Why strong abs are so important during pregnancy

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There’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding floating around about abdominal muscles and pregnancy. So let’s set the record straight…

Abdominal muscles can and should be exercised during pregnancy.

These are just a few of the many benefits of strong abdominal muscles during pregnancy:

  • Helps with the pushing stage of labor
  • Supports the spine and reduce back pain
  • Assists with eliminations

Here are some abdominal exercises that are safe and effective to perform throughout your pregnancy.

1. Diaphragmatic/Belly Breathing

Instructions: This exercise can be done standing or sitting against a wall/in a chair/on a ball. Place your hands on your baby. Inhale, filling your lungs with air and feel your hands rise with your baby. Exhale, push the air out of your lungs and contract your abdominal muscles. Repeat for five breath cycles.

2. Pelvic Tilt

Instructions: In a standing or “all fours” position, inhale, then on the exhale pull the abdominals in and contract your glutes (tuck your butt under). Your lower back should be rounded. Release and repeat 10-12 times.

3. Plank

Watch this video for instructions and different variations of the plank: FFE Prenatal Plank Video

 

Product Review: fitbook mama2b

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I don’t often recommend products. Why? There aren’t a lot of quality prenatal fitness products on the market that are made well, convey accurate information, are appropriate and safe for use during pregnancy and that can be used by a wide variety of women (regardless of their activity of choice or fitness level).

I stumbled across fitbook’s website while browsing online one night. Everything that I read online about the fitbook mama2b seemed great. But, based on my experience with other products, I prepared myself for disappointment while waiting for my fitbook mama2b to arrive.

I was not disappointed. I was blown away.

Before even opening up the book, I loved the packaging and design. The design is clean and simple. The materials are great quality and seem like they will hold up well over time. The book is compact, making it very easy to put in a purse and carry around. Plus, they give you a fitbook pen – no more searching around for something to write down what you ate for breakfast.

The book has everything you need to plan and log your workouts and food/drink intake for your entire pregnancy. I love the layout – planning sheets for each trimester followed by weekly planning and logging sheets. They even include some filled out sample pages in case you need clarification.

What I love most about the fitbook mama2b is that it can be used by ALL pregnant moms – whether you’ve never exercised before or are an avid exerciser…whether you enjoy running or yoga…whether you’re a meat-eater or a vegan…whether you live in a big city or on a farm…whether you prefer taking exercise classes at the gym or swimming laps on your own.

The fitbook mama2b is a great planning and logging tool, but it won’t create your program for you. That’s where Fit for Expecting comes in. We create your personalized program and fitbook mama2b gives you the tools you need to record your workouts and log your food intake. Now THAT’s setting you up for success – healthy pregnancy here we come!

Here’s your first action plan…

1. Buy your fitbook mama2b

2. Call me at 626.399.1025 to schedule your consultation (in person, over the phone or via Skype)

3. Have your book with you during the consultation to record your personalized plan

4. Follow your personalized plan and log your workouts and food/drink intake

5. Come back and see me each trimester and we will tweak your plan so that you and your baby are getting the most benefit

Mind over Matter

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Yesterday I flew home from Kauai. As fate would have it and to my surprise, I started experiencing terrible menstrual cramps pretty much right when we were boarding the plane. And my cramps are BAD. Always have been. Not just uncomfortable…they are debilitating. I take strong pain relief medication so that I can carry on with work and life.

So there I was…starting a five-hour plane ride…in a whole lot of pain…and without any pain medication. Yep, no pain medication on hand. Aside from my physical pain, I was also mentally distraught. I was SURE that I couldn’t make it five hours without pain medication. The pain seemed to be getting worse and worse.

I figured the flight attendants should have some kind of pain medication, so I asked and found out that the process to distribute medication is very involved. They have to announce to the entire plane that they have a medical situation and ask for a doctor on board. If there is a doctor on board, the doctor comes over and “inspects” you to see what’s wrong and figure out why you need medicine. If the doctor concurs that you do need medicine, the flight attendant then calls some medical company to let them know that they will be distributing medication. They then proceed to document all sorts of information and sign several liability waiver forms. And THEN you get your medicine.

That sounded embarrassing and way too complicated, so I took a deep breath and told myself that I would have to figure out other ways to deal with the pain. I started breathing deeply and moving around (while still in my seat) until I found comfortable positions. I turned my focus on calming my mind…accepting the situation for what it was and trying to work through the pain. I would glance over at my husband, he would grab my hand and say, “You’re tough. You can do this.”

Then something incredible happened – the pain started to dissipate. It didn’t completely go away, but it became tolerable. Once I accepted that I wouldn’t have medicine and I would have to pull myself through this, my mind kicked into high gear and it did just that. The human mind is so incredibly powerful.

As I was reflecting on the experience, I couldn’t help but think about childbirth. I’ve read quite a bit about the importance of your mindset during labor and delivery, most recently from Ina May Gaskin’s book, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Since I’m an avid exerciser, I have used the mind over matter technique, but dealing with intense physical pain is different, at least until now. I now have the motivation to continue to strengthen this skill so that when the time comes for me to deliver my babies, I will be ready.

Moms – what are your mind over matter experiences during childbirth?

Smoothie for a Non-Smoothie Drinker

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I am not a smoothie person. Never have been. For starters, I don’t drink juice (that’s a whole separate post, so I won’t get into my issue with juice here) and a smoothie is basically fancy juice. But lately, I’ve found myself craving them…probably because it’s been so hot lately.

To satisfy my craving, I’ve spent the past two weeks throwing things in a blender to see what combination works for me.

Here’s the winning combo (no need to measure – just put the ingredients in and tweak as necessary to get the taste you like):

Fresh Spinach Leaves

1 Frozen Banana

Nonfat Greek Yogurt (I use and prefer Fage 0% Plain)

Spoonful of Raw, Unsalted Almond Butter

Water (as needed to get the consistency that you like)

 

Note: Everyone’s taste buds are unique, so this smoothie might not work for you. If this one doesn’t work, play around with ingredients until you find one that does. Be creative and share your creation with us!

Tips to stay healthy on the road

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I’ve been traveling a lot lately. Every single weekend. The trips have all been great and will keep getting better (Kauai vacation at the end of the month), but as many of you know, traveling can make sticking to healthy routines difficult.

Here are five tips for how to have fun and STILL BE HEALTHY while traveling:

  1. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate. With water, that is.
  2. Pack healthy snacks. For our recent road trips, I’ve packed fruit, vegetables, sandwiches, and nuts. That way, we nourish our bodies with nutritious food instead of stopping for unhealthy fast food. Bonus: you get to your destination faster.
  3. Eat breakfast. Every day. Even while traveling. No exceptions.
  4. Incorporate exercise – be creative. Take a morning walk/jog/run before you start your activities for the day. Go for a swim in the hotel pool. Bring a Bodyworks Band with you and exercise in your room. Walk along the beach…play in the sand…bodysurf. Take the stairs. Rent a bike and explore the area.
  5. Figure out what food will truly satisfy you and enjoy that in moderation. For me, that’s some kind of rich, chocolate dessert.

Add your tips to the list…

My Personal Picks: What to Wear While Working Out

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I even wear workout clothes out to lunch…

My last post on the subject was more general and since then I’ve been asked for specifics about what I wear when I’m working out.

Since I work in the fitness industry, I wear workout clothes pretty much every day (okay, okay, every single day). Workout clothes are like a second skin for me. I LOVE THEM! I feel most comfortable when I’m in workout clothes, probably because I feel my best when I’m active and workout clothes allow me to move freely. I’ve tried a lot of different styles, brands, etc in my day, so I’m happy to share with you the ones that have risen to the top.

Here are my favorites:

Champion Sports Bras – I’m a C-cup and I do not like any bouncing while I workout. Champion’s high intensity sports bras do a great job of keeping the girls in place.

Nike Tight Fit Capris – I wear capris for two reasons: 1. I’m tall (5’10”) and most workout pants are too short for me. 2. I get way too hot wearing pants during a workout. I like the Nike tight fit capris because they are fitted, but not compressive to the point that I feel like a sausage being squeezed into a casing. Also, they are flattering on the rear end (at least I think they are…maybe I should ask some people the next time I’m out for a run).

Asics Running Shoes – I’ve tried several different types of Asics shoes and I’ve never been disappointed. Even though they are for “running” I wear them for all sorts of different types of activities and they never disappoint. When I’ve tried the other major brands I seem to always have some kind of pain or discomfort at the end of the workout.

Tops – I’m a little more open with workout tops. Since I’m tall, I need my tops to be long enough to actually cover my torso. I have quite a few tops and I actually had to go to my closet and look at all of them. Turns out, my favorite brands are Under Armor and Nike.

What are your personal picks?

Back Pain During Pregnancy & Core Strength After Delivery

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Back pain and weak core strength are common complaints of expecting and new moms – but they don’t have to be!

I’m hittin’ the road (driving down 101 to the gorgeous new Bini Birth space in Sherman Oaks) to show moms how to reduce or eliminate back pain during pregnancy and regain core strength after pregnancy.

Workshop 1: “Your Pregnant Back”

  • Learn exercises to strengthen and stretch your back
  • Learn proper ways to lift that will minimize strain on your back
  • Get your posture assessed to see how small changes can make a big difference

Date: Thursday, August 2, 2012

Time: 6:45 – 8:00 pm

Location: 13743 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks, CA

Cost: $20

To register, email jenn@fitforexpecting.com

 

Workshop 2: “Regaining Core Strength After Pregnancy”

  • Learn progressive strengthening exercises for your core muscles
  • Learn effective exercises to incorporate into your daily routine
  • Get checked for diastasis recti (abdominal separation that can occur during pregnancy or delivery)

Date: Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Time: 9:45 – 11:00 am

Location: 13743 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks, CA

Cost: $20

To register, email jenn@fitforexpecting.com

Bini Birth is an amazing resource! Check out their website:

Where in the world (wide web) is Jenn?

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Tweeting (or twittering as my mom says) up a storm. Are you a Fit for Expecting follower?

Filming a fun Paper Plate Workout Video

Featured as a Wellness Warrior at Creative Soul in Motion

Guest posting Health and Fitness Picks for Moms over at MomtoMomTalk

Making a Prenatal Exercise Video for The Mommyhood Project

Talking about Exercise: Before During and After Pregnancy with ThoseYoungMoms

 

My go-to pick-me-up

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No matter how stressed, sad, lonely, upset, disappointed or overwhelmed I am, this little guy always makes me feel better. Always.

He reminds me to slow down and appreciate the small things in life. His enthusiasm and spirit is a breath of fresh air in a world full of negativity and unhealthy competition. His laugh melts my heart. When he says my name, I literally feel weak in the knees.

He is an amazing little boy and I feel so lucky to be his aunt.

Today and everyday appreciate the little ones in your life, whoever they may be – daughter, son, nephew, niece, granddaughter, grandson, godchild…

Rediscover the spirit, enthusiasm and imagination of your inner child!

Women and Guilt

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Guilt has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a guilty conscience. Always have. I expect a lot from myself and when I don’t meet that expectation, I feel guilty.

Since I started working with moms I noticed that I’m not the only one. I hear moms express feelings of guilt daily. And what is particularly disturbing to me is that I often see and hear about women/moms CAUSING or contributing to those feelings of guilt in other women/moms.

Here are some examples that I (unfortunately) hear frequently – if you have a c-section, you didn’t have a real birth…if you don’t breastfeed, you’re not a good mom…if you work outside the home and hire a nanny, you’re not a good mom…if you take an hour of YOU time to exercise, get a massage or take a nap, you’re selfish…if you don’t want to have children, something’s wrong with you.

I know that women are competitive with other women. I was a cheerleader and a sorority girl…so I know all about that. But does making another woman feel guilty, sad, or worse about herself or her life actually make the competitor feel better? I highly doubt it, so why do we do it?

Is guilt a feeling that women innately feel? Do we bring it on ourselves? Does society ingrain those feelings in us? Do we perpetuate the cycle by fostering the feelings of guilt in other women?

I most definitely do not have the answers to these questions, and the sociologist in me will keep pondering and exploring. As a starting point, I stumbled across some thoughts from Dr. Cynthia McVey (here’s the link to the full article):

Women worry far more about hurting people and while men shrug mistakes off, women turn their guilt or shame into anger at themselves…Such is the female nature that in the battle of the sexes, even if women were winning, they would feel bad about it…

Historically, women’s behaviour has been under scrutiny. Sexual behaviour, maternal behaviour, drinking behaviour and so on has been monitored by society. That means there’s a history that’s meant women felt shame and guilt.

Men haven’t had that kind of scrutiny because society thought, ‘Boys will be boys.’ Women are the nurturers and have been reared to care and be sensitive to the needs of others. Men have, up until a few years ago, been the ones who were nurtured. They were the breadwinners and women were more responsible for looking after people, making them feel good and feel better…

If a woman fails an exam and you asked her why she failed, she’d say, ‘Because I’m stupid, I just can’t do it.’

Ask a man the same question and he’ll say, ‘The room was too hot or the room was too cold or someone upset me on the way here…’ There’s a very different perception of fault.

 

To be continued… and I need your help!

Let’s start a dialogue and process these questions together. What are your thoughts about women and guilt?

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