We’re talking about pregnancy, fitness, and mental health!

Joining me is Dr. Megan Roche. Megan received her medical degree from Stanford University, is the co-founder of the running coaching group Some Work All Play, and is currently pregnant with her second child.

In this episode, we explore:

  1. Navigating Confusing Guidelines: We tackle the often confusing and sometimes scary guidelines around pregnancy and exercise. Megan demystifies the do’s and don’ts and emphasizes the importance of balancing science with your own intuition to help you make the best decisions for your health.

  2. Mental Health and Exercise: Understand the profound connection between mental health and physical activity during pregnancy and throughout parenthood.

  3. Practical Movement Strategies: Realistic and relatable tips for incorporating movement into your busy life, especially for parents who often find themselves at the bottom of their own priority list.

  4. Community and Support Systems: Discover the value of having a supportive community, whether through social media, local groups, or friends and family, to help maintain motivation and accountability.

Join us for this inspiring and informative episode that blends scientific research with deeply personal stories, all aimed at empowering you to stay active, healthy, and happy during pregnancy and well into parenthood!

Dr. Megan (00:00):

The guidelines have been so confusing and so murky for so many years, and there’s enough pressure and stress as is in pregnancy that then having the piece of when you’re not feeling good to have if potentially exercise, just because of the guidelines and how it’s communicated is viewed as this thing that might be a little bit scary. I think that’s very challenging. I think a lot of pregnant athletes and people that are just moving their body for their first time really experience that.

Dr. Sarah (00:29):

We all know it’s important to move our bodies, but that can feel especially challenging for parents with such little time to spare. Joining me today is Dr. Megan Roche. Megan received her medical degree from Stanford University and is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Stanford Center on Longevity. She’s also the co-founder of Some Work All Play, a coaching group centered around finding long-term fulfillment in the process of running. She’s also a six time member of Team USA and a mom. In this episode, we emphasize the need for better guidelines and less fear when it comes to moving our bodies during pregnancy and postpartum. Advocating for women to make empowered and informed decisions that work for them and for those of us who are neck deep in parenting and struggle with finding time or energy for tending to ourselves, which I personally struggle with as a working mom of two, Megan offers practical and simple tips for incorporating movement, any type of movement into our busy lives. So whether you’re a seasoned gym-rat or just starting to move your body more, this episode is for you.


Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah Bren, a clinical psychologist and mom of two. In this podcast, I’ve taken all of my clinical experience, current research on brain science and child psychology, and the insights I’ve gained on my own parenting journey and distilled everything down into easy to understand and actionable parenting insights so you can tune out the noise and tune into your own authentic parenting voice with confidence and calm. This is Securely Attached.


Hello, we have Dr. Megan Roche on the podcast today. I am very, very excited to dive into this conversation with you. Before we get started, do you want to share a little bit, maybe with our listeners about the work that you do and kind of how it relates to both your work-life and your life-life?

Dr. Megan (02:30):

I’m so excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me on. I love these discussions. I actually just had a crying child downstairs before we were recording the podcast. I’m like, this is a perfect audience in a perfect room for that. So hopefully my 18 month old downstairs does not make an appearance. But yeah, so I’ve done a lot of focus on female athlete research, specifically related to bone health and exercise during pregnancy, and I’m a coach and athlete myself, and it’s been really fun to kind of combine those multiple dimensions and then have an 18 month old downstairs, and I’m actually 10 weeks pregnant right now, and so I’m very much going through it myself, and it’s been interesting to navigate that and research it and talk about it.

Dr. Sarah (03:09):

Yeah. Well first of all, congratulations.

Dr. Megan (03:11):

Thank you. It’s been so fun.

Dr. Sarah (03:13):


Dr. Megan (03:15):

I dunno what exactly, call it fun. I feel like at 10 weeks I’m in the depths of nausea and fatigue, but I’m just like, okay, this is a broader process. We can breathe and get through it.

Dr. Sarah (03:25):

Well, there’s something about going through it a second time to be like, okay, well, I definitely know that it changes. I feel like when you are in it for the first time, you don’t know, and obviously each pregnancy can be really different, but you don’t know what’s coming next. Whereas if you’ve done it once before, oftentimes there’s like a, okay, I know that I’m going to hit eventually that second trimester break, before it gets hard again.

Dr. Megan (03:57):

And I remember actually when I hit it last, I was almost afraid it was because it was feeling better to me was scary in some sense because it was like I should be feeling bad. And so now it’s nice the second time around to be like, no, hopefully at 12 weeks, 13 weeks, I might start to feel a little bit better and that is normal and and a good thing. And so I totally agree. The second pregnancy for me has been much easier just from a mental health context as I navigate it all.

Dr. Sarah (04:23):

And I’m really curious about, you’re a researcher at Stanford, what are you studying? What drives a lot of the questions you want to answer, and then what are you finding that’s really exciting to you?

Dr. Megan (04:39):

Yeah, a lot of my work is actually primarily focused on young female athletes, so adolescent athletes, young professional athletes, and they’re how they’re going about their career in terms of bone health struggles as well as the menstrual cycle and things like that. And so my research isn’t specifically focused on pregnancy and pregnancy related athletes, but as a coach, I come across a lot of athletes, a lot of athletes that are pregnant and help design training and movement and exercise for that. And then in addition, just being in the world of epidemiology and female athlete research, I have stayed in touch with pregnancy and pregnancy related topics. And so it’s been fascinating to combine the two of those. But I think the biggest thing I see as a coach is just how varied the experiences are, much like we’ve been talking about of movement. We all know that movement is such a great thing in pregnancy and in life in general, but often how hard it is to get out the door to do that.


I mean, I feel like each trimester presents different challenges with that. And so I think for me, I have this research background to understand the physiology of what the body is doing during pregnancy and how beautiful and different that is and how that interacts with exercise. And then the coaching piece to be like, oh, here is how it interacts with the mental health of athletes and even people moving for the first time, maybe they’re starting exercise during pregnancy. And it’s neat to see those two pieces come together of the physiology and then the actual practice of what are athletes and pregnant athletes doing.

Dr. Sarah (06:09):

Yeah, obviously, because if you look at the bell curve, very few people are professional athletes, right?

Dr. Megan (06:18):


Dr. Sarah (06:18):

But very, very many people go through having a child. The pregnancy piece or having a family happens. All of us, even if we aren’t professional athletes, have a relationship with our bodies and our bodies changing and how do we move our bodies? And I also feel like there’s a ton of pressure on parents to either be able to be athletic when they’re pregnant, and the expectation that you must move. You must have to stay active to be healthy, which is obviously not up for debate, but it’s also like you were saying, oh my God, I’m nauseous. I am feeling like I have no energy. I’m anxious that if I move in this certain way might, it might not be good for me or the baby. There’s so much confusion I think about what we can do and what we should do, which can lead to either paralysis or shame or avoidance. In your coaching work, how do you kind of organize all of that for a parent who’s figuring this out?

Dr. Megan (07:31):

I think one of the hardest things, and this gets exactly to what you’re saying, is that the guidelines have been so confusing and so murky for so many years, and there’s enough pressure and stress as is in pregnancy that then having the piece of when you’re not feeling good to have if potentially exercise just because of the guidelines and how it’s communicated is viewed as this thing that might be a little bit scary. I think that’s very challenging. I think a lot of pregnant athletes and people that are just moving their body for their first time really experienced that. And I think it dates back to the idea that for a long time we were told we can’t get our heart rate above one 40 in pregnancy. And now we’ve really backed up and gone to different levels of recommendations where we were saying, you can move your body in previous ways that you’ve done before being pregnant.


And I feel like we are starting to get into this area of where there’s better guidelines, but they’re still very murky too. And I think for me as a coach, it’s talking to an athlete and understanding what are their goals, what are they feeling in pregnancy and how does that relate to helping get out the door to do any sort of level of creative movement and helping to remove levels of fear and scariness associated with that. I feel like so many times when you go to the obgyn, there’s these recommendations of don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t do this. And it’s a lot less. It’s more of that than giving things of here’s what you can do and here are things that are really beneficial. And so I think for me as a coach, it’s diving into those pieces with an athlete.

Dr. Sarah (08:53):

Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s a very interesting point you make of the focus on what we can’t do versus the focus on what we can do. And the fact that that’s got to be a pretty individualized conversation. What you might be able to do at 10 weeks pregnant might look really different from what I’m able to do at 10 weeks pregnant, but at the same time, there’s a lot that can be done. But the guidelines, and I think this is true for tons of things outside of exercise in pregnancy, but the guidelines for pregnancy are very cookie cutter. They’re very one size fits all, and the information, if you trace it back to its source is not, I don’t think it was coming from women. It was coming from a really male medical model.

Dr. Megan (09:45):

I think one of the challenges too is that a lot of the studies that we do have are retrospective, and so we’re looking back and saying, here’s what pregnant women do, but very few studies actually follow pregnant women and track their exercise going forward. And so I’m hopeful that the field of research is going to expand and to, I think across all areas of pregnancy, we need a lot more research and a lot more evidence to come in to be able to make these statements. But it’s been nice as a coach to be able to be there with athletes and to keep gathering anecdotal evidence. And I’ve seen athletes do wildly amazing things during pregnancy. I’ve had athletes run the Boston Marathon during pregnancy. I’ve had athletes do really strong 10 Ks and half marathons. I’ve had athletes that have had strong performances swimming, and it’s been really cool to see those performances stack up and even to see athletes come back postpartum and to have personal records and to go on and do new things, try a new distance or try a new sport. And it’s been great to be able to gather that anecdotal evidence as a coach.

Dr. Sarah (10:42):

Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny. She was my babysitter when I was really little, we’re all grown up now, but her name’s Deborah Carson and she’s a really serious CrossFit athlete, and she did serious CrossFit throughout her entire pregnancies, and she is, she’s so impressive to watch, and I felt like she’s a huge advocate for people being able to say, you are allowed to move your body in a way that feels good to you. Because if you don’t know, you can be empowered to figure out what feels safe to you, what feels within your zone of capacity, which I think is, I mean, I’m not necessarily recommending that everyone who’s pregnant do CrossFit, but if you are a CrossFit athlete, you don’t need to stop what you’re doing because you get pregnant. And I think the messaging that whether it’s intended to be this way or not that gets internalized by a lot of women who are pregnant is you are now officially fragile. You need to stop and no matter what the context, right, obviously some pregnancies are higher risk than others, and some people have medical conditions that require more caution, but again, it’s got to be this very individualized approach. And we as the pregnant person need to be empowered to be tuned into our body to know what feels okay to us and where we can keep going.

Dr. Megan (12:18):

I feel that intuitive, I feel like my recommendation is to coaches everyone. It’s like, let’s take this as an intuitive approach. Let’s see how you feel. But it’s also, women can do great things in pregnancy, which is also really exciting to you and empowering because I do feel like a lot of times during pregnancy, it’s like there’s shifting context in many different areas. And so to have the stability of being able to get out the door to do whatever it is that you love that’s exercise related is something that’s a big release. And so I think developing that intuitive nature is something that’s great during pregnancy, but it’s also something that’s great as an athlete going forward. And even just in life as a parent, as a mother, as a father, having that intuitive approach I feel like is something that is foundational for your future, not just during pregnancy as well. And it’s such a great time to be able to practice that even though it may be hard. I know for me, I’ve gone out and done exercise and sometimes if I don’t feel good or I get really hot, there is this level of panic. I even know the research and I understand the context of it, but I understand how hard it can be to exercise sometimes within those contexts.

Dr. Sarah (13:21):

Yeah. Can you share a little bit about whether it’s your own experience or with one of your coaching clients, this feeling of anxiety or panic at how do we tell the difference between what’s, okay, this is new to do this in my body, in this space, in this part of my pregnancy versus this is maybe being too risky, I don’t want to do this. What is that intuition versus practical guidelines? Where do we tow that line?

Dr. Megan (13:54):

It’s a really hard question. What I tell athletes is I think relying on your past history as an athlete, when I say athlete and as I refer to athletes throughout this podcast is anyone who moves their body, anyone who sweats, anyone who’s out there. And so I don’t reserve athletes for what we think about as professional athletes. I say athletes, if you’re out there walking, if you’re out there doing strength training, if you’re out there running, and I think as athletes, it’s like we develop this intuitive feeling, but it’s also hard too. And I think whatever you’ve been doing as an athlete is great to continue on in pregnancy as long as it feels comfortable to you. And I think it’s about just reasonably sifting through those panic alarms and seeing them and understanding them and giving them weight when you feel like it’s needed. But it’s one of those things that I feel like is such an individual conversation and being open and talking about it and working through and even understanding the context of it is really helpful.

Dr. Sarah (14:45):

Yeah. And do you feel like that in your experience that most pregnant women have people to talk to or places to get this information that have access to accurate information? I kind of feel like we go to Instagram or social media to get a lot of our information guilty do it to, but how do you vet what’s really quality information out there? But we also go to our doctors and sometimes our doctors are not always mindful of not wanting to dissuade anyone from talking to their doctors. Please do. And also vet your doctor. Is your doctor giving you information about your pregnancy that allows you to feel empowered and allowed to be trusting your intuition or are they really dismissive of what you are bringing to them? Because I think there’s a wide range of that in the medical field.

Dr. Megan (15:48):

And I almost divide it into two buckets. It’s like, how do you value the information from a pure evidence-based and from a pure scientific rigor based? And then how do you feel about it? Almost like getting back to the obgyn recommendations is like when I went into my obgyn for my early pregnancy confirmation appointment and he listed off the list of things that I couldn’t do, there was something about it that just didn’t make me feel quite right, even though the information was evidence-based and research fact in some areas. And I feel like it’s really important as when you’re navigating this pregnancy process to kind of think about those two buckets of like, well, how do you feel about it? Because that’s very valid. And then also the scientific rigor element of it too. And I feel like there’s a lot of things put out by the ACOG, so the American College of Gynecologists that combines evidence-based information about exercising, and that’s a great place to start.


And that’s often where a lot of OBGYNs go. And the current recommendation right now is to go by feel to make sure your RPE, your relative perceived exertion is you feel comfortable out there. It doesn’t feel like you’re overheating, and to listen to the guidelines of what you’ve done before and to bring that into the pregnancy process. And then I think there’s also this bucket of how do you feel about it? And I feel like that’s different for every person that’s navigating pregnancy. And I think incorporating the two of those together is a great way to go to think about how you’re following recommendations and guidelines.

Dr. Sarah (17:11):

I love that. I like that idea of having it be both about getting data and then tuning into yourself as well, that they’re both valid. They need to work together kind of.

Dr. Megan (17:26):

Exactly. It actually reminds me, so I personally love cycling, biking brings me a lot of joy. I’m a gravel cyclist here in Boulder, and I really enjoy it. And for me, it’s like the scientific evidence on biking. You can fall with biking, it can be potentially a little bit riskier in pregnancy just given that. And so the guidelines are a little bit unclear surrounding biking outdoors, and I’m very open with athletes that I coach on that. But for me, it’s like I get so much joy out of biking and riding outside that I probably will do it to some extent during pregnancy and do it carefully. And that’s for me where I take this nuanced approach of here are the guidelines which say, yes, this might be risky, but then here’s also how I feel as an athlete where biking to me is a source of just so much mental health and joy and getting out there and feeling empowered within my own body that I’m going to make the decision to go out and bike and it’s an informed decision, but it comes from that information of balancing the evidence with how I feel about it too.

Dr. Sarah (18:26):

And I imagine what your skillset is too.

Dr. Megan (18:29):

Yes, exactly. I feel very comfortable on a bike and I’m riding carefully and not taking big risks. And probably eventually I’ll transition to my mountain bike on roads because it’s very stable. And so I’m making accommodations within myself to help feel better about that decision as well.

Dr. Sarah (18:43):

Right, right. I think this other thing that you’re kind of talking to as well is the cost benefit analysis, right? Yes. There are risks and also not engaging in an activity that supports your mental health is another risk.

Dr. Megan (19:00):

Exactly. Yeah.

Dr. Sarah (19:01):

What are some of the, does the research say, what are some of the things that you’ve found that are helpful to think about in terms of the connection between exercise and movement and mental health in general, but especially in pregnancy or women?

Dr. Megan (19:18):

It’s actually pretty a strong connection in general. And then I feel like that connection, the mental health and exercise connection becomes even more powerful in times of uncertainty or times of just dealing with life challenges. And for me in pregnancy and from what I’ve seen from athletes I’ve coached that’ve gone through it, I think pregnancy certainly falls under that bucket is there’s just a lot of shifting and changing context in pregnancy. And I feel like the mental health benefits of having that outlet and that place that for me when I exercise, exercise is for me and it’s like this gift of peace within the day. And I think that’s such a strong mental health benefit as well as to, I feel like for me, and I’ve seen athletes go through this too, is our bodies are changing so much in pregnancy and I call it different seasons of life. I feel like each trimester is almost a different season of life in terms of how you experience your body and how you feel your body going and moving about through the world. And for me, when I can exercise in that understanding, I feel like it makes me feel better about the different seasons of life. It’s because I’m moving my body in different ways. I’m out moving my body, and it makes me feel a lot better about the bodily changes that I’m experiencing as well as some of the symptoms I’m experiencing as well.

Dr. Sarah (20:30):

And I’m curious. Okay, so as I’m listening to this, I am not an athlete. I used to be an athletic, I used to be a swimmer, actually loved that part of my life. This is a total tangent, but I’ll tell the story anyway, but someone, I don’t remember who it was, but someone sent me this thing. It was like, what would your 7-year-old self be most sad about if they knew you didn’t do this anymore as an adult? And instantly I knew the answer was swimming. If I told my seven or 12-year-old self that I didn’t swim anymore every day, it would be so sad.


So that’s just something totally random that’s coming to me right now. But this idea that I used to consider myself an athlete and I trained every single day and I swim competitively and I loved it. And when I didn’t have that structure of a team and a coach and something I was training for and I moved into grad school and parenthood, I was no longer an athlete in those parts of my life. And not only was I not an athlete, but I wasn’t really even that active. And I remember I was working, actually was working with a trainer just in life when I got pregnant with my first son, and I stayed working with her the whole time. And I was so, I was actually probably in the best shape of my life when I had that first pregnancy in part because it was like, okay, I’m pregnant for the first time.


This is what I’m focusing on. I was doing acupuncture every week. I was working out every week. I was just so my body is a temple, this is amazing. And it was actually really, really wonderful experience being pregnant with my first, and honestly, I had a good knock on wood, people are going to be in eye rolling, but I had a good pregnancy with my second, but I also had a toddler when I was pregnant with my second. And there was literally, it was night and day from how my body was a temple in the first pregnancy, and it was the absolute biggest afterthought in the second pregnancy because my kid was the first thought all the time. And so I don’t know, you talk about these seasons of your body and I’m like, wow, that really resonates. And also it can change so much or access to the energy to work out or the structure to work out or the time to work out or anything. So I don’t even know what my question is. I just feel like I’m very curious what your thoughts are in terms of this landscape of many different seasons.

Dr. Megan (23:32):

Well, a hundred percent, because that is the season of life I am in right now. I have an 18 month old and I am 10 weeks pregnant. And I reflected, I am just so tired all of the time in a way that I wasn’t in my first pregnancy and maybe physiology, maybe it’s the nature of this pregnancy, but I truly think it’s because in my first pregnancy I hung out on the couch, I treated myself, and it’s like now if I ever hang out on the couch, it’s like for three minutes with my 18 month old jumping all over me. And so it’s entirely different season of life. And I imagine in that sense how it translates to exercise is very different for people navigating pregnancy. And I think what I have latched onto is every little bit counts. I feel like I coach athletes who are like, I need to run six miles for this to be a run.


And it’s like even if you run five or 10 minutes, if you get out and walk for 20 minutes, if you swim for 15 minutes, that is a great form of exercise. And I feel like if we remove the boundaries of calling something exercise when it’s only something bigger, it’s like, oh, walk around the block or take your teller for a walk or something. And I feel like for me as an athlete, that helps. There’s a researcher that I used to work with that called it exercise snacks, and I used to love that as the idea that it doesn’t have to be this beautiful buffet. It can be a little thing of fruit snacks in terms of going out and walking around the block. And that’s a big life win. And I feel like sometimes in different seasons of life, you just have to celebrate big life wins.

Dr. Sarah (24:58):

Yeah, no, I think that’s really helpful. I love the idea of an exercise snack. Oh, I could have a snack. I could do that.

Dr. Megan (25:06):

I feel like at any time of day you could just pop out and have a snack, but sometimes you’re like, I don’t want the whole pasta meal right now. And so it’s nice to think about it that way.

Dr. Sarah (25:15):

And I feel like as a mom of little kids, multiple little kids, I have, I have a five and a 6-year-old, I’m like, all I ever get to eat is snacks. You don’t have time for a meal. And that metaphor applies to exercise too. I do not have time to do a beautiful Pilates class at a studio. I’m like, I’ve got five minutes. I’m lucky if I can stretch for a minute, or maybe we’re doing a scooter walk and I’m going to try to keep up with the scooters instead of getting lapped, whatever, or I’m going to garden with my kids.

Dr. Megan (25:56):

And that’s an amazing exercise.

Dr. Sarah (25:59):

Those are snacks that feels so much more accessible.

Dr. Megan (26:02):

Those are good snacks. No, and I think those impacts compound too. And they add up to be great things, and I kind of like that nature of the snacks can add up to be full life sustenance. It doesn’t have to be these meals all the time. And so I love that. I think the other thing for me too is I think a lot about play during exercise because if this is the time that I have for me, which is extremely limited these days, I also want it to be fun too. And so when I’m out there, I’m trying to listen to fun music or podcasts or audio books and make it a time for me that’s not just exercise space. I want something else to come out of it. Maybe I’m seeing a sunrise or I live in Boulder, Colorado, so we have access to some of the most beautiful trails on the planet, and I’m lucky in that. But I’ve also been in places too where it’s like I’ve been in some beautiful city parks and getting out there and experiencing that green space in whether you’re listening to music or you’re silent or an audiobook, I just want it to be playful and for me, and that’s been also really grounding and helpful as well.

Dr. Sarah (27:04):

Yeah, I like that. I like the idea of it being playful. I do wish I could go back. I mean, I probably could if I really wanted to. It’s not that hard. I could figure out a way to find time to swim or a place to swim, but it is a particularly annoying activity in that you can’t just walk outside and do it. I was just thinking that you do have to find a pool and I do have to drive there.

Dr. Megan (27:31):

Can I do laugh? That’s the closest thing I could get to a pool within our close facility. That’s hard. And I think in pregnancy, walking is great. Getting out and having that time to walk, running, hiking, there’s just so many different types. Even I love popping on a YouTube channel of prenatal yoga and some of these other things, and that is right on my computer and I do it downstairs in our living room. And it’s nice to just have accessible options because I feel like inevitably when things don’t feel good or there’s other kids running around the house, it’s just a lot.

Dr. Sarah (28:07):

Yeah, I don’t want to keep going back to the snack thing, but I feel like a lot of times as a parent, very understandably, we can feel very resentful that all we get to eat is the snacks or all we ever get to do is have time for a quick walk on the block when we really wanted to go to that Pilates class. And I think there is something to be said for if we really are craving it or wanting it or needing that space for ourselves to figure out a way to take it. We do put ourselves last a lot, especially if it’s not your first pregnancy and you have multiple kids, it’s very easy to put ourselves at the bottom of the list. But I definitely am curious what your thoughts are in terms of helping parents reassess that kind of automatic, is that the autopilot? Are we getting stuck in a bit of a rut where we’re always sort of putting ourselves last, and is there a way to reorganize that a bit?

Dr. Megan (29:22):

That’s a really good question. I feel like for me, I’m actually putting others first when I get exercise, because it’s the best lived version of myself, it’s the best way for me to show up and be present with my little guy, Leo. It’s the best way for me to be a wife if it’s the best way for me to even show up at work. And so it’s like by getting my little snack, sometimes it’s a larger meal of exercise. It allows me to be my best self. And so I have learned to just be vocal about it. My partner is amazing and he helps me. I sometimes get out early and he’s here when my little guy Leo wakes up. And I feel like by learning to be vocal about it and to be vocal about the idea that it makes me my best self has been really helpful.


But I totally understand that where you’re out there and it’s like I have Nanit, which is our video camera and our crib, and it’ll come to my GPS watch and be like, Leo is awake. And there is a part of me that’s like, hi, I want to be there. But I also realize too, it’s good for me. It’s good for Leo to be in different contexts. And so it’s been a really helpful practice. I actually, I was reading a book that I just finished called This Time Tomorrow. It’s just a novel. And they had a great line in there about how being a parent involves so much around being a parent involves exercising and switching off shifts to exercise and then showering. And it’s funny how my husband and I, we have these shifts that we have for our exercise and having that just baked into our morning day is really helpful. And then we have the four minute maybe actually probably even less two minute shower and change shift after before then we get back down and hand off our kid, Leo.

Dr. Sarah (30:54):

That’s really funny. Yeah, I think there is, it’s like that little, okay, yeah, we’re going to do this handoff, but we also have to shower. We all have to make sure that there’s all those, we can’t just immediately switch from one thing to another and the shower might be a metaphor for anything else we need to give ourselves so that we can sort of really actually transition into motherhood. I feel like this happens all the time where we’re doing something either away from our kid, either as we’re working or we’re running an errand or we’re doing something for ourselves, and then we have to immediately kind walk in the door and put on mom hat or put on dad hat and just immediately transition into parenthood and how that’s actually really taxing for us. And this idea that can we build in a more meaningful transition space?


In this case, you’re exercising shift, but then there’s also a shower, a transitional space. You’re not immediately switching from one thing to the next. Can you build out a bit of a buffer so that you can just take a beat, take a breath, say, oh, I finished that. That was good. Fill yourself up with the knowledge that you did actually log it so that you get the cognitive benefit, the emotional benefit beyond just the physical benefit of it. And then have that like, oh, rest, I’m done. That was great, and now I’m orienting myself to this next thing before I rush into it. Right? Okay, I’m going to switch into this mode now. What do I need to do before I can do that? How do I get ready for that role before I just immediately rush right into it? And I don’t know, we are not conditioned to take those little mini rest moments before we switch to the next thing.

Dr. Megan (32:56):

I love that. No, and I feel like be shower and light stretch and an actual literal snack before making that transition. And I feel like having that carved out time is so valuable. So I’m over here taking notes being like, maybe I should have 15 minutes before I make that transition and have that be part of the me time that helps me be the best version of myself. Because I really do feel like sometimes those transitions are abrupt and jarring and that’s hard. But I also loved what you said about the logging the activity. And from what I’ve seen from athletes I’ve coached and even some of the research is that I feel like a really helpful thing is just having a community to get to share your exercise with. And so for me, I use an online platform called Strava, which is where you upload your, I upload my runs, I upload my bikes there, and I feel like it’s this extra way of connecting with people. And I feel like there’s so many different ways to connect with people. It doesn’t have to be a GPS watch or a Strava. It can be online communities for exercise. It can be exercising with other pregnant athletes in, I feel like finding that community that helps you get out the door is also super helpful too.

Dr. Sarah (34:01):

Yeah, it’s funny because again, I’m an open book. I do not exercise very much. It is so hard for me to find the time. And then when I have the time, somehow I find another thing to do. So there’s definitely some resistance and avoidance for sure. But also I just feel so busy and I work a lot and I don’t see my kids as much as I want, so then I feel tremendously guilty doing anything extra. But the toll it’s taken on my health, physical health and my mental health is I can feel it. I know it. So I’ve been really trying actually to be a lot more intentional about moving my body and getting out of this idea of exercise or losing weight. It doesn’t resonate for me anymore. I used to only exercise to lose weight or I was training, I was training for something and then it was so binary.


Either I’m training and I’m part of a team or I’m exercising to lose weight, and there really wasn’t this anything in the middle. And this idea of being in tune with my body and what I need and how I feel, that was not part of my head space when I used to think about it. And then life got busy and all this other stuff felt really more important than me. And so I was able to kind of ignore myself for a long time and then just focus on all these other balls that I had in the air. And I really honestly, in the last year, maybe even less, I’ve been like, this doesn’t work for me anymore. It doesn’t work and I can’t keep going at this pace without being with me and my body. And so I’ve been looking for these ways to just be like, I got to prioritize different things.


And I’ve always wanted to work out with a friend or do something with a friend, but my schedules, I work five full days a week and there’s just no time for that. But very recently, I’ve been walking with one of my next door neighbor, and I have been walking on Wednesday nights after work and I’m like, my husband’s doing bedtime. I’m actively not where I should be. And please see the air quotes I’m supposed to be, I’m not working, so I should be putting the kids to bed. That’s my guilt talking. And so my husband does bedtime. I go on a walk.

Dr. Megan (36:28):

That’s amazing.

Dr. Sarah (36:28):

He gives me zero grief for it. It’s all in my head. The guilt is coming from inside the house, but it is been so nice. And that just made me this idea of sharing something or having a sense of community or we’re not doing it for accountability. We’re doing it because it feels good to connect and I miss her and it’s like, oh, I get to be with my friend. And we get to do, it’s like that play that you were talking about before. It’s fun. It’s fun to do with a friend.

Dr. Megan (36:59):

A shared experience is so amazing. I also think too that there’s an element of finding our power hour, so where we feel best and exercise. And for me, my power hour is first thing in the morning. That is when I feel best to get out the door is when I have the least barriers to getting out the door for me. If I wait till four or five, 6:00 PM I feel like life just stacks up. Sometimes I see a runner out running at 6:00 PM and I’m just like, how are they doing it right now? My body rhythms and movement just, it does not align with me. Whereas other people, I’ve coached athletes that love to exercise at eight, 9:00 PM meanwhile, I’m sleeping at that time. And so I think identifying your circadian rhythms and where your body movement feels best also makes a lot of sense too. And then aligning that with your boundaries or how you’re carving out that space and time for yourself. And for me, it’s, I’m always just such an early morning person for that, and it really helps to just understand that and embrace it.

Dr. Sarah (37:54):

I have a question for you. Legit. I need some advice.


I am not a morning person. I am, it kills me to wake up in the morning. I’m a super night owl, could stay up forever, but that doesn’t work for me anymore. Too old now. So basically I’m like, I have to go to bed early, earlier. I’m still, if I can get asleep by 11, that’s a really early night for me. But I want to wake up early. I want to shift my circadia. I don’t know if you can shift your circadian rhythm. I’ve read mixed things about this. I know that there’s a sort of a baseline, this is my body and this is my rhythm, but I feel like I’m sharpest in the morning. I have the most energy in the morning. I would love to be someone who wakes up and works out in the morning, but it’s really hard. And are there ways to make it easier?

Dr. Megan (38:47):

There are, yeah.

Dr. Sarah (38:49):

What would you recommend?

Dr. Megan (38:51):

Some of it, I mean, a lot of it really is genetically encoded. And I feel like my family, we are all morning people. I am one of those morning people. And so I feel like you’re always working with a genetic context on this in terms of natural circadian rhythms. But I have seen, I mean, I’ve worked with a lot of athletes and a lot of the athletes that I work with have to race at seven o’clock in the morning. That’s when most races happen. And so we’ve worked on fine tuning our performance schedule surrounding being alert and awake and ready to go at 7:00 AM And I think a big thing is just shifting the bedtime earlier. So I honestly go to bed at 7:45 PM which is very embarrassing, but I’ve just, what feels best for my body? And I’ve kind of shifted that early and earlier, even as I’ve, especially in the context now of having an 18 month old. And I think if you’re able to shift that bedtime earlier and earlier, doing it incrementally by 15 or 20 minutes a night might be nice. And then in conjunction with that, shifting your wake time. And then I also think caffeine is a big one too. Do you drink a lot of caffeine throughout the day?

Dr. Sarah (39:51):

Yes. I do.

Dr. Megan (39:52):

I cut out all caffeine after 10:00 AM It helps me a lot.

Dr. Sarah (39:57):

Yeah, it’s funny. I don’t drink a lot of caffeine, but I drink it all day long. I love a Yeti. I love a hot, I like drink sips. It’s like my security blanket. I like to have a hot beverage all day. I think it’s even a sensory thing, honestly.

Dr. Megan (40:10):

Hot beverages are so good. Yeah, I mean, sitting there, it’s calming. It’s nice.

Dr. Sarah (40:16):

Yeah, I probably could sub it out with something, but I’m so used to my coffee, but I could do that.

Dr. Megan (40:23):

I imagine, honestly, I mean, I don’t recommend going cold turkey on caffeine because it’s kind of a miserable life experience. And I think no one deserves that. But I think if you massively drop that, you could probably shift your bedtime to 9:00 PM and then feel really good waking up early.

Dr. Sarah (40:39):

And that’s the thing. I know it would feel so good. And here’s another mom wrench to throw at you, coach. How often are parents? Okay, I mean, there’s a million memes on this. It’s definitely something that I know is true. We spend all day working, momming doing the things. We get our kids to bed and we’re exhausted. We could completely crash, but we’re like, okay, but if I go to bed now, this is the only time that’s for me after the kids go to bed. And it’s like I could waste that sleeping, which obviously that’s a mindset shift. It’s not a waste. But there is this pull to be like, this is the only time to be alone or not have someone pulling on me or screaming at me or asking me to do 500 different things. I can just do nothing, but I want to be awake for that. I want to log it.

Dr. Megan (41:42):

That’s so hard. I mean, I feel like for me, what I’ve done, I don’t think there’s the right answer to this at all. I feel like for me, what I’ve done is my exercise is my me time, which is hard. And then I’ve also, we have a wonderful nanny who works with us during the day. And honestly, I’ve carved out some of my work time to be Me time, which that’s a trade off I had to take because I really like going bed early and I really waking up to exercise and I, maybe I’m not as productive working as I once was, but it’s important to me and it feels right to me and it feels like it’s what makes me the happiest, most joyful person of myself. And so shifting that me time to during the day, even if it’s like 30 minutes at lunch, I’m like, I’m just going to sit here in peace and eat. My pasta has helped me a ton, but I definitely, I don’t get me time at night, which is hard.

Dr. Sarah (42:30):

Yeah, it’s a trade off. And I think there is this illusion that moms are fed that you can kind of create more time than there is in the day if you just work harder at it and you get more efficient and you do more stuff faster. And I think that that is a load of crap. And it’s so toxic that if you just color code your calendar and pack more stuff in and get faster at what you do and more efficient, you can just do more. And the message there is you should, infinity is better. And I think what you’re saying is very resonant for me that no, you don’t get more than 24 hours in a day. You’re going to have to give some things up. You can’t just have more and more and more and more and more. It has to come from somewhere.


And if you want to have time for yourself, that also fits into a larger goal of feeling like mental and physical health and balance. No, that does not mean you need to get up at five o’clock in the morning and exercise, but it could mean that you spend 30 minutes during your lunch to just eat your pasta and not be also on your phone or also in a meeting or also multitasking or also ordering groceries on an app that you are just doing one thing at the expense of all the other things that you could be doing. And just do that one thing and give yourself permission to take a break and be present. And then again, prioritize based on what your priorities are. But recognize you only have so much hours in a day. You only have so much energy in a day and you have to figure out how you want to honor that.

Dr. Megan (44:16):

I love that. And for me, it’s almost like I say this and it is an active, forceful work for me to do it because I think I very much am a type of person where I for a long time have been addicted to work and addicted to just trying to maximize the most out of myself. And motherhood has almost been the best thing because it’s pushing back against that. If that’s the only me time I have is going to come out of my work, it’s so worth it. But it’s made me rethink my boundaries and relationship to my work in a way that I actually think is health. It’s healthier for me. Not only am I getting this chance to decompress a little bit throughout the day, but I think the nature of having to think about it and to set these boundaries within the workday that I feel like make me quote less productive, arguably they might make me more productive because I’m feel like I am more refreshed. That by itself has been really important to me too and has been a big piece of being a mother. But it’s also hard too because there’s this deep rooted part of my brain that’s like, you should be working right now. And I feel like we all experience that. And at some point you just have to close the computer and be like, no, it’s me time.

Dr. Sarah (45:23):

Yeah. And I think that’s the other part is the work boundaries. I think if I look back at, okay, over the last, for me in the last year, I have had to say, this isn’t working for me. What has to change? The biggest part that has had to change is I have to work less. I was working 60 hours a week. I would put my kids to bed. I would come downstairs and I’d work until from 10:00 PM till one or 2:00 AM…

Dr. Megan (45:50):

Oh my gosh.

Dr. Sarah (45:51):

Many times a week. Many times I just had one. I had way too many things that I was trying to do and it wasn’t sustainable. But also I was prioritizing the wrong things for me. And I ultimately had to say not just, oh, I’m going to have better priorities, but I had to cut stuff out. And that was super hard.

Dr. Megan (46:14):

Which is so hard. And I think the thing that I’m learning and still experiencing as a relatively new parent is that the season of life is changing so much that I feel like I have that conversation all the time with myself. Something needs to change. And it’s almost like because parenthood changes constantly in terms of demands and time, and even just my kids’ sleep structure, I’m constantly coming to this place where I’m like, something needs to change. And so it’s like that balancing act each month of being like, I need to reassess this month and it’s going to look slightly different than last month. And I feel like as soon as I get into a groove of it and I feel like I’m feeling like things are working, something comes and kicks me in the pants and it’s like, oh, it’s a new season of life now we need to adjust and flex. And that’s been, I think the flexibility is a great thing, but it’s also taken a lot of time to learn too.

Dr. Sarah (46:57):

And I think your point, motherhood is, or parenthood is a really good teacher of, okay, you are always going to have to adjust. You are always going to have to readapt. As soon as you feel like you’ve got your feet on the ground, the rug will be pulled out, A new goalpost will be placed, and you’ll have to figure out and scramble and resettle. And in a way that’s really tough. And it’s a hard part of parenthood, but it’s also, I think it creates the most resilient human part. Parents know how to be adaptive.

Dr. Megan (47:36):

That’s so true. And I think what is pregnancy for preparing you for that? Because it’s like every week in pregnancy changes, and for me every week being an athlete in the context of pregnancy changes because it’s like, oh, this week I have round ligament pain, or this week I’m constipated, or this week X, Y, and Z, and it’s always something new. And so it’s almost like this flexible approach within pregnancy then goes and translates on into the flexibility that’s needed in parenthood as well.

Dr. Sarah (48:01):

Yes. Yes, that is true. If anything prepares you for parenthood, it is when you go through pregnancy, you have to adapt so much. And that’s a really good training ground for having a child because it doesn’t stop. You have to continue to keep adapting and yeah, it’s a good, it’s preparation. It’s training for the marathon.

Dr. Megan (48:30):

Yeah, exactly. And I think the thing, the literal thing about training is it often doesn’t feel good. And to anyone who’s out there starting a new exercise program, I think work I into it gradually, listen to your body and be intuitive, but it’s not always going to be perfect either. And I think there’s so much parallels to parenthood in that sense too.

Dr. Sarah (48:50):

Yeah, no, that’s so helpful to think about too, just to be kind to ourselves. Yes.

Dr. Megan (48:56):

That’s the hardest thing sometimes.

Dr. Sarah (48:58):

It really is.

Dr. Megan (48:59):

We’re doing this beautiful thing of growing a human, and sometimes it’s lost in the process of feeling hard and tough and all of the various things that come with it.

Dr. Sarah (49:07):

Yeah. So if there’s curious after this conversation, if there’s something that you would love for a pregnant or postpartum person to walk away from listening to this conversation, really understanding what would it be?

Dr. Megan (49:24):

I think that if you move your body and you sweat, you are an athlete. And I think it’s important to prioritize that if it’s meaningful to you. And there can be so much joy and meaning and mental health benefits that come from exercise, let alone the physical health benefits, which we didn’t even really go into, but there’s many of them. I think it’s a helpful thing to prioritize and treat yourself like an elite athlete. Give yourself that gift of training and exercising. And sometimes that’s really, really hard and sometimes it means speaking up and setting those boundaries, but if you can do that, that’s great. And then in that sense too, I feel like pregnancy or exercise feels best when there’s a nice physical health context. And so just being able to treat your body well, and sometimes parenthood, it’s very hard to do that given sleep schedules and feeding schedules and everything like that, but just the little things that you can do, you’re loved, you’re important, you’re valued, and be kind to yourself and be kind to that inner athlete that even if it once was there is still there and still exists with inside you.


And so I think just value the athlete that you are.

Dr. Sarah (50:33):

I’m going to take that advice. I’m going to totally take that with me, so thank you. If people want to know more about your work, your research or coaching, how can they connect with your podcast for even to mention about your podcast? Where can people connect with you?

Dr. Megan (50:52):

Yes, we have a podcast called Some Work All Play podcast, my husband and I, and we talk a lot about running specifically, but also just being an athlete and a lot of the mental health stuff that goes into being an athlete plus life as well. It’s always fun to make. A couple of jokes on there. I’m a coach at Some Work All Play, and I’m actually currently in the process of building out a female athlete research related platform, and so I am excited to launch that ahead. But yeah, so those are my primary spots.

Dr. Sarah (51:20):

That’s amazing. Okay. Well, we’ll link that into the show notes too so people can find it and go listen to your podcast or reach out to you if they want to learn more about coaching. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Dr. Megan (51:33):

Thank you. This was so fun. I am coming away with notes about things. I’m definitely going to have the 15 minute break between exercise and transitioning back to childcare, and I’m going to bring it to my partner and be like, I was told this is an expert. This is important. So thank you for that. It’s such a gift. I love that. Thank you just for all that you do too. Parenting is hard, and having someone like you sharing experiences and just bringing your wisdom makes it slightly easier, which is a great thing.

Dr. Sarah (52:02):

Oh, that means so much to hear. Thank you so much.

Dr. Megan (52:04):

Thank you. Thanks for having me on. This was wonderful.

Dr. Sarah (52:13):If you enjoyed listening to this conversation, I want to hear from you, share your thoughts and your feedback with me by scrolling down to the ratings and review section on your Apple Podcasts app or whatever app you’re listening on. And let me know what you think of this episode or the show in general. Your support means the absolute world to me, and just a simple tap of five stars can make a real impact in how this show gets reached by parents everywhere. So thank you so much for listening and don’t be a stranger.

212. Movement and motherhood: Expert advice on staying active throughout pregnancy and well into parenthood with Dr. Megan Roche