Being a mother is HARD! I mean like no one ever told you it would be this hard, if they did you didn’t listen. And it does not get easier when they get older, it's just a different kind of hard.
Recent events have me crying as soon as my kid gets out of my car to go to school and as I watch them ride bikes leaving the house. Watching them go out into the world, while wanting to just hold them and keep them safe. Yet I refuse to live in fear or allow them to live their lives that way.
It’s not so long ago, I was sitting in a rocking chair nursing my baby for the third time that night crying because I was so tired, bone tired.
No matter your story or current place in this thing called Motherhood, no matter how much you love being a mother, it’s hard.
To survive, you have to take time to connect with other mothers to know you are not alone in this wonderful difficult all-encompassing journey.
Yes, I lead fitness groups. Let’s be honest, it’s truly about our collective mental health in the experience of Motherhood. Fitness is my path to helping myself and other moms believe in ourselves and know we can be the best mothers we can possibly be. The mothers our children need us to be.
Keep Moving Mama
As an athlete one of the most critical ways we can support our bodies is by providing fuel during long workouts. Often new athletes will do a long run or ride, drink plenty of water and then be baffled at why they are tired, out of energy or even dizzy. Simply fueling the body during the effort can provide the energy it needs to power you forward without slowing you down. Teaching clients to do this with whole foods often leads to "ah ha" moments.
You don’t need to fuel during an hour of gentle yoga or a 30 min run, eating well before and after are perfect here. Before hand enjoy a wheat tortilla with peanut butter, a scrambled egg with avocado, a Juice Plus complete shake, something with protein and carbs. Fueling during exercise comes into play with a workout over an hour with an intense workout.
Finding a fueling system that works for you takes trial, error and time. That’s why it should be part of your workouts and certainly part of your event training process. When looking for fuel, we want easily digested carbohydrates that will absorb quickly and give you a nearly immediate boost.
The fuel market is full of gels, gus, bars, chews, you name it. Flip it over, read the ingredients and see if you know what you’re eating. I do this with everything I eat already so there’s no sense in throwing that practice out the window with training. Athletes trained with whole foods long before this gu market exploded and there’s a great way to find balance here.
Whole food fuel options:
Honey sticks – you can often buy these at farmers markets if you have a local bee keeper. My local grocery store, Raleys, started carrying them in a box recently for a decent price a few years ago. Just bite off the end and squeeze out a little honey as you go. If you have trouble opening them on the run, you can cut a slice in the end before you leave, just carry them in a zip lock.
Raisins – my all-time favorite fuel. It’s so easy to eat a small raisin on the run, you don’t have to have water at the same time so you can feasibly eat them between water stations if you don’t carry your own. And cranberries, figs, blueberries or your favorite dried fruit can mix up your flavors.
Fig bars – Find a fig bar without high fructose corn syrup, cut it into small bite size pieces. Yum! Natures Bakery makes one that is available at Target, Costco and on Amazon.
PB & J – If I had to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, it would probably be peanut butter. So it’s no surprise that making a peanut butter sandwich, cutting it into small pieces is one of my go-to fuels. Potato bread is higher in protein, potassium and sugar than wheat. Protein is go power, potassium is one of the electrolytes you need during exercise and sugar is a quickly digested carbohydrate.
Nut butter pouches – Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and honey peanut butter are some of the single serve pouches widely available. Justins has several varieties. These are a water required fuel option, you’ll be literally tongue tied trying to eat even a little bit of these without water. But they are a quick grab and add variety.
Stingers – on one particular run, I discovered I’d dropped my fuel zip lock and changed my route to pass the local running store. They had these honey stingers which met my need to have something on the go, while still being mostly whole food ingredients. My nod to living in the real world and not being psycho with my whole food quest.
Zip lock bags are perfect with fuel. An open honey stick is not your friend at mile 8 oozing out of a pants pocket. The snack size small enough to fit in a pocket, or easy to store in my race belt (fanny pack who are we kidding). I have also found these reusable bags if that’s your thing.
Buy a few options or raid your pantry for some foods you have already. Start by eating a small something every 30 min. then play with that. Is 20 min better, 45? If you are training for an event, find out how often there are water stations available and try matching that interval during your training. Again, training for an event has to include practicing fuel options. Over time you’ll discover you really can fuel with whole foods.
Do what you would tell your kids to do. Wear clean underwear and eat good food.
Keep Moving Mama
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It's a law of physics, if you can just get STARTED you CAN keep moving. One foot in front of the other becomes a mile, becomes a habit, becomes a way of life. Let's get moving girls and KEEP MOVING!
This by far is the most common injury my running and walking clients ask about. My husband and kids also have flat feet and plantar fasciitis commonly goes along with that.
Symptoms of Plantar Faciitis:
If this sounds all too familiar, seek out a doctor’s advice. If it is confirmed to be plantar fasciitis there are a number of things you can do at home to speed recovery and reduce reoccurrences.
No flip flops
I know, it’s no fun at all. Flip flops do not provide support and make the arches work extra. Forgot walking barefoot too. Choose shoes that provide arch support and cushion…athletic shoes are best. If you are a runner or long distance walker it is well worth having your local running store watch you walk and fit you in the proper shoe. Even after you recover limit flip flops and bare feet as much as possible.
After exercise be sure to stretch the muscles along the heel and arch of the foot. A simple calf stretch works perfectly. Use a curb or step to increase the range of motion in this stretch.
Keep moving tip: My husband has had great success with the Pro stretch. It allows you to do an effective calf stretch anywhere. Keeping it next to where you put your shoes on as a reminder to stretch first may help.
Draw the ABCs
That shooting pain when first out getting out of bed is a typical of plantar fasciitis. Before even getting out of bed, hang your feet over the edge and use your whole foot and ankle to draw the ABCs. This stretches and strengthens the muscles that tend to tighten when we sleep.
Oh nelly! This one is a tough one but really controls the swelling around healing tissue. After exercise or stretching, fill a large tub with ice and water. Stick your foot in and keep it there as long as you can stand it. Till numb is best. Repeat this several times a day.
This therapeutic tape used by physical therapists is now commonly available. KT tape is my preferred brand. Tape one longer piece from the ball of your foot over the heel and anchor it to your ankle. Then another shorter piece the opposite way, starting inside your arch over the initial strip and across to the outside of the ankle. This taping method provides a bit more support during activity, and is much less bulky than an ace bandage.
I firmly believe that active recovery from injury keeps your body moving and your mind confident. You need to rest your foot, but there’s no need to stop moving completely. Swimming, biking, weight training, pilates and yoga are great exercise avenues while your foot recovers. Warm up with gentle movement before exercise, follow exercise or prolonged standing with stretches to reduce the chance of reoccurrence substantially.
Comment below with your experiences and feel free to share, post, tweet and pin for others.
Keep moving mama,
On more than one occasion I have been accused of having an answer for everything. And I admit it’s true. I have made it my goal as a trainer to have an excuse for every excuse. Some see it as being a smarty pants, I see if as my job to keep mamas moving.
Today I’m tackling hydration. All sorts of excuses come back when this topic comes up. Truthfully though the benefits to being hydrated far outweigh the excuses. When you are hydrated:
Ok, you say. “I’m in” where do I start?
I strongly believe we are more likely to follow through with anything when there is a goal to work toward. For hydration, I prefer a more personalized goal than the traditional 8 glasses per day. Take your body weight in pounds (the real one, not whatever made up number is on your driver’s license) and divide it in half. Drink at least that many ounces per day.
Each time you finish a glass or water bottle write it down to keep an accurate total, you can even use your fit bits water tracker. The Make the Most of your Fitbit post gives more details on this.
Keep moving tip: Take note of the water in the potty. A dark color means you need more water, light color means you are doing great.
How you ask?
Here are a few time methods that have worked for not only me, and have been proven to work by my mom clients. Pick the ones that will work for you.
Keep moving tip: A ball jar is my water glass of choice, for other fun things to do with Ball jars try this Soup in a Jar idea.
A few exceptions
There are a few things that will bump up your need for water. Diuretics, these talk your body into flushing the water out a bit faster. The big one for us moms is coffee, caffeinated soda is another. Drink a cup of coffee? Add a cup of water to your goal.
Sweating during exercise means you need to replace that water. Add 4 -6 ounces of water for every 15 minutes of exercise. Smaller sips during exercise are ideal.
Now that you have both the reasons and a few tips to hydrate, it’s time to commit. Are you ready to hydrate and feel the difference? Comment below with your strategy and goal.
Keep Moving Mama
Originally published in Ardent Magazine Summer 2017
Balance shouldn’t be taken for granted, and it’s not a forgone assumption that you’ll lose your balance as you age. With a conscious effort to improve balance daily and a focus on it in our exercise programs we maintain our overall stability much longer. It’s when we don’t challenge our balance that it will decrease.
Many things can cause our balance to decrease, from a disease, to an inner ear infection, to a balance disorder and even poor posture. If you have noticed a sudden change in balance, it is worth checking in with your doctor. However, in the absence of these things simply adding imbalance into each day can result in large improvements at any age.
There are several ways to improve your balance in your daily life. Moms of young kids can take cues from their littles. Walk the tight rope on the curb, walk across the swinging bridge at the park or ride your bike along side your kids.
I often encourage clients to simply stand on one foot while they brush their teeth. Right foot in the morning, left foot at night. One clients mother did this after her doctors testing concluding that she was prone to falls. After 6 months, her doctor noticed a significant improvement at her return visit and retest. How easy is that?
Your dedicated exercise time can also be changed slightly to include balance improving exercises. Not to mention that we use up to 30% more calories when doing exercises that require stability.
While doing rows or any standing upper body exercise, stand on one foot.
Do exercises that use just one side of the body at a time such as single leg lunges, squats and calf raises.
Use a suspension trainer.
TRX and WOSS are two brands that use suspension systems for portable exercise equipment. These engage the core for stabilization helping to build balance. In an 8 week study of 12 subjects, ages 75 and older training twice per week for 60 minutes on a TRX, improvements were seen in both the Functional Reach Test (FRT) the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test. These tests are used to gage risk of falling in exercise and in medical settings.
Take advantage of uneven surfaces when exercising outdoors. Run on the granite path at Elk Grove park, do your lunges in the grass, try your plies with one foot on the curb.
Mix up the direction during your exercises. Combine squats and lunges in each leg set; a forward lunge, then a side squat, then a reverse lunge, repeating on the other side. Or move to the right for 10 squats, before moving left for the next 10.
Regardless if it’s a postpartum woman in my pilates/yoga class or personal training with a senior with arthritis in the hip, I include balance building exercises in each workout. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Keep Moving Mama
You know those moments in motherhood when you feel like you've got it all together?
HA! Just kidding, like that happens often, if ever. We are all just doing the best we can to love, feed and nurture our families and ourselves. Roll with it, embrace it and keep moving forward. You are surrounded by other moms doing the same thing.
Keep moving mama!
My family had a waterski boat when I was growing up and we spent most summer weekends on the lake. My mom tells us stories about how we learned to swim in the 6 person jacuzzi in our backyard and just jumped right off the boat into the water and swam.
You could say I have always known how to swim, but never learned technique. Despite that, I have done a few sprint and super sprint triathlons. That was me you saw starting last, with her head above water the whole swim portion, rarely a front crawl mixed in.
So this January, I managed to cause a herniated disk in my back just getting dressed. Yes, really. No great story here! Broken bones, twisted ankles, muscle spasms, strained calf muscles, IT band syndrome, and delivering two babies without medication have nothing on the pain of a this herniated disk situation. WOWZA.
Those first few months, just tying my shoes was near impossible, sitting in a chair or car more than 5 minutes caused pain down my leg and made my left foot numb. My left calf muscle just stopped working causing me to limp when walking. Early every Saturday morning I head out to mark trails for my Keep Moving Mama run/walk team with chalk on the sidewalk. Bending down to write the turn around points brought me to tears on more than one occasion. Pain such as this I have not known before.
A few weeks after the injury, I was referred to physical therapy. Does everyone LOVE physical therapy? They are magicians that figure out what is wrong and retrain your body to move correctly. With weekly treatments and exercises at home, my pain has subsided over the last 3 months. It’s not gone but it’s improving.
On my list of exercises was swimming. With my undeniable addiction to exercise I was losing my mind without running. So into the water I went. At first, just holding a kick board under my chest and kicking for 10 minutes was the limit. Then I built up to swimming on my back that long without the kick board. Then my back allowed me to try a few strokes.
Co-owner of Sunshine Swim Center, Kim Amali, teaches swim clinics for my triathlon teams. Typically, I am with the runners and make it to the pool at the end of the swim clinic. Knowing swimming was my new go to for cardio exercise, I rearranged things to get in the pool with my clients. This was completely eye-opening. Wow, you scoop with your hands? You keep your arms next to you not across your body? That’s how you put on a swim cap?
With this new found knowledge, I’ve started swimming laps. Like a real lap, back and forth and using arms and everything. Turns out, you can really get your heart rate up swimming laps. After not running and doing low impact cardio work, I can tell I’ve lost some of my stamina. But with swimming now in my routine I can see the light.
Truth be told it’s not my favorite exercise ever. It’s like a treadmill without any music or people watching. Capitol B-oring. Running outdoors is and group exercise are more my style. My friend Heather Anders recommended this great waterproof iPod and headphone set that makes a huge difference. With music, I can find my groove. Now when I’m swimming, getting winded and working hard, I’m thinking “I’m awesome, I’m an athlete, I can do this!” I love that feeling more than anything. Exercise is my addiction to the T.
It does not matter what your injury is, there is something you CAN do. Keeping your body working, learning a new skill, challenging yourself to go out of your box will get you through the challenge. Others have faced far greater challenges than this herniated disk, but it’s the challenge I currently face and am taking head on. Hope you do the same with your own challenges.
Keep Moving mama!
You have probably heard of salad in a jar, and maybe even tried it. Layering ingredients in a jar so that they will last for future lunches or any one the go meal is brilliant. This idea takes the same concept to warm, comforting, good for you soup.
These Asian inspired noodle soup bowls heat up in minutes and are totally filling. Layer your tasty ingredients at the bottom of the container, pile in the noodles, top with veggies and seal. When you are set to eat, just add boiling water to the pot and let it sit a few minutes. Crispy veggies in warm soup in minutes. Delish.
Soup In a Jar printable recipe
Makes 3 servings in less than 10 minutes
In a small bowl, stir soy sauce, wasabi paste, siracha sauce and chicken stock together. Pour 1/3 into each of 3 quart size jars.
Layer in tofu, veggies and put on the lid. Keep in the refrigerator up to 5 days.Fill the jar to the top with boiling water, put the lid back on and let sit for 5 minutes. Give it a shake, open and enjoy.
Tip: In quart size jars, the ingredients packed the jars to the top. If you prefer more broth, use a larger jar or make 4 jars.
Recipe adapted from The Londoner’s traveling noodles
Have fun with these, use ingredients you like or have on hand. They are completely flexible. Ball jars are my container of choice, I have a bunch around and they do well with hot liquids. Not to mention they’re just cute. My water glass is a quart jar too, it’s a thing.
When you give it a try let me know what you think, what variations you come up with. #keepmovingmama with your photos on Instagram so we can see your creations too!
Isn't that saying true? Starting is the hardest part?
Often we start too quickly and burn out. Or try to keep up with someone else who started a long time before we did and end up with an injury.
This is something I have found myself saying to clients over and over. Start with what you are physically and mentally able to do well. Stick with it and over time what you're able to do will change and you'll leave that first workout in the dust.
Share your experiences with this in the comments. Love to hear from you.
Keep Moving Mama!
Empowering women to build confidence through strength, health and community is the Keep Moving Mama mission. Comment to be part of the community.