meat/veggies/fruit/sees/nuts and some dairy. Thank you for any thoughts on this or any links to articles that you may know about.

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