10 Second Trimester Life-Savers

SecondtriLifeSavers

On Monday, I shared a few favorite first trimester essentials, and today we’re doubling down with my must-haves from over the past few months.

While the initial few weeks of pregnancy might be more about survival, the second trimester is typically the light at the end of the tunnel. This is when things start to get real. It’s the “sweet spot,” so to speak, where energy has returned, appetite is up and girth is, well, growing.

Again, each experience is different, but there are just a few of the things that have helped get me by while Baby H is hard at work building him/herself!

1. Maternity Undies

I’ll never forget the first time I ventured into a maternity store and saw the ‘Mommy’ panties (I’ll refrain from calling them Granny). Slightly horrified, I backed away and vowed not to go there.

MatUnderwear

But then I got curious and tried them on. After months of my body slowly expanding, this new frontier is women’s underwear is, quite simply, a revelation. I happened to find a few pair that were made of silky-smooth technical material — on clearance, no less — and they’ve been on heavy rotation ever since.

2. Protein Shakes

Getting enough protein when all you want to do is crash on the couch and eat carbs is always a struggle. I was bemoaning this fact when my friend Corey introduced me to the Arbonne Daily Essentials line, which has a lot of good stuff (20 grams of vegan protein, plus more than 20 essential vitamins and minerals per serving) with none of the crap (i.e. chemicals) found in some protein products.

ArbonneShakes

Since it’s also got a low glycemic index, which has little effect on blood sugar levels and does not cause a spike in blood sugar, I feel way less guilty about using a quick shake as a grab-n-go meal on busy days. Or, more often than not, a snack between meals. Because, who am I kidding?

3. Belly Butter

Ah, yes, there’s nothing quite like slathering some Booda Butter on that itchy, stretched-out belly post-shower. Sharlene, my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammate and a fellow mama-to-be, shared a tin with me and I’ve been raving about it ever since. Mostly because it works, but also because it smells like chocolate. 

Booda

Another favorite? The Spoiled Mama’s Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks, which came in the mail as another prenatal gift from my wise sister. Between the cocoa butter base and the 11 nourishing oils, it feels heavenly on…and — surprise, surprise — the rich orange-chocolate scent isn’t too bad, either.

4. Nursing Sleep Bra

Trust me on this, even before you’re nursing it’s nice to have a little help wrangling the ‘ladies’ at night when you’re tossing and (laboriously) turning. Especially when the number of comfortable positions available in bed are rapidly dwindling.

VeamiBra

A quick Amazon search landed me on the VEAMI Nursing Sleep Bra, and it’s been love at first wear ever since. Silky-smooth and breathable, with just the right amount of support, this will quickly become your new ‘breast’ friend for the next few months…and beyond.

5. Full-Panel Pants

Take the advice of pretty much every pregnant woman ever, and start wearing these before you think you need ’em. Sure, you need a little bit of a bump to hold up the elastic panel, but once you make the switch, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

FullPanelJeans

Test the waters with a reasonably-priced pair from Old Navy, or take the plunge with my favorite full-panel workout pants from Ingrid & Isabel (recommended by my friend Anabel). Not only are they great for hitting the town and breaking a sweat, respectively, but I’m also considering tossing all of my other pants, even after Baby H is born. Just kidding…kind of. 

6. Body Pillow

Ok, so I might have been a bit overzealous when I bought my Leachco Snoogle pillow about a month into pregnancy (and I thought I was uncomfortable then – HA!), but ever since I started using it regularly this trimester, it’s treated me well.

LeachcoBodyPillow

The c-shape design is helpful because you can contort yourself into multiple positions without using a gazillion pillows. Because, let’s face it, it’s all about supporting  hips, back and tummy for a good barely adequate night’s sleep at this point in the game.

7. Stability Ball

Even if you’ve never played around with one at the gym, it’s well worth investing in a stability ball for use during pregnancy and labor. Not only does using it help ease back pain and open the hips, but you’ll also (fingers crossed!) start working the baby into the proper position come delivery day.

LiveInfinitelyBall

The great news is that they’re relatively inexpensive, considering all the potential uses (I found this one on Amazon for about $25); I use it during evening TV watching, for example. And I dare you to keep a smile off your face as you bounce up and down on this thing!

8. Portable Snacks

Hell hath no fury like a hangry preggo. Whether you get stuck in traffic, an appointment runs late or you just need a pick-me-up between meals, it’s smart to carry around a few snacks to keep satiated.

Sahale

I bought my first Grab & Go packet of Sahale Snacks while hunting around at the grocery store for different options, and they’ve been a staple in my purse, gym bag and glove compartment ever since!

9. Supportwear

When I first started having round ligament pain, my doctor suggested I try some options for helping to support my growing belly. After taking to the internet for some research, I ran across Blanqi’s BODYSTYLER® Maternity Underbust Belly Support Tank and was instantly intrigued.

Blanqi

Designed for maximum support, Blanqi’s tank offers varying degrees of compression for a great combo of lift, stability and comfort. I layer it under pretty much everything and plan on using it post-baby, as well. Wanna check it out? Use my referral link to get a code for 20% off!

10. Prenatal Classes

If there’s one thing that’s proved invaluable — not just for learning about all things pregnancy, but also for creating an unofficial support group of women who are going through the same thing — it’s weekly prenatal classes.

FullSizeRender (4)

Anabel introduced me to MYMA Mama (which has slowly grown in size as more of our friends get knocked up!), but I’ve also taken a local Mod-Mama class that was terrific. These types of classes are designed to rejuvenate the body during pregnancy while preparing for birth with an “open mind,” which has become a mission as I approach the third and final trimester!

What are your must-haves for the second trimester of pregnancy? Any other tips to share?

10 First Trimester Life-Savers

FirstTriLifeSavers

With the third trimester now looming, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite must-haves from the earlier stages of pregnancy. Of course, what worked for me may not work for you, so take this advice with a grain of salt and embrace the need to experiment until you find something that does the trick.

Whether you have morning, evening (or all-day) sickness or if your body immediately starts changing or takes its time getting the message, remember that every pregnancy is different. Despite what I initially anticipated, I didn’t really need a whole lot at this point in the process…however, there are a few things that I found helpful for coping with the usual suspects during those first few weeks with baby on board.

1. Sound Probiotics

In addition to prenatal vitamins, I’ve been taking Sound Probiotics since day one of my pregnancy (actually, long before – use code KINETICFIX for 10% off your order) and I truly believe that these magic little capsules are responsible for keeping me happy, healthy and regular throughout.

SoundProbiotics

Why, you ask? Well, studies show that probiotics help reduce upper respiratory tract infections and gut complaints, are vital in nutrient production and absorption, aid in the production of B-vitamins plus enhance amino acid uptake in the gut — all conducive to keeping me active and healthy for baby, which is a win-win.

2. Hydro Flask

Just a few days after I broke the pregnancy news to my sister, a box arrived in the mail with one of her very favorite staples for staying extra hydrated: a HydroFlask.

HydroFlask

Made of 18/8 pro-grade stainless steel that’s both BPA-free and phalate-free, these bottles are designed to keep cold beverages for 24 hours or hot beverages for six hours. It really works, too — during the late summer months, my morning’s ice water would still be cold in the evening!

3. What to Expect When You’re Expecting

After falling down the internet rabbit hole several times during a few well-intentioned Google searches early on, I opted for a safer resource for all of my subsequent pregnancy-related questions: the tried-and-true manual, What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

WhattoExpect

Dubbed the “pregnancy bible,” this iconic New York Times bestseller has all the information you need without any of the scary stories or wacky opinions you’ll find lurking on all those online pregnancy message boards (trust me; avoid them at all costs).

4. Oyster Crackers

They may not be especially fancy, but Premium Soup & Oyster Crackers sure do the trick when you wake up starving in the middle of the night or in the morning with a sour stomach.

OysterCrackers

I kept a bag of these by my bedside for a good four months; not only are they nice and bland, but they’re also conveniently bite-sized so you don’t get too many crumbs between your sheets!

5. Gap Inset Panel Pants

There aren’t many left in stock, but if you can get your hands on a pair of Gap’s inset panel jeans, I’d highly recommend ’em because they’re perfect for that bloaty, in-between stage of the first trimester.

GapMaternity

I tried belly bands over my pre-pregnancy jeans, but preferred the inset panel for the barely-there-bump stage; it has just the right about of “give” to allow for a swelling midsection, but still feels like you’re rocking your regular pants.

6. Coobie Bra

Consider yourself warned: There Will Be Boobs. Even if your cup never runneth over before, be prepared to watch your girls grow…and grow…during the first few months.

Coobie

My solution? A Coobie bra — not only for practical reasons (one size fits all!), but also because it comes in cute colors, is supportive and really does live up to its claim of being the “most comfortable bra.” Ahhh. 

7. Zensah Sports Bra

Sensing a theme here? Well, in addition to a new everyday bra, I quickly learned that first trimester’s growing, ahem, “assets” necessitated a revamp of my workout wardrobe, as well.

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Enter the Zensah Gazelle Sports Bra, which offers seamless high-impact support for larger cup sizes and a design that utilizes both encapsulation and compression to keep the ladies happy — and bounce-free — while you’re breaking a sweat.

8. Acure Bath Products

Typically, when it comes to natural beauty products, I’ve learned not to expect much because I’ve found they’re rarely as effective as the chemical-laden ones we’re all used to. That is, until I found Acure Organics.

Acure

The night cream was my gateway product…followed by the body wash. In two different scents. By the time I was buying the shampoo and conditioner, I knew I was hooked — and doing something better for my body, my baby and the environment.

9. La Croix Sparkling Water

Don’t get me started on one of the major bummers of pregnancy: “Mocktails.” Sickeningly sweet or nauseatingly sour, they simply lack subtlety — so, more often than not, I’ll turn to La Croix, my new go-to beverage.

LaCroix

Between all the fun flavors and the fact that there’s no bad stuff on the ingredient list, a can of every now and then feels like a healthy indulgence. I know I’m not the first to jump on this bandwagon, but I certainly won’t be the last.

10. Monthly Massage

Finally, if there’s one “nice-to-have” bordering on a “need-to-have” during the first few months, it’s regular prenatal massages — as often as your budget and/or schedule will allow — with a properly-trained licensed massage therapist.

Massage

Trust me, there’s nothing better than giving your weary body a little TLC as it’s spiraling from all the physical, emotional, hormonal and mental changes happening at once.

Any time on the table is well spent, in my book!

What are your must-haves for the first trimester of pregnancy? Any other tips to share?

Fall Off the Wagon? 5 Tricks for Getting Back On

Regret

During our final LUNA practice of the season, I was jogging along with my teammate Syreeta when she asked for the low-down on whether or not I really eat clean and work out all the time. Because I work in the fitness industry and blog about healthy habits, she wondered if it was, in fact, realistic to be disciplined 100 percent of the time.

Much to her relief, my response was a laugh as I walked her through the previous weekend’s activities and eats: Thanks to a combination of travel, a busy workweek beforehand, some minor pregnancy aches and pains, a football game and crummy weather, I’d not only missed my workouts but also ate anything but what I’d call “clean” or the previous 48 hours.

But I explained my philosophy: Falling off the wagon — whether it’s an unplanned off day or a weekend of heavy eating — isn’t necessarily the worst thing ever. You don’t get points for being perfect when it comes to a healthy lifestyle; you succeed by making incremental, sustainable changes and by being consistent.

Not only was Syreeta already doing everything right by choosing workouts that get her excited and keep her coming back for more, but it was also a great reminder for myself that there’s a big difference between losing one battle and winning the overall war when it comes to staying fit, healthy and happy…especially right now!

So here are my five tricks for getting back on track when I fall off the proverbial wagon, be it working out, eating clean or otherwise:

1. Wake up, don’t beat up. Get out of your head; you’re not weak or flawed, you just suffered a minor setback. I find it helpful to focus on quickly correcting course and asking myself what I can learn from the experience (i.e. if I don’t work out first thing in the morning, I know now that it likely won’t get done later in the day).

2. Worry less, act more. Rather than fretting about whether you’re strong enough to commit to certain changes, it’s a lot more productive to use that energy to make a game plan for fixing whatever’s broken in the current system. I used to get upset with myself for missing a scheduled workout, but now I accept that it happens and move on, making a plan for my next one.

3. Accept and appreciate. Everyone has cravings or days where they don’t feel motivated. I just try to notice when they happen and figure out what’s going on (am I over-tired and craving a sugar pick-me-up? over-scheduled and not leaving time for self-care activities?) so I can address it in a way that establishes a new, healthier habit (a brisk 10-minute walk during the afternoon slump or an appointment in my calendar to work out with a friend).

4. Learn from success stories. We all have strengths and weaknesses; while I’m good about workout goals, I tend to have less patience when it comes to cooking (especially during the week), so I lean on friends for advice. I’ve got several girlfriends who have a knack for whipping up healthy meals mid-week, so I hit them up for tips and aim to model their behavior at least 80 percent of the time.

5. Above all, be mindful. Huh?! Well, ever feel like you go into a trance when you bust open that bag of chips? Or say yes to any invite before considering how it’ll impact your schedule? That’s auto-pilot, where it’s easy to let urges drive your actions. Instead, I try to stop and think about a decision’s impact, which makes it easier to keep myself accountable.

Remember: We all fall off the wagon at one time or another. What separates those of us who are successful from those of us who end up in a vicious cycle is the ability to “fail fast” and then get back at it.

Got any tried-and-true tips for getting back on the wagon when you fall off?

My Pregnancy Fitness Philosophy and “Training” Plan

Workouts3

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my pregnancy workout routine and how “training” has changed over the course of the past few months, so I figured I’d do a post on the topic. It’s interesting to look back on how things have evolved now that I’m sweating for two, although it’s important to remember that everyone has and/or will have a different experience; this is just what I happen to be going through, so take it for what it’s worth!

Let’s start at the beginning: Pre-pregnancy, I was what I call in “maintenance training mode” — meaning, I’d set a specific training plan for a major event (i.e. last fall’s marathon) but otherwise would try to maintain a level of fitness that’d allow me to not have to start from scratch each time. It’s an approach I highly recommend; building slow and steady means fewer injuries, and maintenance in between allows you to push harder with each cycle.

After lots of racing in 2014 (marathon, Olympic-distance triathlon, ultramarathon and more), I knew 2015 would be a year filled with more reflection, recovery…and, apparently, reproduction! I had dialed back the aggressive goals early on — not only to keep myself from getting sidetracked while adjusting to the first year in a new city, but also to keep from burning out, which I felt close to towards the end of last year.

Fast forward a few months, and we got the big surprise-on-a-stick! And, for better or worse, almost immediately I could tell my body was in the process of changing (I think years of tuning in — and out — during training and racing have honed these skills). I was determined, though, to find my personal form of “pregnancy maintenance mode” where I could challenge myself without causing injury to myself or harm to Baby H.

Little did I know that what I was aiming for would be a moving target!

Here’s one week’s worth of workouts I logged from very early on during my first trimester — while I was still trying to keep up “maintenance mode:”

  • Monday: 45-minute indoor cycling class
  • Tuesday: 30-minute elliptical + yoga class
  • Wednesday: Portland Trail Series 5-mile race
  • Thursday: 30-minute run + barre class
  • Friday: Strength training class + 60 minutes of walking to/from meetings
  • Saturday: 3-mile run + prenatal movement class
  • Sunday: OFF

Workouts1

As I look back through my logs, I see that during the later weeks of my first trimester (once the pregnancy symptoms really hit) most of my cardio was walking. Running just felt “off;” my bladder was heavy, and I was out of breath about 10 seconds into a run. That, combined with sheer exhaustion, and I knew I was lucky to be able to continue some kind — any kind — of activity, even if it wasn’t at my usual intensity.

Here’s a week from my log during that time — I call it “survival mode:”

  • Monday: 30-minute walk with dogs + Pilates class
  • Tuesday: 60 minutes of walking to/from meetings + yoga class
  • Wednesday: 30-minute elliptical + some bodyweight exercises
  • Thursday: 60 minutes of walking to/from errands
  • Friday: Strength training class
  • Saturday: OFF
  • Sunday: 5-mile run

Around week 17 I hit a sweet spot, though, where running felt great again. I was hitting the pavement (or the trails) two or three times a week, and my goal was to do at least a six-miler each weekend to keep my mileage up.

That lasted for all of maybe six weeks.

Now, as I’m creeping toward the end of the second trimester, running (at least at the moment) isn’t working for me anymore. I ran an awesome six-miler with friends on Nov. 1, but later that afternoon got blindsided with what felt like a strained a ligament in my groin and could barely walk for two days.

Physically, I get it; my body’s got a lot going on, and something’s gotta give. But it’s been much more difficult, mentally and emotionally, to detach from my “happy place.”

With pregnancy comes a lot of uncertainty, and who knows what will feel good a few weeks from now, let along a few months down the road. But it’s an excellent lesson in learning to roll with the punches, look at the bigger picture, get creative and be grateful for what you can do rather than what you cannot.

So here’s where I was as of last week, which I’m calling “the new normal mode:”

  • Monday: 60-minute walk during lunch + prenatal yoga class
  • Tuesday: 30-minute elliptical + barre class
  • Wednesday: 30-minute stair stepper + prenatal movement class
  • Thursday: 30-minute laps in the pool + barre class
  • Friday: 45-minute indoor cycling class
  • Saturday: OFF
  • Sunday: 3-mile run (painful!)

Workouts2

And in the meantime, I’m keeping things fluid, taking it day-by-day and approaching fitness with a more pregnancy-friendly set of principles:

  1. Listen to my body. I modify like nobody’s business, and if I’m not up for something, I don’t do it. It’s as simple as that!
  2. Keep it a priority. Fitness has always been and always will be important to me. I make it work around other commitments.
  3. Keep it in perspective. Races and PRs will be there waiting for me. Right now, I want to stay in the moment and enjoy this time.
  4. Have fun. Whether it’s meeting up with friends or trying a new class, I love having more freedom to experiment.
  5. Mix things up. Even if my new default is walking, I’m trying to get as much variety as I can to keep my mind and body engaged.
  6. Re-think “training.” As in, my immediate focus is getting through childbirth come March, then being healthy enough to chase a kiddo.
  7. Stay curious. Gone are strict training schedules for the time being, so I’m just enjoying figuring out how to work this “new” body.
  8. Be grateful. I’ll do whatever I can for as long as I’m able. It feels good to move, and I want to honor my body where it’s at as this process progresses.

And, on the bright side, I’m also hoping that if I do have to take a good chunk of time off of running, I might finally heal some nagging injuries (old: SI joint, new: ligaments/groin). For example, my plantar fasciitis is almost a distant memory now that I’ve dialed down the impact activities, which I’ll take as a win.

So where will I go from here? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’ll keep you posted.

How did your perspective on fitness change during pregnancy? 

Navigating a Changing Pregnancy Body and Preparing for Birth with an Open Mind

MYMA3

Courtesy of MYMA

In my last post, I introduced Angi Purinton McClure and her longevity-based workout program, MYMA Movement. Today I’m posting the second part of our chat, which delves deeper into her work with mamas-to-be — yours truly included! — from exercises to help avoid injury to self-massage techniques to relieve common aches and pains.

Angi believes that pre-natal maintenance is important during pregnancy because it helps bring the focus inward and discover a new, changing body. Her MYMA Mama classes connect the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ to movement during such rapid change.

Not only does she develop a pre-natal movement routine that will rejuvenate her clients’ bodies during pregnancy, but she also helps us prepare for birth with an open mind. Something easier said than done, in some cases, I’m sure!

I’ve been working with Angi for a few months now, and I can’t say enough about how great it is to have someone to lean on who is both super knowledgeable about the body, as well as focused on long-term, sustainable results. Here’s her take on the ins and outs — and do’s and don’ts of pre-natal fitness.

5. Whats your overall philosophy on pregnancy & fitness?

While many women hear “make sure you exercise” during the pregnancy, many are misguided in wondering ‘what type of exercise’ and ‘what is right for my body?’

Unfortunately, there aren’t many smart, safe, and balanced Mama pre-natal classes. So what happens is that many women continue exercising they way they have been, not knowing how to listen to their changing body until there’s pain — or many women will jump into a pre-natal yoga class thinking this is their only option.

It’s not true. There’s a balance. If you work out, you need to know that you have to predict how to soften your routines while your body changes. You need movement, but it has to be kind movement that will help your body feel open, loved, and prepared for the birth.

6. We hear a lot about “body after baby,” but you emphasize pre-natal movement. Why’s that piece so important?

We need to move. We need to mentally, emotionally and physically connect before we give birth. This is the time in a woman’s life when she learns more about her body in a nine month period than most do in a lifetime.

Moving and maintaining the body during pregnancy will not only help you during the labor experience and help you heal faster postpartum, but it also benefits the body during the pregnancy. Exercise during pregnancy will help fetal development, connect you to you baby, and it will also aid in a healthy pregnancy and lessen aches and pain.

Besides, what a fun time to get to know your body while you’re growing a baby! So exciting and empowering.

Courtesy of MYMA

Courtesy of MYMA

7. Walk us through what goes on in one of your MYMA Mama classes.

In a MYMA Mama class, we exercise with corrective exercises to keep your body strong and loose. We address aches and pains and move through some self-massage exercises that you can take home to use whenever you need. We also open up the conversation of how the body is changing and how you can adapt through: sleeping positioning, partner massage, self-massage, acupressure points, mantras, pre-birth education and more.

We move, we roll, we laugh, and we share stories. It’s a beautiful time in a woman’s life to learn the life-long skills for body care and body awareness. It’s always an honor to meet women and learn their stories, fears, questions, hopes and, of course, meet their baby later on!

8. What are the most common misconceptions you’ve run across when it comes to pregnancy & fitness?

A common misconception that I witness is to ‘take it easy’ and ‘don’t exercise.’ You should always listen to your body (and some have doctors order for bed-rest) and know that if you don’t feel like exercising that day, fine. However, don’t make a habit out of it; walking is good, stairs (going up) are great for opening up the pelvis, and dancing is great, too.

Our bodies are changing and getting tighter, so don’t allow muscles to get weaker at the same time. Move in moderation, move within a time frame that doesn’t fatigue you. Movement should invigorate you. Be it a quick dance with a song you love or choosing to take a 15-minute walk with a set of stairs, you should feel like you got a breath of fresh air and you don’t ache as much. It’s minimal but so, so important to keep moving.

9. Which exercises are the biggest no-no’s that make you cringe when you see pregnant women doing them?

Well, crunches make me cringe but for many who feel their womb grow, it becomes a no-brainer. So the other no-no is over-exercise. People sometimes like to start a new fitness routine while pregnant. It may seem bizarre but it’s true.

I had a client who came to MYMA Mama after a terrible injury while learning kettlebells at 26 weeks pregnant. Yes. They are out there.

If you have been running, weight lifting, biking, etc. before you got pregnant, keep going! Just do it in moderation and listen to your body. Know that you won’t move the same while pregnant, but allow yourself to exercise your mentality by slowing things down. If it feel enjoyable, continue.

Courtesy of MYMA

Courtesy of MYMA

10. What should all moms-to-be be doing more of in their pre-natal fitness routines?

More maintenance work. Those who come to my MYMA Mama class leave with tools for at-home self-care, and they need it.

My moms always thank me as their back pain lessens from the MYMA Mama classes. Their swelling went down because they knew the methods to calm the body. Their labors were more empowered due to faith they restored in their body as they learned how their body has the power to heal (and give birth).

I also feel that pre-natal fitness needs more mental preparation, such as mantras to soothe the mind and open the body.

11. If nothing else, what’s the one exercise moms should be doing during pregnancy & why?

First I have to say, that you should always consult your doctor because certain exercises won’t be good for certain bodies.

That said, my main exercise that women forget to do is Kegels. Yes, even during the pregnancy, you want that Qi (“chee”) or energy of intention to move upward to hold the baby and pelvic floor. If you have pubic symphysis, you’ll love this even more because you want to keep a strong pelvic floor.

Don’t worry — you won’t get so tight that the baby can’t come out! This is the beauty of our bodies. They adapt. Balanced, our bodies are to be loose and strong.

Kegels can also help with breathing: Breathe out and let go of the body, then with the next inhalation, feel the pelvic floor lift. (It’s as if you are going to the bathroom and then you stop the flow of urine.) As you inhale, keep the body relaxed as you feel the ‘lift’. Hold the lift as you exhale, then slowly and gently let it go until the next inhale. Don’t ‘drop it’ — you would never just collapse after a squat, so don’t just ‘drop’ the pelvic floor. Think of it like an elevator lifting and taking time to go down as you release.

This is such an amazing time for a woman. These exercises are so important in our later years and to begin them NOW is a head start on living a long, healthy, happy life!

To learn more about Angi’s MYMA Movement and related classes, visit MYMAMovement.com.

Have you added smart, safe balanced movement as part of your workout routine?

Learn How to ‘Make Your Mind Aware’ with MYMA Movement

Courtesy of MYMA

Courtesy of MYMA

“Ok, can I tell you something?” I said between labored breaths mid-run with my friend Anabel a few months back.

It was before I officially broke my own pregnancy news, but she was already a few months along herself. And since we’re both pretty in-tune with our bodies, I figured it’d be nice to commiserate with each other about our usually-predictable systems going somewhat haywire while growing tiny humans.

Since then, we’ve swapped stories, traded tips, and I’ve listened to her advice with all ears since she’s got a few months’ heads up on how this whole thing works. Sharing this experience together has created a special bond, but having a “pregnancy mentor” who isn’t afraid to show you the ropes and call it like it is has proved invaluable.

Case in point: Early on, Anabel introduced me to Angi Purinton McClure, creator of MYMA Movement here in Portland. Like me, Anabel’s eager to get back on the proverbial “race” horse post-baby (her: triathlon, me: running), but we both know that it’s going to take some planning and preparation ahead of time — not to mention some recovery, rehab and ramping up after.

Luckily, Angi’s come to our rescue. Not only is she a licensed massage therapist, fitness instructor and trained doula, but her use of Chinese Medicine, evidence-based exercises, and self-massage techniques also translate to a more innovative and balanced approach to fitness.

But best of all? This ain’t your mama’s prenatal workout; while Angi does work with new mamas and mamas-to-be, what she really specializes in is working with people through every phase of their life in order to make them more aware of their bodies and help them learn how to properly move so they can move forever.

Angi calls it ‘body longevity,’ and I wanted to pick her brain more about the topic, so we sat down to chat about her approach in a two-part interview. Read on for more on the importance of adding safe, smart and balanced movement into your fitness routine!

1. Tell us about MYMA and your mentality towards fitness.

MYMA is an acronym for Make Your Mind Aware, it’s a movement-based education service that focuses on body longevity. Based around fitness theory and Chinese Medicine, MYMA offers classes, workshops and online programs to help empower your body awareness so you can move in a smart, safe and balanced manner.

I feel that there’s a gap when it comes to long-term movement and fitness. We see 21-day results as a natural outcome from dedicated fitness efforts; however, no one is looking into the future wondering, how can we continue to move well as we age?

We need to learn balance in our movement and maintenance within our fitness routines. And MYMA is here to offer the tools and knowledge to set you on the right path. What we do today shapes our future, so let’s move now to move forever.

2. Your work blends Eastern and Western modalities; what’s the benefit to that approach?

I love to talk about balance, and Chinese Medicine is the root of how we move and care for our bodies. Within the fitness industry, many people can better relate to science-based methods; however, it is important to understand that the individual cannot be measured as a whole, so it’s vital that we learn how our minds and bodies may benefit from ALL perspectives of both eastern and western philosophy.

Besides, Chinese Medicine is the missing piece towards healing movement. Many use Chinese movement methods throughout the world, yet it’s not incorporated in our western fitness society. Until MYMA.

Courtesy of MYMA

Courtesy of MYMA

3. In a world of quick-fix gurus, why did you choose to focus on things like longevity, self-care and maintenance?

Working with seniors for over a decade now, I have ‘seen our future’ or so I like to say. If we are short-sighted in our approach to health, we’ll expend all our energy in our youth. Over-exercise, burnout, adrenal fatigue, injury, wear and tear, etc. are just a few instances of where we are headed in our bodies. I tell my clients, I want to continue standing to put on my underwear (a task that is not easy in your later years!).

Balance, suppleness, strength, proprioception, foot health, back health, etc. all apply to the ability of putting on underwear while standing, and yet many of my 30 year-old clients are sitting to put their shoes on after a session. This gets you thinking…you realize how in the ripe age of thirty people are already on their way to sitting down while dressing.

We have to think long-term in our movement and self-care.

4. You’re a holistic movement therapist, licensed massage therapist and doula — how did your MYMA Mama program come about?

While I was attending Pacific College of Oriental Medicine I was also teaching as a fitness instructor. While training to become a bodyworker I was also training in my own time to become a holistic movement educator because I realized people were not balanced in their ideas of fitness.

MYMA was the base I needed for people to have access to self-care tools, workout tips and mental guidance for those who knew that they needed to alter their current fitness habits and rethink how they want to continue to move in their later years.

Courtesy of MYMA

Courtesy of MYMA

Stay tuned for part two of my interview with Angi — in Friday’s post, we’ll be talking specifically about her recommendations for mamas-to-be with pre-natal prep and post-natal maintenance.

And if you’re interested in more information on Angi’s MYMA Movement in the meantime, check out MYMAMovement.com for details.

Are you thinking long-term when it comes to your health and fitness? 

Struggle with Running? 6 Tips to Make Training Easier

marathon-training

There’s no shortage of advice out there when it comes to running further or faster, but what if getting to the start line is enough of a challenge in and of itself?

How do you make training less daunting when running is a total struggle?

I get asked this question a lot from people who are interested in training for a specific event but either A) are new to the game and don’t know how to get started, B) have a history of injury and/or medical conditions that prevent them from following a typical training plan or C) have crashed and burned in the past and realize that a more realistic approach is needed.

Believe it or not, at one point or another in my 20+ years of running experience, I’ve been in each of those places!

Disclaimer: Although I’m a former ACE-certified personal trainer, I’m not a running coach or a medical professional, so seek their guidance before following any advice you read here or elsewhere; this is just some insight I’ve gleaned from years of trial and error. 

First, have you cleared it with your doctor that you’re cool to run? If not, that’s priority numero uno. Second, get your expectations in order because there’s no quick fix here; the best approach is to follow the tortoise’s lead: slow and steady.

Also, keep in mind that one of the biggest reasons people “hate” running and/or end up abandoning it is because they get impatient, rush the process and it ends up being a miserable experience all around.

So instead, let’s talk tips for making training less about competition and more about completion so you step up to that start line confident, healthy and ready to run.

1. Take a typical training plan, and double the time it takes to prepare. For example, if your goal is a half marathon and the plan you want to use is four months in duration, give yourself eight to properly gear up for race day. Of course, we’re not talking twice the amount of hardcore training; we’re talking about giving yourself a longer runway to ease into running — without feeling the pressure of time — before actual training begins.

2. Start slow, stay slow and keep it comfortable. There’s a misconception that running has to suck in order for it to be working. Not so. If it’s uncomfortable, slow down. If it’s painful, stop. One tip here, which a lot of my triathlete friends swear by, is to calculate your heart rate ranges and use a heart rate monitor to quantitatively force yourself to slow down. Most of us are pushing too hard, so it’s often surprising to see how slow you really need to go in order to stay within range and build a true aerobic base!

3. Never underestimate the power of NOT running. I experimented with this concept as I was training for my first marathon back after a major injury (stress fracture in hip…followed by years of thinking I would never run 26.2 again). Knowing that when I run every day I can pretty much count on an injury, I found a plan where I was running only three times week and cross training and/or resting the other days. It worked like a charm! Not only did I get a personal record on race day, but I crossed the finish line injury-free.

4. Don’t get fixated on “running” the entire event. Put bluntly, you’ve got to know the constraints of your body, and sometimes running for hours on end in a longer event is just too much. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t do it, it just means you may need to adjust your definition of what “running” the race means. If your goal truly is just to finish, make it your mission to figure out the equation that’ll get you there in one piece.

For example, in my last marathon, I had a pre-stress fracture in my tibia and had to take five weeks off during peak training for it to heal. I ramped up as best I could toward race day, but there was no way I’d make up the mileage and be able to run 26.2 without potentially re-injuring myself. So I consulted a coach, and we made a game plan for me to set my watch for 10-min jog/1-min walk increments. It was still was painful, yes, but I made it…and was only 10 minutes off my personal best time.

5. Get up close and personal with all kinds of cross-training. If running beats you up (like it does me), rely on other forms of cross training to develop cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. I cycled like crazy during those five weeks off from running during that last marathon training phase, and I credit it for helping me maintain my fitness despite having an injury. Of course, some running is important to get your body used to the movement, but otherwise swimming, biking, hiking, etc. are all awesome ways to condition yourself silly.

6. Put your faith in preventative care practices. One of the most important keys to success in running is what you’re doing when you’re not running. Think of it as banking good karma with the running gods every time you hit up a yoga class, break out the foam roller or take time for a stretch session. Supple muscles are strong, yet loose, and less prone to injury; take care of your body, and it will do the same for you. Plus, another bonus is that it’s a good brain break from all the other training you’re doing!

How do you make training suck less?

All-Natural Tips for Surviving Morning Sickness

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Pre-pregnancy, you had the best intentions of staying active and incorporating fitness into your daily routine. But throw in morning all-day sickness plus exhaustion, and now that you’re pregnant you find yourself wondering if you’ll ever be able to get your butt off the couch.

The good news is that, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, exercise can actually help alleviate some of the yucky symptoms of early pregnancy. Plus, it’s good for your body – and baby – to start an active regimen early on (Disclaimer: Just be sure to check with your doctor first).

Regular exercise during pregnancy not only helps keep you fit and feeling good about yourself, but it can also help improve posture and decrease common discomforts, such as backaches and fatigue. Plus, there’s good evidence that it may prevent gestational diabetes, relieve stress and even build more stamina needed for labor and delivery.

But if shifting your workout schedule to work around queasy spells simply isn’t an option, don’t throw in the towel just yet. There are a few natural, yet highly-effective, remedies for helping to tame tummy troubles so you can still hit that spin class – without the feeling that the room is spinning around you.

A ‘pressing’ matter

According to traditional Chinese medicine, illness results from an imbalance in the flow of Chi (life energy) through the body. Morning sickness is seen as this energy going in the wrong direction – your stomach energy should go down and out; not up.

Acupressure, a practice based on Eastern medicine methods used to open up blocked energy pathways in the body, is thought to help relieve or shorten the duration of morning sickness symptoms. Pressure is applied on a small area of the body to treat a given ailment; in this case, the P6 point is used to prevent or reduce nausea.

P6 is located on the inner side of your arm, in line with your middle finger and one-sixth of the way between your wrist and elbow. Pressing on the point with a thumb works, but if you’re looking for longer-term relief, try wearing wristbands that hold a plastic disc on the P6 point on each arm.

Sea-Band ($9.99 per pair) is the industry standard, featuring a knitted, elasticized wristband with plastic stud that has been clinically tested against nausea and vomiting in travel, anesthesia, pregnancy and chemotherapy. But fashionable mommies are also breathing a “Psi” of relief, thanks to colorful rubber Psi Bands ($13.99 per pair) from “mompreneur” Romy Taormina, who wanted to give moms an alternative with a watch-like adjustable band to better control pressure.

Supplementary, my dear Watson

According to one report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy may find that taking vitamin B6, ginger or other supplements can reduce their symptoms. And not only are these treatments effective, but they’re also safe for the baby, which will ease every mom’s mind, as well as her upset tummy.

Try starting your morning off on the right foot with Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Organic Morning Wellness Tea ($5.99 for box of 16 bags), a cup of comfort that’s blended with stomach-settling ginger root and spearmint, a safe hint of peppermint, plus soothing chamomile and lemon balm with a yummy twist of orange peel for flavor. (Note: If you’re looking for natural products, the company also offers quite the array of herbal goodies for pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, plus babies of all ages).

Get a mid-day belly boost with Anti-Nausea Ginger Gum from Sea-Band ($9.99), which contains 25mg of ginger oil and settles stomachs by delivering the healing benefits of the herb to the body in one of the fastest ways – under the tongue.

Battle intermittent waves of nausea with the vitamin B6 in Preggie Pop Drops ($5.50 for a box of 20), which offer relief via a combination of essential oils and aromatherapy. And there’s a bonus: Not only do these bite-sized sour candies alleviate dry mouth, but they can also provide quick calories and energy during labor down the road.

Need something even stronger? Another option for getting stomach-soothing vitamin B6 into your system quickly is B-natal, available in both Green Apple lozenges and Cherry Therapops ($15.99 for a box of each). B-natal was developed by Jennifer Cherry, president of Everidis Health Sciences, and has clinically-proven, efficacious amounts of B6 with just enough sugar to help alleviate symptoms and sweeten the taste.

And when all else fails…

Sometimes there’s just no stopping it, so you might as well be prepared to puke in something pretty, right?

Enter Morning Chicness Bags ($7.50 for a pack of 10), which are compact, leak-proof barf bags – the brainchild of founder Tara Ramos, who herself suffered from severe morning sickness while pregnant.

After depleting her supply of air sickness bags from traveling colleagues, Ramos had to resort to carrying leaky plastic shopping bags and bulky garbage bags, so she decided to develop a bag for pregnant women to carry without being embarrassed.

Available in eight different designs, the bags help eliminate that panicked feeling of needing to find the nearest toilet – now. And on the bottom of each bag, Ramos has added a gentle reminder to serve as some much-needed encouragement for all sick-as-a-dog moms-to-be: Take one day at a time.

Got any morning sickness survival tips to share? 

5 Takeaways From Training in the First Trimester

Source: TheBump.com

Source: TheBump.com

Once the positive pregnancy test comes back, most of us know the drill: Visit the OB? Check. Pop prenatal vitamins? Check. Avoid booze, soft cheese and deli meat like the plague? Check.

But one question unexpectedly threw me for a total loop: What will happen with my workouts?!

In my un-pregnant state, I’d always just assumed it’d be business as usual, especially since you’re technically able to safely maintain the level of activity you were at pre-pregnancy. Right??

Well, my pregnant body had something else in mind entirely.

Here’s what I learned about being active during those first 13 weeks with a bun in the oven.

1. Run your own “race” rings true. Sure, you’ll be hyper-aware of all the changes happening (hello, boobs!), but it took me a while to translate what that actually meant when it came to working out and being competitive, even if it’s just with myself.

For example, my expanding abdomen felt like I’d pulled a groin muscle, so my usual MO of “powering through” was no longer an option. I learned quickly that everyone’s experience is different, and what’s right for one person may not work for another, so listen to your body — not anyone else’s.

2. Eat, sleep, repeat. In the early weeks, I wondered if what felt more like a severe case of narcolepsy was misdiagnosed as pregnancy. Early morning workouts were off the table, so I adjusted my schedule and worked earlier hours to allow for a mid-morning break to get the blood pumping.

Although I was fortunate enough to avoid morning sickness, I did find myself straddling that fine line between I-think-I’m-getting-nauseous and get-out-of-my-way-I-NEED-food more often than not. My husband promptly nicknamed me “Velociraptor” for the voraciousness with which I ate meals, so I learned to eat smaller portions more frequently to stay out of the danger zone.

3. Check your ego at the door. There’s nothing more disheartening to a runner than watching your pace-per-mile creep up. And up. Workouts feel like max effort yet are half the speed, and it takes you twice as long to recover.

My first trail race this summer very quickly put me in check when I completely lost control of my heart rate and breathing during a long, steep ascent. There was nothing to do but pull over, let people pass, collect myself and find some equilibrium before proceeding more carefully. Lesson learned!

4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And then hydrate some more. Again, I learned this the hard way during the first few weeks of pregnancy when I’d forget to drink at regular intervals and would develop nagging headaches.

My wise sister sent me a 40-ounce insulated water bottle and recommended I carry it with me throughout the day. Problem solved! Not only does my water stay nice and cold (Hydro Flasks are the best!), but I make it a goal to finish the bottle by dinnertime to ensure I’m taking in enough liquids.

5. Seek a support system. Whether it’s fellow female athletes who are in the same boat or a fabulous coach of some sort to help you navigate the murky pregnancy fitness waters, finding your little tribe is an invaluable thing during this journey.

I’m fortunate enough to have a handful of friends from the triathlon, running and strength training worlds who are all due within a few months of each other, so I’ve been especially appreciative of having people with which I can swap advice. Several of us are even taking pre-natal movement classes together, which I’ll go into in an upcoming post because it’s been such a fantastic experience!

What’s your advice from working out during the first trimester?

Out With the Old: What to Do With Used Fitness Gear

pile-of-running-shoes-011

Yes, there are a bunch of perks to living in an apartment in the city (i.e. being walking distance to Portland’s delicacies). But there’s one major drawback that makes me dread the change of seasons: the closet turnover.

We have all of three (no, that’s not a typo) small closets in our apartment, so now that the weather’s turning I know I’ll be making the trek down to our storage unit to swap sundresses and shorts for sweaters and boots. It’s also a time when I re-evaluate the massive amounts of fitness gear I’ve accumulated over the previous months.

I make it a rule to try to get rid of any items that are worn out, ill-fitting or simply not bringing me joy. But rather than just toss ’em in the trash, there are some great alternatives that allow me to do some good while lightening my load.

Here are some of my favorite ways to reduce, reuse, recycle and put some of that neglected stuff to good use once and for all.

Running Shoes

Reduce: There are a number of organizations that will take used running shoes and distribute them to deserving groups throughout the world. Runner’s World has compiled a fantastic list here, so you can choose who you’d like to support when you donate your shoes to the less fortunate.

Reuse: Just because you’ve retired your kicks from running doesn’t mean they’re destined for the landfill. I cycle old sneakers from running to walking, which doesn’t require as much support, and when they’ve hit their limit on the roads I’ll keep them on hand for yard work.

Recycle: Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program grinds your old running shoes into material that makes athletics and playground surfaces (existing surfaces made with Nike Grind cover about 632,000,000 square feet!). Check the site for store locations that accept donations.

Workout Clothing

Reduce: Meet up with friends and do a clothing swap instead of buying a new fitness wardrobe every season. Any remaining new or gently used items can be donated to your local Goodwill or Clothes 4 Souls to provide functional clothing to people in need and create jobs in disadvantaged communities.

Reuse: A quick Google search will reveal hundreds of ways to upcycle old workout clothing. All you need is a little time, creativity and direction (check Pinterest or articles like this for inspiration), and you’ll be able to breathe new life into pieces that aren’t worthy of the donation bin.

Recycle: Some major retailers, such as Patagonia (Nike and H&M, as well), offer recycling programs for their entire product line when items finally reach the end of their useful lives and can no longer be repaired. There are also helpful websites that will help point you to your nearest recycling center.

Fitness Equipment

Reduce: Do some good through Sports Gift, a nonprofit that redistributes gear to more than 40,000 underprivileged children worldwide each year. Or go local by donating equipment to a recreation center or community program, such as the YMCA or Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Wanna score some cash instead? Try selling your gear to a secondhand fitness equipment company, such as Play it Again Sports or via Craigslist.

Reuse: If you have a long-forgotten treadmill or elliptical taking up space in your home, contact Fitness 4 Charity, which will connect you with groups who will make good use of it but can’t afford to buy it. You may also want to check in with friends and neighbors to if anyone’s building a home gym and is on the lookout for a particular piece.

Recycle: Past the point of no return? A professional salvager will be take apart your machine, retrieve all the useful metals and sell it to a metal recycler. Google “metal salvage” for a local spot or call 1-800-Got-Junk, a national junk hauling chain which does charge a fee for pickup but also promises to recycle as much as possible

What do you do with your old workout gear?