Friday, 21 October 2016

Deep core activation while recovering from a cesarean birth

Yes! It is true! We welcomed our sweet baby girl to the world earlier this month and have been in awe of her ever since. I will post about our birth experience and more about her very soon. 

In the meantime, I have been asked multiple times in the past few weeks about my transverse abdominis (TVA) or deep core activation techqniques; how I used these techniques throughout my pregnancy and how I am re-introducing them to my daily routine as my body heals from our cesarean birth. To begin, I did not know about these techniques when I was pregnant with Brooke, our oldest daughter, who was born in April 2014. I had a great recovery after her delivery (also cesarean), as I was cleared to begin upper body exercise with slow integration of lower body exercise at 4 weeks postpartum and cleared to begin core work and running at 6 weeks postpartum. I felt great! That being said, my core already feels so much stronger than it did at 2 weeks postpartum with Brooke. I already feel like myself and have to be very careful to not overdo it each day, as I am feeling so great already!

One week postpartum
Two and a half weeks postpartum

Walk & stretch in the ravine
Although I am yearning for a sweaty workout, I know my body is not quite ready for that yet. After all, a cesarean section is major surgery and we must remember that when healing from one. I am finding myself able to walk a little farther each time we head out and my pace has been steadily increasing. I have alternated between wearing our newest addition in the ErgoBaby Carrier and pushing her in the stroller. Both have been great to focus on my posture and engage my core as I walk. This past week, I have made a solid effort to do a full body stretch each morning, with a little foam rolling as I can tolerate it, and also integrate deep core work. 

My Morning Routine

Morning stretch with my Littles

  • Downward facing dog
  • Kneeling lunge stretch (some mornings this tugs on my incision, so I gently back out and skip it) - right
  • Downward facing dog
  • Kneeling lunge stretch - left
  • Downward facing dog
  • Pigeon pose - right
  • Downward facing dog
  • Pigeon pose - left 
  • Butterfly stretch
  • Firelog (stacked shins while seated) - right
  • Firelog - left
  • Various upper body stretches

Then, I come into a comfortable seated position, either crossed legged or kneeling

TVA activation

  • Belly breathing x 5 | sitting tall, as you inhale allow the belly to relax. exhale and gently pull the belly in towards the spine. repeat.  I do have a video on this technique posted on my Instagram account @kellie.fityourlife
  • Kegels x 5 | with breath. inhale as you relax the pelvic floor down towards your mat. exhale as you progressively squeeze the pelvic floor as "high" as you can without tightening the glutes. repeat.
  • Belly breathing + kegels x 10 | combine your belly breaths with kegels while continuing to focus on breath. 
  • Cat cow x 5-10 | come onto all fours with a neutral spine. hands under shoulders and knees under hips. inhale as you look towards the sky at the same time as you curl your tailbone upwards. your belly will drop down. move slowly, as you don't want to pull your healing c-section incision. exhale as you round your spine towards the sky and draw your belly inwards bringing your chest and thighs closer together under your body. continue to round with breath. 
  • Supine TVA activation x 10 | lay on your back with knees bent and feet resting on the floor. place your hands either under the small of your back (where it will naturally round away from your mat) or on your belly. inhale to relax your core. exhale to press the small of your back into the mat. hold for one full breath. on the next inhale relax. repeat. 

Remember to continue to listen to your body. Every body will heal differently and at it's own pace. How these techniques feel in your body can also be affected by how you engaged your TVA during your pregnancy, the type of labour you experienced, and your surgery. Take each day as it comes, as some will be easier than others. If you experience increased vaginal bleeding, please take a rest day or two before trying again. If you experience any increased pain, swelling, oozing, or bleeding from your incision, please take a rest day and contact your obstetrician's office if these symptoms worsen or persist. 

Enjoy these special moments with your family, I know I am!!

Friday, 30 September 2016

5 ways to get motivated for those early morning workouts!

I love morning workouts! 
I find it is the best way to start my day and keep me going through whatever comes my way. Getting out of bed is not usually easy, especially as the sun is rising later, but with these tips I hope you will give it a fair shot!
Yes, even at 38 weeks pregnant and off work, I
set my alarm for 6am and sneak in 20 minutes
of "me" time to sweat before I begin my day!
Remember, it takes time for a habit to form. Some say 21 days. So, give yourself a month of at least three first-thing-in-the-morning workouts per week and see how you feel! Journaling is a great way to keep track of your energy levels; both on the days you complete your morning routine and on the days you do not. Once in the rhythm, I find that I am actually more tired on the days I didn't exercise! 

Here we go:

1) Set out your workout clothes the night before
By choosing what you will throw on the minute you roll out of bed is motivating for two reasons. One, you don't have to think about what you will wear. Two, your clothes are sitting there ready for you and it is difficult to look at them and make the conscious decision to not put them on. 

Want to stay asleep until your Littles are awake? Definitely!
Make it fun for them too. Have special toys or their own
equipment so they become a part of your workout!
2) Choose a fun, yet short and effective workout
You can get a heart pumping, full body workout in less than 20 minutes. Plan your workouts according to how much time you realistically can commit to before your day begins. With the right moves and little to no breaks, you can get sweaty in just 15 minutes! Your endorphins will be bouncing and your morning shower will feel amazing! To make sure you really do not have to think that early in the morning, plan your workouts for the week on Sunday or at minimum the night before!

3) Know that you only have to shower once
That's right! Getting your workout done first thing in the morning actually saves time because you don't have to get ready or freshen up twice. So really ... you're increasing the amount of time you have in the day. You're welcome!

4) Excuses will not get in your way throughout the day
Things come up. Exhaustion sets in. Our day does not go as planned. When we leave our workout until the end of our day, there is a greater chance that something will get in our way and prevent us from getting that sweat in. By starting our day with our workout, not only are we boosting our metabolism, waking our body and mind, but also ensuring that exercise remains a priority!

3-ingredient protein pancakes:
3 eggs
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup cottage cheese
Blend together to form batter and cook
like pancakes. Top with fresh or thawed
berries, banana, unsweetened coconut flakes,
a drizzle of pure maple syrup, or
whatever you wish!
5) Have your post-workout fuel ready to go
Making a batch of steel cut oats on Sunday evening and having it ready in the fridge is a great way to save time in the morning and ensure that you have a tasty and satisfying breakfast post-workout! I know I am motivated by food...are you? Other options to make ahead of time are egg muffins or 3-ingredient pancakes (recipe below). Reheat, add your toppings, and enjoy!!
Added bonus: have your coffee prepped and ready to brew! Coffee, yes please! We grind our beans and have our machine ready before bed! I will sometimes start the maker before my workout and the beautiful scent makes it's way downstairs mid-way into my workout. Yumm!


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