The Happy Body Mama: Finding the golden mean

Shows how to adjust THB exercises in every trimester of pregnancy, with attention to diet and physical changes, offering inspiration for mothers during nine months of performance.
Shows how to adjust THB exercises in every trimester of pregnancy, with attention to diet and physical changes, offering inspiration for mothers during nine months of performance.

Honey, I’m pregnant! One of the most joyous moment in the life of a couple is the anticipation of a baby. Yet, in talking with women over the years, I’ve notice that when these extreme feelings of elevation and happiness subside, their worst fears emerge: about getting fat, getting out of shape, having pains or no energy to continue a “normal life.”

The truth is, pregnancy is nine months of performance. Just like athletes, moms need strength.

After delivering my first baby at the age of 45, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant. During my pregnancy, many people asked me how I stayed so fit and maintained such an erect posture, walking as if my feet barely touched the ground. Even close friends asked how I managed to be so full of energy, never complaining about aches and pains. I used the Happy Body Program to guide me through the transformation pregnancy requires.

The most significant change in a woman’s body during pregnancy is the shift in the center of gravity from the heels to the toes, as the weight of the enlarged breasts and expanding belly pulls the body down and forward. To keep the body upright, the back muscles must constantly compensate for the new weight, by working harder. This stretches, elongates and fatigues the back muscles, leading to pains, injuries and loss of agility. At the same time, the front of the body—the neck, shoulders, rib cage and groin area—is compressed, which can lead to additional pains, injuries and loss of agility. The Happy Body program, with some adjustment for moms, can prevent all these problems.

How to adjust The Happy Body for pregnancy

At the beginning of the pregnancy, to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea for new moms to reduce the THB weight load by 25%. They can then maintain it throughout or adjust to a weight that’s more comfortable as they go along. Further adjustments for the second and third trimester include:

  • eliminating exercises 2 & 3 from sequences 1, 2, and 3
  • substituting with gentle spine twists, side bends, cat & camel stretches (pictured below).


Side Bend

Cat & Camel

Consistency and moderation is key, and daily practice will keep you calm and centered. In pregnancy, fear will drive some women to overdo and some not to do enough. Athletes must guard against miscarriage and not push themselves to extremes, while those who tend to be sedentary should not use pregnancy as an excuse to remain inactive. Staying in shape will be important after giving birth in responding to the challenges of the postpartum period.

Nutrition-wise, there is only one change to The Happy Body Program: pregnant women should eat 300 additional calories per day to nourish themselves and the baby. This is essentially one additional snack or supplementing meals with 150 calories each.

Keep in mind, you don’t want to overeat for the sake of gaining fat, as this will create all kinds of potential problems for yourself as well as for your baby. At the same time, you don’t want to starve yourself, as this could lead to malnutrition for the fetus and all sorts of resulting complications such as the underdevelopment of organs, including the brain. During pregnancy, metabolism is affected by diet, as well as the size and efficiency of one’s muscles. Maintaining a balanced diet of protein, sugar, fat and fiber is essential, as eating at the correct time.

Food quality is essential: moms should try to eat only organically grown produce and meats, avoiding the pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics and hormones that are used in non-organic farming.

The most common health problems occurring during pregnancy that are caused by poor diet include: gestational diabetes, which is connected to sugar absorption and digestion; constipation, which is due to a lack of sufficient fiber; and obesity, which is the result of overeating and high blood pressure. Loss of hair or problems with teeth or nails call for calcium, which can be best obtained through consumption of fresh greens, rather than calcium supplements.

Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life, a sacred time during which the focus should be on the baby. But don’t forget your own needs and the third essential element of The Happy Body Program: rejuvenation. It’s important to take time for leisure and relaxation, whether that means going for a long walk in nature (in Japan this is called “forest bathing”) or something as simple as receiving a shoulder or foot massage from your partner.

Jerzy kissing Aniela's stomach


Pregnancy is just one of many life conditions; you can also be sick, injured, or in athletic training, on a challenging deadline, etc. How do you find the place of “enough”? Can you ask for help from someone who’s capable?

Leave your response below in the comments.


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  • Could you address postpartum exercise? As well as how to proceed with a diastasis recti? I see so many women are struggling to fix their broken bellies…is it possible?

    • Hi Bethany,
      My ribcage is very small so to accommodate my baby (over eight pounds and 21 inches long) I was also left with diastasic recti. The breathing technique that we practice in THB – inhale, flex abdominals, buttock… helped me to tighten and make the protrusion less visible. With daily practice your abs will get stronger and tighter, ribcage will be decompressed and elongated, this will help with the condition.

  • Thank you Aniela! So articulate and well said. I teach pre-natal yoga and I tell moms all the time they are preparing for a huge athletic event-one of the biggest in their lives. You have to train for it, just like any sport. The Happy Body program is so simple and complete for helping mamas on this journey. It’s a beautiful gift if you are healthy and strong before getting pregnant and if you maintain your strength and flexibility during the pregnancy your birth and post partum will go much smoother.

  • Well said Michelle. The Happy Body is great for preparation you for pregnancy, and help during and after with recovery. The same practice is like playing piano, you play the same keys with more gentle music. Not a different instrument. Thank you for your expert’s comment.

  • awesome thanks for the reply! I am working with a physical therapist who says i can not do any “crunch” like exercise as it makes the diastis wider and weaker. She says if I am not able to hold my transverse abs or if my belly bulges during an activity it is not safe for my core. As soon as I get weights I will start in with happy body just skipping over the situp like exercises.

    • Bethany,
      Good idea to start with other exercises first. They will help you to create more balanced body overall. Keep in mind that THB is not a fix but a steady pursue to have a healthier and fitter body. Small increments are welcomed to unsure a continues progress in being more youthful as we age.

  • Hi Aniela, how far into your third semester did you practice THB? How would you advise a THB Mama to know what is “enough” during their 3rd trimester? Thanks for your insight here and all you do to make the world a happier and healthier place 🙂

  • Hi Jeff,
    I exercised to the last day of my pregnancy. It made me feel strong and ready for not only the delivery but also what was waiting for me afterwards. I was on my feet after C-section the next day, still in pain but I definitely contribute my fast recovery to the exercise program.
    When you enter third semester pay attention to pains and discomfort – it’s a way of your body telling you something. This will guide you in knowing if you are overdoing and adjust the next day. Every morning check if you are waking up with good energy, or tired, not looking forward to the coming day – examine the rejuvenation part: food that you eat, volume, and if you rest enough. The last couple of weeks I split my exercise routine and did 1st sequence in the morning, 2nd lunch time and 3ed in the evening.
    Taking a short nap in the afternoon is always a great idea, too. 😜

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