You have likely tried diets and exercise programs that haven't worked well for you. Maybe initially you lost some poundage, but not long after you put it all back on; maybe even more than what you started with. This is defeating and makes it easy to tune out preaching professionals concerning healthy lifestyle choices.
What if you were trying to cram a square into a round hole? What if it didn't work because you didn't truly understand what was best for YOUR body? It is easy, and admittedly tempting, to jump on the latest and greatest diet/fitness fad wagon. While they may produce results for some, it may not work for others and worse, might cause health issues.
Additionally, it is exciting to dive into something that might make you feel and look amazing but many times we take on WAY TOO MUCH all at one time. It is almost as if we have it in our heads that losing weight and improving fitness is achieved much like ripping off a band-aid. We want it so badly to be one-n-done but it doesn't work that way.
Here's the thing though, while that last statement might sound like bad news, it doesn't mean that your health and fitness approach needs to be this arduous, grueling torture you must put yourself through. I believe it is a disservice to promote popular crash diets and extreme fitness programs to the general public as a solution to their health and fitness concerns. You can and should take a day by day approach to improving your health and fitness without doing things you cannot or do not want to do. If the one size fits all method hasn't worked for you, it is worth exploring and experimenting with other tactics to find what does.
Finding a good coach who listens and takes into account what your specific needs and lifestyle values are is imperative for YOUR success. A good coach is someone who is understanding and designs your specific program around you. The more specific your program is to you, the more success you will reap. This is primarily why blanket meal plans and extreme fitness protocols don't work; they have nothing to do with your preferences.
We, collectively, are so conditioned to believe a healthy lifestyle means punishment and withholding of what we most want. Training and nutrition coaching online makes it enjoyable, affordable, and sustainable. Training online gives you much more flexibility to exercise at a time that feels ideal for you and gives you the freedom to break up your exercise sessions throughout the day if that feels best for you. There are no cancellation fees if you need to switch up your regular exercise time. Nutrition coaching online allows you to have access to your coach so that you can check in regularly with questions or concerns. Perhaps the most fun part about online nutrition coaching is that it works around your values and doesn't ever push you into a specific diet that you will end up hating.
Mind-to-Size is very excited to announce that on December 4th, 2019, all nutrition coaching packages come with an app that you are able to download on your phone, log all of your related personal information, allows you direct and daily access to me (your coach), shows your progress, and gives you daily reminders. No more depleted energy; no more unsustainable expectations, no more hating yourself for another failed attempt.
Mind-to-Size nutrition coaching and fitness programs allow you to work at your own pace. If you want to lose weight quickly, you can. If you face lots of resistance and want to work at a slower pace, that's fine too. The point is, you will make health and fitness gains and that will leave you feeling wonderful.
The pelvic floor is a hot topic for pregnant women and women who have recently delivered but the fact is all women should understand and care about their pelvic floor. A dysfunctional pelvic floor can cause pain, discomfort, and embarrassment and can be either prevented or addressed and cured.
In the United States alone, nearly 4 million babies are born each year. Across the world, the majority of women will have children at some point in their lives. Pelvic floor dysfunction is so common that many women are left thinking that nothing can be done about it. This leaves many women suffering is silence even many years after they have had children. Although any woman may have some degree of pelvic floor dysfunction, women who have had children have higher instances of pelvic floor issues. Why is this?
To start out, we must understand what the pelvic floor is. It is a group of muscles that spans the width of the pelvis, stretching from the pubic bone to the tail bone, also attaching to the hip/sitting bones. This group of muscles provides support for organs such as, the bladder, uterus, and bowel. Functions directly impacted by these muscles are urinary control, continence, and sexual function. Interestingly, men have a pelvic floor too and can also encounter weaknesses.
A weakened pelvic floor experienced after childbirth or otherwise could mean that internal organs aren't being properly supported and may cause issues with the release of gas, feces, or urine. Everyone is able to contract the pelvic floor muscles on demand, much like bending your arm to pick something up, and therefore can be strengthened.
During pregnancy and delivery, the pelvic floor experiences more stress than typical, everyday demands. For one thing, it is supporting the weight of the growing baby and is therefore stretched and requires strength. Another factor that may determine the degree to which it has been affected is the shape and size of the individual woman carrying the baby. As we all can easily recognize, no two bodies are identical, so it comes as no surprise that circumstances of pelvic floor function depend on the shape and musculature of the individual woman, plus other, outside influencing factors.
Fitness professionals are constantly reminding pregnant women to do their kegels and practice overall strengthening exercises. This is mostly because we understand that the strength and flexibility of those muscles (including the surrounding connective tissue) directly impacts the return to normal function, as well as provides proper support during pregnancy.
Additionally, a woman carrying a heavier, larger baby will have more weight and stress placed upon those muscles throughout the entire pregnancy. Although gradual, that is a long period of time to hold a heavy weight. This, in itself, is a great incentive for pregnant women to exercise and make wise food choices during pregnancy. Dr. James Clapp illustrated in his book, Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, that women who exercise produce lighter, leaner babies.
Some other factors that influence postnatal pelvic function is the delivery process. Was the baby delivered vaginally or by c-section (women who have delivered via c-section can still have pelvic flood dysfunction)? Did the doctor use tools (such as forceps) to deliver the baby? Did any perineal tears happen? How long was the woman dilated and in labor?
As we can see, there are multiple influences that might contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction but this fact doesn't mean women have to suffer in silence. The important takeaway from all of this is, ALL WOMEN must know that there are professionals who have built their whole career around helping treat and cure this common issue. Pelvic health physiotherapists, some doctors, and fitness professionals are often great resources. Don't let anything stand in the way of you feeling great and strong!
The majority of women will end up giving birth during their lifetime. Because becoming pregnant and delivering are so common, they aren't often thought of as extraordinary experiences. The fact is though, pregnancy and delivery are unique to each woman and are a monument in the life of a woman.
There are topics surrounding pregnancy that may be uncomfortable or less exciting for new moms but knowing the facts, based on studying the anatomy and changing body of pre and postnatal women, can be a significant game changer for new moms.
Giving birth is a major physical event for a woman, not to mention the emotional and hormonal components. With this awesome experience comes challenges and changes. The extent of these challenges and changes are directly impacted by the woman's lifestyle choices and self care. After delivering your baby there is a period of recovery that should include rest and strengthening of stretched and damaged muscles and connective tissue.
If a new mom neglects caring for her body (although easily argued that she can't or doesn't have time), this can create muscle imbalances, issues with incontinence, weakness, compensation patterns, pain, and other issues.
You may be surprised to learn that once a woman has given birth to a child, she is forever considered postnatal. This is not merely to throw a label on her, but instead illustrates the physical impact having a baby plays on her physiology. It is no secret that many women feel they can't and probably won't ever have their pre-baby body back but, to me, that is laying down and surrendering to an idea that has been perpetuated through generations based on a lack of information surrounding pregnant women and recovery from child birth.
There is no doubt that a woman sacrifices a lot for her child, but her body doesn't have to be one of those things. Through strengthening exercises, good nutrition, stress management, and adequate sleep during and after pregnancy, a woman has more control over her immediate and long term recovery. Passively waiting and hoping is not an effective strategy and often can increase instances and severity of postpartum depression as well as physical complications.
Many women are unaware that they may begin doing light exercises immediately after delivering their baby. By this, I do not mean traditional gym exercises. Kegels, for instance, are exercises you can do in your hospital bed without anyone even knowing you're doing them. Increasing blood circulation to those traumatized muscles of the pelvic floor can help reduce swelling.
Slowly, you can and should increase your level of activity. With that said, if you experience pain, incontinence, bleeding, or pelvic organ prolapse, know that while common, this is not normal. The good news is that many of these symptoms can be treated and cured so speaking with a trusted professional is advised.
Women no longer have to suffer is silence. Make your postnatal physique your ideal body; one you feel great in. Maintaining your fitness throughout your pregnancy and postnatal period also is a wonderful way to prepare for any subsequent pregnancies and can help motivate you in staying the course. Knowing you have a choice is empowering and exciting for all women regardless of whether you chose to have a baby or not.
3 ways women who have struggled with unwanted weight gain can create a new experience for their baby while pregnant
Many of us struggle with staying the course when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. This could be because you believe that a diet and exercise are a punishment and isolating or because you soothe with food when life throws fireball triggers at you. No matter what you grew up thinking and believing, could you now consider that your pregnancy is an opportunity for you to question the beliefs you have and subsequently bring your new baby into a completely different and healthy way of existing?
As women, we have all been conditioned to believe certain things about our bodies and how we should act and look by our families, friends, and our culture. Some of these ideas have perhaps served you well, while others have caused you pain. Body shaming and severe criticism never does anyone a favor, so if you experienced that growing up, there is no doubt that you want to raise your child differently.
One of the most exciting parts about becoming a new mom is implementing new ideas and practices that directly and positively impact your unborn baby, you, and perhaps your entire family unit. I like to call it the 2 for 1 deal, meaning that when you are healthy and happy as a pregnant woman, your baby is sharing that same experience.
As we all know, the human gestation period lasts usually between 9 and 10 months. Science has repeatedly demonstrated, through multiple studies, that the lifestyle of the pregnant woman can and usually does impact her baby's health for the long term. The best part about this is that your actions don't have to be extreme (e.g., extreme dieting, exercise, etc.). The following 3 ways can gently steer you and your baby toward lasting healthy changes:
1.) Hold your mind in healthy possibility (as opposed to fear that your child will struggle with weight related issues). The mind influences the body so if we are focused on avoiding something, such as putting on a few extra pounds, instead of the idea that your reality has infinite potential and can be shifted at any time in the direction you desire, then that is where your focus remains and is all you will see. A subtle, yet profound shift, as the way you think will be the driver in your actions.
2.) Make daily activity a part of your health plan (always but especially when pregnant). In other words, start moving and shaking regularly; it doesn't even have to be traditional exercise (although traditional exercise is wonderful for pregnant women). If you love to dance, do it. If swimming is you thing, jump in the pool. If you love nature, take a scenic hike. Women who have gestational diabetes and/or who are overweight during their pregnancy are more likely to birth babies who will experience those same conditions. Although there are some exercises that pregnant women should avoid (e.g., boxing) because of greater risk of injury, most exercises are complementary and encouraged.
3.) Get involved with a like-minded/health conscious group with a leader who is reputable. Staying the course, especially when you have limited information, is difficult and a coach or group can offer support and information that you need in order to expand your health and that of your child. Not to mention, it can be a lot of fun when expectant moms come together, cheer each other on, and share experiences. It truly is heart warming and makes many aspects of pregnancy less scary and more exciting.
Additionally, remember fear is a part of life but often it is blown out of proportion when kept within the confines of our thinking. Challenging all scary thoughts and beliefs is part of evolving and doing so now sets a wonderful example for you and your new baby. Embrace your pregnancy by making it the most healthy through gently challenging yourself. You are in charge and you deserve to feel amazing and know that you are a great mom who is taking wonderful care of your little bundle of love.
Many moms who practice healthy eating and regular exercise while pregnant, find that they want to maintain those habits because of how it made them feel, especially because they understand how doing so expedites the recovery period after delivery. With practice and guidance, you can arrange small, yet profound ways of ensuring your baby will be happy and healthy.
You will likely experience a variety of emotions the moment you learn you are pregnant. You may have a very specific idea in your mind about what it means to be a good mom and are devoted to making that fantasy come true. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with striving to be a great parent, it is imperative that you do not sacrifice your own health and well-being in the process.
Many of us were raised to not be selfish and depending on when we were reminded of this sentiment, it has likely manipulated the way we behave and think. It is common to hear new moms say that they feel guilty leaving their child to do something nice for themselves. Here I advocate for a shift in perception, as there are advantages for both you and your new baby in doing so.
You have been directly influencing your child from the moment they were conceived. Every food you ingested, every bit of exercise you engaged in, the sleep you had and the stress you experienced are some examples of how your lifestyle impacted your baby. You will continue to shape your child once they emerge and this responsibility is monumental. You likely have a lot on your plate and possibly feel that your needs are secondary.
While all variables cannot be controlled, such as lack of sleep from a nursing baby, there are ways to get creative with your self-care routine to make it work best for you. It is also important to reframe the idea that self-care is selfish to something like, self-care allows me to set a good example of health early in my child's life.
Exercise is one of the most beneficial tasks one can engage in, especially in the prenatal and postnatal period. New moms may feel like they don't have time to regularly exercise and this is where a little creativity comes in handy. There are classes that offer new moms the opportunity to exercise with their new baby. If you don't feel ready to get out in public, there are multiple ways you can be active with your baby at home.
A couple of great ways to do this are, take a walk or jog with your baby around your neighborhood. You can start out walking and then slowly incorporate intervals by walking with short bouts of jogging/running. Additionally, you can hold your baby while doing squats and lunges and even chest and shoulder presses. As your child grows and witnesses your dedication to exercise, they will likely prioritize in the same manner. Science shows us that kids who have fit moms tend to follow in their footsteps.
Self-care likely looks different for everyone and that's ok. Some moms may really enjoy more social interaction; a local new mom meetup might be a great way to get out of the house. Others might really enjoy a massage or meditation class. The point is to be sure to not neglect yourself, or at least not entirely, and check in with your inner dialogue about whether or not the thoughts you have are an accurate reflection of your parenting skills.
Moms who show self love are sending a great message to their young while honoring themselves, thereby creating a happy and harmonious environment for the family. How can anyone be a good parent if they are constantly neglecting themselves? We must all strive to balance the areas of our lives that are calling our attention most. A better you is for sure a better parent.
I recently saw a shark on t.v. birthing her pups with ease. Not more than a minute after she delivered, she swam away, appearing not to be in any pain, nor slightly disfigured. I thought, Great Scott! What if it were that easy for humans?!
I began to ponder if all animals seemingly pooped out their young and moved on with their day as if it was all effortless. I began researching this topic and it turns out that birth isn't always a walk in the park for every animal. Hyenas for instance, give birth through an extended clitoris (a pseudopenis)-OUCH! If a baby porcupine is facing in the wrong direction in the birth canal, the quills can scratch and damage the inside of the mother. This list goes on.
Humans can endure extended periods of labor and may even experience Braxton Hicks contractions days before they actually go into labor. While it seems beyond unfair that some animals suffer with ruptured uteruses or even death, luckily many humans have access to a medical team to assist them during this magnificent experience of child birth.
While I don't know much about the anatomy of animals or what could potentially ease the pain and damage associated with delivery of their young, I do know that humans do not have to stand by idly, simply expecting and dreading the birth of their child. While there is no way to know for sure what your birthing experience will be beforehand, there are actionable steps that can and should be utilized by all pregnant women.
It has been said that only 15% of pregnant women exercise. Although this doesn't surprise me (because of many misconceptions floating around), it is upsetting to me as a professional. Multiple studies show how women who exercise throughout their pregnancy reduce time spent in labor, require less pain medication, require less labor inducing drugs, are less likely to require a C-section, and rebound much quicker than women who don't exercise throughout pregnancy. To give an example, a friend who delivered her daughter at age 35 (same friend who had visible abdominals only after 4 months postpartum), exercised throughout her entire pregnancy and was in labor for only one hour.
Exercises such as squats and lunges encourage the baby to assume ideal positioning for delivery. Women who have trained for the big event (delivery), are stronger and therefore are able to push their baby out faster, which reduces time spent in labor. Many women who haven't exercised during pregnancy sometimes suffer with continuing to look pregnant after delivery because their abdominal muscles are so stretched and weak.
Additionally, think incontinence is normal? Incontinence is very common but it is not normal. Women who exercise during pregnancy have stronger pelvic floor muscles, which helps to prevent urine from escaping during regular activities.
There are examples of situations that cannot be influenced by our healthy practices, such as a pelvic opening too small to deliver the head of the fetus. Child birth may not be easy but any action you can take to help in the process is one I would argue is totally worth it. Do yourself a favor and exercise throughout your entire pregnancy. You may find that you are thanking yourself for it on the other side.
For most of us who grew up with a mostly sedentary lifestyle, finding the motivation to get active is like trying to roll a beached whale back into the ocean; it is a monumental task and you will likely need help. The older we get, the more conditioned we become to continue doing what feels best, which usually is a whole lot of nothing.
Yes, this is nothing you haven't heard before; you need to be more active, more healthy, etc. But, what if some scientific findings made their way into your hands to convince you that pregnancy is really the most amazing time to begin a new internal dialogue about why you need to get moving? Here we go!
"A baby's time in the womb can change his or her physiology and genome. It can shape, to some extent, his or her future health and athletic hopes." said Gretchen Reynolds in her book titled, The First 20 Minutes. Wow! What a game changer. She went on to explain the findings of researchers at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. "Unborn children, it turns out, exhibit a training response, even though their mothers are seemingly doing all the work. When Dr. May examined the fetal cardiac readings, she found that fetuses whose mothers had exercised had healthier heart rhythms than those whose mothers had not worked out. And the changes persist."
While you may not be necessarily hoping your child will become an athlete, you likely do want your child to be healthy and if you know you can give them a leg up, even before they are born, who would say no to that? If you find yourself procrastinating, a good practice to being is to ask yourself, "what am I afraid of", as it has been said that procrastination indirectly points to a fear we harbor about confronting that which we are avoiding? You may fear looking like you don't know what you're doing, or that you'll do it wrong, or that you'll feel worse, etc. There are groups, forums, coaches, etc. that can help in navigating these feelings that come up and who can guide you in exercise selection and technique. This may be the exact challenge that changes your immediate family's overall health and approaching it as an opportunity makes it very exciting to work with.
When the decision has been made to become a parent, it seems like you must become selfless. You get double benefits of your time and money when you exercise while pregnant; basically two for the price of one. You might use the benefits your baby will reap to motivate you to get moving, but you also receive innumerable benefits (both vain and not). You, for instance, might be excited to learn that you may be able to minimize developing stretch marks by avoiding excessive weight gain and developing muscle to take some of the burden off the stretching skin from the growing uterus. Additionally, exercise can help alleviate swelling, varicose veins, and pain associated with pregnancy posture.
It is important to not get lost in the sauce about making everything perfect. Exercise can and should be something enjoyable. Think of exercising while pregnant as a bonding experience you are having with your little one; one that can start before life and carry on throughout childhood into adulthood.
Julia Broome is passionate about health and exercise but is most excited about educating women concerning the short and long term impact of exercise on pregnant women and their baby.