Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mommy Myths

Any mother knows that moms need muscle! As a StrollerFit owner and instructor, it’s my job to help moms regain their pre-pregnancy bodies while building the energy and strength they need to care for their families. I know it’s hard to fit exercise in between everything else you have to do, and it’s easy to convince yourself that it just isn’t worth the effort, especially in those first months with a newborn, but it truly is one of the very best things you can do for yourself and your family. Here are some of my favorite postnatal fitness mommy myths, and why you should ignore them:

The pregnancy belly will disappear after the baby is born.
I wish this were true! For some women it does disappear quickly, but those are the lucky ones whose genetics played a big role in not only their pregnancy but also in their postpartum months. Over time the swelling of the abdomen decreases and your body returns to a non-pregnancy state. Once the uterus is back to its normal size, the rest of the pooch is essentially added weight gain, droopy skin and sagging muscles. A postnatal fitness workout like StrollerFit or restore the core will zap that tummy back into shape.

My abs will never be flat again.
Everyone can tighten the muscles back up. It takes work and know-how, but once you follow through the muscles will respond and get very close to their pre-pregnancy size. They might be even better!

Nursing moms should not work out.
Totally false! All moms should work out unless the doctor gives a good reason not to. Moderate physical activity is recommended for everyone. Nursing moms do need to make sure they are eating enough calories and drinking enough fluid to support milk production. Add 10 oz of additional non-caffeine fluids for every ½ hour you are exercising. Breastfeeding moms also need to pay close attention to alignment and form and should seek a professional’s help to make sure they are on the right track. Make sure you’re stretching out the chest muscles and strengthening the muscles of the upper back. This will help regain posture, keeping those shoulders back and chin lifted. Proper support is critical, so all nursing moms need to be fitted for a sports bra.

Your feet change only during pregnancy but not after.
A woman’s foot changes during pregnancy and can change even more afterward. Have your feet re-measured every six months after pregnancy for 18 months. Proper footing will help you avoid heel pain and calf discomfort. Whenever you get your child’s foot measured, get yours measured too!

It is not possible to like your body better after pregnancy.
Everything you do prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy and post-pregnancy has an effect on how you feel about your body now. You can learn to love it! When you treat it right through diet and exercise it will love you back and the results will be amazing.

Chasing after kids and housework are workout enough.
If only it were true. Housework and keeping up with the little ones will not protect your bone mass or make your heart and lungs stronger. It may help burn some extra calories, but the truth is we must exercise regularly to earn a healthy strong body. Consistent workouts – including both strength training and cardiovascular efforts – will help you feel better every day while performing all those motherly duties!

I will have more time tomorrow, the next day, or maybe next week.
There’s no time like the present! Whether you squeeze in 15 minutes now, 15 minutes later, an hour here or there, it all adds up. More calories going out than coming in will get that weight off and keep it off. And when you put off the workout, you put off taking off the weight.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Energy Boost

Yesterday before StrollerFit class, one of our regular moms came ready for class but was definitely looking a little worn out. It was a few minutes before class starts at 9:00 but it was obvious that she was feeling a little out of sorts. My normally chipper and bright-eyed friend was moving through our warm-up with very little vim and vigor though she usually chats and laughs with the other moms and kids in our StrollerFit group. As we progressed through our workout, I noticed that she began to look more and more like herself: smiling, working hard, laughing, having fun. Before we got settled in for our core work at the end of class, I checked with her and asked if she was doing ok and her response was, "Oh yea. I'm feeling much better now. I definitely have more energy." Isn't that funny that putting out some energy exercising can pay big dividends by supplying you with more energy than you started with? I love that! As if we needed another reason to get moving, an energy boost is another positive outcome from exercise. And what a great thing for busy and sometimes-tired moms!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder

As any of you know who are moms, the world of motherhood seems to require learning a whole new language and becoming accustomed to a new culture. Thankfully, all my StrollerFit and Restore the Core moms have been wonderful examples and tutors for what's in store for my husband and me. I am so thankful to have a wonderful group of friends at StrollerFit and Restore the Core to whom I can run and ask these questions. Being pregnant myself has illumined just another wonderful part of StrollerFit and Restore the Core: a support system and group of friends to share in joy and confusion and to help smooth out rough patches.

I can honestly say that that I will be availing myself of their help in the coming months. Embarking on this new journey is, right now at least, more confusing than anything else! :) Here are some things that are, at least currently, conundrums for me:
  • diapering - I really think that I would like to use cloth diapers. I know, I know, but before you turn up your nose, cloth diapers are MUCH different than they used to be.
  • labor and delivery - I had a friend ask me the other day if I had a birth plan yet. This truly made me stop and pause for a minute. Hyperventilating didn't ensue but I didn't think I needed to have that yet. We don't expect this baby to arrive until February, and I'm certainly not ready to develop a birth plan yet. Apparently, though, some moms to be have that set in their minds at a much earlier stage of pregnancy than I do.
  • baby items - Where in the world do you start in order to make the decision about the kinds of things that you think you'll need?! Just walking down baby/kid aisles at Target makes me get dizzy! To an untrained eye, there seems to be about 10,000 brands of bottles, 750 kinds of soaps, one gazillion different kinds of outfits and combination of clothes that are available for purchase. I am a minimalist in most respects (and I'm also pretty frugal), so I certainly don't want to buy something that will really serve no purpose or will only be in use for a few weeks or a month.

I promise that there are plenty more questions where these came from, but I think this list will suffice for now. After all, I may need a nap after just ruminating on these three topics!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mommymuscles at work

Our six-week fitness challenge is complete and I am thrilled and inspired by the results! I will post more specifics later, but the moms of StrollerFit made some amazing improvements. Each mom who participated saw improvements in various areas: timed mile walk/run, timed wall sit, timed full plank, number of push-ups as well as measurements for thigh, hips, and waist. Can I tell you that I just wanted to jump up and down and act like a StrollerFit cheerleader on Monday?! It was wonderful!

The biggest lesson that I took away from the experience was that those who committed to StrollerFit classes saw the greatest improvements and gains in strength and time. Their bodies responded to the demands that they put on it... in very positive ways!

Way to go StrollerFit moms! You've got real mommymuscles!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Baby Impulse Buy

My husband and I made what I think is the strangest impulse buy of our lives last weekend. While browsing and baby stores in town, which in and of itself is a strange experience for us now, we stopped in at Target. (Does anyone else seem to live at Target?) We moseyed down the carseat aisle so I could just show him the brand of carseat that I thought I'd like to get. I was perusing the various brands, he was going through sticker shock (the first of many times that will happen, I'm sure!) when we discovered that there was a clearance section even in the carseat aisle. Now, I love clearance and sale things especially at Target. The sight of those little reddish-orange stickers on labels and boxes makes my heart go pitter-patter. Not only were there big ticket items on clearance but there was the exact carseat brand that I thought I wanted... for HALF OFF! Upon further perusal, there was also an infant carrier for the same brand for half off as well. We looked at each other and thought that it was too good to be true. We marched up to the customer service desk (I think "guest relations" if you want to use official Target-speak) and asked, "Is it possible to return even large items like carseats if they're on clearance?" The gal replied that indeed it is as long as it comes back with a receipt. Deciding to jump on that deal, we scooted back to the aisle and loaded our cart with the two strangest items we've ever bought on impulse: a Britax carseat and Britax infant carrier. Now with those in the garage, this whole baby venture seems a little more real.

As an addendum: don't worry, we did come home and immediately check the safety ratings for both of our impulse buy items and they got top ratings. Whew!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers: Baby News

The news in my part of the world, at least the news as it applies to our family, is that we're expecting a baby! I am 10+ weeks pregnant, feeling great, and still teaching StrollerFit, Restore the Core classes, and step aerobics and strength training classes. Teaching and exercising has always made me feel wonderful - alert, in shape, healthy, muscular - and I'm looking forward to continuing exercising throughout the length of the pregnancy.

I took a prenatal/postnatal certification course in the past and was so excited to learn how beneficial exercise was both for the physically active mom and for the baby in the womb. Of course, every exerciser should check with their doctor to be sure that he/she knows that she's a part of an exercise program and to be sure that they don't have any recommendations or restrictions. Barring those, pregnant women can participate in exercise programs and do wonderful things for themselves and for their babies.

Some cool benefits and findings about exercise and pregnancy...
  • In a 1981 study, researchers concluded that runners experienced a lower incidence of backache, constipation, varicose veins, and edema versus non-runners.
  • Another study found that regular exercisers had a decreased incidence of preeclampsia and PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension).
  • Exercising positively impacts weight gain. Overall weight gain during pregnancy was reduced by about 7 pounds and fat deposition was reduced by three percent.
  • Another study concluded that women who were aerobically more active during pregnancy returned to their pre-pregnancy weight more quickly than those who remained sedentary.
  • Clapp (a pregnancy and exercise researcher) compared women who exercised through pregnancy and those who didn't. He found that a year after birth, the average weight retention of those who didn't exercise was three times greater and fat retention of the non-exercisers was twice as much as those women who exercised.
  • Another 1981 study by the Melpomene Institute for Research found that incidences of postpartum depression was fewer in those women who exercised.
  • Shorter hospital stays have also been documented for those women who exercise through pregnancy.
  • Not surprisingly, women who exercise increase their work capacity. This can positively affect the labor and delivery of exercising women.
  • Clapp's study of women who exercised regularly during their pregnancies found that women had shorter labors (average of 2 hrs less), 24% fewer C-sections, 14% less use of forceps, and their babies had higher APGAR scores. They also tend to have less complicated labors.
  • Women who exercised through their pregnancies also experience a decrease of...
    35% in the need for pain relief
    75% in incidence of maternal exhaustion
    50% in the need to artificially rupture the membranes
    50% in the need to either induce or stimulate labor w/pitocin
    50% in the need to intervene because of abnormalities in the fetal heart rate
    50% in the need for episiotomy
    75% in the need for operative intervention (forceps delivery or C-section)
  • The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that active women also perceive labor to be less difficult using the perceived exertion scale.
  • Exercise improves overall strength and endurance, perfect preparation for pregnancy and delivery!
  • Aerobic exercise has positive benefits for the growing baby.
  • The placenta of exercising women is forced to work harder and therefore grows faster and becomes more efficient in its supplying the fetus with oxygen.

With my new "condition" as a friend jokingly called it, I'm looking forward to putting some of these findings about exercise and pregnancy to the test! Watch out, baby; here we go!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fitness Challenge Week 1 - Almost Finished!

What a great bunch of moms! We started this week off with a big challenge Monday morning: getting data for our six-week fitness and nutrition challenge. The group each completed the following:

  • a mile for time, walking, running, or a combination of the two

  • push ups to failure (on knees or on toes)

  • a timed wall sit with perfect form

  • a timed plank (on knees or on toes)

  • jump rope (three tries for as many jumps in a row)

They were phenomenal! I was so happy and pleased. In addition to these benchmarks, we also took measurements (I think that some were more afraid of the measurements than of running a mile). In three weeks, we will retest everything except the mile.

In addition to these physical challenges, there's also a nutrition component to this six-week journey. Each week, we're challenged to give up or add something to our diet. This week, we're each trying to make sure we're consuming five fruits and veggies per day. It's been fun to hear the feedback about how each person is trying to be sure they're getting the required amount. Should we be getting a commission from Publix if their produce sales increases this week? I think so! :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A little kick start

We'll be starting something new at StrollerFit starting July 7: a six-week fitness challenge. I'm still hammering out the details, but I hope to motivate the moms in the group to be faithful to class, to be willing to make small changes in their lives that will have a big impact on their health, and to work a little harder and see some great tangible results after the six weeks have passed.

We'll be keeping track of our gains and the challenges throughout the time so that we can really see the progress we're making. I'm really looking forward to seeing how well the moms do. I know that they'll make some great strides above what they already do on a regular basis!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The moms I know are an inspirational bunch. They have mommymuscle in spades! They're strong women who work hard in StrollerFit/Restore the Core classes so that they can be strong, confident role models to their kids. They passionately love their families and friends. I get to see all these traits in action during StrollerFit classes.

I have to say that we work hard in StrollerFit. The name makes some people think that we must simply stroll around chatting, drinking lattes together, and just generally socializing. While there is some socializing that goes on, the moms in our group are a hard working group. They come to class - some after nights of little or no sleep, some with a cranky toddler, some after having dealt with potty training all morning - but they come to class regularly, faithfully, and cheerfully ready to GO! How fortunate am I that I get to be around them and soak up their mommymuscle-ness! :)

I am inspired by these moms and I hope to help and encourage them as well. I am so proud to know them.