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

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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

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Effect of Exercise on Breast milk

So with all this running I’ve been doing it got me wondering if I am negatively affecting my milk supply and if my baby was still receiving adequate nourishment (I think I was just looking for reasons NOT to train for this half marathon). This led me to do some research! Yes, I know… of course I’m a nerd like that but I didn’t become an evidence-based practitioner for nothing…this is how we roll! So let me share with you bits and pieces of what I learned.

women after long run

In summary, breastfeeding is not negatively affected by exercise whether it be prolonged cardiovascular exercise or moderate to high intensity training. There is some evidence that lactic acid levels increase if you feed your baby immediately after a high intensity workout (Carey & Quinn, 2001), which could cause a change in the taste of the milk but has no negative effects on the baby and most of the time they don’t notice. Even then, you would have to REALLY exert yourself to see this kind of change in milk composition.

In terms of milk supply, as long as adequate fluid and calorie intake is achieved exercise has no negative effect on milk supply (Dewy et al., 1994). This is what I was most worried about because after my long run last week I tried to pump afterwards and got very little! Which was stressful obviously! Of course I panicked, and then my husband reminded me that I just fed her before I left so it had only been a little over an hour and a half. Duh, that makes sense. Also, my own personal hypothesis is this… your body probably puts milk production on hold while exercising because it is using the energy for your muscles, BUT most likely makes up for it later in the day.

When the composition of breast milk was studied it was also found that there was no change in immune factors (such as SigA, lactoferrin, and lysozyme), major minerals (calcium, phosphorus, etc) and major nutrients (fat, protein, lactose) (Fly, Uhlin, Wallace, 1998).

I also found this to be super interesting ….

“ recreational athletes who performed an average of 88 minutes per day of aerobic exercise during the 6 months of breastfeeding had less body fat and produced a slightly greater quality and quantity of milk than postpartum non-exercising women” (Lovelady et al., 1990)

So pretty much because I am exercising I am producing higher quality and quantity of milk as well as reaping all the other benefits of postpartum exercise such as; decreased incidence of depression, decreased stress, improved mood and behaviour and increased weight loss. Guess this half- marathon training is paying off for everyone, including my baby & husband!

Now I have to add, after my quick literature review I did find there is definitely  room for further research on the subject, a lot of the studies were from the 90’s and came from the same few researchers, but it’s just not a very highly studied topic so have to take what I could get!

So there is it, you can put your mind at rest…. breastfeeding and exercise are actually a good combo! Few things to remember…be sure to keep your fluid intake up, especially if it is a hot day out! It’s crucial to replace everything that you sweat out to avoid dehydration. I aim for 16 cups of water a day, and I usually have a coconut water or electrolyte beverage if it’s a day where I particularly sweat a lot. Also, losing 0.5-1lb a week while breastfeeding is perfectly healthy but you don’t want to lose too much weight too fast so be sure to replace some of the calories burned by exercise by having an extra snack afterwards.

In fitness & good health,

Natasha

Sources

Carey GB, Quinn TJ 2001, Exercise and lactation: are they compatible? Can J Appl Phys 26(1): 55–74.

Dewy K, Lovelady C, Nommsen–Rivers L, McCrory M, Lonnerdal B 1994, A randomised study of the effects of aerobic exercise by lactating women on breast-milk volume and composition. New Engl J Med 330: 449–453.

Fly AD, Uhlin KL, Wallace JP 1998, Major mineral concentrations in human milk do not change after maximal exercise testing. Am J Clin Nutr 68(2):345–9.

Lovelady C, Lonnerdal B, Dewey K. Lactation performance of exercising women. Am J Clin Nutr. 1990;52:103–9.

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Santa Barbara Hikes

So there are only a few days left in March! Crazy how the time flies. In terms of how I am doing with my March Madness personal challenge, I am pretty happy where I stand right now! I have been continuing to eat fairly clean, been working out 4-5x/week and getting walks in on my off days.

I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to explore different areas of Santa Barbara, this week we went for walks at Shoreline Park down to east beach, met some clients at La Mesa Park, and did a hike in Montecito! Really hoping to finish this month strong and make these last few days count.

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What’s on the agenda tomorrow? 6 mile run. This should be interesting. My swolemate convinced me that I should sign up for a half marathon with her on Mothers Day. I am not much of a runner, but I must admit I feel different now, running has become slightly easier. Mind you, running after having a baby still feels strange ‘down below’ but I think that’s due to my core still needing some work. I used to HATE running because my hips would hurt, my lungs would hurt, and it was just an awful experience, there was no runners high for me! So this is definitely a new challenge.  If tomorrow’s run goes well I will be on track to finish 13 miles at the beginning of May!

family hiking in montecito

santa barbara beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you enjoy the pictures! 3 MORE DAYS of March, I will check in with my final measurements and set new goals for April!

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Mid Month Check-in

women with baby in bathing suit 5 months postpartum
Feeling more comfortable in a bathing suit!

Well, it’s hard to believe but we are already through the first half of the month! I must admit I was a little ambitious taking on a personal challenge this month…I  forgot that not only was I was returning to work but my parents are also in town visiting.

Also, my swolemate (for a definition on what a swolemate is click here) was away on vacation! On a side note, be sure to check out her blog, she’s one of the greatest women I know!

All of these combined have definitely affected my motivation to stick to my workout and eating plan.

Although it was tough, I am proud to say that I have not missed a workout all month! I have been able to get in at least a 30 minute walk on my rest days and have been packing my lunch everyday for work to ensure that I am eating enough and eating healthy. Here is a breakdown of what a typical day looks like in terms of nutrition. My goals are 40% carbs, 30% fat, 30% protein. Image courtesy of myfitnesspal app, which I am using to track my nutrition, along with my fitbit as a step counter.

 

myfitnesspal calorie breakdown

Things I am proud of

– Weightlifting 4x/week and feeling stronger every workout
– Setting 3 Personal Records at Crossfit! (90 lb clean and jerk, 50 consecutive double unders, and 50 consecutive wall balls)
– Walking on all my rest days
– Taking advantage of beautiful Santa Barbara weather (beach days, pool days, and walks downtown)
– Spending quality time with my family and being active together!
– Being 2 pounds away from my target weight.
– Working. I haven’t worked with elderly patients in well over 6 months and it has brought me great pleasure working at the nursing home this past week. They make me feel so appreciated, it’s wonderful. Reminds me of why I went into the profession where I can help others.

Hiking in Santa Barbara
Our hike in Santa Barbara last weekend!
Man with tula babywearing
My husband with the baby on our hike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goals for the rest of the month

– Increase my protein intake , I noticed after reviewing my food logs that I could definitely use some more protein in my diet.
– Prepare my lunches ahead of time, even when I am home. Since those seem to be the days I forget to eat.
– Start running
– Do pilates 1x/week and work on rehabilitating my shoulder by doing home exercises (something that I consistently neglect until it gets so painful I can’t do anything)

That’s it! Will check in again at the end of the month!

In fitness and good health,
Natasha

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