Postpartum Workouts

3 Sep

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It has been so long since I have written! I exercised through my entire pregnancy, altering movements and intensity as needed in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy.  It was not always easy to keep moving towards the end of the pregnancy, but I did it.  Then, I had a sweet little girl born on April 1st, 2015.

Between her and my toddler, life has been interesting, exciting, tiring, and chaotic.  I needed to figure out how to fit workouts into my day.  I knew that although it would be a challenge, working out would make me feel better and be a better mom.  So, as soon as my body felt ready, I resumed my workouts.

It was important to pay attention to my body and how it felt in order to ensure my safety and healing.  As a nursing mother, it was also important to progress slowly in order to maintain a healthy milk supply.  I altered movements and intensity of the workouts as needed.  I also had to workout when I could, even if it would be only for 10 minutes.

My baby is now 5 months old and I am proud to say that I have managed to keep it up.  I feel good because of it.  In all honesty it has not been easy to find time to exercise.  Between the two children, nursing the baby, working, and other important family obligations… it has been tricky.  I do what I can, when I can, and I adjust my plan as needed.  Sometimes workouts get cut shorter, sometimes workout plans change, sometimes workouts including wearing or holding the baby, sometimes I workout holding two baby monitors up to my ears, sometimes I don’t get to workout.  But if my plan is a lifetime of health and fitness, then I just go with it and do what I can.  On average I think I am now working out 20 minutes a day at least 5 times per week.  Not my ideal, but something has got to give!  I continue to be on the road to weight loss, as I have 10 more pounds to lose.  It will happen in time.

Here are a few clips of what I have been up to:

Note: It is important to follow your doctor’s orders about when and how you can begin your fitness routine postpartum. Your body requires time to heal and beginning a workout routine too early can hinder that and cause larger problems.

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A Fit Pregnancy (Take Two)- Part 2

1 Mar

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Maintaining a healthy fitness routine during pregnancy can be challenging but well worth the efforts! Before you begin, get clearance from your doctor.  They will also give you guidelines to follow.  Workouts need to be altered or eliminated due to the changes (rapidly) happening in your body. Here are some clips from my third trimester:

Please note: The exercises seen here are specific to my fitness level, my doctor recommendations, and my pregnancy health.  It is not recommended to pursue a pregnancy fitness routine without approval from your physician.  Please be advised that there are general guidelines for all pregnant women to follow when considering a pregnancy fitness program (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy-and-exercise/PR00096).

A Fit Pregnancy (take two)

24 Jan

I am happy to announce that I am 30 weeks pregnant.  During the first trimester I was exhausted and nauseated all the time.  But somehow managed to workout when I could (3-4 times per week).  Since then I have been feeling pretty good and working out about 5 days per week.  This pregnancy is similar to my first pregnancy (with my son who is now 2 years old) in that I feel strong, healthy and able to continue a strong workout routine. However it is quite different in that I got larger faster, I continue to crave foods I would not normally eat, and my body seems to be taking on a completely different shape.

There is no one correct pregnancy fitness routine.   My fitness routine is personalized to my fitness level, health, body changes, doctor advice, and how I feel as I go.  I have recently begun recording some of my pregnancy workouts and I would like to share them with you.

Please note: The exercises seen here are specific to my fitness level, my doctor recommendations, and my pregnancy health.  It is not recommended to pursue a pregnancy fitness routine without approval from your physician.  Please be advised that there are general guidelines for all pregnant women to follow when considering a pregnancy fitness program (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy-and-exercise/PR00096).

I also recommend this short article from the American Council on Exercise: http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy_living_fit_facts_content.aspx?itemid=2597 .  

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Following guidelines and following what your doctor tells you are the first steps in determining your pregnancy fitness routine.  From there you have to listen to your body, watch your heart rate, and go for it!

When you are pregnant, your fitness goal is different than before.  Your goal is to maintain your health and wellness during pregnancy in order to minimize discomforts related to pregnancy, to prepare your body for labor, and most importantly to have a healthy baby.

A few things I have learned along the way:

you can not predict how you will feel during your planned workout, so go with the flow and alter it as needed

your heart rate will be more elevated, so you will have to decrease intensity of your workouts and increase rest periods

It is important to decrease resistance (weight) and decrease duration of workouts to accommodate the energy that is already being expended by all that is already happening in your body

you must must hydrate before, during and after

you must change your stance and body movements to accommodate for your changing body

you will be off balance, therefore a wider stance is necessary

never push it.  your body is already working overtime to create life

If your too tired, just rest and drop the workout

A brisk 20 minute walk as a workout does great things

Getting back into routine after…digressing

10 Jul

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It happens.  We gain some, we lose some.  Sometimes the pounds or inches creep up without us realizing and sometimes we get some well-earned pounds or inches.  Either way, once you catch it, you can make the needed changes to your fitness routines or diet and keep moving forward.  Travel and vacations are when I tend to gain pounds and inches. I do consistently workout when traveling, however my eating habits completely shift to more carbohydrates and sugars.  My most recent vacation was no exception and now I am faced with the challenge of getting back to my routines and back to feeling healthy.

Whether you are not feeling good because you are out of routine or because you have not had a well-balanced routine for a while, accept the challenge to make some changes and move forward.  Even if you have minimal time to focus on yourself during the day, start with making simple nutritional changes in your diet and start moving more.  You will begin to see and feel changes which will motivate you even further.

Best,

Shana

Step for Cardiovascular Training and Strength Training

5 Jun

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The step is a great piece of equipment for aerobic training.  High intensity step-training provides the same cardiovascular benefits as running and it is fun! The step can also be used as a tool to complete strength training exercises for the lower body, upper body and the core.  In this video I alternate between aerobic movements, which raise the heart rate, and strength training movements, which decrease the heart rate yet challenge the target muscles.

Here are some tips for using the step:

  • Keep your shoulders back and down (chest up)
  • Always place your entire foot on the step when doing any movements
  • Step lightly to reduce stress on the joints (specifically the knee)
  • Keep the area around your step clear of any objects or potential tripping hazards
  • The step height depends on fitness level and comfort with equipment: Recommended height for beginners is 4 inches and more advanced individuals can use a platform of up to 10 inches
  • The height of the step should never cause your knee to be flexed more than 90 degrees when stepping up
  • Only use pieces of equipment that are intended for stepping as they are sturdy and minimize injury
  • It is not recommended to use hand weights while doing aerobic stepping as the risk of injury is increased (and there is little to no benefits for strengthening the muscles in the arms). However you may use hand weights on the step when doing the strength training portion of your workout.
  • Enjoy…

Eliminating ‘Problem’ Areas

17 May

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There is no invention or contraption that can, alone, eliminate ‘problem’ areas.  Whether it is a tighter tummy, more defined upper arms, or smaller inner thighs that you are looking for, you need to do aerobic exercise.  Aerobic exercise is exercise that elevates your heart rate and uses fat stored within the body for energy.  Doing aerobic exercise will reduce fat and doing strength training will tone/build muscles and enhance muscle endurance.  The more muscle we have, the more calories we burn at rest! The final piece in the puzzle is to maintain a nutritional low-fat diet.

Additional advice: vary your training and make it fun!  Here is how I chose to complete my aerobic training and strength training using the plyo box.

Pull Up Bar and Body Weight

15 Apr

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I am still working to get back my pull-ups.  Pre-pregnancy and pre-child, I had worked hard to be able to do a perfect, unassisted pull-up.  I got there and I was able to do six pull-ups (close grip and wide grip).  Six may not sound like many, but it was for me.  I was never before able to do even do one! When I got pregnant, I continued to do pull-ups through my first trimester.  Then after that, I did not attempt a pull-up again until my child was 3 months old. He is now 1.5 years old and I am able to do 5 close grip pull-ups (on a good day).  I have been working to get them back by doing lat pull-downs, assisted pull-ups, and what I call, ‘jump pull-ups’.  In this video you see a combination of assisted and jump pull-ups along with body weight/calisthenic exercises in between.

If pull-ups is something you want to master, begin by doing lat pull-downs of different hand positions.  Increase the resistance/weight on your pull-downs and master your form.  Be sure to keep your shoulders down and neck relaxed.  The main muscle at work should be the lats (latissimus dorsi).  If you find you are tensing up your shoulders, reduce the resistance.  Next try doing assisted pull-ups either on a machine or using a resistance band (specifically designed for pull-up assistance).  You can also do assisted pull-ups by using a low bar or standing on a step so that you use your legs to help push you up.  Do them slowly and be sure that you are getting the full range of motion from bottom to top.  Once you develop grip strength and confidence in the movement, you may be ready for jump pull-ups.  I recommend seeking assistance from a fitness professional when attempting jump pull-ups.

Optimizing Treadmill Time

22 Mar

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If using a treadmill is part of your training routine, it is important to maximize your time on it.  Whether you run, walk or jog, using a treadmill can be a safe and effective way for cardio training as well as improving lower body muscle strength and endurance.

Here are a few general pointers:

-Always warm up.  You can warm up and do active stretching on the treadmill. This video will show some warm up movements and active stretches that will prepare the body for your workout.  The warm up should include lower body, core, and upper body movements.

-Be sure to stretch your arms up and back behind you to elongate your posture and ensure that your shoulders are not rounded forward while you workout.

-Keep an erect posture while you run.  If you feel your shoulders rounding, slow down and repeat the stretch stated above.

-Always cool down. Ease off your workout slowly.  Slow your pace down and/or reduce the incline slowly to zero.

-You can stretch while still moving slowly on the treadmill and you can stretch on the treadmill when it is stopped as seen in the video.

-Your workout can be completed within 20-40 minutes (not including warm up and cool down) depending on the intensity of your treadmill routine.  I recommend using a heart rate monitor to ensure that you are staying within your target heart rate zone.  If you are working in the higher end of your THR zone, then decrease the amount of time of your workout.  If you are working out on the lower end of your THR zone, then increase the amount of time of your workout.

HOW TO VARY YOUR TREADMILL ROUTINES: Overuse injuries are injuries that occur due to repetitive movements.  Overuse injuries may include joint/bone injuries, muscle or ligament injuries. These are quite common in runners because, well, running is repetitive and jarring on the joints.  Therefore, be sure to vary your treadmill routine (or your outdoor running routine) to prevent overuse injuries.  Here are some samples of various treadmill routines:

-Do an endurance run.  Here you run a comfortable pace, without changing the incline or the speed, for 20-40 minutes (less time if your intensity/speed is high and more time if your intensity is lower/speed is slower).

-Do hill drills.  Find a pace that is comfortable and go back in forth between incline and no incline.  You can slow down your pace as needed when you do your inclines.

-Do a gradual uphill.  Start out by jogging and then gradually and slowly create a higher and higher incline.  Each time you incline you may need to reduce your speed.  By the end it may be a slow walk with a steep incline.

-Do speed drills.  Find a speed that is slower than your average running pace and start there.  Then kick it up to a speed that is higher than your running pace.  Go back and forth between the two as it feels right–this is called fartlek training or speed-play.  When using fartlek drills you do not have to think about time/duration of the drills.  You can also do speed drills using pre-selected time intervals.  This is called traditional interval training.

**Remember: If you are a runner, it is crucial to continue to cross train (do other forms of cardio) and strength train.  Cross training and strength training will prepare muscles to enable you to run more efficiently and prevent muscle imbalances.**

Happy Treadmilling!

16kg Kettlebell – 30 Minutes

25 Feb

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Come on SPRING!  Frigid temperatures, snowfall, and cloudy skies can be quite un-motivating for some (including me).  As much as I miss being outdoors in the sun and breeze, I am attempting to maintain my workout routines indoors.  What keeps me inspired is reading research journals, taking personal training and group fitness courses, and finding and connecting with other like-minded fitness professionals and exercise enthusiasts.  From this I am able to get fresh new ideas and perspectives that keep me going and growing.

My clients are quite inspiring as well.   They are dedicated to lifelong fitness, health and wellness in their lives. And this winter has been a time of great fitness progress for them.  They keep me focused and ahead of the game.  Hopefully I can get some video footage of them to share soon (lets see if they are reading this….:).  

Anyway, find what it is that keeps you inspired and keep pushing forward…

*The 16kg yellow kettlebell that you see here is typically used for Girevoy sport or competitive kettlebell lifting.  The shape, size and weight of sport kettlebells are different than the ‘hardstyle’ kbs that are often found in gyms.  Therefore, the form and body movements used for the cleans, jerks and snatches are different.  I do not recommend using the Girevoy kettlebells without instruction from a certified kettlebell sport instructor. These are NOT your regular fitness or workout bells.  

Hurdles – 20 minutes

2 Feb

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This one combines bodyweight exercises with the use of hurdles.  Just trying to mix it up a bit!  Spring can’t come soon enough.  I am craving some hill drills, outdoor running, and park workouts.