Category Archives: Fitness

the #1 piece of fitness advice all moms with young kids need to know

Ok mamas listen up. Whether you have a 6 month old, a 5 year old or any combination and more (bless you) there is one piece of fitness advice I think it is essential you know.

Something isn’t nothing when it comes to fitness and exercise. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Consistency and finding the time to exercise is one of the biggest struggles I hear from the moms I work with and the moms I know, especially those with young kids.

I totally get how exercise becomes harder as a mom. I had this feeling it would be but until I was smack dab in the middle of it I couldn’t truly understand how much less time, energy, and motivation I have. I didn’t get how I would have to plan workouts around nursing boobs or nap time or navigate with a sick baby and a million other things I could be doing.

The other day someone told me that exercise is easier for moms because we are at home with the kids, have more structure to ours days and are more motivated to get it in for our kids. Ok, one no. Two, no. And three, not really. If I find that superhero power I will share it with you but in the meantime check out what I have to say.

Prior to having kids you may have enjoyed long runs or CrossFit classes where you were able to hang out and socialize after or hour long yoga classes but unless you have a ton of help and someone to watch your kids whenever it just won’t be the case.

I know it might feel frustrating that you don’t have the time for yourself or you start to mourn the exercise you use to do or maybe the body you use to have.

But it is going to be ok. This is a season in your life and this season will pass.

What I don’t want for you is to give up until your kids are older. You are too important to do that.

I want you to start now, even if it isn’t ideal, even if the workouts are short. You body and mind will thank you and you will show up as a better participant in your own life for yourself and for others.

Here is how to start.

  • Give yourself permission to let go of how you think it should be and focus on what it is.
  • Start with 5-15 minute workouts 3 times a week.
  • Focus on accomplishment of completing a workout, not the outcome of weight loss or body change.

I know eventually you want to get back to longer workouts and yes it is ideal to workout longer lets say 20-50 minutes 3-4 times week. These short workouts are not going to be the golden ticket to body change but here is why at the same time they are.

They are going to get you into a routine that you can sustain and once you do that you can start to build on that time and frequency. In my momME fit coaching club I had a mama who had been having a hard time not working out tell me that there was something about the shortness of these works that mentally made her feel like she could do them. I love this so much.

Because in the middle of a crazy day you look if you look at trying to add a 60 minute workout into your schedule you may be quick to brush if off. But if you look at a 5 minute workout it probably feels so much more doable.

I will speak from personal experience there have been days I feel so unmotivated and not like myself that I could cry. But if I just drag my booty to those dumbbells sitting under the pile of toys on the living room floor and get my heart rate up and my body moving for 10 minutes I feel so much better. I feel like a refreshed mama and woman, even if just temporarily, ha!

Remember your schedule is never going to be less busy or maybe even less stressful during this time. Kids will get sick, your babysitter will back out, a school function will pop up, you will get terrible sleep so if you are waiting for the perfect stop-ed-meds, it just won’t happen.

It is about all or nothing – it is about finding a way to make it work for you.

3 huge mistakes almost everyone makes when trying to lose weight

There is one major problem with the amount of health, diet, food, and fitness information out there. It is not working. Long term. Ironically conventional wisdom, common advice, and diets are keeping you struggling.  


If it were as simple as following a meal plan and exercising more, no one would be seeking advice. You can google 7 day meal plan right now, have the answers to what to eat and be well on your way to success. 

I get it. We all do it.

I personally bought my clean eating cookbook in 2006. Made my steamed brown rice, vegetables and chicken, and measured and ate the recommended portions down to the ounce. Packed my meals for out the day. Would go, go, go, and eat at the recommended times even though I wasn’t hungry or maybe craving something else. 

I would reluctantly walk through the door after a long day of work, lace up tennis shoes and miserably do a 3 mile run.

I would be starving after my bland dinner and have just a few bites of leftovers. And then a spoonful of peanut butter. Then I wasn’t really hungry but would have a few grapes and maybe a cup of yogurt and that cookie too.

Then I would go to bed stuffed and sad and wake up and get back to my restriction the next day because that was THE day I would change be compliant.  Even worse I fed into my own belief that this was the only way to be successful. And I kept doing it.

I had become lazy and dependent, only knowing how to eat if it was what my plan said and only focused on burning calories in my workouts.

When everything changed.

About 5 years ago I had a huge transformation (mostly mentally and emotionally) when I learned how to stop making these mistakes I am about to share with you.

There is a big disconnect with health and well being and the way we think. For me personally, when I was fighting healthy choices, and trying to control them, it only seems to turn around and control me back. It not only prevented me from living in my right body, but it prevented me from living my right life.

Have you ever felt that way?

Today I am setting the record straight so you can stop making these mistakes and start focusing on the things that actually matter and will ACTUALLY produce results.

Mistake #1 Relying too much on willpower and motivation.

There is actually research on willpower. Research that say we should stop using it as a tool for our self control

“If I just had more willpower and discipline I would do better,” I hear my clients say.

And I get it. We think willpower is an end all, be all choice, and if we are restrictive enough and just turn our back to things we want to resist, we will be successful. Did you know that willpower is not an endless source of energy and the more you rely on it, the harder it is to make the good decisions you intend to make?

Think of it like your cell phone battery. At the beginning of the day it starts strong and the more you use it, the more it drains. By the time you are home it is at 19%, barely holding on and now you have to make dinner and workout on energy that is barely holding on. No wonder it is healthy eating in the evening that people find most difficult.

The more strict and compliant you try to be, the more likely you will drain your willpower energy source and continue to struggle. Then we turn to motivation. The trouble with motivation is that is comes and goes. Those who are most successful do the work whether they are motivated or not. 

The key is to learn how to conserve your willpower, not rely on it. And to not rely on motivation, create it, even if that means showing up even when you don’t want to.

By creating positive habits and rituals in life you can learn how to make healthier decisions that are as automatic as brushing your teeth. The brain likes effortless whether those habits serve you or not.

Mistake # 2 Trying to burn more calories and eat less calories instead of building muscle and eat smarter.

Conventional wisdom says if we just eat less and less calories and exercise to burn more and more calories, the results will come. That is true to some extent except we have been conditioned to take it to extremes. Extremes that fail us over and over again. Though it has been conventional wisdom in the past we seriously need to reconsider this framework if sustainable  (and healthy) body transformation is the goal.

For me personally, I could care less if someones heart rate monitor says they burned 1,000 calories in a hike or 777 calories in a workout class.  Calories burned are not the concern. I care that you are creating a strong, functional body and not screwing up your metabolism.

I care that you go home and eat a dinner that is healthy, satisfying and does not erase all your hard work.

Here is the thing with doing too much cardio and drastically reducing your calories. Your body adapts. You drop your calories, your body adapts. You do more cardio, your body adapts. You stop seeing results, you eat less. At some point you can’t do more exercise or reduce your calories.

When you are doing excessive cardio you burn through your carb and fat stores, strip your muscles, raise your cortisol levels, and in turn slow your metabolism and stress your body. Your body responds by making it easier for you to store fat for your next long workout expenditure. With a low calorie intake at the same time you body freaks out because it starts to miss out on key nutrients and is not sure if it will have enough energy to survive. It leans toward more fat storing.

When you overindulge, which you will at some point because it is life and you can’t sustain restriction, your calories above that baseline metabolism that you now have created for yourself will be more likely to go to your fat stores.

What is the answer? Exercise smarter and move more. Eat enough to fuel your activity expenditure.

Keep your body strong and functional and your metabolism revving by lifting weights. Eat enough to fuel your body in return. We were meant to work in shorter more intense activities. We were meant to walk, to garden, to labor, to build, to climb, to play, to move. 

Mistake #3 Justifying your commitment to health

It is human nature to excuse, blame and validate our own feelings and thoughts to make ourselves feel better. We like to give away our healthy choice power even when the cost is our health. It makes us feel better if responsibility is not on us because it helps minimize our own pain. I get it. We all do it.

It is my friends birthday so I had to have cake.

I worked out so I deserved to eat a huge meal.

I had to eat that pizza because I didn’t want it to go to waste.

Here is a concept for you to try. Starting taking responsibility. For everything. In your relationships, in your job, in your daily routine and with your health! Even if you think it is someone else fault or there is a reason getting in the way, taking responsibility helps you find  solutions and you solve problems.

When you start to do this, you realize how much power, choice and opportunity you do have! Face you truth right now!

Our bodies DO NOT define our self worth but they do house these amazing souls that contribute to the world each and every day and I believe that health, wellness and fitness is a catalyst to so much more.

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.

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

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

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

“No doctor ever told me anything about that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t do what you have always done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Core work and exercise selection must change.

This encompasses every single point I have made above.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How I did less cardio and got better results

Quick disclaimer:

I hesitated sharing these pictures because at the time I was really dissatisfied with my “before” picture but looking back I feel I looked just fine.

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Back in 2011 I received the best piece of fitness/health advice I could have only wished for in my earlier years and that was to do less cardio and lift more weights.

Now let me be clear. I am not trying to villanize cardio or imply that it is useless or has no benefits. It has many benefits for cardiovascular health, endurance and mood enhancement but if body change or weight loss is your goal I stand firmly behind the idea that there are more effective and efficient avenues that will lead to better results and stronger bodies.

You see, back in 2011 I was running 3-5 miles up to 5 times a week. Or trying to anyways. I was miserable with it to be quite honest. It hurt my back and my hip. It made me feel bloated and puffy. It shot my appetite and cravings through the roof and I didn’t enjoy it one bit.

BUT I had this irrational fear that if I didn’t run for that long and didn’t get my heart rate up for that long and if I didn’t burn 400-500 calories on a run I would gain 20 lbs and not fit into my jeans. At the same time I would come home and try to resist my out of control appetite only to eat more than I cared too and wake up the next day to run it all off. And so the cycle continued.

You know how they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? This was it.

So when I got this piece of advice to focus strictly on weight lifting I begged and pleaded for at least a day of swimming. Like somehow I needed permission, and that one day of cardio, to be able to move forward with this plan.

To me this whole scenario is ironic. We gets attached to notions of more is better, burn more calories, get better results. We fail to look at things like the health of our metabolisms, the effect hormones have on our body and if what we are doing is actually working. We get safe in our routines and comfort zones even when it may not be our best option.

At the time I was secretly terrified yet intrigued by this no cardio proposal. Without knowing, it was the beginning that changed everything for me with the way I currently think about eating and exercise. So instead of just telling you to choose more effective and efficient exercise or just telling you to do less cardio let’s break it down.

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Less cardio, more weights. I always pay attention to my nutrition, just to be clear, focusing on nutritious choices and portion control as often as possible. I also want to clarify that is though that the tan is real on the 1st two pictures. From swimming at the time. 🙂

What is effective, efficient exercise?

In my book effective essentially means the exercise you are doing is getting you the results you want. Efficient means you are getting that exercise done in what I sometimes refer to as the minimal effective dose.

You DO have to put in the work but not always in the amount of time you think. Some workouts claim you get results on 7 minutes a day or 5 minute bouts during the, and while I won’t argue that can benefit you in someway, you need at least a short time block to dedicate to your workout to challenge your body enough to get results.

If body composition or fat loss is your goal the more effective way to get results is through weight training. By creating this kinda of stimulus for your muscles you will impact your hormones and metabolism in a positive way, the kind of way that reshapes the body, and will build a strong, well-functioning body for years to come.

Your time is probably spread thin as it is so feel some relief in knowing that you don’t need hours a day to get results. A well-designed weight workout can be done in under 40 minutes and I know many people who have gotten results on close to 30 minutes a few times a week.

Super Simple Solution:

Ask yourself. Am I getting the results I am seeking?

Does it feel doable to fit into myself lifestyle on a regular basis?

If you answer no, start by adding 3, 30-40 minute weight sessions a week. Choose weight heavy enough that you feel challenged by 10-12 reps.

But I enjoy my cardio!!

If what you are doing is working for you, keep doing it.

Through, I know several runners who love running but don’ t get results. I know several people who love dance class but are still unsatisfied with their bodies. Cardio itself is not the problem, it is the way it is used.

I like hiking and swimming but I don’t do it with a calorie tracker in hand and I don’t feel scared or anxious if I don’t do it like I use to. I don’t use it to burn off food or choose it over other valuable parts of my day.

Like I said above, cardiovascular training is great for the heart, lungs and can be a mood booster so by all means add it in but not with the expectations that it is going to be your magic bullet to weight loss.

The effects of the hormones produced when weight training are necessary to add muscle and burn fat. When we neglect weight training and overwork our bodies through excess cardio, not only can we be prone to more injuries and increased appetite, we can also raise cortisol levels (our stress hormones) which can affect our sleep, appetite, mood and well being.

Cortisol is not inherently bad as we need it to help break down our fats, proteins, and carbs, but when elevated for too long ( steady state cardio, over training, life stress) it can have detrimental effects.

Super Simple Solution:

Prioritize 3 weight training sessions a week and then if you have more time add enjoyable cardio and movement throughout the week.

Consider the effect of exercise on your appetite

Some research shows that moderate intensity exercise may have an increase on your appetite and hunger levels while shorter more intense exercise ( metabolic resistance/weight training, interval training) may decrease your appetite. Low intensity exercise like gentle yoga or walking seems to have a neutral effect.

While this is always different for everyone start to pay attention to whether this may be true for you. Did that marathon training boost your appetite?  Does a couple hours of cardio make you more hungry? Are you overcompensating with food after workouts and negating the effects of exercise all together?

I know I sure did! I would do my 4 miles of running, come home and eat my 400 calories back and more within an hour. Looking back I would have been better off not doing that miserable workout at all.

Super Simple Solution:

Pay attention to how you feel after different types of exercise. Start to experiment to see what workouts for you.

So what happened when I started to do less cardio?

I focused solely on weight training first at least 4 days a week. I did one day of swimming because I liked it. Over time I started to experiment with different types of workouts like CrossFit or similar metabolic conditioning workouts with weights, shorter more intense cardio sessions, and relinquishing the need to rely on cardio.

I had better control over my appetite, I enjoyed my workouts more, and I started to fit into my clothes better. I became less obsessed with the idea that I had to do more, just to get more. If find yourself caught in this cardio cycle give these super simple solutions a try and trust the process along the way.