“Take a minute to breathe”. Sometimes our days can get so hectic that we forget to do the one thing we’re meant to do naturally, properly—breathe. So much so that we need our watches, specifically, the Apple Watch, to remind us to take a 60-second break to bring our focus to our breath and in turn, help refresh our minds and be present. This is just one of the examples of how our lives can be kept somewhat on track by a device on our wrists. Besides the occasional reminder to inhale and exhale—and when it’s time to stand—this high-tech accessory can help us women keep records and generate reminders of everything from our menstrual cycles and daily fitness achievements to the Baby Tracker or Baby Centre that helps both new and expectant mothers monitor daily development changes at their fingertips.
Using her Apple Watch to track her fitness levels and capabilities throughout her pregnancy, and now tracking her daily tasks (like the length and frequency of her baby’s milk feeds, and her optimal heart rate ranges during workouts), Roxanne Gan is certified yoga instructor, personal trainer and mum to a six-month-old baby girl, Mila. Here, she tells us how the New mum Roxanne Gan on pre- and postpartum fitness, tracking life with her Apple Watch and how to have a fit, fun pregnancy has assisted her throughout her journey from fitness expert to expecting mum, how she kept exercising safely up to two days before giving birth, her advice on getting back on track post-baby, and her top picks for supplements and “super stretchy leggings”.
What are your top five ways or apps on the Apple Watch to keep your life on track as a mom and fitness instructor?
The Activity app to remind myself to at least get two to three days of exercise every week; the Mindfulness app to reset and focus, calm my mind—been loving the new redesigned app which combines the Breathe app with Reflect; Calendar (for timely reminders because I always lose track of time and like to make sure I schedule my workouts); Apple Pay is my life saviour. Love how I can just use it with my Apple Watch as well and leave my iPhone at home, I can even use it with public transport; and Siri to add reminders and schedule my day and life.
For expecting or new moms, what ways would you recommend them use the Apple Watch?
Definitely the Activity app as a motivation to stay active and it can be as simple as taking short walks everyday. Exercising improves blood circulation, reduces stress and can increase endorphins. For active, expecting moms, watching their heart rates will be a great way to gauge how much they can push themselves when they are working out so not to overexert and the Heart Rate Monitor on Apple Watch is great for this. I’d also recommend the Mindfulness app, which can reduce anxiety and stress by slowing down and making sure you take a breath.
For fitness enthusiasts, what are some of your top suggested ways to optimise their routines or lifestyle with the Apple Watch?
Set goals on your Activity app. It can be increasing your Exercise minutes to ensure you workout or walk more, hitting Stand goal (which means getting off the couch more regularly) and trying our different workouts to hit Move goal. Having so many exercises/ types of workout options on the Apple Watch has encouraged me to be more adventurous with my workouts which means that I can always stay active without getting bored of my current exercise regime.
How active were you pre-baby, and how does that compare to how active and your fitness levels are today?
Oh don’t get me started! Pre-baby, I was exercising at least five to six times a week, on top of running about 40km weekly because I had so much time to myself. Now with a baby I’ll be lucky to get at least two workouts a week. In terms of fitness levels it is nothing compared to the before; jogging and completing three kilometres is already a huge feat. The body undergoes a lot of, not just physical, but emotional and hormonal changes as well. Mommas, we spent nine to 10 months growing a little baby in us so let’s be kind to ourselves! I’m content with taking short walks with Mila around the neighbourhood now.
What were your fitness routines like while pregnant, and till what stage did you feel safe to continue exercising?
Yoga and CrossFit with a lot of modifications. As a certified Yoga instructor and personal trainer, I am equipped with knowledge and skills to modify exercises so that really helped me stay active throughout. I exercised all the way till two days before I popped!
When did you get back to exercising after giving birth, and how did you start getting back on track safely?
I got back to exercising about three weeks after, starting with simple stretching first, then taking 30-minute slow walks around the neighbourhood with the pram.
Did you have to consult a doctor to decide how active you could remain during pregnancy, and when to go restart your workouts after giving birth? How was that process like?
I have been practising yoga and exercising regularly for 12 years and I was very confident of the decisions I made for myself to continue doing inversions when I was pregnant. My gynae was also supportive of it. Post-birth, I did see a physio to check for diastasis recti and asked for advice on working out. Going to a professional always helps!
What are your top tips to keeping active and fit safely during pregnancy?
Think simple things and stay consistent! We always think of exercise as running or HIIT, but it can be as simple as taking short walks, once or twice a day. If you’re looking to relax and prepare the body for birth, prenatal yoga is great—gentle and low impact but always seek professional help like attending a yoga class in a yoga studio.
Nutrition wise, what were your meals like during and post pregnancy? Do you credit food to your fitness levels?
During pregnancy my meals depended on my cravings. Yes, talk about pregnancy cravings but I always made smoothies filled with fruit, superfoods and greens for myself and the growing baby! I love snacks like peanut butter waffles and cakes because I always believe in having a balance in life. When I set goals to try running longer distances in the past, I definitely adjusted my diet to prepare my body to do so. But now as a mum, convenience is key and I usually just prepare whatever I have in my fridge for meals, and eat lots of fruit and nuts for snacks.
What supplements did you take to support your fitness levels during and post pregnancy? Are there any particular ingredients you recommend to your friends?
I didn’t take any specific supplements to support my fitness level. Just vitamin C, women’s multi-vitamins, high-strength fish oil, and just lots of fruit for vitamins and fibre.
What are some of your top fitness apparel brands for expecting/new moms who want to exercise but need solid support and have that pre-post-partum belly?
Lululemon for high quality, super stretchy leggings and high support bras. Vivreactive for maternity leggings and gives so much support for the growing belly. Post birth: high waist leggings with pockets that can store your phone and keys when you’re out for walks or runs.