On Giving Yourself Permission to Slow Down


Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. – Ferris Bueller

After a blur of races in 2014, better judgement prevailed for 2015 and as you’ve heard me say a few times now, my mantra has been “train smarter, not harder” with five forward-looking goals for the year.

But, as they say, the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray…

Because somewhere along the way I talked myself into thinking that a century ride and an ultramarathon within a two-week span this summer was also part of this program.


For the record, I give full credit to my body for finally knocking some sense into me; my SI joint, which previously only felt sore after long marathon-training runs last fall, decided enough was enough and put the kibosh on pretty much all speed and distance work this spring.

Try as I stubbornly might to power through, I’ve gotten to a point where all the strength training, chiropractor appointments, cross-training, and core work in the world aren’t helping.

So I’ve decided to do something different for a change: Nothing.

Novel concept, huh?


Well, long story short — and two cancelled races later — I’ve realized that taking a break isn’t just about giving your body time to recover. It’s also about keeping the passion for your sport alive…and sustainable for the long run.

I run because I want to, not because I have to. And that desire is something I want to protect; not just for now, but for a long time to come.

That’s not to say I’m completely clearing my race calendar; it’s just that I’m wiping the slate clean and being more mindful about which events I choose and why. Put simply, I’m making a conscious decision to get off the further/faster/harder bandwagon that’s so easy to jump on when you’re working in the fitness industry and constantly meeting people who are all doing incredible things.

So instead of literally and figuratively racing my way through my first Oregon summer, I’m slowing down. Training will continue, but at a more leisurely pace.

And you know what? Those 2016 goals will be right there where I left them if/when the time comes to pick ’em back up.

Or — who knows?! Maybe taking a step back will inspire me or give me the perspective to define entirely new ones, such as tackling my old high school PR in the (highly-underrated; I completely agree with Lauren Fleshman) 5K distance.

But, either way, having a choice in the matter and being mindful about my running is what makes — and has always made — the endeavor such a delight. And I’d like to keep it that way.

To slow down or not to slow down: Is that a question you’ve asked yourself?

On Edge? 4 Steps to Lessening the Effects of Stress


It’s sad but true: Stress has become so commonplace that it’s now a way of life.

In fact, as Tim Kreider noted in The ‘Busy’ Trap, one of my all-time favorite op-ed pieces in The New York Times, our “busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”

In small and infrequent doses, yes, stress can be beneficial. It fueled our ancestors’ survival instincts, and it motivates us to perform well under pressure (hello, race-day nerves!).

But when it becomes a constant, both your mind and body pay dearly for operating in non-stop emergency mode.

“While our society is the most technologically advanced on the planet, leading the way in economic growth, technological innovation and standard of living, we are paying the price for this success with unprecedented levels of chronic stress,” says Peter McCarthy, a former military officer and commercial pilot, whose book, Adrenaline Nation, explores the subject and its effect on Americans.

Our being in a chronic state of flight-or-flight disrupts nearly every system in the body, leading to serious health problems. On top of spiked blood pressure, suppressed immunity, heightened infertility rates and increased risk of heart attack and stroke, stress also speeds up the aging process and, in same cases, can even rewire the brain, leaving us more susceptible to anxiety and depression.


But before you get anxious at the mere thought of what all this stress is doing to you, the good news is that there are four steps you can take to lessen its effect:

  1. Learn to recognize signs of stress. The American Institute of Stress lists these 50 symptoms; some may surprise you!
  2. Stop and listen to your gut — literally. There’s a reason you’re feeling uneasy, so pause and assess the situation.
  3. Take steps to manage your triggers and reduce their harmful effects. Try a few of these ideas, for example.
  4. Incorporate other mindful ways for handling stress, which allow you to cope with the inevitable more effectively.

Of course, we all know that the best method for reducing stress is to try to prevent it in the first place. But that’s not always realistic, so stress-proof your body in advance by being sure to get enough sleep, eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods, avoiding excess stimulants and exercising regularly.

And for those times when everything just goes to hell in a handbasket? Well, try to keep it in perspective by uttering the advice from Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer, “Grant me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Have you found effective ways to cope with stress? 

Fighting the good fight against plantar fasciitis


During my Detroit Marathon week seven training recap, I mentioned that I’ve been dealing with a case of plantar fasciitisPlantar-huh, you say?

Here’s what it is

Unless you’ve been plagued by it (and in that case you know all too well), plantar fasciitis (or fasciosis, as some say) reveals itself as heel pain. Technically, it’s been described as an inflammation (hence “itis”) of the plantar fascia, which is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes.

Non-technically speaking? It sucks.

The most common symptom is a very painful first few steps out of bed in the morning. Once the foot warms up, the pain subsides, only to rear its ugly head again after long periods of standing or after getting up from a seated position.


How’d it happen? I can’t pinpoint a specific incident, just that it appeared toward the end of training for my marathon last fall. Certain types of exercise (i.e. running), faulty foot mechanics, age, obesity and long periods of time in your feet are the usual suspects in terms of contributing factors, though.

What I can say for certain is that it’s frustrating — not only because it threatens to derail training, but also because there is no real consensus on treatment. So in the meantime, I’ve been taking matters into my own hands to manage the heel pain, which morphed into a related calf/shin injury after Hood to Coast.

Here’s what I’m doing about it

1. Sensible Shoes. 

Because I spent a few weeks this summer traipsing around Italy in flats and sandals (whoops), I’m paying the price. So now I opt for shoes with a low to moderate heel, good arch support and shock absorbency. And while I haven’t completely given up flip flops, I also try not to go barefoot for long stretches of time, especially on hard surfaces.

2. Enough Rest.

Although not running is one way to try to stop PF, it’s no guarantee. And even though I’m mid-training, I do try to give my feet a rest when I can. This means not only cutting back on activities like walking or running on hard surfaces without proper support, but also taking advantage of rest days and putting my feet up whenever I can.

3. Ample Ice. 

I’m not always great about it, but when possible I try to reduce pain and inflammation with ice. The protocol is to hold an ice pack over the area of pain for 15-20 minutes three or four times a day or after activity. But my favorite is an ice massage: I freeze a water bottle full of water and roll my foot back and forth over it for 10 minutes.

4. Anti-inflammatory Meds.

To kill the dull ache (and try to keep things from getting too inflamed after a workout, I’ll take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin), naproxen (such as Aleve) or aspirin. All of these are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which help relieve minor aches and pains.

5. Rolling and Stretching.

Immediately after activity, I try to stretch out my plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf muscles. But the best tip I got was from when I was at a fitness studio in Seattle: They had us step on a lacrosse ball to roll out our arch, so I went right home and bought one. Now it’s my favorite thing to do in front of the TV or on a  conference call.


6. Night Splints.

I ordered a Strassburg Sock, which stretches my calf and the arch of my foot while I sleep. The idea is to hold the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon in a lengthened position for an extended period of time, although it’s not super comfortable sleeping with a flexed foot, so I haven’t been consistent enough with this to say whether or not it works.

7. Insoles and Orthotics. 

My running shoes are outfitted with Superfeet’s Berry insoles for added support and impact reduction, but I also wear these arch sleeves — thanks to a recommendation from Twitter friends! Not only do they keep my foot from rolling in, but the gentle massage feels great when I know I’m going to be standing for long periods of time.

8. Replacing Shoes. 

Did you know that running shoes lose their support and cushioning after around 300-500 miles of use? Here’s my trick: I buy two pairs at once and alternate them every other run to allow each pair an “off day” to bounce back, plus I’m tracking their mileage carefully to make sure I’m not wearing anything past the point of no return.

9. Ah, Massage.

There are countless health benefits to a good massage, plus it’s one of my favorite rewards for training and recovery. ‘Nuff said.

10. Non-Running Work. 

Even though I’m a former personal trainer, training myself for a marathon leaves me with little time (or energy) to focus on the other stuff. That’s why I’m consulting with a local trainer to help me build a base of stability and range of motion to correct any underlying imbalances, manage injury and keep me running safe and strong in the long run.

11. Physical Therapy.

Finally, another medical professional I’ve recently started working with is a PT. She was able to diagnose some underlying issues and imbalances and provide me with a series of exercises to help get my foot more mobile, stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and strengthen my lower leg muscles, which stabilize the ankle and heel. Plus, she offers a host of other tips and tricks, which will hopefully get me up and running again soon!

Have you successfully dealt with PF? And, if so, what worked?

Vitamins, supplements and superfoods, oh my!


To supplement or not to supplement…that is the question.

Americans spend almost $12 billion each year on vitamins and supplements, but the jury’s still out on whether or not that money is well-spent.

One one hand, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force studied the effects of vitamins, minerals and supplements, and concluded that for most, there is not enough evidence to determine whether the pills can lower risk of heart disease or cancer.

But on the flip side, reliable resources — such as the Harvard School of Public Health, for example — say that taking a multivitamin is an effective nutrition insurance policy because it helps us fill in the gaps of a regular diet, which may not always supply the body with recommended levels of daily nutritional requirements.


Personally, I’m pro-supplement (this article covers some of my reasoning) — although that doesn’t mean you can live on a diet of Skittles and Cheetos and expect your daily vitamin to work miracles. Rather, I view it as a way to enhance an otherwise-healthy lifestyle and help give your body a little extra “oomph” when it’s under stress or attack.

I’ve gotten some questions about my regimen, so I wanted to share a few of my current favorites, which helped get me through marathon training feeling strong and with minimal sickness (despite a rigorous training, work and personal schedule, which all tend to zap the body’s resources):

– Multivitamin: Not only is New Chapter’s Perfect Immune a whole-food, non-GMO vitamin, but it also aids the body’s natural defenses and is gentle enough to be taken on an empty stomach.

– Vitamin C: Finest Natural’s Vitamin C includes rose hips, a natural source of the vitamin, which protects the body’s cells from potential oxidative damage and supports the immune system.

– Iron: Low dietary intake of iron may be the most common nutritional deficiency for serious endurance athletes, especially women, so I like Nature’s Bounty Gentle Iron for combating chronic fatigue and other symptoms I’ve previously experienced.

– Probiotics: A happy belly makes for a healthy body, and New Chapter’s Probiotic All-Flora is a non-dairy way to ingest nine live probiotic (good bacteria) strains delivered in whole-food media, plus prebiotic fiber to help promote digestive system wellness.

– Turmeric: Referred to as the “Queen of Spices,” turmeric’s not just for cooking; New Chapter’s Turmeric Force has also been billed as a natural way to reduce inflammation, prevent cancer, improve digestion, detoxify the system, and much more.

– Others: Two other supplements (not pictured) that were an integral part of my marathon training were Bluebonnet Liquid Calcium and Energybits to keep my bones strong and ensure I got my daily dose of greens, respectively.

Source: Smartypants

Source: Smartypants

It’s also good to switch things up intermittently, so my guilty pleasure is SmartyPants Gummy Vitamins in place of my usual multivitamin; not only are they like candy, but they’re also an easy option for days when I’m on-the-go and don’t want to swallow a whole set of pills.

Of course, the best way to give your body nutrients is to get them naturally by eating a healthy and balanced diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. But if you’re in the midst of a tough training cycle, supplements are a nice way to boost your body’s ability to push hard, recover and reach for the next level.

How do you ensure your body gets all the vitamins and nutrients it needs during training?

Fight the flu: 8 tips for beating bugs this season

Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

With widespread outbreaks inevitable and not a cure in sight, there’s no denying it could be another nasty cold and flu season.

While over-the-counter treatments can bring some relief and help shorten the duration of symptoms, your best bet is to take a preventative approach to try to ward off bugs before they take hold.

Below are a few immunity-boosting tips to help stave off sickness this season:

1. Get a flu shot. Yes, the CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in defending your body from viruses. Although there are many different flu viruses circulating, the vaccine is designed to protect against the three that research suggests will be most common.

2. Wash your hands. One of the simplest yet most effective ways in which you can stop bugs from entering your body is by practicing the correct hand washing technique. Use warm water, plenty of soap and do it for about 20 seconds (Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice).

3. Mind your diet. Sugar can suppress the immune system, so cut back on holiday sweets and alcohol, wherever possible. Instead, load up on antioxidant- and vitamin-rich fruits and veggies, which help keep your immune system running strong.

4. Manage stress levels. Another immunity-killer is both chronic and daily stress, which will leave your body ill-equipped to fight infections. Decrease stress by taking some time out, whether that’s practicing meditation, getting a massage or simply going for a walk.

5. Get ample rest. Along those same lines, a tired body is one that’s also more prone to illness. Aim for a good stretch of uninterrupted sleep each night, ranging anywhere from seven to eight hours for most adults.

6. Break a sweat. The health benefits of exercise are endless, including increased circulation and blood flow, which helps keep your immune system oxygenated and strong – not to mention, it’s a terrific way to reduce stress (see No. 4 above).

7. Stay well hydrated. Most of us need around half an ounce of non-caffeinated fluids for each pound of body weight daily to maintain proper hydration. This helps detox the body, carry nutrients to cells and keep mucous membranes moist, which lessens the likelihood of cold or flu bugs invading your nose or lungs.

8. Look on the bright side. Finally, do yourself a favor, and lighten up. Scientific evidence shows that laughter not only helps people breathe easier, but it also massages the heart and vital organs and may increase the release of disease-fighting cells of the immune system.

What are your secrets to staying well during cold and flu season? 

How to stay healthy during holiday travel

Source: ShareCare

Source: ShareCare

‘Tis the season to head home for the holidays, but getting from point A to point B can really mess with your body during peak time for colds and flu.

The sheer stress of the journey – from flight delays and crowded planes to a disruption in sleep schedules and eating habits – lowers your body’s defenses, making you more susceptible to illness. But take a few precautionary measures, and you’ll be well on your way to a much happier holiday.

Here are the top five tips for steering clear of sickness, whether you’re traveling to a winter wonderland via plane, train or automobile:

1. Wash your hands.

It’s the No. 1 rule from experts; with a greater concentration of people and germs indoors, disinfecting hands and other frequently-touched surfaces (think shopping cart handles, airplane tray tables, etc.) is extremely important. When soap and water aren’t available, go for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, such as these from Bath & Body Works.

2. Get plenty of sleep.

The frenetic pace of the holidays often results in sleep deprivation, which not only affects your immune system, but can also make you more susceptible to overeating, lethargy and mood swings. Aim for six to nine hours a night, and supplement with naps in between. Try the J-pillow ($31.95), an update to the 40-year-old U-shaped travel accessory, which was named a 2012/13 British invention of the Year.

3. Eat well (and often).

Just like the advice of not going grocery shopping on an empty stomach, the trick here is to make smarter meal choices well before hunger hits. Pack high-protein, low-sugar snacks in your carry-on for quick access and to stay energized throughout your trip. Check out FitSugar’s list of healthy road trip snacks, which will help tide you over to the next meal without falling prey to the fast food rut while on the road.

4. Stay hydrated.

To add insult to injury with air travel, there’s a serious lack of humidity in the cabin, which leads to dry noses, throats and mouths. To combat dehydration and help keep mucus membranes moist (so they can do their job), bring on the drinks! But skip the sugar, caffeine and alcohol; instead, sip eight ounces of water for every hour in the air. Check out BluFit Bottle, a smart water bottle that works with your phone to record your water drinking habits and help keep you hydrated and healthy.

5. Sneak in some exercise.

Think there’s no time for exercise between shopping for presents, running errands and attending parties? Think again; it’s easy (and dare I say – fun?) to incorporate heart-pumping activities into the holiday hubbub. Park farther away at the mall, take the stairs at work, shovel snow, count pre-party housecleaning as cardio, and don’t forget to walk the dog, which will help you both burn off excess energy. When all else fails, try making some form of physical activity a tradition, such as heading over to the Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square for some fun and fresh air for the whole family.

Here’s to a happy, healthy holiday season!

Set sail this summer to reap mind and body benefits


While many of us consider sailing more of a hobby than a sport (that is, unless, you’re an America’s Cup contender!), its health benefits warrant a second look at this activity as an ideal way to supplement your fitness regimen while maintaining a sense of adventure this summer.

Being out on the water has a profound effect on both mind and body, and below are just a few of the potential positive side effects should you venture on your own voyage this season.

Muscle Strength & Endurance

Many sailing movements require great arm strength (constantly pulling and hoisting the sails in order to direct the boat or yacht), which helps to strengthen muscles of the back, shoulders and thighs.

Cardiovascular Fitness

Did you know that oxygen uptake during sailing can be even greater than when you play tennis or baseball? The more intense the activity, the better, which also reduces your risk of obesity, hypertension and heart disease.

Sense of Well-Being

Salty sea air is supposedly charged with ions that aid in oxygen absorption, which can help balance your levels of serotonin, a chemical produced by the body that is associated with mood.

Stress Reduction

The rhythmic movement of the boat combined with the sounds of lapping water and wind in the sails can influence brainwave patterns, providing a soothing environment that promotes a sense of relaxation.

Balance & Agility

Maneuver quickly around a rocking boat, and you’ll soon discover that a solid set of reflexes, center of balance and hand-eye coordination are a necessity, especially when tacking and gibing.

Focus & Concentration

With a singular goal of staying safe (i.e. not sinking) the crew’s ability to focus increases exponentially, which is an especially important skill for today’s chronic multi-taskers to maintain.

Communication Skills

Both verbal and non-verbal communication is critical to the captain and crew being able to act as a cohesive unit to navigate, tack, or otherwise manipulate the boat through various scenarios.

Collaborative Environment

Finally, sailing fosters great cooperation and teamwork because each person on board has the potential to make an important contribution toward keeping the vessel afloat and running smoothly in the correct direction.

“Learning to sail is just the beginning,” according to the American Sailing Association, the leading authority on sailing instruction and sailing schools in the U.S. (check out their list of sailing schools, by state, for a location near you).

The organization’s certified professionals are capable of teaching all levels of abilities, so there’s no excuse not to set sail – safely and with confidence – this summer!

Body after baby: Real moms weigh in on what worked

Photo credit: HappyBabyWorkout.com

Photo credit: HappyBabyWorkout.com

Regardless of how quickly you initially bounce back after having a baby (thanks, in part, to breastfeeding and other post-delivery hormonal shifts that boost metabolism), there’s usually an inevitable plateau of ‘won’t-budge’ pounds with which you’ll have to contend.

But let’s get one thing straight: We’re promoting being healthy, feeling good about yourself and instilling good habits, rather than perpetuating some unattainable, unrealistic standard here.

I recently provided a few tips on the topic, but as many moms know, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to reclaiming your pre-baby body. So why not ask the experts themselves?

Here are a few strategies for success that helped these fit-minded moms get back in the saddle.

Lindsey, mother of two, in Oregon:

First, I ate a balanced breakfast to ward off the temptation to mindlessly graze on my children’s goldfish. Second, just get moving! I did Stroller Strides, and the incorporation of intervals, cardio and resistance training all while sweating it out with other moms was awesome. Finally, don’t feel guilty for cutting a chunk out of your busy and hectic day to focus on your own health and happiness.

Aleksandra, mother of one, in Michigan: 

Initially after I had my son, I allowed myself the time to adjust to a new role and didn’t worry about my body or weight. Once I had a good handle on my new life, I began meal planning to take the stress out of what to eat. It keeps me eating well even when I can’t squeeze a workout in, and it got me back to my pre-pregnancy weight fast. Our bodies can do amazing things with the right fuel!

Katie, mother of two, in Oregon:

I have two tips for getting your pre-baby body back: First, eat well and exercise (if possible) during your pregnancy. Swimming is a great cardiovascular work-out for later stages of pregnancy because it’s low-impact. Second, nursing has many health benefits for mom and baby, AND it burns a ton of calories!

Danielle, mother of two, in Hong Kong:

Having No. 2 and keeping up with both of them cuts down on your meals and keeps you on the run!

Crystal, mother of two, in Oregon:

With my first, I went on walk/jogs just about every day; the key is to have a good stroller. The second time around, we joined a gym, and I do barre and swim. In all honesty, though, the weight came off because my boys loved to nurse. Sucked it right out of me!

Claire, mother of three, in North Carolina:

Find something you love and make time to do it! Yoga is such an integral part of my life, and it’s providing so much benefit, I always make the time to practice. I can honestly say that beyond the way it’s transformed my body, yoga has helped me to become a better parent, spouse and friend. Whether an early morning class or late evening, I make it fit with my crazy family and work schedule. Hey, who couldn’t benefit from a little ‘namaste’ in their lives?!

Hilary, mother of one, in California:

If you’re a mom who exercises intensely and is used to mega-calorie-burning workouts, breastfeeding doesn’t compare. It does burn calories, so it’s a nice little addition, especially when you’re slowly getting back into shape. But, exercise and diet should still be considered important and necessary if a mother wants her “pre-baby” body to return.

Megan, mother of three, in Oregon:

I have two things that keep me on track: One, I always eat a protein-packed breakfast. I try to fuel myself before the kids get up or else I’m rushed and frazzled and don’t take the time to be intentional about food. And two, I play with the kids! We have dance parties, run around outside playing games, take tons of power walks and are just a really active family.

Cara, mother of one, in California:

The hardest thing about squeezing in exercise time post-baby is…the baby! You can’t just throw on your shoes and head out for a run on a whim anymore. I find it helpful to plan ahead and commit to specific fitness activities, whether it’s a stroller power walk with other moms or a mommy & baby yoga class. Having other new moms to do activities with is also great because you motivate each other to follow through with fitness dates, you can bond over your new life, and no one judges when your baby has a meltdown! Another tip is to look for classes that you can bring the baby to, such as yoga, pilates and Stroller Strides. It’s fun bonding time with your little one, and there’s no childcare excuse!

Hilary, mother of one, in Massachusetts:

I started Pure Barre around six months because I couldn’t do anything high impact while nursing. I joined a Baby Boot Camp class, too. My husband actually gave me the sessions as a Mother’s Day gift, and it was GREAT!

Melissa, mother of two, in Oregon: 

Find a girlfriend and work out together. It keeps me accountable, and you get your girl time in, too. There is no way that I would wake up at 5:30 to go for a run if I didn’t have a girlfriend waiting to meet me!

Kelly, mother of three, in Michigan:

First and foremost, be patient. I use the same rule-of-thumb as I do for breakups: Getting over it can (and should) take at least 1.5 times the amount of time it took to get into it. Everyone’s different, and it takes time, so eat clean and keep working on it little by little, and you’ll get to where you want to be. I do think it’s important to note that even if you’re dedicated to your body, mental health and happiness are much more important than looking like you didn’t have a baby – especially when you’ve just brought a person into the world, and double especially when you are on your third or fourth month of not sleeping through a single night!

Liza, mother of three, in Oregon:

I take it slow and start out with some hilly walks around the area, and gradually work back into some runs. I love the workouts on TV On Demand, too! It’s easy because it’s in your house, and you can pause it if you need to change a dirty diaper 🙂

Thanks to all the lovely moms who contributed their two cents!

The 10-minute self-check that could save your life

Self-exams can alert you to changes in your skin and aid in the early detection of skin cancer Photo credit: PreventCancer.org

Self-exams can alert you to changes in your skin
and aid in the early detection of skin cancer
Photo credit: PreventCancer.org

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, afflicting more than two million Americans each year, a number that is rising rapidly.

But the good news is that it’s also the easiest to cure – if diagnosed and treated early.

This is why the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends monthly head-to-toe skin self exams, so you can find any new or changing lesions that might be cancerous or precancerous.

“Checking your skin for skin cancer only requires your eyes and a mirror,” said Thomas E. Rohrer, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Chestnut Hill, Mass. “Examining your skin only takes a few minutes, but it could save your life.”

If You Can Spot It, You Can Stop It

Here’s a step-by-step guide for checking your skin, which should take no more than 10 minutes:

  1. Stand in front of a mirror and start by looking at the front and back of your body.
  2. Raise your arms and examine the right and left sides of the body.
  3. Bend your elbows, looking carefully at your forearms, upper underarms and palms.
  4. Next, examine your entire leg (don’t forget backs, soles and between toes!).
  5. Then, examine hard-to see areas like your back, buttocks and top of head.
  6. Use a mirror to inspect the back of your neck and scalp, parting hair for a better view.

ABCDE’s of Melanoma

The American Academy of Dermatology’s recommends seeking treatment if any of your moles exhibit the following signs:

a-asymmetryA – Asymmetry: Normal moles or freckles are completely symmetrical. Be suspicious is one half of the spot is unlike the other half.

b-borderB – Border: The spot has an irregular, scalloped or poorly-defined border, which could include blurry or jagged-looking edges.

c-colorC – Color: The spot has varying colors from one area to the next, such as shades of tan, brown, or black, or with areas of white, red or blue.

d-diameterD – Diameter: Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm, or about the size of a pencil eraser when they are diagnosed, but they can be smaller.

e-evolvingE – Evolving: A mole or spot on your skin that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape, or color.

“Current estimates show one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, so it’s important to be familiar with your skin, especially your moles,” said Dr. Rohrer. “Catching skin cancer early is key for successful treatment, so check your skin regularly and see a board-certified dermatologist if you spot anything suspicious.”

Body after baby: Tips for shedding pregnancy pounds

Photo credit: MountainBuggy.com

Photo credit: MountainBuggy.com

Between all-hours feedings, a steady stream of diaper changes and endless loads of laundry, finding the time (and motivation) to make it to the gym when you have a new baby can be difficult, to say the least.

Because during those first few whirlwind weeks, you’re too overwhelmed – and exhausted, frankly – to care.

But allow yourself some time to get in a groove, and eventually you’ll want to get your groove back.

Only now you may find yourself stuck in that stubborn limbo between maternity wear and your old wardrobe….so, what’s a new mom to do?

Here are a few tips to help jump-start your ‘body after baby.’

1. Go easy. 

Congratulations, you just made a human! Now, give your body a break. Stop comparing yourself to that celebrity who has access to (and an unlimited budget for) a team of people to whip her into shape. Allow at least six to eight weeks for recovery, depending on your delivery, and clear it with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen.

2. Make goals. 

Think of your your weight loss as a journey, not a destination. So rather than immediately snapping back to pre-baby shape, expect to make a few pit stops along the way. Just make sure those increments are reasonable, attainable and measurable – say, losing one pound per week – which will help keep you motivated to keep going.

3. Get moving. 

Find an activity you love – whether it’s walking, swimming, jogging or yoga – and hold yourself accountable by signing up for a class at least once per week. Not only will it get you out of the house, but it’ll also establish a good habit. As a mom, you’re also a master multitasker, so squeeze more activity into your daily routine by walking to errands, taking the stairs or parking farther away.

4. Team up. 

Whether it’s your partner or a pregnant friend, the power of a pal should not be underestimated. Get out and meet new people in a “mommy and me” type class or gather a group of local ladies to lean on each other for support. Either way, strength in numbers will help keep you motivated and focused on your goal of losing the baby weight.

5. Eat well. 

When you’re tired, it’s tempting to grab whatever’s handy and stuff it in your mouth. But with a little planning, you can stay a step ahead: Keep your pantry and refrigerator stocked with nutritious foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains), limit the amount of junk food brought into the house, practice portion control and eat only when you’re hungry.

6. Get sleep. 

The sleep equation is a simple one: Get enough, and you’re less compelled to binge on high-calorie, high-sugar foods for energy. Easier said than done when a baby breaks your sleep cycles and upsets your metabolism. But get on the same nap schedule, and you can help prevent a long-term sleep deficit, which will keep energy levels up and cravings in check.

7. Lift weights. 

Contrary to popular belief, lifting weights will lean you out not bulk you up. Incorporating strength training into your fitness routine not only speeds up your metabolism, but it’ll also help get your guns prepped for hauling around that growing baby! And if you’re not ready to hit the gym or invest in a set of dumbbells, try improvising with household items, such as a milk jug or canned goods.

8. Follow through. 

A final word when it comes to keeping those postpartum pounds in check: Consistency is key. Stick with your new schedule until it becomes routine, celebrate your wins, and learn from your losses along the way. Focus on what you’ve accomplished so far (um, like having that adorable bundle!), and always remember: You can look fabulous at any weight with the right attitude.

Stay tuned for part two of this post where real-life moms offer their favorite secrets for slimming down after baby…