Protect Your Back: Vol 1 -Car Seat Tips

So after getting some feedback from fellow Mom’s out there I was asked to write a post on how to avoid back injuries and ways to make life a little easier while caring for your little one! Having a weak core combined with increased lifting and carrying is a recipe for disaster. Follow these tips to protect your back and not go to bed sore every night! I will post these in segments so today we will focus on getting the car seat in and out of the car.

The Car seat

So if you are like me and out and about all the time the infant car seat can be your best friend. Baby is sleeping? No worries, we will just bring her out in the car seat! I soon learned that this 30-pound back wrecking torture device is my worst enemy.

Common Mistakes

  • Mistake #1: Not engaging your core while lifting the car seat out of the car.
    • I only have one child so it is recommended to keep the car seat in the middle seat, which sucks for getting it in and out!
    • How do people most often hurt their back? I always think of a BLT sandwich, Bending, Lifting and Twisting It’s these motions that when done incorrectly (or all at the same time) can cause lower back pain and strains. Which coincidently is exactly what we do when we get the car seat out of the car!
    • How to fix this
      • Get as close to the object you are lifting as possible (in this case, the car seat). By putting one leg into the vehicle you can get your center of mass closer and maintain a straight back while engaging your core in order to lift the seat out of the car.
      • Do this in 2 steps. Slow down; think about what you are doing. Lift the car seat out of the base, place on the seat, then get it out of the car, take a deep breath and engage your core before lifting.
      • Don’t twist and swing the seat over your side. Remember a car seat plus baby is almost 30 pounds, if not more! You would never do a motion like this with a 30 lb. weight at the gym would you?
      • If you have a low vehicle, make sure to squat down and lift the seat with both arms as if it is a big medicine ball. This will not only save your back but also your shoulders!
  • back safety getting car seat out of car
    Get as close to the object as possible, put one leg in vehicle if you can and keep a flat back. Use your whole body rather than just your arms.
    back safety getting car seat out of car
    Keep a flat back, engage your core and stick your butt out slightly!
    back safety infant car seat
    Hold object as close to you as possible, use both hands, stand up tall, and keep your core muscles engaged!
    • Mistake #2: Carrying the car seat on one side of your body.
      • Come on, we all know this MUST be bad for us but when we are in a rush we do it anyway. Not only is this extremely hard on your spine and can cause muscular imbalances and strains, it is also very hard on your shoulder and neck as well! (My chiropractor probably cringes when he sees women walk into his office like this)
      • How to fix this
        • 1) Avoid carrying the car seat whenever possible. If you have a stroller that it can easily clip into make sure to use it!
        • 2) When you must carry the car seat (into a restaurant, short distances) try carrying it in front of you with both arms. Be sure to stand up tall and keep your core tight! I understand this may look silly and feel slightly awkward but by centering the weight along your midline you will be able to carry the seat with your whole body and core strength  (that you have diligently been working on by doing the exercises in my previous blog here) as opposed to mainly your shoulders, arms and back muscles.

 

how not to carry a car seat
This is what we all do when carrying the car seat. Try to avoid this at all costs!

Try these tips today and let me know how it feels! In my next post I will review common mistakes when lifting or playing with baby.

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Weight Gain in the Workplace

Image Source 

potluck lunch

So here’s an update of where I am in terms of my ‘be as healthy as you can be’ for the month of March. It’s been 3 days and I have to say I haven’t slipped up once! Now I haven’t been as strict with my diet as I could be (yes..had myself a glass of pinot with dinner tonight), but overall not terrible. I went on a great power walk with my husband on Sunday, went to Crossfit on Monday, and went for a another walk with a girlfriend and her baby tonight.

This week I went back to work at a nursing home, just covering a vacation for a coworker. When I got home I was reflecting on how working in an office or social setting can really derail one’s healthy eating plan! Not only is a there a string of fast food places across the street, but it seems the staff is always eating or passing food around! Whether its a birthday potluck for a coworker or someone decided to bring in cookies because it’s Friday there is ALWAYS something to eat. This can make it tough for people, like myself, who are impulsive, always hungry and are too polite to say no when someone offers. So here are some tips on how to avoid gaining weight in the workplace.
– Planning and preparation is key, bring a lunch everyday with lots of healthy snacks. By snacking all day you won’t be starving when someone comes by with the box of donuts. Also by eating every 3 hours you will keep your metabolism revved which helps burn more calories.
– Pack your lunch at night while you are making dinner. This way it is not an inconvenience and you are less likely to forget in the morning because you woke up late.
– Keep a diary of everything that goes into your mouth. Even if you aren’t counting calories you are far less likely to eat that cookie if you know you have to write it down! Funny how that’s works huh.
– Use your step tracker. I mentioned in a previous post that i LOVE my fitbit. Most smart phones have their own built in step tracker. If you are an office worker make a point of taking the long way to the bathroom or copy machine. In a recent study by Thorp et al. (2014) it was shown that even just transitioning from sitting to standing every 30 minutes can significantly decrease fatigue and back pain. Maybe it’s time to convert to a standing workstation after all!?

On another note, I came across some interesting but true research while looking stuff up tonight. This article by Shoham et al (2012) studied social effects on people’s choice of activity and how this can contribute to the ‘contagion effect’ of obesity. “Network contagion” can be comprised of  3 different things,

1) social influence; 2) confounding by shared social environments of network members; and 3) social selection or homophily (“love of sameness”) on shared predisposition to engage in (un)healthy behaviors. (Shoham et al, 2014).

In their study they found that homophily and social influence are important in understanding factors contributing to adolescent obesity. I feel like this also applies to adults because doesn’t everyone want to feel like they fit in regardless of how old you are? So what’s the answer? Ditch all your overweight friends? NO!  (jeez that would be mean, and you deserve to have no friends!) The great thing is, this theory works both ways! If you live a healthy lifestyle your friends will want to as well! So next time, instead of eating those cookies on top of the office fridge bring some veggies or tasty dried fruit and let everyone feast on that. On that note, I’m going to make my lunch and go to bed early, I’m not used to having to leave the house early anymore!

In fitness and good health,

Natasha

References
Occup Environ Med. 2014 Nov;71(11):765-71. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2014-102348. Epub 2014 Aug 28.

Shoham DA, Tong L, Lamberson PJ, Auchincloss AH, Zhang J, et al. (2012) An Actor-Based Model of Social Network Influence on Adolescent Body Size, Screen Time, and Playing Sports. PLoS ONE 7(6): e39795. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039795

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March Madness Challenge

Fitness dog tongue out
Who is in?!

So I’ve decided that I am taking on my own challenge for the month of March. Although I have been working out religiously since I was 4 weeks postpartum it’s now time to step it up a notch. Here are my reasons why I feel I am ready for a more serious workout regime…

– I have been doing my core and pelvic floor exercises daily and feel that I am strong enough to stabilize while doing more complex movements and lifting heavier weights.

– I am no longer out of breath doing simple exercises! I’m not sure about everyone else but that first month back I was seriously winded everytime I did any sort of cardio.

– I am within 5 pounds of my target weight, this means that I can now focus on building muscle rather than losing weight. I think I have mentioned before that I like to track my progress by how I look rather than what I weigh since it’s not a very indicator of health, but I still like to be in the 135-145 range, which is good for my height (5’9″)

– My baby is 4 months old now! That means that she sleeps better at night, and we can go out more during the day. I know this isn’t the case for everyone but we are getting on a better schedule is key to developing a good workout routine.

– I have less and less relaxin in my system, meaning that my ligaments and joints are more stable which puts me at a lower risk of injury. Read my post here for more information on relaxin!

– This is pretty vain but we only have a few months until summer and I want to be back feeling great in my bathing suit!

So what does this mean? My goal is to lose inches, particularly in my hips and waist. I would like to gain muscle and decrease fat, WITHOUT harsh dieting, but rather healthy eating.  I have to be very careful because dieting severely affects my milk supply. I want to continue working out but try to incorporate some sort of physical activity every single day, including rest days. This doesn’t mean go hard at the gym everyday, as everyone’s body needs sufficient rest, but just overall be more active in terms of walking places or doing things around the home. I also am going to introduce some variety into my workouts, Crossfit is awesome BUT because of the intense  strain on your muscles it’s always best to balance this out with yoga, pilates, barre class, yoga, and at home body weight exercises and stretching.

I will be  tracking my progress with pictures and measurements. If you are postpartum or simply want to improve your fitness please think about joining me on this month long challenge! Just contact me now! I will help you by providing workout routines, meal plans, and tips and check-ins to help you stick with it! If you can do this for the month of March, thats 31 days towards a healthier lifestyle and a healthier you.

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Core Exercise of the Day

This has been a crazy week! The baby has been super fussy, doesn’t want to eat, but wants to be held all day, so I have been a little overwhelmed with that and haven’t had much time to get on the computer! I have a few great articles in my draft folder right now, so I promise I will get those finished at some point! In the meantime I decided that I am going to start posting a few exercises each week that are appropriate for women postpartum or just those that need to increase their overall strength to prevent injuries! This week’s theme is…you guessed it, CORE strength!

DEAD BUG
1) Lying flat on the ground find your neutral spine position by pulling your bellybutton to your spine while maintaining a slight ‘pocket’ under your lower back. If this is difficult or causes lower back pain during this exercise find your ‘imprint’ position (flatten your lower back against the ground while keeping your core tight for more stability).
2) Extend one leg out so it hovers over the ground, extend the opposite arm out above your head, holding the non working leg and arm in the starting position.
3) Switch legs and arms.
4) Repeat 5 reps on each side, rest, repeat 3 times.
dead bug ab exercise

Image from Workoutlabs.com

BIRD DOG
1) Position yourself in a quadruped position (legs at 90 degrees to hips, arms directly under shoulders)
2) Find your neutral spine position, pull your bellybutton into your spine, don’t let your belly ‘droop’ as you do this exercise.
3) Extend one leg behind you, try to make one straight line from shoulder to toe. (This is a great one to do in the mirror!) Extend the opposite arm to continue this line.
4) Hold this for 3 breaths, switch sides. Repeat 5 reps, rest, repeat 3 times.

bird dog ab exercise

Image from Workoutlabs.com

Give those a try! Feel free to comment and let me know how it feels or if you have any questions. These are both GREAT core rehab exercises and will help improve your posture, stability, core strength, breathing, and enable you to move on to more complex abdominal exercises.

In fitness and good health,
Natasha

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Healthy Eating Postpartum

healthy food in fridge

To Diet or Not to Diet?

This has been a major struggle for me lately, trying to find a good balance between eating healthy and dieting. Now the word diet as defined by google means

a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.

In the crossfit community there is a big emphasis on ‘going paleo’. If you aren’t familiar with the paleo diet it restricts you to eating meat, vegetables, nuts and fruit and..well that’s pretty much it. To be 100% paleo you must cut out all grains, legumes, dairy, and processed food. You can read more about the paleo rules here. Now there is another diet which is gaining popularity, called the Whole 30, you can check that out as well if you’d like. Personally, I have adopted a lot of the concepts from these diets without being 100% strict on what I can and can’t eat, since that hasn’t worked for me in the past. Now dont get me wrong these diets are fantastic if you want to lose weight, increase energy and get out of a slump and on your way to a healthier lifestyle. But can be difficult for some people to sustain if this is a drastic change from their usual way of eating.  An effective diet is one that promotes you to have a permanent change in the way you think about food, and hopefully have you on your way to a healthier lifestyle! 

So, what do I eat while breastfeeding!?!

Can you go paleo, or do the Whole 30? Well, I did for a week, my milk supply dropped and I am still struggling to get it back up. So I’m going to say it’s probably not a good choice. Any drastic loss of weight after having a baby can negatively effect your milk supply. You want to aim to lose 1-2 pounds a week and no more. Remember breastfeeding burns approximately an extra 500 calories/day which you MUST eat in order to sustain this. Here’s a quick little math lesson on weight loss….

what goes in > what goes out = weight gain
what goes in < what goes out = weight loss

So if you take a woman my size (these numbers are approximate by the way)
800 calories- basal metabolic  –> this is what you need in order to live even if you just laid in bed and did nothing.
500 calories – breastfeeding
500 calories – workout
200 calories – extra walking around/picking up baby/cleaning the house, etc ,etc
= 2000 calories/day.

That means that if you want to stay the exact same weight you should eat 2000 calories a day. I usually aim for 1600-1800 to promote a slow and steady weight loss. Now I have a vague idea of how many calories are in various foods based on my previous experience in the field but I highly recommend using a calorie counting app (like MyFitnessPal) for a few weeks to get an idea of how many calories you are actually eating. Make sure you pay attention to portion size! You would be surprised how many servings you are actually eating if you measure what you eat. After doing this for a couple weeks I no longer feel its necessary to track calories everyday. By this point  you should have a general idea of how much you can eat and stay under that 2000 calorie a day goal. I actually found by using this app that I wasn’t eating enough! I would have days where I would have a salad for lunch and chicken  and vegetables for dinner and hardly reach 1200 calories for the day.

So when people ask what kind of diet I follow I tell them I eat by the Canada Food Guide (I’m from Canada, gotta represent eh!). What this means is that I eat a variety of foods from different food groups each day. I try to eat whole, non-processed foods when possible and limit the amount of junk in my diet. You can read more about the Canada Food Guide here.

canada food guide Image Source

Now this is also not a one size fits all for everyone! I made some changes to suit my own nutritional needs. I like to eat slightly less grains and more protein to satisfy my hungry muscles, I also don’t each much dairy so I replace this with vegetables that provide me with necessary calcium. I also require a slightly higher fat content because of nursing so I eat an extra serving of grass fed butter or coconut or olive oil with one of my meals (usually breakfast). So as you can see this is simply a guideline that helps people understand the importance of eating from all 4 food groups.

What foods are best while breastfeeding?

Fish (low mercury content like salmon) – high in Omega3’s essential for brain function
Lean Beef – high in Iron and B-12 for energy
Fruit – healthy carbohydrates and high in vitamins, fruit like blueberries and Oranges are a great choice.
Whole Grains – for energy and calories
Eggs – for protein and DHA (if they are fortified)
Leafy Greens – vitamin A, calcium and Iron
Prenatal vitamin – keep taking those vitamins to make up for the nutrients you may of missed during the day
WATER- this is #1. You MUST drink enough water everyday. And when you think you drank enough have a little more. It’s important to stay hydrated especially if you are sweating it out at the gym.

Now just a reminder, I am not a nutritionist (I have taken 2 courses in nutrition which by no means makes me an expert) but I am a mother and a health coach so these recommendations are based on what works for me. See your dietician or nutritionist for more personalized recommendations if you have special diet needs!

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