We are proud to feature Marilyn, wife to our very own (and highly coveted trainer), Nick Brown. In today’s feature, Marilyn sheds some insight on training during her first pregnancy and ultimately, into her second and current pregnancy.

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and are interested in exercising safely throughout your journey and beyond, we have you covered! Our team is unique – we are specifically certified as Pre and Post Natal trainers to help you navigate your journey safely and effectively. We have helped numerous women do just so and continue to help those in person and virtually. Learn more about our speciality services here.

👉 Without further ado, check out Marilyn’s journey as she continues to navigate fitness and pregnancy —

I hit rock bottom at 16 weeks pregnant with my first child. There I was, sitting on an exam table, EKG sensors stuck to my chest with tear stained cheeks, terrified. I’d wound up in the ER after days of trying to figure out why my heart wouldn’t stop racing and my head felt like it was going to explode. Hypertension was the eventual diagnosis. Baby and I were fine for now, but then and there I was branded “High Risk” for the duration of the pregnancy and given a laundry list of possible complications I had coming my way if I didn’t get my act together.

Frankly, I was in the worst shape of my life when I got pregnant, a mere five years after competing as a Division I athlete. I told myself it wasn’t that bad, and I got away with that delusion until I found myself on that table. I felt broken, scared and powerless, wondering what lay ahead. I grappled with the frustration of knowing that I had no one to blame but myself and the knowledge that I was the only one who could fix things. How could I trust me when I was the one who got me into this mess in the first place?

The way I saw it, the situation could play out in one of two ways. Either I give up and allow the diagnosis and inertia of the situation to control my outcome or I own my story and do everything in my power to protect my son and myself. 

Training for Two: Fitness during Pregnancy and Beyond. Pre and post natal fitness

I’m happy to report that through consistent exercise and nutrition management, I was able to keep my weight and blood pressure under control, avoiding any further complications and delivering a healthy baby boy in September 2020. As I write this, I’m six months pregnant with my second child, 40 pounds lighter and enjoying a complication free pregnancy. I’m doing my best to use the principles I learned the first time around to guide me through round two. I’d like to share them in hopes that someone reading this might find them as useful as I did.

1. Find Your Why

Motivation waxes and wanes. Consistency over time requires a serious why. In my experience, this why has to go beyond superficial goals like pounds and inches. It has to speak to the core of who you are as a person and connect with how you define yourself. For me, it was my son. First and foremost, I wanted to ensure his health and mine. But beyond that, I wanted him to know that it’s never okay to give up on yourself. We don’t quit when things get hard. That pursuit extends beyond the period of my pregnancy. Through this experience, I developed the personal mantra:

Find your why and the how takes care of itself

2. Meet Your Body Where It Is

Starting a fitness journey at 16 weeks pregnant was daunting and less than ideal. Having a husband who is a pre-natal certified personal trainer helped me navigate the uncharted waters. However, being a former D1 athlete, I found it frustrating taking things so slowly. It took time for me to realize that my body was resilient, but it needed patience and a little grace to adjust to this new endeavor. You can’t get frustrated because you aren’t where you want to be at the beginning. Races don’t start at the finish line. You have to meet your body where it is and appreciate it for supporting you through your journey.

3. Be Patient. Progress is Non-Linear 

In his book Atomic Habits, author James Clear discusses what he dubs the “Plateau of Latent Potential”. He is referring to the delay between taking action and seeing the results you expect. He uses the analogy of watching a cube of ice melt. It doesn’t seem like much is happening as you stare at it on the table, but it is melting. I highly recommend reading the entire book, but I found that particular idea very impactful. Progress is frustratingly non-linear. The reality is, you will never succeed if you keep quitting when your efforts don’t glean immediate success. Be. Patient.

Training for Two: Fitness during Pregnancy and Beyond. Pre and post natal personal trainign

Final thoughts…

I share these ideas with the hope that they will benefit you in your personal journeys . I hope you feel empowered by the notion that no one gets to write your story but you. This does mean owning your outcomes, even the not so nice ones. You got yourself to where you are, like it or not, and it is within your power alone to get to where you want  to be.


Written by Marilyn Brown
Training for Two: Fitness during Pregnancy and Beyond

Photos courtesy of Marilyn Brown.


About DeHenzel Training Systems: DeHenzel Training Systems offers In Home Personal Training services throughout Northern Virginia, Washington DC and select areas of Maryland.  We also offer Virtual Personal Training – train anywhere, any time!

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