Dina Al Sabah Healthy & Fit Pregnancy Update

Checking in from the 3rd Trimester at 28 weeks !!

Lots to catch up on since I last touched base. I visited DC, celebrated my 40th birthday, took the gestational diabetes screening test (gag!), had my maternity shoot and started working on the baby room.

dina al sabah fitness

At the start of February, I decided that I needed to make more of an effort to walk more. Even with cardio, I felt that I could be more active, so I bought a Fitbit Flex. It was surprising to find out that on an average day, I did not meet the 10,000 steps that are recommended. Most of us have jobs where we sit all day, and unless we make conscious decisions to move, we end up not doing much. I have been incorporating a daily walk along with my gym workouts which has helped keep my step count above 10,000. My husband thinks I have lost my mind as I have started marching about during TV commercials, but I think it is a great way of adding additional activity to your day. I truly believe that staying active is one of the factors in allowing me to have an easier pregnancy with minimal swelling up till now.

My trip to DC was wonderful as I got to catch up with my best friends, eat Baked & Wired cupcakes (hands down the best cupcakes ever!) and walk all over to burn off the calories! I managed to log 22,000 steps one of the days we walked to the Capitol. I thought that my DC cupcake escapade would be the last time I ate cupcakes as I usually do not eat that sort of thing. However, my dear friends decided to surprise me for my birthday, and I ended up with cupcakes, mini cupcakes and cake pops. Of course, I had to sample a little bit of  all the treats which extended my sugar coma for a few more days. Once the sugar coma wore off it was time to take the dreaded glucose screening test for gestational diabetes. The glucose solution was one of the most disgusting things I have had to drink. The sweetness was so cloying that I felt nauseated. Now if only they could give you cupcakes instead!  The little munchkin, on the other hand, loved the sugar and proceeded to dance about for the next few hours. Thankfully I passed!

As far as working out, I have tried to maintain my original schedule, but I have been feeling more tired these last few weeks. I am making it to the gym about 3 to 4 times a week instead of my usual 5. When I am down to 3 days, I usually have a leg day, and then split arms, back and shoulders into 2 separate days. The days that I do treadmill cardio, I set the incline to around 5% so that the booty and hamstrings are activated. I  am listening to my body and am doing only what I feel I am up to. I have to admit that it has been a bit hard to get over the guilt of not making it to the gym, but I know that this is not the time to have a competitor’s outlook on things.I have also been a lot hungrier than usual. The 3rd trimester is when you require the most calories, so I am sure that the hunger is from the drain of growing another human albeit a rather small one (2.5lb at the last check up).  To manage the increase in hunger, I have gone from  4 meals a day to 5 so that I have a mid morning snack and a mid afternoon snack.

I have attached a collage of what I looked like prior to getting pregnancy, and what I look like now. It is pretty amazing how the human body can adapt to growing and expanding to accommodate a baby! I marvel at it daily.

dina preggo

New Finds:
Storq http://storq.com/  – non fussy maternity basics that fit for the entire pregnancy

Isabella Oliver http://www.isabellaoliver.com/us – stylish higher end maternity wear that can also be worn after pregnancy

Tieks http://tieks.com/ – hands down the best and cutest  ballet flats I own.  I wear them to walk around everywhere and they keep my feet happy

Keep up with Dina on her Facebook fan page.

Dina’s Diary – Staying Fit & Healthy During A Pregnancy

Dina shares the latest in her journal of staying healthy and fit during her first pregnancy. If you’re a Hardbody mom you’ll likely related to some of what Dina has to share. If you’re a mom-to-be like Dina is you’ll get an idea of what Dina is going through with her first pregnancy. She discuses how she’s feeling and what types of workouts she’s able to do. Dina also shares some of the beauty products she’s using and what her nutrition is like.

21 weeks pregnant

Dina’s Diary – Week 22

Yes, I have leaky boobs and am doing squats in the Smith Machine with 10lb plates! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me re-cap the week.

Ever since my anatomy scan, I have been feeling “movement”. As a primigravida (woman who is pregnant for the first time), I knew that it would take a while for me to feel anything. I have to say that it is the most incredible feeling, knowing that you have another life within you, that is moving about outside your control. I will admit though that I have gotten jabs at rather inopportune moments. I’m pretty sure you’ve all read about how pregnancy makes your hormones go crazy which can be a bonanza for all in the bedroom, but let me tell you that having my baby to be make his presence known at the very same time put a kibosh on everything. I’m sure I will get over it soon enough, but it’s taking some processing. Now as far as the leaky boobs…it happens. Usually this happens in the 3rd trimester but all bodies are different, and mine started at around 21 weeks. I gleefully wanted to share this new development with my husband, but he ran away shrieking. Now I know how to torment him! I also have a more pronounced Linea Nigra (the line that some pregnant women get that travels down the belly).

Body-wise I have been feeling pretty good. I feel stronger at the gym and a little less hesitant than I had been. I have gone back to squatting baby weights (yes, I use the Smith Machine now!). I find the leg press a bit uncomfortable, so I am no longer doing that. Here is what my arm day looked like:


Machine preacher curls 3 x 12
Flat curls 3 x 12
Push-ups using upside down Bosu ball 3 x 12
Rope Pulldowns 3 x 12

And here is leg day part one..I usually train legs twice a week:

Leg extensions 3 x 12
Hamstring Curls on Cable Machine 3 x 12
Plie Squats 3 x 12
Smith Machine Squats 3 x 12
Deads with a wider stance to accommodate the baby bump 3 x 13
Side Step Ups 3 x 12

This week I added yoga and Pilates into my workout rotation. I find that yoga allows me to stretch and get in tune with my body. Pilates, on the other hand, kicked my butt. You have to love an instructor who tells you that pregnancy is not a disability and that she expects you to work! My tushie will thank her later.

For nutrition, as I progress into my pregnancy, coach Layne advised that we should be slowly increasing my calories weekly. This week I get a few more carbs and a smidgen more of fat. Don’t get me wrong, I am not being completely obsessive with my diet, and I am indeed having fun. My husband made me buttermilk pancakes on Monday, and I was in a food coma for the rest of the day. My philosophy is to enjoy what I eat, but that pregnancy does not mean eating for two. It is my job to ensure that what I eat is nutritious for both myself and my son to be and that I maintain good health and weight gain. My OB advises a range of 25 – 35lb for me, and so far I have gained 11 lb. I haven’t had any real cravings, and my meat aversions are still there though they are diminishing slowly.

I thought I would touch on my beauty regiment.I have had to change some of my go to products during pregnancy. Having darker skin, I am predisposed to get melasma (dark patches). My aesthetician advised that I could use some vitamin c and kojic acid to keep it from getting worse. Below are some of the things I am now using with the approval of my OB.

Turbo Booster C Powder
Clé de Peau foam cleanser
Clé de Peau protective lotion
Image Ageless Total Skin Lightening Serum
Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder

As far as on my body, I am a firm believer that stretch marks are genetic and no matter how many lotions and potions you apply, you will not avoid getting them should you be predisposed to them. My go to body products are:

Ultra Moisture In-Shower Body Lotion
Olay Quench Body Lotion Shimmer

Those two are the only products that have stopped me from getting scaly skin on my legs, and trust me I have tried everything.

For an extra treat, I love using
REN Moroccan Rose Otto Ultra-Moisture Body Oil

That’s all for now!

Week 21: Staying Healthy & Fit While Pregnant

Dina Al Sabah is checks in with an update after traveling to Germany. She shares an easy-to-follow training circuit you can do in your hotel room and reminds us all to get outdoors and enjoy the nice weather when possible. Dina shares what she’s been craving at 21 weeks into her pregnancy and what she plans to incorporate in the coming weeks to stay fit. Read the latest from Hardbody Mom-to-Be…

21 weeks pregnant


Staying Healthy & Fit While Pregnant - Week 21
This week had me traveling to Frankfurt and the Hague. The compression stockings did their job, and I had no swelling. I also kept up my water intake while on the plane though it did make me run to the bathroom hourly! The weather in Frankfurt was very mild so instead of going to the gym I walked about the city, and I did a mini circuit in my hotel room.

Mini-Circuit Hotel Workout:
3 sets – 15 push ups
3 sets – 15 body weight squats
3 sets – 15 lunges

I love walking in cities that I visit. Frankfurt has some beautiful historic architecture as well as a very modern skyline. Eating was a little tricky as I have had a complete aversion to chicken, beef and fish. I can stomach beef and chicken if  ground up and mixed with veggies, but that is not always easy to find. Needless to say, I did not meet my protein quota. I did indulge in a wonderful croissant – one has to when in Europe. The croissant was most delicious on the way down; however  the aftermath was not so pleasant.  Pregnancy  hormones have  slowed down my digestion and caused me to have reflux especially when eating something that has a high fat content. One of the things I noticed on this trip is the quality of food available at both the Frankfurt and Amsterdam airports. It is too bad that most of the airports in the USA do not have good options.

A great advantage about living in Los Angeles is the weather. This year our winter has been nonexistent. It felt so good to step out of the airport and into the warm sunshine.

The day after I returned I had my anatomy scan scheduled. This scan is usually done around 20 weeks and checks the development of the fetus. Thankfully everything is progressing well, and I got to see the little rascal kicking and punching; at one point he even smacked himself in the chin!!! I am always anxious when I go to my check-ups. I now have a system in place where I check the little guy’s heartbeat with my pocket fetal doppler before each appointment just so I know that he is doing well. There is nothing more reassuring than hearing the whomp, whomp, whomp of his heartbeat which usually clocks in at 145 – 150 bpm.

The jet lag has made me extra tired these last few days, so I haven’t done much in the gym other than walk on the treadmill and some light upper body/ab training. Nothing to write home about. I do have a yoga class scheduled on the weekend, and I am adding some Pilates in next week so that I can have some variety.

My latest comforts have been:
– lemon, cucumber and mint water
– zucchini pasta – I got a little spiral cutter that makes pasta like strands… a little sauce and Parmesan cheese make this a tasty treat
– tangerines

I will check in with you all again soon.

week 21 dina
If you have questions related to Dina’s pregnancy and what her journey has been like post them in the comments below or email her.

Dina Al Sabah – Staying Healthy & Fit While Pregnant

Dina Al Sabah let the world know the news yesterday… She’s expecting! Dina posted a photo on Facebook and shared the news with everyone. She’s been kind enough to document her journey and share it here. Dina was one of the pioneers in the IFBB Women’s division. As an amateur, she competed in women’s bodybuilding, fitness and figure. After successfully petitioning for her pro card (since she wasn’t able to through her country at the time) she had a solid run as a Pro Figure competitor. She made the transition into the Bikini division and found herself in the top spots once again. Dina graced the cover of Oxygen, IRONMAN and other magazines along the way. If you think she’s just another attractive competitor/model, think again. She has a degree in Electrical Engineering and has probably forgotten more about computers than most people ever know. Dina decided to hang up her competition suit after a successful career.


Dina Al Sabah’s Pregnancy – The First 20 Weeks
Prior to pregnancy, I had very clear thoughts about how mine would be. Of course, I would stay on the same diet and only add the necessary calories; I would workout up till the very end, and I would not have to switch to maternity clothing until I was at least half way through. Needless to say, all those lofty thoughts went out the window pretty much the minute I saw that positive sign on a home pregnancy test. Clearly every pregnancy journey is unique and is dependent on each individual’s circumstances. In my case, in order to optimize my body for pregnancy I had to be mindful of not exercising too much or eating too little. As a former competitor, I would always be anxious if I could not see my abs in the morning; however, having low body fat was not going to be conducive to getting pregnant. The months prior to getting pregnant I ate more and did less cardio allowing my body to settle in at about 132 lbs.

The first few months of pregnancy were miserable. I had low grade nausea throughout the day that peaked at night. Most foods I used to enjoy like chicken and steak ended up making me gag. I couldn’t even stand to watch my husband eat meat. My go to foods were noodle and vegetable soup, eggs, crackers…and more crackers. The nausea was always worse if I let myself get hungry, so I put myself on a 3 hr. eating schedule. Most of the reading I did stated that protein would help keep the nausea at bay, but the only things that I could tolerate were starches. Other than feeling crabby, I was also not allowed to work out until I was about 12 weeks along. My OB was extra cautious due to my “advanced maternal age” and preferred that when I started back up in the gym that I keep my heart rate under 135 and that I avoid overheating. He recommended swimming as the best form of cardio while pregnant.

I invested in a Mio Alpha watch to keep track of my heart rate as the Polar chest strap was just not working for me. At my first gym session, I noticed that my heart rate was much higher than it was usually. Just walking on the treadmill was giving me a heart rate in the 120’s, so I literally had to stroll very leisurely. Upon further investigation, I found out that this increase is very normal, and it is, in fact, one of the first signs that some women pick up on when they are pregnant. At about 13 weeks, I resumed my weight training activities. I cut back on all my weights by 50% and started off with a lower body/upper body split. Once I felt better, I returned to my regular workouts albeit at a much lower intensity. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to have a healthy baby, enjoy my pregnancy and not overdo it in the gym. I applaud women who are pregnant and box jumping, crossfitting, running etc.; I am assuming they are doing it with the blessing of their OB. I, on the other hand, feel that I can go back to those activities once I give birth.

Weeks 9-13
I started taking weekly “belly” shots to see how things were changing. To the average person, I most likely look a little bloated, but I do notice a difference. I also notice that I am starting to have some water retention and that my jeans are very snug especially towards the end of the day. Nausea still rears its ugly head every so often, but I have only thrown up twice. At 13 weeks, after my NT scan and first trimester screening, I felt well enough to start some activity. I have been very anxious since the beginning as I have had the unfortunate experiences of miscarriage and thoughts of doom and gloom are always lurking.

Weeks 14-17
Thankfully the nausea has abated, but I still cannot stomach eating much protein. My coach, Layne Norton, suggested using pasteurized egg whites in smoothies which I actually enjoy. I moved to a 5 day split (back/chest, legs part 1, bi/tri, shoulders, legs part 2) and about 15-20 minutes of steady state cardio at week 16. My usual cardio is incline treadmill, elliptical and sometimes the stepmill. My goal has been to keep my heart rate in the 120s. When I lift, my heart rate does go into the high 130s, but I make sure to give myself enough rest for it to go back down. If I lived in a walking city I would choose to walk everywhere, but Los Angeles makes that a little difficult so indoor cardio will have to do.

Week 18
This week I got some lower back pain which can be one of the unfortunate symptoms of pregnancy, so I have taken it easy and skipped the gym. I have implemented a nightly stretching and rolling routine. I do a series of neck stretches and some sun salutations. I also use a Rumble Roller and Beasties on my back, shoulders and neck. I look forward to my bi-weekly pre-natal massages.

I haven’t had any cravings; however, my aversions are still there. I am able to eat ground meat, but anything else does not sound appealing at all. I usually start off the day with a Muscle Egg shake. I throw in either a half banana or berries depending on my mood, and about 1/4c of Fage 2%. I have also been addicted to Fitness Bread; something about its chewiness just makes me salivate. I usually have a slice with breakfast, and sometimes as a snack. The great news is that I am still not interested in sweets!

Week 19
My back feels better, so I’m back in the gym yay!

For my workouts I did:

Back (10 -12 reps, 3 sets): seated row, high pull, dumbbell row plus 15 minutes on treadmill

Shoulders (10 -12 reps, 3 sets): lateral raises with hold at top, upright rows, front raises plus 15 minutes on stepmill

Arms and mini legs (10 -12 reps, 3 sets): preacher curls, flat curls, rope pull downs, pushups, standing lunges, glute bridges using the stability ball, Bosu body weight squats plus 20 minutes on elliptical.

I really wanted to get to the gym one more day, but my husband was feeling a bit under the weather, so I stayed home since he would feel bad that I snuck in an extra workout without him… yes men are silly!

I am forcing myself to drink lots and lots of water. I found a wonderful water pitcher with an infuser so I am making all sorts of flavored water. My current favorite is cucumber mint. Last week I experimented with lavender and lemon which was very tasty.

Week 20
Happy New Year Everyone!

We are off to Germany tomorrow for a few days. I have already been instructed by my OB to walk every hour, drink plenty of water and wear some over the counter compression stockings. Last night I tried out the very sexy compression stockings. While they were surprisingly comfy, the stockings are hideous. Thankfully I am flying in a cabin with a flat bed seat so at the very least I can get some sleep, but my goal is to drink enough water so that I HAVE to get up every hour, that way there is no slacking off. I had a decent leg workout today but kept it super light as I do not want to be sore tomorrow!

Leg extensions, box squats, cable kick backs, straight leg deads, plié squats.

I will check in with you next week when I return.

If you have questions related to Dina’s pregnancy and what her journey has been like post them in the comments below or email her.

Disclaimer: Reader discretion advised, please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or diet program.