Body-Neutral vs. Self-Love

Sometimes practicing self-love can feel incredibly forced and fake. We know we should be kind to ourselves, we know we should speak to ourselves like a loving friend, blah blah blah. But on those days, or weeks, or months, when you're just not feeling it, it's almost impossible to practice that lovey-dovey self-love talk when it feels so far from what you're REALLY thinking.

What's helping me a lot as of late is implementing something I learned in one of Neghar Fonooni's courses last year: start with neutral. If you're feeling like crap and picking your body or life apart piece by piece, while saying "I LOVE myself and I look AMAZING!" may help, it may also send you into a deeper negative funnel, fuelled by the the insincerity you're showing yourself, and the fact you now just lied to yourself, on top of already picking yourself apart. Oh viscous cycle.

Instead - find NEUTRAL, and deliver your statement purely as FACT, not opinion. For example, "I'm bigger than I was before having my baby," or, "I'm carrying more fat/less muscle than I was before" are both NEUTRAL FACTUAL statements. Comments riddled with opinion, or those that are negative, or overly positive may not be of much help to you, if any at all.

This weekend I put this into play when we went to an indoor pool for the first time with our daughter. Initially I said I'd come but just watch, using a sore shoulder as my excuse for sitting on the sidelines. But I knew that deep down inside I was partially trying to avoid my bathing suits for the first time in almost 2 years. As I walked to my dresser I said out loud to my husband, "I'm going to wear a two piece today and I'm not going to cry."

I stepped in front of the mirror to ensure the bathing suit I had put on covered me in a public pool appropriate way (turns out my 95% of my pre-baby bathing suits are not mom-at-public-pool-appropriate) , and before the rattling of negative thoughts could spiral out of control I simply observed, "my body is different now, it has more fat than it used to." That's it. Move on. Factual, and neutral.

I can honestly say I have absolute love and respect for my body in what it can and has done for me - it's freaking amazing, and it will continue to be amazing, I hope, for many more years to come. But in this phase where things feel like they've changed SO much SO fast, I don't need to falsely say I 100% love how I look right now. And that's 100% okay.

Try neutral, and try factual. Maybe one day the more positive, kinder words will flow easily. Maybe not. But in the meantime, this neutral space is a much better place to be than being subject to the mean girl voice and all she has to say.

I refuse to miss out on seeing my little girl giggle and laugh and splash and shriek with excitement in the pool, and see the look of joy mixed with fatherly love on my husband's face as he tosses around the little girl we at one point didn't know if we would ever have, all because I'm too ashamed to put on a bathing suit.

And guess what, no one in the entire pool gave a single f#@k about how I looked.

Now you might be wondering, "if you're trying to be exude body confidence, why did you just post your bathing suit and not you in it?". The answer is simple. For one, #internetcreeps. Second, how my body looks should have no impact on your own thoughts of your body. We all have our own story, our own body, our own insecurities, our own strengths. If you can relate to this story, amazing, but I want you to relate to it through your body, not mine. Make sense?

Lastly - why did I post the picture showing the back of my daughter's bathing suit instead of the front? Because that's how she came out of the change room after being dressed by dad. Him, "I think it's on backwards." #dressedbydad

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CrossFit Open Workout Considerations

The Open has begun. An exciting time to test yourself, cheer on your friends, and partake in some loud and energized events. 

A time when, if you're pregnant or early postpartum, can be really hard mentally. You know you could probably do the scaled version, but should you? See my last post for reasons why I would recommend revisiting why you're doing the Open this year if you're pregnant or early (less than 2 years) postpartum.

If you are pregnant or postpartum but still want to take part, each week I'll be outlining some considerations in a Facebook Live on Friday's at 2:15pm MST, as well as posting a summary here on my blog.

First off, my disclaimer. Your body is unique, and you and your professional medical team know best what is and isn't appropriate for you at this time, and/or what you are cleared for. Please consult with your Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, Midwife, OB, or Doctor to ensure what you're partaking in is right for your body. I am only providing suggestions on possible ways to modify the workouts - there aren't THE modifications, they are just some ideas on ways you can alter the workouts that may work better for some bodies. The best modifications will be unique to you, and will involve assessing your breathing technique, your alignment, and your execution of the movement itself.

Let's get to the workouts.

18.1 - 20 min AMRAP

  • 8 toes-to-bar (scaled: hanging knee raises)
  • 10 DB hang clean and jerks (Rx: 35lb, scaled: 20lb)
  • 12 cal row

Modification

20 minutes of continuous movement (not balls to the wall - form before fast)

  • 8 KB swings OR 8 ring rows
  • 10 DB hang clean OR 10 DB single arm push press
  • 12 cal row OR bike for equivalent time

Considerations

  • Toes-to-bar: Consider the huge amount of pressure these place on your core and pelvic floor. If you insist on doing them, at the very least have someone watch your stomach for coning. [What is coning? It looks like a little mountain ridge popping out of the center of your stomach, usually most visible at the belly button but it can travel both above and below the belly button. It appears due to the internal pressure being forced out through the separating abdominal muscles (diastasis recti)].
  • Hang clean and jerks: Consider lowering your weight to one that you are easily able to breath through, *no breath holding! Consider how well you can get the weight overhead for repeated reps without sacrificing your alignment, and thereby affecting your pelvic floor pressure and functioning of.
  • Row: Again have someone watch your abdomen for coning, and ensure you are implementing a breathing technique that supports your core and pelvic floor. An alternative if you continue to experience coning, or if you're pregnant to the point it's uncomfortable, would be to swap out the row for a different cardio machine - bike, high incline treadmill walk, etc.

18.2 - 12 minute time cap

  • A) 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
  • Dumbbell squats (Rx: 35lb, Scaled: 20lb)
  • Bar-facing burpees (Scaled: stepping burpees allowed)
  • B) 1-rep-max clean

Modification

  • A) 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
  • Dumbbell squats
  • Incline burpees, with step over bar
  • B) For remaining time left, perform an EMOM of 5 DB hang clean

Considerations

  • DB squat: Consider lowering the weight, changing your breathing pattern to recruit your pelvic floor and avoid bearing down on your pelvic floor, assess your alignment for better functioning of your pelvic floor and core system, and consider shortening your range of motion (not going down as far).
  • Burpees: With burpees, consider the pressure they cause on your core, and with jumping over the bar consider the impact of the jump on your pelvic floor and also on your pelvic joints which are loose due to pregnancy hormones (relaxin). A less core intensive alternative would be incline burpees, and a more pelvis friendly alternative would be stepping over the bar.
  • 1-rep-max clean: I'm just going to say it... don't do it. What are you testing at this point by doing a 1RM? What are you risking to your pelvic floor? Pelvic floor aside, cleans are an explosive and powerful movement, one where completely healthy athletes who've never been pregnant before have injured themselves. I am not against max testing, but why risk damage to your body for this one thing. I PROMISE you, 1-rep-max testing is still going to be a thing when your body is ready for it:)

Week three, and it's a little insane on the skipping, no?! Even if you aren't pregnant or postpartum this is a crazy amount of volume for your pelvic floor. As I've mentioned before I experienced incontinence well before having a baby, and I have a feeling a ton of women will be slightly fearing this workout. If you are - I highly recommend finding a pelvic health physio in your area to help you with any incontinence issues - it's not normal at ANY age, and a pelvic health physio can help you address this.

18.3 - 14 min time cap:

2 rounds:

  • 100 double-unders
  • 20 OH squats
  • 100 double-unders
  • 12 ring muscle-ups
  • 100 double-unders
  • 20 DB snatches
  • 100 double-unders
  • 12 bar muscle-ups

My take one it is...

Modification for 18.3

1-2 rounds, 14 minute time cap of continuous movement (not as hard as you can go for 14 minutes):

  • 10-15 calorie assault bike OR 250-350m row
  • 20 goblet squat or front squat
  • 10-15 calorie assault bike OR 250-350m row
  • 12 ring rows + 12 floor press
  • 10-15 calorie assault bike OR 250-350m row
  • 20 DB snatches OR 20 DB hang snatches
  • 10-15 calorie assault bike OR 250-350m row
  • 12 ring rows + 12 floor press

Considerations

  • Double-unders AND single-unders are intense for your pelvic floor, and in my opinion, should be left out of any pregnancy programming, and while it can be introduced into a postpartum program when the individual woman is ready for it, and has worked up to it, it should be introduced slowly and systematically. Definitely not 100 at a time, for multiple rounds. It comes down to risk - I want mom's to know why we're asking them to be kind to their pelvic floors - they've gone through a lot no matter if you had a vaginal birth or cesarian, and even if you don't have diagnosed prolapse, it's still just not worth (in my opinion) the stress on the pelvic floor.
  • OH squats I would take down to a front squat (bar) or goblet squat (KB or DB) - reason being is an overhead position can mean more rib thrusting, versus a front squat where your core is definitely forced to work, but in better alignment.
  • The deal with the muscle-ups and variations is similar to the discussion on pull-ups from last week and the pressure it puts on your abdomen.
  • DB snatches may be okay for most, but I would again consider load, and perhaps doing a hang snatch as well.

18.4 - 9 min time cap:

21-15-9

  • Deadlifts 155lb (Scaled: 95lb)
  • Handstand push-ups (Scaled: hand-release push-ups)

21-15-9

  • Deadlifts 205lb (Scaled: 135lb)
  • 50-ft handstand walk (Scaled: bear crawl)

My take one it is...

Modification for 18.4

9 minute time cap of continuous movement (not as hard as you can go for 9 minutes):

11-7-5

  • Deadlifts at a reduced weight
  • Push-ups, incline push-ups, or DB push-press

11-7-5

  • Deadlifts at a reduced weight
  • Farmer Carry for 50-ft

Considerations

  • Volume: Without even looking at the individual exercises themselves, it works out to 45 reps of each exercise per round, and 180 reps TOTAl for the whole workout. 90 of those 180 reps are just deadlifts. So. Much. Volume. So my first recommendation? Tone down the volume. Above in my modification I've cut the volume in half, for a total of *only* 92 reps for the whole workout, leaving *only* 46 deadlifts.
  • Deadlifts: With the volume issue addressed above, the next thing to take note of is the weight. While the scaled weights of 95lb and 135lb may fall under 50% of your 1RM, the point isn't really about what your 1RM is, or was, it's about the load you're putting on your pelvic floor and core, period. 135lb, whether 75% or 50% of your 1RM, is still 135lb being moved over and over for 46 (or 90) reps. That is A LOT of weight. 90 reps of 95lb is 8,550lbs moved. WHOA. I know. I'm throwing a lot of math out today, but bottom line: volume and reps add up to a lot of load for your pelvic floor. So please consider reducing that load, giving yourself time to work up to form, load, and reps, before putting that level of strain on your system. In case you haven't followed previous weeks yet: we're in this for the long-term game, be kind to your body today so you can continue to play for years to come, hopefully symptom free (or at least close to).
  • Handstand push-ups & bear crawl: Core pressure considerations here again - how much pressure if being created, are you coning, are you able to control it with breathing and alignment?

Why the Crossfit Open Can Wait

Last year when the Crossfit open kicked off I was 7 weeks postpartum, a whole week past that magical 6-week clearance from my doctor to resume activity.

I went to one of the open events to watch and cheer, and was asked by someone as I held our 7-week old daughter, “are you competing today?” I thought the person was joking until I realized they weren’t, and while I think they were just trying to make polite conversation, I was baffled because I know this is the thought process of MANY in the athletic world. Six-week check up, mom was active, obviously she’s ready to hop back in, right?

Omg no.

I was struggling with anxiety hardcore at this time, and still incredibly sleep deprived. The importance of sleep cannot be emphasized enough - you cannot recover from workouts without sleep. Your central nervous system will not function properly without sleep. You cannot recover physically from childbirth - whether vaginal or c-section - without sleep. I’m not going to tell a mom, “sleep when baby sleeps” because I too was shooting daggers when I was told that, but I will say, if you aren’t getting adequate sleep yet - adequate uninterrupted sleep - maybe holding off on strenuous activity, particular the open, would be a good idea.

Sleep aside, let’s talk about the actual format of the open. It’s exiting, it’s loud, it’s fun, you push yourself and find out what you’re capable of, because you can’t help but get caught up in the music blaring, and friends and coaches cheering. You get out of your comfort zone, and when you leave the butterflies you went in with are replaced by a great feeling of accomplishment.

But, is your body ready? I don't doubt your mind is.

I don’t doubt you could go out there and do it all in the scaled division. I don’t doubt you might “feel fine” doing it. I definitely don't doubt your athlete brain is ready to go. And yes, you do have doctors clearance.

But can we think about this for a second? Your body grew a human, another entire human being, for 40 weeks give or take. Your pelvic floor supported that little being, plus an entirely new organ your body made just for one purpose, plus increased blood volume, plus still kept you alive (though perhaps not thriving), for 40 weeks.

Then, you delivered that baby. I don’t care if you had the “easiest, no complications birth” ever - you GAVE BIRTH!! This isn’t like a little orthoscopic procedure where the doctor repaired a torn muscle or ligament - you delivered a human. And I’m sorry, but we got the short end of the evolution stick when it came to birth, because we don’t get to just dig up some sand, drop some eggs, and then hop back in the ocean and swim off like all we did was have a bowel movement. Sea turtles, I envy you a little. For us humans, childbirth is major on our body.

If I had had ACL surgery and was on the couch with crutches, I would have been waited on hand and foot. But deliver a baby the size of a melon, and it’s like, “so you doing the Open?" (or for non-Crossfitters, replace "Open" with any other pre-pregnancy activity in full force).

Moms, I COMPLETELY get your desire to want to compete and get back to normalcy. Trust me, I get that so much. But the one thing I hold on to continuously is that I want to be active and healthy for YEARS to come. Not just this year, not just this season. If going out and proving I can do something today means putting my body at risk for longer-lasting injury or life-long conditions, then it’s not for me. Not right now at least.

This is not a “never do Crossfit again”, or “never run”, or "never compete”. This is my plea to you to hold off, just for now, for this short chapter, so that you can enjoy all those things well into your own real-life version of the Golden Girls, or Jerry’s parents in Florida (where my Seinfeld peeps at?). Is the reward of pushing too fast or doing too much now, worth the risk of long-term discomfort? For me, it's not.

This is also not a “be scared of working out.” You can absolutely work out. I encourage you to work out! But I know what type of people Crossfit attracts - because I am one. Lots of former varsity athletes, or currently competing athletes, or people who thrive on competition and want to be pushed. So I know that doing the open is not “just working out”. It’s pushing, it’s testing, and it’s intense. And as much as you tell yourself, "I'll hold back and be cautious", my guess is you won't drop and do deadbugs instead of toes-to-bar when it comes your time to go, with music blaring and the clock running.

So, for the sake of your pelvic floor, your healing diastasis, your lax joints from the relaxin produced during pregnancy (which also hangs around until 3 months post breastfeeding), maybe consider holding back, just this year. Build up your strength and conditioning slowly and steadily over the next 12 months, and then return.

While I'm 13 months postpartum now, time alone doesn't mean I'm ready. Because of a nagging knee injury that flared up in pregnancy and postpartum, plus finally getting a rotator cuff tear diagnosed (3 years later) my workouts have been incredibly few and far between, and I have not had the chance to build that base back up. And it really does need to be built back up, gradually and methodically.

You will get stronger. You will get your lungs back. Your pelvic floor will regain function so you can skip and box jump without fear of leaking. You’ll be able to kip without worrying about loose shoulder joints. You’ll be able to run without pelvic pain. But you have to give your body the time it needs to heal, and you have to take the road of slowly and steadily increasing weight, reps, and intensity.

Be the mom getting cheered on by her 5 year old in a few years, not the one continuously in physio over and over again for preventable issues. Sidenote: some issues are not preventable, some are handed to us without choice. But, causing prolapse or separating your abs from doing high volume, high load, high intensity? Preventable.

You’ll be back. And you’ll be stronger than ever. In becoming a mom, you’ve already become mentally stronger than you ever have been before in your life. Give your physical body the time and grace it deserves to come back to its strength as well.

For my local Calgary women, over the next 5 weeks of the open I’ll be hosting drop in classes where I’ll be modifying the open workouts to be postpartum or pregnancy friendly. If this is of interest to you, shoot me a message and we can do this slow and steady path back together.

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A Few of My Favourite Things

Here are some of my top pics for the active person in your life. Or yourself;)

My good intentions meant to have this to you sooner, but many of these item can be picked up easily around Calgary, and *most* shipping is still guaranteed before Christmas Eve.

 

    To Move

    1. Kettlebell + Resistance Bands + Dumbbells: For a home gym, these would be the bare minimums I'd recommend starting with. The versatility of these items will let you do tons of different movements!
    2. Swell Water Bottle: How I don't have one of these yet is beyond me. Keeps liquid cold, keeps liquid hot, and has designs to suit any taste. If I were to put one in my stocking this year, my pick is "Smokey Eye".
    3. Junction 9 gift cards: Give the gift of de-stressing! And I mean, there's always Raw Fitness YYC training packages available as well;)

    To Pamper

    1. Sucre Body Sugaring Boutique gift certificate: These ladies will make you feel brand new! Not only that, if you give them enough advance notice there is a kid's play room in case you need to bring your little ones, and don't want them in the room with you. Sometimes they are even baby-whisperers and you'll want to stay all afternoon.
    2. Distilled Beauty Bar gift certificate: Coffee, wine, nails. Turn off your phone and enjoy your time to get pampered!

    To Eat

    1. Little Tucker Energy Bites: To be honest my all time favourite will forever be the Snickers Bar, but the Energy Bites travel much better in your gym bag or purse or diaper bag. Perfect stocking stuffer.
    2. RxBar: Super simple ingredients, and they TASTE GOOD! Rare for protein bars (in my opinion). I have at least 3-4 bags of Lara Bites stashed between all my bags and the car. Fight the hanger with these stocking stuffers.
    3. Chef's Plate gift certificate: They deliver all the ingredients, pre-portioned, and with easy to follow to recipes, and you've got a delicious healthy meal in 30 minutes.
    4. Fit Kitchen gift certificate: Don't have 30 minutes? Fit Kitchen has pre-portioned meals for all times of the day plus snacks, offering small and large sizes so you can tailor to each person in your household.

    To Wear

    1. Nike Free Flyknit: A client gifted these to me for my birthday a couple years ago, and they are still my absolute favourite comfortable shoe. Bonus: If you're pregnant all the stretch in the fabric means you can double-knot those laces when you're still able to reach your toes, and not worry about un-tying them ever again!
    2. Nike Metcon: My favourite training shoe. I think I'm on my ... fourth (?) pair. Rigid enough to do rope climbs or Olympic lifting, but flexible enough you can still skip, run, or jump in them.
    3. Love for Lewiston apparel: Support an amazing cause while gearing both the bigs and the littles in some super comfy and cute gear. I have the Dance Party sweatshirt and I didn't take it off for 5 days. Maybe 6. Who's counting.
    4. Lululemon Wunder Under Hi-Rise Tight Full-On Luxtreme: The Align Pant was my pregnancy favourite because it's SO soft and flexible, but the Full-On Luxtreme in the Wunder-Under offers more coverage and shows wear (aka piling) much less than my Align's have.
    5. Lululemon Secret Sock: The best sock! When I wear socks that is. Fact: I hate socks, I am barefoot at home 99% of the year. These are so discreet I love them with both runners as well as casual shoes, and they have little heel grips on the inside to keep them from slipping down.
    6. Lululemon Namastay Put Thong & Hipster: The fabric on these is the softest ever. And moms, this thong is the ONLY thong I've returned to postpartum. You get me.

    To Read

    1. Bee Love, Kristen Hallet: An adorable gift for a little one, with the simple message we can all incorporate into our day, big or small, Bee Love.
    2. Unplugged, Brian Mackenzie, Dr. Andy Galpin, & Phil White: This book eloquently puts into words my feelings on all the technology for fitness. Personally, I believe we rely much too heavily on gadets to tell us when we're hungry, when we're full, when we've exercised hard, when we haven't exercised enough - and I just don't buy it (literally, and figuratively).
    3. The Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday: The number of times I've read the daily reading and been like "OH MY GOSH THIS BOOK JUST GETS ME TODAY" is pretty much every time I open it. Great if daily reflection or journaling is part of your day.
    4. The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown: This book makes it's way onto so many reading lists, for good reason. It's one of those ones you can revisit over and over and get something new from it. It reads with kindness, something we can all offer ourselves a little more of on a daily basis.
    5. Why Me Want Eat, Krista Scott-Dixon: An easy read, Krista Scott-Dixon provides a humorous take on our current diet-culture.

    A Letter To New Moms

    From this week until the end of December, we are expecting 7 new babies in our family and friends circle, and it got me reminiscing on those first days of motherhood. My daughter was born on the 7th, on a Saturday, so at this time exactly 9 months ago I was about to become a mom in less than 24 hours. And my world would be rocked!

    Just shy of my daughter being 2 weeks old, my cousin came to visit for some baby snuggles. With a gift was a letter she had written, passing on some sage mom wisdom being a mom of two herself.

    I BAWLED the first time I read the letter - I mean, I was 2 weeks postpartum and perhaps slightly (okay totally) overwhelmed and hormonal. But still. I think I only made it half way down the page the first time I read it because I literally couldn't see through the waterworks of tears.

    For any women about to become a mom, or perhaps has recently become a mom, I would like to pass on my cousin's loving words (with her permission), in the hopes that perhaps it will give you a bit of reassurance and comfort during this absolute whirlwind time. Let's be honest, I just re-read it and cried again, it's great advice no matter where you are on your motherhood journey.

    Let me start by saying how very happy I am for you and your new family! This is an exciting time that will without a doubt trump all other moments in your life thus far. As a fellow mom, I feel it is my duty to warn you about all the “super helpful” thoughts, ideas, and suggestions you will receive in the next while, and remind you that on those days you think you are going crazy…nope, you really are just normal. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts for you:
    A little advice on taking advice:
    Take all the “offered” advice with a grain of salt. Always remember, “mother knows best”…meaning you!
    When someone offers help, take it! This does not make you weak, this makes you smart.
    You will have those days that being short on sleep and overtired get the best of you, and you may look at that baby and say, “holy shit, what did I do!” Don’t feel bad, this makes you normal, and anyone that tells you they never had one of these moments is lying to you. Rest assured, when that sweet baby curls up in your arms and falls asleep to the rhythm of your heart, you will fall in love all over again.
    Your baby does not come with a program, as each and every child and situation is unique, so take what you want from all those baby self-help books, and brainwashing Google sites, and toss the rest away.
    Take guilt-free time for YOU! These are necessary sanity breaks, and YOU DESERVE THEM!
    Join a baby group, but don’t get caught up in the comparison game. Some women will tell you that their child is perfect no matter what…seek out the ones that make you feel normal, not inadequate.
    Lastly, don’t forget each other. After all, this baby wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the love that brought the two of you together. Some day that little baby will grow up and get a life of it’s own, and you don’t want to lose sight of each other and your marriage in the meantime. You will find date night takes on a whole new meaning once you have a baby – it means you get to eat a meal while it’s actually hot, wear something other than yoga pants and a hoodie with barf, poop, or snot on it, and perhaps even risk the idea of putting on a regular bra again, even just for an hour or two.
    I can’t wait to watch your little baby grow and become the beautiful little person she is destined to be.
    With Love
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    If it doesn't feel right, it's probably not right.

    If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right...or at least, not at this point in time.

    Have you ever initially been really excited about something, only to find that a short time later some invisible force is holding you back, delaying you from giving your attention to it, making you question, "what happened?".

    I was really excited to launch my new Raw Mindset + Nutrition Course last week.  I had structured it in a different way than previous nutrition courses I've offered, it was longer in duration, included new topics, and had a book to accompany the course. I even had tank tops picked out, ready to order as women signed up. I was SO excited to launch. Mostly though, I was looking forward to connecting with a new group of women, and watch them have personal breakthroughs and achieve personal growth.

    But something didn’t feel right. What didn’t feel right finally came to me, days before I was scheduled to start registration. Offering the course right now feels very disingenuous. It’s not because I don’t believe in what the course holds – I do, very much so. But it’s because I, myself, am not following what I lay out in the course, at this point in my life right now.

    I’m not going to pretend that I have it all together. I don’t. Motherhood hit me like an ocean storm. There have been calm periods, but there have also been some rough days where I barely feel like I have my head above the water. I don’t believe that makes me unfit to be a coach, I believe that makes me human. In fact, I believe it will make me an even better coach when the timing is right and I launch the course.

    During this time of inquiry, I've find myself asking (alot), "What does make me feel better?" One of the answers every single time is working out. Moving my body. Which, if you saw my Instagram story yesterday, you'll know that I hit a less than ideal number of workouts last month, at least for me when it comes to what I need to achieve positive mental health.

    It’s got me wondering - how many other women out there struggle to workout because it feels like there isn’t time? Like they may as well not do the workout if they only have time for half of it? And how many women want the community feeling that comes with group fitness, but doesn’t have a schedule or budget that works with those classes? (Or a baby who screams at all childcare options at various gyms, lol, just me?!)

    So while Raw Mindset + Nutrition is on hold, I have switched gears towards developing a training program that I hope will solve those issues above that I myself have been hitting over and over for many months now.

    I guess just chalk this up to life lesson #482: Despite the hit the ego may take, sometimes completely changing direction is necessary. It doesn't make you a fraud, and it certainly doesn't make you any less great.

    What is ONE thing you struggle with when it comes to working out? Drop me a line below or DM me, I'd love to hear your thoughts:)

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    Let's Talk Peeing During Exercise

    If the thought of skipping makes you worry about peeing your pants, you're not alone. Perhaps you avoid skipping - whether double-unders or singles, box jumps, going on the trampoline with your kids, or doing any sort of plyometric work, all out of fear of leaking. Maybe it's as simple as a cough or sneeze that causes an unwanted trickle. Or maybe it takes nothing at all.

    "Okay, yup, been there. I only wear black pants on days with jumping. Where are you going with this?"

    Good news - it doesn't need to stay like this for you forever. While very common, it's not normal for the human body to function this way. Common does not equal normal.

    I first encountered stress urinary incontinence in University as a varsity athlete on the track & field team. For me, the "stress" part that caused it was the plyometric component of our training, and often during the bounding exercises I would get a little of that unwanted trickle. I assumed it was normal, and was too embarrassed to ask my coach.

    Fast forward years later when I discovered Crossfit, and amoung fellow female class members we'd ask each other, "what's your number?" and know exactly what the other was talking about -  how many double-unders can you hit before you pee a little? The fact it's so common really does make you start to think it's normal, and that it just comes with the territory of being a female athlete.

    Keep in mind - both the track bounding and the Crossfit double-under issues happened years before I ever got pregnant. I didn't really think it was normal before having kids, and I had always heard "it's a mom thing", so I have to admit I was a little worried about what would happen to me once I actually did have kids, if I was already experiencing it pre-babies. This is what led me to Heather at Lakeview Physiotherapy while pregnant. I wanted to learn more about pelvic health, and what I could specifically do for my own health.

    For moms, there's definitely the "it comes with being a mom" reasoning, which is sad, because women are apparently walking around assuming this is normal, likely going to great lengths to avoid embarrassing moments, or missing out on potential fun social and energizing activities. Even seemingly innocent exercise like spin class too soon after having a baby can be too much, because let me tell you, there is no way doing anything with quick feet out of the saddle post-baby is an option until  strengthening of the pelvic floor has happened. When I took a spin class at about 2 months postpartum I let the instructor know that I'd be sitting during some songs because of where I was at with my healing process post-baby, and she openly told me she completely peed herself her first class back teaching after becoming a mom.

    What I want female athletes and moms (either pregnant or postpartum) to know is this: leaking is not a sign of normal pelvic floor functioning, and there is specific treatment to help no matter if it's  been an issue for you for one week or a decade.

    The best kept secret around that particularly every athlete and mom needs in their life is the pelvic health physiotherapist.

    If you're wondering a) what & where your pelvic floor is and b) "there's physio for that?" - then stick around, you're in the right place. I'll dive into "what & where" your pelvic floor is another day, but for today, know that there are experts who can help if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms from the list below, taken directly from the Lakeview Physiotherapy website. And fellas, this isn't just for the ladies! Men can experience any of these symptoms as well, aside from prenatal and postpartum of course:

    • "Urinary problems such as incontinence (leaking), frequent peeing, urgency
    • Bowel problems such as incontinence (leaking) and constipation
    • Pelvic pain - inside and outside the pelvis
    • Painful or difficult intercourse
    • Prenatal and Postpartum
    • Before and after pelvic surgery."

    If there is one thing I have changed in my life over the past few years, that's gotten me much more satisfactory results across the board, it's this: Go to the experts for whatever it is you are seeking.

    Want a cupcake? Go to the bakery that sells cupcakes and maybe one or two other products - their cupcakes will far surpass a grocery store that caters to all food needs.

    Have any sort of issues going on in and around your pelvis? Go to the pelvic health physio - this is their area of expertise! When asked about when woman should seek help, Heather's response was:

    "When a woman should see a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist really depends on the client. If a woman feels that Pelvic Health Physio could be helpful for her, the Physiotherapist can do an assessment and develop a treatment plan. If a woman is uncertain, particularly during pregnancy, she could ask her physician or midwife if Pelvic Physiotherapy would be appropriate at that time." - Heather Enns, Lakeview Physiotherapy and Acupuncture

    If any of the above sounds like you, I encourage you to book in with a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist. Heads up there will likely be an internal exam, however a consent form must be signed first so you are definitely able to skip the internal exam if you aren't comfortable with this. But keep in mind the information you can receive from an internal exam will be very beneficial to your treatment. The internal exam is a small portion of the appointments I have, with the majority of the time being spent on any one of the following: looking at my alignment, testing imbalances in muscle strength from side to side, treating imbalances (massage/release/dry needling), and working on breathing.

    My goals are simple:

    • To provide resources to athletes of all levels, so we can wear grey pants again on workout days.

    • To make sneezing & coughing comfortable again for the female (and male) population.

    • To educate pregnant and postpartum moms on their bodies, the changes they will go through, and how to minimize damage done to allow for faster and better recovery.

    • To spread this info around like wildfire, so that women (and men) can get back to the things they love without pain, discomfort, or embarrassment.

    11-14-17 Edit: I am so excited to announce this article was picked up by Impact Magazine, and am incredibly grateful that it has been featured in the November/December 2017 edition. To check out the digital version click here.

    Date & Dark Chocolate Banana Oat Muffins

    Nothing like a snowy grey Sunday to make me want to bake some healthy muffins as a great grab & go snack for the week!

    Note: If you're looking for a light airy fluffy muffin - this is not it. These will come out super rich but heavy with the bananas, dates, and peanut butter. However they'll also keep you fuelled up sans sugar crash compared to a normal coffee shop muffin.

    Makes: 24 muffins

    Ingredients:

    • 3 cups + 1 cup rolled oats
    • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
    • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 2/3 cup pitted dates, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes to soften (discard water once soft)
    • 3 bananas
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter (or your favourite nut butter)
    • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
    • 2 cups milk - I used unsweetened almond but any milk variety will do
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks
    • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

    The How-To:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and either line muffin pan with muffin papers or spray pan with coconut baking spray.
    2. In a food processor blend 3 cups of the oats, along with the flax seed, baking powder, and cinnamon until oats become flour consistency (a little chunky is okay!).
    3. Remove dates from water, and add dates, bananas, nut butter, coconut oil, milk, and vanilla extract. Blend until well mixed, and dates are thoroughly chopped.
    4. Pulse in or mix in by hand the additional 1 cup oats, chocolate chunks, and shredded coconut.
    5. Scoop by heaping ice cream scoops into muffin pan. Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

     

    Recipe credit: Inspired by runonveg.com "Peanut Butter Banana Bread"

    That feeling when "trusting the process" delivers your reward

    You know when you make a decision and at the time it really sucks because it means giving up something you really want right that moment (instant gratification) in exchange for something way down the road, and even though you know the trade off will greatly trump all those little "need right now" moments it's still so hard to trust the process at the time? And every time you have to pass on that want, over and over, you question, "is it worth it?".

    But then the day comes where your patience and months (perhaps years) of tough decision making rewards you. This applies to so many things in life. Today I got one of those long-awaited rewards after months of having to trust the process.

    I am so excited that 8 months of trusting the process has led me to this moment. Eight months ago I knew I needed to change my mindset on workouts, based on my knowledge of pelvic floor health and diastasis recti. I was doing Crossfit 5x/week, and am, as my husband describes me "insanely competitive". The competitive streak is directed against myself - I'm not trying to beat anyone else in the gym, just myself, always wanting to learn new skills or improve my previous weights or sets. While the gym is a great place to unleash this, it is not a good combo when pregnant and long term health and fitness well into my senior years is the goal.

    So I held back. I changed gyms. My pregnancy workouts felt more like my old warm ups did, but I trusted the process. Mentally it sucked a lot of days, trying to match logical brain to emotion-driven brain.

    I cried numerous times. I felt like I'd lost a piece of my identity. I've identified as an athlete for years, and as a trainer since changing careers a few years ago. And now I hadn't run in months. Hadn't touched a barbell in as many. My workouts involved lots of seated isolated muscle exercises. I missed my old coaches, and the noon crew that pushed me (and heckled me) and provided me a space to mentally reset each day as well as provided a physical outlet.

    I had melt downs when I wondered if I'd ever be able to do what I could pre-pregnancy again. But again, I committed to trusting the process. Some days I hated the process. I had to remind myself:  isn't being able to do 70% of what I could pre-pregnancy for the rest of my life way better than being able to do 100% of what I could pre-pregnancy but only for 2-5 years because of the damage and beating I'd do to myself by pushing for that extra 30%, just to "prove that I could"?

    The smile on my face today is after a visit to my pelvic floor physio, where I received that long term reward of being smart these past 8 months instead of just going for it because I could day after day at the gym. I don't have any pelvic organ prolapse and my ab separation is in a good place for only 6 weeks postpartum and the tone feels like it should at this point. This might sound tiny to you, but the alternatives I hear way too many women talking about post partum because they just didn't know how to care for their pregnant and/or postpartum bodies makes me incredibly happy to be where I am right now.

    This is just the first of a mini-series of blogs I'll be releasing, so be sure to check back if any of the below apply to you:

    • You like nerding out about body stuff.
    • You're an athlete who "leaks" (regardless of if you've had kids or not) - this was me in University when doing large amounts of bounding and plyometric workouts as a middle-distance sprinter. I just didn't know better.
    • You're currently pregnant.
    • You plan on being pregnant at any point in your life.
    • You've had kids.
    • You have someone in your life who fits the above and you want to help educate them about how to better care for their body.

    Stay tuned:)