Author Archives: fitwithadele

How I returned to exercise 0-5 months post baby

Daily walks from 10-40 minutes were my go-to during pregnancy and after.

Returning to exercise postpartum is more than just about getting clearance from your doctor and returning to your normal routine. It is more than just about dropping the baby weight, more than just kegals, and more than the general advice to just strengthen your core.

If I had been pregnant even just 3 years ago I would have felt the need to push my body more during and after pregnancy but I have learned so much in the past couple years and want to share some important guidelines and how I returned to exercise 0-5 months postpartum.

I do understand that many pregnant women want to “get their pre baby body back” and lose the “baby weight” and I don’t discount those goals and desires but there is a lot more to consider that your body will thank you for in the long run.

Regaining function of the body is one of the most overlooked aspects when moms return to exercise and that starts with strengthening pelvic floor and your core muscles. Core muscles referring not only to the abominals but the diaphragm, pelvic floor, and glutes. All these muscles help support the spine and pelvis and help stabilize the body.

If you are not so concerned with returning to fitness within the first few months after baby is born that is totally fine too but I do recommend including some alignment and breathing exercises in your daily routine to help regain stability and function of the pelvic floor and core. 

Even if you are past 6 months postpartum and have not returned to fitness simply start from the beginning. Don’t skip steps, evaluate your body and how it responds to increased activity, and have some patience and compassion for yourself.

The first week postpartum I started with 2 exercises.

Alignment and Breathing.

Alignment.

You can think of alignment as posture and this will be extremely important especially with all the hours you spend baby carrying, picking up and putting down, and baby gear loading and unloading.

Feet hip distance apart (think hip bones not the width your hips).

Stack the ribs over the hips so your are not flaring the ribcage out or tucking them down either.

Think of a string on your bum that you gently pull to “un tuck” your bum. Imagine your pelvis is a cup of tea. If you are holding it in front of you, you don’t want the tea to spill out the backside. You want to tilt the pelvis (cup of tea) forward just slightly to untuck the bum.

I know it is hard as a mom when you have so many things to think about during the day but try to check in with your alignment/posture occasionally to ensure you are keeping form (picking up baby, holding baby, picking something up off the ground). Even if you check in 1 time per day that is 150 times over the course of 5 months which is definitely better than 0.

Breathing and pelvic floor connection.

Kegels are often recommend to keep the pelvic floor strong but a more effective way goes beyond just clenching the pelvic region repeatedly. It is teaching the pelvic floor to engage and release with the breath not in isolation.

Your pelvic floor should relax on your inhale and your ribcage should gently expand. On your exhale you should feel your ribcage relax and feel your pelvic floor lift. This is a gentle movement that should not be used at full force.

I didn’t put any pressure to myself but just practiced breathing in my aligned position throughout the day whenever I thought of it when I was nursing or picking things up off the ground.

3 weeks postpartum.

In the beginning I cannot emphasize rest to recover enough. During this time I started to add in exercises like heel slides, clams, bridges, air squats, light upper body resistance band work incorporating the pelvic floor work, alignment and breathing. These exercise were done in 1-2 sets a day on days I could fit them in.

1 to 3 months postpartum.

At this time I started low intensity resistance/strength workouts and walking a few times a week on days I had more sleep. More being 5-6 hours of combined sleep. 

I kept the sessions under 30 minutes and again paid attention to alignment, breathing, pelvic floor engagement, and how my body felt during and after exercise. I rested a lot during my workouts and took 2-3 days off in between strength workouts. On days I had horrendous quality of sleep I did not workout.

A note on getting clearance from your doctor. This is not necessarily the time to return full force to exercise. Do check-ins with how your body feels during exercise, after, the day after, etc as the weeks go by before you bump up the frequency or intensity.

4-5 months postpartum.

I have recently added different lifts back into my strength workouts like assisted pull-ups, deadlifts and front squat with lighter weight. I still keep up my walking and really don’t do any cardio.

Note on returning to cardio. Be cautious with higher impact activities like running especially if you have any issue like leaking, pain, etc.

No matter what anyone says, even a doctor, these don’t have to be the new normal. Seek help and remember that the seemingly slow path will me more effective in the long run than trying to do too much too soon.

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The alternative to the “everyday squat/plank challenge”

I see a lot of squat challenges and AB challenges floating around the internet and it makes me cringe just a little bit, squatting and crunching every day with super high repetitions and planking for minutes on end.

While weight training, with increasing heavier load is the best way to develop tone and get stronger IMO, I won’t discount a well organized, body weight workout that you can do anywhere. Just please let the hundreds of squats and crunches go and focus on targeting the legs and glutes from different angeles, using different exercises.

I guess you could say I created my own 21 day “challenge” to target the core and lower body which you can access here, with exactly what to do on each day. The exercises are right here for you on this page.

Give this a shot for 21 days and let me know how it goes.

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Plank – You can use a kneeling plank as a modification. Brace the core, squeeze the glutes and pull the elbows toward you without moving them.

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Fire Hydrant ~ Start kneeling and with a bent knee open the leg out to the side, like shown. Pause for a 2 count and lower back down.

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Dead Bug ~ One at at time, extend one leg out keeping the back in neutral. Bring the leg back in and switch sides.

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Squat baby ~ You know the drill. Shoulder distance apart stance, neutral spine and keep the knees from collapsing inward.

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Elevated Glute Bridge ~ Lower and lift the hips, squeezing the glutes at the top. For a more challenging variation do one leg at a time.

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Side Lying Clam ~ Keep the feet connected and open and close the knees with a 2 count pause at the top.

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Split Squat ~ Keep the front heal down and lower so the back knee is hovered over the ground (or as low as feels ok for you). Keep the torso vertical.

 

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Donkey Kick ~ Keep the knee bent, spine in neutral and press the heal up towards the ceiling quickly, no pause.

What you really need to know about breakfast (and recipes to jumpstart your day)

Today I want to talk about what you really need to know about breakfast.

You will hear everything from breakfast doesn’t matter to that it is the most important meal of the day. You will hear that you should eat within 30 minutes upon waking or it is ok to wait a few hours. You will hear you should have bulletproof coffee, that you should eat carbs, and I even read an article the other day that you should not have carbs at breakfast. Everything of course is backed by some sort of study, that includes some type of science, that proves their point in some way.

What you really need to know about breakfast is what works for you. I  have people tell me they don’t have time, they are not a breakfast person, they are not hungry in the morning and breakfast makes them hungrier later on in the day. All fine, if you are getting the results you are seeking.

My point being that if something is not working for you, change it.

The main thing to ask yourself is this.

“Is what I am doing working for ME?”

If you don’t eat breakfast and are seeing results and able to keep your craving and energy levels in check then by all means keep at it. But if you are not seeing results or skip breakfast and eat too much later and experience a lot of craving and energy issues, experiment to see what a healthy breakfast can do for you.

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Oatmeal, egg whites, diced apples and cinnamon.

Should you eat carbs at breakfast?

I don’t see any reason to stay away from properly portioned carbs that make you feel good and give you the results you are seeking in terms of the way you look, feel and perform each and every day. The problem with most breakfast carb choices is that they come in forms of muffins, cereals, bagels, granola and processed varieties.

They are typically highly processed, low in protein and fiber, high in fat and or sugar and can leave you with a quick drop in energy. Also things like muffins and pancakes tend to be easier to overeat then things like oatmeal, fruit, yogurt and eggs.

Carbs at breakfast is not a bad thing if you choose ones that are more beneficial to your health, like oatmeal, sprouted grains, potatoes, fruit and vegetables and you keep them in moderate portions. They keep you fuller longer and tend to have more nutrients and fiber. Different people will get results on different food selections.

Instead of worrying quite so much about what exactly you eat, try this.

Pair your morning carb with a protein or fat. All carbs are broken down into sugar,  from bagels to vegetables. They all break down to the same thing. Vegetables differ than bagels because of their high fiber and water content and have less of an impact on our blood sugar when eaten.

They enter our blood stream at a much slower than pace then a bagel which can quickly spike our blood sugar levels making us more prone to hunger and cravings later on and send our energy levels crashing.  Protein and fats also have less of an impact on insulin and a great pair for carbs.

One of the best things you can do to help manage your hunger, craving and energy levels is to pair a protein or fat with your carbs. This helps stabilize blood sugar levels and is the single most important thing I do with my diet. 

First and foremost it is about what works for you, what gets you the results you are seeking and what leaves you feeling good. You just have to take the time to experiment and if something you have been doing for years is not working, it is time for a change.

Here are a few breakfast ideas  to start your day off strong besides eggs and toast.

 

  • Berry and Yogurt Parfait ( 1 cup of plain greek yogurt, 1 tbsp honey, 1 cup of berries, 1-2 TBSP of slivered almonds or walnuts).
  • Protein Smoothie ( 1 scoop or protein powder or you choice, 1/2 banana, 1 cup of frozen strawberries, 1 tbsp of peanut butter)
  • Sweet or Savory Sweet Potato Cakes ( 1 peeled sweet potato shredded, mixed with 2 eggs, cook like pancakes). For a sweet flavor add cinnamon, for savory add garlic powder, pepper, whatever your heart desires.
  • Grain Free Pancakes (2 bananas, 2 TBSP of almond butter, 4 eggs and cook like pancakes)
  • Endless Option Egg Bake (recipe below and feel free to mix and match the veggies, meat, and cheese as you see fit).

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Ingredients:
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 carton of egg whites
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • huge handful of spinach
  • 1 pack of breakfast sausage
  • Parmesan Cheese to sprinkle

Any seasonings like garlic, basil, cayenne pepper, oregano, etc.

Also you can add any veggies you choose, take out the meat.

Directions:
  1. Brown meat and onions.
  2. In a sprayed dish layer meat, veggies, and pour eggs over.
  3. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.
  4. Bake at 350 for about an hour.

Now get after it, start experimenting and find your unique formula!

 

 

Do this or continue to struggle

I just finished the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.

Ok in all honestly I just finished RE- reading it.

Ok I read it twice and am reading back through my highlighted parts.

This book is filled with the most seemingly obvious advice equivalent to a “just do it” of sorts but I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement, every sentence that passed my eyes.

What is the slight edge and why do you need it? It is essentially this. It is the culmination of daily actions repeated over and over again to get the results you are seeking.

How do you use it? You quit blaming, talking, thinking, contemplating, and searching and implement the little things each and every day over and over again. It is as simple as it is hard.

Because success, reaching goals, and overcoming challenges is not a big magical accomplishment that all of a sudden happens, it is a series of little things done each and every day that add up over time. We know this, we just don’t do it. Or we do it and expect immediate results so we stop doing the little things we need to do to get us to where we want to be.

I still do this when starting a new exercise program or want to tighten up my diet. I think that because I have been at it for a week I should have the grand results I have been seeking. With much practice I have broken the cycle of simply stopping when the results are invisible and keep the bigger picture in mind and just keep going. It is not that it isn’t working, it is just you have not allowed enough time to pass.

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Where you can start?

Quit stopping at survival and keep going to success.

Us humans get comfortable in survival mode. We unintentionally self sabotage our best efforts to improve our health and change our habits. It’s not that we don’t know what to do, it is just that we don’t do it for long enough.

When we workout more we think we can eat a ton more, when we drastically reduce calories our bodies respond by slowing our metabolic rate making it harder to make the weight budge, and when we skip our healthy habits we create poor habits and justify our choices.  A recent article in the New York Times states it perfectly.

“The human body and brain are funny. They often, and rather insidiously, undermine some of our best efforts to be healthier, in an attempt to maintain our physiological status quo.The result can be that we do not benefit as much as we’d hoped from changes to our lifestyles.”

Or in the case of using The Slight Edge Olsen suggests that humans are comfortable in survival mode and waiver back and forth between survival and failure instead of pushing towards success.

When we start to slip to rock bottom we will do anything to get back to survival mode, where we are getting by, just good enough. Once we get to survival mode, we get comfortable and naturally stop doing the things that keep us progressing.

There is nothing magical about going from failure to survival and survival to success, it is the same actions you have been doing, you just have to keep doing them.

To be successful with body change you have to keep going, even when you don’t feel like it or the results are intangible. 

Take responsibility for yourself and your choices.

“When you take and retrain full responsibility – even when others are wrong or the situation is genuinely unfair – you get to keep your life’s reins in your own hands.”Jeff Olsen

I don’t think we mean to always put the blame on other things or other people, I think deep down it is more like a mode of self protection. If there is some reason we are not able to complete a task or put in the work, it makes us feel just a little better if the responsibility is not on us. No time, no money? No problem, we get to wipe our hands clean and be off the hook.

When we take responsibility, we get full power in return. Full power in each and every one of our choices from the way we eat, when we exercise, and what we prioritize. This in itself is truly the best place to be. We can own our choices and have the ability to change them. 

I know sometimes little choices seem insignificant, like eating a healthy breakfast or doing 10 push ups and 10 squats a day won’t matter much. But 365 breakfasts over the course of the year does make a difference. And 280 push ups and 280 squats each month is significant compared to none. The little things are really easy to do, but they are also really easy to skip, yet when you take responsibility, the power is yours.

You supply the actions. The universe will supply the time.

Our current conditions are not shocking when we look at all the choices we made day after day to get us to where we are.

If you are in a healthy state you most likely have made several positive decisions over a very long period of time that have led you to where you currently are. If you are unhealthy, the same thing applies. You have made several decisions over time that have had an impact on your health and you have made them again and again.

Body change is not based on a single choice, a days worth of choices, or a weeks worth of choices. It is based on numerous choices every for months at a time that lead to our current conditions whether they serve us or not. Patience can be one of the most annoying but valuable pieces of advice.

To get to a place where you want to be you simply choose positive actions day in, day out. You do it over and over again until you are successful and then you keep doing it. Plan for what might get in the way. Don’t stop when things get tough. Practice a little patience and put a lot of trust in the process.

 

The Hiearchy of Nap time Productivity

Go to sleep little one….

As a new mom every one told me to just sleep when the baby sleeps. This sounds lovely in theory, like I would just be able to pass out for a 3 hour nap peacefully without interruption. I was told to not worry about housework, not worry about chores or things that had to get done.

Or if you have more than 1 kid you’re probably laughing at the idea to sleep when the baby sleeps (adjust this blog post as best as possible with multiple children).

When I was spending my first few months nursing and baby carrying all day, I wanted to do something for myself that felt productive.

Reality is, things have to get done. Or you at least feel better when they do.

I needed to set up her health insurance, I needed to feed myself, I needed a clean fork somewhere, sometime.

I unknowingly created a hierarchy for nap time productivity so I could find my balance between what I needed to do and what I wanted to do.

Let’s face it sometimes we have 20 minutes, sometimes we have 3 hours, and we just never know.

The beauty of a hierarchy is that it prioritizes your self care first and and then trickles down to important tasks, things you feel you need to do, and things you want to do.

Step 1: Self care.

Once nap time begins make self care your priority. This is highly dependent on what YOU need in the moment and harder with more than one kid so just do your best.

If you need sleep, rest or close your eyes for a few glorious moments. If you are even borderline hungry make yourself some food. Who knows when you will be able to eat again! If you feel well rested and fed and want to get a workout in or a shower, now is the time!

You may only have a few precious minutes so do something good for yourself.

Congratulations you still have more time! Move to step 2!

Step 2: Important Task

You now can tend to an important task, whatever this might be.  A load of laundry because you or your child is running out of underwear. A bill you need to pay. A phone call you need to make. Maybe you napped as part of your self care step and now you want to shower. That works too!

Choose 1 thing and make some progress on that.

Congratulations you have more time!

Step 3: Housework, chores, or free time.

You can prioritize step 3 the way you want. For me personally keeping the housework at least half under control from what it use to be makes me feel good. So I take this time to finish that load of laundry, do the dishes, or tend to an area of the house that had been neglected.

OR, if housework is less important to you, use this for free time doing whatever you feel you need to, or want to do.

Maybe step one you chose sleep. And then for step 2 your important task was eating. You decided to skip the housework and watch some tv. You decide to do a project with your other kid. You decide that you want to get the house clean today or you could care less and you just want to zone out and check out pictures on Instagram. This is YOUR time to use it as you wish so don’t let anyone make you feel bad about how you choose to prioritize this time.

You may follow this exactly, you may rearrange the order, or you may do it backwards, but the point is to make it use for you in a time management sense. Some days you will get through step one, maybe some days you will get through step 3, regardless you got the most important task done first.

Hope this helps!

Side note: It is nap time. I am rested enough, fed, there are dirty dishes in the sink and I am writing this blog. 😉

I have created a free, Facebook community called Moms Supporting Moms to share in our struggles and successes, ask questions to each other, and while focusing on all things mom, to focus on some self care for ourselves too. To get your private invite sign-up here. 

4 strategies to stay consistent with the exercise you know you should be doing

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One thing I hear from women over and over who are not getting results in the gym is that they have trouble stay consistent, committed, and are really just craving enough energy and motivation to get to the gym.

Look, we all know we should be exercising, it’s no secret, but just owning a workout plan doesn’t ensure that we will actually follow it.

You see, there is a huge gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it. Many of us know what do and if we don’t know we can easily search for it online. Yet there are several factors we never take into account.

 

What to do when you don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning or how to motivate yourself after a 10 hour day at work.

How to implement or develop a routine.

Taking your own lifestyle into consideration.

Proper nutrition and health of your metabolism.

Finding a routine you enjoy.

These are all important factors that somehow get overlooked. The idea that we simply need to “just workout more” is a level 1 way of thinking. In order to overcome this we need to level up and figure out what really gets in the way and how to address it.

Today I am talking 4 strategies to help you stay more consistent and implement what you already know you are suppose to do.

Prioritize what will have the most impact on your results.

When it comes to working out, if you only have 30 minutes to workout 3 times a week choose weight training.

Weight training is best way to create muscle and lose fat over any other program. Long duration cardio and burning more calories will not only bump up your hunger levels but can also strip your precious lean muscle mass which we so desperately need to hold on to.

Sprints or high intensity training can bump up your metabolism but don’t create strength and body change the same way weight training does.

You can also create a “cardio” like effect by the way you pair your exercises together, resting less, or adding more weight.

When you commit to shorter weight training sessions you are already one step ahead of the game. You are controlling your hunger better (ever notice too much exercise makes you hungrier and have more cravings), you are managing your time better, and you are prioritizing what needs to be done first when you have the time.

Play mind games with yourself. 

More often than not, starting the workout is the hardest part. It is like getting out of bed in the morning. Sometimes it just feels so brutal but once you are up, you are ready to go. Same thing with workouts.

The truth is you will not always feel motivated to workout, so stop relying on that. You will not always have the willpower to just be more disciplined, so stop relying on that. Sometimes you may just have to play mind games with yourself to get the work done.

For example when you don’t feel like starting commit to 5 minutes and once that passes commit to 5 more.  Commit again until the workout is done. If after 20 minutes you truly feel the workout is hurting more than helping cut it there.

During your sets. Focus on the exercise or set at a time.  I love the psychology of just focusing on the two exercises at the same time, with a superset which is alternating between two exercises. If I can just focus on the first pair for 2-3 rounds I can feel successful before moving on to the next pair.

Something about narrowing the focus on a couple exercises instead of an entire workout takes away the enormity and overwhelm of it all. Ask yourself how you can simply make that set the best set.

Commit to less to get more.

Commit to exercising 6 days a week for a hour and you will quickly learn that a schedule like that is hard to maintain. Family in town? Go on a vacation? Insanely busy week at work? Kid gets sick? You can’t control these factors so always commit to the minimal effective dose of exercise you need to get results.

What is the least amount you need to workout to see body change or maintenance.? You still have to put in the work, but not as often or in as much quantity as you think. Intensity will always trump duration so keep in mind that with shorter workouts, there always needs to be a greater demand on the body. 

More breathlessness, perhaps more weight added and/or less rest. You don’t need 6 days a week when you have these factors pooled together in a few great workouts.

Check in with how your workouts affect you hunger and craving levels.

I don’t know about you but the more exercise I do the hungrier I get. Why? I am demanding a lot of my body and need the support of my nutrition. When increasing exercise it is the worst time to cut calories. The body will have a compensatory effect and be more likely to overeat or crave more food.

When starting a new exercise program don’t automatically resort to cutting calories and eating stricter. I have my clients focus on the P and the N. Portions and nutrients. That is it.

Where can I fit more nutritious food into my day?

How can I do it in a way where I keep portions in check and feel satisfied?

The answer is not to get stricter. The answer is to learn how to find a balance between not being deprived and being satisfied so yes I am giving you the permission you need to include wine, chocolate and bread in life in moderate amounts.

Pay attention to how high stress and low sleep might be affecting your appetite as well. All these things are contributing factors so it is easy to see why it is incredibly important to simplify your workout and the time you do it in. You have a lot on your plate to begin with!

Remember that being consistent is not about being perfect. It is about focusing on the decisions and choices that will have the most impact on your results. Trying to do everything all at once will overload your physical and mental state. And your results depend on how likely you are to keep working out week in, week out and how likely you are to manage nutrition.

If I asked you if you could start by just getting to the gym 1 more day a week than you currently are, doesn’t that feel a lot more doable than asking you to get there 6?

Whatever your next step is the more confident you feel about doing it, the more likely you will do it. Once you build more confidence the cycle repeats itself. Take action, build competence, build confidence. Repeat until it becomes a habit.

 

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how to bring back your inner athlete in adulthood

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In 4th grade I remember having a volleyball coach who was relentless about the ready position and wouldn’t let us get away with anything less.

In 7th grade I remember serving 13 straight points in a row during a match. I was focused.

In high school I remember shutting down the #1 hitter in the conference, block after block after block. Somewhere in that high school experience my basketball team lost a game 79-19. Ouch!

My first week at college my coach 6 packed me (volleyball hit straight to the face) and when I got over the shock he smiled and said “Welcome to college freshie.” That same year we won an NCAA National Championship.

And somewhere in between my dad and I peppered a volleyball in the backyard for 1,029 reps. Yes we counted.

The life of an athlete is a special one. These memories fill me with so much joy and I am proud of when I had to be tough and endure the mental/physical challenges and proud of when I overcame them.

I would never change my athletic experience for the world. Being an athlete taught me I could do hard things. It built my confidence. It taught me how to persevere and push myself when I thought I was at my limits. It gave me memories outside the gym like pushing each on shopping carts through Target on road trips, halloween college parties, and team bonding. It taught me about support and friendship.

With all the amazing experiences that come with being a former athlete, I think it unintentionally sets up some of us for struggle in adulthood in regards to health and fitness. We learn how to train, but only for competition. We are good at practicing but best with a coach and others by our side. We know how to push ourselves but think that is the only way.

When I transitioned my fitness routine into adulthood, a workout was not deemed worthy, in my opinion, unless I was gasping for air. I turned to running because that was the only thing that would work my lungs as hard as practice and games. Running was not fun for me though and it actually made my cravings and hunger levels shoot through the roof. I wasn’t motivated, my workouts were half assed and I was not getting the results I was seeking.

When I finally found CrossFit I was thrilled. It was fun and I could lift heavy weights, do my olympic lifts and climb ropes and it kind of felt like play, plus I could hardly breathe during my workouts so it felt like the perfect fit. Except some of the workouts were only 7 minutes. Or sometimes the workouts were so intense I could not recover.

I would be on for two weeks off for one and repeat it over and over again. I had a couple mental blocks that had to do with time spent and intensity of a workout.

Here is what I now know.

You don’t have to go hard or go home or spend hours in the gym.

I know that is what your coach use to tell you. I know that is how you use to train. I get it. I did it to. It took me years but ultimately what I had to learn was self trust. That running myself into the ground was not the only way to get results and the only way I could prove it to myself was to stop doing the very workouts that were keeping me struggling.

That were keeping me not recovering, not motivated, and not feeling my best. More is not better and I know that inner athlete may be screaming against you but you are no longer training to have to sustain your endurance for game time. Your game time is in a sense, life. While I totally get wanting to push yourself, you can still find that challenge in your workouts and it does not have to come in full exhaustion mode.

Plus you don’t have two hours a day to train any more anyways. That was your job back then and if you keep trying to mimic a workout that you did when you had more time, energy and focus you will feel defeated. That was then. This is now.

Find workouts that build a strong foundation, with some type of resistance training, and choose exercise and movement that you enjoy and make you feel good.

Find a coach, workout buddy, or someway to keep you accountable.

You may feel a little lonely, lost and without a plan. I get it. I did too. It is tough to go from having support and motivation from teammates to having to not only decide what you are going to do in your workout, but actually do it, with a little intensity to top it off. I didn’t know what it was like to workout alone. I had “workout partners” my whole life. Playing sport was never really exercise anyways. It was practice. It was training. It was environment in which I was guided and supported by someone else.

In lifelong fitness you don’t always have that so find something or someone to be accountable too. Find a personal trainer, a supportive community, an online trainer, a friend or workout partner and then create a plan.

Actually write down what you will do in advance. I take this for granted because this is what I do for a living on a daily basis. I write workout programs for people so they can show up and not have to think about it. If you are looking for a way to conserve your will power and increase the likelihood of actually doing a workout, write it down, go the gym, and follow it. You will expend less mental energy thinking about it and be able to save that energy to put it into action.

Check your nutrition.

Every summer I would go home overdo the food intake a little bit but not be so worried because I knew after “hell week” I would be right back in my usual shape. I was also 20. While I have always been conscience of my food choices, I was hungry! I needed fuel. Whether that was pizza, sandwiches, endless Gatorade, power bars or bananas, fuel was my friend. I was more concerned with energy and performance than the extra carbs  I might be consuming.

Things are different now.  Life feels stressful, our days are full, and often energy is low. We are moving less and exercising less ( can’t really compare to 3 hour practices) so we don’t need as much to support our expenditures. We simply cannot continue to eat the same way and expect that our body will not gain weight/fat. It is true, when you workout more, you need to eat more. When you workout less, you need to eat less.

Cut yourself some slack for not measuring up to your younger years but keep the following in mind.

Eat to match your actual activity levels, not what you wish they were.

Workout for what your schedule allows, not what you think it should be.

Move in a way that feels good, not in a way that brings you down. 

Treat yourself like the athlete you currently are, not the athlete you use to be.

It is not the same but you will always have that inner athlete within you.

I have created a special 5-Day course for moms who miss their inner athlete, who want to reduce the guilt and overwhelm and get back to a higher performing version of them selves in their workouts and life.

This is not about working out for 5 days straight. This is about giving you the tools you need to return to incorporate fitness back in all while managing the responsibilities of life and motherhood.

Back to momME! Sign up here.

Course begins Monday, July 3rd.

8-minute AB workout you can do at home

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No time, no problem. You don’t need hours on end simply to make yourself better.

I put together a 8 minute AB routine you can do at home without any equipment. This is no promise for flat abs or a sculpted waist, but if you complete this workout a couple times a week for a month you will definitely notice your strength improve, and that is a major bonus for back health, posture, and your daily living. You will perhaps notice some abdominal tone as well.

Use these on days you don’t workout or as a warm-up to your typical workout.

Beginner:

Use these two exercises: Dead bugs and the side plank with leg lift.

Set a timer for 8 minute and perform 10 deadbugs (each movement counts as one) and 10 side plank leg lifts on each side. Repeat for 8 minutes.

Intermediate:

Use all three exercises.

Set a timer for 8 minutes and complete 10 reps of each exercise until the time is up.

Advanced:

Complete each exercise for a minute for 2 rounds.

1 minute plank row

1 minute side plank with leg lift side 1

1 minute side plank with leg lift side 2

Deadbug

Repeat.

Video links below.

** For women in late pregnancy or early postpartum skip the plank row as it is not an optimal choice.

 

Set yourself up in a push up position with hands underneath the shoulders or slightly forward. The more narrow your feet are, the more challenging it will be. The wider your feet are the more support you will have. Squeeze your glutes for support.

Alternate bending one arm off the ground, pulling your elbow back by your waist, trying to keep the hips stable. Lower back down and alternate sides.

 

Start in a side plank as show with the elbow underneath the shoulder. Stack the hips and extend the top leg out. Lift the leg as high as you can maintain the side plank, pause, lower back down. This is surprisingly challenging.

 

Laying on your back with the arms reaching up and legs in table top find the neutral position of the spine, the natural curve of the low back. Extend your opposite arm, opposite leg (maintaining neutral) and then return to the starting position and alternate sides. This seems simple but should feel very challenging.

Keep all movements slow and controlled.

Diastasis Recti: What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know


I met up with a fellow trainer friend a couple months back who was sporting a similar looking baby bump at the time. Of course we caught up on all things baby and fitness, including the lack of information about not only exercise during pregnancy, but the even single mention of Diastasis Recti (DA) or health of the pelvic floor from health practitioners.

Both of us delivered healthy babes but couldn’t believe we make it almost 40 weeks without even a handout?

I was told to exercise most days of the week, not to lift more than 10 pounds, and at every appointment was asked how many days a week I was exercising and for how long. That’s it.

Post baby I was told I could resume normal activity and do lots of abdominal work. Seems innocent enough but read on to learn why this advice just doesn’t cut it.

What is Diastasis Recti and why should I care?

Diastasis Recti (DR) is likely to occur in almost all women during pregnancy.

The connective tissue (linea alba) that runs down the midline of your tummy (think between the 6 pack muscles, the rectus abdominis) from the sternum to the pubic bone holding your abs together becomes stretched as baby grows. This can cause separation between the abdominals leading to instability in the midsection.

While this is natural and very common it can be made worse with poor posture, poor exercise selection and poor movement during pregnancy and after.

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Photo Cred: DLVR Maternity

What exercises can make it worse?

As your belly grows and once baby is born it is best to avoid exercises such as front planks, push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, leg raises.

Avoid using heavy weight that forces you to hold your breath.

These exercises put unnecessary stress on the abdomen and can put the belly in a bulging position, contributing even more to DA and pelvic floor dysfunction.

But how do I strengthen my core?

There are far more effective and safe ways to strengthen the core than sit-ups and crunches. Pregnant women do not need direct abdominal work as it is not the only way to create stability throughout the midsection.

Choose dead bugs (as long as you can lay on your back) and modified side planks.

Focus on the glutes as they are as much a part of the core as the abs, with exercises like hip thrusts off the bench and side lying clams.

Use unilateral upper and lower body exercises like standing one arms cable rows, single arm shoulder presses, single arm incline bench presses. Use exercises like trx rows, inclined rows on the smiths machine with the body is proper alignment and breath patterns.

Avoid any back bending exercises or exercises like pull ups that can overstretch the midsection.

Focus on the pelvic floor connection and the breath.

Kegels are often recommend to keep the pelvic floor strong but a more effective way goes beyond just clenching the pelvic region repeatedly. It is a controlled engagement that matches a specific breath pattern.  Your pelvic floor should relax on your inhale and lift on your exhale. This is a gentle movement that should not be used at full force.

When applied to an exercise such as a squat lets say, inhale on the way down, engage your pelvic floor and exhale on the way up.

This breath and movement pattern is important for keeping a strong pelvic floor during and after pregnancy.

Diastasis and pelvic floor dysfunction are often associated with incontinence, back or pelvic pain, hernias and prolapse.

Aesthetically it can look or feel like a poochy tummy.

What else should I avoid during pregnancy?

Be cautious of when you might do sit up like movement in your everyday routine. Getting out of bed, sitting up of the ground, etc.

Always be conscious of rolling on to your side first and then using your upper body to press yourself up.

This creates unnecessary pressure on the tummy and the pelvic floor.

I have attached several additional resources below.

How to check for DA from Jessie Mundell.

Healing DA postpartum. 

 The Diaphragm and Our Internal Pressure System

Improve your squat with these quick tips


If you are not squatting in the gym you are definitely doing some form of it throughout the day whether picking something up or getting out of a chair, making it uber important for everyday functionality.

Before you decide to add any type of load to your squats I recommend checking out these quick tips to fix common issues that people have when squatting. I use these when I simply want to go back to basics to check form.

The squat is a fantastic lower body exercise and works almost all the muscles in your lower body with the primary focus being the quadriceps and also your gluteal muscles and hamstrings. There is also a lot of core work (abdominals and low back) to help keep you stabilized.

There are many variations from a front squat to a back squat and you can use different pieces of equipment from barbells to kettle bells and dumbbells to change the emphasis of the muscles being worked.

First remember the basic squatting guidelines. Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart, toes may turn out slightly. Think about how you would sit down in a chair. You wouldn’t just sit straight down. You would shift your hips back as your torso leans forward slightly (not in a bad posture way). Think of pressing your knees out. Once you hit your bottom depth, return back to the top.

The typical breathing pattern for a squat is inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up. 

Check out these tips.

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Elevate your heels if your toes lift when you squat. If your heels come off the ground in a squat you should not be adding any additional weight until you have corrected this problem. Make sure you’re hips are shifting back and your torso leans forward slightly rather than squatting straight down.

Heels lifting is usually a lack of ankle mobility. If you find that your heels are coming off the ground when you squat put a 5 lbs plate underneath each heel. This will help you perform the movement correctly and allow for greater depth as you sit down into it.

Put a band around your knees if they cave inward when you squat. If you find your knees are caving inward this is often a sign of weak gluteal muscles. Always think of pushing your knees out, especially when you are at the bottom of your squat and returning back to the top.

A great way to monitor this is by putting a mini band above your knees and maintaining tension in the band during the entire squatting pattern. If you lose the tension your glutes are not doing their job.

Use a box or bench to gauge depth if you find your range of motion is limited. Often people are unable to perform the full depth of a squat because of tightness in the hip flexors, hamstrings, low back, and or ankles. It can also be caused by weak glutes. 

A good way to gauge your depth is to use a box or bench in the gym to squat down toward. Start seated to make sure the bench is in the proper place with all your squatting cues. Stand up and then sit back down to the bench, pause, and return to the top.

You can incorporate hip and hamstring stretches in your routine as well as more specific glute exercises like deadlifts and bridges.

I hope these tips have helped. Give them a try and let me know how they go.