Mom, Author, Runner, and Coach: An Interview With Kristina Pinto
Last week I reviewed the book Fit and Healthy Pregnancy, Kristina Pinto’s new resource for pregnant women. As I mentioned in the review, Kristina’s book is an excellent addition to the rather short list of books out there that focus on exercise during pregnancy. I was excited when I had the opportunity to interview Kristina about her book and learn more about her own experience with fitness before and after pregnancy.
As a child, Kristina didn’t start out as an avid athlete. Her parents encouraged her to take dance and play tennis, but it wasn’t until college that she discovered her love for running, which quickly led her to run marathons and become a running coach. One of her primary motivations in writing her book was to let women know that athletic hobbies don’t have to fall to the wayside once you have children. "I wanted to write a pregnancy guide for women so that they can realize this is a part of themselves they can keep - that it's healthy and you can definitely keep it in your life as long as you feel good."
Kristina not only understands the physical challenges of staying active and healthy during pregnancy, but also the mental obstacles, based on her experiences before and after her own pregnancy. "My biggest challenge was probably debilitating morning sickness in the first trimester…It was to the point where I really didn't want to run at all, and so I made myself exercise and get outside to walk and get fresh air, and just having that habit made a huge difference for me. It was a big obstacle to feel like I needed to give up running because I felt sick, but I think it's important to find the thing that makes you feel good." Walking outdoors was also one of Kristina’s favorite postpartum activities and helped her deal with the transition to motherhood.
One thing I liked about Kristina’s book was its holistic approach to staying fit and active during pregnancy. I’ve read other books that read like rather dry “Do” and “Don’t” instruction manuals, but you don’t get the sense that the author knows what the mental game can be like. As an athlete, mother, and mind-body specialist, Kristina gets that angle of things, and it was one of the primary aspects of motherhood that she wanted to capture in her book. "My interest in prenatal fitness really comes from my background in women's health. I have my graduate degree in girls' and womens' mind body health and really focusing on ways to help women and girls develop a positive body image through fitness - through using their bodies, rather than just looking at them." In my own work with pregnant women, I’ve found that most of the time, lack of motivation to exercise, poor eating habits, or other lifestyle issues that women struggle with during and after pregnancy are often related to this larger concern.
As Kristina noted, she wants her book to be a sort of support system for women who want to exercise and stay active during their pregnancy, but don’t necessarily have a lot of encouragement. "It felt like a much-needed resource for women, based on what's out there now. I think a lot of books that are available now basically give women permission to exercise. The tone I wanted to take with the book was to really explain not only why is it okay, but it's actually better for you to exercise when you're pregnant than not." She noted during our conversation that the primary focus during pregnancy should be maintaining some form of activity level, even if women have to make changes to the usual activity of choice or athletic routine. This is a great approach for women of all fitness levels, from serious athletes to moms who haven’t exercised in years.
Like any marathoner, Kristina emanates a go-getter spirit that was obvious during our conversation. This book is just a beginning, and Kristina will continue to explore and educate women in pre- and post-natal fitness. She mentioned her desire to explore new ideas in the relation between exercise and mental health. As someone who also specializes in health and wellness for pregnant women, I’m excited to see what the future holds for Kristina. It’s that pioneering spirit that will make a difference in changing some of the inaccurate ideas and preconceived notions about prenatal exercise and pregnancy in general. As a mother myself and someone who specializes in health and wellness for pregnant women, I’ll be keeping my eye for what else this “Mother Running Rampant” has in store for us.