Run Mama Run

So this post is a little late, lets just say it was a busy weekend!

Hope all my lovely readers had a great mothers day weekend! Whether you spent it with your kids, your puppies, your own mom or other women you look up to, Mother’s Day is definitely a reason to celebrate. Being my first mother’s day I wanted to do something awesome, so when my friend invited me to train for, and run a half marathon with her I thought, hey…why not?! I am not a runner, and I don’t think I will ever call myself a runner. As much as I want to LOVE it, I have a hard time saying that I even like it sometimes. Running sucks, it hurts, it’s tiring, and the recovery can be awful! BUT…running is so awesome at the same time!! There are so many pros to running that I am now starting to see why people get addicted.   running postpartum

 

The half marathon on Saturday was unreal! We did the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon and finished in 2 hours and 28 minutes, which is 17 minutes under my goal! The feeling while crossing the finish line was truly amazing and made all the training so worth it. I decided to compile a list of my PROS and CONS of running and did some research to try to debunk some of my beliefs about why running isn’t for me.

PROS

  • Lose weight, burn calories
  • Little to no equipment
  • It is easy to be good at
  • Can run anytime of day, even with a fussy baby
  • Feel calm and relaxed afterwards
  • Get to explore new areas of the city
  • Feeling of accomplishment
  • Great community of other runners
  • Can run with friends, social interaction
  • Get to compete in races, which is exhilarating
  • Don’t feel bad about eating carbs

CONS

  • Hard on your joints, will cause permanent damage and injuries
  • Can cause heart problems
  • Affects immune system
  • Pain, lots of pain.
  • Boring
  • Weather dependent (unless you run on a treadmill)
  • Lose muscle mass, ‘too skinny’

Okay, so lets break it down…

1. Calories Burned

Running 6mph – 600 calories/hour
Crossfit (50 min) – 615 calories/hour (source)
Bicycling (moderate effort) – 400 calories/hour
Dancing (moderate effort) 250 calories/hour
Swimming (light/moderate freestyle) – 445 calories/hour
Walking (3mph moderate) -346 calories/hour (source)

Okay, so it burns a lot of calories. Does this mean you can eat whatever you want? No, Maybe you can splurge more often…but eating crap will make you feel like crap so probably best to stick to a healthy diet.

2. Exercise improves your mood

I feel like in order to prove that exercise improves mood all you need to do is go for a quick workout! It has been shown that even just 5 minutes of moderate exercise causes a mood enhancing effect.

There have been quite a few studies on the link between exercise and depression. Obviously there are some limitations to the validity of these studies because most of them are based on self-report, but overall, exercise correlates to fewer incidences and severity of depression, decreased anxiety, and decreased stress. Blumenthal et al. (2007) explored the mood-exercise connection through a series of randomized controlled trials. Sedentary adults with major depressive disorder were assigned to one of four groups: supervised exercise, home-based exercise, antidepressant therapy or a placebo pill. After four months of treatment patients in the exercise and antidepressant groups had higher rates of remission than did the patients on the placebo. Exercise achieved comparable results to antidepressants for patients with major depressive disorder (Psychosomatic Medicine, 2007). (Weir, K, 2011)

Smits et al. (2008) hypothesized that regular exercise may decrease anxiety by reproducing the sensations experienced during an anxiety attack (sweating, racing heart, etc.). Subjects who participated in a two-week exercise program showed significant improvements in anxiety sensitivity compared with a control group (Depression and Anxiety, 2008) (Weir, K, 2011)

Exercise definitely has more immediate tangible effects on mood then it does on weight and body composition (which is the main reason why people generally start exercising in the first place). So maybe exercise should start being prescribed by psychiatrists as well as MDs!

3. Running can be Social or a Solo event

Running solo allows you to have time to yourself, perhaps clear your head of what happened during the day, or allow some thinking or brainstorming to be done about a big project or future goals. I’m convinced some of my best ideas have come about while I was running, its just too bad I didn’t write them down!

Being part of a team or running group is an awesome way to maintain accountability. You are much more likely to go out for a morning run if you know someone is there waiting for you. Running with friends also pushes you to be the best you can be. It’s human nature that we want to keep up with and please those around us, so you bet you’re going to finish that run if someone else is running beside you!

So while writing this post I realized there is a lot less information out there on the negative effects of running than I anticipated! We all know exercise is good for us, but is running better or worse?! I read that part of the problem with studying this group of athletes is there aren’t many of them. “Less than 1 percent of all Americans have ever run a marathon, and very few of those people run more than one marathon in their lives, or regularly run more than 30 or 40 miles a week. The group of runners who would be considered most at-risk for negative health effects – assuming such negative effects exist – would be very small indeed” (Source).

We always hear the horror stories, yet another person had a heart attack and died at the last big marathon. So is this true? Is it really bad for your heart while all this time we have been thinking that it’s good for your cardiovascular fitness? No, that is a myth. Running does not cause heart problems in a normal healthy individual. If there are 20,000 people running a marathon there is bound to be someone who had preexisting heart problems that perhaps had gone undetected.

In a recent study by Lee et al (2014) they found that “compared with non-runners, runners had 30% and 45% lower adjusted risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, with a 3-year life expectancy benefit. In dose-response analyses, the mortality benefits in runners were similar across quintiles of running time, distance, frequency, amount, and speed, compared with non-runners. Weekly running even <51 min, <6 miles, 1 to 2 times, <506 metabolic equivalent-minutes, or <6 miles/h was sufficient to reduce risk of mortality, compared with not running. In the analyses of change in running behaviors and mortality, persistent runners had the most significant benefits, with 29% and 50% lower risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, compared with never-runners”

So what does this mean? Running, even 5 to 10 min/day and at slow speeds <6 miles/h, is associated with greatly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease. Awesome! That is easy to maintain!

4. Injuries and Problems Later in Life

So running is hard on your joints…if you run now you will regret it later (how many times have I heard this?) Is this true?

Once again, unfortunately there is not much research on the correlation between Osteoarthritis (OA) and running, but the general consensus is that moderate running does not cause knee or hip OA. It is suggested that running can even help protect your joints (while I don’t know if I buy this, it’s a nice thought). However, secondary arthritis, that usually occurs later in life, is directly associated with a history of joint injuries. These injuries can vary from acute to chronic with varying degrees of pain. It is quite possible that you had suffered an injury at some point and the pain wasn’t severe enough to raise concern. Also, regularly loading injured joints creates trauma which over time, may “deplete the joint of the lubricating glycoproteins, disrupt the collagen network, slowly wear away the cartilage, and cause numerous micro fractures in the underlying bones”  (Childs Cymet & Sinkov, 2006). Be aware postpartum running post you at an increased risk of injury due to the hormone relaxin still in your body! Listen to your body and back off if you are having pain.

Running while injured can also result in poor form and body mechanics, which can cause chronic injury.  Populations such as women, people who are heavier, those with flat feet or those with preexisting injuries should be most careful about running with proper form, especially when fatigue sets in. (Childs Cymet & Sinkov, 2006)

There are also others injuries common to long distance runners. These include blisters, muscle strain, muscle cramps, skin abrasions, exhaustion, and lightheadedness. It has been reported that 29 to 43 percent of marathon runners develop injuries during training. (Just What Does Running a Marathon Do to Your Body? by Jake Emmett, Ph.D.). This was my biggest fear while training! I did NOT want to hurt myself and not be able to run the race! What a waste!

When looking at the correlation between running and overall health, like all other exercise it definitely helps prevent disease and increase quality of life. It decreases the risk of diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and depression while improving bone density and supporting a healthy weight. There are risks to running, and those with preexisting health conditions or joint issues should take the risks into consideration before starting a running program (source)

5. Weakens the Immune System

I think I mentioned this in another article, but it has been shown that the relationship between health and exercise is a U shaped curve. Those who don’t workout have a weaker immune system, as well as those who workout to the extreme. Running a marathon will temporarily put the immune system into overdrive. As cortisol is released to reduce swelling, the immune system then becomes compromised. Marathoners are encouraged to supplement with vitamin C, reduce outside stressors and get plenty of sleep to support the immune system (Emmett, J, 2007). In order to reach this point you would have to be running 30-50 miles per week, which honestly just wont be happening for me so I don’t need to worry about that !

Running Postpartum

What does this mean for other postpartum moms? Running is an awesome exercise to do after baby. Between warding off postpartum depression and decreasing stress and anxiety it is a great activity to help you be a better mother and person in the rough months following the birth. As with everything, TAKE IT SLOW. Even if you were running up until the day you give birth your body still needs to recover after delivery. Running requires substantial core strength as well as puts stress on your joints, which are already lax and compromised. In order to prevent injury be sure to strengthen your core and be aware of your body as you start back, even if it’s just for a jog around the block. Check out this article for a great re-entry plan to get back to running again

Overall, my list of CONS keeps getting smaller and smaller. Maybe it will grow on me? Maybe running will be my new thing. Or maybe not.

In fitness & good health,

Natasha

 

Resources

http://www.active.com/running/articles/the-risks-and-benefits-of-long-distance-running?page=2

http://www.runnersworld.com/workouts/up-and-running

Emmett, Jake (2007) “Just What Does Running a Marathon Do to Your Body?”

 Weir, Kirstin (2011) “The Exercise Effect” American Psychological Association. Vol 42(11)

Childs Cymet, T, Sinkov, (2006) “Does long distance running cause Osteoarthritis?” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, June 2006, Vol. 106, 342-345.

Lee, Pate, Lavie, Sui, Church, & Blair (2014). “Leisure-time running reduces all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk”. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Aug 5;64(5):472-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058.

http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Extreme-distance-running-Too-much-of-a-good-3700510.php

Blumenthal JA1, Babyak MA, Doraiswamy PM, Watkins L, Hoffman BM, Barbour KA, Herman S, Craighead WE, Brosse AL, Waugh R, Hinderliter A, Sherwood A.(2007). Exercise and pharmacotherapy in the treatment of major depressive disorder. Psychosomatic Medicine Sep-Oct;69(7):587-96. Epub 2007 Sep 10.

http://calorielab.com/burned/

http://www.shape.com/blogs/working-it-out/new-research-proves-just-how-effective-crossfit

benefits of running postpartum running benefits and injuries running injuries and benefits

2015 Mothers Day Gift Guide

2015 Mother’s Day Gift Guide for the Fit Mom in your life (even if that happens to be yourself) !

1. Fitbit Step Counter– If you haven’t read my review yet, read it here. Nothing makes you feel more productive than racking up steps just doing chores around the house! Find them online or at a Best Buy or REI near you. ($99.00-$129.00)
Fitbit flex review
2. Tooks Headband with Built in Headphones  – I just recently purchased this for myself since my headphones were always falling out when I ran outside. Love them. I can listen to my music and keep my ears covered at the same time (yes… I know, sounds crazy because I am in California but I have super sensitive ears that hurt in the wind so a headband is a necessity) $19.99. Order online and use code TOOKSTEN for 10% off.

Headphones
3. LUCY Athletic Wear – I just tried this brand for the first time recently, and I have to say I really like their stuff. It’s not cheap, comparable to other top brands out there, but definitely good quality and designed with the ‘mom’ in mind. I love my Endurance Run Capri ($79.00). They pretty much thought of everything with these pants from mesh ventilation and extra pockets. If you live in Santa Barbara be sure to attend their Mother’s Day Event! By letting them know you are a client or follower of Fit Mama Santa Barbara you get 20% off your purchase from 10:00-2:00 PM on Saturday May 9th!
LUCY La Cumbre
4. Asics Running Shoes – If you are looking for a good pair of running shoes stop right here. These shoes rock my world. Not only do they look great (they come in funky colors) but the supportive insoles and gel cushion make running a whole lot more comfortable. If you are into cross training or weightlifting they have shoes for that too!  Find them for $65-$170, You can buy online or at any sports store near you. If you live near an outlet store even better! Remember, running shoes are kind of like bras, you need to find a pair that fit you perfectly in order to be comfortable all day!
SHOES
5. Indoor Culinary Herb Starter Growing Kit – One thing I hate is buying herbs at the market. I buy a whole bunch of parsley to use one piece and end up throwing the rest out! Why not grow them at home with an indoor kit? I’ve never tried this, but it’s definitely on my to do list. Order one online here ($34.99)!

herb growing mothers day gifts
6. Too Faced – The Little Black Book of Bronzers – $60.00  at Sephora.com. You know what the secret to a healthy glow is when you have a baby? Good bronzer. This pack of eight unique bronzers is great for the person who isn’t sure what color looks best or who’s skin tone changes throughout the year. My morning makeup routine takes me about 2 minutes flat but I never miss this step. I use Pink Leopard because the subtle blush tones take away from the zombie look on extra bad mornings.
Too Faced Cosmetics Bronzer
7. Baby Bullet – Okay, I admit, I totally thought this was unnecessary when I put it on my baby registry. But now that our 6 month old is eating real food, I love it. I can easy puree pretty much anything that I have in the fridge for a quick meal for her. The little containers are great for storing food for a couple days and have a little date reminder on them too! The price is a little steep at $59.99 but you can buy it online from Bed Bath and Beyond and use a 20% off coupon (you know those ones you get ALL the time). Free shipping on orders over $49.00.
mothers day gift guide 2015

8. For Two Fitness Maternity Tops – These are a really great gift for the Fit Mom to be! With cute sayings you are sure to find one that suits the pregnant mama in your life. They are great quality, long enough to cover a bump and are suitable for any activity. Can’t wait to wear one of these next time I’m pregnant! $49-$56 Order online here, free shipping on orders over $75 or $5 flat rate.
for two fitness tanktop training for two
9. Life Factory Glass Water Bottle – So we all know that you must drink more water while nursing, but it seems to be harder and harder to remember when you are taking care of a little one. Get one of these awesome glass bottles to help motivate you to stay hydrated. $22.99-$25.99 for 22oz bottle. Order them online here or find at a retailer near you.
Life Factory Glass Water Bottle
10. Photo Book – So you know all those photos on your iPhone or on Facebook? Why not make them into a pretty photo book that you can keep forever! I like to make one of these once a year to showcase some of the best times that we had together as a couple (and now as a family!) There are lots of websites that offer this service, and Shutterfly.com is always running sales to be sure to check for coupon codes before ordering!

Also, if you didn’t know this, before I order anything online (or even when I go to certain stores like Michaels) I always check www.retailmenot.com for current coupon codes. Most of the time you can save something or at least get free shipping!

There you have it! My top ten wish list for mothers day (or any day really) this year. Happy shopping!

Be sure to check out my next blog post that I am currently working on analyzing the ‘Risks and Benefits of Endurance Training’.

mothers day gift guide 2015mothers day gift guide 2015mothers day gift guide 2015mothers day gift guide 2015

Costco Grocery Shopping List

costco shopping cart

So if you came to my house and opened our fridge and freezer you would notice that I buy A LOT of my groceries from Costco. Thought I’d share today what my typical grocery list looks like, the items I love, and the items to stay away from.

I usually go to Costco once or twice a month, we have a deep freezer so I am able to keep a lot of stuff frozen until I am ready to use it.

My Typical Shopping List

Download your own Printable Shopping List Below!
Obviously people have different preferences so change it as you like, and I intentionally left out items that I generally buy at the regular grocery store such as potatoes, herbs, etc.

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast & Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs– comes in pouches of two HUGE chicken breasts, these are great to defrost and make a quick dinner like Cilantro-Lime Chicken.
  • Salmon – I will buy fresh most of the time, and freeze whatever I don’t use for dinner. Lately I have been buying the frozen one out of laziness, but it tastes just as good and is a bit cheaper.
  • Top Sirloin Steak – These steaks are HUGE, so even though they are pricey my husband and I will split a steak so it’s enough for 4 dinners
  • Ground Turkey Breast – Comes in packs of 4 so they are great to freeze and defrost to make turkey burgers, meatballs, tacos, or mix with spaghetti sauce
  • Sliced Turkey Breast – Great for wraps
  • Frozen Fruit- strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, cherries, pretty much whatever they have that day (it changes with the seasons)
  • Spring Mix Salad- they have a HUGE pack of spring mix salad for $3.50. Pretty much can’t beat that. At that price I don’t feel so bad when I throw the last bit out that has gone soggy.
  • Coconut Oil- I use this for all my cooking so we go through it quickly.
  • Fresh Blueberries/Strawberries/Blackberries – whatever is in season.
  • Apples or Oranges
  • Tomatoes – awesome for cucumber and tomato salads
  • Butternut Squash – they have it already cubed and at an awesome price, but unfortunately they don’t have this all the time.
  • Cauliflower or Broccoli – comes already cut and ready to steam
  • Bag of Spinach – we put it in our morning smoothies
  • Low carb Tortillas – my husband likes these, I eat them, but if you are expecting them to taste like the real thing you will be in for a surprise.
  • Eggs
  • Almond Milk – best price for a pack of 3 cartons!
  • Fage 0% Greek Yogurt – I don’t eat dairy but this is my husbands favorite nighttime snack
  • Zone Protein Bars – Okay, this is borderline a cheat item because it is pretty much a chocolate bar but they are good to have on the go.
  • Rotisserie Chicken – Okay, I NEVER leave Costco without buying one, even if we aren’t going to eat it that night. For $5 this tasty and easy meal is good for days. You can eat the chicken by itself, on salads, in wraps, in a soup, etc. It may be high in sodium but for the amount of protein it provides and how freakin’ delicious it is I’m okay with that.

costco rotisserie chicken

Optional

  • Bell Peppers
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Rolled Oats
  • Granola Bars
  • Chicken Broth
  • Vitamins
  • Paper Towels
  • Bottled Water
  • Frozen Vegetables
  • Olive Oil
  • Skinny Pop Popcorn

Seems like a lot of food right? It IS! But, if I stick to just what I need and only buy ‘real’ food I can usually get out of there spending $180-$200 and that covers a good portion of our dinners for the next two weeks

frozen costco food ground turkey breast costco shopping list

BAD Shopping Choices at Costco!

Here are some things to stay away from if you want to save your waistline and your budget.

  • Skip the entire section with snacks, nuts and baked goods. Even though a lot of these look like ‘healthy’ choices they aren’t. Chips that say they have Kale in them may be healthier than regular potato chips, but they still aren’t good for you! I personally LOVE their croissants, but I definitely don’t need to eat a dozen of them, so I just skip this section all together to avoid the temptation.
  • Skip the frozen aisle with all the pre-made meals. Obviously taquitos, breakfast sandwiches, and processed foods are not a healthy choice…and they are expensive to boot!
  • Skip the juice aisle. Juice or soda is fine for a treat every once a in a while but having a 24 pack of sugar packed juice boxes in the house will just encourage you to drink more than you should.
  • Skip the nut & trail mix aisle. Yes, nuts are good for you…in moderation. If you have the willpower to only have a handful of nuts a day then great, save some money and buy them in bulk. Personally, I don’t because I end up eating ¼ bag of trail mix in one sitting which is the calorie equivalent of running 10 + miles. No thanks.

costcoblogpost4_FotorCLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE SHOPPING LIST! 

How to NOT spend WAY too much money

In order to save your budget try these tips.

  • Go in with a list, commit to ONLY buying what’s on the shopping list. Yes, you definitely could use a new set of mixing bowls but do you need them? No. I am really guilty of this and I’m doing much better lately at sticking to the list.
  • Don’t walk through every aisle. Only go to the sections of the store that you know have the items you need. I skip the electronics, home items, toys and clothing, and head straight to the back where the meat and vegetables are kept, then I make my way around the freezer and dry food aisles skipping the middle section of ‘seasonal’ stuff . That is what usually gets me. How can I not buy new beach towels? They won’t have them again until next year!
  • Don’t buy items that you will not use in a reasonable amount of time. If it will take you a year to use a Costco sized bottle of Olive Oil then don’t bother. It will go bad before you use it all and it would have been cheaper to just buy a smaller bottle at the grocery store. Same with fresh produce, if the item is not part of one of your planned lunches or dinners in then next 7 days then skip it this time. I hate the day before garbage day because I always go through the fridge and find items that were forgotten and had gone bad. Throwing out fresh fruits and vegetables makes me cringe since it’s pretty much the same as tossing money in the garbage.

Want a 7 day clean eating meal plan based on the items you see above? Want the accountability of a trainer that checks in and helps you stick to your goals? Email me today to try my 7 day clean eating challenge and get started on the path to a healthier life!

In fitness & good health,

Natasha

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costco shopping list

Costco Shopping List JPEG

Postpartum Fitness

Why I am proud to be a ‘Fit Mama’ – The Benefits of Fitness Postpartum

fit mom with baby

Childbirth is a beautiful thing. Everyday I am in amazement that my body was able to make a human being, a HUMAN BEING, do you know how crazy that is?! My body was stretched out and pushed to its limits during the 9 months of pregnancy and now it provides all the food and nutrients my baby needs to survive.

My body has taken a beating. My bellybutton will never be the same, my butt will never be as firm and my boobs never as perky (there is a lot to say for good angles and flattering lighting). Sure, I don’t have stretch marks but I have dealt with terrible hip pain, knee pain, back pain, stress incontinence and separated abs all due to carrying around my beautiful 9lb12oz baby! If any of you knew me before you know I have always been slender, so it’s not really a surprise that I bounced back after the baby. Before pregnancy I was a 32A and a size 4, and now at 6 months postpartum I finally fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes again. I won’t say that I didn’t have to try, of course I did, but I have always lived a healthy active lifestyle and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My motivation for getting fit postpartum is simple, I want to be healthy so that I can feel my best and be able to do the things that I want to do with my daughter and husband. Losing weight just happens to be one of the many benefits of exercise. I work in the health and fitness industry…I always have, and I always will. It is my job to motivate others to succeed and reach their goals. As an Occupational Therapist we encourage people to set goals that are important to them. I feel this is important not just from a health and fitness perspective but also to provide some organization to life. How do you work towards something if you don’t know what you are working towards?

danielle honea family photography

So what are my goals? I want to be the best mother I can be, I want to be physically and mentally strong so that I may provide for my daughter in any way that I can. I also want to be happy and healthy, which for me go hand in hand. My definition of health does not include weight or measurements but rather how I feel. I FEEL best at my normal size. In all honestly, I felt AWFUL while I was pregnant. I vividly remember walking up the stairs at the beach one day (and I was only about 20 weeks pregnant at the time) thinking that I was glad this was just temporary because I never wanted to feel like this again. I didn’t see pregnancy as a reason to ‘throw in the towel and kiss my former body goodbye’ but rather a reason to strive to be fitter, healthier and stronger postpartum than ever before. To me health is not defined by the number that you see on the scale but rather by functional measures. These include how well you are able to do your day-to-day activities, how you are able to engage in leisure time, and how you keep up with your family and manage responsibilities at work.

Baby swim lessons

Lately there is a new social media trend, particularly in the postpartum community. Women are encouraged to love their postpartum body and show appreciation for who they are and what they have accomplished (like making a baby!). I truly think this is fantastic. It is wonderful and empowering to see other women who are proud of being a mom, stretch marks and all. Check out the hashtags #takebackpostpartum and #takebackfitspo for a beautiful array of women showing love for themselves and their babies. Unfortunately this has spurred another movement that I don’t agree with. Women now feel it is okay to put others down for their lifestyle choices, particularly those who choose to workout and ‘get their bodies back’ postpartum. With social media it is easy to judge others, but it’s important to remember that there is a real person behind those pictures, and you can never judge a book by its cover.

#takebackpostpartum

Obviously I am an advocate for working out after pregnancy. Rebuilding your core and gaining back your strength is key for preventing injury and health conditions later in life. By exercising effectively now you decrease your chance of developing pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse, back pain and incontinence later in life. Have I been doing all this for a flat stomach? No. Sure It’s nice, but rebuilding my core strength after pregnancy has improved my low back pain and healed my diastasis recti so I can avoid complications in the future. Most people become deconditioned during pregnancy, which can also cause injuries and pain that interfere with your ability to care for your child(ren). Did you know that people gain on average a pound a year after the age of 20? Add 5-10 pounds retained after each pregnancy and that would put an average woman at 30-40 pounds overweight at age 50 after 2 kids. This additional weight puts you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, injuries, chronic pain, mental health issues, and shorter life expectancy. Having a baby is tough, it is exhausting caring for another little human all day! But by finding 30 minutes a day to engage in physical activity now you can help prevent so many health conditions later.

The words thin and healthy are not always one in the same. People can be very unhealthy but still be thin (take a look at some drug addicts or heavy smokers), and people can also have a large build and still be healthy! It is important to see people as individuals rather than quantifying others based on their weight or appearance. It is extremely frustrating to see derogatory comments to others online implying that if someone looks good on the ‘outside’ they must be rotten ‘inside’ or vice versa.

skinny is not sexy, health is

I workout 5 days a week, I eat healthy, I work hard, and I take care of my family. In return I feel happy, I have increased energy, I have more patience, I suffer from less injuries and pain, I have decreased stress and anxiety, I have no major health issues, and hey, I fit into my skinny jeans again. For me, the link between physical health and mental health is strong, and one cannot exist without the other.

Does this make me obsessive? Possibly… exercise is addictive. When I do something, I strive for 100%, that is my personality and that will never change. I crave exercise, I crave the fresh air, I crave the sweat on my face, I crave the adrenaline rush and I crave the feeling of accomplishment when I get through a tough run or crazy Crossfit workout. I crave the feeling of being alive.

Does this make me vain? Maybe…but people who look better often feel better, so if this is counteracting depression then I’ll take it.

Does this make me a bad mother? Absolutely not. I spend quality time with my daughter and husband everyday. I workout with her or I workout at home or sneak to the gym while she’s having a nap. My husband and I share delicious home-cooked meals every night and he appreciates all that I do in order to take care of my family and myself. Everyone has their own priorities and it’s important to respect that. By doing the things that make you feel alive, whether it be working, playing with your kids, cooking, eating, or spending time with family and friends, you are living your life to its full potential and fulfilling your own personal goals and aspirations.

So call me vain, call me selfish, call me obsessive, what’s important is that this little girl can call me Mom.

happy baby

In fitness and good health,

Natasha

Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy

Lumbo-pelvic pain, which can be defined as, pregnancy related low back pain or pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain, occurs in 24%-90% of women while they are pregnant (Van Benten et al., 2014). Although this usually goes away after birth over 1/3rd of women still have pain 1-year post pregnancy (JOSPT, 2014).

What is Pelvic Girdle Pain?

Your pelvis is made up of your hip bones (ilium, ischium, pubis bones), your tailbone (sacrum/coccyx) and various muscles, tendons and nerves which all work together to support your pelvis and internal organs. When these bones, tendons and muscles do not work together as they should this is when you feel pain. Pain can be in the posterior pelvic girdle (below your lower back) most often caused by an unstable sacral iliac (SI joint), or in the anterior pelvic girdle (in your groin) due to instability in the symphysis pubis. These ‘joints’ are not meant to move, but due to the lovely relaxin hormone floating through your pregnant body they can easily become unstable and extremely painful!    pelvic girdle pain

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) increases with everyday activities such as walking, standing, sitting and lying down. It can increase drastically after only 30 minutes of activity (Fagevik Olsen, Elden & Gutke, 2014). Sounds pretty annoying right?

Why is it important to identify and treat pelvic girdle pain?

This persistent and awful pain not only effects women physically but also puts them at an increased risk of depression and decreased quality of life. Lumbo-pelvic pain is responsible for a large percentage of sick leave costs for pregnant women as well (Fagevik Olsen, Elden & Gutke, 2014). I laugh because my doctor wrote me a note to have modified work due to pelvic pain and my restrictions were “no standing, no walking, no sitting, or lying down for more than 25% of the day”…Uh, so what exactly could I do? Obviously this resulted in me going off on maternity leave a little earlier than planned.

Identification of women with severe PGP is also important since they are at the “highest risk of persistent pain both during and after pregnancy…and have the greatest consequences in terms of pain, intensity, disability and health related quality of life” (Olsen, Elden & Gutke, 2014). As a sufferer of PGP I can attest that it absolutely affected my quality of life and overall mood since some days even walking around the house was intolerable.

How can I tell if I have PGP?

A recent study by Fagevik Olsen, Elden & Gutke (2014) looked at the effectiveness of self-tests for pregnant women to screen for pelvic girdle pain so that they can be referred to a doctor or physical therapist for evaluation. Here are some of the tests I pulled from this study and this study !  Now, just a warning, if you do have Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) you will know within SECONDS of attempting any of these tests.

SI joint pain is felt beside your tailbone and is often a sharp, deep pain that occurs with certain movements. It can even feel like your hip or tailbone is ‘out of place’. Symphysis Pubis pain is a sharp, lightning bolt type pain that feels like it is often deep in your pelvis. These pains can range from a dull ache or nothing at rest to constant excruciating pain all the time.

Please note all the images and descriptions for these tests were taken directly from the two articles cited above. (Fagevik Olsen M et al, 2009) and (Fagevik Olsen, Elden & Gutke, 2014)

1) P4 Test

Lying in the supine position with 90-degree flexion at the hip the patient presses on the flexed knee, along the longitudinal axis of the femur.

Positive test = reproducing the pain in the SI area
POSH test self adminstered

http://www.thestudentphysicaltherapist.com/posh-test.html <– see more info on this test here

Patrick Faber Test

Lying in the supine position with one hip flexed, abducted and rotated so that the heel rests on the opposite kneecap. Positive test = reproducing the pain in the SI area

faber test self administered

http://www.thestudentphysicaltherapist.com/faber-test1.html <– see more info on this test here

Trendelenberg Test

Standing on one leg, flexing the other with the hip and knee at 90. Positive test = reproducing the pain in the SI area

trelenberg test

http://www.thestudentphysicaltherapist.com/trendelenburg-test.html

Bridging Test

The patient lifts the buttock and extended one leg. Positive test = reproducing the pain in the SI area

bridging test pelvic pain

Mat Test

The patient performed a movement of hip abduction and adduction simulating the movement to pull a mat across the floor. Positive test = pain in the symphysis
mat sliding test

Straight Leg Raise Test

Tests for disc involvement, see more info here.

straight leg raise test

Per (Fagevik Olsen, Elden & Gutke, 2014) , in order to be classified as PGP the following criteria had to be fulfilled…

  • Pain experienced between the hip bones and the gluteal fold particularly in the area of the SI joint in the symphysis.
  • Reports by the women of weight-bearing related pain and its duration in the pelvic girdle.
  • Diminished capacity to stand, walk and sit.
  • Positive clinical diagnostic tests, which reproduced pain in the pelvic girdle.
  • No nerve root syndrome (Negative SLR test).

Be sure to quantify your pain on a scale if you are bringing it to the attention of a doctor or therapist! It really helps them establish a baseline and help rule out other problems.

pain scale

What can I do about it?

Physical and Occupational Therapy during and after pregnancy can help decrease low back and pelvic pain and increase mobility and quality of life.

Van Benten et. al (2014) concluded “according to the literature there is moderate evidence for the positive effect of exercise therapy on pain, disability, and/or sick leave for the treatment of lumbo-pelvic pain during pregnancy. Moreover, data shows that patient education seems to be a helpful intervention”.

Talk to you doctor about a referral to therapy or seek out a therapist near you. A physical therapist who specializes in orthopedic rehabilitation or women’s health will be able to do a proper assessment and prescribe exercises for you to continue at home which can provide some relief! They can also recommend appropriate braces or taping techniques that may help decrease the pain and provide increased stability to those poor overstretched joints. If you are able to see an Occupational Therapist (usually covered by insurance with a doctors order) be sure to take advantage, a home visit will help identify the daily activities that are most difficult and how you can modify the activity or the environment to be able to complete them with as little pain as possible! Also, chiropractic care is fantastic for helping to realign your pelvic bones and spine. This can decrease pain due to nerve irritation and  inflammation. This is what helped me the MOST during my pregnancy and I always recommend chiropractic care to other pregnant mamas out there. As always please comment below or send me an email if you have any questions!

Hope this helps!

In fitness & good health,

Natasha

 

References

JOSPT (2014). “Pregnancy and Low Back Pain: Physical Therapy can Reduce Back and Pelvic Pain During and After Pregnancy”. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2014;44(7):474. doi:10.2519/jospt.2014.0505

Fagevik Olsen et al. (2009). “Self Adminstered Tests as a Screening Procedure for Pregnancy Related Pelvic Girdle Pain”. Eur Spine J (2009) 18:1121–1129 DOI 10.1007/s00586-009-0948-2

Fagevik Olsen, Elden, & Gutke. (2014) “Evaluation of Self-adminstered Tests for Pelvic Girdle Pain in Pregnancy”. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 15(138)

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