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.

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

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!

How to Prevent Diastasis Recti

So I have had a lot of questions after my previous post on Diastasis Recti on how to prevent it. Well the short answer is, you can’t really prevent it. Now I can’t find much research on this but I would think that having tight abdominals, having a large baby, gaining a lot of weight, and how you are carrying your baby (to the front or side, etc) would all attribute to how likely you are to develop it.

BUT… even if you have a diastasis, you can still prevent it from getting worse!! There are many things you can do to prevent your abs from continuing to separate. First off get some proper support, I recently discovered the ‘Belly Sports Bra’ from Bao Bei Maternity. You can buy one here. Also using the Kinesiotaping technique I describe in my previous post here helps great deal both before and after pregnancy! Even if you find it does get worse, don’t stress, this can be helped after the birth with specific exercises that target your Transverse Abdominis (TA) like the ones I mentioned in some of my other posts.

What makes the biggest difference is monitoring and modifying your EVERYDAY activities. Even if you don’t workout you can still be making this worse just going through your normal routine! The worst culprit is getting out of bed. Most people have the abdominal strength to simply sit up and get out of bed like you normally would, this puts a HUGE amount of pressure on that midline essentially tearing your abs apart slightly more each time (not a pretty picture right!). Some things you can do to help this include log rolling when you get out of bed. A log roll is kind of how it sounds, you want to roll on your side, hang your legs off the bed, and use your arms and upper body to assist with getting up. I also got a very handy bedrail. Yes, the same ones I prescribe for my elderly patients, but I LOVE it and still use it today. It especially helps for when you are super pregnant and can’t roll over. You can get them on Amazon here. You also want to avoid any heavy lifting or holding  heavy items overhead. This can put outward pressure on your abdomen if you don’t have the proper strength and support  in place. Also, check out my video on neutral spine. By engaging your TA muscles in a neutral spine position while doing all your daily activities, yes this includes cooking and getting dressed,  you will help protect that abdomen and keep those muscles together where they should be ! Find a therapist near you to help with this if you are having trouble. If you learn how to activate the right muscles while you are still pregnant it not only helps with labor but will put you in a great position for recovery afterwards!

diastasis recti

As I mentioned before some exercises to avoid include
– crunches
– planks
– V sits
– leg lifts
-Bicycles
– Yoga poses like up-dog, cow pose, and triangle pose.

If you have any questions feel free to comment below. 🙂

Hope this helps!!

The Benefit of Group Classes

 

Check out my little babe watching us today! I am so glad that I can bring her with me to workout, makes it SOOO much better! crossfit baby How many times do you go into a gym thinking, I just CAN’T do this today. Today was one of those days, I was still a little sore from my workout on Saturday so as I walked into the Crossfit gym and saw the WOD (workout of the day) on the board and I nearly walked out. Now let me tell you, even before pregnancy I was never much of a runner, actually, I hate running. I don’t mind doing power intervals but just normal outdoor running is not my favorite. And today I went to the ‘intense’ class where my Swolemate (haha, that word makes me laugh) and I were the only women in a class of very fit men. Anyways, so today the WOD was

1 mile run
50 wall balls (14 lbs)
800 m run
50 KB swings (30 lbs)
400 m run
50 Double unders
200 m run
50 squats

FOR TIME – 30 minute cap.

Now, as I started my run everyone else immediately took off and left me to run by myself (which I was totally okay with!), and I started off my usual way, thinking “ahhh…I should just walk it…I just had a baby…I haven’t run in over a year…etc, etc, etc”, then something clicked. I thought to myself….”you can do this, its only a mile…you’ve done this before, just one foot in front of the other”. As I kept repeating this mantra to myself I found that I was already halfway around the block, I focused on my breathing and in an almost trance like state made it back to the gym..1 mile down! I ran that mile in 9:12 and then went on to complete the workout in 25:56, which I thought was pretty darn impressive. Because I am still getting back into it, I modified it to suit my current level in terms of scaling down the weight, but overall I feel like I KILLED this workout. Today was the first day where i felt much more like myself, I am no longer the postpartum mama who can’t even lift a 35 pound bar, but rather the fit, athletic mom who can (almost) keep up with the boys!!

This is the reason that I love going to Crossfit. Many people ask me why I pay to attend classes when I am a trainer myself, I have equipment and places to workout, why would I bother to pay someone else to train me? Everyone, regardless of how much you know or how good a trainer you are, needs some external support and motivation to succeed. If I had gone out for a run by myself I would of NEVER pushed to run that much! But it is human nature that when you are around other people you want to do your best, look your best, and overall just be a better person. Well I shouldn’t say everyone is like that, haha, but you know what I mean. Attending group sessions or having someone else train me allows me to push myself just a little outside my comfort zone, it is in this small little space that you get remarkable results. Lastly, this develops a huge sense of accountability. If I say that I am going to workout I will be there, regardless of what else is going on in my life, because I don’t want to let someone else down. I know that my workout partner or coach would be disappointed if I didn’t make it, and therefore I probably workout 25% more than I would of if no one cared if I showed up or not. Think about this next time you contemplate spending money on your fitness and well being, it’s worth every penny!!

Cheers,
Natasha

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