Yvonne Chee shares how she managed to stay active throughout her second pregnancy.
As a former school gymnast for 11 years, 38-year-old Yvonne Chee has been active her whole life. She has always enjoyed sporting activities and switched to leisure running when she was older. Yvonne completed her first marathon in 2007 and in 2013, she crossed the finish line of the Antarctic Ice Marathon and became part of the 7 Continents Marathon Club – an elite group of runners who’ve ran a marathon on all seven continents. Globally, there are only slightly over 200 members who qualify. Her next goal? Conquering the North Pole Marathon.
Since she’s such an avid runner, it seems unsurprising that Yvonne has already completed 17 marathons to date. Her last marathon in March 2017 saw her representing Singapore at the New Taipei City Wan Jin Shi Marathon where she finished with a personal best timing of 3hr 23min. What she didn’t expect though, was that she was already six weeks pregnant with her second child at the time. “Had I known, I definitely wouldn’t have done a full marathon when I was still in my first trimester,” says Yvonne. Thankfully, her pregnancy went by smoothly and her second daughter Eva was born in November 2017.
Pregnancy tends to be a time when many women scale back their workouts, preferring to err on the side of caution and take things easy. But staying active also has its benefits. Throughout her second pregnancy last year, Yvonne kept fit by exercising daily. She took part in eight races – of up to 10km each – while she was expecting, and even finished in first place during a 10km race she did when she was 20 weeks pregnant. “I ran until I was in my seventh month of pregnancy. In the last two months of my pregnancy, I switched to working out on stair climbers and elliptical machines at the advice of my gynaecologist as it became increasingly uncomfortable to run when my baby got heavier,” says Yvonne.
To keep up with her fitness regime, Yvonne also had to adjust to carrying more weight around while running, and to learn to overcome the fatigue she faced during her first and third trimesters. “In order to cope, I adapted a flexible approach for my training. I didn’t have a target pace or heart rate to hit and I continued running at a comfortable pace.” After all, a healthy mama means a healthy baby, and working out during her pregnancy was a way for Yvonne to feel good about herself in spite of the physical changes her body was going through.
“Ultimately, it’s important to listen to both your doctor and your body. If you’re going through a normal pregnancy with no complications, I’d advise expecting mums to keep doing what they’ve been doing before they got pregnant – be it yoga, pilates, spinning or running – but to tweak the intensity and duration of the workouts accordingly,” she says.
These days, as a mum to two young daughters, Yvonne only averages about five hours of interrupted sleep each night before she gets up at around 5am to run. Every workout is time away from her kids so she tries to sneak in her runs before they wake up. Though only four months post-partum at the time of the shoot, she runs daily for at least 50 minutes each time as she’s training for the London Marathon in April.
But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easy. When asked if there are days she wakes up and doesn’t feel like running, Yvonne will tell you point blank: “Every day! But I push myself to do it knowing I’ll feel better after a run. Working out is as important as eating and sleeping so if you make exercising a priority, it will happen.”
In Yvonne’s words…
I work out because… I want to stay healthy and because I enjoy the post-workout endorphin rush.
To me, being a good mum means… loving my children for who they are and providing them with a safe and nurturing environment to grow up in.
The thing I love most about being a mum is… waking up to my girls, watching them smile and grow up and finally understanding what true and unconditional love is.
My children make me… a happy and contented person.
My biggest time-saving tip is… to exercise during lunchtime at work.
If I only have five minutes to work out, I will… pick up a skipping rope and skip.
When other mums tell me they don’t have time to work out, I say… it’s about prioritising.
My motto as a mum is… to try my best. I won’t know everything and may fail at times but at least I’ve tried and will learn from my mistakes.