How Olympians Handle Parenthood
Can you imagine the publicity, the rush of adrenaline, the excitement and the terror of competing in the Olympics? That is exactly what Kikkan Randall felt as she became the first ever female to score a World Cup victory in cross-country skiing.
As exciting as that was, her focus is now on her next venture – motherhood. Since this is no small feat for her, she is one woman who relies on wild seafood to fuel her pregnancy health that will not only take her to the finish line, but her unborn child is in the race too… and it’s a great start!
Join in on this exciting venture: interviewing Kikkan on her triumphs and why she has chosen seafood to fuel her next goal: a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Q: Please share with us how it feels to be the first female ever to score the World Cup victory in cross-country skiing! And how has your previous training preparing you now for motherhood?
Kikkan: It has been an amazing and humbling experience to be the leader and trendsetter for my teammates on the US Ski Team. When I first began in my sport, international success almost seemed unattainable, yet I was completely excited by the challenge. Each stage that I’ve conquered has been so satisfying and motivating that I kept raising the bar higher. Now I feel really proud to see the confidence in my teammates and find myself cheering for their world cup successes as much as my own.
The training and racing has prepared me for motherhood by teaching me to manage my time and stay focused on exactly what needs to be done to keep moving forward. I’ve also learned the value of putting in hard work and making sacrifices for the wonderful reward of seeing all that effort pay off.
Q: You are such a tremendous inspiration to women everywhere who are interested in health, sports, and overall staying active. What do you rely on heavily to fuel your body now that you are expecting your first child?
Kikkan: As an athlete, fueling my body with proper nutrition has been essential to finding my best performance. Now that I’m expecting my first child, focusing on proper nutrition is even more important as I help my baby grow. Growing up in Alaska I have been fortunate to have wholesome and natural protein sources like wild Alaskan seafood readily available. That makes eating healthy easy and convenient, and I love how satisfied I feel after a good meal.
Q: Did your lifestyle habits change drastically since becoming pregnant (food choices, activity level, any restraints)?
Kikkan: The great news I got from my team of health professionals upon embarking on this pregnancy journey was that I could maintain the level of activity that my body was accustomed to. I’ve been able to maintain a pretty normal training routine of aerobic and strength training. I’ve been learning to really listen to my body and take extra recovery when needed, but overall I’ve been very impressed with how I’ve felt and the level of activity I’ve been able to maintain. My appetite seems as strong as ever. I do find that I need a few more naps and a little more sleep at night, though.
Q: You mentioned eating more seafood; we’re sure many of our readers have been told to limit their fish consumption due to high mercury levels. How do you get around that?
Kikkan: As an expecting mother, there is a lot of concern about what to do and what not to do for my health and the health of my baby. The one thing I am not concerned about is the amount of Alaskan seafood that I eat. There is somewhat of a mercury myth that has caused concern for expecting mothers that should be clarified. The fish and shellfish that are harvested in my backyard do not contain mercury levels of concern for expecting mothers. On the flip side, eating fish such as wild salmon, halibut and cod are a great source of protein, iron and omega-3 fatty acids that help me continue to be healthy and boost the nutrients I can give my developing baby.
Q: What benefits are you expecting with this kind of diet, on eating all this seafood while pregnant?
Kikkan: I already know that eating natural and wild seafood is great for my body as an athlete for helping boost my immune system, reduce inflammation and giving my body the protein it needs to rebuild after strenuous workouts. Now I’m excited that the seafood will be good for the baby’s brain development and immune system in addition to the other benefits.
Q: What would you say to moms out there who want the benefits but still may be skeptical about consuming fish?
Kikkan: There is great scientific research out there proving that if you choose the right quality sources, like wild Alaskan seafood, then fish can be an essential and highly beneficial part of a wholesome diet while pregnant.
Q: How is your pregnancy progressing? How is the mom-to-be feeling?
Kikkan: My pregnancy is really cruising along now; I can’t believe I’m into the third trimester already! I feel so fortunate that I’ve felt strong and energetic through my pregnancy, and I really credit the daily exercise and proper nutrition to my positive experience thus far. It’s been exciting to watch my belly grow, and I especially love feeling the baby kick more and more now.
Q: Do you have any shopping recommendations? What to look for, label reading, types of fish that are good, better, best, etc.?
Kikkan: Fresh wild sources are always the best if you can find them. Even if it has been previously frozen, a wild Alaskan salmon fillet from the seafood counter is always a great bet. It’s so easy to prepare and has so much flavor without having to add much. If you need a quick and convenient snack, I use canned wild Alaskan salmon mixed with a bit of Greek yogurt, salt, pepper and capers. This can make a great topping for open-faced sandwiches, crackers, or on a salad.
If you are expecting and wondering if seafood is an option for you, be sure to talk to your health care provider if you have any questions. Based upon the latest research and recommendations from the FDA, the all-new recommendations released recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consume at least 8 and up to 12 ounces of a variety of seafood per week, from choices that are lower in methyl mercury.
Enjoy the seafood varieties that are lower in methyl mercury, which include salmon, anchovies, herring, shad, sardines, Pacific oysters, trout, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel (not king mackerel, which is high in methyl mercury). Yum!
Be sure to check out 10 Pregnancy Super Foods to compliment your seafood delicacies!
Tags: Alaska, benefits, cod, cross-country skiing, expecting moms, fatty acids, FDA recommendations, fish, healthy pregnancy, herring, mercury, motherhood, olympian, omega 3, pregnancy, salmon, seafood, world cup
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