Wow, is time flying! Not only are we one-third of the way through the year but my daughter is trying her legs out. Good thing I have baby gates ready…

 

In other news, here are articles and recipes that I’ve been storing up for the past month or so. It’s time to get them out of my inbox and into a post. Seems like as soon as the snow begins melting, everyone returns to their blogs :) There’s a lot of good stuff in here:

 

Beating Belly Fat

The Low-down on Ab Exercises

Understanding/Alleviating Plantar Fasciitis

Yoga for Neck/Shoulder Pain

8 Yoga Poses to Try with a Block

Music Training and Brain Anatomy

Time to Tame the Sweet Tooth

Sneaky Names for MSG

Supplements and Blood Pressure

What’s a Macrobiotic Diet?

Sorghum

Avocado and Appetite Suppression

 

12 Green Recipes that Will Have You Glowing

25 Reasons to Eat Bananas

10 Healing Benefits of Ginger

Sweet/Savory Medjool Date Pho

Spring Vegetable Stew

Hemp/Pumpkin Seed Veggie Burgers

Grain-free Hamburger Buns

DF Molten Lava Cakes

GF Garlic Knot Rolls

GF Chocolate Chip Muffins

Homemade Hot Chocolate (sugar- and dairy-free)

Like many who hit the gym hard, I’m a hard charger. Advance, advance, advance. “Pain is weakness leaving the body,” goes the famous USMC slogan. If we’re talking about muscle pain (within reason), then yes, depending on your tolerance and fitness levels, soreness and fatigue are good things.

 

For joints, ligaments, tendons, and anything deeper, more internal, pulling sensations or sharp, biting pain should be noted and whatever action is causing them ceased and/or modified immediately. Pushing through isn’t a good thing. It can lead to the destabilization of joints or the spinal column, overstretching or overworking or even the breaking of ligaments and tendons (I know of people who’ve injured both), strains, sprains, dislocations, herniation, joint or spinal deterioration, and so forth. Having personally experienced a knee dislocation due to overstretching, I’m here to tell you that it’s no fun hurting yourself and no fun being slowed down by rehabilitation–particularly for go-getters.

 

There is a prevalent mindset urging exercisers to push through the weariness, soreness, and pain. Popular workout-at-home videos like P90X, CrossFit, and so on, have motivational personae encouraging the participant to keep going, keep going, at the risk of sacrificing body alignment and precision for the sake of burning more calories.

 

I come from a very different mindset, the body-mind mindset, where body alignment and precision are two very fundamental principles of a strong, supportive workout that gradually gets harder and digs deeper over time. Ah, yes, a lot of folks have trouble with those last two words, “Over time.” We live in a society where people want instantaneous results. Diets and exercise programs promise a loss of [insert a number] pounds in the first 2-6 weeks. And, let’s face it, the weight might come off but does it stay off, or are we happier working harder rather than smarter, or do we feel any better about ourselves merely because we’re dieting/exercising in order to fit in with the current skinny-Minny trends of the magazines?

 

The answer, most often, is no, we don’t feel better about ourselves, and pushing beyond where our bodies physically can go today isn’t necessarily going to make us feel good…about ourselves or anything else.Yes, we ought to feel weariness at the end of a tough workout, but we shouldn’t feel our lower backs or joints. Yes, we ought to push ourselves, but we shouldn’t compromise the precision with which each exercise ought to be accomplished. It is better to do fewer repetitions, or move gently into a stretch, rather than finding ourselves jerking and twisting and exerting too forcefully for our bodies to handle that momentum and force placed upon them.

 

The solution to avoiding an injury, then, is quite simple and another foundational principle of mind-body exercise: listen to your body. It will tell you where to go every day. Each day may be different, and that’s okay! Gains in strength and flexibility (range of motion) should be earned through gradual increases of weight or stretching over a long period of time. For us go-getters, slowing down is hard but essential to preventing the wrong kinds of soreness and injury. The best gains are the safest gains!

Posted on Tumblr

Posted on Tumblr

We’ve all heard the quote, “April showers bring May flowers,” but how about these:

 

  • April hath put a spirit of youth in everything. (William Shakespeare)
  • The April winds are magical, And thrill our tuneful frames; The garden-walks are passional To bachelors and dames. (Ralph Waldo Emerson, “April”)
  • When April winds / Grew soft, the maple burst into a flush / Of scarlet flowers. / The tulip tree, high up, / Opened in airs of June her multiple / Of golden chalices to humming birds / And silken-wing’d insects of the sky. (William Cullen Bryant, “The Fountain”)

 

Flowery ways of simply stating that Spring is on its way, regardless of how slow it is coming to some parts of the world. And after hibernating throughout a rough winter often buried in copious amounts of snow, trapping us inside our homes till we are all crazed, now is a good time to think about stepping outside to breathe in fresh air.

 

I am currently reading The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, to my daughter and am reminded by Burnett’s strong belief that the great out-of-doors heals the spirit as well as the body. I put those things in reverse because often this is how the gentleness of a nature walk works. It changes us from the inside out, working on the cares and troubles of the heart and mind, and therefore the body receives the benefits. Why else would the USA’s National Parks be handing out free passes to active duty military and veterans? Studies done on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder have shown that getting out into nature is one of the best ways to create calmness and peace, and reduce the risk of suicide.

 

Olympic National Park, Posted on Tumblr

Olympic National Park, Posted on Tumblr

Removing ourselves from a chaotic space into a serene one helps us clear the mental clutter that so often overwhelms us, throwing our Fight or Flight response (the sympathetic nervous system) into continual overdrive, resulting in weight increase, anxiety and emotional issues, chaotic eating, sleep disorders, and more. We move from a place where we have no time to think about anything into one where we have time not only to think but to solve problems. Furthermore, at some point, the mind is eased into a happy quietness. Have you ever noticed how suddenly you stop thinking about all your cares and are instead gazing around a forest pathway in admiration of all the things growing there?

 

Plus, you’re moving! Moving burns the body’s extra stored energy. Nature plus exercise equals a win-win situation, in my opinion. That’s why so many people choose to take their workouts outside (though yours truly finds herself far too distracted to actually finish a rigorous workout; yoga and Pilates are different to me). I see countless individuals around where I live–a desert, of all places–take their CrossFit, P90X, yoga, running, TRX, you name it, out the gym doors because, I believe, they find the environment natural, soothing. To be honest, is there anything soothing about the pound-pound-pound of feet on a treadmill, or the whir of elipticals? I didn’t think so.

 

In conclusion then, I just encourage everyone to get outside as much as possible with the nice weather coming your way. Mine has already arrived and I’m enjoying it as much as possible before the burning sun chases me indoors with summertime highs. I find it so soothing to just get out and walk around the neighborhood. How much more peaceful and joyous would I feel if I were in a lovely national park?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading two books that I never got to during my yoga training. They both have to do with mindfulness while eating, about tackling the issues beneath and/or undermining every attempt to diet (or not to diet), about dealing with the baggage we’ve carried around with us since childhood and how and why that translates into our eating habits. As last week’s post was extraordinarily long, I’ll try to keep this one short, sweet, and to the point.

 

The basic point of both: diets don’t work. Food is a coping mechanism, a distraction from what’s really going on deep inside.

 

Linked to Amazon

Linked to Amazon

The first is by Geneen Roth, titled Women, Food, and God. In essence, this book discusses the theory behind the importance of mindfulness in our daily lives–how it changes lives. Roth candidly discusses her own 50-year struggle with food issues as well as those of her students at retreats. To come directly to the point, she believes that our eating behaviors are a direct reflection of our deepest-held beliefs and/or belief systems, whether we overindulge or underindulge, binge or starve.

 

Although I disagree with her on one level (I hold some very strong spiritual convictions of my own), I think she hits the nail on the head most of the time. We get so wrapped up in food–what we can and cannot eat, calorie-counting, all the fad diets, and so forth–that we are ignoring–no, avoiding–the real issues that are making us miserable, anxious, and huge (or miserable, anxious, and anorexic). We choose to focus on controlling our intake (or not, if we’re in rebellion against a nameless authority within our minds) because we’ve tricked ourselves into thinking that by fixing what and how we eat, we’ll fix our bodies and therefore will fix whatever is wrong and/or broken within us.

 

Um, yeah…about that: as Roth says, no physical fix will ever make us happy.

 

Linked to Amazon

Linked to Amazon

The second book, which I read first, is by Susan Albers, titled Eating Mindfully. I loved this book more because I feel it’s very practical and immediate. One part theory, four parts helpful tips, this book is essentially a guidebook for getting yourself on track to eat mindfully. Albers discusses the kinds of eaters there typically are before giving 55 great tips, plus some extra goodies in the back, to the reader to help them learn self-awareness. Additionally, the book is small with short chapters. If you only have a few minutes each day to read one, this is the mindfulness self-help book for you because you can apply it to anything in your life. Eating habits are just the beginning of mindful living.

 

At no point in either book do the authors poo-poo medical advice. Albers highly recommends taking hers to your doctor/dietician appointments so you can discuss the techniques in it and use the ones that will especially help you. Nor do either pass judgment. The whole point, as Roth repeatedly reminds the reader, is to discover what’s going on beneath the surface, not to judge the junk that comes up in order to beat yourself up all over again–that’s not going to help.

 

Mindfulness is about recognizing when you’re tripping down a mindless, destructive path and then using positive self-talk and helpful reminders and/or exercises to get you back on track. If you are someone whose tried every diet out there, gained and lost weight for too many years (Roth says that she gained and lost 1000 pounds before finding her mindfulness practice), hate yourself for binging, hate food, or just hate dieting restrictions, try these out. There are very few “rules” and absolutely no “good” and “bad” food lists. I mean, it cannot hurt, can it? This is your health, after all, and your quality of life. You are worth it!

I’m not entirely certain where the term “crunchy mama” came from, nor who started it, but it has stuck for those who have chosen to go a more traditional, eco-friendly, organic route to baby-rearing. I am not saying that those who’ve chosen a more convenient route are in any way wrong. I believe that everyone needs to have the freedom to choose how to rear their kids. Judgments on one group or another should be avoided entirely. Everything that I’m discussing here is based upon my personal choices and experience for the way that I’ve chosen to care for my wee Bumpkin. I’m putting it out there with the hopes of enlightening those seeking this information or helping those confounded by the endless resources out there on the web or whose family doctor perhaps doesn’t know and/or care about such topics. Remember, in the end, you are the parent. It’s your call which way to go.

This is a really long post, possibly the longest I’ve ever written for this blog. For that reason, I’m going to put the cloth diaper review last. In fact, I’ll be writing about these topics in reverse. Please feel free to skip about the blog post to whatever topic interests you.

***

Linked to Amazon

Linked to Amazon

Have you ever considered what goes into those tiny but costly jars of baby food on the store shelves? It might not seem like much at first, paying half a dollar per jar depending on brand and their organic claims. (FYI: just because a label says it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s 100% organic; the only thing the USDA requires for the term to be applied is that some of the products within need to be certified organic–here is their list of qualifications for the various grades of “organic.”)

Beyond the organic debate, how fresh are those jars really? I know jarred foods can last quite a while, but some of that stuff might have been sitting on shelves for months or years before it makes its way into the grocery store light. And even if it does end up going to the store right away, what makes it last so long? A lot of the preservatives out there just aren’t that great and it’s sneaking into our babies’ foods.

Of course there is also the amount of sugar and salt dumped into some baby foods. With the growing concern for the rise in overweight and obese kids, these additions to what ought to be tasty, healthy foods not only run the risk of giving your babies sweet teeth but also pose higher risks for developing diseases like Type II Diabetes, heart disease, and some kinds of cancer. Science Daily reports that Canadian baby food might have more than 20% of the excessive calories consumed by babies and toddlers coming from store-bought food, while the University of Glasgow said that babies who get homemade food need half as much as those who eat prepackaged food.

Linked to Amazon

Linked to Amazon

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that wholesome baby foods are simple to prepare and easy to store. If you aren’t certain where to start, check out Amazon for baby cookbooks, like 201 Organic Baby Purees, The Baby & Toddler Cookbook, and Cooking for Baby, amongst others. Not only do they give you tips on how to prepare baby food without having to buy high-priced items like the Baby Bullet, they offer great ways to store the extra food Bumpkin doesn’t eat that meal. My favorite, thus far, is the fun-looking ice cube trays that you spoon one tablespoon of food in per slot, freeze, then pop out and place in a freezer bag; they’ll last up to eight weeks.

Some are going to state that they don’t have time to make homemade baby food. My advice: set aside one day a week to prepare baby foods. A lot of the Stage One foods, like bananas and avocados, are easily mashed up with a fork right there for meal time, but for those that need a little extra preparation, like cereals, cook them once a week and store, even if it means doing so while you’re watching your favorite TV show. Once you get the hang of the basics, the options are limitless!

There is nothing more precious than a healthy, thriving child and one of the simplest, best ways of keeping your baby that way is to feed them whole, homemade foods. Your child is worth every moment you invest into them. Take the time. Cook for baby. You’ll never regret it, and it might become a favorite activity the two of you do together later, increasing the bonding time between mama and kiddo.

***

I always knew that I wanted to carry my baby on my body before she was born. To me, it just made sense. People have been hauling their kids around on their backs, fronts, and sides for thousands of years. Why would I do anything different?

Yet I really didn’t know much about the benefits of babywearing (BW) until I started researching woven wraps. I’ve been using a Moby since my daughter was born, and it’s done us well, but it’s stretchy and therefore limited to front/side wear only. Additionally, the two soft structure carriers that we ended up receiving from family and friends are both front-wear only front-wear (Baby Bjorn) and reversible (just discovered this on our Ergo :) though I’m not a huge fan of backpack-style carriers). I really need to move her to a back wrap technique so I can use both hands while doing daily things like shopping and she won’t throw herself out of the wrap, as she’s lately been inclined to do.

What really got me thinking about BW was a two-day online prenatal/postpartum course I took on creativeLIVE with Jill Miller, who was then pregnant herself. One of her guest speakers was Esther Gokhale, who gave a fascinating talk on posture and the benefits babies who are worn on their mothers’ backs receive. (If you can afford to purchase even that talk alone, it’s worth the investment.) As I’d just had my daughter, I was wrapped up in learning the ropes of motherhood and tucked away the information for a later time.

Now’s that time.

My stash: Moby (left), Ergo (right); Baby Bjorn not shown.

My stash: Moby (left), Ergo (right); Baby Bjorn not shown.

I’m currently doing research on BW, and look forward to bringing more information here, but I wanted to pass along a few good places to begin researching for those who are interested in BW. These places give the basics, discuss different styles of carriers, and offer groups–even regional weekly/monthly meetings–for those seeking support and knowledge. Babywearing International is one of the largest organizations, with new regional support groups cropping up regularly. On Facebook, Babywearing 102 (a closed group, so request to join) is a great place to pick people’s brains about anything and to check to see if you’re wrapping right. There’s also the blog, Beginning Babywearing.

For those a little futher along in the BW process and seeking a new wrap or looking for various sizes (yes, BW is a lot like cloth diapering–there are sizes involved), there are Facebook buy/sell/trade groups like Babywearing on a Budget (closed group; request to join). For those seeking new wraps, there are online stores like Woven Wraps, NatiBaby, Didymos, Oscha Slings…the variety is staggering. Once you find what you like, you may have to save up a bit to get the BW gear you particularly want.

Don’t just think this is a mama thing, either. There are plenty of BW daddy pictures circulating the web. All I have to say, I’m still trying to get Hubby to do it, because once he does, I’m certain he’ll enjoy himself.

Furthermore, in my opinion, BW is another cost-saving measure. Babies grow up so quickly, and within a year or so, they’re walking. I ended up picking up a stroller from a thrift store and have barely used it. (I know some women use theirs more than I do.) If buying new, strollers can cost anywhere from $100-$500 or more. Why not spend that money on a wrap or carrier that’ll allow you to carry Bumpkin around when they get tired (after they being walking) for several years? They usually get too heavy before they outgrow the wrap!

A word on woven wraps. They are expensive! However, they keep their resale value for years, and many of them (like Didymos and Oscha) are hard to find. If you really need/want it, save your money and purchase it. When you’re through with it, if it’s been taken care of, you’ll earn most of that money back.

Thoughts to consider…? Any BW advice, please leave it here! I’d love to hear your experiences.

***

Cloth diapering (CD) has been a phenomenal experience from the get-go. I’ve personally enjoyed every moment of it, even with having to wash diapers every few days (it gets easier as they get older, I promise). There is a learning curve, of course. Everyone makes rookie mistakes. Here were mine:

  • I went with pre-folds and covers for a main daytime diaper. I wish I’d purchased more in the newborn size. (I had 12. I recommend doubling that if you don’t want to do laundry every day.)
  • I knew I had hard water. I figured that any kind of CD-safe detergent was okay. Nope. First off, I needed a water softener: I got Calgon (good choice). Then I learned that some detergents are weaker than others. So, I’ve had to purchase another more mainstream brand (always look for detergents free of fabric softeners and fragrances–free and gentle/clear are good bets to buy) and must now do a bleach soak in order to get the “barnyard” stink that has begun creeping into my diapers out before it gets horrible. Currently, it’s barely there. I will leave the bleach soak directions at the end of this section that I received from knowledgeable ladies a closed Facebook CD group. (If you’d like more information about them, please message me.)
  • With said first detergent, I had to do a pre-soak while prepping my diapers. Instead of ensuring that my natural fiber diapers and manmade ones were separate, I soaked them all together. BIG MISTAKE! Natural fibers like cotton, hemp, and bamboo have oils that will be absorbed by manmade fibers, making those diapers and/or inserts repellant. And it’s a bugger to try and get them to absorb again! Therefore, if your detergent calls for pre-soak while prepping, keep them separate! This has caused me a whole lot of grief.
  • Go with your gut on how you want to diaper. Yes, CDing is a whole lot cheaper in the long run, and you can CD on a very limited budget. For me, however, I wish I’d just gone ahead and spent the money from the off buying wool covers rather than trying a variety of brands to go with my pre-folds in addition to those I’ve been gifted. (I’m a newbie and I had no idea what I wanted. There were so many options with great reviews.) Now that I know that I want to use wool as part of my stash, I’m feeling a bit guilty about spending the money on other kinds of diapers. Not that they aren’t useful, mind you. I call them “daddy-friendly” and Hubby is extremely thankful to have them around. Plus some of them make excellent nighttime diaper options.
  • Look for good deals when buying used. My first buying-used experience was a bit of a rip off. She sold me half a dozen BumGenius diapers that had been used regularly for several years and that needed new elastic (and I’m no seamstress) for $60. The deal came with six each of newborn and regular inserts. They weren’t bad diapers but I think it was a lot to ask for diapers that were several years old and in good but not very good condition (there is a use grading system among CD moms; you’ll learn it as you go).
  • Prep before the baby comes, if possible! This was something I did and I was extremely thankful not to have to try and do this while learning the ropes with a newborn. It took me almost a week to finish prepping.

I’m certain there are more, though these are the ones that really stick out for me. As when beginning anything, always do your research. I researched CD’s for four months and still had a hard time choosing when the time came! (Here‘s a great place to start, if interested in CDing!)

On to reviewing those diapers I have personally tried. Below I’ll list the brand, style, kind of insert, pros and cons, and cost figures. Where necessary, I’ll also note which diapers I picked up off buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook. I highly recommend searching such groups for good deals in addition to getting in touch with friends who CD and family members who’d be happy to help you out, as in my first review!

Stash shot--covers: (TOP, left to right) GroVia (shell), Planetwise, Rumparooz; (BOTTOM, left to right) Thirsties, WAHM (thanks mom!)

Stash shot–covers: (TOP, left to right) GroVia (shell), Planetwise, two Rumparooz; (BOTTOM, left to right) Thirsties, two WAHM (thanks mom!)

1. WAHM CD Products: or in my case, WAHG covers! (WAHM = work-at-home mom; the G = grandmother.) My mother-in-law was so tickled that I’d decided to use cloth, as she’d done with Hubby, (in addition to being uber-excited about her first grandchild) that she decided to learn a new sewing trick: diaper covers. Not only has this saved us money, but she picks kid-friendly cute patterns that were gender-neutral (we didn’t know what we were having; now some of them are girly).

  • Pros: this option can save you a lot of money. Depending on the vendor, you may also have more options available to you.
  • Cons: you might get a substandard product. It may also be cost-prohibitive, especially if items are auctioned. (I’ve seen an auction exceed $1400. Don’t ask me what the diaper was or what it possibly came with. I just saw posts about it.)
  • Cost: for me, thus far, nothing (and I’m grateful and use them regularly, with good results). If you choose to go with a WAHM product, however, expect to pay a little more, as these diapers are made in small batches and often come in limited fabrics and with the best kinds of inserts the producer-mom can afford to use.
BumGenius with various inserts (BabyKicks hemp--two varieties--and SoftBums small pod)

BumGenius with various inserts (BabyKicks hemp–two varieties–and SoftBums small pod)

2. BumGenius: with microfiber (a manmade product) inserts, one-size. I can see why so many people enjoy them. They are easy to use and are great go-to CD’s. One-sized (OS) diapers also grow with your child and can often be used fairly soon after birth. (My child was on the small side, at 6 lbs., but I was able to put her in OS diapers within four weeks.

  • Pros: good value for quality of diaper, especially if purchased in packages; come in a variety of colors, closures, and styles (currently Freestyle and Elemental), and BG often has limited edition prints come out too.
  • Cons: the elastic can wear out and need replacing (they do sell refresher kits), microfiber can begin smelling if washed improperly, and the hook & loop (their term for velcro closures) wear out more quickly than snaps, though they give a better fit for babies. (FYI: babies learn how to undo velcro quickly; mine figured it out around five months!)
  • Cost: excellent cost for quality of diaper, mid-range as far as diapers go; package deals are good.

3. Rumparooz (RAR): I’ve tried four kinds of their diapers–A) Little Joeys, for newborns: these were the first I tried, and I had a hard time for them because I prepped them improperly (see above comments in newbie mistakes), but had I not I would have liked them a lot better; B) RAR pocket diaper, OS: love it, as it’s highly-absorbent and comes in a plethora of amazing colors and patterns, though the microfiber insert and double show hard water and stains quickly; C) RAR diaper covers: love them, as they’ve got great gusseting in the legs; and D) EcoPosh: the most expensive of their diapers I’ve tried, made from natural fibers and recycled plastics, comes with a hemp insert that’s highly absorbent but difficult to stuff into the cover, which isn’t leak-proof (need a diaper cover to go over it) but is a great nighttime option.

  • Pros: I really like RAR products as a whole and find that they fit various-sized babies well (mine is long and skinny, so it’s hard to find diapers that fit her legs, but I suspect that mamas with chunkier babies say the same thing).
  • Cons: inserts show stains and hard water, and will begin to stink quickly if your washing routine isn’t right for your kind of water. EcoPosh diaper feels a little rough after several uses.
  • Cost: varies but are decent for the quality of diaper.

4. Thirsties: I’ve tried three kinds of their diapers–A) sized (Size 1) all-in-one (AIO): did well while my daughter was small but leaked easily when she’d held her bladder or had an explosive poo once she got bigger, yet they absorbed nicely for a newborn; B) sized (Size 1) cover: it does its job as a cover but I didn’t find anything special about them; and C) sized (Size 1) pocket: cute, with a good insert, so long as the interior lining of the pocket cover doesn’t get any repelling diaper cream or natural fiber oil on it.

  • Pros: they come in cute patterns and both kinds of closures, and are on the smaller side for smaller/thinner babies.
  • Cons: they leaked occasionally and seemed to be a bit short for a tall baby.
  • Cost: average, around the same as BG’s. Some people swear by them; my experience is mixed and it’s not my first choice of go-to diaper. However, I found it useful for a newborn.
KaWaii Baby, minky with bamboo on right

KaWaii Baby, minky with bamboo on right

5. KaWaii Baby: both of the kinds I’ve used with this brand are pockets and are fabulous. A lot of people call them “China cheapies.” They may be made in China but they are ethically produced. All of my KaWaii diapers are OS with snaps. Some came with microfiber inserts, some with bamboo (Green Baby line). I also bought several from a Facebook group, and ended up with minky (soft, fuzzy fabric on the outside of a diaper) with cute patterns. I love both kinds of inserts.

  • Pros: highly absorbent and one of my go-to night diaper solutions. Budget-friendly.
  • Cons: are made on the larger side for bigger babies; I had to wait to get into these until my daughter was a little older. Bamboo lining on diapers tends to hold stains permanently, though they fade after sunning.
  • Cost: a very inexpensive solution for those looking to get pockets without spending a great deal of money.

6. Blueberry: I only have one “deluxe” simplex pocket from Blueberry and I love it! When I received it in the mail, I knew it was a high quality diaper. I could tell just by holding it. One of my go-to nighttime solutions.

  • Pros: very absorbent, high quality PUL (waterproof fabric) and inner lining. Though mine came with microterry inserts, you can order inserts of different materials to replace them if necessary.
  • Cons: pricy. Cover needs some time in the dryer if it has bamboo lining, as it can feel rough. If line-dried instead, a fleece liner is suggested.
  • Cost: on the higher end of the diaper continuum, yet worth the price even if you only use it for a nighttime solution.
Pre-folds: (TOP) Size 1 Osocozy; (BOTTOM) Size 2 Econobum (or one-size, if the company does it that way...cannot recall)

Pre-folds: (TOP) Size 1 Osocozy; (BOTTOM) Size 2 Econobum (or one-size, if the company does it that way…cannot recall)

7. Pre-folds: I’ve used two different brands, Bummis and Osocozy. Both are unbleached Indian cotton. I love how soft they’ve stayed after daily use and frequent washing. These are my go-to daytime diaper, and I wouldn’t consider switching. I also have a couple Econobum pre-folds which are just starting to cycle into rotation (they were Size 2 and too big for the Wee One at first), so I’ll be interested in seeing how I like them.

  • Pros: cost-effective, good quality material that is nice to baby bottoms. So versatile, you can use them in everything, or wrap a more absorbent insert in one and place inside a cover or pocket diaper.
  • Cons: while absorbent, must change often (every 1-3 hours) and wash regularly (every 2-3 days) to prevent stench. Will stain, though sunning will reduce and/or get rid of the stains entirely.
  • Cost: one of the most inexpensive solutions to CDing!

8. Sustainablebabyish/Sloomb: I’ve lucked out in my purchases for this brand because they are expensive. The diapers themselves usually range in the mid-thirties. I’ve managed to get my hands on some Sbish snapless OS and Overnight Bamboo Fitteds (Size M), both of which are very absorbent and great nighttime solutions. Sloomb wool covers start at around $40. It pays to patiently stalk buy/sell/trade groups for well-kept Sbish/Sloomb products, however,

(TOP) Sbish/Sloomb products; (BOTTOM) EcoPosh by Rumparooz

(TOP) Sbish/Sloomb products; (BOTTOM) EcoPosh by Rumparooz

because they live up to their name. They are incredibly soft, plushy and easy to use. You can tell they’ll be nice to a baby’s bottom. I’ve just purchased my first wool covers (yay!), so I’ll let you know how that experience is going once I’ve received them in the mail. I also have some Sbish inserts, which I’ve used in other diapers, also liking them.

  • Pros: exquisite diapering keeping sensitive baby skin in mind. Wool covers need only to be washed about once a month–just let dry and reuse. There’s no stink!
  • Cons: need sunning when stained. They also need to have fabric softener soaks in fabric softener that is made from natural plant sources. (Ecover was recommended to me.) Very pricy.
  • Cost: as I’ve previously said, these are on the high end of the diaper continuum, but even if you were able to get a couple for overnight solutions, they’re well worth the investment. Just beware that the sized diapers will require you to purchase more in the future as baby grows older. However, if you join their mailing list, they generally notify buyers of when they have sales (often around holidays), particularly on wool. (NOTE: wool has excellent resale value, and a lot of moms purchase their sized products only to turn around and sell them again when they need money for the next size up. There are ways to be economical about wool!)

9. SoftBums: I like the quality of this pocket diaper really well, and like that the fact that the inserts snap onto the shell. Though they say to make certain you remove them from the shell before washing, mine have always agitated out on their own. The inserts themselves are good quality but soon after I began using them regularly, I found that they didn’t absorb as much as I’d like. (That could be because my daughter is a heavy wetter.) I keep the use of it to daytime.

Pockets: (TOP, left to right) Blueberry, Rumparooz, SoftBums; (BOTTOM, left to right) BabyKicks, Thirsties (Size 1)

Pockets: (TOP, left to right) Blueberry, Rumparooz, SoftBums; (BOTTOM, left to right) BabyKicks, Thirsties (Size 1)

  • Pros: nice quality fabrics on both shells and inserts. SB also comes out with a calender diaper each month, limited edition, for those who are into such things.
  • Cons: not absorbent enough for me, or else you have to really stuff it full of inserts. (You can always mix and match inserts, by the way. No reason to stick with the brand’s if you find a solution that works for you, whatever diaper shell you use.)
  • Cost: mid-range, slowly climbing up toward a higher end diaper once you buy inserts (they come separately, at least that’s how I purchased mine). With hard water, they take several washes to become absorbent.

10. Lotus Bumz: one of the “China cheapies” brands I tried when I saw them on Zulily, the only brand I purchased from a non-CD site. Honestly, they weren’t bad but they didn’t leave an impression either, so I sold them so I could have funds for better diapers (needed nighttime solutions about that time).

  • Pros: decently absorbent with plenty of room to add more inserts in the shell, which are often cute and colorful. Never saw a stain on them.
  • Cons: they felt cheap, only came with one microfiber insert.
  • Cost: another inexpensive solution for those looking to CD on a budget and desiring CD’s that are easier to use than pre-folds/covers.

11. Kissaluvs: I purchased two newborn AIO’s from this company, and loved how absorbent they were when my daughter was a wee thing. I’ve not tried any of their other diapers, most of which come in sizes, many of which need covers. (Not shown in photos.)

  • Pros: absorbent and nice fit for newborn babies.
  • Cons: inside fabric can begin feeling rough after several uses and washes. Would not use them as a nighttime solution.
  • Cost: I thought they were a great deal when I purchased them. Would do so again in the future.
Lotus Bumz pocket diapers

Lotus Bumz pocket diapers

12. BabyKicks: I actually received the one BK diaper I have as a freebie with an order. It does a great job, though it’s a bugger to stuff. It’s a very tailored CD and to my mind fits thinner children better, but the legs are large so they might fit chunkier babies too (I’ve no experience here). They only weird thing I have to say about them is that they snap opposite every other “easy” diaper I’ve ever come across, and I’m not sure why. I have also purchased some of their hemp inserts, which do a fabulous job.

  • Pros: absorbent, decently priced CD’s, excellent inserts. Easy to prep diaper cover.
  • Cons: odd snap placement, come in minimal colors (for those who care about that sort of thing), and have a very narrow middle which makes it difficult to stuff and/or use additional inserts. Takes multiple washes for inserts as they are made with natural fibers (mine took at least five prep washes).
  • Cost: mid-range. It is worth picking up the inserts separately, if you want to mix and match or use with pre-folds, as they’re good quality and do a great job.

13. GroVia: I only have one cover with this brand and use it with inserts. I have friends who swear by this company, using it almost exclusively. It is also fabulous because it is a part of a hybrid system, where you can either snap in reusable inserts or disposables. I’ve only used those inserts I’ve purchased; I have none from GroVia.

  • Pros: versatile for those looking to have the best of both worlds (CDing and ‘sposies). Good quality cover (from what I can tell) made on the larger side, and will grow with child.
  • Cons: inserts can add up, and the system is fairly particular to itself (unless you just lay your own on the inside of a shell, as I’ve done).
  • Cost: decently priced. Packages may be more cost effective than buying individual diapers.

14. Planetwise: I purchased one sized (Size 1) cover from this company. I like the quality of it, how durable it feels. I also got my wet bags from this company, save one (a WAHM product and baby shower gift), and absolutely love how well they’ve stood up to multiple washes (the pail liners) and how nicely to travel (smaller wet bags).

  • Pros: good quality materials used. Cover comes in an average size that will grow (to 15 pounds) with your child.
  • Cons: can be hard to get in the right size/pattern you like. Also, if you want to keep the same pattern for the cover, you’ll have to purchase the next size up.
  • Costs: mid-range but good for quality of fabrics/materials used.

One word on “China cheapies”: there are a whole slew of diapers out there you can purchase at bargain basement prices, many of which are manufactured in China. There can be many issues with them, including (but not limited to) delamination of the waterproof material, snaps breaking, stitching unraveling, inserts not absorbing much, chemical sensitivities with babies, and so forth. But the biggest issue with these diapers is that they flood the CD market with very inexpensive options, undermining the (often) small manufacturers who are producing ethically-produced, eco- and baby-friendly options. While it isn’t horrible to purchase these (this is not to make anyone whose purchased these for their stashes feel bad in the least, only as a learning opportunity–you must do what you feel is best), it always behooves us to do our research for each and every company we choose to purchase from. If you don’t have the time to do that, then I highly recommend buying through a legitimate CD retailer to limit having potential bad experiences while helping maintain the CD community’s reputation for good quality products strong.

It seems like a lot, but I promise there are dozens more brands that I’ve not even covered. Please feel free to read my other posts on CDing. There are a couple other, more extensive CD reviews in the links. I’ll finish off by leaving you with the bleach soak ratio that I was given for when diapers gain a “barnyard” or ammonia smell:

Use clean diapers only, soaking them in cold water with given amount of bleach (with at least 5.25% sodium hypochlorite) for 30 minutes (some do it up to two hours). Rinse in hot water, and then wash normally. Amounts given below are for HE top-loader; double bleach amounts for a regular top-loader. Tub soak and small vessel soak also given.

HE Top-loader

  • Small load: 1/4 c. per load
  • Medium load: 1/3 c. per load
  • Large load: 1/2 c. per load

Bathtub

  • Small: 1/4 c. for 1/4 full tub
  • Medium: 1/2 c. for 1/2 full tub
  • Large: 3/4 c. for 3/4 full tub

Small vessel

  • 1 Tbs per gallon

If done with the correct dilution, none of your diapers (even minky) will fade, and the stink will go away. If a bleach smell remains, consider washing them once more or leaving them out in the sun to finish drying and/or air out. It’s amazing what the sun will destroy.

If you’re hesitant about bleach, don’t worry. There are other ammonia/stink killers out there, including Rockin’ Green’s Ammonia Buster and RLR. However, some people say that these don’t keep the stink away. Still, everyone’s CD experience is uniquely theirs. Don’t knock it before you try it, I say. (One last word of caution when it comes to cleaning diapers: Cascade soaks destroy the waterproofing on diapers. Please avoid it.)

***

Author’s note: all CD and BW photos are taken from my own stashes. Also, I’m not an affiliate for Amazon. I simply suggest that place because it’s easy to locate the things I mention there. Shop around for the best price!

Wow! I can hardly believe that it’s almost Spring! Time flies when you’re having fun, and I’m definitely doing that. Watching my little one grow up brings surprises and smiles each new day. I am constantly amazed at how fresh everything seems to her each morning, and encourage everyone to stop and consider their life situation from that fresh perspective babies bring into our lives. I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly in awe of it.

I hope these articles and recipes bring some freshness into your life today. I’m not certain where you live but I know that here things are putting on blooms and leaves. Spring, it seems, is definitely on the way.

Articles

How Much Does Costco Save You?

No More Magic Erasers or Scrubbing Frustrations

2-ingredient DIY Deodorant

When Sugar Isn’t Sweetness

Must-have Resources for Going Gluten-free

Beginner Guide to 8 Yoga Styles

Science and the Pilates Method

12 Ways to Wake Up Caffeine Free

8 Reasons Tomatoes Can Keep You Young

How Much Protein is Too Much?

Is Tabata All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

How Intense is Too Intense?

Walking (the Latest Research; with weighted vest)

4 Strength Training Mistakes

Strength Training Workout (Beginner)

Supercharge Pushups

5 Fat-burning Yoga Poses

6 Alkaline Foods to Eat Daily for Vibrant Health

Recipes

Manchego Olive Freeform Bread

Bone Marrow Butter

Toasted Coconut Almond Butter

Nobu Matsuhisa Recipes (Japanese; and here are his Hand Rolls)

Homemade Yogurt Recipes

Roasted Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese (Vegan)

GF Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Cherry Chia Power Treats

Chocolate Avocado Truffles (Paleo)

Chocolate-covered Medjool Date Bars

Nutty Lucuma Bars

10 Healthy PB Recipes

3-layer No-bake Apricot Tarts

OPTP brand, found on Amazon

OPTP brand, found on Amazon

You may or may not have heard about it. You may have seen people in the gym rolling across three-foot foam logs that come in a myriad of colors, textures, and firmnesses with grimaces and even sweat, and thought, “What the heck are they doing?” You’re not alone. Foam rolling, while beneficial, isn’t always discussed in fitness classes or online. You’re more likely to hear about it from a personal trainer, physical therapist, or sometimes a massage therapist.

 

In essence, foam rolling is a self-myofascial release technique that helps detoxify, stretch, relax, and heal the body. It’s basically the same thing massage therapists do to you when you’re relaxing on their table, only you’re the one working out all the kinks. And there can be a lot of kinks: soft tissue adhesions (waste products collected between the muscle fibers and the fascia, that sheath network that gives us our shape), scar tissue, loss of flexibility, increased tightness throughout muscles and tendons, and injuries.

 

There are a lot of benefits to foam rolling, including increased circulation throughout the body, the detoxification of muscles and elimination of waste products from the body, increased flexibility (range of motion) and lengthening of short muscles, stress reduction, injury prevention and reduction of joint pain, self-induced relaxation and self-massage when money is tight. Yes, they are half the cost (or more) of one massage session. While massages are fantastic and may be more beneficial, not everyone can afford to go every 1-4 weeks, as is recommended.

 

When using a foam roller, pay attention to a few details. First, while you can virtually roll over any muscles (and tendons with care/caution), it’s important not to roll over: 1) muscle attachment sites, 2) bony protrusions and joints, and 3) unsupported structures (mainly the lower back and belly cavity). Second, pay attention to your breath–do breathe while rolling so the body has a chance to whisk away the toxins you’re breaking up. Third, this isn’t a comfortable activity, and the tighter and/or more active you are, the more painful rolling will be in the beginning. The key is to stick with it, find a roller that works for you, and have patience. It’s really important to roll slowly (about an inch per second, or less), so that means breathing, panting, grunting, crying, whatever you must do to break up adhesions and create fascial traction and length through your muscles.

 

Finally, when you find a particularly painful spot, stop! Let the roller’s firmness sink against it for 30-90 seconds. These painful spots are large kinks and knots within the muscles that need release. Slowly build up to the full 90 seconds over time as your pain tolerance increases. Also, make certain that you roll across each muscle group at least three times before switching to another side/group.

 

ProSource, found on Amazon

ProSource, found on Amazon

Here is my personal rolling routine, which I share when teaching, starting on the front of the body and working toward the back:

 

  • Feet: Stand on roller with one or both feet (holding onto something sturdy for balance) and walk as if on a log. The fascia in the feet can, and often do, affect everything else on the way up. If uncomfortable using a roller for this, you can use a can of food or a rubbery ball (great for a more targeted approach to the feet). If you cannot roll every day, try to do 5 minutes per foot a day at the end of each day.
  • Quadriceps (front of thighs): rolling from hip crease to just above the knee. I roll across the quads two separate ways, straight on (parallel to the floor) and at a 45-degree angle (to target the outside muscles of the quad group). Make certain your abs support your back.
  • Iliotibial (IT) band (outer thigh): rolling from the outside of the hip to just above the knee. Take your time. This one hurts the most! But it’s also possibly one of the most important ones to do.
  • Inner thighs (adductors): rolling from pubic bone to just above the knee.
  • Tibialis anterior (shins): rolling from just below the knee to the ankle. A lot of times we forget this muscle group, but this is where we get shin splints. It’s good to balance out with the calves.
  • Gastrocnemius and soleus (calves): from the heel (or as far down onto the Achilles tendon as you are comfortable going) to just below the knee. Turn the legs inside and outside to get the whole muscle group. For additional depth, cross one leg over the other and roll, again turning the leg to the inside/outside before switching sides. Prop your hands up on books or yoga blocks to assist in lifting your bottom, or keep one foot on the floor to help, as needed.
  • Hamstrings (back of thighs): from just above the knee to the ischium tuberiosities (sit bones). Great ab workout also if using the core to roll. Use books or yoga blocks as props for the hands to assist in lifting your bottom, or a foot on the floor if doing one leg at a time.
  • Thoracic spine: from lower ribs to the shoulders. Really enjoy this one, lifting the hips as you roll toward the shoulders and lowering them as you roll toward the floating ribs. Remember not to roll onto the unsupported lumbar region. Keep the abs supporting the back and pelvis. For additional work into the latissimus dorsi, rotate shoulders to one side and roll to the shoulder blade, then repeat on the other side.
  • Latissiumus dorsi and teres minor (side of ribs): from armpit to as low as possible on ribcage. This is a major attachment site for the muscles of the back, and a major player in upper back pain and headaches. There is no graceful way to do this pose (I often feel like a slug), but be mindful of how much pressure you place on the ribs. (If you’d like, you can also take the roller above the shoulder girdle and target both the triceps and biceps (upper arms) for a complete full-body workout.)
  • Pectoralis minor and/or the chest: roll from clavicles to the sternum (breastbone). Men may be able to roll fully on the chest. For women, it’s best if we angle ourselves off to the side and roll across the pec minor. (Trust me, I experimented in class once with the full-on chest roll: there were 17 students, most of whom were women; one of the swore it was worse than a mammogram!) Roll side-to-side gently.
  • Wrist flexors: from just below elbow to wrists. Let the fingers curl on their own. Roll arms side-to-side as desired to get the whole muscle group. Fantastic for treating carpel tunnel.
  • Neck: place the roller under the neck while lying on the floor, knees bent and feet on the floor. Nod the chin up and down slowly. Then rock head right to left slowly. Enjoy. This is wonderful for lengthening the connective tissues related to the cranium (skull) and helps with headaches.
  • Spine and rhomboids: lie on roller with bottom at one end, head supported at the other. Let the body melt over the roller. When ready, with feet wider than hip width and hands on mat, gently rock across the spine side-to-side, letting the head fall in the opposite direction of the rocking motion. When finished, extend arms up overhead and target the rhomboids by bringing elbows down wide till they’re aligned with the shoulders (I call it “Chicken wings”).
  • Relax on floor for 3-5 minutes to absorb the benefits you’ve just earned.

 

One final note: there are a lot of kinds of rollers out there. Pink ones, black ones, bumpy ones, textured ones, half rollers, quarter rollers, rollers with a flat side, egg-shaped rollers. I recommend that beginners find a full-sized smooth roller in a firmness they can tolerate–a softer roller for those with less pain tolerance, a harder one for those with more–at a price they can stand paying. If a full-sized one won’t travel well, a smooth roller half its size will. If unsure of what to choose, softer is better. For the price that most of these are, you can afford to purchase a firmer roller down the road if you make foam rolling a part of your exercise routine.

 

A great picture guide of foam rolling exercises here.

Beetroot (beta vulgaris) is one of the vegetables that I’m slowly learning to use. Apparently, I adored it as a baby (who knew?!) but have strangely had an aversion to them after a taste test during my childhood. Poor Grandma fed me canned beets–blech! The real deal is much better, and it helps that my hubby loves them. Hence my careful journey into the culinary cuisine called beets.

 

Nowadays, beets can be found nearly year-round, though being a taproot they are best harvested in the summer and fall (June-October is the peak season) for organic produce. The main reason, I believe, that beets are found in abundance in grocery stories these days is because they are often used to produce sugar. In fact, the sugar beet accounts for as much as 20% of the world’s sugar production.

 

Beets, posted to Wikipedia (linked)

Beets, posted to Wikipedia (linked)

That being said, beets are highly nutritious. Belonging to the same family as chard and like greens, both the root and the greens can be eaten. The greens are bitter whereas the root, which could come in white, gold or the popular red-purple hues, is often sweet due to its high sugar content. The roots can be eaten raw but are more often steamed or boiled. When selecting beets in a store, make sure the greens are fresh-looking, but if they are slightly wilted, you can restore freshness by placing them in water in the refrigerator; if they are past freshness, simply cut them off and discard. (I made the mistake of cooking old greens once–newbie mistake, I know–and the amount of dirt we ate was incredible. We got our peck of dirt for the year!) Beets can be stored with the greens attached in the fridge for 3-5 days, but if the greens are removed they’ll keep 2-4 weeks. When removing greens, cut about two inches above the root to prevent “bleeding” and store greens in a separate perforated plastic bag (they’ll keep about four days). If freezing, cook the beets beforehand so they retain their texture and flavor.

 

Beet greens have higher nutritional value than the beetroot, containing calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C, though beetroot is full of folic acid, fiber, manganese and potassium. Both are sources of magnesium, phosphorous (good for calcium absorption), iron and vitamin B6. One 3.5-ounce serving of greens contains 27 calories and three grams of fiber. The same serving of the root provides 44 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrate, predominately sugars.

 

Having long been used for medicinal purposes, beets help stimulate liver detoxification processes. Studies suggest that beets have anticancer properties connected with their reddish-purple color, caused by betacyanin. Combined with fiber, betacyanin may be responsible for protecting against colon and stomach cancers. Researchers also suggest that the betaines in beets may help reduce the risks associated with heart disease and will reduce blood pressure for hypertensive patients. Furthermore, they have a favorable effect on bowel function.

 

Some people who eat beets may see red or pink discharge in their urine or stool, called beeturia. This is created by betanin, or beetroot red, a harmless compound that cannot be broken down by the body.

 

Below are a couple of interesting recipes I hope to try soon:

Can’t Beet This Juice!

Sneaky Beet Brownies

 

Resources

Murray, Michael N.D., Pizzorno, Joseph, N.D., with Pizzorno, Lara, M.A./L.M.T. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY, 2005; p. 164-166.

Margen, Sheldon, M.D., and editors of UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. Wellness Foods, A to Z: And Indispensable Guide for Health-conscious Food Lovers. New York, NY, 2002; p. 192-193.

Wikipedia (articles linked above)

I hope this shortest of months is bringing us some results on our health, wellness, and fitness goals. Remember, it takes at least six weeks to really start seeing sustained results for weight loss, strength gains, flexibility increases, and so forth. Patience is the key!

 

Here are some articles on how to maximize your workout and diet regimens, and some healthy recipes, some of which are chocolaty–yummmm–to savor during this cold, snowy (in many areas) February. Wishing you a very happy Valentine’s Day!

 

The Link is What You Think

The Physiology of Fat Loss

Upper-body Causes of Pain and How to Fix Them

Training Glutes for Form and Function

When Money is Tight, Weekly Yoga Can Do the Trick

Exercises for Fibromyalgia

4 Cardio Mistakes to Avoid

5 Exercises to Include in Every Workout

6 Workout Rules to Ignore

Supercharge the Ab Crunch

5 Full-body Exercises that Challenge You

Look Better in Leggings Workout

6 Detox Yoga Pose Sequence

10 Ways to Detoxify Your Body

Breakfast as a Weight Loss Strategy Off?

Avocado Curves Appetite

A Magnesium Primer

Black Bean Burgers with Sriracha Aioli

Warming Winter Soup Recipes

Raspberry Custard Tartlette

Secret Ingredient No Bake Macaroons

Allergen-free Valentine’s Day Desserts/Treats

How to Store Ginger

Roasted Sunflower Seed Butter

Just Beet It Muffins

A pregnant woman’s body undergoes a lot of changes. The demands placed upon it by the relaxin and progesterone, the hormones responsible for opening up the body in preparation for birth and hence the reason why so many women see increased flexibility, can place joints in danger of destabilization and muscles as risk of imbalance. An extreme example of such things happening is a woman who has never been particularly flexible in the past going into a yoga class and discovering that she can bend and twist herself into any shape her heart desires, only to find postpartum that she needs physical therapy because the ligament structures around her joints have overstretched. (Ligaments do not shorten back up like muscles do.)

 

With that said, there are ways of maintaining strength around the joint capsule to balance the increased range of motion that accompanies pregnancy hormones. Here are a few that I used while pregnant. Try to do at least 10 per day. The more, the merrier!

 

Abdominal Scoops: Sit in a chair or on a stability ball with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Slowly hollow out the belly on an exhale as though you were trying to scoop ice cream out of the cavity, or trying to pull on pants that are extremely tight. Release on the inhale. NOTE: This is not like a crunch, which can exacerbate the stretching and/or separation (in extreme cases) of the linea alba (the tendon that runs down the middle of the rectus abdominus) potentially leading to a hernia; nor will it harm the baby if done gently and with control. The idea is to lift the pelvic floor, zipper the abs and lower ribs closed, and feel supported throughout the lower back and pelvis, areas into which we crunch when we are carrying added weight. (With pregnancy, the pelvis will shift, increasing the pressure.) Also, ensure that you are sitting as tall as possible, with shoulders lined up directly over the hips.

 

Planks: From an all-fours position, place elbows directly beneath the shoulder girdles and step one foot at a time out into plank. If in need of a modification, once feet are in place, drop the knees to the floor to prevent sinking into the lower back. Push into the heels (if on the feet), lift through the abs (again, think “scoop”) while lengthening the tailbone toward the back wall, and open the collarbones by rolling the shoulder blades back and down the spine, thereby giving space for the neck. Keep the gaze slightly forward rather than down. Hold for 30 seconds per plank, doing as many as is comfortable (up to 10). Rest in Child’s Pose. NOTE: If you feel pressure in the lower back come out of the exercise and rest before trying again. The focus should be on supporting the back and pelvis rather than holding for expended periods of time. If you need someone to help you get into the correct position, ask a trusted friend or gym trainer to help with corrections. The goal is to look like a table upon which you could serve your favorite meal without sagging or peaking at the hips and low back.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiA9j-dR0oM

 

Open-legged squats, also known as moonflowers: Stepping wide and pointing the toes toward the corners of the room (about 45 degrees), reach the arms up into a high-V, fingers spread. Take an inhale. On an exhale, sit into a squat, making sure you can see your big toes, coming no lower than a 90 degree angle with the knee. Inhale return to standing. Do as many as you like. NOTE: think of yourself as an elevator, sliding up and down a building. Try to maintain a nice neutral spine while doing so, without the bottom sticking out or the chest collapsing forward. Also try to keep the knees from caving inward past the big toes. This will put huge stress loads on the medial ligaments supporting the joint and can eventually lead to repetitive use injuries. Contract the gluts slightly and feel the thighs wrap around the outside of the leg in order to prevent this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7iZi2D2rV8

 

Close-legged squats, also known as flowing chair: With feet slightly wider than hip-width for balance support, exhaling and reach the hands out in front of you (or keep them at the heart, pressed together) and sit back into the heels as though you were going to sit into a chair. Perhaps you start by using a chair until you feel capable of doing it without it. Inhale back to standing. Do as many as you like. This exercise is great for the pelvic floor. See if you can feel a gentle lift in the perineum muscles. NOTE: Knee collapsing is also a problem in this exercise; to avoid this, make sure the toes are in line with the ankle and knees in line with the toes. Again try to also keep the chest lifted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur-W02QtIRU

 

Chest lifts, also known as flowing half forward bend: With feet far enough apart to supply room for your growing belly, bend the knees and place hands on the shins, a pair of yoga blocks or anything that will support you in this low position so you aren’t loading the spine. Inhale deeply. Exhale and use the back muscles only to lift the chest away from the floor, letting arms dangle for added weight or resting hands lightly on the thighs (above the knees) for support while ensuring that they do not assist in the lift. Inhale and return to starting position. This exercise is great for correcting poor posture resulting from pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as the daily slouching we do while sitting. NOTE: At the initiation of the lift, feel as though the shoulder blades are sliding down the back into your back pants pockets, and from there the muscles of the upper and middle spine will work. Also, there is a great temptation to look forward toward a wall rather than keeping the gaze on the floor. Try to avoid this, as the head is a natural weight that challenges and strengthens your back muscles without putting too much strain on them. Keeping the neck in a neutral position will also avoid straining its muscles and crunching into the delicate cervical vertebrae.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,094 other followers