5K race at 16 weeks

I finished 16 weeks this week. Baby Chandoo seems to be doing okay per the OB visit. I’ve been gaining weight steadily but not rapidly, thank god. Weight this week has been hovering around 117 lbs/53 kgs. I’m supposedly on-track but of course I’ve been monitoring the scale. Food-wise, I am of course less consistent because I am so hungry so quickly. In that sense pregnancy is like running – you have to plan the food/fuel in-take and hydrate well all the time or you feel like crap. You also feel incredibly tired and fatigued at any moment of the day. That burst of energy that people talked about during the second trimester – I am still waiting for it.

It has been shades better than the first trimester. Firstly the nagging feeling of nausea at the back of my throat is much less now. There is some energy. So given that this was Austin marathon week, I thought why not sign up for the 5k. I asked Itisha to sign up with me, knowing that if I was running alone, I may not make it out there. Bharath wasn’t too excited – he thought I’d be pushing and feeling awful afterwards. I knew I would I would feel awful afterwards. But that’s part of running for me. To feel that discomfort and to be reminded that I did something I liked doing a lot. However I of course understand any concern that I shouldn’t be harming the baby. On that, I trusted the wisdom of my doctors who said as long as I feel good I can do it. And I did.

I stayed over at Iti’s and we were excited. I told her there would be a lot of walking. Iti herself has bad knees so she doesn’t run much outside. She agreed for the 5k and it’s a fun race to do in Austin. We got parked and began the race. It was really nice and cool was the best day to run out there. We had decided to do a 3 min run and 1 min walk to make sure we weren’t pushing. Me for the pregnancy and she for her knees. But once we started running I think we both felt good, with the energy of those around us. We kept chatting and running and walking when anyone needed it. We wanted to finish before 40 minutes and we managed to finish at 37 minutes. Of course we sprinted towards the end that’s inevitable :). There’s nothing more¬†exhilarating¬†than a strong finish, no matter how the race was. We finished around the same time as the half marathon winner. That was pretty cool.

Well I won’t say running has been easy. I think I’ve lost stamina in more ways than one. I can’t really pinpoint to what it is that is specific to my body that’s made running harder. Actually, it isn’t the running that’s been hard. It’s the recovery. The last post I had on the 4 odd miles I ran on the trails took me 2 days to recover from, including a massage and pedicure! The 5K took a whole day – combination of less coffee, less sleep, not enough hydration and a certain amount of exertion that I think my body is no longer used to. After all it’s busy making a human being! There’s a lot of blood flow and oxygen going to the uterus, so when I pull those runs, it’s that much less to me. That’s why it takes longer to warm up and longer to recover. Not to mention loose ligaments and hips that ache for days after a run. Simply put, as much as I love running, it’s heartbreaking to admit that I should probably rest up the running shoes till the baby comes.

Based on this I’m probably going to tone down to brisk walking, yoga (prenatal yoga has been great though the timings suck for working women). It is important to keep moving and exercising but also important to listen to your body’s cues (not the kind of listening that makes you sit on your couch and gorge because sometimes you need to push). I’m always curious about pregnant women who ran half marathons and what not, they’re likely far fitter than I was when I got pregnant. I do not believe one should not be moving/exercising but I also believe in low-intensity frequent workouts to the extent your schedule allows.

Knocked up and still running (or at least trying)

Running during pregnancy is not as easy as it is made out to be. First, there are 100 opinions on it, like ANYTHING regarding pregnancy. You really only need to listen to your OB and nurses. Everyone else can take a hike (or run). Here’s my experience with the first tri.

I was pregnant in India on vacation for 2 weeks without knowing it. Well I had some strange suspicion I might be so I took a test at home and it was negative (too early). That was encouraging and I continued to eat and run and drink like I normally did. Which is, I watched what I ate like a hawk (except at the wedding in Kolkata), drank a lot and ran some. My best friend Sasha from college was training for a half marathon and it was fun going running with her. We didn’t run on the road but in the park and I taught her a few tricks. I don’t have a gym in Bombay so I also ran around all the old neighborhoods where I grew up and that was awesome. All the way down Mt. Carmel Rd, up Mt. Mary steps and past the church down to Bandstand (where I caught my school bus in third standard) and back to Mt. Carmel. Felt totally awesome. Also, Bombay has a lot more runners than it used to so people think it’s less weird now. So not many stares. Even in Kolkata I had to do it once. We stayed at the Saturday Club and I went running down Shakespeare Sarani all the way to Victoria Memorial – where I had to make change for my Rs 100 with a local cop for the Rs. 4 ticket to enter VM. In typical WB Govt. fashion the ticket clerk was first incredulous and then indignant about the Rs. 100 I handed him. I even offered to pay for some girls to make change but they thought I was crazy and recommended I go buy some ‘cheeps’ (potato chips) at the local baniya to make change. Little did they know I was low-carb. Despite those hiccups, the run inside VM is one of the memorable ones I’ve done, right up there with running in Rio!

Anyway, I came back home and voila I was pregnant. Until then I felt no symptoms but somehow the knowledge of it made me queasy and tired immediately. Also I googled running and pregnancy and lots of stupid advice out there – don’t get your HR up beyond 130, don’t run hard or you’ll pull a muscle because pregnancy makes them woozy etc etc. Anyway, went to the OB and she said, if you’ve been running keep on doing what you did. I could have kissed her!

Except, I couldn’t run much! I was so fatigued and queasy (and those stupid paranoid HR tips never left me) I took to doing some home workouts instead. I kept up my pushups routine whenever I could. The first 8 weeks weren’t so bad. After 8 weeks I was more tired. Mornings were hard and after work, I was SO HUNGRY I couldn’t manage the energy to workout even after a light snack. Oh, I kept up with going to Black Swan Yoga until I realized those instructors had NO CLUE what to do with a pregnant lady. Until 8-10 weeks it didnt matter – I could downward dog and chataranga – I did downgrade to Flow and mellow as the Power class was too intense (sad face). Eventually I realized I was too nervous to keep myself at the mercy of inexperienced yoga instructors with respect to pregos. I still need to go join a pre-natal yoga class. That’s this week.

Good thing is that weight is still under control – I have gained about 3.5 lbs from 110 to 113 and it’s now stagnated at that. I’m eating a lot and low-carb has become medium-carb now (too hungry). Haven’t been doing much weights but continuing the push-ups and side crunches/obliques while I can (read, not feeling nauseous or tired). YouTube is GREAT for pregnancy workouts. Here’s my fave.

So, running has been off and on sporadic. Finally this morning I determinedly made it out to the trails with my trail buddies. It was great. Running with Liz (more like hiking) was awesome cos she was full of interesting tidbits about her kids and how she dealt with all kinds of stuff. I really liked listening to her – the advice was sound. I ran about 4 miles – took 2 hours nearly because we hiked so much – and I need to pack more food on these runs even if they’re less than 5 miles. Here’s a pic from the run this morning (I look very different from the pic from 3 months ago :)). There’s me at 14 weeks, 113.5 lbs and a fuller face!


‘real food’ and how I learned to love weights

This post is dated circa Fall 2012. Guess I never got to publishing it. Well here it is.

It’s been a while since I posted but a lot has been happening in the workout/nutrition/diet part of my life. Let me update on each and finish with a nice little speed workout I made up for myself on the treadmill.

‘Real Food’

In the last year or so I’d begun changing the way I ate and I saw dramatic results. In the last few weeks I’ve changed that completely and while I don’t know what to attribute the results to, but something is working and it works well. So back in the day, when I started running, I ran a lot, ate a lot, didn’t lose much weight. Then I went to Brazil and for one, I ran a lot but much shorter distances so I ran fast and less. I also began to watch what I ate. Importantly my diet in Brazil actually became quite high in protein relative to carbs (and I watched the fat intake as well). I ate a ton of fruits but not much veggies (not good). I lost about 10 lbs after I got back. I continued watching what I ate but back home, living with a vegetarian husband, my diet went back to being sort of carb-heavy – not heavy but it was there. And then I began talking to some friends about food. It changed the way I thought about food. First, I stopped eating at the point I felt full. That immensely made my GI issues a lot better. Additionally I began watching what gave me GI distress. I’ve been dealing with post meal tummy aches for a while and it was beginning to annoy me.

My friend Kanika introduced me to this blog. This guy writes about ‘real food’ versus processed food. And in the realm of processed foods lies the whole grain myth, along with legumes etc. So I decided to give it a shot. I watched how I felt every time I ate whole wheat/legumes and I decidedly had some stomach cramps. So I cut it down immensely. So far so good. I still wonder how it will be when I get back to training long distance again but we’ll see then how to deal with then when we get to it. I highly recommend checking the blog out about a lot of interesting myths about what’s healthy what’s not. My basic takeaway which makes sense to me is that it’s not fats that make us fat. Its carbs/sugar. So even when you think fried food, it’s fried carbs that kill you not the fat per se. Sure you can eat fat but not unlimited but fat’s not the bad guy. So far, whatever I’ve been doing is making me feel a LOT better about my GI issues and overall health.

So instead of granola/cereal for breakfast, we’ve turned to having fruit/veggie smoothies and 2 eggs. At lunch I’ll prefer salads or even vegetables/meat with a little helping of rice. Brown rice turns out is low bioavailability of nutrients, so I’ve turned to soaking it overnight and then grinding to dosa batter with soaked lentils and fermenting the batter to make dosas. It tastes awesome and it feels better. Gone are chapatis and other whole grains (unless I have the time to soak/ferment well). Definitely gone are daals and lentils to a major extent. Oh and I eat FULL FAT everything. Full fat yogurt, whole milk, don’t shy from cheese and dairy, I cook in butter/ghee. And 5 months later I am no fatter (neither is my husband), our BP/lipids are great – healthier than ever.

So remember: low fat is bull-shit, low-carb/full-fat/high protein is the way to go!


I’ve never understood why people did weights. I found weight training boring and uninspiring. Where is that runner’s high? But since the diet change and thinking that yes, I’ve been a runner a while but where is that dramatic impact on my body? My legs look awesome but I still needed to work on ‘problem parts’ – belly, arms, hips etc. So I met Hena. She’s a UT grad student who is to say one of the hottest South Asian girls I’ve met. I must admit I had a girly crush on her for a bit. Went to the gym with her a couple of times and she showed me some very specific routines. Somehow once school started Hena disappeared into her schedule but all through fall I kept up with that routine. And oh boy, now I know why people love weights. I saw results within weeks. The workouts were never longer than 30-40 minutes. I combined it with short runs here and there as well as yoga (power/hatha etc.) and the results were drastic. I went to India on vacation and the only people who thought I looked unhealthy were my parents (they wanted their tubby daughter back). Even if I didn’t exercise a lot, as long as I watched what I ate, I was easily able to maintain my energy and body weight at about 110 lbs and body fat ratio at less than 15% (yeah I got one of those cool scales).

So my lesson from this – it’s not how long or much you run, it’s about 80% what you eat and 20% light to short intensity workouts that help. Since that works really well with a busy work life, it keeps me happy and healthy (and hot).