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No Pain, All Gain

I talk to tons of FitMamas everyday and the one thing I find to be the most popular among the new mom crowd is the desire to “get back their body” really, really fast.

This concept needs some serious rethinking in my opinion.

Your body is fully intact, and unbelievably miraculous for going through and doing the things that it’s done, yes? What you want to think about instead is “How can I restore this system that is my body to a more optimal place?”

Today I am going to explain a bit more about what rehab is and why we need to do it.

Why do we need to rehab? First of all because you just had a baby. Imagine the size of your babies head. That came out of your vagina, through your pelvic floor, which is a muscle group of the deep inner core. Damage was done. Even if you had a c-section, you are not exempt from pelvic floor dysfunction and issues that can lie within the deep inner core

Issues like incontinence. Back pain. Prolapse. Painful sex.

It is one of the most common issues that postpartum women have with the deep inner core though and it can be helped. Incontinence is any time you pee that you don’t want to, whether it be laughing, sneezing, jumping, running, it doesn’t matter. There are also different types of incontinence which we won’t go into, but the key thing is that you don’t want it.

Back pain is another major symptom of pregnancy and postpartum. It is most times a symptom of a weak or dysfunctional deep inner core.

Prolapse is a situation where one of your organs actually falls through your pelvic floor. It’s very uncomfortable, sometimes painful and can feel like a little bit or a lot of a heaviness down there. It’s really common, especially in women who return to vigorous exercise too soon after having a baby, and don’t have the right muscle tone, or connection from the brain to the core to appropriately help in that situation.

My biggest recommendation when you are postpartum and you feel the need to sneeze or cough, sit down. That chair will help you in actually supporting your pelvic floor.

Statistics say that these are the top three most common side effects of the postpartum period.  They need to be focused upon though so that they don’t stay for the duration of your life. Even if you don’t have these symptoms right now, they can creep up on your later in life too.

The rehabbing process is super vital.

When it comes to rehab, there are three things for you to consider so that you can create the most effective rehab routine for you.

  1. Retrain – How am I going to retrain the muscles of the deep inner core to work properly? The fact is that our brain connection to our deep inner core changes it’s functional patterns when we are pregnant. During this time there is tons of pressure inside, the baby needs more and more space as it grows. The way that your pelvic floor usually anticipates movement doesn’t work in the same fashion when pregnant. Postpartum those systems continue to work like it has a baby inside because it’s been doing that for the past 10 months. This is why we need to retrain this system and it’s connections so that it returns to working properly.

    A test you can do is put your hand on your lower belly and cough while you’re sitting down. Is your lower belly going in or going out when you cough? A properly functioning core moves in when you cough. This will allow you to know if you muscles have been retrained.

  2. Reframe – While retraining, we have to reframe our mindset. What does it mean to workout? What does it mean to do ab workouts? We have to have a clear understanding of these terms that are in really common use, but we really don’t fully understand what they mean for the most part. People often ask me after they have a baby, “When am I going to get back to my ab workouts?” What do you mean exactly by that? What are your goals? If it’s to have a flatter belly, fit into your clothes, have better sex then “ab workouts” might not be the best route to those goals. So reframe your mindset, your idea of what it means to workout in general, and what it means to workout at this time. This journey that you are taking as a new mom is amazing and beautiful and when you can start to reframe what your expectations are in a way that empowers you, you will be feeling great. I currently have an injury in my back and it causes me a lot of pain and it’s changed how I do things. I really had to go through an intense reframing process of what it means to workout, what does it mean for me to move my body or exercise? This is an evolving question. What does it mean for you? With my back injury I could still go to the gym, do my breathing, rehab and walk everyday, but I wasn’t doing all the things that I used to love doing like bootcamps and marathons because that’s wasn’t where I was at. When you get into this reframing, it really allows you to change the perspective with which you approach things.
  3. Regain – Regain that strength. When you have a baby inside you, even if you workout the whole time, there are things that change. Your body goes through a process. You had a labour and delivery that got that baby out, so now it’s time to regain strength in the areas that are most important to you at this time. It’s all about phases, and we don’t suggest the same things for all the postpartum phases. You are not going to be doing the same things at 6 weeks postpartum as you would be at 1 year postpartum or 5 years, or 25 years. It’s about realizing that there are times and places and when you can regain strength by reframing and retraining, it starts to get to this place of true rehabilitation.

When we think about our core, the part that had all of this stuff happen to it during pregnancy, as the foundation of our house, maybe going back to bootcamp or stroller fit right after having a baby might not be the right time. They are not really ideal to do immediately postpartum. This is a really key time for rehabilitation. Retraining, reframing and regaining are the three vital aspects of the rehab process.

Remember, no pain ALL GAIN. None of things that you are doing for rehab should cause you pain, or bleeding, or any side effects whatsoever other than feeling good, more empowered, fantastic.

Let us know how we can help you on your FitMama journey!

See you online!

Hugs,

Love Jen

Power Up The Possibilities

Creating successful routines
To continue on from our last blog post about routine, it’s amazing how when we follow the 3 Ps, things just start to happen naturally.

When we prioritize and prepare we get into that focused place where we know we have a goal and we know what it will take to achieve it. Yeah, we are going to get thrown off track, and miss workouts, and do random things, but it’s about the majority of the time. Being focussed into what you want. It’s not hardcore, like you are being tested or graded, but it IS on you.   When you can get clear about what you want and prepare for it, you have the focus that you need to have the attention to go for what you want. Your family will benefit from you feeling amazing.

When you prioritize and position yourself as that priority it allows you to follow through. You position it that this is your priority, you have prepared so that you are positioned for success, and then are able to just follow through. You just go through the motions.

The third piece is when you prepare and position yourself, you get into that state of flow. We don’t always have to rely on that willpower which is a limited resource, it’s about prioritizing, preparing and positioning yourself so that you get into the flow. I call it the FitMama Flow. It’s that place where things seem to feel easy. We always think it has to be hard in order for it to be worth it. We let other people’s thoughts about this infiltrate our thoughts but the truth is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Feeling fit and energized and excited can be easy if you practice and follow these steps to create that routine then you can get into that Fitmama Flow.

So the 3 things that I am going to suggest to you today will get you into that flow. These will help you create those habits that take you from needing will power to implement to it just being part of your daily routine to move, or do whatever it is that you have set your intention to do. It can be sitting and creating that mindfulness practice.

You will notice that the days you don’t do it, you will feel differently than those other days.

Here we go:

  1. Schedule it in – Yes, I mean like you would a doctor’s appointment. Instead of seeing a specialist, you are making an appointment with the specialist within you to take care of you. You’re appointment with yourself and hands down, the most important appointment you will make. Schedule it in and make sure you do it everyday. Carve the time out.
  2. Surround yourself with like minded people – Yes, it is true. The stats are out there show that the five people that we spend the most time with most strongly influence how we think, what we do and what we say. Take stock. Who are those people for you? How are they influencing you? Are the lifting you up and helping you become what you want to become? Or are they dragging you down? Making you engage in behaviours you don’t really like? Remember no one can make you do anything, but they are influencing you. You will notice that when you hang out with certain people, you feel crappy. When you hang out with others, you feel better. Hang out with those that make you feel better. It’s about surrounding yourself with people who share similar goals and values as yourself, that help you, keep you encouraged and keep you motivated on your path. Life is journey, not a destination. Anyone that tells you that it’s a destination is fooling themselves. They are telling themselves that when they get “there” they will be fulfilled, happy, a better person. It’s not the case. Every single day of your life is a reflection of your entire life. Surrounding yourself with people who get you and support you is really important.
  3. Supporting Someone Else – It seems kind of unorthodox, I know. You think, “if we aren’t doing something consistently ourselves yet how can we help someone else?” But ask yourself this: What do you want to do more consistently? Who do you love hanging out with who has similar goals? Who of those people can you help support on their journey? It’s about supporting someone else in their goals that will boost you up and ensure you stick to your own goals. You won’t feel good about checking in with that person if you haven’t stuck to your own commitment to your priorities that week. It helps keep you motivated and accountable.

So get out there, do some stuff, have some fun and create some routines. And remember that it’s those day to day habits that are really going to be what your life looks like at the end of the day.

Have a great day Fitmama!

See you online.

Hugs,

Love Jen

Rock Your Routine

It’s so common that we create these intricate, fabulous and detailed routines for our families, or specifically our babies, but we don’t create that same kind of routine mentality for ourselves.

It’s so vital though.

All the statistics talk about how important it is to have the regularity and routine. The exercise psychology data shows that the best time to workout is the time you are most likely to do it. It’s not about fitting yourself into a box. The data also shows that creating routines around your exercise and making it consistent is vital. At FitMama we talk about moving your body everyday. It’s not just about going to the gym five days a week, or boot camping it up or cross fit three times a week or whatever. It’s just about creating routine for yourself. What happens when we do this is it becomes like brushing your teeth.

We don’t wake up in the morning and decide not to brush our teeth because we did it yesterday. We just do it because it’s part of our routine.

It’s vital to take care of yourself, and creating a routine makes it a no brainer. These kinds of habit routines are what take the thinking aspect out of it, to make it just automatic. It makes sure that you actually follow through with the goal you are working to achieve.

How do you create a routine?

I am going to help you with that. When you have kids it becomes so much more important that you create a routine around the demands of your life that ensures that you do what it takes to care for yourself. How are you going to find those windows of opportunity?

  1. PRIORITIZE – It’s about getting clear on what it is that you want. What is the most important thing for you? Yes, our babies and children are important. We can easily get into the habit of reactively living our lives and dealing with whatever comes at us as it comes at us. We really need to focus to proactively go after what we want. Being a mom automatically comes with tons of responsibilities, and if we don’t claim our space and our time it’s going to get eaten up by all those loving people in our lives that we need to nurture. All our time can easily get eaten up though, leaving our needs neglected. Years and years can go by. I am sure you have realized that time seems to fly. So, after your kids, what’s next? What do you want to prioritize for your health and well being on all levels? It really helps to write them down.
  2. PREPARE – If we want to get up in the morning and meditate, or go to the gym or drink a coffee in peace and quiet, we need to prepare. If you baby gets up at 8, then in order to get up at 7, you need to get your clothes into the bathroom the evening before, set the coffee pot to auto and set your alarm. This puts it into automatic mode and takes the thinking component right out of it. Then you are much less likely to talk yourself out of it. When you prioritize, you set the foundation. Preparation makes it happen.
  3. POSITION YOURSELF – Sounds a bit technical, but stick with me. When you position yourself for success, it’s more likely that you will succeed. We can easily position ourselves for no success. We do this by not preparing and not getting to bed early enough and letting the thousand other things get in the way. This leads to years of not taking care of yourself. When you position yourself for success, it’s about setting yourself up to be successful. It’s about pencilling it in to your agenda. You set yourself up for success by positioning yourself as a priority.

    It takes some time to practice this. It’s not normal for us, not the way we are conditioned in our society. We are taught to take care of everyone else before ourselves. This is about taking back that space. It’s those daily routines that truly reflect our lives.

How do you find creating routines has worked for you? Is this a concept you are implementing or still figuring out how to do. Share in the comments below or online at the FitMama Facebook group!

Hugs,

Love Jen

Nurturing the FitMama

As FitMamas and as women we love to nurture others.  We take care of our families and our friends, fix things, and make others feel good.  Who doesn’t love to do this? It’s part of the corner stone of what makes us awesome, caring people.

Here’s the thing though.  We don’t have unlimited energy and resources to draw upon.  Anything that is physically, emotionally or mentally demanding draws upon our will power reserve.  This is why we often fail to show up for our selfcare practices.  We spend so much of our will power bank on others that we simply don’t have enough left for ourselves at days end.

When you are immediately postpartum this is especially important.

Our body has too much healing to do in the 8-10 week period immediately following birth, and it has been through the incredibly demanding experience of pregnancy and childbirth.  This drains our resources.

Time to build them back up so you can get healed!

Nurturing yourself is how you refill this pool.

Here at FitMama we educate you on how to do that.

Rest, rehab, and routine are the keys to nurturing yourself right now.  Let others take care of you.  Get in bed and stay in bed for five full days after you come home from the hospital.  Rest allows your body to do what it was designed to do, which is heal itself.

The FitMama golden rule here is “Stay flat for 5” which means: DON’T DO STAIRS FOR FIVE FULL DAYS AFTER BIRTH.

That’s right, I said FIVE FULL DAYS. Go downstairs for the day and then up at night if you must. Otherwise just stay on one level and don’t go too far!

Staying hydrated, getting the rest you need and developing a deep core breathing practice will help you to build your reserves back up so that you can wholeheartedly take on your new FitMama lifestyle.

Share this with someone who is pregnant right now, so they can have the best start to their postpartum journey too!

Comment below with questions or join us in the FitMama Group online!

Hugs,

Love Jen

Postpartum Rest: Not in Jest

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I am sure you were told by your doctor or midwife after you had a baby that you “should rest.”

How did that go for you? REALLY, how did it go? Did you take that advice seriously? I know initially I didn’t. Truthfully, I didn’t know how.

I didn’t really realize at the time how important it was. I just wanted to get on with things.

But let me tell you…it IS very important! We are so used to doing things as women, wives and moms, and taking care of everything that we can easily forget – we are human beings, not human doings, we don’t need to always be do do doing!

I am here to remind you why exactly it’s so important.

Why is it so important to rest after we have a baby? And I don’t mean just take a couple of days off. I mean like really really rest. Like enter a resting phase that lasts 2-4 months. Yes! it’s possible. It’s wise and yes, you can do it.

Trust me, I understand, we are so excited after we have a baby! Yeah, maybe we are tired and up all night, but we also are often so fired up. We think about all the things we want to do with our bodies that we haven’t been able to do for a while because we had a baby inside. We want to get back in action. I totally get it.

That being said, there is a time and a place for being active and there is a time and a place for rest. The key time for rest is in that first 8 – 10 weeks after you have your baby. That is a very vital time when your body is naturally healing. There is a lot of stuff going on hormonally, physiologically, neurologically, emotionally, spiritually, physically and more. Everything is changing, moving, adapting. It’s really important for us to take the time for our bodies to heal and rehabilitate naturally. That’s where rest comes in. It’s absolutely vital.

Sometimes we don’t want to, but it’s a key to The FitMama Way.

This time is needed for rehabilitation and restoration of the deep inner core, as well as for the healing of the very common diastasis recti (thinning of linea alba and separation of your abs) which needs this time of rest (lessened intra-abdominal pressure postpartum) so it can naturally come back together and heal up. Getting back into those “ab workouts” will do exactly the opposite of what you want when healing your core from pregnancy and birth.

There are many things we can to accelerate the healing process, but most of the time we do things that decelerate the healing process. We take steps back in our healing because we want to do so much, entertain, nurture others. We think we need and want to do it all, and we feel energized.

We need take this energy use it to heal up. Every time you stand up: downward pressure is placed on the pelvic floor. Each time you climb the stairs, it splits the pelvic floor, causing those muscles to have to contract and work in a way they may not be yet ready for, due to the natural changes that went on with pregnancy and traumas of childbirth.

 

I am always encouraging FitMamas to “Stay flat for five.” Stay on one level for five days. Take the escalator down at the hospital. Only climbing stairs once a day at maximum. Go downstairs for the day if you must, or stay in bed all day.

 

I really want you to think of it as a three step process. A lot of us don’t know how to rest. We have to learn these tools. It doesn’t always come naturally.

You may think, oh it’s not a big deal, I’m not going to the gym. This is not what I am talking about though. You are going up and down stairs, getting people drinks, cooking people food, taking care of your baby and other kids, doing laundry or standing and doing dishes…these things are not considered rest!

 

No!!! Those are activities of daily living that yes, we must do. But in the first 5-10 days postpartum, it is a time for those you love to step up and allow your pelvic floor to heal – so that you can once again get back to doing all the things you love in life. Those who love you will understand!

 

  1. The first step to rest is ACCEPTANCE – accept the situation at hand. Does it mean that you are going to be resting forever? Unfortunately no 🙂 Does it mean that you’ll never get back to the things you want to do? No! It just means that this is time that you are accepting a new normal for you. Your body is never the same after you have a baby. Once you are postpartum you are always postpartum. And there are a lot of things you can do in terms of retraining and rehabbing that will make you stronger than ever before. It’s about understanding that at this point, the first 8 – 10 weeks ACCEPTANCE of your situation as your current phase is part of the game plan.
  2. The second step is ASKING. Once we have accepted that this is your new normal for now, the second step is asking for help. I know right?! It’s difficult for us. We want to be able to do everything ourselves. We want to go out and put on our super hero capes and make sure everything is perfect, and take care of everyone else along the way. There is no perfection. If you are striving for perfection, especially with a newborn, it’s going to come back at you in a very negative way. Thinking about “what can I not do myself that I can ask for help with?” People want to help you. They really do. Ask them.
  3. Step 3 is ALLOW. Allowing that time, that first 8-10 weeks or that first 6-12 months and realizing that these are key periods of time where our body is naturally rehabbing and restoring but it’s never going to be able to do so fully unless you allow it to. Allowing that time for you to adjust and your family to adjust, and your body to adjust is vital and it requires rest.

Don’t worry FitMama, there will be plenty of time to be running all over the place again!

Who do you know that is pregnant and could benefit from this information? Please share now!

Did you take the time to rest after you had a baby? Was it or is it hard for you to rest?

Comment below and join the conversation in the FitMama Facebook Support Group!

See you online,

Hugs,

Love Jen

 

Wake Up and Take It!

Hi FitMama!

I am often asked by others these three questions: 1. How I can get so much done in a day? 2. How I have so much energy? and 3. What’s my secret to getting up early?

My answer to the first two is waking up before my kids get up! Which sounds like a great idea, until the reality of it feels like the worst in history when you hear your alarm go off in the morning.

Now, I know us FitMamas are often awake multiple times in the night with newborns, babies or have kids who are on a sleep strike, not to mention we have times when our kids are sick or we have lots going on or whatever reason that makes waking up early difficult. That being said, those are here and there or just for phases and stages of our lives, they are not the norm, so keep this in mind and know it is not forever (thankfully)!

Waking up early has been one of the most significant contributors to my being able to fit in exercise, make time for mediation, create a morning routine that works for me and it allows me to start my day in a proactive way rather than reactive.

We all know what if feels like to race around from morning to night, so taking some moments of calm early in the morning can be life changing.

Check out my short video about the TOP 3 Ways you can start to cultivate an earlier start to your day and this will help you wake up and get after it.

Let us know below how it goes for you and how waking up early has changed things for you!

See you in the Facebook Group!

Hugs,

Love Jen

Breakfast Burrito Bowl

Breakfast Burrito BowlWhen I want to start my weekends with a relaxing morning, this is my go to recipe. I know for many of us, our pre-baby lives in involved long brunches with friends on Sunday mornings. One of my favourite spots served the yummiest eggs over hash browns that was just to die for. However, I usually left that brunch feeling way too full and wishing I could have opted for a healthier alternative.

Now my weekends are filled with running after my two girls, so I need to be fuelled to keep up with them. This breakfast bowl will leave you feeling fabulous and powered up for your weekend. Plus, it’s great for kids. It is perfectly nutritionally balanced with protein from eggs and black beans, healthy fats from the avocado, and slow absorbing carbohydrates from the sweet potatoes. These plus the high fibre content will keep you feeling full for an active day as well.

I also love that it looks like a rainbow when it is put together! I love brightly coloured food. Our food must be pleasing to the eyes to be appetizing!

Top this one with your favourites like roasted cherry tomatoes, salsa or shredded cheese. Enjoy!

Hugs,

Jen

 

Ingredients (makes 2 servings):

1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil

1 sweet potato, chopped into one inch cubes

1 cup of cooked black beans

1 avocado, sliced

4 eggs, poached

Roasted cherry tomatoes as a topping

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F. Toss sweet potato in oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast sweet potato for 25 minutes, flipping them over halfway through.

 

To poach the eggs, bring a shallow pot of water to a simmer, not a boil. Add in a splash of white vinegar, as it helps the eggs stay together. Crack eggs gently into the water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Place on a paper town once cooked.

 

To assemble the bowls, place a layer of sweet potato on the bottom. Top with black beans, sliced avocado, and poached eggs.

Top with roasted cherry tomatoes or shredded cheese. Dig in and enjoy!

Spicy Black Bean Soup

Spicy Black Bean SoupFitmamas!

It has been a rainy few weeks and there is nothing like a warming soup to fuel up on comfort on those soggy days.

Make this one for your family and let us know how it turns out, this soup is one of my faves. You can make a little less spicy for the kiddos, but eating spicy foods is a great way to heat yourself up from the inside. It has also been shown to increase your metabolism. Black beans are also a wonderful source of protein, fibre, and iron.

Many times after delivering a baby, women’s iron stores can be low, resulting in fatigue. This soup provides you with ample iron as it contains lots of black beans.

 

My preferred method for cooking black beans is to soak them overnight, rinse them, then simmer them until soft (about 45 minutes to 1 hour). If you forget to soak your beans, you can just boil them, or use two cans of cooked black beans. Don’t forget to rinse your canned beans however! And try to choose canned beans that are BPA free.

This recipe has been adapted from The New Canadian Basic Cookbook.

Hugs and warm coziness,

Jen

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

roasted cherry tomatoes

Here it is! I’m finally posting it!

If you’ve been a member of the FitMama group on Facebook, you know that I post pictures of this recipe at least once a month. When I was travelling around the world this past year, this was the ONE thing that I wished I had with me in every city! I’m telling you FitMama, this recipe is IT!

Since the first moment I learned how to make these, I fell in love.

The natural sweetness of the tomatoes shines through when you roast them for so many hours. It truly is like nature’s candy! They have become a weekly staple in my rotation. Every Sunday, I roast a big batch of these, and then keep them for the week in an airtight container. Throw ‘em on salad, on eggs, on a sandwich. They are amazing in everything!

ENJOY!

Hugs,

Jen

 

Ingredients:

 

3-5 pint packages of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

5-10 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

 

Preheat oven to 250F. In a large bowl, toss tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet. Cook tomatoes for 4-5 hours (or 2-3 hours if using a convection oven) until they begin to appear dehydrated and almost crispy.

Place them in an airtight container. Good luck getting them in a container without eating them all!

 

Veggie Goat Cheese Frittata

Veggie Goat Cheese Frittata

One of the foods I find most versatile which is why I love them are eggs. There are so many ways to eat them and my kids love them too. Even when we were travelling around the world, if we were staying at a place with a kitchen, we were getting eggs!

This simple recipe works great for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Super for springtime when asparagus is in season. Enjoy!

Veggie Goat Cheese Frittata

Ingredients:

1 tbsp grape seed oil

1 bell pepper (any colour), diced

4 stalks of asparagus, diced

6 medium sized cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 large handful of spinach

1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

8 eggs

¼ cup almond milk

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven 350F. In a medium sized bowl, crack the eggs and add the almond milk, salt and pepper, and beat together then set aside. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the grape seed oil over medium heat. Add in the bell pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Add in the asparagus and mushrooms and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add in the spinach and sauté until soft. Beat the eggs once or twice more then pour the egg mixture into the skillet. Place the skillet into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until eggs are set. Serve with a green salad.

 

Please share below how this turns out for you.

Cheers to feeling nourished!

Hugs,

Love Jen

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