I’ve seen it so often. Women find out their pregnant, start feeling the effects of it, and quit coming to the gym or their classes. When I see them again postpartum, they feel huge and out of shape.

 

Now, let me preface this by saying that I’m not throwing rocks. I know how debilitating some of pregnancy’s “side effects” are. As one who has experienced hyperemesis through two pregnancies myself, it can be extremely difficult to lift your head to do a daily task (other than hang out with the toilet) let alone get yourself dressed for a workout.

 

I’m also going to say that working out is theĀ only thing that saved me from 1) losing my lunch (and my mind) completely and 2) turning into a couch potato. Even though by eight weeks I could no longer do my usual workouts due to the severity of my nausea, practicing and teaching Yoga and Pilates really, really helped me maintain a healthy weight, keep down the nausea, maintain strength and flexibility and a strong core (essential for delivering babies), and mental clarity.

 

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Pregnancy is a wonderful new adventure, and the perfect time to clean up your routine. This doesn’t necessarily mean starting something new or increasing your goals. It means making small, healthy changes that benefit you and the baby and your household. Gentle, consistent exercise is the main way to keep pregnancy side effects at bay. It helps maintain muscle tone and bone strength, increases adherence to healthy behaviors and therefore a healthy weight, increases circulation and oxygen to the body (and baby), increases positive mindset and mood while decreasing anxiety and depression, and also reduces all the side effects of pregnancy such as swelling, excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes, insomnia and exhaustion.

 

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This sounds wonderful (and is!) but I always provide a word of caution. Whenever pregnant, make sure you consult your physician and/or OB about your routine. Each pregnancy is unique and needs to be well attended by both you and your doctor. Complications and contraindications can occur at any time, in which case you must curtail or change your regimen to meet doctor’s orders. Never go against them (seek a second opinion if you don’t agree with the decision) for your own sake and that of the baby.

 

Most of all, enjoy the journey. Be gentle with yourself. You are venturing down a new path–yes, even those of us who have multiple children, it’s still new because there’s another one coming šŸ˜‰ Take care of the important things, learn to let the little things go, and laugh a lot. Children are precious and fun…and I bet you’ll feel better when you do!

Working Out with Toddlers

September 15, 2016

A lot of us have been there, are there, or will be there. We’re trying to be healthy and exercise…and we’ve got littles running around, climbing on you or something else, and it’s really,Ā really hard to focus or get a full set of reps in when you’re constantly jumping up to handle some situation. Some days are better than others. Some days you want to throw in the towel.

 

Don’t!

 

One of the things I’ve been doing a lot this summer is exercising out of my own home. It’s hard. I love going to the gym. I love having “me time.” I mean, IĀ really love having “me time.” I need it. It’s part of the way I stay healthy and sane as a full-time parent. Yet this summer was incredibly challenging because a) hubby ended up working third shift at his job, which meant he slept most of the day, and b) I don’t have anyone to help me handle kids (without having to pay a sitter, and that is not always an option with our tight budget).

 

I’ve been analyzing what has and has not been working for me and I think I’ve come up with a short but sweet list of ways to exercise at home while you have (young) children present:

 

Pick a time of day you want to exercise andĀ stick to it.

I recommend mornings since that is when we have the most self-control and self-motivation, but that doesn’t always work for some people. Whether it’s evenings after the kids go to bed or nap time or another time altogether, mark it in your daily calendar and just do it.

 

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Plan out what you’re going to do before you do it.

This way you can exercise without having to dither about whether to grab weight or that DVD, or not, saving you time. This also means that if you want to start a new regimen, you need to discuss it with your doctor (where applicable; for instance, when you’re recovering from childbirth or have an ongoing illness/medical condition), order the appropriate equipment and literature, etc.

 

Set ground rules while you’re working out.

Your kids need to know what is and isn’t safe–and there are things we use or do while exercising that are not safe for children. Educate yourself on them and draw the line in the sand. This will not only establish what is and isn’t allowed as far as behavior and play go during this time, it also sends a message to your kids that they AND your exercise matter.

 

Invite your kids to join you.

As counter-intuitive as this sounds, asking your children to join you during a dance video or while you are stretching out on your yoga mat will lead to them practicing healthier behaviors later in life and a whole lot of good memories too.

 

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Mom and Daughter Exercising

 

When all else fails and you just need some “quiet time”, ask for help!

It’s okay to seek out some help from a friend, family, or a spouse. Offer to trade gym time with a girlfriend or ask your spouse for an hour every day they can spare it. Do not feel guilty or be embarrassed to ask. Remember that you’re worth this time: it will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to handle all the situations life (and your kids) throw at you.

 

Finally, remember to keep a very good sense of humor! Toddlers want to be involved in everything you’re doing and they’re going to want to be at the center of it all. In my own experience, that means sitting in my lap when I’m working on stretches. Take a deep breath, talk to them (I know, not very yogi-like), and delight in their hugs and kisses. They grow up so fast. Enjoy them while you can. These moments will make sweet memories on which you can dwell the rest of your life, even when you’re once again a regular gym rat.

Fitness & Body Image

June 16, 2016

I know I’ve talked about this before, but I’ve seen a surge in referencing the body (particularly, a female body) and being happy with it on social media recently, so I thought I’d touch on the subject again by busting a common fitness myth that is perpetuated in virtually every magazine, fitness or otherwise, in existence today. Whether we know it or not, we believe this myth. We believe that “being skinny” equates to health and happiness.

 

***Insert explosion sound here.***

 

Thinness in the media isĀ not healthy. It is not even real most of the time! If you don’t believe me, just watch this video.

 

 

Don’t misunderstand me here. A thinner body can mean that someone is healthy, but not always. Skinny people are as likely to suffer from heart disease, chronic illness, and other maladies as readily as those considered overweight and obese. Just because someone has a specific body type does not mean they are healthy. Health-related habits play a large role in how healthy someone really is.

 

Yet there is a correlation between waist circumference and health. Those who have extra padding around the belly are more likely to suffer from heart disease than those who carry it on their hips; and both groups are at higher risk for obesity-related illness and disease than those who exercise on a regular basis.

 

Two other things that I want you to consider. First, even if you are someone who goes to the gym for half an hourĀ each day, you may not be doing yourself any good. Too much sitting, whether it be at home or at a job, can actually hinder any healthy changes that any gym activity may give you.

 

On the other hand, increased daily activity in any form can actually improve your overall health. This happens due to the fact that while activity increases, the caloric intake stays the same (so long as one’s diet doesn’t change or increase). I think this, in part, is why so many people are loving the FitBit and other activity-logging devices and apps.

 

Here’s another myth I want to end with regards to fitness, and in particular mind-body fitness. Pilates and yogaĀ are not just for skinny people. These practices are meant for every body and everybody! If you don’t believe me, just watch this video!

 

 

The point then: move, and enjoy moving because you’re doing something for yourself. In the end, being compassionate and grateful for yourself, body, heart and mind, is the only way that you will feel happy…and happiness, in my opinion, leads to a desire to be healthy and enjoy healthy lifestyle behaviors!

I Am Invictus

May 19, 2016

Over the last week, I’ve watched what I could of the Invictus Games through Facebook posts. I am really, really upset that all that was offered on ESPN was a recap of the games and some coverage of the Opening and Closing ceremonies. It’s gotten me thinking about an organization that my husband is a part of, 22 Until None. Their goal is to end the rampant suicide epidemic that plagues veterans, a fact that was driven so close to home for us last summer when one of my husband’s men committed suicide in the parking garage of the barracks. It shook everyone in the command up. Many, including my husband, went to speak with counselors about it–he was like one of our kids.

 

The whole goal of the Invictus Games is to spread awareness of the struggles, the triumphs, and the sacrifices that military Ā men and women from around the world have endured, and how they haveĀ overcome them. It is not about survival, for veterans don’t want to be looked at as mere survivors. What they have done deserves more than this casual take. They have done so much more, and have conquered. They areĀ unconquerable. They areĀ unconquered. Invictus.

 

Yoga and Pilates are two passions that I’ve taught for a long, long time, and it’s made me very determined to help those who struggle not only with physical needs but also metal needs. One of the things I love most about the Invictus Games, 22 Until None, Help for Heroes, etc., is the fact that they are reaching out to veterans who may not have any noticeable scars but carry with them the invisible ones caused by the stress and trauma of warfare. It is my intention to reach out to this community and help them through physical fitness and therapy. More and more studies are showing that practices like yoga help ease both physical suffering and mental anguish associated with PTSD.

 

I want to take a moment and just say this to anyone suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental states caused by trauma, whether or not you’re a veteran: you aren’t alone. There are people ready to help you. All you need to do is ask; no one will judge you.

 

Don’t let the painĀ win.

 

You also can be Invictus.

 

 

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I have completely fallen off the blogging bandwagon since January. Let me tell you, I’ve thought about you and this blog many times, but transitioning out of the military, being a mom, and finding work (and working my Jamberry Nails business) have really consumed my every waking moment. Regardless, I am extremely thrilled to be back at Hillsdale College. This little community has really welcomed hubby and I back with open arms. Indeed, I’m tutoring Greek with the Classics Department and I’m offering a few classes both on campus and in the local area.

 

If you live in Hillsdale, Jonesville, Allen, Litchfield, Moscow, Quincy, and Coldwater, Michigan, areas, please check out my Pilates and yoga classes at the Goodlife Yoga CenterĀ (the new term has begun, so don’t miss out on lengthening, strengthening, and de-stressing!) and Hillsdale College (contact the school for details). I’d love to see you!

 

I am working on ideas to revamp my blog, as I feel it’s time to switch things up, and would love input. What would you like to see? Share your thoughts and opinions!!!!

May 2016 Bring You Joy!

January 6, 2016

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First off, Happy New Year! I hope that you find much joy in it. When things get hard, think about how far you’ve come instead of focusing on where things went wrong!

 

Second, I know I promised a third part to my major articles and links series in December, but life ate me. Seriously. It ate me. It swooped in like a huge pterodactyl and swallowed me whole. So that third post didn’t get done. Instead, I’m going to spice things up again and change up my posting this year, focusing on shorter but info-packed posts in order to accommodate my busy schedule.

 

Last, I’d love to hear from you! Tell me what you’d like to see from me this year. It can be anything from diet to exercise to mindfulness moments. I’m all ears!

I haven’t been on hardly at all lately. I’ve been caught between three giants that are taking all of my time:

  1. My family, because that’s just where it’s at šŸ™‚
  2. Getting ready to move to MI in December–this is fast approaching!
  3. National Novel Writing Month because it’s awesome!

I suppose I should add Jamberry onto that list. It is taking my evenings and I’m having SO MUCH FUN doing it! I cannot get enough of this product or the company, and am so glad I signed up! Have questions? Ask me, please!

But on to the real reason I’m writing! I’m trying to play catch up this morning, so I’m going to leave you with all the links and articles I’ve collected over the past few months. I really need to share them with you and get them out of my mail box! Because I have so many, I’m going to share them in three installments. This is the first! Enjoy and please feel free to contact me! I’d love to connect.

Articles

Are You Wearing the Right Shoes?

What are the Benefits to Fasted-State Cardio?

Build Your Biceps Workout

Turkish Get Up

Improve Wrist Mobility

TRX Plank Variations for a Stronger Core

Pilates/PNF for Improved Balance?

15 Yoga Poses that Improve Balance

16 Poses for a Strong and Stable Core

A Yoga Practice that Won’t Bear Weight on Hands/Knees

5 Lessons Yoga Taught Me About Failure

But I Thought All Yoga Was Therapeutic

How to Incorporate Pumpkin Into Your Diet

Food Swaps for Increased Energy

The Encyclopedia of Chicken Stock

5 Ways Einkorn is Different From Wheat

Emerging Male Eating Disorder Tied to Supplement Use

Free Radicals: Antioxidants and Exercise

Using Essential Oils for Kids–What is Safe?

Choosing a Carrier Oil to Enhance EO Therapeutic Properties

Tisserand Institute Special Report: Undiluted Truth: Cinnamon Oil

Argan-Avocado Soap-free Face Wash

How Well Does Before School Exercise “Build Our Kids’ Success”?

Regular Exercise before Pregnancy Key to Minimizing Common Pregnancy Pains

Recipes

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

3 Vegetarian Recipes to Try

Chop Fall Salad

Paleo Chicken Tenders

Oatmeal Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Maple Cookies

Autoimmune Protocol Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

Wow! I totally forgot it was the last week of the month last week, and so forgot to post these! Here are some awesome articles and recipes! Enjoy and stay cool!

Articles

A Girl’s Guide to Weight Training

6 Benefits of Using Weightlifting Machines

The Science of Suspension Exercise

7 Squat Variations

Master the Push Up

Summer-inspired Core Circuit

3 Exercises to Do Instead of Burpees

3 Arm Balance Secrets

4 Ways to Avoid Yoga Injuries

Hip Anatomy: Build Stability

The Science of Breathing

Fuzzy Thinking?

Should You Go Grain-free?

Women, Alcohol, and the Snack Attack

35 Homemade Spice Mixes

Natural Sunburn Relief

Recipes

Coconut Raspberry Bread

Cucumber, Chickpea, and Pita Salad

Fried Rice Recipe (with Cauliflower option)

Grilled Steak Fajitas

Indian Street “Burger”

Zucchini Cake

Peach Almond Crisp

Homemade Chocolate Pudding Pie (No Tofu)

No Bake Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream

5 Green Smoothie Recipes

Holy smokes! This month totally got away from me! Here’s to getting back into a routine come July! Until then, enjoy these fantastic articles and recipes (yes, there are more than two this time LOL)!

Articles

Mental Toughness Techniques for Peak Performance

Reciprocal Superset Training Burns More Calories (Study)

The Secrets to Behavioral Change: Principles & Practice

Pregnant Instructor FAQs

Tips for Group Fit Instructors

5 Exercises Every Runner Should Do

6 Exercises for a Stronger Core

5 x 5 Workout to Improve Strength

15-minute Drill to Rev Up Cardio

Strengthening Techniques to Alleviate Muscle/Joint Pain

Which Physical Activities = Better Sleep?

How to Tell if You’ve Reached a Plateau

5 Exercise Mistakes that Could Get You Hurt

Become a Healthy Road Warrior

Best Approach to Recovery: Passive vs. Active

Stretching for Men

Plank Pose

The Art of Falling on Your Face

Pilates Practice and Cholesterol Levels

Help for Pregnant Women with Depression

Meditation and Healthy Aging

Mindful Tips to Avoid Technology Addiction

America’s Top 5 Diets

Navigating the Summer BBQ (Podcast)

What You Need to Know about Coconut Water

Sugar Shock: Why It’s Time to Get Serious about Taming the Sweet Tooth

Mindfulness is the Best Sweetener

Make Natural Bug Repellent

About Beautycounter Products

Recipes

Berry Quinoa Salad

Lamb Tacos

Honey Sesame Chicken (Paleo)

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

Raw Fudge Brownie Chunk Ice Cream

Matcha Chip Ice Cream

Best Iced Coffee You’ve Ever Had

I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. It’s slow and sometimes I’m not going to get to blogging, but I’m trying to get back to this as often as I possibly can! I really love writing and sharing all the wonderful information I learn each month along the way!

A few small tips to take your fitness routines to the next level:

  • If you’ve not checked out Yoga International’s website, you should. They do free week-long mini-immersions that might pique your interest.
  • Recent studies state that cross-training is vital to overall health and the prevention of muscular imbalances in the body. Whether you’re a mind-body enthusiast or CrossFit pro, consider doing something completely different from your norm.
  • I’m a huge proponent for barefoot running (I love my Vibrams!) but I also know that barefoot shoes are not for everyone. Consider researching forward- and mid-foot strikes to minimize the extreme forces placed upon your joints and lower back from heel-strike running patterns.

I’m chuckling to myself because apparently I forgot to keep recipes this month! There are two tasty breakfasts for you to try, but most of this edition of articles and recipes is dedicated to strength training!

Articles

8 Ways Strength Training Creates Change

Train This, Not That: Legs

Complex Training: Strength and Conditioning

Strength Training for a Cardio Fan

9 Exercises You Didn’t Know You Could Do with a Barbell

Plank Variations for Core Strength

Resistance Training for Endurance Athletes

Outdoor Functional Training Exercises

Total Body Battle Ropes Workout

Which Comes First: Strength or Cardio?

Alleviate Muscle and Joint Pain with Self-myofascial Release (Part 1)

Alleviate Muscle and Joint Pain with Stretching Techniques (Part 2)

Uniform Movement is Injurious, Cross-training is Essential

The Easiest Mistake to Make in Backbends

Releasing Tension in the Psoas

Yoga for School Teachers (video)

Yoga for Strengthening Your Back (video)

Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Pregnant Women

Mindfulness Meditation Restructures Brain’s Gray Matter

New Findings On Alzheimer’s Risk

5 Tips to Detox Your Body and Get Back on Track

Eating More Whole Grains/Bran Tied to Lower Mortality

How to Get to Sleep When You Have a Cold (EO’s)

Heliochrysum and Lavender EO’s for Bruises

Essential Oils for Teething?

All About Hydrosols

How to Melt Shea Butter/Natural Oils for Body Care

Recipes

Raspberry Coconut Creme Brulee Oatmeal

Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Pancakes (gluten-free)