5 Exercises to Heal Diastisis Recti and/or Umbilical Hernias

One thing I’m passionate about is women’s health. I could get on my soapbox of hours and go on about how I think if men had to deal with half the “female” stuff we do, the care we currently receive would be so much different. Instead, I’m going to write a very long, and very informative blog post ūüôā

Currently, moms don’t get a lot of extra love and attention after birth in the United States, and as a pre- and post-natal trainer this infuriates me.

I have worked with women 8 weeks after birth and 30+ years after birth who are “just dealing with” the aftermath pregnancy and birth. Most of the questions I ask are brand new to them. I mention things they’ve never learned about and that seriously concerns me, while also exciting me.

Sure, we all have a 6 week check up after birth, but the depth of care we often receive is lacking. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I understand this is a huge blanket statement. Some doctors are awesome, however the majority of women are not receiving the full care they deserve.

While most women could benefit from a session with a pelvic floor specialist, we instead think it’s “normal” to deal with peeing our pants a little when we jump, laugh, or sneeze for the rest of our lives. A lot of women don’t realize they have hernias after pregnancy or birth and instead of trying to heal them, they just become worse and may eventually need surgery. And doctors rarely check for diastisis recti, or an abnormally large separation of the abdominal wall so this too can become much worse and can lead to things like hernias, a belly pooch, back pain, and more.

However, instead of just riding the negative train into the ground, I’ve decided to do something about this current trend: I’m going to help change it!¬†The great news is there is information out there and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to help other women feel empowered as they learn how to help themselves too.

Identifying Diastisis Recti

Separation of the abs is a completely normal part of pregnancy and can also occur when someone is overweight or has undergone a major abdominal surgery. In the case of pregnancy, the abdominal wall loosens and separates to make room for a growing baby. There’s a lot you can do to minimize this separation while pregnant, or even heal diastisis recti during pregnancy, but wherever you are in the journey–maintaining this separation after childbirth can be downright uncomfortable and dangerous. So, how do you identify if you have a gap that is considered “too wide” (ie. diastisis recti)? And if you have diastisis recti, how do you fix it?

Diastisis recti is identified by observing a gap in your rectus abdominal muscles, or the “6 pack” layer of your core. This is the top most layer of your abs. To measure your abdominal separation you will do two quick tests (and don’t worry–you don’t have to be able to “see” a 6 pack to do this test!).

First, observe the separation of your abs above your belly button.

Lie on your back and bend your knees. Gently place a hand behind your head for support and lift up off the ground. As you settle into this slight “crunch” position, use your fingers to palpate and measure the distance between your upper abs. Measure finger widths. Anything more than 2 fingers width of separation between your ab wall (more than your pointer finger + middle finger) is considered diastisis recti.

Next, observe the separation of your abs below your bellybutton. Lie on your back and bend your knees. Keep your head down on the ground this time and instead gently lift your feet off the floor. Palpate below the belly button and measure the distance between your lower abs. Anything more than 2 fingers width of separation between your ab wall (more than your pointer finger + middle finger) is considered diastisis recti.

A third test can be done around your bellybutton to observe for an umbilical hernia, another common issue to follow pregnancy. Hernias can be accompanied by other symptoms like bulging or pain, but you can still check for a hernia like you check for DR. Go back to the first test, but this time palpate around your bellybutton. More than 2 fingers width can indicate a hernia. Or you may notice you have a larger, hollow “hole” that your belly button fall into as you pick your head up.

Healing Diastisis Recti and/or an Umbilical Hernia

Now, if you have DR or a hernia, there is loads you can do to help yourself before things get worse. And even if things have already gotten worse, you can still make major improvements!

True story: I had DR after I had my first daughter. Despite having my pre- and post-natal corrective exercise certification, after lots of miscarriages I exercised more cautiously during my full term pregnancy and was afraid to try some of my training. I also thought i was doing some things correctly, and I wasn’t. Once my core was separated I really understood how I needed to improve a few things and add to my routine. Postpartum, I had 3 fingers of separation, but within a few weeks of doing a few exercises, I closed my gap to just 1 finger. After having my second daughter I had 1 finger gap when I checked 3 weeks postpartum (though I did experience an umbilical hernia so worked hard to close it as much as possible again using a few key exercises. My doctor was impressed at my 6 month check up!).

Both DR and umbilical hernias are the result of a weakening of the connective tissues in your core. So, while you can identify DR in your upper most layer of your abs, you want to heal the condition by strengthening the deepest layers of your abs like your transverse abdominis, obliques, and your pelvic floor.

Truthfully, every single person–man or woman (and women who have had kids and haven’t) can benefit from training their core in the way I’m going to show. It literally strengthens the deepest layers of your core and therefore provides tons of strength, stability, and stamina.

One last VERY¬†important note before I show you some great exercises: train¬†your pelvic floor as part of your core!¬†This is perhaps the most important part of your healing process. Kegels alone aren’t going to strengthen or heal your issues, despite this being the only remedy many doctors recommend. Instead, you want to learn to use your pelvic floor, engaging it as part of your deep core unit.

Too often, people are holding their bellies and pelvic floor “tight” all the time. But a tight belly or pelvic floor doesn’t mean it’s strong. It’s just tight! So, when doing the exercises below, be sure to activate your pelvic floor. To find your pelvic floor, do try to stop the flow of urine when peeing, but then when your bladder is empty just try to relax that muscle. Then try to lift or “flex” the muscle and then return it to a resting position. I’ll admit, this takes serious practice but it is life changing! Your pelvic floor helps you pee and move your bowels, because both types of waste exit through a passage in the pelvic floor, but your PF is also responsible for supporting (or holding up) your bladder, uterus, and bowels so learning how to use this muscle properly is critical and can help you avoid serious issues like prolapse in the future.

5 Exercises to Heal Diastisis Recti and/or an Umbilical Hernia

1. Belly wrapping, belly pumping, or transverse abdominal breathing

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  • This exercise can be called so many things, but regardless of what it’s called, in this exercise you are literally trying to wrap your abs together and close the gap.¬† By learning to do this you are strengthening the weakest connective tissue and healing your problem for good! And perhaps the best news: this is an exercise you can do before, during, and after pregnancy! It is helpful all the time and can be nearly anywhere, even when you’re driving in the car!
  • You can and should try and eventually succeed at this movement lying down, sitting, and standing because you want to be able to apply it to all types of movement. The ultimate goal is being able to belly pump when doing all exercises.
  • If difficult, you can assist this movement by using your hands, a towel or a band to help pull your muscles closed.
  • To do this exercise: Breathe into your belly. This alone can be challenging since many people are accustomed to breathing into their chest. Fill your belly with air, relaxing your stomach muscles and letting your belly expand out. when you exhale lift your pelvic floor (the most important step!) and then wrap your abs together. If you’re looking in the mirror you should see your belly button lift a little and then tuck in. The lift is coming from the activation and engagement of your PF. Repeat.

2. Foot slides

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  • While doing this exercise, try to keep doing your belly pumping.
  • Exhale with your leg extension, wrapping your abs as your extend your leg straight. Inhale as you bring your foot back in, pumping your belly out.
  • Eventually you can try this exercise with both legs or use gliders.

3. Hand/Quad Pressure Pushes

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  • No, this is not a technical name, but this is an excellent exercise to strengthen the deepest stabilizers in your abs.
  • While doing this exercise, try to keep doing your belly pumping.
  • Exhale as you gently lift your head and one leg off the floor, supporting your head with one hand. At the top, push your other hand into your leg (on the same side) and your leg into your hand, creating “pressure” on both your hand and leg. Exhale all the way through and wrap your abs here as much as possible. Inhale as you return your head and leg back down.

4. Overhead band reaches

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  • While doing this exercise, try to keep doing your belly pumping.
  • Exhale as you pull your band straight up over your head. Inhale as you bring your arms back toward your belly button (though be sure to maintain some resistance in the band when you return to “center”)
  • Eventually you can try this exercise with your head lifted off the ground

5. Side planks with oblique “twist”

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  • While doing this exercise, try to keep doing your belly pumping.
  • Inhale as you extend your arm straight up, looking up at your hand as you extend your arm.¬† Exhale as you wrap your arm under your body, literally wrapping your abs together though try not to drop either of your hips down toward the ground. Make your core wrap together and do the work instead of putting the work into your hips and lower body

Happy healing and exercising! Leave questions or concerns in the comments section below. No one should ever have to struggle with these kinds of issues postpartum, or ever and I’d love to help!

5 Lower Body Low Impact Exercises (That Won’t Hurt Your Knees)

Hello, my most dedicated readers! Oh, how I’ve missed you all. Last time I checked in, both our girls were sick. And last week I was sick! NOT COOL. Everyone knows, moms don’t have time to be sick. Yet, I was. So sick that I didn’t even workout. I did try a couple times, but I was super drained. Like for real. Ugh.

I’ll probably sound like a weeny when I say I just had a case of laryngitis, but I didn’t realize how crummy you can feel from an illness that generally just gets a lot of attention for taking someone’s voice away. While my throat still hurts a lot this week and I still have a dry, hacky cough, my voice is finally coming back (and I’m starting to exercise again), so hallelujah! I must be on the mend. Now back to real life and the important stuff.

A few weeks back, a friend and reader asked me to share some low impact lower body exercises and today, I’m excited to bring them to you. This friend has found her knees to be particularly temperamental after having her first baby a few months back. This is totally normal since the hormone relaxin can loosen our ligaments and joints leading up to labor and can take up to a year after stopping breastfeeding to return to “normal.” Who knew? Now you do ūüôā

While I love jumping around like a total maniac and I don’t have a problem doing so, that isn’t the case for everyone and the good news is there are TONS of exercises you can still do to strengthen your lower body AND be kind to your knees.

Today I’m sharing my top 5 lower body exercises that are low impact and can help you strengthen your lower body, without hurting your knees because yes, it’s possible!

Most of these exercises will use the glutes as a primary mover, and all the other muscles in the legs will be secondary or tertiary movers/helpers.

The largest and what should be–strongest–muscle group in the body is the glutes (aka your butt muscles). I often tell my clients that your butt isn’t just about vanity or something sexy. Though it can be both of those things, your butt is also totally functional too. Meaning, your glutes–when engaged, strengthened, and used properly–can help support your hips and take work away from your smaller knee joints all while simultaneously strengthening all the muscles surrounding your knees too.

Every single person should be able to do a squat. It’s arguably the most functional movement you can ever do. Many think squats are just for your quads, that big muscle group on the top, front of the leg. However, squats are actually a glute exercise that your quads can help with.

We all sit down and get up from chairs and the toilet–that’s a squat.¬† We all pick things up from the ground–that should be a squat. So yes, one of the exercises I share will be a squat, but I’ll show you how to modify it to take some work away from your knees if a traditional body weight squat hurts for now.

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When doing these exercises, aim for anywhere between 8-15 reps, (per side where applicable) and 3-5 sets.

  1. Squats – Keep your weight in full foot and push up out of your heels. By keeping the work in the heels vs. the forefoot, you help your glutes do the work, not your knees. Modify on a wall or using a ball on the wall if needed.MNYE9697XZZS2597
  2. Hip Bridge РStrengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Lying on your back, place your heels on a chair, bench, stool, or any elevated and level surface. Push up from the floor by driving into your heels. Squeeze your glutes at the top and then slowly return to the ground.  NMAP9020
  3. Deadlifts – Single leg or double, it doesn’t matter–deadlifts are great for you (and your glutes and hamstrings)! Slightly bend your knees then while keeping your back flat, hinge from the hips towards the ground. Return to the top, squeezing your glutes when you get there.¬†CGBK3879
  4. Side Lunges РStrengthen your glutes, adductors and abductors (those muscles on the insides and outsides of the legs). Start with both feet pointing straight ahead. Sinking into the heel on one foot, lift up the other foot and reach it to your side while sinking into the opposite heel. Return the foot to the center and keep your toes pointed straight ahead for the entire movementDILI3446
  5. Step Ups – These are awesome for the whole leg! Place one foot on a step, chair, or stool. Keeping your weight in the heel on the bench, “pull” your other leg up and onto the step. Slowly return your foot to the ground, putting as little weight into the bottom foot and repeat.

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What are your favorite lower body exercises? Share in the comments below! 

Random Ramblings: Respectful Parenting, Healthy Eating, & Podcasts

Today I’m checking in with a whole bunch of randomness to help clear my mind AND share more about honest and raw truth about myself, my life, and my habits with you– my awesome readers!

The forecast is finally tempting us with temps above 50 later this week, but as we’re waking up so another day where snow is falling from the sky (it’s April 10, right?!), I’m trying to keep my attitude and outlook positive today. Aaaaand I’m living in struggle city. Or after experiencing a not-so-pretty grown up temper tantrum when my toddler refused to stay still while I got her dressed this morning (she often does this as my husband so nicely reminded me), I’m living in failure city.

Clearly I’m harboring some mom guilt today. I know I’m far from a failure, but my high strung and short-tempered self is jealous of those who are a lot more patient than me. And honestly, I’m just in this funk, AGAIN. Mother nature, please stop knocking me down with your cold and snow! Hopefully this is the real, real end of winter.

Thinking about parenting and how I can avoid more mommy meltdowns when the weather can’t be my excuse anymore, I’ll share that we’re trying to practice respectful parenting using a lot of Magda Gerber’s principles. Gerber really emphasizes respect for and trust in our growing babies. The big picture of our goals mean we trust that our children are capable growing little people. We try not to yell when there are meltdowns or defiant moments, instead opting to stay calm, gently redirect while being firm, but fair. When conditions are ideal (ie. when everyone is happy and sweet) it works awesome. And when a meltdown happens and I use the tools I’ve been learning, I find I stay more calm and the hard moments end sooner and more productively. Alas, when parenting children who are trying to make sense of these huge emotions they’re feeling every day sometimes it’s hard, for everyone! This morning’s mommy eruption was not in line with my parenting goals. Grace. Being a mom keeps me seriously humble and thank goodness I know I’ll have lots more opportunities to do better.

Other things on my mind today: healthy eating. As I mentioned last week, I’ve been motivated to really get my diet back on track. I’m reducing my chocolate chip intake by handfuls (no, seriously…) and replacing my cravings for sugar with more veggies and natural sugars like fruits.

I’m currently chomping on carrot sticks and hummus.

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I can’t say cutting out the junk food is easy right now (cravings are real and you don’t have to be pregnant to have them), but I’ve done this before and know it will be worth it.

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Breastfeeding can’t continue to be an excuse to keep eating junk (at least not for me) and I’d like to rely less on high rise yoga pants and flexing my muscles to mask my postpartum pouch (which of course, I’m super proud of and grateful for, but hello–I’m human and fitness focused!).

We’ve restocked the freezer and pantry at Costco and Aldi a few times in the last couple weeks and I’m excited to feel prepared to keep working at self improvement.

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With two kids, my dinners have been so simple over the last six+ months and thankfully these even healthier meal options are still super easy. I know I haven’t been doing the “What I Ate Wednesday” posts anymore (because they were time consuming and not as popular), but I am still meal planning and some of the menu offering in our home over the next couple weeks will include:

  1. Salmon with Veggies
  2. Pesto Chicken and Veggies
  3. Chicken with Avocado Salad
  4. Ham, Apple, and Sweet Potato Egg Scramble
  5. Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
  6. Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Shredded Chicken (BBQ or Buffalo Chicken)
  7. Healthy Ramen with Asian Beef and Asparagus (this last one is an original from my kitchen! Watch for a recipe later this week)
  8. Turkey Quinoa Taco Casserole
  9. Burrito Bowls with Cauliflower Rice

If the actual meal isn’t popular, these are all dishes with at least toddler and baby-friendly ingredients (yes, Josie is eating now too–she looooves food), like avocado, sweet potato, salmon, meatballs, and loads of veggies (most of which both girls will actually eat if they’re not too tired). Sweet!

Something else I’ve been doing that makes me feel good is listening to podcasts. It’s a fun way to listen and learn while I’m driving, with the kids, or getting some work done. Some of my favorites lately have been:

  1. Well-Fed Women – I love the honest advice these two women give on health nutrition, and fitness related topics. Their podcast description says, “Expect real talk, moderately amusing banter, and empowering advice for women, from women” and I think this sums up their show great. I’ve really enjoyed episodes #162-#165 in the last few weeks.
  2. The mindbodygreen – This podcast is full of awesome info on a whole host of health related topics and all from pioneers in the health industry.
  3. Unruffled – This is a parenting podcast by Janet Lansbury, a parenting expert focused on the respectful parenting practices we’re trying to use. Listening to this podcast helps me stay mindful and focused on my efforts and reminds me I’m an imperfect human capable of trying again when I slip up.

If you’re interested in more of the ramblings from my brain these days, follow my IG account where I’ve been trying to post more regularly. Things I’m thinking about sharing in the upcoming weeks include healthier dessert options, ways you can cleanse your diet and jump start weight loss, what we’re planting in our garden this year, exercises you can do at the office, and a workout you can do on your next hike, my Costco and Aldi grocery lists, the benefits of fermented foods, and more.

Tell me, what are some topics you’d like to hear more about? Share on social media, or in the comments below!¬†

 

3 Ab Exercises, 3 Ways

This past weekend we enjoyed a fun Easter holiday with our girls and our extended family. Isla woke up on Sunday so excited for her “treats” and eggs from the Easter bunny.

I’m not one of those moms who bans candy from the Easter baskets, but there are lots of non-food items included too. Some of my favorite items in the girls’ baskets this year included coloring books, Easter themed books, watercolor paints, construction paper, puffs and teething toys for Josie, some chocolate bunnies and chicks and some tasty Easter-themed Belgian chocolate bars for Isla. Sure, the chocolate may sound fancy, but I like to keep artificial colors and ingredients out of our food in-home where we can. This chocolate was from the Netherlands and Belgium, so there weren’t any artificial colors or ingredients. The bunny got the goods at Marshall’s. Last, but not least, we can’t forget the Annie’s Organics themed items! Does anyone else feel like Annie’s is the best Easter themed line of food? We are 100% an Annie’s Organics family all year long, but their bunny theme clearly translates particularly well to Easter. So naturally, the Easter Bunny left lots of Annie’s brand snacks in Isla’s basket, and in her eggs this year!

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Sugared up and moving through the festivities all weekend, by Sunday night, both girls (and mom and dad) were pooped and ready for bed! Easter success!

Looking ahead I’m a little excited there aren’t any big holidays to mess with my healthy eating goals for awhile. I’ve been a little off the rails the last few weeks. No upcoming festivities means I can really try to be on track. Truthfully, I will probably eat something sweet almost every day, per usual. And I’ll be enjoying some beer and wine a few days a week too. But looking ahead, I know I’ll be doing better than I have over the last couple weeks by cutting out the Easter treats.

They says abs are made in the kitchen and I have to agree. I don’t think I’ll ever have a bodybuilder’s stomach because 1. I don’t want to right now, and 2. I don’t want to eat 100% clean, but I know I feel so much better (ie. way less bloated!) when I’m not loading my body with all the high sugar treats associated with big candy holidays like Easter. So with that idea plus the goal of at least seeing muscle definition when I flex, I’m truly looking forward to this time to get refocused and get back into a more normal “healthy” groove.

Thinking about abs, I’ve put together a quick ab workout. The exercises in this workout target all layers of your abs, plus you have to rely on strength from your arms, shoulders, chest, and back. These three ab exercises can be completed using three different modalities.

The three moves are:

  1. Plank knee tucks
  2. Plank elbow knee tucks
  3. Pikes

And the three modalities are:

  1. Bodyweight
  2. Stability ball
  3. TRX

Check out the video below for a quick visual of what these look like in action. Then, bust out your own equipment at home or at the gym (or not) and give these a try!

 

How was your Easter? And what were you busy indulging in? Share your favorite traditions and treats below. 

To Weigh, or Not to Weigh

Today I’m reporting on a little experiment brought to you by a serious case of mom brain. I haven’t weighed myself in two months. During my weekly trips to Target, I have repeatedly forgotten to pick up a new 9-volt battery for our scale. So, while not weighing myself hasn’t been intentional, this is the longest time I have gone without weighing myself in years and today I’m sharing my personal and professional reflections (and results) about life sans scale.

I won’t lie, I have normally been the person weighing every few days, or at least once a week. And for awhile in between pregnancies, I had the unhealthy and obsessive habit of weighing myself every day. I remember three days after having my first daughter, I came home and while I should have lost at least 10 pounds (she weighed over 8 herself, plus I was no longer carrying around a placenta and I lost all of the amniotic fluid), I was only down 5 pounds. In my fragile postpartum state, I felt like a failure and cried. Then I remember weighing myself day in and day out after that until I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight…four months later.

In the last 20 months, since welcoming both of our baby girls–the youngest just five months ago–I’m happy/relieved/proud to say my relationship with the scale has gotten a lot healthier. Those feelings I had 20 months ago forced me to reflect on who I had become on the inside and think about why I would care about a number so much. My body had just done the most amazing thing possible–it created life and here I was obsessing over a number on a scale. As my oldest daughter moved out of the newborn days, I knew I didn’t want her to EVER obsess in the same way I was so I worked hard to change my mindset. This is an evolution that continued throughout the entirety of my second pregnancy last year and I’ve been continuing to grow over the last few months. A number on a scale will not and does not define me.

Even so, not weighing myself is very unlike me. While I don’t use weight as the only marker of my progress when working toward my health and fitness goals, I do think a scale can be a powerful tool.

Knowing your body weight can help you maintain a healthy weight and encourage healthy eating. I like to keep myself within a “target” weight zone (usually within about 3 pounds, plus or minus of my “goal” weight). This wiggle room leaves room for bloating caused by eating saltier foods (or my period) or dehydration.

Knowing how much we weigh can also help encourage healthy habits. I use a scale to keep my eating in check. Ie. weighing myself helps me avoid scarfing down a dozen donuts and multiple ice cream sundaes in a week. And on the flip side, it helps remind me to eat enough calories to build and maintain muscle if the number dips too low (which doesn’t happen too often, but sometimes could when I was marathon training).

Not weighing myself has really mixed up how I measure my progress and the markers I’ve been relying on have actually been motivating in different ways in the last couple months.

Living life without a scale means I’ve had to stick to what I’ve been saying since before I gave birth last October: the number on the scale isn’t important to me right now. Instead I’m more interested in how my clothes are fitting and my progress photos. And I’m proud to say that in the last several weeks, I’m down another pants/dress size and I’m seeing more muscle definition. These markers may not come with the fast gratification of the scale where you can watch your weight rise and fall a few pounds in a day or two, but these markers indicate changes that are certainly more permanent and that’s something I LOVE.

Further, my daily decisions haven’t been influenced by the scale and I think that’s actually helped me achieve more accountability and I’ve made even more positive choices than I would have in the past. Whereas I may have allowed myself a junk food treat when I was within my “weight zone,” I’ve been making more and more healthier choices as I look forward to fitting into new clothes and seeing progress in my monthly photos.

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Not identifying my progress with a number has been empowering and enlightening. While I think that when done in a healthy way, weighing yourself can be a positive part of anyone’s journey to health, it’s not the only way. In fact, the number on a scale is a tiny part of a way to define progress and sometimes someone can live a healthier life without it. The last couple months has shown me firsthand that measuring weight doesn’t have to be a part of everyone’s path.

If you haven’t lived life without a scale recently, I challenge you to do so. Consider analyzing your health in different ways for the next 30 days. Measure your life using different numbers. Track the number of steps your taking, count the number of workouts (and reps and sets) you’re completing in a week, look forward to fitting into a new size dress or pair of pants, and tally the number of veggies you’re consuming in a day. Take a photo at the beginning and end of your journey and you might be surprised by the changes. I’ll tell you this: after living without a scale for awhile, I still haven’t added “9V battery” to my Target shopping list.

How do you track your progress? Share in the comments below. 

 

 

Home Workout Gear (Essentials + Workouts)

It’s official, the flu is inundating the U.S. this winter and I officially suspended my gym membership because of it. Yeah, I can hear you all gasping from here. Your personal trainer has temporarily quit the gym.

While I love to go to the gym to lift heavy and take advantage of the child care (hello, mommy’s two hour break every day!), it’s that child care catch that has me opting to keep my workouts at home for the remainder of the winter season.

While I know our kids can still catch the flu, I am trying to do all I can to minimize the risk, especially since our little ones are in the high risk age (under 2). The number one way to avoid the flu is to keep your hands out of your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you have babies and toddlers, do you know this? Um, that’s pretty much IMPOSSIBLE.

So, I’m owning my new identity as the germaphobe mom with her two kids in the double stroller at the grocery store and Target, with reusable bags strapped to the handle–if I even take them to the grocery store at all. We’re avoiding museums and public play groups. And the gym was the last step. But my reasoning is while both our kids go to daycare twice a week, by avoiding places like the gym and public play groups I am slightly decreasing their exposure to germs and hopefully avoiding big germs like the flu.

At day care there are less kids per adult (1:4 ratio), whereas at the gym there can be an unlimited number of children per adult. This means that at the gym, my two teethers (Josie is cutting teeth already and Isla is crushing the 2-year-old molars game) are more likely to shove any communal toys in their mouths because right now EVERYTHING goes in their mouths.

Since we’re spending way more time at home than I’d prefer, this means I’ve not only been hosting multiple dance parties a day for my toddler, but I’ve also been scouring Pinterest for all kinds of fun activities and crafts and putting them into action.

 

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Didn’t you know fridge magnets are way more fun on a cookie sheet?¬†

 

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“Fingerpainting” on the windows

 

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Paint in a Ziploc bag, taped to the window

 

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We made a paper plate caterpillar after reading, The Very Hungry Caterpillar

While my choice “hit the pause on the gym” might not be one all parents would make, I feel confident I can still get the workouts I need and want at home for now. And if my kids do get the flu, at least I knew I did what I could to personally protect them.

Since I’m a personal trainer and I love exercise, I’m sure it’s no surprise that I have a small arsenal of workout equipment. You don’t need tons of or really any equipment to get a good workout at home. But personally, I love having a variety of pieces to pull from to keep me motivated and keep mixing up my workouts. And naturally I have some favorites. Here are a few of them, and a couple sample workout videos to match. Be sure to follow me on Instagram to catch my at home workouts weekly.

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Dumbbell and Kettlebell

gliders

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Resistance loops and resistance bands

This first workout uses gliders. I LOVE THESE THINGS. They are awesome for targeting all different muscle groups and can be use for way more than abdominal exercises–the number one type of exercise they are marketed to work the hardest. If you don’t have gliders, feel free to try a couple washcloths or some paper plates. This workout combines both a reverse lunge and then a curtsy lunge. Then you transition right into a hamstring curl, mountain climbers, and then a single leg knee tuck. Aim for 10-15 reps per exercise (and per side where applicable). The goal is 3-5 sets. This workout will smoke your legs, glutes, and abs.

This second workout utilizes the resistance loops and is 100% full body! Start with a squat, alternating a lateral leg lift. Pop into a side plank and then pull hamstring curls. Next, loop the band around your upper arms and feel an extra burn in your triceps as you do push ups. Balance out the push motion with a pull as you complete single arm rows. Transition into plank knee tucks with some extra resistance. Lastly, find your side plank again and pull for some side plank tucks. Again, the goal is 10-15 reps (per side where applicable) and you’re working for 3-5 sets.

Give these workouts a try and let me know what you think in the comments below. You’ve got this!¬†

 

Toddler Obstacle Course

The days are snowy and cold around our part of the country (hello, New England!) and that means on days not filled with daycare, mom is left scheming activities and various forms of educational stimulation to keep our toddler busy and happy.

We have one of those children who does not like to sit still. At 17 months, her mind and body are always going. She’s super curious and hungry to learn everything she possibly can and she wants to be as independent as she can (while still stopping for hugs and kisses). While it can be hard to accept her strong spirit at times (like when she’s having what feels like the 100th meltdown in a day because she can’t express herself yet and cannot physically do all that she wants to because hello–she’s 17 months!), I ultimately love her zest for life and enjoy coming up with fun activities.

When we’re stuck inside I’ve had to dig deep at times and today’s post is one way I keep my toddler busy and in turn, myself busy too: toddler obstacle courses. I’m constantly telling parents, “If you keep up with your kids, you’re going to get so much exercise!” My Fitbit affirms this because even being cooped up inside on a day when I don’t do my own workout, I do nearly 10,000 steps a day, “just” being mom.

This particular activity is a favorite around our [messy] house (looking at the photos below, yes, our house seriously is this messy about 10 minutes after we all get up in the morning until after bedtime). I piece together a handful of “obstacles” which keep her moving and keep her brain occupied too, challenging her and helping her grow. The activities are short and realistic. They don’t take too much time to complete and they’re fun enough that my toddler will do this activity for 30 minutes or more sometimes. Other than finger painting, that’s probably the most time she can focus on one activity currently so I’ll count it as a mom win!

I’m sure I could put together multiple versions of this post, and maybe I will in the future. But my hope is that this post will help jog your own fun creations and spur off a fun cold or rainy weather activity for you and your little one(s).

After I set up the obstacle course, I demonstrated each activity and then had Isla follow. I then coached her through each activity if she got distracted or forgot what the “challenge” was. Which meant I participated a lot too. Trying to fit through the tunnel was an awesome ab exercise!

  1. Tunnel – I crafted a tunnel out of a couch, our coffee table, and a blanket. You could always use a store bought tunnel too. We love obstacle courses so much that we’re actually getting one of those for Christmas and I’m sure Isla will love it!¬†tunnel
  2. Climbing over an obstacle РFor this I used a giant stuffed animal and we army crawled over it. You could also use a couch cushion or a few pillows stacked on top of one another. Carrying a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is totally optional.climbing
  3. Stepping activity – I used a dog bed and Isla had to step in and back out, crossing to the next activity. Again, you could use a foam pad, pillow, or even a folded blanket. I wanted something that would challenge her balance and wouldn’t be too big so she could actually take small steps. I made sure I was nearby to catch her if she stumbled.
  4. Sorting РI grabbed two empty baby wipes boxes and filled one with balls from our ball pit. She then transferred the balls from one box to another. Either one by one, or she loved dumping them from one box to another. You could also use blocks, toy food, plastic Easter eggs, etc. sorting
  5. Balance beam – Finally, we did not use an actual balance beam here, but rather a piece of masking tape on the floor. Place your tape and then have your toddler walk heel to toe down the line–an awesome activity for balance and agility!¬†balance

How do you keep your little ones busy when you’re at home? Share in the comments below.