Friday, 9 September 2016

Pregnancy is Temporary Postpartum is Forever

When you first read the title, you probably thought, well that's obvious. What I really want you to think about is how we move throughout the 9(ish) months of gestation can affect our bodies for the rest of our lives. We need to honour this amazing process and respect the changes that occur. 

 Some of you might feel physically and emotionally fantastic throughout your entire pregnancy and only have to modify a few exercises or your intensity as you progress. Others, may notice a significant change from the first trimester and really need to slow things down. There are also those who did not move their bodies regularly prior to becoming pregnant, however crave that connection with their growing physical body, but unsure of where to even begin. 

How can we ensure that we minimize long-term harm to our bodies during our pregnancy?

  • Balanced nutrition | Health Canada recommends increasing our food intake by two or three food guide servings through the second and third trimesters and while breastfeeding. Increasing food intake with healthy choices will help promote healthy weight gain. For most women 25-35lbs is the recommended amount of weight gain during a full term pregnancy. Your postpartum self will appreciate these habits you've created, as well as making it easier to return to your pre-pregnancy weight!
  • Move your body everyday | If you have no contraindications to physical activity, some form of exercise most days of the week will build healthy habits and also contribute to healthy weight gain. Your relaxed ligaments and widening pelvis will thank you for getting up and moving. Your heart will thank you for increasing it's beat and circulating fresh oxygenated blood throughout your body. Your baby will also thank you for that fresh blood. Your mind will thank you for the endorphin boost leaving you full of "feel good" hormones! Your postpartum self will thank you for creating these habits during pregnancy so that you know how wonderful it feels to move, even on days where you don't feel like it. 
  • Being gentle on your core | Most women who train their core focus on their rectus abdominis. This is the "six pack" group of muscles that is most prominent in our front body. These muscles are stretched and put under strain with a growing pregnant belly. For this reason, it is important to not exert even more stress on this muscles group. Avoiding crunching motions both in exercise AND in daily activities (like going from a laying to sitting/standing position) is extremely important to protect yourself from long term damage. Separation of the abdominal can occur even if everything is done correctly, as genetics and baby's growth also play a role, however, something as simple as rolling onto your side and pressing yourself up with your upper body instead of sitting straight up from a laying position can really help prevent this! 
  • Connecting with your deep core and pelvic floor | By training our core or different "abs" muscles, we will train our torso for carrying excess weight, the pushing stage of labour, and recovery from both vaginal and caesarean births. I have a full post on the best ways to connect with these muscles groups here. These are also exercises that we can begin engaging within days or weeks after giving birth, please follow the guidelines in the full post Pregnancy-Safe Core Exercise
  • Respecting when your body tells you to slow down, even if your ego disagrees | Let's go back to the title of this post. Pregnancy is temporary. Postpartum is forever. So what if you need to stop running at 15 weeks because it doesn't feel good on your body? I can guarantee you can find another activity to get your heart rate up, boost those endorphins, and engage your muscles that will make you feel strong and amazing! Tell that ego that you need to listen to your body and take full ownership of that. Rest when you need to rest and find activities that agree with your changing body. These are also great indicators to follow while you recover after birth. Listening to what your body is asking for and trying activities that are safe and effective for your stage of postpartum will help your recovery. 
  • Take time to connect with your emotional body | The various hormones that pregnant brings will also affect the way you feel emotionally. It is important to take time to connect to and respect these changes, just as we do our physical body. Being present and aware now will also help you in the postpartum time and as you adjust to your new life with your Little(s).

Our bodies all grow babies differently because we are all different. As long as we do our best to really listen to what our body is asking for and respect the changes in each trimester, we will move and fuel our bodies in a healthy way. Pregnancy is a great time to make small and healthy changes that can last the rest of our lives to be great role models for our families. 

Thank you Roughley Originals for continuing to provide such amazing photos!

Monday, 5 September 2016

This is not good-bye, it's see you soon!

Last week was wonderful! It was busy, full, emotional, fun, and so very lovely. We had our four final sweaty Fit Your Life classes of 2016 filled with motivated women and celebrated the beginning of my "mini maternity leave" or "sabbatical" (as Keith is calling it) with a BBQ in our backyard for whomever of them could make it! Our yard has never held so many Moms, Dads, and Littles! We loved every minute of it! 

Thank you to each of you who have joined us along this journey! It has been the most incredible adventure I could imagine and I am grateful for you everyday. Without you, my lovely "clients", this dream would not be a reality. You have created this wonderful community of supportive and inspiring Mamas! Pushing yourselves and each other to be the best that you can be in this extremely special time of our lives. I cannot wait to continue to get to know each of you better during my leave and upon my return to classes!

To Keith, my rock and my love, without your support and encouragement, Fit Your Life would still be "just" a blog and these prenatal and postpartum fitness classes, along with the community that has been created, would be nothing but a wish in my heart. You are my sounding board and my bookkeeper. I literally could not do this without you. I love you more each day. 

To my sweet Brooke, you are my best inspiration. I want to be the healthiest and happiest version of  myself to be able to be the best Mommy to you and your new little sister. Your smile lights up a room and your energy keeps me going. I love teaching with you by my side and I love seeing the friends you have made in our classes! Your genuine caring heart makes mine melt when you sprint over to a crying baby to rock their bucket seat or place their soother back in their mouths. Thank you for being you!

To our beautiful daughter-to-be, as we excitedly wait your arrival, I cannot help but be so grateful for you allowing me to continue to teach classes until nearly 35 weeks pregnant. I have felt so great moving my body throughout this pregnancy as you continue to grow as you are supposed to. Thank you for being a part of this journey literally your entire life. I love you already!

Now... here are a few images from Fit Your Life's final week of 2016!

Prenatal Fit / Fit Bootcamp combo class
Stair workout as our last Tuesday morning Mom & Me Fit!
23 amazing Mamas and their Littles to sweat through our final workout together before the break!

Fit Your Life "See You Soon" BBQ

Photo by Roughley Originals
This is not good-bye, it is see you soon. Stay in touch, keep those bodies moving, and we will be sweating together again before you know it!
xox, Kellie

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Winding down and gearing up!

Thank you Roughley Originals!
The past few weeks have been emotional as I have said "see you soon" to many clients as classes wind down for the summer. Next week is our final week of scheduled classes before our sweet girl is born! We are planning to take a few months off to enjoy the special time with her and then gear back up for classes early in 2017.

Fit Your Life has been an amazing journey thus far. The growth that we have experienced, the truly incredible women I have met, and the daily joy that fills my whole being are more than I ever could have imagined!

Thank you to every single person who has supported, encouraged, loved, and pushed us along this path! We are so excited for many things to come in the next year and to share with all of you! 

We will be in touch! 

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Being present as a busy mom

Being present is something I think many of strive towards in this society where we want to do everything, be everything, and make it look pretty at the same time. I am no different. I thrive on having a full schedule of things that make my heart and mind happy, but sometimes struggle to be completely focussed on where my feet are, not where they are headed next. 

The past few weeks have been exceptionally busy with weekend getaways, an amazing friend's wedding celebrations, shifts at the hospital, a new round of fitness classes with more clients signing up every week, and trying to enjoy the beautiful weather with Brooke and Keith. At the end of each day, I reflect on the events, laughs, memories of the past 14 or so hours with my hands on my growing belly and connect with the Littlest Willie kicking and rolling around inside. 

People tell you that your pregnancy will be different when chasing a toddler. You don't have as much time to enjoy each flutter throughout the day or journal your daily physical and emotional feelings. I am okay with this, but still want to take time each day to connect with this beautiful human on the inside and remind her how excited we are for her to join our family in a few short months. 

My goal over the next few weeks is to really take in each moment. We still have plenty going on, but slowing down, breathing, and keeping my mind where my feet are will help me accomplish this. I want to appreciate these next few months with Brooke before she becomes a big sister! I want to spend more quality time with Keith before we become a family of four!

I am excited for this challenge and all of the beautiful memories that will come along with it!


Monday, 13 June 2016

Fresh & Fun!

I love learning new techniques and ideas! I find it is so easy to get stuck in the same fitness routine, whether is be my own workouts or creating fresh classes for my clients. After attending AFLCA's 2016 Fit Rendezvous, I felt inspired to create new and fun classes using everything I learned. 

Fresh & Fun! full body workout was created the week after the fitness conference. I love this new-to-me technique of combining basic combination movements for a short amount of time, but with many sets. My clients loved the fresh format!! It is a struggle to push through this many sets, but they were so thankful they had each other and made it through!

Fresh & Fun!
full body workout

My incline push-up on the MoveBALL from my knees

prenatal exercise modifications are in blue

Warm-Up | 5 minutes
30 seconds per exercise

  1. Prisoner walk lunges
  2. Plank | Reverse plank
  3. Prisoner walk lunges with added one lunge at bottom
  4. Plank with walk | Reverse plank with walk
  5. Prisoner walk lunges with added two lunges at bottom
  6. Plank with 3 walks & triceps push-up | Reverse plank with 3 walks & triceps dip
  7. Frogger
  8. Crab walks
  9. Jog in place

Circuit | 25 minutes
30 seconds per exercise x 8 rounds | 30 seconds rest after each round
  1. Squat jumps | Squat to calf raise
  2. Push-ups | Kneeling or incline push-ups
  3. Reverse lunge to glute raise balance (right)
  4. Reverse lunge to glute raise balance (left)
  5. Figure 4 balance with overhead triceps extension

Core | 5 minutes
30 seconds per exercise x 2 rounds
  1. Plie squat hold with weighted circles (switch directions for second round)
  2. Standing back extension (switch sides for second round)
  3. Side plank (right)
  4. Side plank (left)
  5. Plank | Reverse plank
Make sure to stretch!

Enjoy!! xox

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

My Favourite Pregnancy-Safe Core Exercises

Engaging and connecting with our core during pregnancy is so important. A strong core protects our pelvis and low back while baby grows and shifts within and around it. Strengthening these muscles throughout our pregnancy also helps to prevent injury and decrease discomforts. Engaging our core during pregnancy and in the immediate postpartum period is very different than when not pregnant or a new mom, as our goals are very different and there are precautions we need to be aware of.

During pregnancy, our goals for a strong are not to develop defined "abs" or a "flat tummy". These more superficial muscles are called the Rectus Abdominis (RA), and are the group that is stretched the most as baby grows. We no longer do sit-ups, crunches, or v-sits to develop the strength of this muscle group, but instead learn to engage our deepest core muscles. We avoid these "crunching" motions, as the excess strain on the RA can cause or worsen Diastasis Rectus (DR), which is the separation of the RA. This condition can be uncomfortable during pregnancy and although there are ways to prevent worsening until term, we are unable to correct and heal the stretched fascia until post-birth. Diagnosis of DR can be done postpartum by a trained healthcare provider. Diagnosis during pregnancy is very difficult, as most women have some degree of separation naturally, however, most of us will not require physiotherapy to heal these muscles after delivery. If we are diagnosed with DR postpartum, it is important to begin the healing process as soon as possible through a trained physiotherapist who can provide treatment and exercises. 

Knowing how to properly connect with our deep core muscles, or Transverse Abdominis, (TVA) not only provides the benefits listed above, but also assists in the pushing stage of labour and recovery post-birth. This deepest group of core muscles contains baby, as they are the closest to him or her. They connect to the pelvic floor muscles, which is another crucial group of muscles to connect with during our pregnancy, but that is for another day. When we connect with our TVA throughout our pregnancy and connect the movements to breath, this develops the mind-body connection we will use in the pushing stage of labour. Even women who have an epidural and a decreased sensation of where and how to direct their pushing energy will be more effective at this stage if they have practiced their connection with their deep core. A trained TVA also helps in the recovery process, even if we have a caesarean birth. This muscle group is severed in the delivery process and therefor requires much healing from the inside out. If we challenge this muscle group during our pregnancy, through isometric (i.e. side plank) and mindful movement (i.e. cat cow rotations), they will be better prepared to heal themselves post-birth. There is much to be said for muscle memory and knowing how to return to a normal state. This muscle group wants to contact back to where it was post-birth and with intentional exercises pre- and post-nasally (once able), we will return to a "flatter belly" sooner. 

I mentioned connecting breath to movement and this is extremely important in the mind-body connection of exercising while pregnant. We should be connecting all intentional exercise to breath, but especially our deep core and pelvic floor exercises. When explaining each of the exercises below, I will cue when to inhale and when to exhale. 

My favourite pregnancy-safe core exercises and how to properly engage and connect to ensure you are performing these exercises safely and effectively.

Belly Breathing

  1. This technique can be done essentially anywhere that you are able to sit comfortably, adjust into a tall posture, and find at least five deep breaths. 
  2. Once sitting, place one or both hands on your belly. 
  3. Inhale to relax your core. It will expand, but do not force it outwards. 
  4. Exhale slowly, but audibly to draw your entire front body including baby and obliques in towards your spine. 
  5. Inhale to release. 
  6. Exhale to draw in and contract the TVA. 
  7. Continue for 5-10 breaths. If you ever feel dizzy, please stop, take a break, and then reconnect. 
This is one of the most important exercises to prepare for the pushing stage of labour and for healing post-birth. Once we feel confident in our form here, we can begin to add a pelvic floor exercise to the breath.  Note: I performed this exercise standing for photo/video purposes, but typically practice while sitting with my eyes closed. 

* Video available on Instagram @kellie.fityourlife 

Reverse Plank

  1. Begin by sitting on your bum with feet extended in front of you. 
  2. Place each hand beside each hip. Inhale, allow your belly to relax. 
  3. Exhale while drawing baby in towards your spine and lift your entire body through your palms and heels. 
  4. Hold and breathe for 30 seconds. 
  5. You can work your way up to 60 seconds. 
  6. If this is ever too much pressure on your hands or front body, bend through your knees to bring the soles of your feet to the floor. Hold and breathe there. 

Kneeling Superwoman

  1. Begin on all-fours with hands directly under shoulders and knees under hips. Engage entire arm by rotating elbows to have creases face each other.
  2. Slowly lift right arm in front and reach finger tips forward. Lift left leg to pull heel behind and backwards. 
  3. Find a neutral spine. 
  4. Engage core by "hugging" baby in towards your spine as you exhale. 
  5. Either hold here for 5-10 breaths or gently pulse upwards (maximum one inch of movement) for a count of 5-10. 
  6. Repeat second side. 

Cat Cow Rotations

    1. Begin on all-fours with hands directly under shoulders and knees under hips. Engage entire arm by rotating elbows to have creases face each other.
    2. Exhale to draw baby in towards your spine in a "hugging" motion. 
    3. Press through your hands and knees as you begin to round your spine towards the ceiling and draw your chin towards your chest. 
    4. Curve around baby as much as you are able with comfort. 
    5. Inhale to slowly release baby towards the floor as you shift your gaze upwards and curl your tailbone towards the ceiling. 
    6. Maintain some engagement with baby to prevent excess pressure on your low back. 
    7. Continue to move with breath at your own pace for 10 rotations. 

    Kneeling Side Plank with Leg Abduction

    1. Place right elbow directly under right shoulder and right knee in line with the body and right foot behind. 
    2. Lift through knee and elbow to press right hip upwards. 
    3. Left hip should be directly stacked over right hip with baby "hugged" in towards spine. 
    4. If you are able to find balance, lift a strong left arm towards the ceiling. 
    5. If balance allows, now lift left leg upwards. 
    6. Maintain strong core while keeping both arms and legs engaged. 
    7. Hold and breathe for 30 seconds. 
    8. You can work your way up to 60 seconds. 
    9. Repeat second side. 

    Complete all exercises at least 4 times per week for 
    1-2 sets each time. 


    Thursday, 12 May 2016

    Summer 2016 Registration Now OPEN!

    Keep your body active all summer long with our classes tailored for your stage of life and fitness level! Fit Your Life offers Prenatal Fit for mamas-to-be of every gestation, Mom & Me Fit for mamas on the move, and Fit Bootcamp for all women who want to have fun and get fit!

    Enjoy the fresh air. Laugh too much. Develop healthy habits. Learn to love your body. Surround yourself with those who lift you up. 

    Summer 2016 Schedule
    June 6 - September 1 
    (no classes​ July 6, 7, 11, 12, August 1)

    Mondays | 7pm | Ogilvie Ridge Park (combined class with Fit Bootcamp)
    Wednesdays | 7pm | Ellingson Park 
    (combined class with Fit Bootcamp)

    Tuesdays | 9:15am | GHV Bulyea Park (June 7, 14, & 21)
    Tuesdays | 10am | Magrath Heights Park (June 28 - August 30)
    Thursdays | 11am | Ellingson Park

    Mondays | 7pm | Ogilvie Ridge Park (combined class with Prenatal Fit)
    Wednesdays | 7pm | 
    Ellingson Park (combined class with Prenatal Fit)

    *more details on each class via links in their title

    4 Class Pass | $65 ($15/class)
    6 Class Pass | $90 
    10 Class Pass | $145 ($14.50/class)
    12 Class Pass | $165 ($13.75/class)

    ​- you can "mix and match"​ class times ands styles, as the passes are valid for all classes throughout the week!
    - all class passes are valid for two months from the first use
    - minimum two hours notice on class cancelation or one class pass will be used