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There is an abundance of conflicting information about exercising during pregnancy. I’m here to bust the misconceptions and share the facts about prenatal exercise.

Here are the four most common misconceptions I hear from clients regarding prenatal exercise:

1. Keep your heart rate UNDER 140bpm while exercising

There ONCE was a guideline–in 1984–from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that stated pregnant women should monitor their heart rate response while exercising. This guideline was revised in 1994.

FACT:

There are many variables that will affect an individual’s heart rate—age, fitness level, stage of pregnancy, hydration, resting heart rate, exercise intensity, exercise duration, type of exercise, and good ol’ genetics. CURRENT guidelines state that a pregnant women’s perception of how hard she is working using the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale, or talk test is a better index of exercise intensity than heart rate response. If you can still talk while you are exercising, you are exercising at a desired intensity during pregnancy.


2. Don’t start a new exercise program during pregnancy.

Did someone already tell you  to ‘take it easy’ during your pregnancy. “Relax, don’t do anything strenuous, it’s not good for the baby”.

FACT:

If you are experiencing a health pregnancy and your healthcare providers approves, YES you can start a NEW exercise program even if you’re currently inactive. It doesn’t mean you can now train for a marathon, but you can begin to exercise during pregnancy. ACOG states, “Pregnancy is an ideal time for maintaining or adopting a healthy lifestyle”. Here’s how to get started.

3. Don’t do ab exercises during pregnancy.

The only truth to this statement is that pregnant women are advised not do CRUNCHES during pregnancy because of the pressure the movement places on the abdominal wall.

FACT:

There are endless ways to strengthen abdominal muscles, and core training should be your #1 priority for exercise during pregnancy. Your abdominal muscles play a significant role in your core musculature—along with your diaphragm, pelvic floor, and muscles that support the spine. Together these muscles create your core canister and a strong core is imperative to prepare for labor and delivery.

4. Your pregnant body is delicate and you shouldn’t stress your growing baby.

Back 100 years ago when women tended to their farm, raising live stock to feed their family…what do you think those pregnant mothers did during the day? Most likely NOT sitting on the porch in a rocking chair watching everyone else work.

FACT:

We know through mounting research that exercise has many benefits for both mom and baby. ACOG recommends women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength conditioning exercises before, during, and after pregnancy. Regular physical activity during pregnancy improves or maintains physical fitness, helps with weight management, reduces the risk of gestational diabetes in obese women, and enhances psychologic well-being.

In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued physical activity guidelines for healthy pregnant and postpartum women, the guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (ie, equivalent to brisk walking). The guidelines advise that pregnant women who habitually engage in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (ie, the equivalent of running) or who are highly active “can continue physical activity during pregnancy and the postpartum period, provided that they remain healthy and discuss with their health care provider how and when activity should be adjusted over time”.

Knowledge is power. The bottom line is that you know your body best. Use your best judgement about your activity level during pregnancy. Refer to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program, or if you have any questions as you progress along.

Active Moms’ Club provides fitness for all stages of motherhood. We offer a wide range of services to meet the unique needs of Chicagoland mothers with prenatal and postnatal exercise classes — and most importantly, a community of support from moms just like you! Drop-in for a prenatal ‘test-drive’ to experience for yourself how AMC can help you maintain a strong core during pregnancy.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Read other related articles from AMC’s blog:

My Favorite Ab Exercises That Are NOT Crunches

Prenatal Exercise: Why It’s Important & How To Get Started

Top 7 Prenatal Exercises for  Expecting Moms

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The post 4 Myths About Prenatal Exercise appeared first on Active Moms Club.

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I’ll resume healthy eating and working out after my vacation… once the baby is born… after my child’s birthday week… tomorrow… Monday.

Does this sound familiar?

With everything going on in your life right now, it might seem inevitable that you’ll miss workouts, make unhealthy food choices and – ultimately – fail in your goal to becoming a healthier, happier you. Why not put it off or take a break and wait until you have the time to do it right?

Here’s why:

Like it or not, the game of life keeps going.
There is no timeout.
There’s never going to be a moment when things are magically easier.
You can’t escape work, personal, and family demands. Nor can you escape the need for health and fitness in your life.

We all want to do our best, and taking time to regroup and start over when life feels easier is tempting. We address this in the 90 Days of YOU! program and call it the “pause button mentality.” While completely natural and well-meaning, this impulse is one of the fastest, surest, most reliable ways to sabotage your plans for improved nutrition, health and fitness.

Whether it’s tomorrow, Monday, next week, or even next year, hitting that imaginary pause button gives you some sense of relief. This perceived relief is compounded by the illusion that if we “start fresh” later we can find the magical “right time” to begin.

I get it – it can feel unreasonable to try to improve your eating and exercise habits while you’re in the midst of chronic stress / going on vacation / starting a new job / waiting for your child to sleep through the night / caring for an ailing parent… the list goes on.

If and when you consider pressing pause, ask yourself this:
“What will be different when you come back?”

Nine times out of 10, the honest answer is nothing. Nothing will be different.

Life is just…happening. And it’ll happen again in September, or after the baby is born, or after your kiddo goes to pre-school, or at any other arbitrary point you pick.

I’ve definitely wanted to press “pause” myself. But I’ve realized that something is always going to be better than nothing.

Life would continue. Running a business would only get more demanding. My boys will always throw us curve balls.

I realized I couldn’t wait. I couldn’t press pause. Because if I didn’t continue, there’d never be that “perfect time” to hit play again.

The key is to keep going. Sometimes awkwardly, sometimes incompetently, sometimes downright half-assed. But keep going nonetheless.

The “all-or-nothing” mentality rarely gets us “all.” It usually gets us “nothing.”

HERE’S YOUR NEW STRATEGY:

From here on out, let’s think of your fitness and nutrition efforts as a dial. Instead of pressing pause, adjust the dial. There are times when you’ll want to dial your efforts up, and times when you’ll want to dial them down. But you’ll never want to turn the dial off completely.

Instead of “all-or-nothing,” our mantra that we use in 90 Days of YOU! is “always something.”

Perfection never happens in real life.

We’re always going to be doing the best we can with what we have. And that’s okay.

We can still make progress toward our goals and still improve our health and our fitness – whatever’s going on in our lives.

Here are a few strategies for getting out of the pause-button mentality and into a more realistic, effective, sustainable way of thinking as we continue to move forward.

STRATEGY #1— Try the dial method.

Think of your fitness like a dial that goes from 1-10.
If you were to dial it up to 10…

  • What would your workouts look like?
  • What would your nutrition look like?
  • What other actions/habits would you practice in that scenario?

If you were to dial it down to 1…

  • What would your workouts look like?
  • What would your nutrition look like?
  • What other actions/habits would you practice in that scenario?

Giving thought to your life right now, where is your dial set?
Would you like to make any adjustments?
Could you move the dial up a channel, or even half a channel?
If so, what would that look like?

On the other hand… Should you move the dial down a channel so you can stick with health and fitness even during a difficult time? Everyday that dial may move just a little, or take a big swing depending on what’s happening in your life. (Husband traveling, kids sick, on vacation, day off from work, etc.)

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STRATEGY #2— Aim for a little bit better.

Consistently make small improvements over time—it works.

You might be trying to make a meal out of airport food, spending hours awake with your child in the middle of the night, or stuck in yet another full-day meeting. These aren’t ideal scenarios, but they’re not hopeless either.

Look around. Get creative. See if you can make some small — maybe minuscule — improvements.

STRATEGY #3— Anticipate, strategize and plan.

Since we already know that stuff is going to go wrong, the best thing we can do is anticipate and make plans for how to deal when they do.

A simple way to do this is by answering two questions:

  1. What’s likely to get in the way of what I hope to accomplish?
  2. What is something I can do today to help me keep going when I face those obstacles?

For some of you, that looks like a Sunday ritual where you prep food for the week so you’re not scrambling for healthy meals on busy weeknights. For others, it means having a healthy meal-delivery service on speed dial.

You know things WILL go haywire – by participating in programs like 90 Days of YOU!, you can arm yourself with the best tools and strategies so you can stay in the game when you’re thrown a curveball!

Learn more about 90 Days of YOU!

The post 3 Ways to Make Fitness & Nutrition Habits Stick appeared first on Active Moms Club.

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As a mom, you probably never put yourself first. But practicing self-care sets a good example for your family and better equips you for the demands of daily life. When you’re happier and healthier, your family will be too.

Here are 7 simple self-care tips that will have a big impact on your health without adding to your busy schedule. Take baby steps. Pick ONE thing to to practice each day.
  1. Hydration— Drink 60-100 ounces of plain water throughout the day. Staying hydrated helps your body work optimally, keeps your skin looking fresh, and supports lactation if you’re breastfeeding. Also, since we sometimes mistake thirst as hunger, eliminating that feeling helps to increase metabolism and burn fat.
  2. Posture — Mindful posture helps ward off backaches and pains, gives you the appearance of being thinner and taller, and engages deep abdominal muscles. By sitting and standing up straight, you can work your abs all day long!
  3. Sleep — A nightly sleep ritual helps set up successful deep sleep even if you have small children at home. Ditch the screen time in the evening and opt for a warm shower, favorite book and early bedtime—especially if you anticipate getting up during the night to tend to a little one.
  4. Take a 5-minute break — Once a day, take 5 minutes for yourself to decompress, zone out, recharge. This could mean anything from a quick walk at lunchtime to a short period of meditation, or even just laying down to rest.
  5. Mind your thoughts — Talk to yourself as you would talk to your child. Be kind, respectful and patient. Think about your strengths and how you can use them to reach your goals. And cut yourself some slack if you find you’re falling short in some areas—focus on where you’re succeeding and give yourself the credit you deserve.
  6. Be cognizant of your food choices – You don’t have to go on a diet to eat healthier. Just think about what you’re putting in your body. If you find yourself running to the vending machine because you’re starving at 3:30 every afternoon, plan ahead and pack a healthier snack like almonds or carrot sticks.
  7. Ditch the all-or-nothing mentality – If you’re waiting for the perfect time to start exercising and eating right (once the baby is sleeping, in the new year, etc.), stop! There will never be a “perfect” time to start, however there will always be an excuse not to. Make up your mind to do as much as you can, whenever you can. Trade “all-or-nothing” for “always something” every day. Every little bit helps. Our 90 Days of YOU! program is designed to give you the kickstart you need to begin on this path.

The post 7 Simple Self-Care Tips for Moms appeared first on Active Moms Club.

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The other day I received an email with the subject line “Belly and Love Handles”. The message was from a beautiful mama whom participated regularly in AMC’s prenatal fitness classes and enrolled right into our Postnatal Recovery class when she was seven weeks postpartum. 

“I wanted to ask you about belly fat and love handles. I know that all the exercises we did during class are helpful, but what would you say the best exercise would be to get rid of those? I’m getting super anxious and upset and I’m trying to work my way back.”

My first reaction was to reach through my laptop and give her a great big ((((hug)))).

I wish I had a magic answer to this frequent question.

Hear’s the deal, and no mama wants to hear it…have patience, be mindful of nutrition, include movement and healing exercises into your day, and be more patient. And if you are still breast-feeding and/or have an abdominal wall separation, your postpartum healing may take even longer. 


PATIENCE 

As a mom of twins, I totally understand and can empathize with every single mama out there. The extra weight of pregnancy—typically consolidated around the waist, hips and thighs just doesn’t feel good, kind of squishy. As women we have 13% essential body fat compared to men with 9% essential body fat. This extra 4% is…you guessed it, around a female’s waist and hips for the sole purpose of childrearing. 

BREAST-FEEDING

Breast-feeding is awesome, like super awesome, but if you are still feeling soft or experiencing postpartum “side effects”, it may be in part from your badass milk making. Some women lose weight and literally can’t keep it on while breastfeeding, but for many your body simply hangs on to some reserves. The body is actually clever in this way. Fat stores are built up during pregnancy and they sometimes remain so that you can continue to be a milk making machine!

SLEEP DEPRIVATION

Now because you’re awesome at producing milk you probably aren’t sleeping because you are a round-the-clock milk producer. Lack of sleep messes with your insulin, and also signals to the brain regarding fullness. Hunger is controlled by two hormones that respond to sleep cues: leptin and ghrelin. Research in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has shown that sleeping fewer than six hours reduces leptin and stimulates ghrelin, causing you to feel more hungry and less satiated! Then there’s the hormone cortisol. When you don’t sleep enough (or feeling stressed), your cortisol levels rise. Not only does cortisol up-regulate food reward centers in your brain that make you want to eat more food, but cortisol can also inhibit the breakdown of fat for energy and increase breakdown of muscle.

DIASTASIS RECTI

Now this brings us to the next subject, an abdominal wall separation also known as diastasis recti. Most of us know that the hormone relaxin is produced to “loosen” things up to make room for baby and birth. But did you know that breastfeeding keeps those “loosening” hormones in a woman’s system for three to six months after baby is weaned. What does this mean? It means that the connective tissue in your pelvis and your midsection may not be motivated to tighten to their full potential until after you wean. Relaxin has a legitimate effect on ligaments and connective tissue, so don’t give up!

Since it took nine months for your body to grow a baby, be prepared for it to take at LEAST nine months or longer for your skin to return to its pre-pregnancy form. And brace yourself mamas, loose skin may even remain as a permanent reminder of your pregnancy even if you did not breastfeed. It is not your fault. But the reality is that sometimes we birth babies and are left with stretch marks, loose skin, diastasis recti or pelvic floor problems. And it doesn’t mean we did something wrong. Our body simply did what it needed to do to bring us the gift of motherhood.

Postpartum healing looks different for EVERYONE

There is good news. Let’s discuss tangible strategies so you can start to feel less anxious and more comfortable in your beautiful skin that created and birthed a human…or two, or three. 

STRATEGY #1 — EXERCISE

After you have given your body at least six weeks to recover from birth, ease into movement and begin to incorporate corrective exercises into your routine— walking, stretching, deep belly breaths with pelvic floor muscle activation. Ask your ob/gyn to check for diastasis and ask for a script for physical therapy if you had a cesarean birth. Many ob/gyn offices now have their own physical therapists on staff who specializes in women’s health. These PT’s are also known as a Women’s Health Specialist (WHS). Take a peek at AMC’s comprehensive list of recommended Women Health Specialist in Chicagoland.

Need an arsenal of healing exercises and guidance? AMC’s Postnatal Recovery Class is a great way to ease back into exercise in a supportive group environment and meet like-minded mamas. The best part— no need to hire a sitter, your baby comes to class with you. We’ll teach you all the best moves to help restore your core strength. And if your baby is no longer a baby but still feeling squishy, our Fit & Fab Small Group Training sessions will help you get stronger and leaner so you can rock your badassery! #youknowitsthere 

STRATEGY #2 — NUTRITION

Remember we talked about those pesky hormones and the dominance they can have over our nutrition choices. We all know what we should be eating, but we may choose more of what our cravings desire to eat. There are simple strategies that you can put into place to balance the cravings and make better choices without feeling deprived. Better nutrition choices will assist in feeling more in control and less squishy. Control leads to confidence.

AMC’s signature 90-Days of YOU! Fitness and Nutrition Program can help you incorporate new healthy habits into your daily life so you can stay on track, long-term and truly lead your family by example. You’ll learn that healthy eating, getting stronger and being more mindful is not an impossible dream. Instead, you just need small, systematic, baby steps to help you clarify where you’re at, identify where you want to go and take the right path to get there.

You can do this Mama! Trust in yourself. Be kind to yourself. Extend even more patience and take control by making a plan for your fitness and nutrition. AMC can help guide you through your self-care journey.

Grab your spot in the next Postnatal Recovery Class

Find your strength with Fit & Fab Small Group Training

Make yourself a priority to get in shape and lose weight with 90-Days of YOU! Fitness and Nutrition Program 

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This blog post is longer than I normally write, but I’m sharing intimate details that I know you will relate to. So please take a deep breath, grab some water and spend a few minutes connecting with this story.

A client of mine who I’ll call Amanda (because that’s really her name and she gave me permission!), is a kind-hearted, dedicated, lovable, successful, 40-year old mama of two…

As a new mom 3.5 years ago she felt conflicted and overwhelmed. She was very emotional about her body after having kids. She was happy to have two little blessings but disappointed, critical of herself and overwhelmed with the amount of work ahead to get back to where she wanted to be.

She struggled for years with extra baby weight and how to make her self-care a priority. 

Amanda works full-time and is on the road 4-5 days a week, every week, with regular late nights to meet client deadlines.

She knows what good nutrition looks like, but finds it challenging to make good choices on the road and at home given her demanding career in client service.

She suffered from a significant abdominal wall separation with her first child, which made her look six months pregnant a year after giving birth.

Amanda once loved exercise, finishing 5 marathons (pre-kids), but since found it challenging to balance family and exercise and mostly worried about doing the ‘right exercises’ for her postpartum body.

Sound familiar?

Amanda initially reached out to me, from a friend’s referral, about postnatal fitness classes during her third trimester with her second child. She was eager to find support. She knew she needed to make a plan to mend her body and make changes in her nutrition habits after her daughter arrived. 

I was impressed Amanda was reaching out to set up a fitness and nutrition plan while she was still pregnant.

For two years, Amanda endured the side effects of her first pregnancy—weak core muscles, lower back pain, feeling tired and achy, and unhappy with her body. 

Amanda was active during her first pregnancy and returned to yoga in between and did not exercise during her second pregnancy due to demands at work…and just not knowing what exercises she should do. 

When I finally met Amanda in AMC’s Postnatal Recovery class, her daughter was just six weeks old. She made a plan and was sticking to it. AMC’s class proved to be the catalyst she needed to take charge of her self-care, get back in shape, safely strengthen her core—along with help of a Women’s Health Specialist—and have the support of other new moms in class. 

As soon as Amanda completed her Postnatal Recovery course, she registered for AMC’s 60-Days of YOU! Fitness & Nutrition program. Here she made nutrition and self-care a priority, and with the combination of exercise, lost 11 pounds in 60 days.

“Initially I found it very challenging because I felt selfish. I knew I had to make my self-care a priority and make major changes to get where I wanted to be. I am blessed with an amazing husband who is very supportive.

AMC’s programs have definitely been worth it. There will always be competing priorities between family, work, and self-care and there are often times when those other priorities win. Because of the knowledge and tools I have gained over the last year, I have a solid foundation established with my nutrition and fitness to prevail during those times. Fitness and exercise is important, but nutrition and meal planning is critical.”

Amanda’s commitment to strengthen her abs and lose weight has been unwavering for the last 14 months—so far she has lost 33 pounds since joining AMC! She feels rejuvenated and looks fabulous! Amanda no longer feels guilty for leaving her two kids to attend fitness classes because the energy and strength she gains from training fills her up. By making herself a priority, she is 10x the mom than her previous fatigued, frustrated self. 

“I no longer feel overwhelmed with healthy eating requirements and workout goals on the road for both work and personal travel with family. I have learned know how to manage healthy eating and exercise on the road when there is a big client or family dinner, or when there is no gym, workout classes, or a personal trainer available.

I am proud of how far I have come. I still have work to do to get where I want to be and that’s great — I like the challenge. I feel great now and have the tools I need to get me where I want to be. It’s a big change from 14 months ago when I first started AMC’s Small Group Training and the first 60-Days of YOU! program. Meeting Coach Cassandra and committing to AMC’s fitness and nutrition programs has changed my life.”

Everything Amanda IS DOING for her self-care and wellness—dedication, planning, consistency, mindset, positive affirmations—are the things that bring success in every area of our lives…particularly getting fit and losing weight. 

What if I could teach you the skills you need to get in shape, and you applied the very same levels of determination and hard work to your goals?

I guarantee you’d have more energy, feel centered, empowered, and at peace with your body.

The first step is to embrace the mindset like Amanda did:

“The time is now, and nothing is going to stop me.”

The next step is to sign up for my FREE online event, January 7—11: Mama’s 5-Day Self-Care Reboot.

If you are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, or frustrated about getting in shape after having kids and you’d like to take simple-yet-powerful baby steps toward getting off the exhaustion roller coaster, so you can FINALLY get lasting results—this is for you.

During the 5-day online event, you’ll discover: 

  • How to set your self-care goals and why they really matter so you’re set up for success from the get-go (you’re going to LOVE how simple this is and how easy it is to incorporate it into your daily routine!).
  • The best way to utilize your time so that you’re focused and efficient when tackling your to-do tasks (and therefore, stop feeling overwhelmed that there is not enough time in the day).
  • How to put your A-team in place so you can set yourself as a priority without battling guilt (having help doesn’t mean you’re any less of a mom!).
  • How positive affirmations and self-talk can set you up for long-term happiness. 
  • Baby steps you can take to stay motivated as you get in shape and stay healthy, naturally and easily. 
  • And more

So, if you’re ready to dive into 2019 and give yourself a starting point for your own successful self-care—and lead your family by example—then join me starting January 7.

I know, from experience, that caring for your family AND yourself requires hard work.

I also know, from experience, that you CAN do it…when you have the support, mindset, tools, and determination to get it done.

Join my FREE Mama’s 5-Day Self-Care Reboot starting January 7.

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Like many of you, I’ve been reflecting on 2018. I’ve been very fortunate. My year was filled with good health for myself and my family. Professionally, my business as a personal trainer—and now nutrition coach—is thriving and it enables me to have a desirable balance of work and family time. I am truly grateful for all that I have, and all the people who surround me and build me up.

Here are my top 5 highlights of 2018

1. My proudest professional accomplishment was acquiring my Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification, the industry’s top education program. After months of reading, writing and testing, I completed this comprehensive course in August. 

2. Active Moms’ Club continues to thrive! 2018 wraps its tenth year of operation—10 YEARS! Woot Woot! It was a record-breaking year with over 100 unique new moms participating in our Postnatal Recovery class. And in the Fall, AMC launched a brand new fitness and nutrition program, 90-Days of YOU! It’s been wildly successful. It’s what our mamas wanted and needed; a comprehensive nutrition program so AMC moms can truly lead their family by example— through fitness AND nutrition.

3. In 2018, I did something I’ve never done before—work with a business coach. Profound. It’s been educational on many levels. And with the help of my coach, I’ll debut AMC’s first FREE online event in January, Mama’s 5-Day Selfcare Reboot. It’ll definitely be a test of my online presence; I’ll be sharing the course LIVE inside of AMC’s Facebook forum. (It could be a record breaking week…I may take a shower five days in a row!) Tune in, I’d LOVE your support! 

4. My greatest fitness accomplishment in 2018 was staying injury free! If you know me, you know that is quite an accomplishment! 2017 was all about the pull-up (still maintaining 2-4 strict pull-ups on any given day), but this year was all about the BUTT—literally. My training has been focused on lower body strength, and it’s working! I’ve hit a max deadlift of 160 pounds with the trap bar; any heavier and my body starts to disagree. That’s the beauty of getting older and wiser, I have nothing to prove so I have learned to respect my limits.

Deadlift with the Trap Bar - YouTube

5. My proudest mom moment —my twin boys entering second grade in September. They are becoming better readers, writers, problem solvers, and continue to grow individually. H loves all things fury and cute, and W loves any sport with a ball. They’ve had remarkable intellectual and developmental growth in their seventh year of life. My boys and my husband are the sunshine in my every day.

I look forward to 2019’s journey and all that it will bring to my family and I. Share one of your highlights of 2018 on AMC’s Facebook wall! I’d especially love to hear from any one of the hundreds of mamas who has come through AMC’s doors over the last decade.

If you’re not already, follow me on AMC’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. I have lots of prenatal and postnatal fitness tips, nutrition tips, and personal moments to share with you in 2019.

~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~

Read more related articles from Active Moms’ Club blog:

25 Random Facts About Me

Behaviors vs Outcomes: How to Make Living Healthy Happen

4 Tips to Jumpstart Your Workout Routine

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A woman’s body is capable of doing amazing things—for example, creating human life! As a personal trainer who works with new and expecting moms, I believe it’s important for moms to understand how and why her body is changing after giving birth, and how the right exercises and professional assistance can help. I’ve fielded a lot of questions about how our bodies change when we transition into motherhood – and what we can do after the baby arrives. Here are a few of my favorites, along with a few points about how easing back into a fitness routine is ideal. (Read the prequel: Mom’s Expecting Body: A Few FAQ’s – And How Exercise Can Benefit You & Your Baby.)

Do I really have to wait six weeks to exercise?

Yes please. Making a baby is a lot of work. Initially, the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles are in a REHAB phase; it’s important to minimize jarring – such as running. Hormonal effects will be present 6-16 weeks postpartum and will contribute to continued joint laxity and possible hot flashes. That, along with sore breasts, vaginal bleeding, weakened pelvic floor muscles, and abdominal and pelvic organs rearranging to their pre-pregnancy locations… definitely mean it’s in your best interest to listen to your body and allow it to recover before easing back into exercise.

If I have a cesarean section, when can I return to exercise?

A cesarean section is major abdominal surgery. Recovery from surgery will vary from individual to individual. And like any major surgery, it is advisable to seek physical therapy afterwards. A physical therapist’s work is incredibly valuable to promote tissue healing and to prescribe therapeutic exercises to regain abdominal strength. A therapist can perform soft tissue work (different than massage work) to break up any adhesions in the scar and around the incision site. Your scar area should not hurt or cause discomfort after it’s fully healed. When you return to your healthcare provider for your six week check-up inquire about physical therapy. The sooner you seek help after surgery, the better. (Read “Bigger Postpartum Challenges Than Just Baby Weight“.)

What type of exercises can I do after the baby is born?

Deep belly breaths to re-engage core muscles. Pelvic floor muscles were stressed through your entire pregnancy and are the main muscle group responsible for pushing your baby out during delivery. These muscles together with their surrounding tissue help stabilize other muscles in our body, support abdominal muscles for strengthening, and can prevent back pain and urine leaks when working properly. Even if you had a cesarean section, starting deep belly breaths will help restore muscle memory. It is common that you will experience urinary leakage the first few weeks after childbirth—but it’s not normal if you continue to leak three or four months later, a year later. Practice deep belly breaths to restore your pelvic strength. Be your best advocate and share with your doctor if you continue to leak urine well after your child is born, there is help.

I’m supposed to be happy but I’m really sad, is this normal?

There are so many emotions that come along with motherhood: happiness, love, joy, and excitement. But there also could be mixed emotions such as feeling overwhelmed, sad, moody or anxious. These mixed emotions are not unusual, and most new moms have temporary mild symptoms of depression mixed with feelings of happiness after having a baby.

The “baby blues” is a short-lived period of mild depression postpartum extremely common among new moms, affecting up to 85% of new moms, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Alarmingly, one in ten of these women will experience the most severe form of the baby blues, postpartum depression (PPD). Read an inspiring story of “One Mom’s Personal Journey through PPD“.

Recent studies have shown staying active and exercising after birth can be helpful in reducing symptoms of depression. Know that you are not alone, seek out a support group in your area or call a hotline. If you live in Chicago, check out groups such as the Chicago New Moms Group, and the Blossom Method for support.

I’ve started exercising again and heard about an abdominal wall separation, what is that and do I have one?

A separation in the abdominal wall is called Rectus Diastasis. Diastasis may occur during late stages of pregnancy. It is a condition in which the two large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen separate due to thin or weakened soft tissue. It doesn’t hurt, and you may not even be aware that it exists. But it’s important to check. A significant separation may lead to increased low back pain, pelvic instability, urinary leakage, or reduced functional strength of the abdominal wall. (Read more FAQ’s about Diastasis here.) Ask your healthcare provider to check for a separation at your check-up. A minor separation may repair itself without any intervention. There are specific exercises, such as abdominal splinting, that can be prescribed to help mend a more significant separation. Regardless if you have a separation, it’s imperative to restore the strength of deep abdominal muscles after pregnancy.

I want to return to exercise safely after baby, where do I begin?

It is important to have a targeted fitness program to help restore your core strength after childbirth.  Let Active Moms’ Club help you navigate the do’s & dont’s. From the Core: Postnatal Recovery class is a 5-week mom & baby fitness class designed to meet the unique needs of mothers with new babies. Post-Baby Body Express Training is designed for women tight on time and want to get their body back after baby. In both programs, you’ll learn the (level appropriate) corrective exercises to address your post-baby body, specifically, whether it be an abdominal wall separation (diastasis recti), a cesarean section, other physical issues that occurred during pregnancy and delivery, or simply the desire to achieve and maintain a healthy/stronger level of fitness. Contact Coach Cassandra, and let AMC help you navigate back into exercise, safely and effectively, post-baby.

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 Other related articles from Active Moms’ Club blog:

Diastasis Recti: From How to Assess to Safe Exercises to Heal – A Few of My Favorite FAQs

Mom’s Expecting Body: A Few FAQ’s – And How Exercise Can Benefit You & Your Baby

New Mama Wrist Pain

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Helping mamas establish their personal workout routines is one of my favorite things about being a fitness coach. I get it. Moms’ schedules are busy. We are pulled in 1001 directions—and let’s face it, we don’t tend to put ourselves on the top of our priority list. Our fitness (and nutrition) habits tend to be affected most.  

So what’s a mama to do to jumpstart her much needed self-care?

Plan. Schedule. Share your intentions. Execute. 

Tip 1—Plan your workout

First thing first. Plan at the beginning of the week to take time in your schedule for your workout(s). Notice I didn’t say, to “find” time in your schedule. No one ‘finds’ time. You have to take it. Inevitable that means something on your priority list will need to shift in order to make something else—in this case, exercise—fit in. My favorite saying, “if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” Now start making a plan.

Tip 2—Schedule & prioritize your workout

Now that you have planned your workout for the week (if you’re starting from zero, one scheduled workout is PROGRESS!)— book your fitness as you book any other appointment. No cancelation unless dire urgency. This is the benefit of scheduling a fitness class at local boutique—like Active Moms’ Club, usually there is a cancelation policy if you no-show. Now there’s added accountability if someone else is expecting you to show up!

Tip 3—Share your intentions

Share your fitness intentions with your spouse and/or family members for their support, and to help protect your self-care time. A supportive environment will help you thrive. If family members and friends knows that exercise is important to you, they will support your needs to be active to take time for yourself.

Tip 4—Execute

Get it done mama—you planned your workout(s), made it a priority, and scheduled your fitness appointment with the support of your spouse! Show up and be present. Feel your body move. The movement is actually giving you energy. Notice how your mental state changes after you act purposefully and meaningfully. Now YOU’RE in control. 

You got this mama. One day at a time. Tomorrow be 1% better than you were today.

As a busy mama your personal, self-care time is precious. Make the most of your workout and be a part of a supportive mom-centric community with Active Moms’ Club. Our Fit & Fab Small Group Postnatal Training, and Prenatal Small Group Training sessions make exercise fun. Take a test drive for just $25 to experience a session, and be a part of our awesome community.

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 Other related articles from Active Moms’ Club blog:

My Favorite 10-Minute Workout To Torch Body Fat

5 Reasons Why Women (Especially Moms) Should Lift Weights

90-Days of YOU! Fitness and Nutrition Program

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