Health & Fitness

March 12, 2018

One of the most common fears I hear women express with regards to their exercise is that they’ll “bulk up.”

They’ll look “unfeminine” or suddenly sprout muscles like a body builder. I’d like to take the time to explore this a little, it seems that the fear of muscle is a money making industry, and we’re all hopping along for the ride.

Women’s fitness is BIG business, with female protein powders (usually low carb, usually labelled as a fat burner), women’s resistance bands, pink, tiny kettle-bells and dumbbells and all manner of pink washed, lighter, and much less useful equipment.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for pink branding – look at my logo… it’s ALL the pink, but when it comes to making women feel smaller, weaker, and less capable in the gym, I take real issue.

We’ve Pink Washed Fitness

Women definitely respond to exercise differently to men, oestrogen is an interesting hormone, but that doesn’t mean that we’re to be relegated to the cardio machines and the tiny weights.

I see it in the gym all the time, dozens of women vying for the treadmills and cross trainers while the free weights and machines are occupied by our sweaty, male counterparts.

Having chatted to some women who hang out on the cardi-no (sorry, not sorry) machines I discovered a few things:

  • They are afraid of bulking up too much.
  • They believe that cardio is the best way to lose weight.
  • They find the guys a bit intimidating, and don’t feel welcomed in the free weights area
  • They don’t know how to use the machines
  • Their trainers have advised them to do HIIT and cardio

We’re Not Making Women Feel Welcome in the Weight Room

By casual observation it seems that we’re not making a welcoming space for women in the weight’s room. While there are women’s only gyms, like Curves for example, they seem to come complete with “girly” machines and a distinct lack of free weights.

And while there is definitely a need to welcome women into the gym, and welcome them to movement, I strongly feel that we’re selling women short if they’re lifting 2kg weights, playing with resistance bands, only to go home and lift 20kg toddlers, and haul in their shopping.

While it’s encouraging to see companies listen to what women want, become more aware of pelvic health, and the impact of female hormones, it’s only half of the story.

Basically, I think we can tell the women we work with a much more empowering story.

Is this a Beauty Problem or a Fitness Problem

So who’s fault is it?

This ties deeply into body image and the marketing around women’s beauty. According to those who write the magazines, and ultimately  those who tell us what beauty looks like; women are meant to be:

  • Small
  • Hairless
  • Pre-pubescent
  • Soft
  • Large breasted
  • Tiny waisted
  • Delicate

When in actual fact, while there are some women who enjoy and uphold that image, and that’s absolutely fine, there are billions of others who do not, and cannot fit into the very narrow stereotypes of women’s beauty and fitness.

There are trans women, gender queer folk, and a whole spectrum of people who can benefit from strength training but don’t fit into the mould of beauty.

Women are not only capable of strength training with heavy weights, but benefit from it greatly. Strength training helps us stave off osteoporosis, it builds lean muscle mass and has great benefits in preventing cardiovascular diseases.

We don’t bulk up, we get strong. And frankly, we NEED to be strong.

Not to mention the strength – we shouldn’t overlook the strength

We aren’t delicate petals that need to be kept in glass houses, our day to day lives see us manage larger weights than are assigned to us in the average women’s gym and fitness class and we haul them around without thought only to go to the gym to pickup the tiny pink dumbbell.

So some truth bombs

Remember how I mentioned that our hormones had an interesting effect on our bodies and our training? Well they do. The lack of testosterone in the female body means that it’s nigh impossible to “bulk up” without the help of synthetic hormones.

Female bodies are cyclical, and we have to be aware of the impact our cycles have on our  training, including joint laxity, issues like pelvic health, and our bone mineral density-  but virtually all women can benefit from strength training. Strong muscles can provide a stable body that is less prone to injury.

You’re welcome in the weight room. You always have been. You’ve got as much right to be there as anyone else.

Strength training helps us build up that bone mineral density that prevents brittle bones, and if we missed that window, strength and balance helps us prevent falls and recover faster if they do happen.

I also mentioned our sweaty male counterparts… I spoke with them too:

Basically, the feedback I received from the men in the gym was they were pretty busy with their own workouts to notice anything much else going on in the gym.

You’re welcome in the weight room. You always have been. You’ve got as much right to be there as anyone else.

All good and well, but what’s actually wrong with my tiny pink dumbbell

Generally we can’t achieve very much strength with a 2kg dumbbell.  We need to be strategically challenged to build up our strength.

We don’t bulk up, we get strong. And frankly, we NEED to be strong.


September 15, 2017
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A recent study published in the American Journal of Cardiologists (online) has found that “Healthy Obese” people (those with no metabolic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol) are at a greater risk (49% greater infact) of heart disease.

Journalists have been incredibly quick to point out that this is absolutely devastating  for the body positive movement.  Which I think is inherently incorrect.

What does this mean for the body positive movement?

My understanding and philosophy on body positivity is Eat, Move and Think because you love yourself. This means making healthy choices in moderation that are suitable for my body.

I eat a good range of healthy foods to address my nutritional needs (put simply, all things in moderation, mostly plants, not too much) I move my body to keep it flexible, strong, and within a normal weight range. And I seek out scientific information to support my philosophies, and adjust when necessary.

Does this mean we should shame all fat people?

Oh hells no!

Firstly, that’s cruel and mean, and just unnecessary. Secondly it won’t achieve much, other than a heap of sad, isolated, and disconnected people who are no longer listening to your meanness.

Thirdly, it’s our body and our choice as to how we live. We still cannot tell whether someone is healthy just by looking – all we know is that obesity carries an increased risk of heart disease.

What we do know about body positivity is that when people DO make healthy lifestyle choices that uplift them and come from a place of positivity and enjoyment, they make life long changes.

When we shame and bully people, we might get short term results, but that’s all they are; short term.

What does this study really mean?

Nothing new, really. It’s not groundbreaking to assume that obesity does put certain stresses on the body and can increase the risk of heart disease, and we all logically know that a healthy, nutritious diet, and active lifestyle are good for us.

A healthy diet and lifestyle is a really body positive approach to living. That part has always been common sense and part of the body positive movement.

If we’re going to encourage, inspire and uplift as many of our fellow humans as possible, we really should be focusing on helping shift the paradigms of what exercise and movement are.

Movement can be joyful and wonderful, and should never be a punishment. Food should be nourishing and pleasurable, and never something we have to “earn”

Encouraging people to make healthy lifestyle choices SHOULD be the responsibility of EVERYONE, but I feel that the body positive movement can really positively shape HOW we do it, how we FEEL about it, and how inclusive it is for everyone.

In Conclusion

In conclusion we here at Polkadotsi will ALWAYS encourage you to EAT, MOVE and  THINK because you love yourself.

No-one should EVER be ashamed of their body. It’s a literal miracle of statistics.

And we will always approach you from a place that you’re enough right now. Your past brought you this far, and your future is the only bit you can change.
If we can encourage you to fall radically in love with your amazing body, then we’re doing our jobs right.

 


August 22, 2017
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Are you after a hotter, more energetic life? Maybe you want to build some muscle and get some fitness? Or perhaps you just like how you feel in that post-workout endorphin rush. Whatever your reason, we’re down with that,  so we’ve rounded up some of the best online tools to help you move it move it!

Here are 3 workouts that you can do at home, in the privacy of your bedroom, with very little equipment! (except the hula hoop…. and I can’t recommend hooping enough… yay!) I got my hoop from the awesome people at Hula Hoops Australia!

If you like to push your boundaries, feel a sweat, fall in a heap and gain some serious fitness, you can’t go past

The Fitness Marshall

You guyssssss! You NEED to check out The Fitness Marshall on YouTube

Oh boy you’re going to sweat, sweat, sweat and love every second of it with the Fitness Marshall!
Dance along with Caleb as he guides you through funky pop music and some seriously cool moves.  Building your banging bod has never been more fun!

If the sweat of dance isn’t really your thing, check out one of the newest workout trends; Barre.

Barre Body

Barre Body

Created by yoga teacher Emma Seibold, Barre Body is a fusion of yoga, pilates, and barre.  You build strength, flexibility and fitness using ballet inspired moves.

Barre Body has a free online studio as well as classes and events available in her Richmond studio.

Are you after something entirely different?

Hula Hoop with Deanne Love from Hooplovers TV

Hula Hoop instructor Deanne Love

 

My most recent obsession is hula hooping, and Deanne Love from HoopLovers.TV is ah-mazing!

Let me put this in perspective, I’m the girl who couldn’t waist hoop at all until I turned 33, got an adult hoop, and followed Deanne’s tutorials.

Now I’m a woman on a mission! Hoop all the things and dance my way fit. I’ve got to say nothing leaves you feeling sassier and sexier than putting on a pair of booty shorts and shakin’ what your mama gave you!

 

Moving your body and getting your sweat on shouldn’t be something you hate. It should be something that ADDS to your life! Try something new, release those endorphins and #MOVEbecauseyouloveyourself.

 

Image credit:  SimpleFoto

 

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July 23, 2017

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Have I ever told you about the time when I was 11 and I peed my pants in front of my entire primary school carnival? I was at the front of the tunnel ball line, and the starter said “Ready, Set Go” and I ready, set went… in front of everyone. I was so embarrassed. I felt every eye at school watching as I couldn’t control the flood of urine. At age 11, I was still a bed wetter. I had urge and stress incontinence, and it took nearly two decades of my life to finally realise that this wasn’t normal.

Incontinence is mortifying. It impacts so much of our lives. It’s common, affecting 1 in 3 women. (Incontinence affects men too, but that’s a whole other article. There are some great resources here if you need them for the men in your life)

But it’s not normal.

You deserve to have a functional, competent, leak proof pelvic floor.

One more time for the people in the back: Urinary Incontinence is NOT NORMAL.

Because it’s so common, women aren’t seeking help for their incontinence, we’ve NORMALISED this dysfunction, and it’s got to stop. A recent survey found these statistics, and it’s enough to make me cry:

  • 45 per [of women surveyed] cent did not seek treatment because they didn’t consider it a serious enough health issue;
  • 77 per cent knew pelvic floor muscle exercises could prevent or improve incontinence, but only 2 per cent performed pelvic floor muscle exercises the recommended three times a day; and
  • Sneezing and coughing are the most common triggers of incontinence (68 and 65 per cent respectively).

Think about how we’ve normalised incontinence into our daily life, in our language “Piss myself laughing” “I laughed so hard I peed a little” in the media; we see ads for continence products, and in fitness peeing when you lift is nearly a badge of honour.

Think about how we’ve normalised incontinence into our daily life, in our language “Piss myself laughing” “I laughed so hard I peed a little” in the media; we see ads for continence products, and in fitness peeing when you lift is nearly a badge of honour.

There are different ways we leak:

Stress Incontinence:

Stress incontinence is when we leak urine under bladder pressure. Often when we sneeze, cough, workout, lift, laugh. It’s sometimes made worse after childbirth, as our pelvic floor muscles are stretched and weakened by the growth of our tiny humans.  As we age and approach menopause, our bodies produce less oestrogen (estrogen if you’re reading in the states!) Oestrogen helps keep the lining of the urethra thick and able to close and seal off.  As a result, some women will experience stress incontinence as they go through menopause.

Urge Incontinence

Urge is the sudden, overwhelming urge to urinate. Sometimes it’s referred to as an over-active bladder. When it’s functioning normally the muscle that controls the bladder relaxes as the bladder gradually fills up. When it’s full, you feel the urge to wee, and you go to the bathroom and empty your bladder. When you’re suffering from urge incontinence, the bladder contracts before it’s full – meaning you’ll suddenly need to pee, and you might not make it to the toilet.

Sometimes you might be up several times a night needing to pee urgently.

Research is still being done to truly understand urge incontinence, but we know that stress, caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks can make symptoms worse.

Functional Incontinence

Somewhat less related to fitness, but certainly related to women’s health  – functional incontinence is when a person doesn’t recognise the need to go to the  toilet, or doesn’t recognise where the toilet is, resulting in toileting in incorrect places. This can be due to factors such as dementia, disease, inability to be mobile to get to the toilet, and other environmental factors like poor lighting, chairs that are too difficult to get out of and poor eyesight.

Incontinence associated with chronic retention

When the bladder is not completely able to empty, the leakage of small frequent amounts of urine occurs as a result. Some signs that your incontinence might be related to chronic retention are: frequent UTIs, straining to pass wee, a weak or slow urine stream, and the feeling as though you can’t quite empty your bladder.

Chronic retention incontinence can be caused by a number of things including urethra blockages, prolapse, and some medications.

Where to get help

Now, I promised you that urinary incontinence was common but not normal, and that there was help available, right?! So here come the resources:

Start by speaking to a pelvic health physiotherapist (Physical therapist in the states) and establishing what kind of leak you’re leaking.  The road to recovery might be physical therapy (like doing your pelvic floor exercises), toileting habits work, work on your diet, and perhaps even mechanical intervention (There are little pessaries that physiotherapists can fit that support your bladder)

The key here is actually reaching out and getting help. Because you DON’T have to live with this as being normal. Prevention is better than cure, so address this now. You’re worth it!

Changing How You Train – This one’s for the Personal Trainers

I’ve heard it over and over “Wear a pad” or “Crossfit women pee when they lift” or “It’s normal to pee when you run”

And it annoys me immensely.

Firstly, to the trainers out there, STOP NORMALISING THIS STUFF. If you’re telling women to expect to pee when they work out you’re part of the problem and you need to stop. You really do.

I’ve heard it over and over “Wear a pad” or “Crossfit women pee when they lift” or “It’s normal to pee when you run”

The general advice from Pelvic Floor First for trainers is:

  • Avoid prescribing high impact or high intensity exercises that place downward pressure on your client’s pelvic floor, and
  • instruct them to monitor their pelvic floor whilst exercising, to make sure it isn’t dropping or pushing down.

However each client is an individual, and should be encouraged to become aware of their body, their limits, and what keeps them comfortable.  There is no one exercise that is “Pelvic Floor Safe” because frankly, everyone is different, and the ideal solution would be to build women up with functional pelvic floors who can enjoy exercise and not worry about leaking, or damaging their pelvic floor as they workout.

If You’re A Client of a Personal Trainer

You have the right to say “NO” to an exercise that you feel is making you hurt, leak, or worse.

Your personal trainer has a moral obligation to train you in a way that keeps you healthy and safe – if they’re not fulfilling that obligation, then you’re entitled to look after yourself and cease training with them.

In short, you can totally work hard, sweat, lift heavy stuff, put it back down, dance, run, and enjoy life to it’s fullest – but that shouldn’t include pee, at least not without your conscious input.

You deserve to have a functional, competent, leak proof pelvic floor.

 


July 2, 2017
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As a personal trainer and as someone who hangs out in a LOT of running groups (I love to run!)The question I get asked all the time is “Can I run during pregnancy?”,often followed by “did you see Amy Keil run the Boston Marathon?”  The short answer is yes, you can run when you’re pregnant, but there’s a big BUT.

If you’ve been running prior to falling pregnant, it’s generally safe for you to continue running provided you find it comfortable and pain free. It’s a great idea to check with your doctor and midwife to rule out any reasons you shouldn’t run.

I get it, running is fabulous, the endorphin rush, the fresh air, the challenge, the relaxation time, and the alone time are all really good reasons to continue on with our running regime, and I encourage you to listen to your body and make wise decisions.

Due to the changes in your body, you might find running more challenging, and feel that you get out of breath at a slower pace, or even earlier into your run. As your belly grows and your tiny human starts taking up more of your breathing space you might start finding it uncomfortable to run.  Many women change up their exercise regime by the end of the first trimester, because it’s uncomfortable.’

Now, here come the “buts”

Don’t run through pain

When you’re pregnant, your body produces a relaxin – a hormone that helps your ligaments to relax as you grow, and as you birth your baby. All good stuff. The trouble is this very flexibility that you need for pregnancy and birth isn’t always so great when it comes to sports and exercise, you may find the increased laxity in your joints can lead to injuries, pelvic pain,  incontinence, and aches and pains.  These are all good reasons to re-consider your running.

Don’t encourage your insides to make an escape bid for outside

The other reason that I advise my clients to re-consider running is that as your belly grows and as your tiny human grows there’s a lot of stress placed on your core and pelvic floor. If  you can imagine a baloon with a basketball in it, bouncing up and down, that’s kind of what is going on with your pelvic floor the more you bounce, the more the balloon stretches, the less it stretches back while that ball is there.

All of this can lead to incontinence and prolapse. We don’t want either of those things.

Exercising during your pregnancy has SO many benefits, and I encourage most of my clients to engage in a healthy, safe, exercise program. Sometimes that means changing things up for a little bit to keep you pain free and safe.

These are reasons you absolutely should NOT run during your pregnancy.

Yep. While exercise  is safe and recommended for most pregnant women there are a few situations where you really shouldn’t be exercising. The American College of Gynaecologists makes a list of absolute reasons not to exercise during pregnancy. These include:

  • Unstable Blood Pressure,
  • Restrictive Lung disease,
  • Incompetent cervix and or a cervical stitch,
  • Persistence 3rd trimester bleeding,
  • Placenta previa (after 26 weeks) ,
  • Premature labour,
  • Ruptured membrane,
  • Pre-eclampsia,
  • And pregnancy induced hypo-tension (low blood pressure),

But Chloe, I want to run, can I run during pregnancy?

If you’re going to insist upon running, assuming you have clearance from your doctor, then do listen to your body, stay hydrated, don’t push through pain, and if something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right.

  • Speak to your pelvic health physiotherapist.
  • Consider support gear
  • Insist on excellent, well fitting shoes (your feet may have changed shape and size)
  • Accept that you’re probably going to be slower
  • Don’t run during hot weather, or run indoors with air conditioning

In short

I encourage you to exercise, running if it doesn’t hurt or make you pee is a good way to get moving. However, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. Listen to your body, listen to your care providers and keep moving because you love yourself.
If you need to give up running for a little while, remember it will be waiting for you when you de-sprog (my fancy term for birthing your baby) and you can get your runner’s high on again.

 


July 2, 2017
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Hey you sparkly, glowing, goddess, you! Pregnancy can be an uncomfortable time for some women and one of the number one reasons I refer my clients to a physiotherapist is because they’re experiencing back and pelvic pain.

You know that exercising during pregnancy is great, right? And you know how to stay safe during your workouts by following a few sensible guidelines, and we love the idea of you making healthy life choices and getting a bit sweaty while you grow your tiny human!

Unfortunately a huge number of women experience pelvic pain, often in the sacro illiac joint (nasty-assed-pain in your lower back) or in their pubic symphisis (nasty-assed-pain in your pubic bone)

Unfortunately a huge number of women experience pelvic pain, often in the sacro illiac joint (nasty-assed-pain in your lower back) or in their pubic symphisis (nasty-assed-pain in your pubic bone)

But WHY, Chloe, Why?

As your belly grows, your core muscles stretch and weaken and you start producing relaxin in preparation for growth and birth, everything gets a bit loosey goosey, and can slip out of place, resulting in inflammation and pain.

Basically, all the lovely things that your body does as it prepares for labour and birth create the perfect conditions for your pubic bone and SIJ joint to get a bit cranky, inflamed and sometimes agonisingly painful.

So let’s look at the exercises you should AVOID so as not to aggravate already cranky joints, and keep your pregnancy as pain free as possible.

Avoid single leg exercises – loading up your SIJ and pubic symphisis joint with shearing forces when it’s already unstable can really hurt. Sometimes this can even mean walking in water is too much for the old joints.  Single leg movements like lunges, kick backs,

Avoid high impact exercises like skipping, jumping, metafit classes, and running are bad news for inflamed, cranky, sore joints.

Avoid wide legged poses – stretching a joint that is already inflamed and under pressure is going to hurt, and make it worse (I found this out the hard way personally, after trying to “heal” my pubic pain by sitting almost exclusively in tailor pose)  so avoid wide legged squats, lunges, lateral lunges, and basically anything that adds undue stress to your aching pelvis.

Basically, all the lovely things that your body does as it prepares for labour and birth create the perfect conditions for your pubic bone and SIJ joint to get a bit cranky, inflamed and sometimes agonisingly painful.

If you’re not cringing reading all of this, you’re doing better than me writing it, I have my legs firmly squeezed together.

The good news is there are still plenty of exercises you CAN do to stay fit and active during your pregnancy. Modify your workouts so that you’re seated, supported, and stable through your pelvis.

Some basic exercises that you can include in your regime are:

And depending on what else is going on in your body your personal trainer can recommend a workout regime to keep you stable and pain free.

If you are experiencing SPD pain, then there are things you can do!

  1. Speak to your doctor
  2. Speak to a pelvic health physiotherapist (do it do it do it!)
  3. Wear support garments (speak to your physiotherapist and get a GOOD quality one)
  4. Take care as you move, especially getting in and out of cars and bed. Keep your legs together.
  5. Apply ice/heat if it gives you comfort
  6. Support yourself when you’re sleeping with pillows, and try and lie on your side.

While pelvic pain is really common in pregnancy, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that it’s normal. The pain can be managed and sometimes alleviated altogether with physical therapy and support.


June 23, 2017

Have you ever met someone who is SO not body positive?

Body shame is rife in so many areas of our online and in real life lives. We’re constantly bombarded with messages that healthy only comes in one shape and size (and it’s usually small, photoshopped, glowing and has no pores) Because those messages are so prevalent, it’s easier to toe the body shame line than it is to opt out and embrace the concept that healthy isn’t a size and that all bodies can be good bodies.

So how do you deal with those people who insist that YOUR body isn’t okay, or that there’s only a narrow scope in which to be healthy? I’m not for a second going to suggest that it’s easy, or even simple.

  1. use the power of your ignore, block, and delete buttons
  2. surround yourself with people who build you up
  3. Remember, you’re enough, and deserve to celebrate your individuality.

Check out my video on how to deal with body shame.

If you’re experiencing body shame, and need an extra hand feeling secure about yourself, I invite you to come and hang out in my body positive community, Polkadotsi.


June 6, 2017
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I’m a mum of four little boys. My life is often filled with rough and tumble, penis jokes, farts, and various smells that I never would have considered human. Occasionally we have the help of an au pair, and my first instruction to them is their  role is to make sure the house doesn’t burn down. They ALWAYS think I’m joking until I show them where the fire extinguishers, fire blankets, and evacuation plans are kept.

four little boys. Life gets chaotic at times
Four little boys. Life gets chaotic at times.

We home educate, I run my own business and my husband is a busy software engineer. Life can be a bit chaotic at times.

I’m important. To me and to all of them.

In the early days, a lot was a blur. I flitted from day to day just hanging on to get through one to the next. Everything was about my children, their washing got done, they got bathed, they had new clothes bought for them, they had the bigger serves of food, and I heroically went without. As the boys have grown and I’ve grown with them I’ve realised the power of prioritising my own care as well as theirs.

I grabbed a couple of extra children for the sake of this photo. Cue, “Aunty Chloe”

You see, while I’m not the main financial contributor to our family, I’m the centre of it. I’m the middle of the night parent, the iron the shirts wife, the where are my socks mum/darling, the what’s for dinner, and have you seen my book, mum and wife. They’d be okay without me no doubt, but it would be a different life, and certainly not one that anyone is wishing for. I’m important. To me and to all of them.

Self care is a term that appears all the time in mummy blogs, and coaching sites and spiritual sites, and all it really means is prioritising your own care as being important. Because, like me; you are important too.

So here are some of my favourite super snuggly things that I like to do to prioritise my own self care (some of these are pretty odd, but once you have four boys, and you haven’t pooped on your own in years,  you’ll get it):

  1. Enjoy a HOT cup of tea, alone
  2. Take a bubble bath on my own
  3. Go to the bathroom with the door closed
  4. Wear headphones and listen to my favourite podcast or album uninterrupted
  5. Go for a walk
  6. Meditate
  7. Journal
  8. Write swear words in said journal
  9. Write said swear words in calligraphy in said journal
  10. Lie on the grass and just look at the clouds
  11. Wander through a garden
  12. Eat a delicious slice of my favourite cake and not share
  13. Have a hardcore sweaty session at the gym
  14. Paint something
  15. Play with messy, glooopy, clay
  16. Listen to a mindfulness app
  17. 10 deep breaths, uninterrupted
  18. Go for a run
  19. Pat the dog, and just “be”
  20. Cuddle up in bed with the kids and watch a movie
  21. Cuddle up in bed and watch a soppy girly, very chick flicky movie
  22. Catch a comedy show
  23. chat on the phone to a dear friend
  24. Make, then eat soup!
  25. Take photos (or indulge in whatever hobby is taking my fancy at the time) (sometimes I crochet)
  26. Sit and listen to the waves at the beach, or listen to the wind in the trees
  27. Wake up before dawn and watch the sunrise and enjoy the quiet before the house wakes up
  28. Have a pedicure/manicure
  29. Speak to my therapist

Being a mum is hard work. Sometimes it’s not even rewarding hard work – it’s just work. And on those days it’s more important than ever to take care of you.


June 6, 2017
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Are you ready to return to exercise?  Let’s talk about that!

Firstly let’s look at your priorities. Are you making healthy choices that will support your body, mind and soul? Are you choosing you, mama bear? So much has changed in your body, it’s a time to honour that.

There is SO much pressure for you to bounce back and snap back into your pre-pregnancy jeans and I want to alleviate some of that pressure. There is time, mama. In fact, there is so much time that you don’t ever have to do any bouncing or snapping if you prefer not to.

This timeline is to help you gently strengthen and heal your body so that you can get MORE out of life, not take up less space. After all, you deserve to feel utterly fabulous, am I right?!

Before returning to ANY exercise program get clearance from your doctor and pelvic health physiotherapist. Movement is meant to heal you and help you, not set you back!

Weeks 1-4: Easy Does it, rest.

These early days are perfect for allowing your body to do what it is naturally designed to do. Recover on it’s own.  Speak to your care provider about support garments if you feel you need an extra hand. I’m a huge advocate of cheap shape wear – you don’t necessarily need the top of the line stuff. Just something that gives your body some support and a nice firm “hug”

You can use this time to do your pelvic floor exercises a few times a day.  It’s also a nice time to spend taking deep belly breaths to help restore the core/pelvic floor connection.

Weeks 4-8: Gentle Exercise

This is the perfect time to start getting some fresh air and walking. You can incorporate some gentle resistance exercises that are pelvic floor and tummy safe. I have a guide on the first exercises you can do to incorporate into your routine right here. It’s only $7, and it’s the very first workouts that you can do to gently strengthen your core, pelvic floor and help your body heal.

Weeks 8-12: You’re probably feeling stronger and back to normal

Unless you have any injuries that need specific attention, your body has probably done a great deal of it’s own healing so far. This is the time during which you can start adding more of your regular fitness routine back into your repertoire.

Continue working your pelvic floor and strengthening your core, and add some more resistance exercises.

Be sure to choose tummy safe exercises and no planks, situps, v-ups, burpees, crunches, etc just yet.

Weeks 12 onward: Back to sports

By this stage all things being equal you should be feeling pretty much back to your old self. Or perhaps not, you might be taking longer and that’s okay too. If you can complete exercise without pain and or incontinence, you can most likely get back into your old routine.
Consider making a few changes to protect your core and pelvic floor. Switch your front planks for side planks, and make sure if you’re lifting, you’re not holding your breath.

If a movement is making you pee, or push out on your tummy – substitute it out.

There are so many effective ways to move your body that don’t hurt you, so be sure to choose them over things that leave you feeling incontinent and sore.

 


March 23, 2017
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Squats are a fantastic and relatively safe exercise for pregnant women. We get asked all the time, are squats safe in pregnancy? At Polkadotsi we train pregnant women to be strong, stable, and have the best birth they can.

An active birth has many benefits, and being able to stay mobile can help with pain management, blood flow to the baby, and reduce the likelihood to use epidural medication.

Squats are safest done with body weight only, unless you have clearance from your doctor to load and add weight.

So why are squats so fantastic during pregnancy? And what is the point in subjecting ourselves to this particular exercise?

Squats build your leg and glute muscles

A strong butt means a stable back! It also can mean you’re more able to have an upright, active, labour. And let’s face it, we all want an easier labour, am I right?!

Strong glutes can mean less lower back pain (hurrah!)

During pregnancy, we have a lot of relaxin in our body – this is BRILLIANT for labour because we want our pelvis to be nice and flexible to accommodate a baby. It’s NOT so fantastic for maintaining stability in our lower back. Squatting during pregnancy means we can create a strong core and glutes to help keep your back safe.

When executed correctly, squats can help with your pelvic floor

There are some schools of thought that suggest squats might be a more effective exercise for pelvic floor function than kegels – personally, I see the benefits of both challenging the pelvic floor muscle dynamically using squats, and being able to isolate the muscles that help us control continency via kegels.

Hey Chloe, Ina May Gaskin said I should squat 300 times a day

Ina May, for all of her brilliant advice is in direct opposition with me on  this one. I do NOT think you should be squatting 300 times a day, especially not when you’re pregnant.

All you’ll do is overwork your muscles, end up sore, and most likely injured.

You can have too much of a good thing, and frankly there is no association between squats and the speed of your birth.

3 sets of ten is enough thank you very much. And that’s ONLY if it feels good to do.

When is it NOT okay to squat

Before engaging in ANY exercise program, always follow the advice of your doctor and ask them if squats are safe in pregnancy for you. Stop immediately if:

  1. It hurts
  2. You have a medical condition that makes squatting dangerous,
  3. You call under any of the pregnancy exercise contraindications
  4. Your doctor has told you NOT to squat
  5. It doesn’t feel right.

Remember, NEVER undertake any exercise program without the advice of your doctor.

Are squats safe in pregnancy