Trading Corsets For Core Function, A not-so-Bridgerton Story

Netflix’s Bridgerton

Dearest Gentle Reader,

Happy Bridgerton Premiere Week!

As the social season of the ton unfolds, with its glittering balls and sumptuous soirées, the fair ladies of society once again find themselves ensnared in the tantalizing embrace of fashion’s most exquisite, yet perilous, accoutrements.

Chief among these are the tight corsets that cinch the waist into an enviable silhouette and the vertiginous heels that elevate a lady’s stature to commanding heights. While these pieces may render a lady the cynosure of all eyes, they come at a price that extends far beyond mere discomfort.

Netflix Bridgerton Scene: Mother and maid tying corset on adult daughter.
Netflix’s Bridgerton: Season 1, Episode 1

In the pursuit of maintaining an impeccable posture and a figure that rivals the Grecian goddesses, these tight corsets impose a constriction upon the body that is both unforgiving and relentless. This forced rigidity not only hampers one’s ability to draw a full breath but also exerts undue pressure upon one’s parts below.

Netflix Bridgerton Scene, Season 1: Prudence Featherington fainting from tight corset while greeting Queen Charlotte.
Netflix’s Bridgerton: Season 1, Episode 1

Ah, the pelvic floor—a realm seldom spoken of in polite society, yet it is the very foundation of a lady’s bodily function and grace. Keeping it locked up tight is but a recipe for disaster.

Thus, while the ephemeral glories of fashion and the pursuit of beauty may beckon, it is paramount that one remains aware of the body’s needs. Loosening your corset strings is not merely a matter of comfort, but of health and well-being.

A balance must be struck—between the pursuit of elegance and the preservation of one’s physical health. Let not the enchantment of the ton render you a captive to fashion’s whims, but rather, a sovereign of your own self-care.

So, as you adorn yourself in the finery of the season, let wisdom guide your choices, before you find yourself tumbling to the ground due to lack of air.

Yours sincerely,

A Discerning Observer of the Ton

Free The Belly And The Deep Core

Ok, in all seriousness, fashion is and can be fun! But these tight articles of clothing come with a price. If you find yourself donning tight bodices and corsets, limit the time you wear them and be sure to give the belly and ribs some time to breathe and expand soon after.

The allure of tight clothing, designed to accentuate curves, compresses the torso and the ribs. The compression of the rib cage and the immovable grip around the abdomen create an environment where the natural mechanics of breathing are compromised.

A lack of range in the diaphragm – and faulty breathing mechanics – results in a shallow, chest-dominant pattern that hinders the balance between the diaphragm and the deep core (this includes the pelvic floor) – which can compromise our posture, stability, and core function,

A weakened diaphragm further inhibits the body from performing necessary bodily functions that help balance anxiety, immune function, hormone regulation, and so on.

Let the Pelvic Floor Be Free

The sustained compression from a tight corset increases intra-abdominal pressure, forcing it downward upon the pelvic floor. This constant pressure can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, leading to a host of pelvic floor dysfunction that include, but are not limited to, incontinence, prolapse, pelvic floor pain, low-back pain, and a bulging belly. The unrelenting force on these muscles disrupts their natural function, creating a vulnerability that can have lasting repercussions.

Woman wearing a pink corset-style dress.
https://corset-story.co.uk/blogs/news/celebrities-and-corsets-who-inspires-us

To keep it simple, a tight belly, whether due to tight clothing or from chronically holding in your tummy all day, will eventually put pressure on the pelvic floor and deep core. This tightness and tension will create a high-pressure environment for dysfunction.

Imagine the discomfort Kim Kardashian was experiencing , seen here at the latest Met Gala.

Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala 2024 in a tight corset-style dress.
GOTHAM//GETTY IMAGES

Though your muscles may be working hard to maintain and control this pressure, the pelvic floor muscles and the Linea Alba (the connective tissue along the midline of the belly) eventually get tired (weak) and have to give.

Let the belly move. Let it breathe. Let it expand. Learn how to breathe optimally with Corrective Breathwork.

A pelvic floor assessment can help you understand if you have an overactive an underactive core/pelvic floor.

Do you find that you experience any of the above symptoms? Reach out for a ‘free virtual pelvic floor assessment ‘ and other resources to help you navigate your next steps. Available through the end of May.

Exercises and Stretches to Counterbalance Breastfeeding Posture

Happy National Breastfeeding Week!

The photo below is a special moment between me and my 3 sisters. We made sure to capture incredible memory of us nursing all of our babies – within the same timeframe! This is us at our parent’s house on a warm, breezy summer day!

As we celebrate nursing moms this week, let’s talk a vital aspect of this journey that sometimes goes unnoticed – posture. Breastfeeding is a nurturing and natural part of a woman’s journey throughout motherhood. However, sometimes nursing positions can snowball into some aches, pains, and discomforts down the line due to less than stellar posture. Let’s explore how corrective exercise, fascia flossing, and relaxation poses can help to improve your breastfeeding posture so that you can get back to a more enjoyable feeding routine.  

The Importance of Posture in Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is an amazing bonding experience between mom and baby. However, improper posture during nursing sessions can lead to discomfort, strain, and even pain. Hunched or slouched positions during this activity can lead to shoulder, neck, and back pain that, if not corrected, can snowball into other postural imbalances over time. Postural imbalances are often the cause of low-back pain, pelvic pain, hip pain, neck, and shoulder pain during daily activities or exercise – reducing your ability to thrive and move comfortably as you age and care for your growing child.

Corrective Exercise as a Key Player in Overcoming Postural Imbalances

Corrective exercise focuses on correcting muscular imbalances, improving alignment, and enhancing overall body function. These exercises target specific areas throughout the body to restore balance and alleviate pain. By incorporating corrective exercises into your routine, you can address potential issues that may have arisen during pregnancy or childbirth, ultimately supporting your breastfeeding posture and care provider physicality.

Try these 5 corrective exercises to begin rebalancing the front and back body:

1. Cat-Cow: Come to the floor on all fours or in a “horse stance”. Be sure your hands are directly under your shoulders and knees are directly under your hips. Round your back and scoop your tailbone under to round the spine, then bring the chest forward and arch your back. (Note, if you have an anteriorly tilted pelvis, try to overemphasize the arch of your low back – bring the pelvis closer to neural and focus more on the arch in the upper half of your spine). Alternate between the rounding and arching of the spine for 20-30 seconds. This movement promotes spinal flexibility and encourages a healthy curvature of the spine.

2. Cobra Pulses: While lying on your belly or standing with a subtle hip hinge place your arms by your side with your palms facing forward and thumbs slightly turned out. If hinging, be sure to engage your glutes and core to support this posture. Try to keep your neck and upper traps relaxed while engaging the tips of your shoulder blades. Pulse this engagement on and off for 20-30 seconds. This is a subtle and soft engagement, this should be lead with scapulae engagement, try to avoid pushing your hands back and forth – they’re just along for the ride!

  • Tip, if you have trouble finding this engagement, roll up a yoga mat and lie on it so it’s along your spine and tailbone. Place your arms be your side with your palms face up and try to engage your shoulder blades along the mat. Pulse slowly for 20-30 seconds.

3. Wall-Slides (or Wall Angels): Stand with your back to a wall and feet slightly away so they are directly under your hips. Reach your arms up directly over your shoulders and then slide your elbows close to the wall until are at a 90 degree bend (like a goal post). Slowly slide your arms up and down the wall while your elbows and back keep contact with the wall. This move will help you engage the muscle along your upper back needed for improved posture.

4. Pelvic Tilts: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Use your diaphragm to inhale into your ribs, belly, and back and to relax your pelvic floor. As you exhale, engage your pelvic floor and deep abdominals (try wrapping your hips together) while you scoop your tailbone forward. Inhale and come back to the starting position. Repeat, using your breath, for 20-30 seconds. Try this movement in various positions such as on all fours or in standing.

5. Thoracic Extension Stretch: Sit on stability ball or the front half of a chair, keep your sit bones neutral and ribs stacked over your hips. Place your fingertips behind the base of your head and elbows out to the sides. Gently arch your upper back while breathing deeply into your diaphragm.

Fascia – Reworking Your Scaffolding

Fascia – or connective tissue – plays a major role in how our posture forms over time. By sitting in these postures that put us out of balance, our body lays down connective tissue – fibroblasts – which gets dense and hardened from limited movement. This can lead to a feeling of stiffness and tension throughout our joints and muscles.

Try this! Work the muscles of your upper back – mid traps, lats, scapulae – with this fascia flossing exercise:

Come into a tabletop position. Plug your foreams into the floor to engage the muscles of your upper back. Keep plugging the arms down and slightly back (without actually moving your arms) and send your hips backward to add length to these muscles while staying engage. Relax and reset. Repeat 10-15 times. Try adding variety by taking arms more narrow and sending hips back on an angle.

By freeing up our connective tissue through myofascial release techniques, we can clean up any dense, hardened fascia that may be forming as we spend these months in feeding postures. When the connective tissue becomes stagnant and dense, we have a harder time connecting to our neuromuscular junction which can further push us down the path toward imbalance, and later, aches and pains. Fascia flossing (from TheFloss.com) is my go-to tool for clients so that we can internally exfoliate our connective tissue and reclaim more optimal postures quickly and efficiently. For more info about fascia flossing, schedule a free virtual preview session with Melissa at mombellyfitness@gmail.com or book a 1-hour fascia flossing private session – virtually or in-person (Louisville).

Relax, (every)body!

Sometimes, all we simply need to do is get our muscles to relax. Nursing postures typically put us in a rounded position which over-lengthens our rear-shoulder and back muscles while also shortening our anterior delt and chest muscles. These muscles will find themselves trying to get back to a state of balance – leading some muscle cells to fire constantly, while overtime weakening the muscles involved.

Try this! Lie along a foam roller – with your head, spine, and tailbone fully supported – you’ll find your overworked muscles melting into a relaxed state and working their way back to a balanced position. While lying here, ractice slow deep breathing into your diaphragm and ribs. You should feel the tension melting away. Aim for 20 minutes on the roller and experience a phenomenally relaxing experience!

Incorporate Corrective Exercises into Your Exercise Routine

Consulting with a certified prenatal or postpartum corrective exercise specialist can provide you with some insight into what corrective exercises you should be incorporating into your regular routine. At Mom Belly Fitness, you will be led through a comprehensive movement assessment, core assessment, and pelvic floor assessment so that you can tailor corrective exercises to your specific needs.

Mom Belly Fitness hosts a 6-week program – REALIGNED MAMA – designed to rebalance your body from the inside out. During this time you will reset your postural imbalances (such as the posture held from nursing a baby) and practice corrective exercises and stretches to teach your body how to naturally realign and reduce the aches and pains that can come with these feeding postures. Together you’ll design a routine that will help you thrive throughout the rest of motherhood!

If you’d like to work with me and design a program that fits your specific needs, reach out to Melissa at mombellyfitness@gmail.com. The next round of REALIGNED MAMA runs September 17, 2023 through October 27. Apply at this link today!

  • Trainer adjusting woman in a glute bridge pose

Self-Care For Mama Bear

Lean into your overall well-being as a mother. Discover a routine and regimen that is going to make the journey of chest feeding, breastfeeding, or bottle feeding the very best for you and your baby. Happy National Breastfeeding Week – Here’s to you and all of the strong, confident, and empowered moms out there!

Fascia Flossing Basics

Change your tissues with Strength + Length.

Fitness trainer stretching her arms using a yoga block.

What is Fascia Flossing?!

Fascia Flossing – also known as “resistance stretching” – is a way to change your tissues from the inside out! The process of combining muscle engagement plus elongation through movement creates the “floss” of connective tissue – providing an internal exfoliation of your fascia. It is a strength and flexibility workout that leaves you feeling like you just received a deep tissue massage – while also providing you with energy and flow!

What is Fascia?

Fascia is our body’s scaffolding. It’s the tissue that connects all other tissues – think, myofascia, scar tissue, deep fascia, fuzzy fascia, lymph, gray matter, adipose tissue, and so on! Fascia is made up primarily of collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin.

Much like the principle of tensegrity in architecture, fascia uses compression and tension to help us maintain our posture, stability, and movement.

Book a Fascia Flossing Social!

Host your friends for a blissful gathering including a self-flossing fascia workout, optional partner flossing for a greater manipulation of your tissues, healthy-bites, games, and botanical beverages for a feel-good time!

Minimum 4 guests, Maximum 8 guests

Inquire for pricing: mombellyfitness@gmail.com

Melissa is a certified Fascia Flossing Trainer through her Level I certification at thefloss.com.

Empower Your Postpartum Journey with Movement, Community, and Rebalance

Having a baby can be one of the most exciting and transformative experiences of a woman’s life. Nevertheless, the postpartum period can be a challenging time for women, both physically and emotionally. Hormonal changes, weight gain, and the physical demands of caring for a new baby can take a toll on the body. However, corrective exercise and group support can be a powerful tool for new mothers in their postpartum recovery as well as women well into their motherhood journey. In this post, we will explore the benefits of corrective exercise and strength in community during the postpartum period and beyond.

Physical Benefits of Corrective Exercise During Postpartum Recovery

Women in fitness class

While exercise itself has numerous benefits in the Postpartum period, corrective exercise is especially important after having a baby. Corrective exercise can help women restore strength, improve posture, and reduce pain and discomfort.

During pregnancy, the abdominal and pelvic muscles stretch and weaken, which can cause pain, discomfort, dysfunction, and even injury. Corrective exercise can help reconnect and rebuild these muscles, reducing the risk of injury and promoting overall physical health.

Elevate Your Emotional Well-Being Through Movement

In addition to its physical benefits, corrective exercise can also have a positive impact on a new mother’s emotional well-being and mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters, and can help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase energy levels.

Corrective exercise can also help boost confidence and body image, which can be especially important during a time when a woman’s body is undergoing significant changes.

When to Get Started and How to Build a Routine

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women wait until they have had their postpartum checkup, usually around six weeks after giving birth, before starting an exercise program. However, it’s extremely important to listen to your body and only start exercise when you feel ready. It’s also essential to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you had a complicated birth or have any medical conditions.

While the above is true before you plan exercise postpartum, it is also just as important to revive the mind-body connection soon after giving birth to maintain the neurological link with muscles that may have been affected by pregnancy and delivery. Waking up the connection to your core and pelvic floor muscles is vital as you gear up to start moving independently post-delivery or C-section.

It is valuable to develop a mind-body connection before and during pregnancy to prepare for an optimal Postpartum recovery and prevent potential dysfunction down the line. However, if you’re just discovering corrective exercise after you’ve already birthed your children, it is best to begin making this mind-body connection as soon as possible This can be accomplished with the help of a skilled prenatal and postpartum corrective exercise professional. Reach out to certified trainer, Melissa Ellis, to find out more about this vital practice.

The Value in Finding Your Mom Group

Four sisters nursing their babies. Three are sitting next to each other while one looks towards the other three, smiling.
Me and my three sisters experiencing the joy of nursing together!

Social support and mom groups can be extremely beneficial for both new moms during postpartum recovery and seasoned mothers who are well into motherhood.

New mothers can benefit from the support, encouragement, and camaraderie of other mothers who are also navigating their postpartum journey. Seasoned mothers, on the other hand, can share their experiences and offer advice and support to new mothers.

Through regular interactions and group activities – like group fitness and wellness, mothers can build relationships, share their experiences, and receive encouragement and support as they navigate their postpartum journey. Mom groups provide a platform for sharing information and tips related to postpartum recovery, parenting, and overall well-being. Joining a mom group can help mothers of all experience levels feel less isolated, more confident, and better equipped to handle the challenges of postpartum recovery and the journey throughout motherhood.

POSTPARTUM+ REBALANCE, Your Path to Total Wellness and an Empowered Motherhood

Becoming a new mom – and caring for growing children – is a time of intense physical and emotional changes. Your body transforms, hormones fluctuate, and the demands of caring for a tiny human can take a toll. However, with the right support, new mothers, seasoned moms, and grandmothers alike can regain their strength, flexibility, and emotional balance. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the POSTPARTUM+ REBALANCE program. This comprehensive 6-week program is designed to support women in regaining strength, flexibility, and emotional balance. Experience a journey of physical and emotional transformation and emerge stronger, more confident, and ready to tackle the challenges of motherhood.

The POSTPARTUM+ REBALANCE program includes 12 one-on-one sessions, 6 weekly wellness sessions, 6 live group workouts, wellness guides, movement journals, and guided grocery and shopping lists, as well as group support and check-ins. This program has been carefully designed to provide postpartum women with the support, knowledge, and tools they need to improve their overall well-being.

Social, Emotional, and Physical Support All In One

The POSTPARTUM+ REBALANCE program focuses on rehabilitation and strengthening the core and pelvic floor, building functional strength, and improving flexibility. With this program, you can reduce stress, eliminate or reduce postpartum-related aches and pains, and feel more confident in your body.

In addition to the physical benefits, the POSTPARTUM+ REBALANCE program also addresses emotional well-being. The weekly wellness sessions and group support will help you explore various aspects of wellness along with practical tips and habits to enhance your overall well-being. Each session will leave you feeling supported and motivated.

The next POSTPARTUM+ REBALANCE program starts on 2/26/23 and runs through 4/7/23. To celebrate the launch of this program, Mom Belly Fitness is offering spots at a super low price! Take advantage of the special launch offer and secure your spot today with limited-time pricing. Hurry, as spots expected to fill up fast. Apply now!

Melissa and her son on the beach at 1 year Postpartum

Prenatal Exercise: Debunking Misconceptions and 5 Safe, Beneficial Exercises

Prenatal fitness is an important aspect of a healthy pregnancy, but there are many misconceptions and myths surrounding it.

One of the most common misconceptions is that pregnant women should avoid exercising altogether. However, studies show that regular exercise during pregnancy can have many benefits for both the mother and the baby.

This includes things like a more positive labor and delivery experience – such as an easier delivery and a decreased need for interventions – and a more optimal postpartum recovery.

Beyond regular exercise, corrective exercise can be beneficial for both moms and pregnant women in several ways. It can help to alleviate aches, pains, and discomforts during pregnancy, improve posture and alignment, and prevent or rehabilitate common pregnancy-related conditions such as diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Benefits For Baby

The benefits for the baby are just as impressive! Research shows that babies born to mom’s who exercised during pregnancy have higher Apgar scores compared to babies born to mother’s who didn’t exercise during pregnancy.

Studies have found that regular exercise during pregnancy is associated with improved fetal oxygenation, which can promote better fetal growth and development. Additionally, regular exercise during pregnancy has been associated with improved maternal cardiovascular fitness, which can help to support the baby’s cardiovascular system and promote better fetal oxygenation. These mechanisms may contribute to increased newborn alertness immediately after birth.

However, it is important to note that the correlation between increased newborn alertness immediately after birth and mothers who exercised during pregnancy is not conclusive, as many other factors such as genetics, prenatal care, and overall health of the mother can also play a role in newborn alertness.

Similarly, newborns who were exposed to exercise while in the womb have also been shown to have an easier time latching after birth, perhaps due to increased alertness.

Picture showing group of pregnant women during fitness class

Other Misconceptions When Exercising During Pregnancy

In the past, pregnant women were often told to only do low-impact exercises. While it’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, many women can continue with their normal exercise routine during pregnancy, as long as they are cleared by their doctor. Let’s be clear, pregnancy is not the best time to go learn something exceptionally challenging that could pose harm to mom and baby. However, if you enjoy a particular strenuous activity that you were comfortable doing before pregnancy, chances are you can continue the same challenging activity during pregnancy, or at least a variation of it. Seek help from an expert who specializes in prenatal fitness if you are unsure if you should continue with your regular training routine.

Another misconception is that pregnant women should avoid certain types of exercises, such as weightlifting or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These types of exercises can be safe and beneficial for pregnant women as long as they are done in moderation and with proper form and muscle balance. Women who train with Mom Belly Fitness during their pregnancy often comment that “Labor HIIT Training” exercises were a great tool that helped to prepare them for the physical challenge of labor and delivery.

Lastly, it is not always necessary for pregnant women to avoid lying on their back during exercise, as long as the woman is comfortable. Understanding proper diaphragmatic breathing techniques can assist with a more optimal posture to help disperse pressure on the spine. 

5 Beneficial Exercises For Pregnant Women

It is always important to understand your specific muscle imbalances and to focus your training to correct these imbalances before progressing your routines. However, if you’re just getting started, here are some key exercises to support your fitness routine during your pregnancy.

1. Pelvic Tilts

This exercise helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles and improve posture, which can alleviate lower back pain during pregnancy.

More importantly, by understanding the position of your pelvis, you can focus the work during your pelvic tilts to work achieve a more neutral position which can provide you with better access to your core and pelvic floor muscles. A comprehensive physical assessment can help you understand if you have a more anteriorly dominant or posteriorly dominant tilt in your pelvis. It is common for pregnant women to have a more anteriorly dominant pelvic tilt which can lead to pregnancy-related low back pain and mis-managed pressure on the pelvic floor.

Pelvic tilts can be performed while standing, back-lying, side-lying, or while on all fours (such as in “Cat-Cow”).

2. Pelvic Floor Exercises (Like Kegals)

These exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which can prevent or treat incontinence and other pelvic floor dysfunctions that may occur during pregnancy.

Note: It is strongly recommended that you complete a pelvic floor assessment either before, during, or after your pregnancy (it is even better to do so at each stage, since these muscles can change throughout your pregnancy and after delivery) to understand if your pelvic floor muscles are over-active or under-active. By understanding the way in which your pelvic floor muscles are firing, you’ll be more equipped to perform Kegals in a way that is best going to support your hips, pelvis, core, and low back as your uterus grows as well as during the postpartum period. For example, it may not be wise to perform Kegals consisistently throughout the day if you are presenting with over-active pelvic floor muscles.

Weak pelvic floor muscles can present in women who are both under-active or over-active in the muscles supporting their pelvis.

3. Cat-Cow Stretch

This exercise is a gentle way to stretch and strengthen the back, which can help to alleviate pain and improve posture.

This is also a great position to perform pelvic tilts and to practice diaphragmatic breath techniques.

Depending on the tilt of your pelvis, you may want to focus your range to be more dominant posterior or anterior to help rebalance the muscles that support the pelvis. For example, a pelvis that presents more anteriorly dominant can cause low-back pain and a weak pelvic floor over time. It is a good idea to have a prenatal fitness specialist assess the tilt of your pelvis, so you can work to correct it throughout your pregnancy. It is common for pregnant women to have an anteriorly tilted pelvic tilt as baby grows and the pelvis dumps forward.

4. Squats

Photo Credit: Laura Weigel Photography

Squats can help to strengthen the legs and prepare the body for labor and delivery. It’s important to use proper form and to be mindful of your range of motion. It is often recommended that pregnant women avoid going too deep to avoid putting pressure on the pelvic floor. However, with the proper use of your core, pelvic floor, and postural muscles, you may be able to safely increase your range of motion.

Squats are also very beneficial to practice throughout your pregnancy and ahead of birth. Squatting during childbirth is believed to open up the pelvis and potentially make more room for the baby to pass through the birth canal. Some studies have found that squatting may slightly increase the diameter of the pelvic outlet, while others have found no significant difference. A squat position also allows for gravity to assist with delivery.

Start with bodyweight squats to get a feel for what muscles are taking over during a squat movement. Aim to recruit the glute and core muscles during a squat and allow your quads to assist you during this movement. To keep pressure out of your knees during a squat, be sure to focus on sitting the hips back and down to keep the knees from going forward of the toes. If your quads feel dominant during your squat, try tucking your tailbone slightly and driving through your heels to rise from a squat.

5. Hip-Bridges

Photo Credit: Laura Weigel Photography

This exercise helps to strengthen the glutes and core, which can alleviate lower back pain and improve posture. If you have trouble loading your glutes or if you are noticing you have low-back pain during a bend or deadlift movement, hip-bridges are a good way to train your bend pattern without putting unnecessary strain on your low back. Once you feel you have proper glute load in a hip bridge, try transitioning to an upright bend position and aim to keep work in the glutes and out of the low-back.

Find What’s Best For You During Your Pregnancy

Whether you are just starting to exercise during your pregnancy or you are researching the best prenatal exercises to incorporate into your regular exercise routine, it is important to feel safe, comfortable, and pain-free. Look for exercises you enjoy and for movement patterns that will support your growing uterus and assist you with your labor, delivery, and recovery.

It is important to remember that weight gain is a natural and necessary part of pregnancy, and pregnant women should not be overly concerned about gaining too much weight.

Lastly, be sure to avoid holding your breath while exercising or performing physical activities (unless you are swimming under water without oxygen support!). If you find you are breath-holding during any of the above movements, you are potentially putting unnecessary pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to leakage, pain, and other dysfunctions down the line.

It is always recommended to seek out guidance from a certified prenatal fitness expert or your medical provider during your pregnancy journey and Postpartum recovery.

Click Here to schedule a free clarity call or a mini-movement-assessment.

Functional Movement: Bend

Bending is a required movement pattern that is part of our daily lives.

While some of us may not need to bend as much than others, I can think of a group that bends quite a bit – Parents. Picking up kids, toys, groceries, several baskets of laundry, car seats, etc…

When do the mechanics of this movement need to be given more attention? A couple specific examples come to mind – when your center of gravity is off balance due to a pregnancy or if you have recently given birth and you have a weak abdomen due to a shift in organs, joints, and connective tissues.

Proper bending is one of the first things I work on with both prenatal and postpartum clients.

If you are unable to bend using the correct prime mover muscles, there is a greater chance for injury which will only escalate over time.

What is a bend?

A bend occurs when we hinge at the hip and our chest moves forward and down. The muscles involved are our glutes, hip-flexors, and hamstrings. A key focus when bending should be utilization of the deep abdominals (inner-core: diaphragm, TVA, Multifidus, & Pelvic Floor) to help keep the spine and heal pelvis in a safe, neutral and stabilized position. If you round your back while bending, you’ll add pressure to your vertebrae that can result in an injury – such as a herniated disk – and low back pain.

Bend with your booty, mama!

The prime muscles involved in bending are the Gluteus Maximus. In addition to our glutes, we must activate our inner-core unit (deep abdominals) as we move into the frontal plane. This will help to keep our head, spine, hips, and pelvis in a neutral position and reduce the chance for injury.

If you have a weak inner-core (and lack of diaphragmatic expansion and TVA, Pelvic Floor, and Multifidus recruitment) you’ll be unable to stack your spine – which will snowball – causing the back to round down, shoulders to pull forward, and pelvis to tilt anteriorly and, overtime, cause your glutes to become under-active. When this happens, other muscles will come into action to try and stabilize your spine and pelvis, including your back extensors and hamstrings. The above chain reaction is one of the reasons why some parents and grandparents who find themselves picking up kids a lot will pretty quickly notice they have a sore back – especially as the kids start to become heavier!

First: Get the Bend Pattern RIGHT:

Static, Non-Weighted Bend

Start in an upright position with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands by your side. Hinge forward so that your hands rest just above your knees. Maintain a neutral head and spine. Engage your glutes and hold for 30-60 seconds so long as you can maintain good form – keeping the activation out of your lower back.

If you feel your lower back turn on before 30-60 is up, there is likely an imbalance happening somewhere – keeping you from recruiting your glutes. I often find that clients are sticking their tailbone in the air, which puts the pelvis in a compromising position which restricts glute and core activation.

If your low back turns on when holding a (unweighted) bend for 30-seconds, contact me for some further corrective exercise investigation!

Add Weight

If you can access your glutes with a static, unweighted bend, progress the movement by adding weight and reps. Hold dumbbells by your side or a barbell close to your thighs (with hands shoulder-width apart). Be sure to engage your shoulder blades back so that your shoulders don’t round forward.

Asymmetric Loading

Try a single-leg deadlift to recruit more inner-core stability. Ensure your hips and pelvis stay level as you hinge forward.

Kneeling Bend

If you can keep your glutes engaged for more than three minutes in the above exercises, progress to the kneeling bend next time you train in a deadlift. A shortened lever makes these more challenging, so I often make sure clients can perform an optimal standing bend before adding a kneeling bend.

Side note: We don’t always have the option to perfect our bend pattern and get our glutes to turn on before we have to perform a kneeling bend. The reality is, our kids need us to care for them – and that care requires bending, whether kneeling or standing. Some clients come to me with a weak core and injured low back. We work to get the mechanics right and they still have to go home and care for their children! The key is always to get the inner-core working and then we add movement. Until then, contact me for the best tips and tricks to bathe/care for your newborn/kids – if you have low-back pain – that you can do while you work to get your low back turned off in a bend position.

Find and strengthen the glutes with Glute Bridges

One way to begin activating and training your glutei muscles – and keeping your low back safe in a bend pattern – is with hip extensions (glute bridges).

Start by lying on your back with your feet close to your butt. Take a deep diaphragmatic inhale as you lift your hips up so that your shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line.

Exhale (and find inner-core engagement) as you slowly lower your pelvis back down to the floor.

Repeat for 15-20 reps, 2-3 sets.

Glute Bridge Progressions

Asymmetric Loading

Progress this by subtly lifting one heel off the floor, to encourage asymmetric glute engagement. The more you raise your heel, the more challenging the movement becomes. Perform an even number of reps on each side.

Add Leverage

Extend your arms so they are over your chest. Gently squeeze your palms together to activate your chest and shoulders. This will provide leverage to your upper body which will challenge the core even more.

Add Weight

Hold a dumbbell, bar bell, weight plate, or sand bag on your hips. This will increase the challenge to your glutes and will help you build more strength within these muscles. You can also try holding a weight in your hands and add leverage by extending it over your chest for even more inner-core effort.

Workout with your little ones!

If your child is able to hold his or her own head up, try these glute bridges with them sitting on your hips or lying on your stomach. They’ll enjoy the ride as you build strength and stability!

Troubleshooting

Contact me for a full movement assessment to troubleshoot your bend movement.

Functional Movement: Mama-Get-Ups

“Mama-Get Ups” aka, “Surrenders” are an exercise I teach to both prenatal and postpartum clients so they can get up from the floor safely and avoid injury as their belly grows during pregnancy or when holding a young baby or child, postpartum.

Getting up off the floor is a challenge in-itself. Getting up off the floor when you have a growing belly or you are picking up a young baby or toddler is an extra challenge – especially if they’re asleep and you don’t want to wake up!

Mama-Get-Ups are also a way to keep your core, low back, and pelvis in a safe position as you move into an upright position when your center of gravity is shifted. 

With this movement, you will train hip & pelvic mobility and stability, glute strength, core strength… and, if you’re holding a child (or a weight), upper body conditioning! 

This movement is fully-functional and is a nice compliment to prenatal and postpartum exercises.

Mama-Get-Ups

  1. Start by kneeling and sitting back on your heels.
  2. Next engage your glutes and focus on core-canister breathing as you drive your hips forward so that you are in an upright position. 
  3. Kick one leg through so your ankle is in line with your knee – at about a 90-degree angle.
  4. Step through the whole foot, especially your heel to engage your glute as you come to standing.
  5. As you step through, move slowly and focus on breathing with your core-canister to maintain proper intra-abdominal pressure, which in-turn will help to keep your ribs, hips and pelvis evenly stacked as you move.
  6. Move slowly back down into a kneeling position and repeat.
  7. Try this while leading with the same leg for one set and then swap legs on the next set or alternate legs for each rep.

If you find this movement difficult, here are some movements to practice first, which will help you progress to the full movement. 

Kneeling Hip-Thrusts:

If your knees don’t feel great on the floor, practice this with a rolled up yoga mat or carpet for support under your knees.

  1. Start with your hips back resting on your heels.
  2. Find your core canister breath.
  3. As you exhale, engage your core canister and your glute muscles to drive your hips forward into a more neutral, upright position.
  4. Repeat this 8-12 times for 3 sets. 

Once you have mastered this movement, proceed to the next movement pattern.

Kneeling Kick-Throughs:

  1. While kneeling in an upright position, bring one knee forward so you are in a kneeling lunge position.
  2. Once again, focus on core canister breathing to keep your ribcage stacked over your hips and pelvis.
  3. When your foot lands, aim for a 90-degree bend in your knees and hips, so that your knee is stacked over your ankle. That last note is important because this will set up you for safe knee-tracking once you are reading to progress to the full movement.
  4. Repeat this 8-12 times for 3 sets alternating legs.

Note: If your knee doesn’t feel good on the floor, try practicing this on one side at a time with a pad under the knee that isn’t moving forward. If using this option, try 2 sets on each side. 

Kneeling Lunge Pelvic-Tilt

Next, practice hip mobility via pelvic tilting in this position.

  1. Start by place one leg forward in a kneeling lunge (you can pad the knee that isn’t moving if needed).
  2. Tilt (rock) the pelvis forward and back 8-12 times for 2-3 sets on each side.
  3. Practice core canister breathing as you perform this motion, keeping in mind to stack the ribs over the hips as you move your pelvis. 

Once you have mastered the above movements, it’s time to perform the full movement – Mama-Get-Up! 

Adding Weight

The next progression is to add weight or leverage from your arms. 

When you are ready to add weight or leverage , restart the progressions by adding weight or leverage in the lower options first. 

  1. Try the hip thrusts by first extending your arms forward and squeezing your palms together for chest and shoulder engagement. 
  2. If this feels good, try holding a dumbbell close to your chest. Be sure to engage your shoulder blades when adding weight to help stabilize your upper body. 
  3. Take care not to forget about all the above checkpoints when adding on: Core Canister Breathing, glute engagement, stacked ribs, etc…
  4. Proceed with the arms extended and/or dumbbell in the kick-through progression before adding leverage or weight to the full movement. 

Practice the Mama-Get-Up movement for 3-4 sets with 8-12 reps in each set. 

Add this to your weekly rotation of movement to improve confidence, strength, and stability as you move safely throughout your pregnancy and postpartum journey. 

Are You Living With Purpose And Nourishing Your Soul?

Are you feeling out of touch with yourself as we reach the end of 2021? As you care for those around you are you lacking self-care? As we close out the year, I implore you to do some soul-searching and figure out what is holding you back from feeling like your best self.

To do this… let’s do a bit of digging.

First, we need to figure out our core-values.

In the book Black Sheep: Unleash the Extraordinary, Awe-Inspiring, Undiscovered You, author Brant Menswar talks about find your Core Values to define your Black Sheep – aka, your 100% authentic you.

He goes on to say that our core values are what drives our purpose – rather, our why .

We often question why we are here on this earth. We usually find ourselves searching for the answers of our purpose within this universe. I question this often. I wonder how can I do better… not only for myself, but for my family? How can I do better and feel fulfilled with the time that I have each waking hour?

By defining my core values using Menswar’s book, I realized a lot of things about myself and began to shift my daily actions. And, so too, did I see a real shift in my life.

Prior to this, I would repeat the same day-to-day tasks… while expecting different outcomes toward my goals and not attempting to make any changes… (the supposed definition of Insanity!).

But when I really looked into the values of my soul, I could break down my decision making in a more clear way. I’ve started to analyze my areas of struggle and have seen how they feed my core values.. I could then ask myself, were my decisions emotionally-driven… for a want or desire? Did they feed my core values?

My personal core values are as follows…

  • Family
  • Movement
  • Nourishment
  • Learning
  • Self-Love

My core values are things that fire up my soul. I see them as my soul values. They are the very being of my existence.

As I’ve grown into adulthood, these values have been buried under the surface. I cared so much about pleasing other people and I wasn’t listening to my soul’s needs. Yes, I do like helping others and going out of my way for others. But, I forgot that in order to take care of others, I need to take care of myself first.

These days, I have been punching through the distractions of life (and digital and social saturation) to bring these values above the surface and to live each day with purpose.

Living with purpose and bringing forth my core values, my soul values, is how I choose to nourish my soul. The way I engage with these values might look different every day. And some days, I may be down in the dumps and whining about how hard life can be… and sometimes, it’s hard to climb out of that hole… But when I start to remember my soul values… I remind myself that if I am going to live each day with purpose, I can’t do so buried in my sadness.

Yes. Emotions are important. They tell us a story about ourselves. And it is ok to feel down. I don’t wish to tell anyone how to feel. But it sure is grand to use those failures and experiences to learn and grow. 

Here are some ways I engage with my soul values:

Family Soul 

  1. Family Dinners
    • One thing we aim for, even when schedules are busy, is to make sure we have dinner together as a family. Sure, the percentage of this happening throughout the year fluctuates – but I can proudly say we meet this goal at least 60-70 percent of each week. When we have dinner together, we ask our kids about their day, what they enjoyed, what wasn’t so great about their day, and something they learned. Sometimes the answers might “I don’t know”… and that’s ok. We won’t stop asking! We want our kids to know that even when we might be busy or look unengaged, we want to hear from them. Understand where they’re at in life. And time around the dinner table is a perfect time to participate in this activity.
  2. Bedtime Stories
    • Since the birth of each of my children, just about every single night before bed, we read. My kids love to read and my husband and I love to read with them. It is incredible watching my daughter learn how to read. She has progressed so much this year and it overjoys me that she has a love of books. Not books on a phone or tablet. She loves to hold her books, read the words, look at the pictures and talk about the story. 
    • Our son gets hung up on the same story for a while before he likes to change it up. And I love this about him. He gets passionate with consistency. I can see his mind grow as he engages more and more as we read together. 
  3. Neighborhood Strolls
    • This is more of a warm-weather thing… but if this pandemic has taught us anything, it is a reminder to slow down and to breathe in the fresh air and move. During the spring, summer and fall, we take many walks around the neighborhood as a family. It teaches our kids to be active and healthy… we get to look at the trees, flowers, and blue sky.
    • We got to teach our kids to ride their bikes this year and see the excitement on their faces as they zoom down the street. I craved these walks/rides each day! And maybe in the winter we can get outside for a few minutes of cool, snowy walks. 
  4. Friday Night Movies:
    • My husband started a weekend tradition with our daughter when she was about 3 years old. Every Friday night, they cuddle on the couch and watch movies until they pass out. At first, it was mostly a daddy-daughter thing… but now, the whole family gets in on the action. We make snacks and pick out movies that make us laugh or cry. It’s something the kids look forward to each week and is a great way to start our weekend together and unwind. We do our best not to miss movie nights and hope they continue until they are mature and in their teens (wishful thinking, I know!). 

Movement Soul

As a prenatal and postpartum fitness specialist and a group fitness instructor, I am fortunate that I get to move daily. When I don’t have clients to train or classes to teach, I get to practice movement and work to get stronger and more flexible. Movement is my therapy… and I can sense my frustrations on the days that I don’t get a solid moment of movement… be it cardio, strength, flexibility, or just simple breath work. Here are some ways I move to nurture my movement soul:

  1. Bodypump: 
    • I teach bodypump 3-4 times per week in a group fitness setting. This lights me up! I get up early! And, while waking early for a 6 a.m. class is challenging, I look forward to these classes. I take in the smiles and energy from each participant and output it right back to them… I feel energized and empowered after leaving the gym each morning – which sets me up for a great start to the day. 
  2. Training clients: 
    • I am so fortunate for each client that I come across. As I train with my clients, each and every one of them teaches me something about myself and how different situations and lifestyles affect our health, well-being, and our emotions. I have had clients in the past bring tears to my eyes after a solid session. They would tell me how they feel better in their bodies and confidence in their movement. I would see them feeling empowered, and getting stronger.
    • Each session reminds me of WHY I chose to do what I do. Especially for my pregnant moms – We grow life… and any session that involves movement is going to nourish the life growing inside you and set them up with a strong foundation for the future. 
  3. Yoga:
    • When life is feeling a bit stressful… or my body feels a bit overworked… I remind myself to take some time for some gentle yoga, mobility, stretching, and focused breath work. I always leave these sessions with so much gratitude toward life and the knowledge I have gained through fitness over the years. 
  4. Running:
    • I am in no way an expert or a lover of running. However, there are those days when I crave a good run… and I just go… I used to hate running because it didn’t feel good… but now, I understand the mechanics of my body more than ever before… I have trained myself to focus my breath and core mechanics as I run… and now I feel incredible at the end of each run.  Running is a sort of therapy for me. It allows me to clear my head, train my lungs, feel light and strong all at the same time. It boosts my endorphins. No need for feel good drugs here… running is my drug on the days that I crave it!
  5. Kickboxing:
    • Kickboxing was my first love in the early days of my fitness journey. I walked into a “Les Mills Bodycombat” class when I was a young teen… and it set me ablaze! At the time, I never saw myself as a fitness instructor… but, when I was going through some tough times and figuring out my path… it dawned on me! I needed to become an instructor so that I could learn everything about kickboxing! It made me feel tough, strong, and empowered… and it will always hold a special place in my heart!
  6. Playing With My Kids:
    • To see the smiles on my kid’s faces and hear the belly laughs when they are “horseback riding” on mommy around the living room… it just melts my heart. Even on those nights when I am just ready for them to go upstairs to bed… If I’m requested to “play horsy”… I have a hard time saying “no”!! Or, when the music gets turned on and it’s a song you just can’t sit still while listening… we bust out in a dance party and fill the house with laughter… Those are the memories I will hold onto for life. Or playing tag in the back yard… or kicking around a soccer ball… or learning how to swing a bat. Or simply, just tickling each other until we are gasping for air!
    • Sometimes, I have a hard time and say “I have to go do the dishes” or “the house needs to be vacuumed” and so on… I try to consciously remind myself that they won’t be this little for much longer… and try to take in these requests when I can. I’ll admit… it’s not as often as I’d like too.. Life doesn’t stop just cause your kids want to play… So I like to remind myself that playing with my kids checks off lots of my soul boxes… the family soul, daily movement soul, learning soul, and so on! 

Nourishment Soul

I’ll keep this one brief and in relation to food. Each meal or snack of the day… I ask myself, what is this food going to do for my body? Is it an empty calorie that’s going to give me a quick satisfaction from sugar and carbs? Or is it going to go to work for me and give me energy, motivation, strength, and satiate my hunger? Is it going to improve my immune function and mood? You get the idea.

Check out some of my favorite nourishing foods that are great for pregnancy, postpartum, preconception, or just an all around good snack to fuel any moment of your life. 

Learning Soul

Brain fog, “mom brain”, and societal demands can get in the way of this one.

I had a hard time believing that I could learn new things and retain new information as an adult… I had to push through this thought HARD. When I decided to change career paths in my 30s I thought, how the heck am I going to do this? I can barely remember what I ate yesterday! However, I just kept on pushing… and still am.

One way I do this is by reading daily and challenging myself as often as I can.

Over the summer during a business mentorship, a mentor of mine – James Goodlatte, the founder of Fit For Birth, reminded me of a quote I have heard from others in the past… but never really took in. “Fail fast”. If I want to grow, I need to fail.. and learn from it.

I was scared of this concept for a while… but, I told myself… if this is going to work… If I am going to start and sustain a business… I need to go ALL in. And fail. And fail again. And let me tell you, once I started doing this, the wheels started to turn in my mind.

I started learning things about myself and knowledge I had learned in the past started to come back to life. I gained confidence in myself – something I have struggled with my whole life. I started to value myself and my purpose MORE. But mostly… I want to SHOW my children that they should NEVER stop learning.

This concept is one to nourish a mind, body and soul. This concept, that we never stop learning, is one of the most important things I can teach to my kids. And I know they won’t quite get it yet… but I intend to bring this concept to the forefront as often as I can so that one day, when they are older and, perhaps, frustrated with life… this concept will click and they’ll aim high for what they desire!

Self-Love Soul

We have one body. One life. One soul. One mind… So why not love yourself? Do some things for YOU that are going to make you happy. This is another concept I have struggled with in the past. I used to be the person who would rather “put someone else’s oxygen mask on before my own”… And after years and years of being that person. I finally, truly realized… that I cannot help others if I don’t help myself first.

And to help myself, I realized, I need to LOVE myself. I cannot be there for those that need me if I am not taking care of myself. I used to burn myself out time and time again trying to please everyone around me. I have started to slowly start saying NO to others and YES to myself. And I have to say, it feels really good.

Time is so precious… and each “YES” you are giving to other people to help them out is more time you are taking away from yourself. And sure, sometimes it does feel good to help other people – If you are helping people in a way that also serves you, then by all means, say yes. But be sure to take the time to evaluate how that YES is also going to give you the love and care and respect you deserve for yourself. 

So go ahead, mama. Nourish your soul. Find the little things that will serve you and help you live with purpose. Determine your Core Values. Your soul values. Don’t be afraid to say YES to yourself.

Seek help when you need to seek it. Talk to someone. Move your body. Learn something new. Hydrate your mind, body, and soul. Fuel your mind, body, and soul. Nourish your mind, body, and soul. Do some soul-searching. Take a few extra minutes in the shower… Feel the water run down your feet and connect you to the earth. Take the dance lessons of life you’ve been wanting to take. Walk out your thoughts. Feel connected to the ones you love around you.

Figure out your core values. Live with purpose. Nourish Your Soul.

5 Steps Toward Improved Mindfulness

The mind is a very powerful thing. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to process our thoughts, emotions, and brain power in the modern world.

Woman and man meditating.

We are currently exposed to so much information at an accelerated rate. According to Frontiers for the Young Mind, “Scientists have measured… as much as 74 GB of information” on average is being thrown at us each day (from advertisements, to television, the internet, cell phones, tablets, billboards, etc…). While the research shows that, overtime, our brains adapt, there are only 24 hours in a day and our brains can’t process all of this information fast enough.

The “hustle” mentality that is being promoted throughout social media is leading many people down a path that encourages overworking and “stress for success”. It is a frustrating path towards mental decline, chronic stress, aches and pains, and a snowball of other problems.

It’s becoming harder to concentrate. There are more and more apps and courses to teach us how to concentrate and be more productive. Mental health awareness is becoming normalized.

“Sorry, I have mom brain today” is a common excuse when we are forgetful (ahem, is it just me?!) and supplements for “brain fog” are turning up in more and more advertisements.

When our brains are cluttered and full of “all the things” including bottled up emotions and to-do lists… our stress levels are going to increase and “fight or flight” is going to turn on.

When our stress is up, our immune system is low, our muscles are tense, and our mental clarity suffers…

In order to decrease your stress, it’s important to look at the whole picture. Try to weave more movement, better nutrition, and mindfulness or meditation into your day.

Taking a few minutes each day for some mindfulness and meditation, could greatly benefit anyone who is feeling the demands of work-life balance… especially, the stressed mom or soon-to-be mom in today’s busy, fast-paced society.

So, how to begin?

Woman sitting on dirt road with bike next to her, breathing in.

1. Keep it Short

Many people are turned away from meditation or mindfulness because they “don’t have the time”.

If this sounds like you, consider keeping it short! We all have smartphones with a timer. Set the alarm for one minute. Start with just one minute per day for a week. Then build up to two minutes a day. Then three. And so on.

2. Keep it Simple

Meditation doesn’t have to be a deep, quiet, isolated practice with a completely clear mind. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Start easy. It could be as simple as “being aware of the thoughts in your mind”. What pops into your head when you stop and breathe? Is there stillness in your mind or is it full of lots of things. This is a good place to start.

3. Understand your emotions

How do your thoughts make you feel? What emotions are present? Our thoughts drive our emotions. If you have a busy day ahead, you might feel anxious or uneasy. If you found out some upsetting news, you might feel angry or sad. Maybe you have a fun event coming up that you are looking forward to. Are you happy or excited about that?

Become aware of your emotions and see where they take you when you slow your mind down.

4. Understand The Physical Connection

How do your thoughts and emotions affect your joints, heart, muscles? If you’re upset or if your mind is running do you feel tense? Is your heart beating fast? Does your breath pattern feel short and is it creeping up in your chest, neck and shoulders? Or, does it feel slow and deep in your lungs and ribs?

Is your jaw clenched and your eyes tense?

Are you aware of the air surrounding you? The temperature in the room?

Woman in upward dog yoga pose.

5. Practice Mind-Body Connection

This is a good time to connect your mind to your muscles. If you are feeling tense throughout your body, mentally tell your muscles to relax and breathe deep.

Read ahead or listen to this guided one-minute mindfulness practice:

Try lying on your back or side on a mat or carpet.

Start with your eyes. Feel them lighten. Tell your jaw to relax and your neck to lengthen. Feel your shoulders to move away from your ears and tension begin to melt.

Feel your chest open. Inhale deep into your lungs. Feel your ribs expand and the space between your ribs open and lengthen.

As your jaw relaxes more and your stress levels lower, feel your hips release tension. Let your calves lighten. Feel your toes naturally curl and rest

Start to feel your body resting on the floor. Breathe deep into your ribs, back, pelvis, and hips. Breathe slow. Inhale and fill your belly and ribs. Exhales let your muscles relax.

Connect your breathe like the waves of the ocean. Let the waves move slowly and ebb and flow.

If you want to take this further, play around with muscle activation.

Try activating a muscle group (i.e. biceps) for 5 to 10 seconds. Then tell those muscles to relax and lengthen. Feel the contrast. Try doing this around different areas of your body and feel your relaxation and mind-body connection grow deeper.

Woman meditating

Alternatives

If stillness isn’t for you, there are other ways to be mindful.

  • Contrast highs and lows: Work up a sweat session. Practice 30 seconds to 1 minute of high intensity movement (like jump squats or mountain climbers. Then take 30 seconds to 1 minute to be still and breathe deep. Feel the contrast of quickness and stillness.
  • Try breath work: If you are feeling stressed out, try these breathing techniques and see how they make you feel:
    1. Boxed breathing: Inhale slowly for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Exhales slowly for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Repeat. Try this pattern of breathing to calm a stressed mind. (This is a great tool when your kids are driving your heart rate up!)
    2. Sniff and sigh: Align your spine with some cushions on the floor. Place your legs up on a couch or put your feet together with some cushions under your knees for support. Sniff 3 times to inhale. Hold your breathe and then sniff two more times. Then with a great big audible sigh, exhale with an open mouth. Feel your stress melt away.
  • Move: Physical fitness to get your muscles moving and blood flowing can be its own form of mindfulness. Concentrate on the movement and how it makes you feel. Let your lungs fill with oxygen and send that oxygen to your extremities. Here are some great sources of fitness blended with mindfulness:
    1. Yoga: If you are new to practicing yoga, try a gentle yoga class to get started.
    2. A strength or cardio session with highs and lows emphasizing both rest and and work will help you tap into your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
    3. Walk it out. Take a 30-minute brisk walk outdoors to improve your mood, clear your mind, and improve cardiovascular endurance.
  • Nourish your mind: Read a book or learn something new.
    1. Slow your mind down and clear the clutter by reading a book. Read a paperback book and remove yourself from your digital devices to give your eyes a break from the harsh light and distracting notifications.
    2. Listen to an audiobook. There are many apps now for storytelling to promote calmness and relaxation before bed.
    3. Learn how to cook or learn a new language. The internet makes it much easier to go learn a new skill. De clutter from your to-do list and try something new to give your brain a boost!

No-Bake Chocolate PB Protein Bites

No-Bake Chocolate Protein Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 C Organic Rolled Oats
  • 1 C Organic, Unsweetened Peanut Butter (Or any other nut or seed butter)
  • 1/4 C Chia Seeds, ground
  • 2 Servings Chocolate Protein Powder of Choice (I use Orgain Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein)
  • 1 TBSP Maple Syrup, optional
  • 1/4 C dark-chocolate chips, optional

Allow peanut butter to soften to room temp for easy mixing. Mix peanut butter with remaining ingredients. Roll into balls and place on a sheet pan. Place in the freezer for 1 hour before serving.

Store in an air-tight container up to 3 months in a standard freezer and 6 months in a deep freezer.