Interview with Maribel Lalanne

Last year at the CrossFit Games I had the pleasure of meeting Maribel and her husband Chris Lalanne. This couple has an awesome pulse for life. Maribel is the mother to a beautiful son. To me she displays such grace while juggling a multi-faceted career, motherhood, and remembering to take time for herself. Get to know this strong woman who finds the silver lining in everything in life. Maribel has such an infectious positive outlook on life that you cannot help but smile after reading about her:) If you are every in San Francisco, please stop by Lalanne Fitness to say hello.

So, first off, Maribel, could you please describe your current life for all the readers at BirthFIT. What could a day in your life look like? Or a week in your life?

Busy, busy, busy! The energizer bunny has nothing on me! Haha. In a typical day. I wake up, get my son ready for school, feed him breakfast, drop him off at preschool, I come home and get ready, head to San Francisco to work at my gym LaLanne Fitness for a few hours, drive home, pick up my son, feed him dinner, play and read with him, give him a bath, tuck him into bed, do chores, gym admin work, then I take about 30 minutes to 1 hour to just veg out and watch TV, while doing laundry. Sometime in there, I also squeeze in recording music at the studio and modeling. I travel quite a bit to Miami and Los Angeles to model. I intend to slow that down in the New Year.


Tell us about your son.

I have one son, Jackson who is almost 2 1/2 now.

How was the pregnancy? The birth, short or long?

I had one hell of a time trying to conceive. After 1 1/2 years of trying, I got pregnant, only to miscarry at 8 weeks. After that, it seemed impossible to get pregnant again. I tried to get pregnant naturally by doing EVERYTHING under the sun, including going to healers of all different cultural backgrounds, doing acupuncture, taking herbs, eating fertile foods, wearing crystals, etc. You name it. I tried it. I was open to trying anything and everything, no matter how strange it seemed. Nothing worked. I finally contacted a local Reproductive Endocrinologist, Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh. She ran the gamut of tests on me and we decided to go the conservative route with meds and Intrauterine insemination (IUI). With each failed cycle, we upped the ante with stronger meds/injections. After the 5th attempt, I was pregnant with a healthy baby boy.

Much like trying to conceive, I had a difficult pregnancy. I developed Hyperemesis Gravidarum at 6 weeks and it lasted until I was 20 weeks pregnant. I had to go into the ER sometimes twice a week for IV rehydration. As soon as I recovered from that, I got incredibly ill and developed Pulmonary Respiratory Disease. It was difficult to breathe. One night it got so bad, my husband Chris rushed me to the ER. They hooked me up on the monitors. During one of my coughing fits, the monitors started beeping like crazy and the entire ER staff came running in. I remember the doctor saying, “She may be going into cardiac arrest!” They pushed Chris out of the room, while one nurse tried to comfort him because he was unbelievably worried. Thank God, I eventually recovered.

As I was started to finally feel good, my sciatica pain made walking excruciating. So much in fact that I was prescribed a wheelchair and given a handicap placard. Needless to say I became extremely deconditioned and the simple chore of walking up the stairs was a painstaking task.

If all of that wasn’t enough, HA!, I went into preterm labor 10 weeks before my due date. I was admitted to the hospital as I was already 3.5cm dilated and 50% effaced with a footling breeched baby. They decided to keep me in the hospital on bed rest because if my water were to break it would be a life-threatening emergency for my son. So, there I was in the hospital on bed rest for a month with contractions that NEVER stopped. They continued every 2-10 minutes for the entire month. Finally on 8/30/10, 6 weeks before my due date, my son Jackson Drake LaLanne decided he was ready to make his entrance into this world. I had an emergency c-section and out came this 7lb. 1oz. HUGE PREEMIE. The entire surgery staff laughed when they announced his weight. He was the size of a full-term baby boy. The reality was that although he looked full-term, he was very much so still a preemie. He spent a month in the NICU fighting for his life. He had bradycardia and apnea. He would stop breathing and his heart rate would drop dramatically. He would turn blue and he occasionally required stimulation to get him breathing again. The doctors insured us that most preemies grow out of it. So, after his month long stay, he was sent home on a heart monitor. We had a few scary nights when we were sleeping and the monitor went off. It was so loud, it would wake up the neighbors. A month later, we decided to take him off of the monitor and he did just fine on his own. He is still a very healthy little boy and still way bigger than other kids his age.

Maribel and Chris
Did you exercise during your pregnancies? Describe.

My plan was to continue CrossFitting, even if scaled, during my pregnancy, but life had other plans for me. I was restricted from doing anything. I wasn’t even allowed to carry my own purse since I had such a high-risk pregnancy

Did you have favorite relaxation ritual such as yoga, meditation, or walking on the beach?

Massages became my escape. I got them almost weekly. They were my serenity.

What did your diet look like during your pregnancy? Were you more ‘strict’ during those 9 months or was it more difficult to eat clean during pregnancy?

Again, my goal was to eat 100% Paleo while pregnant, but with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), I could only tolerate salty starchy foods. It was the only foods I could hold down.

Did you utilize anyone for bodywork and/or alternative therapies during pregnancy (chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, etc.)?

In addition to massage, I got regular chiropractic care from our team chiropractor, Dr. Daniel Lord. I also used RockTape to tape my belly and my feet, as I also developed terrible edema. It worked like a charm!

Did you take any child education or birth prep classes to prepare you for birth, babies, and beyond?

I read everything prior to conceiving, so I felt extremely prepared. I never did get to take a lamaze class because I went into labor before my time. I got great coaching tips from all of the nurses in the maternity ward.

Much of training CrossFit involves a lifestyle both in and out of the gym. How much would you say a lifestyle that supports vigorous exercise, strong community ties, and a priority in nutrition played a role in the success of your pregnancy?

I think I was able to tolerate the most difficult pregnancy because of the mental and physical strength I developed from CrossFitting. This ironically came in handy when I had the month long series of contractions. I would say that it still hurt far less than doing “Fran.”

It seems like that which helps athlete’s in a workout, for example, would also help a woman in pregnancy. From focusing on the task at hand, to trusting the process and fighting through to the end. In what ways, if any, was giving birth like the mental game that plays out in a WOD?

Most definitely! In my room in the hospital, we had a whiteboard where the nurses would write the necessary medical notes. My husband and I took a section of the whiteboard to make our WODs. Mine would consist of basic mobility done in my bed. His would be bodyweight movements. The hospital staff knew the CrossFitting LaLannes were always up to something in the room. They would walk in to give me me dinner and there Chris would be doing handstand pushups against the wall. Haha! There were only two times during that month when I broke down and took pain medicine. Otherwise, I just focused and knew that sooner than later when my son was out I would be yelling “TIME!”

Anything else you want to add for the BirthFIT community?

I made it my mission to get my pre-pregnancy body back. I was extremely transparent about it and posted pics of my entire journey on Facebook for all to see. Some people said, “Well she owns a gym, she was working out the entire time.” After reading my entire story, you can see that this is far from the truth. I gained 40 pounds and was severely de-conditioned. It was like starting from scratch. (Lifting) 35# seemed like the heaviest weight in the world. When I ran, it felt like my legs were made of lead. Going through this allowed me to realize the challenge some people face when they start a fitness program. I am now able to empathize with beginners in a way that I would have never imagined. This is also why after 9 months after giving birth I believe most women can’t keep blaming the fat on “baby weight.” It isn’t easy. I even had a short bout with hypothyroidism brought on by pregnancy that kept me from losing the weight easily, but I eventually did. Exactly one year after giving birth, I had a spread in FHM. So, it is completely possible to make a physical transformation, whether you have had a baby or not.

As a supermom in today’s modern world, what advice could you pass on to
new moms?

Find balance. It may not be easy, but time management is vital for your sanity. Take “Mommy-time” and do something that allows you to take a step back and just breathe. Never feel guilty about it. When you come back to your family, you will feel refreshed and it also helps you understand that being a Mommy is a blessing.

Jackson (my son) is the funniest character. He is so loving, athletic and intelligent. He loves sports, trains, cars and books! It’s never a dull moment in the LaLanne household.
-Maribel Lalanne 
Setup a 10m x 10m square.
Stations at each corner.  
Corner 1: KB front squats (44#, 35#, 26#)
Corner 2: Push ups
Corner 3: Dumb bell rows (35#, 20#, 15#)
Corner 4: Squat jumps
AMRAP 10 minutes.
*The only way to move stations is to duck walk, crab walk, or lunge.
Front squats can be done with barbell (65#, 45#, 35#).
Push ups can be done on plates or a box.
Dumb bell rows can be ring rows.
Squat jumps can be regular air squats if jumping is too much. 

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