Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Prevent Diastasis Recti

So I have had a lot of questions after my previous post on Diastasis Recti on how to prevent it. Well the short answer is, you can’t really prevent it. Now I can’t find much research on this but I would think that having tight abdominals, having a large baby, gaining a lot of weight, and how you are carrying your baby (to the front or side, etc) would all attribute to how likely you are to develop it.
BUT… even if you have a diastasis, you can still prevent it from getting worse!! There are many things you can do to prevent your abs from continuing to separate. First off get some proper support, I recently discovered the ‘Belly Sports Bra’ from Bao Bei Maternity. You can buy one here. Also using the Kinesiotaping technique I describe in my previous post herehelps great deal both before and after pregnancy! Even if you find it does get worse, don’t stress, this can be helped after the birth with specific exercises that target your Transverse Abdominis (TA) like the ones I mentioned in some of my other posts.
What makes the biggest difference is monitoring and modifying your EVERYDAY activities. Even if you don’t workout you can still be making this worse just going through your normal routine! The worst culprit is getting out of bed. Most people have the abdominal strength to simply sit up and get out of bed like you normally would, this puts a HUGE amount of pressure on that midline essentially tearing your abs apart slightly more each time (not a pretty picture right!). Some things you can do to help this include log rolling when you get out of bed. A log roll is kind of how it sounds, you want to roll on your side, hang your legs off the bed, and use your arms and upper body to assist with getting up. I also got a very handy bedrail. Yes, the same ones I prescribe for my elderly patients, but I LOVE it and still use it today. It especially helps for when you are super pregnant and can’t roll over. You can get them on Amazon here. You also want to avoid any heavy lifting or holding  heavy items overhead. This can put outward pressure on your abdomen if you don’t have the proper strength and support  in place. Also, check out my video on neutral spine. By engaging your TA muscles in a neutral spine position while doing all your daily activities, yes this includes cooking and getting dressed,  you will help protect that abdomen and keep those muscles together where they should be ! Find a therapist near you to help with this if you are having trouble. If you learn how to activate the right muscles while you are still pregnant it not only helps with labor but will put you in a great position for recovery afterwards!
diastasis recti
As I mentioned before some exercises to avoid include
– crunches
– planks
– V sits
– leg lifts
– Yoga poses like up-dog, cow pose, and triangle pose.
If you have any questions feel free to comment below. :)
Hope this helps!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Benefit of Group Classes

Check out my little babe watching us today! I am so glad that I can bring her with me to workout, makes it SOOO much better! crossfit baby How many times do you go into a gym thinking, I just CAN’T do this today. Today was one of those days, I was still a little sore from my workout on Saturday so as I walked into the Crossfit gym and saw the WOD (workout of the day) on the board and I nearly walked out. Now let me tell you, even before pregnancy I was never much of a runner, actually, I hate running. I don’t mind doing power intervals but just normal outdoor running is not my favorite. And today I went to the ‘intense’ class where my Swolemate (haha, that word makes me laugh) and I were the only women in a class of very fit men. Anyways, so today the WOD was
1 mile run
50 wall balls (14 lbs)
800 m run
50 KB swings (30 lbs)
400 m run
50 Double unders
200 m run
50 squats
FOR TIME – 30 minute cap.
Now, as I started my run everyone else immediately took off and left me to run by myself (which I was totally okay with!), and I started off my usual way, thinking “ahhh…I should just walk it…I just had a baby…I haven’t run in over a year…etc, etc, etc”, then something clicked. I thought to myself….”you can do this, its only a mile…you’ve done this before, just one foot in front of the other”. As I kept repeating this mantra to myself I found that I was already halfway around the block, I focused on my breathing and in an almost trance like state made it back to the gym..1 mile down! I ran that mile in 9:12 and then went on to complete the workout in 25:56, which I thought was pretty darn impressive. Because I am still getting back into it, I modified it to suit my current level in terms of scaling down the weight, but overall I feel like I KILLED this workout. Today was the first day where i felt much more like myself, I am no longer the postpartum mama who can’t even lift a 35 pound bar, but rather the fit, athletic mom who can (almost) keep up with the boys!!
This is the reason that I love going to Crossfit. Many people ask me why I pay to attend classes when I am a trainer myself, I have equipment and places to workout, why would I bother to pay someone else to train me? Everyone, regardless of how much you know or how good a trainer you are, needs some external support and motivation to succeed. If I had gone out for a run by myself I would of NEVER pushed to run that much! But it is human nature that when you are around other people you want to do your best, look your best, and overall just be a better person. Well I shouldn’t say everyone is like that, haha, but you know what I mean. Attending group sessions or having someone else train me allows me to push myself just a little outside my comfort zone, it is in this small little space that you get remarkable results. Lastly, this develops a huge sense of accountability. If I say that I am going to workout I will be there, regardless of what else is going on in my life, because I don’t want to let someone else down. I know that my workout partner or coach would be disappointed if I didn’t make it, and therefore I probably workout 25% more than I would of if no one cared if I showed up or not. Think about this next time you contemplate spending money on your fitness and well being, it’s worth every penny!!


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Stroller Walks

Today I took the baby and the pup out for a nice walk. My muscles were pretty burnt out so I know if I did another strength workout it might be too much. Walking is the perfect exercise for the day after a tough workout, it helps stretch tight muscles, clear the lactic acid out of your system (that is what causes muscle soreness) and helps prevent DOMS Santa Barbara
Read more... http://fitmamasb.com/stroller-walk/

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fitbit Flex Review

Decided to write a quick review on my Fitbit flex. My little one is sleeping so I know I only have 30 minutes (she’s not really into naps, which makes it hard to get anything done, ugh)…and GO. I really like this product so that is why I am sharing this review with all of you! I did not receive compensation for writing this review. First off, I bought my fitbit last Christmas as a present to myself. Bought it here . I had been using the step tracker on my phone and found that pretty motivating so decided to shell out the extra cash and take it up a notch. Now if you are familiar with the fitbit lineup there are a few different models. I decided to get the flex for a few reasons, a) I wear a watch for work everyday so I didn’t need the fancier model that has the time display b) I wanted one to wear on my wrist and not clip on my clothes and c) It was in my price range as I decided I wanted to spend $80-$100. I chose the fitbit over other brands because they seemed to have the best reviews out of others that I read comparing multiple brands. This product is excellent for those people who live a fairly sedentary lifestyle but are looking for simple ways to add some more activity in their lives (e.g. office workers). It is great for all other populations as well as it brings awareness as to how much or how little you are moving everyday! I really like the fitbit app, it is easy to use, easy to view, and I have never had any problems with my fitbit syncing with my iPhone over Bluetooth. Lately I have been using it in conjunction with MyFitnessPal app (which I will also write a review on one day) and this has been interesting because it actually ‘lets you’ eat the calories that you walked off throughout the day! I am still not entirely sure how this is calculated because it seems to change throughout the day, but I trust their science on that one. What this means is if I was tracking calories and I was nearly at my daily goal and hadn’t ate dinner yet I knew I had to get moving somehow if I wanted to stay within that limit. Personally, I’m not a calorie counting kind of person, but this strategy works for a lot of people. It is small, easy to clean, comes in cool colors (which I REALLY need to get some new bands for mine because when I bought it I think it only came in blue or black and now they have fancy pink and turquoise ones!). I like that it gives me an alert when I am within 2000 steps of my goal, usually this motivates me to do some extra cleaning around the house or take the dog out for a walk. Also it has a wicked battery life, I think I charge it about once a week and mine is a year old!
Some negatives include, a) not sure how accurate it is at times, for example, when I burp the baby because I am moving my hand back and forth it counts that as steps. b) The band isn’t the greatest at staying fastened, it has fallen off at times at the grocery store or the gym when I go to pick something up, but there are probably better clasps to put on the band but I just haven’t looked into that yet. Anyways, it would suck if it fell off and I didn’t notice. So bottom line…whether you are a nurse who is on their feet all day, an office worker who needs to increase their daily step count or a stay at home mom like me who can do 10,000 steps without leaving the house get this device! Anything that will help develop accountability is awesome, and by even increasing your step count by 2000 steps a day (which is easy as pie) you will burn an extra 60-100 calories. It might not seem like much but every little bit counts!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Should I still exercise with a cold?!

See blog post here


Exercise and the Common Cold

So I don’t know about everyone else, but I have found that since giving birth to my daughter I have had way more colds than usual! It must be the combination of less sleep and increased stress taking a toll on my immune system. The good thing is since I am nursing I pass those immunities onto our little one, so I’m the only one that has to suffer through these awful sicknesses! This is the second cold I have gotten, nothing crazy but still enough to make me feel crappy. It probably doesn’t help that we are going through a 4-month sleep regression so I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a while. I find it kind of crazy because before all this I had a bulletproof immune system. Thanks to working in healthcare I haven’t even had a sniffle in 3 years, even made it through a whole pregnancy without getting sick! Today I felt like being a smarty pants today and doing some research, so just a heads up…this post is packed full of it! I know this can be boring for some but I am a closet nerd and this does slightly excite me.
The big question is

Should I still exercise with a cold?!

Out of courtesy to others at the gym I probably would find somewhere else to workout for a few days, nobody likes the guy beside them sniffling up a storm, but contrary to popular belief, exercise (in moderation) is actually good for you and won’t make your sickness worse, and hey, it may even make it better! There has been lots of research on how exercise prevents sickness, but not very much on its effect on the body once you’re already sick. The general consensus seems to be that if you have a cold (runny nose, headache) and not the flu (vomiting, fever) it is safe to participate in moderate exercise (walk, light jog, etc.), although heavy exercise isn’t recommended (and I feel like that would be pretty tough anyways). By the way I look at it any sort of activity is better than sitting around the house feeling sorry for yourself! You can read more about that study here. A recent review of the literature shows that the relationship between exercise and preventing colds works on a J shaped curve (see below), this means that moderate exercise is the best for preventing illness and decreasing the stress response in your body, but high intensity exercise can actually have a negative effect (so maybe all that Crossfit lately has been working against me a little).  If you would like to read more about this click here. Ultimately, working out 4-5 days a week at a moderate intensity level will help you to be the healthiest you can be!
J shaped immunity exercise and colds
As I sit here and contemplate if I should go to Crossfit tomorrow I came across a study byRakel et. al (2013) that looked at the association between moderate exercise and mindfulness meditation and their effect on acute respiratory infection (common cold). They measured this based on how much money was spent on medications, doctor visits and missed days of work during the duration of the cold and flu season. They found that those who participated in mindfulness meditation vs those in the control group had the greatest cost benefit, and those who exercised also had a cost benefit, although lesser. This suggests that those participants missed less days of work and spent less money on medications and doctors visits, which implies fewer or less severe illnesses. Now this study is preliminary so there’s still work to be done on the subject but I think those results seem pretty promising! It is pretty much saying that even just thinking about being well can make you healthier? I’ll take it!
If you aren’t familiar with mindfulness meditation it is incredibility hard to describe, everyone who studies this sees it a little different based on their own background and beliefs. I did a big research paper in school on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), so this is why this study popped out at me as interesting. Basically mindfulness is a state of mind and a way of being. If you consciously make yourself more aware of how you feel and use this concept to guide your meditations it can ultimately lead to stress reduction, which can lead to less chance of getting sick! To explain this concept here is something I would say to a client to guide them through a mindfulness session for pain reduction. (I’m totally just making this up on the fly so bear with me here..)
I will ask you to close your eyes, breathe deeply, inhale and exhale, listen to your heartbeat, feel the blood pulsing through your veins, feel the slight tickle of hair on the back of your neck and warm sun on your face. Now focus on that nagging pain in your lower back. Visualize that pain dissipating, dissolving away, your muscles getting softer, your shoulders getting heavier, your breaths getting deeper, feeling more and more relaxed with each exhale, feel the pain leaving your body with each breath… Get the idea??
Here is an article regarding the healing power of mindfulness…
Here you can learn more about mindfulness meditation…
Okay, after totally veering off topic I think I came to my conclusion. Right now I am going to lie in bed and think about feeling better (mindfulness meditation)! Tomorrow will be day 5 of this annoying cold, so I will go on a nice walk (moderate exercise) as I have been doing all weekend and hopefully be back to normal by Tuesday! Power of positive thinking right? The most important thing while your sick…KEEP UP THOSE FLUIDS. Since I am nursing I am doing my best to drink tons of water to avoid dehydration, which drastically affects my milk supply (I learned from experience). Here’s hoping that I don’t get sick again this winter! One last thing, don’t forget that most cold medications aren’t recommended if your breastfeeding, so unfortunately like me you just have to tough it out. Bah.
As always, please consult your doctor before partaking in any physical activity. Each person is different and my opinions and recommendations are solely more own opinion and not medical advice.
Nieman DC. Exercise, upper respiratory tract infection, and the immune system. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1994 Feb;26(2):128-39. Review.
Rakel, D., Mundt, M., Ewers, T., Fortney, L., Zgierska, A., Gassman, M., & Barrett, B. (2013). Value associated with mindfulness meditation and moderate exercise intervention in acute respiratory infection: The MEPARI Study. Family Practice, 30(4), 390–397. doi:10.1093/fampra/cmt008
Weidner TG1, Cranston T, Schurr T, Kaminsky LA. “The effect of exercise training on the severity and duration of a viral upper respiratory illness” Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 Nov;30(11):1578-83.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bellefit Product Review

So I’ll start off by saying I am writing this review out of my own free will, I was not compensated for this review. I purchased the Bellefit postpartum girdle when I was 40 weeks pregnant and wore it after I got home from the hospital for 4-ish weeks. So first off, this product was awesome! If you aren’t familiar with it, Bellefit postpartum girdle is to be worn after delivery to assist with ‘shrinking’ your abdomen back and offer some external support. I ordered 2, based on my measurements at 40 weeks. I got this one herebellefit front closure girdle review.Image source
They have a great little calculator on their website to figure out what size and style would work. I got the front closure one in size large and medium. The large fit me VERY snugly (which is the point) right after getting home, I was able to wear it over my granny panty underwear/depends (come on, you know you were all wearing them too). It has a bottom closure so you don’t have to take it off to go to the bathroom and it keeps it in the right place so there’s no awkward adjustments every time you stand up from a chair! Within one week my stomach reduced dramatically. The large no longer fit me and I was able to progress to the medium, which I wore for the remaining 3 weeks. Just a word of advice, if you have wider hips and a smaller waist like myself definitely go with the front closure. I ordered the side zipper one initially and it was extremely challenging and uncomfortable to put on, so I returned it for the front closure instead, MUCH more comfortable and it has two size settings (two rows of fasteners) as opposed to just one. Now this product isn’t cheap, $110 dollars each, but it was extremely well made, washed well, maintained it’s elastic stretch and I was even able to resell my size large for $50 used! Amazing. I personally feel that it helped heal my diastasis faster by holding the muscles together where they should be, and it did offer some support to my lower back as my body adjusted to not carrying around an extra 20 pounds. If you are looking for something to offer substantial back support or compression at the hips then this is not the product for you. Back/hip braces can be worn overtop of this, but professionally I wouldn’t recommend this as I’m not a fan of compensating with braces unless absolutely necessary (e.g. you are in so much pain that you can’t function without a brace). This is also why I don’t think this product is beneficial past 4-6 weeks, but that is just my own personal opinion. Overall, I was very pleased with my purchase! Good customer service as well, they responded to my emails in a timely manner and shipping was quick! Lastly, this product isn’t pretty lingerie, I looked ridiculous and you can still see it under tight clothes, gave me a ‘double bum’ haha…but hey, my husband didn’t care and I just didn’t wear anything tight for a while! Also, since it’s my first baby I’m not sure what the results would of been if I didn’t wear it, so not much of a scientific study but I felt pretty good about it. I’d love to hear about other women’s experiences with this product. Hope this helps!
Check out this awful picture! But the results were too good not to share a picture!
bellefit girdle before and after
For more blog posts check out my blog at http://fitmamasb.com/blog ! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015