Interview with Fit Pro Brianna Battles on Pre and Post Natal Fitness

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“Pregnancy is temporary. Postpartum is forever.” Strength and Conditioning Coach Brianna Battles

There is so much poor health and fitness information out these days that when I come across really important information and resources I can’t help but share it and that is exactly what led me to this interview.

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing fellow fitness professional Brianna Battles, a certified strength and conditioning coach, who immersed herself in the pre and post natal fitness world after her own experience training uninformed during pregnancy and a difficult postpartum recovery that left her feeling like something just wasn’t right.

As a trainer myself I have become more educated over the last couple years about what training looks like during pregnancy for a safe and healthy delivery and recovery postpartum.

Though I hadn’t quite experienced it myself, not only the lack of information,  but what is left unsaid even in my 9th month of pregnancy.

Why aren’t we providing women with better information on exercise and training during and after pregnancy?

I turned to Brianna to share her perspective and expertise. You can access the interview below.

The interview covers why common fitness advice is often misguided, such as:

“Just keep doing what you have always been doing.”

“Don’t lift more than 10 lbs.”

“You can return to full normal activity 6 weeks postpartum once cleared by a doctor.”

It also includes what is often being left unsaid, such as:

Diastasis Recti and how your exercise selection could make it worse and affect you post baby.

Seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist postpartum before returning to exercise.

Easing back into your workout routine even if it takes a year or two.

Access audio interview here.

I have also included several links below about where to find Brianna
and additional resources to help keep you informed.

Diastasis Recti Blog by Brianna
www.everyday-battles.com
Fit Pro’s Course for those who work with  pregnant and postpartum athletes at all levels. Access here.

Pregnancy Update: 2 Trimesters Down, 3 Weeks To Go.

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Baby bump to baby BUMP!

I found myself sitting cross legged in the nursery to be the other day amidst boxes of diapers and baby gear, folding new born onsies, like 40 of them.

But how many do I really need I thought? What if the baby is big and I don’t need any of them. I washed them in special baby detergent but did I use a bounce dryer sheet? Is that bad if I did?

Needless to say there is so much unknown and I have hardly made it past the laundry.

These questions arise every single day. How will I know? What will I do? Is this right? What if I am wrong? Sometimes I feel confident, other days I feel doubtful.

Regardless, the days go by though these last few weeks are slow with anticipation, nerves and excitement.

Everyone told me I would never truly be ready to make the decision to have a baby and for me personally I couldn’t agree more.

When I took the pregnancy test I was getting ready to take Lulu on a walk.  All I could manage as a response was, “oh.”

Shawn yelled from the other room, “Oh or no?”

I walked out with eyes wide, voice uncertain, “I’m pregnant.”

Needless to say he went on that walk with me.

We didn’t talk a whole lot and had moments of random, nervous laughter and just looked at each other and shake our heads smiling. Knowing you want to have a baby and actually realizing you are having one are on to opposite ends of the emotion filled spectrum.

I know we all have our own stories and journeys and I decided to share mine today to show that there is really no right time or way to do things.

I thought by the time I was in my early 30’s I would have 3 kids. Maybe that is because what my mom had and I just assumed I would follow suit.

Instead I have spent the last 10 years getting married, focusing on my career, getting un married lets say, focusing on my career, regrouping with myself, and now engaged with a baby on the way.

I did things “in order” and then completely out of order if we are going by so called typical social norms. I use to get questions all the time. “Don’t you want kids?” “Isn’t it time?” “Your sisters are going to pass you up and have kids before you.”

And they did. Both younger. Both have kids. And now I am turning to them for advice.

I trained a husband and wife client one morning a few years back and the husband made a comment I was running out of time. His wife playfully, but oh so seriously, reached over and smacked his arm. “She is not. She has plenty of time.”

I think as women we feel pressure. That we need to be in a relationship. That we need to get married. That we need to have kids. I personally had always wanted kids but the situation was not what I needed it to be when I was married previously and I am so glad I didn’t have a child simply because I felt I was suppose too.

Once I got divorced the overwhelming baby questions stopped but I know some women who don’t want kids and still get those questions.

I hope women can be supported in whatever choice they make. Kids or not. Married or not. Career choice or not. It is there business and their business only.

The past 10 years being kidless has given me great fun. I have traveled all over the country. I have expanded my personal training knowledge and know how with multiple certifications and build a consistent and loyal clientele.

I have enjoyed full nights of sleep and workouts at any time I please. I have turned into a dog person and have the most precious golden retriever who sleeps at my chair whenever I type out these long blog posts. I have 4 adorable nieces and 1 nephew who I get to snuggle and love and they call me Auntie Del.

At times I have also had moments where friends told me they were pregnant and I went home and cried because I felt I should have been too.

I have felt alone and out of place in mommy conversations where I sit and nod and smile and pretend that I too know what they are talking about with breastfeeding and when to eat solid foods.

I have had times where I wished I had kids to do art projects with and get excited around the holidays with that different spirit that children somehow bring.

And now here I am, 2 trimesters down, a few weeks to go.

My pregnancy has brought a lot of fatigue, less workouts (my prior go-to), thrown off my appetite  and of course my body ever changing.

I have days where I want her to be here so bad and days when I mourn the loss of my freedom, sleep, and healthy selfishness.

Shawn and I talk to my belly and wonder what she will look like. We look at clothes and can’t believe how little she will be. We shake our heads that she is growing inside me and laugh in amazement when she kicks and envision her practicing her weight lifting moves.

He really wanted a boy but he has taken such good care of his girls (Lulu and I) during these past 8 months and it is only foresight to what a great dad he already is and will be.

I share these personal thoughts today because so often life gets overwhelmed by where we should be and what we should be doing.

We make great plans and somehow end off our desired map. We think we need better jobs, bigger houses, more exciting relationships. We think if we just follow things according to plan we will be ok.

We get trapped by letting these emotions dictate how we live day to day. Never satisfied, ungrateful, always wanting more.

More is what we do today. It is how we deal with the cards that have been handed to us and it is how we choose to view the world around us. It is meeting ourselves where we are and not where we think we should be.

I will be sharing more on my fitness journey in pregnancy (and how it changed drastically), an interview I hosted on pre and post natal fitness ( a must for anyone who is active during pregnancy and post) and on how I will resume my training post baby.

4 Ways to Get Your Man On Board With Healthy Eating

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It can feel frustrating, un-motivating and derailing to your health and fitness goals if your boyfriend/husband/partner decides not to jump on the healthy eating train with you.

It might look like this. You express your new journey, stock up on healthy options at the grocery store, prepare a colorful looking dinner and have a few days of solid “on plan” eating. Inevitably he then comes home with a pizza and breadsticks or you both go out to dinner and you order a salad and water and he decides on a big bacon burger, fries and beer.

Here’s the thing.

No one wants to be forced to changed and even if he may have some interest in being healthier he for sure doesn’t want to be scolded or frowned upon for his food choices. But there has gotta be a happy medium, right?

It is a dilema that many couples have and today I want to share some insights and strategies to help deal with someone who just doesn’t want to get on board with healthy eating (or get on board as much as you).

I can share from personal experience. My man and I are both very much into health and fitness but eat very differently and view healthy eating in different ways. Let me tell you, this can be just as challenging.

He eats chicken fingers, lots of pasta, pizza and cinnamon toast crunch or apple jacks depending on the week. If we get Mexican food he almost always gets a burrito and at most restaurants gets some sort of bacon burger with fries.

I on the other hand really feel best when I eat my plain brown rice, crockpot chicken and veggies and fruit every day. I like my dark chocolate (that he took a bite of one weekend why I was away and spit out immediately) and limit my greasy food intake. I think everything he eats tastes delicious but it usually stop at a bite or two (he would argue 3 or 4).

We eat very differently but ultimately he knows vegetables are crucial to good health and I have loosened up around food because, well, bread, wine, and pizza are a part of life. I would rather learn how to moderate my intake around them ( because I feel best when I do) than try to avoid them forever.

So how do we manage this when our versions of healthy are different? Here are 4 strategies I have used that have helped us comprise and blend our two eating worlds together so it doesn’t feel quite so challenging.

Spice up the veggies.

Coat veggies with all the good stuff when you cook them. When I first started making vegetables for Shawn I used way more butter, oil, and seasonings than I cared for.

My steamed broccoli just wasn’t making the cut and I didn’t want him and my vegetables to get off on the wrong foot. Knowing a little extra sodium and fat wouldn’t make or break my diet I would eat them. Gradually (whether he knows this or not) I started lessening the butter and seasonings and now have found a happy medium that we both enjoy.

It only took a couple months but not only does he eat vegetables without giving me a hard time, he cooks them himself.

He knew he could stand to eat a few more vegetables and I realized a little fat and sodium isn’t going to make or break my diet.

Don’t overhaul his diet.

The biggest recipe for failing is trying to change everything all at once. This is a formula I use with all of my clients trying to implement healthy habits, from eating to working out.  Big drastic change usually doesn’t work. It is small change implemented over time.

We don’t always eat the same and on nights like that this is how it goes. Shawn eats his chicken fingers with a side of vegetable. I eat mine with a turkey burger.

He cooks up his pizza and I make a side salad he actually likes for both of us but add chicken to mine. He makes prosciutto wrapped asparagus and eats it as a side of pasta.  And sometimes I just eat that pasta.

He is not changing everything but he is changing something and I am pretty sure he feels a little healthier and has most definitely been able to sustain this way of eating for years now. Why? Because he actually likes the way he is eating.

Is this the most clean diet ever? No but it works for him and he stays healthy and fit. Do I really need to try to get him to change just to match my eating so I feel better about everything? No.

Make two varieties of one dinner.

No one wants to make two different dinners, I get it, but often it is helpful to make a dinner and alter the ingredients just slightly.

For example, we make turkey burgers and sweet potatoes fries (lots of seasoning) and he uses a bun and I skip it.

He bbq’s carne asada and make a burrito with beans, rice, and cheese. I opt for a salad with similar ingredients but also some diced tomato and avocado.

We make spaghetti and meat sauce and keep them separate so I can choose less pasta and more meat if I wish with a side of a vegetable we both like.

I’ll make a chicken dish and we will have cheesy vegetables on the side.

Practice Portion Control.

Could you use this challenge as a time to practice portion control?

Avoiding food completely can be a great start in the beginning but isn’t a realistic solution for the long haul. Having your man eat different than you is a great lesson in exposing yourself to the food you fear and practicing portion control anyways.

For me personally it has actually helped balance my sometimes too strict approach to food. So often we think eating healthier means that we have to comply to a diet at all times, eliminate condiments, and our favorite adult beverages.

Sure you may have to adjust if you are seeking certain changes but giving up certain foods for good or eating in a way you cannot maintain is a sure sign that it is not sustainable. If a diet is unsustainable the results will be as well. Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. That leads me to my last point.

It’s not all about him. Do you.

Be honest and have a chat but ultimately do you. You have made a decision to eat healthier for a reason and you can convey that to him openly and honestly.

Let him know what you may struggle with or what things he does that might make it difficult for you (offering you snacks, suggesting fast food for dinner). Let him know how this change would impact your life positivity and let him know how much his support would mean to you.

The reality is no matter how much you want him to join you, you can’t force him and if you do it could easily turn up in resentment in the relationship. If he decides not to get on board you have two options. You can give up on your goals and health or you can move forward anyway.

Ultimately this a lesson you can learn form each other. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to go extreme either way and you can find a safe, healthy and sane middle ground.

How to transition eating from diet to lifestyle

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Have you tried a diet before? I have. Quite a few actually.

Atkins for maybe 3 days. I was miserable and hungry and instantly knew it was ridiculous.

A detox. Made it only a day. Same result, same feelings.

The Slim Fast diet. Actually made it 2 weeks on this one, mostly because I did like the chocolate shakes.  I freaked out one night and wondered what I would eat ongoing if I didn’t buy the shakes. Again realized it was ridiculous.

The Clean Eating diet. This one seemed rather innocent actually, like most whole food meal plans. I was eating quality amounts of foods, often throughout the day. My hunger felt in control and my energy good enough. Then I realized I was scared to use ketchup, eat dessert other than my Sunday night treat meal, and was in pure agony trying to make food decisions at social gathering and at dinners away from home.

I know diets don’t work long term. Our country is screaming loud and clear that diets don’t work by  our health epidemic and food obsession and search for the one plan that will actually work. I have chats with friends and clients who know diets don’t work and then the next week I see their Whole30 post on Instagram. Sigh.

Diets don’t work long term but we try to do them anyways.

 

Here is the thing. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else says. If you feel a diet can help control your eating, benefit your health, or improve your life in some way, you are going to try it and experience it for yourself until you make up your mind. Which is fine. No judgements because everyone is entitled to their own experience.

Here is where I can help.

Today’s post is going to cover how to transition yourself off a diet so you can actually apply what you learned from it (because you probably did learn something even if it was that it didn’t work), continue to get results, and trust yourself around food without a meal plan, without a food list.

I am not a doctor. I am not a registered dietician. I have knowledge and certifications in nutrition and results but I am not here to diagnose anything or tell you what to eat, in what amounts, at what times.

I am here to share concepts and tools that can benefit you by relinquishing the need to be on a diet, on a meal plan, in control all the time.

The ideal end results? A lifestyle that is less obsessed around food, dieting, and quick fixes, a mindset that is in for the long haul, and a body that follows.

 

Here are 3 “food for thought” insights to help get you outta the diet mindset and into a lifelong way of eating, chocolate and wine included.

Food matters, habits matter more.

It matters that you eat quality foods in appropriate portions but this advice alone will not help you long term. It matters, but habits matter more.

Habits are not bad but they are tricky.They somehow emerge without your permission and develop without your knowledge.

Habits can be good because once they become automatic they require you to think less. The brain likes effortless. The key is to adopt habits that serve your life, your goals and desires.

Snacking at night is a habit. Even though you may not want to be doing it, it feels very easy for the brain and will take a lot of effort to break.

Playing with your dog or kids before bed instead of snacking is also a habit. It too can feel effortless and resisting that fridge will not feel quite so draining.

When you think of habits you want to change, think of ways you can improve them first. Be better before strict. You do not have to resort to changing everything.

If you overeat at dinner could you start by just adding more veggies and protein and lessening carbs just slightly?

If night time snacking is your enemy could you allow yourself to have a banana and 1 tbsp of peanut butter or an egg and 1 piece of toast or something along those lines that feels satisfying?

It may seem like a lot but if you are going to snack your way until bedtime these 200 extra calories will be a huge improvement.

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Expose yourself to the food you fear.

Diets always have rules. There are always restrictions. There are always tools that keep us tracking something. Eat this, not that. Eat only 40% of calories from carbs. Count your calories and don’t go over. Count your calories to match your activity level.

I don’t think tracking is bad but I don’t think it is something that most can fit effortlessly into their lifestyle, or would want to fit into their lifestyle. In any sense this can become an obsession. There was a time when people didn’t think quite as much about what they ate and were much healthier and happier.

So instead of analyzing what you should and shouldn’t eat all the time, I challenge you to this.

Expose yourself to the food you fear. Are you scared that you will eat the entire pizza instead of just 2 slices? Are you unable to keep ice cream in the house because it will only last a day? Do you eat all the chips and salsa before your dinner arrives?

Chips and salsa use to be my kryptonite and I use to eat them all! I would get so upset with myself that I banned chips and salsa from my life not allowing myself to have even 1.

One day at a Mexican restaurant I wondered in my head if I was really going to never eat chips and salsa again and how depressing that felt based on my simple fear of no control. So I allowed myself a 3 chip rule, and whenever exposed would allow myself 3 chips but not a single one more. I did this for years. Now I can happily be presented with them and not only control  myself but not count either.

I eat knowing that a few will satisfy me and leave me feeling good physically (no bloating and being stuffed) and good emotionally ( not regret, guilt, or self shaming).

Give it a try. A piece of chocolate a day. A glass of wine mid week when you think you should only save a bottle for the weekend. Your favorite snack that you always go overboard on.

Set an initial number to follow and then see how it plays out over time. You may overindulge the first few times but don’t give up. Keep practicing until that food no longer has control over you.

Delay gratification.

The term delay discounting is a term and concept I learned from one of my favorite books on self control, The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal, which states that the longer you have to wait for a reward (in this case food) the less it means to you.

Future food rewards don’t seem to mean as much to us humans as having the food right this very moment. Neuroscientists have actually studied this concept and when we put a delay on food our brain treats it like a future reward not immediate gratification. To put it simply it means less to us.

You can implement this starting this very moment. Whether it is avoiding donuts in the office or you are headed to the fridge after dinner: try waiting 10 minutes before you eat what you want.

Create some distance and remove yourself from the kitchen, the office, or cover up that candy jar calling your name. Once your 10 minutes are up stop trying to resist and see if you still want what is calling your name.

Or could you perhaps delay that another 20 minutes? Or all day?

Sometimes you may choose to indulge and that is ok but sometimes you may realize that your desires were more about having something instantly than having anything at all.

 

Listen, I get the temptations with diets. They fill us with hope. It feels like this time will be different. This will be the time when all your food struggles dissipate and you can finally have the food freedom and body you are seeking. You can envision the person you want to be come and set yourself up with very high expectations.

Committing to a diet makes us feel good before anything is even done and is often the most rewarding part of the process. I truly believe they can teach us what works or doesn’t work for our bodies but only you can learn through your experience.

If you do use a diet just to get motivated, have some control and direction remember the following:

Habits matter more than food rules and lists. Focus on habit change as much as you focus on eating healthier otherwise your old pattern will show up down the road guaranteed.

Exposure yourself to the food you fear so you are not spending your life in a constant battle with it. It’s fine to resist bread for a week but are you really going to avoid it forever?

Delay your desired food to test yourself to see if you really want it. This is a great tip you can apply anywhere.

As always would love to hear your thoughts.

If you want the perfect body, I am not your trainer.

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If you want the perfect body, I am not your trainer.

If you want your life to stop revolving around the next diet, to stop obsessing about falling off the wagon yet again with eating or exercise, to get stronger, healthier, and more fit, or to just find some calm, peace and love with your body, let’s talk.

I once read an article about an Olympian who trained for years to make it to the podium. He did and once he had that medal hung around his neck, his first thoughts were, “Is this it? Is this all I have been waiting for?”

I have found the same thing with people and their bodies. They lose the 10 pounds they have always wanted to lose, and now they want to lose more. They deadlifted the weight they have always wanted to and now they want more. They fit into their favorite dress and now it is not good enough.

From an Olympic medal to a women wanting to lose weight these emotions are indictors that is is not really achieving the goal for most, it is the feelings of accomplishment, pride, and effort along the way that really has the most impact on our joy and happiness.

When you get the perfect body you will always want more.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I know what it feels like on days when jeans fit too tight, when your stomach feels a little flabby or where you just feel gross and miserable in your own skin.

I know what it feels like to want to feel healthier, to look better, and to feel more confident but I also know the perfect body is not the solution to happiness or fulfillment.

Confidence and happiness are typically found more in the process of what you set out to accomplish, more than the end result itself.

The idea that having a smaller, more perfect body will contribute to happiness only sets us up for struggle and eventually being let down.

You might say I like to help women expand.

Not from a physical sense but from the mindset of realizing what you have to offer in life. Helping women get smaller and smaller with their bodies also makes me wonder if our mindsets and perspectives shrink as well.

Does the focus on the perfect body narrow our focus so greatly that it neglects other areas of our life?

We are most happy and fulfilled not when we reach our full potential but when we are working toward it.

 

I realize there are tons of programs that want to help you look better naked, get thinner thighs, get long and lean muscles, and flatten your stomach.

I realize that many fitness models sell their programs in their half naked bodies sending subliminal messages that you too can get their bodies with their programs.

And as humans we like that. We like something to aspire too. We like something greater than us to motivate to be the better version of ourselves.

We like the idea that if we can just control our diets and workouts that we will be good enough.

We really just want to be good enough, validated, and worthy.

 

And that is what I wish for my clients.

That confidence comes, not from the perfect body, but from doing the work, making improvements, and learning that yes they can do hard things.

Our bodies are more than a certain look and focusing on strength, health and overcoming our insecurities and fears is more rewarding than a flat stomach.

That while we can’t always control the outcomes we can control our efforts.

Our bodies will change inevitably. Skin will sag, wrinkles will form, age will set in and the less we can tie or value or worth with our bodies the better off we will be.

That we have more to offer the world than what our bodies look like.

Health is a series of sustainable habits developed overtime, not a magic bullet or quick fix.

That it is important to take care of our bodies but be more than a body.

Healthy and Convenient Grocery Shopping Guide

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Do you ever wander aimlessly around the grocery store wondering what to buy? Or get bored with your meals? Or overcommit yourself to cooking all week and then end up not doing it at all?

Today I want to share with you tips to make your grocery shopping the last thing you have to worry about and, more importantly, how to make it work for you. It doesn’t matter what foods, meals, or lists work for someone else if you can’t implement it into your life. I will share my method and then break it down for YOU.

For me personally I don’t try to plan every single meal of the week. I usually end of buying too many ingredients, use some for different meals, and end up feeling overwhelmed and only getting to one or do.

Instead each week I pick 1-2 new meals to try (if I feel like it), with minimal ingredients, and than focus mainly on my staples. My meals and food staples being foods I enjoy, that make me feel good physically and emotionally, aka, no guilt.

When I think about planning my meals in general I know almost all my meals will have a fat, protein, and carb source and I will try to include a vegetable of some sort. (This resulted in years of coming home and trying to eat only meat and vegetables, only to end up ravenous and snack all night. I know I need carbs at dinner).

I then try to choose snacks that I know keep me satisfied and that are not easy to overeat. Popcorn, crackers, pretzels, and sometimes even nuts can be easy to overeat and don’t really fill me up or give me any nutrients so I tend to skip those. I know that protein bars, yogurt, fruits, proportioned packages of nuts, and sometimes little snack packs of veggies and hummus or fruit and cheese will automatically make the list.

This is how I break it down besides my 1-2 new meals I want to try. These are my staples and I look for them also every week.

Proteins

Ground turkey, beef, or bison.

Chicken breast or rotisserie chicken.

Eggs, egg whites, yogurt, cottage cheese.

Protein bars.

Turkey burgers.

Carbs

Sweet potatoes or potatoes. Sweet potato fries.

Rice or quinoa.

Ezekiel bread or Dave’s Killer Bread.

Oatmeal.

Fats

Avocado.

Peanut butter or almond butter.

Nuts.

Different kinds of cheese (feta, parmesan).

Olive oil when needed.

Veggies and fruit I like

Spinach, broccoli.

Zucchini and squash.

Diced onions.

Baby carrots.

Berries, bananas, pears, apples, peaches when in season.

Other things that make it into my  cart.

Single serving of chocolate milk.

Dark chocolate.

Frozen waffles.

Marinara sauce and pasta.

Chicken broth.

Grocery shopping becomes very easy and simple when you have your staples and then you can experiment with a new recipe here or there. The more simple the plan, the better I can stick to it.

I can then spice up my meals. For example.

Add avocado to my turkey burger.

Add greek yogurt, chives and diced bacon to my baked sweet potato.

Make some pasta and meat sauce with a sprinkle of cheese.

How to make this work for you.

Plan your 1-2 new meals that you want to try each week (if you do).

List all the ingredients.

List your favorite protein, carb, and fat sources so you have a variety of foods you enjoy that you can pair together.

List your favorite snacks that make you feel good, physically and emotionally.

In the beginning this does take a little extra work but once you start to implement it into your life you wont even have to think about it. That is a habit and once you get a good habit to stick (one after the other) you are on the path to success.

FREE Summer Travel Guide to stay healthy and fit!

4 things no one *really* tells you about pregnancy and exercise

 

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Baby bump at almost 22 weeks.

I have heard too many stories about women pushing themselves with exercise during pregnancy or have seen women on social media jumping and crunching even as their belly grows. I have seen trainers having clients do crunches and leg lifts into the 2nd and 3rd trimester (but why?) and have heard the following comments from women all too many times.

“I was told to just keep doing what I had always done.”

“No doctor ever told me anything about that.”

“I figured since I could do it I should do it.”

“I thought the harder I worked the easier the delivery and recovery would be. Not the case.”

I have felt fortunate to have a heads up about pregnancy and exercise as I have stayed up on the latest guidelines and info as a trainer, for the sake of my clients, even before I became pregnant.

So when I found out I was pregnant I was eager to apply my own knowledge to myself.

You see a few years back I remember watching girls CrossFit late into pregnancy in awe, thinking how cool and powerful that looked. That would be me too. Why not? I always have worked out. I have always lifted weights. If I can squat with some weight on bar why not. If I feel ok to run, why not? If I can still physically work my abs, why not?

There is a huge disconnect between doctors and trainers and individuals about exercise so today I decided to share 4 insights that no one really tells you about pregnancy, activity, and working out that I think are important for women to be aware of.

Don’t do what you have always done.

The common advice passed down from generations is to do what you have always done. This advice has become rather generic and lazy for many reasons. One, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should ( I will address that point further in the next section). Two, you may not have the energy levels to do so.

When I found out I was pregnant I immediately exercised caution. Running felt odd, crunches felt unnecessary and I really just did not feel the need to push my body and hard as I did before. My purpose behind training entirely shifted.

In both my first and second trimester so far I have been extremely tired and I found it is much harder to recover from workouts even if the workout itself feels good. After feeling more and more exhausted I got to a point where an afternoon on the couch felt more beneficial than even a short workout.

Now is a better time than ever to listen to your body.

I always tell my clients to listen to their body. Rest when needed, workout harder when you can. This is advice I have always tried to follow myself but to be honest it usually ended up in me just pushing through because it was short workout, I could come home and relax, and because determination and hard work has been instilled in me from all my years of sports and athletics.

But now I can easily see now is just not the time to push myself when my body is telling me otherwise. I can’t work all day, workout on my lunch break, run errands of my afternoon break, work some more, come home, walk the dog, clean the house and then crawl into bed without the consequences of feeling miserable.

I have had to check myself that now, if any time in my life, is one of the necessary times to listen to my body and prioritize rest over anything else. I think as a culture this is advice we can and should apply more.

Sometimes you just need something like pregnancy (or sickness or overtraining) to slap you in the face.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Even my doctor told me to workout 30 minutes every single day, even if it is just walking.

This is nice in theory but just because I potentially can is it really going to help me if my body is craving sleep and rest.

Like I have talked about with my workouts and even my daily activities, just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should, or that it is going to benefit me more.

Just because I can run and jump or deadlift some fairly heavy weight right now doesn’t mean that it is the best choice.

Just because I can hike 5 miles on the weekend, run errands on my breaks, and be the busy bee that I am, doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea.

I think this notion can be hard to break for many but I know for me personally I had to re examine my priorities and realize that yes I can still do many things but now is not the time to push through just because I feel I can. What is the end purpose and end goal?

Core work and exercise selection must change.

 

This encompasses every single point I have made above.

Many women experience Diastasis Recti (DR) during pregnancy which is abdominal separation due to your growing baby against the abdominal wall. The connective tissue holding your abs together can become thin and soft and exacerbated by poor exercise selection.

Choosing proper exercises can help strengthen the core, reduce back pain and help your postpartum recovery.

You don’t necessarily need to stop lifting weight or training but there are smart, safe, and effective exercises that will actually benefit while yes others could harm the integrity of your tummy and tissue.

Core training needs to change. Not just crunches, leg lifts, and front planks but things like burpees and push-ups too. Choose more deadbugs, modified side planks, hip thrusts off the bench, and unilateral upper and lower body work.

Choose exercises that work the posterior chain (strengthen the backside of the body) to help combat the body as it is changing. The growing belly will most definitely affect posture perhaps making the shoulders more rounded, the low back go into more of lordosis like curve and the hips tighter.

Choose pulling exercises like rows, lat pulldowns, using one arm or two arms and take advantage of a TRX or smiths machine for things like incline push-ups and incline rows.

Use squat variations (air, goblet, dumbbell), deadlift variations ( sumo, kettlebell, Romanian deadlifts or conventional) and glute bridge like no other.

Focus on posture, alignment, breathing and pelvic floor engagement.

Unless recommended by a doctor pregnancy does not need to be a time of inactivity. Maintaining your strength is key as your body grows and changes for labor and recovery as well.

DO realize that everyone will be different and listen to your body, adjust your exercise routine, and take some time to relax because your body is doing some hard work growing that baby.

Quinoa, Broccoli, and Cheese Egg Muffins

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In my efforts to keep eating and simple as possible I love recipes like this that can double as a quick on the go snack or part of my meal at home. And I often do “breakfast” meals at lunch and dinner too.

These quinoa muffins pair easily with a side of toast, potatoes, or fruit, for a complete meal and are a great balance of protein, fats, carbs, and nutrients to keep your cravings in check and energy high.


Ingredients:

  • 5 whole eggs
  • 1 cup of liquid egg whites (or 4 egg whites)
  • 1 tbsp of greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 1.5 cup of cooked broccoli
  • 1/3 cup of diced onion (white or green)
  • 1/2 cup of diced mushrooms sautéed
  • 1/2 cup of cheese of your choice ( I use cheddar or parmesan)
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper

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Directions:

** I always prepare the veggies and quinoa first. Cook quinoa according to directions on package. Lightly sauté the broccoli, onions and mushrooms and set aside.

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Beat together the eggs, egg whites and greek yogurt. Add salt and pepper.
  3. Add quinoa and veggies and mix together.
  4. Divide the mixture evenly into 12 muffin tins (coated with oil a non stick cooking spray) and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the mixture is cooked fully.
  5. Cool before serving. Set aside the rest for quick snacks and meals during the week.

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Dinner tonight! I got ya covered….

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This little beauty of a dinner was so simple and yummy I just had to share. You know my dinner pics will always look as they are, without any staging, because thats how they come about. Food presentation is fun to look at but lets just be real about how most of us feel on a everyday basis. Make food, get it on the table, try to have time to enjoy it.

So today I share with you my recipe for meat muffins and also quickly attached a few directions about the sweet and savory carrots and spinach, feta salad.

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Meat Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon oregano (or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for added spice)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or 2 tbsp of pre minced garlic
  • 1 package of lean turkey meat or lean beef
  • 1 cup Quick cooking oats 
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large egg whites or 1 whole egg
  • Cooking spray or muffin liners
  • Optional: Choice of veggies ( I used chopped bell peppers, mushrooms and chives for this one)

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, garlic, spices and veggies and saute for a couple minutes
  • Combine onion mixture and the remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl.
  • Spoon the meat mixture into muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or cooked all the way through.
  • Top with ketchup if desired. I always look for one free of high fructose corn syrup.

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While these are baking you can put together your two sides.

You can access the salad recipe here.

For the carrots. Bring water to a boil in a small pot. Add a pack of baby carrots after you take them out of the wrapper. Boil until soft. Drain and return to pan that is still warm, heat off. Add 1-2 TBSP of butter and 2  TBSP of brown sugar. Adjust to your liking as I personally do something different every time. Mix together and the heated pan will melt the butter and mix the sugar together.

And  that’s it! They are ready to enjoy. 🙂

Strength Training During Pregnancy: My 1st and 2nd trimester

almost 20 weeksI have always heard the advice to just keep doing what you are already doing when it comes to exercise for the first few months of pregnancy.  That is the most common advice given from popular books, Dr.’s, and the random person I run into chatting about exercise and working out.

Funny thing. About 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant (and I found out pretty early at about 4 weeks) I just sensed something was different in my body. I slowed the intensity. I didn’t want to lift as heavy. I pulled back most exercises with impact. My goals and focus changed.

All the opposite of what I thought I would do being a fitness trainer and enthusiast, and after following women who kept the intensity and lifting up at their CrossFit workouts and such.

Today I am going to share my workouts for my first and second trimester so far. Keep in mind that every women’s body and pregnancy is different. Some women are not recommended to exercise, some like to push the limits a little further, some like to find the middle ground. Always check with your doctor to decide what is best with you.

The first trimester.

I really wished I could have shared with you in real time how I felt during the first trimester. My body decided to skip getting really sick every day but I sure felt nauseated and exhausted for a solid 8 weeks.

It was that in between place where I felt the tug of war in my head like I could and should workout but at the same time I felt like I just wanted to skip any exercise all together.

Here is what I did. I eliminated any type of running (not like I did much anyways), jumping, or exercises that got my heart rate up because the intensity, impact and/or bounce made me feel even sicker.

I did 2 or 3 weight training sessions a week, full body, with tons of rest in between each exercise. Some days it was only 3 sets of 3 exercises total. Like a squat, a row, and an incline push-up.

Other days it was a few more. Moving my body other than walking was an accomplishment in itself and most of the time it did make me feel better. I learned to let good enough, just be good enough for the time being.

Here I am at 20 weeks.

Once mid April hit, I started to have more good days than bad days. My nausea reduced. My normal appetite returned.

For the past few weeks of my 2nd trimester I have been continuing with weight training and walking and feel good enough to add a few short local hikes in.

I am resting less during exercises so my heart rate gets up more and this is what I consider, and have always consisted, my cardio. I still do full body workouts but I don’t schedule the days. I just go by how I feel and that has usually been 3-4 workouts a week. I walk Lulu almost every single day even if it is a short one.

My exercise selection has started to change. I can feel a “pull” on my abdomen rolling up from a seated position. I eliminated pull ups and any heavy overhead lifts right away and now even on lat pulldowns I can feel a little stretch which I am trying to avoid.

My goal for training has shifted more from pure strength and aesthetics to creating a healthy body for baby, staying strong for labor and delivery, and recovering postpartum.

I also want to keep the tissue of my abdomen healthy and am avoiding things like crutches, rotations, full front planks and full push-up because of the pressure it puts on that region. And because why? There are much better ways to train the core during pregnancy than those types of exercises.

Final thoughts.

It has been a mental shift for sure seeing and feeling the changes in my body. I have always had an active lifestyle and it has become a part of my identity in a way. It is part of my routine, part of my career and part of what I love to do. I have worked hard over the years not to let it define my worth and incorporate into my life into a way that enhances my life. And it has.

Having to back off was tough for me but also a reality check. My body is changing. My life is changing. I have shifted my mindset to simply do my best and keep it going, safely and sanely, and let my body respond as it will.

Until next time.

I have created a special email list on pre natal (and post natal) fitness, eating, and life, and my journey through it all which you can access here. I promise not to bombard your inbox, but just wanted to have a space to share more of my workouts, thoughts, fears, and excitement through it all.