After two months of doing a lot of lounging and no exercising, I decided to get some prenatal DVDs to help get me back into shape. I know I couldn’t go back to “Insanity!” and could do a little bit of Jazzercise, but it’s best to get something specifically for expectant mothers.

Here are three prenatal DVDs I got through Amazon. I looked for reviews that said they got a good workout, had fun, and felt the exercises were safe. I also wanted something good for beginners,  and (though this may not come to mind when selecting an exercise DVD,) choosing DVDs that had good quality camera work can make a BIG difference in how you enjoy your workout. You want to clearly see and hear the instructor as well as music in the background. I also wanted something affordable, so weeded out the ones that were too pricey. (Like a good wine, you CAN find something good for under twenty bucks! ;))

What to Expect When You're Expecting - Workout

What to Expect When You’re Expecting
$12.46 on Amazon.com

Why I got it: cardio

The Good: easy cardio for 2nd trimester that gives you a good workout without leaving you exhausted. Strength portion is easy to follow for beginners and intermediate levels (you’ll need a pair of 2lb-3lb weights.) Stretching is easy and relaxing. Instructors remind you to watch your form, breathe, and don’t overdo anything.

The Bad: Cardio portion: some of the cues are not early enough, a couple times the instructor starts off on the left rather than right or misses a step. Strength portion:  Switching between moves too quick, and I think she could hold the poses for a few seconds longer. There are three ladies exercising, one instructor and two mommies, and they all have headset mikes. During the cardio section the mommies get kinda giggly, and it gets distracting after a while. But, I guess it’s good that they’re having fun. :)

The Awesome: customizable workout! You can select which segment you want to do in any order. The first day I chose all 3 cardio workouts and the cool-down. There’s a brief 30-second narration in-between by the author of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” a good time to get a drink of water or get out your yoga mat for the cool-down segment.

Amira's Belly Dance & Yoga For Pregnancy Prenatal Exercise

Amira’s Prenatal Belly Dancing and Yoga
$15.89 on Amazon.com

Why I got it: for fun (belly dancing moves)

The Good: Workout consists of: 5 segments: yoga stretching, strengthening, belly dancing, labor exercises, yoga cool-down stretch. In addition, there is also some narration and brief cutaways on belly dancing and yoga before and during the segments, which I found helpful in learning more about the importance of what yoga and belly dancing is all about, as well as the important role it plays in easing your pregnancy.I love her gentle demeanor! She does a voice-over during the routines, so it’s easier to  follow along with her movements. She shows you alternative moves and cautions against certain moves if you are 30 weeks or more into pregnancy (I forgot how far along she is, but she also looks about 30 weeks pregnant, maybe even more.)

The Bad: The only bad thing I have to say is that skipping to the next section takes a few seconds too long…I think I was just too anxious to get to the routines!

The Awesome: I really like the music she uses in the background. Bonus features include an intro to yoga and belly dancing by Amira, so you get to learn a little about what you’re doing and why. There’s also a short clip with her “spoofs”, kinda cute! She also changes clothes for each segment, and during the belly dancing routine she wears some nice jewelry and a sash that makes it more like a belly dancing outfit (wish I had one!)

Results: after 2 workouts focusing on just warm-up, strengthening and cool-down, I had NO problems with having tight hip flexors at night! Sometimes I’d wake up and massage my hips or back until the muscles relaxed and I could fall asleep again. Her stretches were so incredibly helpful, I wish I knew about this years ago.

Jane Austin Prenatal Yoga DVD

Jane Austin’s Prenatal Yoga
$17.95 on amazon.com

Why I got it: focus on yoga

The Good: Jane is not pregnant in this video but has 4 mamas working out with her. She has a very pleasant and calming voice, is friendly and does a good job of explaining the moves both in technical terms and in fun terms (in reference to doing hip circles she says, “Babies don’t like ‘Buns of Steel’, they like juicy hips!”)

The Bad: It’s a 63-minute yoga session, and it would be great if there were a 30-minute option.

The Awesome: Results, of course! It really helps with back aches and improving flexibility.

 

Any expectant mamas out there with a favorite workout? How about a pre- or post-workout snack?

At 17 weeks pregnant I’m trying to be more conscious of choosing foods that have more nutritional bang for your buck. Of course, not everything that goes down my gut is 100% good-for-you food (I like Burger King’s breakfast combo: bacon & egg muffin sammies with those golden hash brown coins…yummm!) but I do try and make the extra effort when it comes to home-prepped meals, particularly with breakfast.

Why Shimmy When You Can Shake?
During my second month of pregnancy I started eating tons of fruit high in Vitamin C (pineapple, oranges, strawberries, kiwi) and drinking lots of ice water, which I never really enjoyed (it had to be hot or room temp with lemon. For some reason, my stomach didn’t like plain/cold water.) Seeing how I needed more water and a lot of nutrients for the growing baby, I figured the best way would be to introduce shakes into my diet. They’re easy to prepare, you can make a big batch to last several days, and the flavors are delicious!

Natural (Ingredient) Selection
First off, I know dairy is not my friend. Milk bloats me up and makes me tired, so I use either soy or almond milk or both  (NOTE: almond milk has no protein, so consider adding a protein boost of some kind when making your breakfast shakes.)

Next, I like the versatility tofu. After doing the “How to Tofu” challenge in October, I learned quite a bit about this food, and learning that it contained plant estrogens that may help with hot flashes was what I needed to combat my night sweats. (waking up at 2 a.m. in a 55 degree bedroom drenched in sweat is no fun, because as soon as that cold air hits you–brrr!)

Of course, shakes have to be nice and thick. Lots of you may have enjoyed Overnight Oats where you soak your oatmeal in milk in the fridge overnight and eat it for breakfast the next morning. Adding a bit of oatmeal to your shake will do a nice job of thickening it up, especially if you let it sit for a day or two.

Finally, I needed some flavor. Chocolate? You bet! Orange? Of course! Berries? Fiber- and vitamin-rich, how can you go wrong? But don’t stop there, you got peanut butter, banana, peach, coconut, pineapple, vanilla, apple, passion fruit, pumpkin…just think of those delicious frozen yogurt flavors and you’ll come up with something creative and delicious!

The Results?
Thick, creamy, flavorful, and filled with lots of good stuff for you and your baby (if you got one in there!) These shakes are around 300 calories each and I try to make it so you get 10 grams of protein in per serving.

Basic Tofu Shake Mix
Incredibly easy!

1 box Mori-Nu Silken Lite Tofu
2 tablespoons light agave syrup
3 tablespoons (1/4 cup) oatmeal
12-16 oz light vanilla soy milk
4 oz coconut milk (or use more soy milk)

Directions: Add everything to a blender and mix on medium speed until combined. Use one of the flavor variations below or make your own. Refrigerate unused portion for up to 5 days.

Now this shake says, "Good morning!"

Now this shake says “Good morning!”

Orange Bang Protein Shake
Reminiscent of those whipped fruit drinks served at gas stations and Orange Julius’s everywhere!

Ingredients:
Half recipe of tofu shake mix (recipe above)
2-3 tablespoons frozen concentrated orange juice
½ scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Vitacost Soy Protein Powder, vanilla flavor)
zest from 1 orange (eat the orange after zesting, it’s good for you!)
Crushed ice
additional water to thin

Directions: Mix everything in blender on medium speed until combined, adding additional water to thin, if necessary. Pour into glass and enjoy.

Mixed Berry Shake
Fresh and fruity, but watch out for seeds if you’re using raspberries or blackberries!

Ingredients:
¾ cup frozen mixed berries
Half recipe of Tofu shake mix (recipe above)
additional water or vanilla almond or soy milk
additional agave syrup or stevia

Directions: Add frozen strawberries or mixed berries to blender FIRST and blend on medium speed until chopped finely, turning off motor and scraping down sides as necessary. Add tofu shake mix and blend until combined, thinning with water or almond or soy milk. Pour into glass and enjoy.

This shake gets its thickness from tofu and oatmeal!

Orange zest is perfect to brighten up the heavier chocolate flavor.

Chocolate Orange Protein Shake (my favorite!)
I love letting this sit in the fridge for a day or two because it gets extra thick

Ingredients:
Half recipe of tofu shake mix
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
Zest of 1 orange (eat the orange after zesting, it’s good for you!)
additional vanilla almond or soy milk
additional agave syrup or stevia

Directions: add tofu shake mix to blender and start on low speed. Open chute and add cocoa powder through zest. Add almond or soy milk to thin out and sweeten with additional agave syrup or stevia, if necessary. Pour into glass and enjoy.

So what’s your favorite way to shake up your breakfast and snacks?