Author Archives: fitwithadele

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. It is consistency.

How do you use it? You quit blaming, talking, thinking, contemplating, and searching and start *taking action* by implementing 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. More often than not it is doing the work without seeing the results for weeks, months, or years. Now that is commitment.

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. I

It is not that what you are doing isn’t working, it is just you have not allowed enough time to pass to see the results. 

Where you can start?

This is super interesting. Can you relate?

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. We stop at survival. We stop where it is comfortable. 

In The Slight Edge Olsen suggests that humans are comfortable in survival mode and waiver back and forth between survival and failure instead of rising above and 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.

Let’s apply this to weight loss. It can look like this. We push ourselves in our workouts but not too much.

We lose 10 lbs and that feels good enough even though our goal is 20.

We eat well for a week and then revert back to our old ways.

Basically we commit but only until it becomes to uncomfortable.  Then we justify our choices to defend our actions.

I don’t have time. It is hard. I don’t have any support.

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.”

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.

4 tips to help moms with recovery and exercise postpartum

Just 4 years ago I had a completely different perspective on what postnatal training consisted of and how I would train myself and clients.

If you would have spoken to me then I probably would have told you that I would train the same right up until I had the baby and jump right back in it at the 6 week mark after I received clearance from my doctor.

I also had trained clients in the past in a way that I would not currently do so.

It makes me grimace a little but when you know better, you do better. And that is what I am doing now.

Be aware of pelvic floor dysfunction and what options you have.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction is not discussed nearly as often as it should be. In fact, I did not even receive one mention of any of the following to be on the lookout for during my pregnancy or after from and Doctor or medical professional.

PFD can act in many different ways such such as  Pelvic Organ Prolapse, Incontinence, and can lead to issues like pelvic, low back, and hip pain or make conditions like Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) worse.

These are all conditions that many moms deal with that are not often addressed. They are very common but do not have to be the new normal. Meaning you do not have to live with these conditions and symptoms.

There are more options such as getting a referral or seeking a women’s health physical therapist. We get therapy if we have a knee or shoulder surgery why not get therapy when we have a baby?

I am tired of hearing women say, “Why didn’t I know this?”

“Why wasn’t I aware of this?”

“No one told me.”

Ease back into exercise intensity and get back to basics.

Again in regards to having a surgery. If you had a knee surgery would you be told not to do anything for 6 weeks and then resume normal activity at the 6 week mark? No, you wouldn’t. You would start with physical therapy and then ease back into activity over months.

Why in the world is this different after giving birth?

The 6 weeks clearance given by doctors doesn’t mean women can’t ease back into activity sooner but it also doesn’t mean they should go full force at 6 weeks. Think of the return to exercise as a progression. Start slow and build upon month after month.

It might look something like this.

1-2 weeks postpartum: Begin gentle stretching, work on breathing and alignment.

2-3 weeks postpartum: Slow, short walks (5-10 minutes), pelvic floor connection with breath and alignment with exercises like bridges and clams.

3-4 weeks postpartum: Continue all the above. Add squats and split squats with no weight if appropriate.

4-12 weeks postpartum:  Walk longer. Start basic postnatal strength program if appropriate, 1-2 days a week.

What will determine how quickly a women progresses? Everything from hormonal health, to how she is feeling physically, mentally, to how much sleep she is getting to her stress levels, to how much support she has around her.

Overall I believe if stress is high in any of these areas, exercise intensity should be lower.

Understand the demands of motherhood on the body (stress, nursing, lack of sleep).

The demands of motherhood on the body are very high, physically and emotionally.

It is a very physical job, even with a little baby, you are holding, swaying, feeding and picking up and putting down constantly.

It can also be highly emotional and if a client is not managing her daily life well or does not have a strong support system, exercise maybe be stress inducing instead of stress relieving.

Chances are that mom is not getting all that much sleep and spending a great part of their day in awkward positions whether holding, nursing, or caring for baby.

These are all factors to consider when training a mom who is early postpartum. The answer is not to kick her butt in a workout the first day back, or several months after that for that matter.

It is important no matter the where you fall in the support system (trainer, partner) to be compassionate, understanding, and to take the full picture into consideration.

Whether training a client or yourself ask yourself the following questions.

What is the need for the specific exercise?

Is the exercise supportive of pelvic floor health? Are the core and pelvic floor being taken into consideration.

Is the training supportive of a healthy, sustainable mindset?

How is mom’s sleeping and eating habits?

Is she breastfeeding?

These are all factors to consider.

Change the conversation.

One of the best things I think we can do for moms is to be a part in changing the conversation around “body back” messaging post baby, reducing the urgency to return to a certain weight or look a certain way.

It is actually ok to like like you had baby because you did.

Postpartum bodies may be bigger for awhile and that is 100% fine and normal. They may carry more fat. This is not necessarily bad. Let yourself be postpartum. Let your body do what it needs to do to recover from 9 months of pregnancy and bringing a child into the world.

I invite everyone to change the conversation around pre and post natal bodies, and all bodies for that matter.

We can make less comments about bodies and more inquires about how mom is doing.  We can make less judgements.

We can exercise to feel strong physically and be strong emotionally not just to have smaller bodies.

We can talk about what we love about our bodies even it that is our squishy bellies that just housed a baby or the extra meat on our thighs that came about from pregnancy.

Let’s start to change the conversation: you, me, everyone.

10 quick tips to navigate any gym with confidence

Back in 2001 I walked into a gym intimidated as anyone could be for essentially my first “real” training session and started working with a trainer named Jack.

 
He was the epitome of a bodybuilder from the loose fitting Golds Gym tank to the beach blonde hair to the tan. I told him I needed to work on power cleans and sprints for volleyball season and he took me through a body part split routine. Regardless I learned a lot.  
Looking back, I remember struggling with the 10 pound dumbbells for a shoulder press. Fifteen years later I am rocking the 20’s for shoulder presses and have built some serious gym confidence though it didn’t always feel that way EVEN the first few years as a personal trainer myself.
Without saying a word about confidence Jack taught me a lot about weight training and walking through a gym like you owned it.

I know in the beginning without Jack, I felt a little intimated, overwhelmed, unsure about what to do, or ridiculous if I couldn’t figure out a machine.

I kept my distance from areas that were populated more by males or bodybuilders. I would walk straight to machines or areas I felt comfortable even if it wasn’t challenging me as much.

Today I want to share with you 10 quick tips to help navigate the weights sections at any gym, including etiquette, what to do’s and the how-to’s of building a better workout so you exude confidence and get in better shape even when you might feel a little out of place. I know I sure did for awhile.

Ask if you are unsure. Personal trainers and gym staff are there for a reason. If you are unsure if a space is available for general use, are wondering where you can stretch, are not sure how to sure how to use a cardio equipment or machine, just ask. Knowledge builds confidence even in little bits. And sometimes just knowing how to use a machine or where to rack the weights makes all the difference. I still go into unfamiliar gyms and certain pieces of equipment perplex me. There is always something else you can do.

Clean up after yourself. Just as you would at home clean up after yourself, same goes in the gym. It is courteous and respectful to other gym goers, though you will notice many do not follow this advice. Put mat or exercise balls away. Put the free weights back on their rack and if a machine requires you to add plates of weight, be sure to return them to their proper storage spaces.

Be aware of your space. Even if you are not using a piece of equipment but perhaps doing an exercise by it, be sure to give that machine, bench or free weights section enough space so other gym goers can access the equipment. If you are unsure just imagine how close you would want someone working out to you and then decide from there. Also, if someone is invading your personal space it is ok to politely ask them to move a couple feet.

Don’t be afraid of the free weights section. Sometimes machines feel safe and comfortable because there are minimal adjustments and it may feel intimidating to jump into the free weight section maybe because you are not quite sure what to do or because you are only grabbing the 10 pound weights. Who cares? It doesn’t matter how much weight you are lifting to start, it matters that you are there breaking out of your comfort zone. You belong in that space as much as anyone else and there are plenty of great exercises to choose from. Feel free to take those weights to other parts of the gym to use, just be sure to return them.

What to do with those benches? Often the benches by the free weight section are designed to be flat or at an incline depending on the exercise. They may adjust differently at different gyms and for certain exercises. Try not to use the benches as a place to set your water bottle or towel if you are not using it but doing an exercise next to it. For example if you are doing bicep curls give an appropriate amount of space so others can use it.

Exercises you can perform on benches include dumbbell bench press, incline press, shoulder press, dumbbell row, just to name a few.

Sharing equipment. It is perfectly fine to ask someone to share equipment, mostly for easy to adjust machines, especially if you notice someone on it for an extended period of time. Simply ask if you can jump in between sets and most people have no problem with it. Be sure to adjust to your correct weight and wipe it down quickly if you notice that person is extra sweaty or if you are extra sweaty. Typically if you see someone with really heavy weight on a bar it is probably best not to ask as it will take too much time to adjust and switch the weight.

As for saving equipment be aware of saving two pieces of equipment while working back and forth in between sets if you notice someone hovering like they might want to use it. Make a offer to share.

Squat racks. Squat racks are areas that are designed for people to do pull-ups and heavy lifts, like squats, where they actually need the rack to load and unload the weight. If you are starting with very light weight you may want to use another straight bar that many gyms have available. Once your weight increase above 40 head on over to the rack where the bar is 45 pounds. It doesn’t matter if you are not lifting heavy weight but don’t do exercises in there like bicep curls, stretches or exercises that you can do in other places. Many gyms only have a couple racks and are precious to those who want to use them.

How to select exercises. If you are looking to get the most out of your workout choose exercises that are multi-joint exercises, meaning they are working multiple muscle groups across more than one joint. For example, a shoulder press is working from your elbow and shoulder joint. A squat is working from you hip and knee joint.

These exercises target multiple muscles groups and you will get more out of these movements, then say bicep curls and tricep presses. These are fine to do but my advice would be to save them until the end as a bonus circuit after you have finished the bulk of the workout.

Also to keep balance in the body and not overdo one particular group, use the following guidelines. Pick one exercise from each category.

Upper body push – Chest Presses, Incline Presses, Shoulder Presses

Lower body bilateral – Squats, deadlifts

Upper body pull – Rows, Pulldowns, Pull-ups

Lower single leg stance – Step-ups, Lunges

A workout could look like this:

3×12 Superset

Dumbbell Bench Press, Squat

Lat Pulldown, Reverse Lunge

When you should go up in weight. Sometimes it is confusing to know when you should go up in weight though a general easy to use guideline is this for a set of 10-12 reps. If you get to 12 and you feel like you can do 5 more it is too light. If you only get to 6 or 8 it is too heavy for this particular workout. If you go up in weight and can only make 9 reps, keep shooting for 9 reps until you can do 10-12.

You belong there as much as anyone else. Remember there is no rule for how fit you have to be to use the weight room. Walk into any weight room and own it like you belong there, because you do. Sure you may have questions but if confidence is keeping you back, all you have to do is believe in yourself and others will follow suit.

exercise considerations for moms early postpartum

Once you are postpartum you are always postpartum and the idea that postpartum is just the first few weeks or months is a disservice to us all. 

There are an increasing number of legitimate resources (will link a few below) to help moms recover post baby that have more to do than simply dropping the weight and getting back to their pre baby body.

It is important to consider restoring function of the pelvic floor, regaining strength, and helping moms return to everyday activities pain and symptom free.

Don’t think that just because you are not still in the early postpartum stages that it is too late to work fitness and activity back into your routine.

What about the mom 8 months post baby having back pain or feeling like she has zero core strength and stability?

What bout the mom 1 year post baby leaking on her runs?

This may be common, but this is not normal. This does not have to be the new normal.

I hope this piece will help all mamas return to fitness, whether they recently delivered or have a 4 year old, in a slow and sane path without putting so much pressure on themselves to return to a certain look or a certain type of exercise immediately.

Exercise considerations for moms post baby.

6 – week Dr. clearance

The 6 week clearance from our doctors is a misconception that the visit indicates that we can return to the exact activity (duration and intensity) that we were doing pre pregnancy.
I mean we can, but is that the smartest, most effective or sane way for moms to regain strength? Just because you can do something does it mean you should?
If you went in for a surgery you would have a progressive routine that would return you back to activity. You wouldn’t just sit around for 6 weeks and then go for a a run the next day.
Same for post baby. Just because you have not hit the 6 week mark doesn’t mean you can’t do a few gentle exercises to restore pelvic floor, core, and overall strength and just because you hit the 6 week mark doesn’t mean it is a good idea to go back to CrossFit full force.
There should be progressions to  return to activity. Keep in mind that returning to fitness slowly will get your stronger and back to your goal quicker in the long run.

 Consider function over aesthetics.

There is more to consider than just losing baby weight or fat. It took you 9 months to grow a baby and I it could take 9 months plus to return to where you were before. Consider that you body may be different now too and that is ok.
It is easy to get caught up in just losing the baby weight but like I  mentioned above it is important to restore the health of your body to make sure it is functioning properly and supporting you in ways it needs to, not only if you want to be active but for motherhood itself.
If you have issues with your body, aches, pains or things that just feel off, go see a women’s health/pelvic floor physical therapist and don’t let stop-baldness tell you that its just normal and the way it is now.

Start small but think big.

The best way to return to activity is to start small.
Build your foundation first. I linked a series of videos below from Physical Therapist Julie Wiebe
on breathing, alignment and pelvic floor health as this is not talked about post baby but so essential to women’s recovery.
Ease back into exercise by incorporating these principals. And no matter you choice of activity you will want to gradually build strength. I chose exercises like clams,bridges, squats, and band pulls early postpartum and once I felt stronger progressed by adding reps or weight.
Consider exercise selection and how you perform the movement.
Are high impact exercises like running and jumping best to start with?
Will full push ups put to much pressure on the abdomen?
Is alignment considered in overhead movements like shoulder presses and pull ups?
Are crunches the most effective exercise for core strength or are they being performed because
the misconception is they will flatten the stomach?
What is the purpose of the exercise you are doing?

Pay attention to other factors.

 
Start to re frame the way you think about exercise and your workouts.
Are your expectations that they should be a certain amount of time or a certain level of intensity?
How is your diet? Are you eating enough?
Are you nursing?
Are you sleeping average or terribly?
Do you have a strong support system to support your return to activity?
Who do you follow on social media and how are they subconsciously causing you to put pressure on yourself to achieve a certain look?
Do you compare yourself to other women and their body and how they are working out?
Start to think about how you can reframe your thoughts around your body, exercise, and where you are are postpartum. And check out the info below.
Here are some great resources from Julie Wiebe on how to regain core strength and pelvic floor function.

Unconventional health and fitness tips to help you stress less

Take everything you think you know about diet and exercise and ignore it for just a moment. Can you do that?

Forget about calories. Forget about diets. Forget about trends. Forget about good and bad foods. Forget about healthy fats and lean proteins. Forget about the best method of exercise to get results that you read about yesterday. Or how many minutes you need to work. Or what exercises are supposedly the best for a flat stomach. Erase it all for just a moment.

What if you could just take a moment here to start with a clean slate, a fresh start? No matter what choices you have been making with food, no matter if you have or have not been getting your workouts in, you can always start fresh, right here, right now. Not tomorrow or when you are less busy, but now.

Old habits are rooted deep within us. And in order to break those habits we have to relearn ways of eating, exercising, and most importantly thinking about these components all together.

Regained weight, failed attempts at goals, binging on your last meal, missed workouts, messing up yet again, are all self perceived failures that are actually your own unique collection of lessons and information that you can pull and learn from.

The key is you have to change something, anything. Yet as humans we are kind of funny. We tend to fall into old habits and do the same thing over and over and expect the outcome to be different.

In the eating and exercise world it looks like this.

Trying a super strict diet. Falling off plan. Not caring. Eating whatever, whenever. Get fed up with body and choices. Try a strict diet again.

Thinking you have to do more and more with exercise and workout everyday only to fall off the wagon, take a break for weeks or months and then start again trying to do more and more exercise.

Researching more and more information about diet plans and exercise but never actually doing them.

Losing and gaining the same 10 plus pounds over and over again.

Feeling gross about our food choices, then just eating more pizza.

Feeling gross about our bodies and how they feel but never doing anything about it.

Talking about all the weight you need to lose but never following through.

These are all invaluable lessons (in disguise because we learn what doesn’t work) but we will never learn if we never have the courage to step outside what we are currently doing, and do something different.

But where do we start? How do we do something different when the same crappy eating and exercise tactics are pushed in our face day in and day out?

Today I want to share with you my favorite pieces of unconventional advice that I hope will broaden your perspective around eating and exercise and help you break the cycle you are currently in, if you are feeling stuck, feeling unmotivated or feel like you have tried everything.

Expose yourself to the food you fear.

Or the food that you think you shouldn’t eat. Think about it. What happens when I tell you not to think about a purple giraffe?

You think about a purple giraffe. What happens when you tell yourself to not eat chocolate? You probably think about eating chocolate.

This isn’t just some odd coincidence, there is actually a term for it in psychology called The Ironic Rebound which essentially says that the more you push away a though, the more likely you are to think about.

Alternatively, giving yourself permission to think a certain thought, or think about a certain food, reduces your chances of acting on it.

This is part of the many reasons of why diets are so ineffective from a psychological standpoint. When we forbid or remove certain foods from our diets, chances are we crave and want them more.

So the solution I propose is to allow yourself to be exposed to the off limit foods you have set for yourself. Things like bacon, butter, chocolate, bread, etc. There is a caveat though and that is portion control.

Allow yourself to have a small piece of something, lets say a peanut butter cup or a piece of bacon, and practice. Practice like you would other skills in life and practice again even if you end up overeating one day.

I use to forbid chocolate (my favorite indulgence) and now I eat 1-2 pieces a day and never overdo it. And when the holidays come around with all the pretty candies I could care less. I actually turned down chocolate the other day when it years past I wouldn’t have been able to say no because I had felt so deprived from it.

Do something and do something you like (or tolerate).

For exercise there are certain methods that will deliver better results than others and if you ask me, weight lifting is your golden ticket above everything else. Any person who crosses my path with exercise questions will get the run down of the benefits of resistance training.

I am a firm believer, however, that if you can’t dig deep into your soul to find a way to enjoy it, you won’t stick with it. If you hate all movement find something you can tolerate a few times a week. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Getting off you bum and being active whether dancing, walking, swimming, yoga, even gardening is moving and moving is better than sitting.

If you enjoy it and you feel happy and healthy with your body, keep doing it. If not explore other options.

Don’t count (minutes, macros, calories).

What if you went through a day and didn’t count anything? The time you worked out. The calories you ate. The macronutrients you consumed. Sure it works for some people, but again, the point of this whole post, if what you are doing is not working, try something different.

I had a new client ask me if a half hour session was even worth it. I told her that 30 minutes of pushing yourself is better than 120 minutes of not. Counting the time on the clock does not always indicate a better workout.

Speaking of counting. Counting calories is necessarily accurate is not always that accurate.

Precision Nutrition shares some great insight on an article I will link here about why. Calories on food labels are averages not exacts and can often be higher or lower. We don’t always absorb all calories the same. The calorie load can be change by how you cook your food. We all absorb calories differently. And honestly, we are not all so great with portion size. Whenever I measure out a cup of pasta it makes me sad and I usually add a little bit more and call it a freebie in my head.

Identify your biggest struggle.

Again, erase all the rules about food and start by identifying your biggest challenge. What gets in the way of doing what you know you need to do?

Do you skip meals during the day and overeat at night? Focus on starting your day with breakfast and having go to snacks during the day.

Is it hard for you to get up in the morning for your workout because of your Netflix marathon the night before? Limit yourself to one episode.

Do you make poor choices at home because you stock your cupboards with foods that don’t make you feel great? Make a grocery list of healthy choices.

Focus on that one set back alone before changing everything all at once. Once you have conquered that challenge you can then move on to your next obstacle.

You don’t need to try to do everything perfectly, just a couple things really well.

This is not your normal advice but I hope it has give you a greater perspective than the diets, rules, and cookie cutter advice you get everyday.

Healthy and Convenient Grocery Shopping Guide

 

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 eye-diseases-info.

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How I returned to exercise 0-5 months post baby

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 understand those goals and desires but also want to share that 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.

2 weeks – 1 month 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.

2 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 20 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 terrible 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.

During this time I started to add 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 and that was my only form of 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.

The Hiearchy of Nap time Productivity

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. 😉

Diastasis Recti: What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know


I remember talking with a fellow trainer friend late in our pregnancies about 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 initially 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.

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, typically you 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. It will very from person to person and the absolute best thing you can do is to see a women’s health physical therapist during and after pregnancy, especially if you are experiencing any pain or symptoms. 

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.

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.

The latest research shows that is not AS much about choosing the perfect exercises but the approach you take, focusing on connecting your breath to your pelvic floor to the particular movement.

During pregnancy you can 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, side lying clams, side steps with the mini band.

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.

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.

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.