Archives for category: Exercise

It’s the 3rd Trimester! I am one day into it, actually. Yesterday was the official 28 week marker. I have said this about 100 times this pregnancy, I cannot believe how FAST it has flown by. I should probably stop saying it. Ha!

I am still keeping up with all my fitness. I am still running. As a matter of fact I celebrated the start of my 3rd trimester with my fastest run since probably early on in the 1st. I even managed to go for an outside run yesterday. Instead of my treadmill.

On Thursday I ran over 2 miles, went to the Children’s Museum for the better part of the day, then swam in the pool before dinner. I did a Prenatal Jumpboard class on Friday. It was amazing. That is one Reformer accessory I don’t have yet and I will be purchasing one this week I think. Yesterday I ran and swam. Needless to say, today will be a rest day. With a swim, though, I am sure. I rarely get away without swimming almost daily. When you have an indoor pool and a 3 & 1/2 year old who has been swimming since he was 3 months old, it is hard to skip a day of swimming. I am not complaining though!

This was from the 4th of July. So I was just shy of 7 months.

 

July 4th. I am clearly pregnant!

July 4th. I am clearly pregnant!

You can see the 3 & 1/2 year old swimming his heart out in the background! My little sweetheart fishy. I am assuming this one is going to be the same, since he won’t know life without a pool to take a dip in. I plan to introduce him into the pool as early as I did Jackson, if not earlier. We are swimming people in this family.

I am still maintaing my clean eating. With occasional cheat moments. Which is kind of normal. By this I mean, I allow our family to have pizza night from time to time. Or I will indulge in some kettle corn. But for 98% of the time I am making my own meals and keeping it nice and fresh and healthy.

My husband is about done with painting the baby’s room. Today he will put together the crib. I have to order a mattress and a dresser. We are waiting on the glider to be shipped. It is all coming together.

Jackson keeps me busy as ever. He loves to do things and go places. And when he has had enough of our activities he will tell me he just wants to stay home for the day. I love being able to communicate with him so easily. Preschoolers are great that way. They are so honest and can tell you exactly what they are thinking. Sometimes it makes life interesting but for the most part it makes life a little easier. He is so excited to be a big brother. I didn’t really want a second child for the longest time. I planned on him being an only child. But now that I am 12-13 weeks away from having a 2nd, I know this was the right choice. Our first was born to be an older brother. He kisses my belly and rubs my belly daily. Here is he is giving me a check up, another thing he does all the time . “I want to check your baby”

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A few weeks ago on a walk to the park he said “I just wonder what his face will look like mom.” I think that every day! What a mature thing for a 3 & 1/2 year old to be thinking about. His heart is so warm and big that I feel we are giving him one of the greatest gifts. The chance to be a big brother and have that sibling relationship. I am aware not every moment is going to be sunshine and butterflies. I have two younger brothers of my own. I remember the brawls and fights between the 3 of us. Heck, sometimes we still go at it, but overall, that is a good love. Jackson is always thinking of Alexander. He wants to buy things for him. He gets worried if we have enough blankets for him and other baby items. Recently he asked me if we had any baby diapers. When I said we didn’t yet, he was very adamant that “We need to get some baby diapers!!!” Out of nowhere he asked me that. We were not even talking about diapers. These are the things his mind thinks of.

I mentioned I did my fastest run in months and trimesters. The time is not what I would consider fast on a normal run. As a matter of fact, if I ran a mile that slow while not pregnant I wouldn’t even talk about it. I was in the 12 minute/mile range! Yikes. I am normally in the 8:30ish range. So accepting how much I have slowed has been hard. I actually don’t talk about my time much anymore. I even turned off the voice update on my running app yesterday. When I am on the treadmill I usually have my iPad over the screen and just slide it over to see how far I have run. I know once I have the baby and start retraining myself I will get my times back to normal, since I have done it once before. So I try to not overly focus on my current snail’s pace. My trainer asks each week how much I run. Whenever I tell her I usually say something like “Oh only 2-3 miles each run” The other day she said “You say that like it is no big deal, but it is because you are 7 months pregnant!” I hadn’t thought much about it that way. I am 7 months pregnant and STILL running multiple miles a week! That is a great achievement, no matter how slow those miles end up being.

Before my run at 28 weeks exactly

Before my run at 28 weeks exactly

I am looking forward to the rest of this trimester and eventually holding my sweet baby boy in my arms. And eventually cuddling on my couch with my two little sweethearts.

Today it is pushing 90 degrees where I live. I am not complaining! After the terrible, long, brutal, 50 below 0 winter we had, I welcome the sunshine and warmth on my face! But being pregnant in summer is far different than being pregnant in winter. Jackson is a February baby. I was in the nitty gritty of pregnancy in much cooler weather with him. This time I get the joy of a summer pregnancy. Both have their perks I think and both have their challenges.

I wanted to share some summer (and not necessarily summer) pregnancy essentials that I am obsessed with.

1. I used this with my first pregnancy and I escaped stretch mark free! I swore by it, I swear by it, and I share it with most new preggos I know. Bella B Tummy Honey Butter.
photo 3 (1)It always soothes an itchy belly for me. I usually use it twice a day. It can be a bit greasy feeling initially but the way I see it is, it soothes the itching and I was stretch mark free. So far I am as well. Greasiness is a small price to pay for both of those! You can find it on their site or Amazon. I am a fiend for ordering it from there. This is my current tub and I have two or three more stored in a cabinet. Just watch the price on Amazon. I have sometimes noticed it to be priced higher than their retail price.

2. My Gap Maternity jean shorts. I have two pairs that I love. They are so comfortable. They are the same pair but different dyes of jean. Unfortunately it appears that the darker wash I own is no longer anywhere on their site!

photo 4I am wearing the lighter wash in this photo. I was 16 weeks here. I am a few days into 24 weeks now and I am comfortable wearing them today. They are still loose but comfy! I also like that they are a panel at the waist and not a full panel. I wore full panel shorts one hot day recently. We walked to the park. That was a mistake. I was so hot, sweaty, and itchy that as soon as I walked in the door off they came. Never again!

3. Three goes hand in hand with the above photo. I am obsessed with any kind of ribbed tank. The one above is also from Gap. One of their Essential Tanks. I also have the white one I linked to. I am again wearing this tank today at 24 weeks and it is still way comfy and fitting. I have ribbed tanks from A Pea in the Pod too.

IMG_5657This was Memorial Day. Also, note the shorts ;-) These kinds of tops are just so comfy and keep me cool. Plus they show off my shoulders and arms. They are fitted so I don’t feel overly billowy. Tank tops are just a must have summer pregnancy staple for me.

4. Be Maternity BeBand. I know I said I hate full panels, and that is true, unless I am running! I need the belly support. I have found that two of these or one with a full panel maternity running capri keep me supported enough to not have any ligament pain in my low abs during runs. I have 4 of these. Two white and two black. Not that colors matter for me because I wear them under a fitness top. I have tried another band, a more elaborate one but right now, at this stage, it was more cumbersome than helpful. Perhaps as I get bigger in the next 3 months I will be switching. But for now, these rock my running world.

5. Pacifica Kona Coffee Sugar Scrub. This stuff smells so good I could almost eat it in the shower! Ha! Just kidding but really it smells fantastic, if the smell of coffee doesn’t bother you. I find it amazing.photo 2 (2)

This product leaves my skin so fresh and smooth. It is the last thing I use in the shower. I go through it quickly because I use it all over my body. So, it can be a bit of a splurge. But it is so relaxing and refreshing to start my day with this. I initially found it at Ulta. I have also ordered it directly from Pacifica. I also have read that Target carries this brand. I keep forgetting to look for it when I am there, so I cannot confirm or deny if they have this specifically.  Like I said, it is a splurge that it is worth it for my pregnant self.

6. On the same brand note, I am loving their Coconut Crushed Pearl shimmer lotion.photo 4 (1)

It gives a nice sparkle to your skin. It is also very moisturizing. I was playing in the pool with my husband yesterday and he kept trying to grab my arms and legs. I was swimming away. Each time I was able to slip right from his hands. I bragged about how I can get away because of all my lotion! Ha! It leaves me glowing and moisturized. It smells lovely as well!

7. Ok, this is the last Pacifica product…..for now! Indian Coconut Nectar hand cream is a must for bedtime for me. I put it on every night.photo 1 (2)

I will also use it in the morning after getting ready and before I put on my rings. It keeps my hands soft and smelling lovely. I wash my hands so much between a 3 year old who is potty trained, but sometimes needs help, and the washing of the dishes or cleaning in general, that they get dry even in summer. I also have the Tuscan Blood Orange. It smells lovely too!

8. This is by far my favorite foot lotion, pregnant or not! I have been using it for years. It feels especially nice before bed after a long day. H2O Softening Mint Foot Rub.photo 5 (1)

It is cooling and moisturizing. I will usually sit with my feet up on a pillow in bed for a few moments after and the cooling feeling is so refreshing. That is especially important as a pregnant lady in the summer! I usually buy it at Ulta, but you can also order it directly from H2O or go to one of their stores.

9. A reusable water bottle of your choice. I am on the go so much with the little man. I have an assortment of water bottles I can fill and take with me. Especially if we are walking to the park. You have to stay hydrated while pregnant and even more so in the summer heat.

10. Pilates/yoga/birth ball. Ahhhh!! Again, one of your choice. I love to do pelvic tilts and circles on mine at the end of a workout. It is also a great way to stretch. I am planning a medication free labor/delivery and I will be bringing it to the hospital as a birth ball as well. It is so versatile. It is not just for pregnancy either. It can easily be used for anytime workouts! I have had mine for a few years. I love it.

11. A good swimsuit of your choice. I have played around with a one piece and several tankinis. I was so miserable in them! I always felt puffier than I am sure I appear to everyone else. I am just a bikini kind of gal. I love them for swimming. I feel so much more free in the water when I wear one. photo (6)

I actually found a non maternity top that fits me nicely. On the clearance rack at target. I am normally a small but I bought a medium for my much larger chest (two freakin cup sizes!) Those bottoms are maternity bottoms from Target as well. I happened to buy them to go with the aforementioned tankini tops. A bikini during pregnancy may not make you feel more comfortable, and that is fine! That is why you just need to find one that makes you feel sexy and beautiful. Getting in the pool while pregnant, any time of the year, is so wonderful. You feel weightless. You can float on your belly! You can get in a workout. You can cool off. It can even help with water retention. I usually have to pee a ton by the time I get out of our pool. So if you don’t have one, check your local Y or gym for a prenatal swim class. I did that with my first pregnancy. This one, we have an indoor pool so I lucked out. I just train myself in there.

Do you have any pregnancy essentials? Anything you could not live without during your maternity time? 

 

Saturday will bring me into my 6th month of pregnancy. I continually say this pregnancy feels like it is going much faster than my first. I am just far more busy and active than the first time around. I already know what having a child is like. I already have a million child raising tasks to complete each day. My sweetheart keeps me distracted. It is easily the best distraction possible.

I always make time for myself. Part of my parenting motto is that you have to take care of mom to teach your kids that self care and respect is important. I especially make time for my fitness. Jackson knows that mommy has to get her workout in. He is so great about me fitting these times in. He often hangs out with my in my Pilates room. He even tries a few things himself. I am happy to take a moment to help teach him a move or snap an adorable photo.

My fitness has taken no break since becoming pregnant. Certain techniques may have changed over time, but I still workout nearly every day. If I take a rest day I am sure to be active in some other manner that day. I walk to the park or deep clean the floors. I keep on moving. I have even started working with a private Pilates instructor once a week. I know I am a certified instructor, but it is nice to take a break from having to think about what I need to do that day. It is nice to get suggestions from another instructor. It is nice to have someone else correct my form and imbalances.

My diet has remained very clean and healthy. I have little to no cravings for anything junky. I crave limes, vinegar, fruit, carrots, all sorts of healthy things. My first pregnancy wasn’t the same. I loved junk! My husband has been so disappointed this time. He was certain he was entering another 9 months of me approved junk food runs. No such luck. Which I am thrilled about! It is much nicer to satisfy a craving for limes.

I did prenatal swim classes with my first pregnancy. I had a nice purple tankini that billowed around me. This time around I bought a few tankinis again. We have an indoor pool, so we are swimming quite often. I felt pretty miserable and gross in these swimsuits. I really enjoy bikinis. I finally decided to go ahead and get a bikini. I found a size medium cute bikini top on the clearance rack at Target. I had some bottoms from the tankinis I already had. I feel SO much more confident now. I don’t feel sloppy or frumpy. I have decided to embrace my round belly in a bikini this time around. My husband likes me in a bikini, pregnant or not. He prefers it to the tankinis I was wearing! Plus, I do Pilates almost daily! I swim. When I am not battling the worst cold of my life (have been for over 2 weeks) I run, I walk to and from the park pushing a 36lb preschooler in a stroller, I run/play/dance/move with that preschooler, and often I carry that preschooler. I do a lot of physical activity and I eat very clean. So why not accept my pregnant healthy body?

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So there you have it. 6 months of baby belly in a bikini! Baby #2 that is. I know I still have a bit to go and this belly is going to get larger but I am feeling pretty good right now. As a matter of fact in the past week and a half I have counted 8 people who have been in shock that I am as far along as I am. I will take it all as compliments. I would rather hear that than people saying they swore I was ready to pop at this stage.

How do/did you stay fit during your pregnancy? Did you wear a bikini if you happened to be in a situation that called for swimming?

This month has brought so much joy with it! Mother’s Day was wonderful. My husband really went out of his way to make sure I felt special and appreciated. I was showered with 3 bouquets of flowers! One from each of my boys. I got several wonderful gifts, including a book with 50 reasons why Jacky loves me! Jason asked him all the questions and then filled out his 3 year old answers. It was easily the most precious thing ever.

We had our anatomy ultra sound, which confirmed the DNA results, we are definitely having another boy! His gender image was as clear as Jackson’s. I saw the penis before she even pointed it out. Everything else went well with that check up. My mom came with us and was able to get a real time sneak peak at her youngest grandchild. The kicker? He was waving at us. His little tiny hand waving back and forth near his face at one point. It was so sweet.

On the same day I reached 20 weeks, half way through, my sister in law was induced! The following morning at 3:03, my sweet pea niece was born. Oh my goodness! I am so in love with her. It is ridiculous. I have my boys at home, but to have a sweet little girl I get to spoil and send back to my brother and sister in law, oh that is just wonderful. I am over the moon with her. It is too funny because cause was born at 6lbs 3oz, and my child has literally never been that small outside of my uterus! I couldn’t believe how much of a difference a pound and a half and one inch makes in a newborn. I remember how little Jack was, but I could immediately tell she was so much smaller than he was. Babies are so incredible.

Jacky was a little afraid of her at first. He has never seen a baby that little. He didn’t want to hold her, but he was ok with touching her arm and face if someone else was holding her. When we got home we were looking at photos and he said “I love her!” They are going to be best friends! Our family is going to have three little cutie pies running around causing mischief. I cannot wait.

As far as this pregnancy, it is still far different than my first. My cravings are all healthy. I love limes, lemons, fruit, rice, more fruit, leafy greens, all natural almond butter, and so much water! It has been nice to not be craving junk 24/7. I move a lot as well. Having a 3 year old will do that to you. Life is different with a second pregnancy, but not bad. Just more to do and take care of. Less time to sit around eating and not moving! Ha! I will take it! On that note, today is a rest day. Mostly because My body is so sore from my workouts the past two mornings. But I will clean my home and move around.

20 weeks

20 weeks

This was yesterday morning. The middle of 20 weeks actually, but still in that half way point week. In all seriousness, I believe that 21 weeks will be the halfway point. Jacky was almost a week late. I have no misconceptions this time about my baby arriving on his actual due date. Ah, you learn so much the second time around! Two days ago also brought one more surprise. For the first time, we were able to feel Alexander kick by touching my belly! Jason was able to feel it as well. I know for certain we didn’t feel Jacky this early on. I know I was feeling movements, but Jason couldn’t feel them yet. I was totally shocked by it. Definitely happy, because it was an unexpected surprise!

I hope everyone is also having an awesome May! Here’s to the rest of the month being so wonderful.

Happy May! It has nearly been a month since I last wrote. Yowza! In all fairness we were on vacation for almost 2 weeks out of that month. I was hard pressed to sit down and write when I had lots of fun things to be doing with my family. Like playing in the ocean, sailing, or exploring the Smokey Mountains.

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Tomorrow will mark 18 weeks of pregnancy. I cannot believe that I am about 1/2 way through this adventure! It seems to be going by much faster than the 1st. I am sure that is because Jacky keeps me busy busy busy every day. He is such a wonderful and full of life 3 year old! He still talks about his little brother Alexander daily. He asks me a ton of questions and always wants to buy new things for his little brother. Yesterday, he informed me that our cat had a fuzz hanging from her mouth. He was very serious about me getting it out. He is going to be one helpful eye around here with a little one toddling around.

I am over the moon that I am having another boy. I have always wanted two boys and my wish has been fulfilled. Yesterday was my birthday. Alexander spent the day being an extra wiggle worm. It started with my Pilates Chair/Reformer workout and continued all day. It was the most I have felt him move in one day! Definitely and extra special birthday treat. He is going to be one active little boy, just like his big brother!

As fat as this pregnancy goes….

Exercise:

Still running, several miles each time I run. Usually a couple times a week.

Pilates. Mat, Chair, Reformer. I just modify my work based on how far along I am. I also sometimes watch some Prenatal videos on PilatesAnytime. I mostly do Chair and Reformer.

Swimming. I also incorporate water aerobics/Pilates into my swims. I have some equipment for that

Barre. I am going to be starting some Barre classes tomorrow. I miss Barre!!! I incorporate it at home, but I haven’t been to an actual class outside of my home in a while.

Cravings:

Limes! I love lime juice on everything. Rice. Fruit, grapes, bananas, apples, honeydew. Shrimp. Oh my gawwwd. If I could eat shrimp every day without worrying about mercury, I would. I have to limit myself and that is hard. Cottage cheese. Spinach, cilantro, arugula, veggies!!! I cannot get enough veggies in my dinners.

This is all much different than Jackson as well. I wanted to much junk with him. Or maybe I have learned how to eat better with pregnancy after going through it once. Either way, I am not complaining!

This was last week. I haven’t take one this week because we have been busy getting home and unpacking and celebrating my birthday. Plus, what’s a better background to a belly photo than the Atlantic Ocean?

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Now I am off to workout. Debating a run or Pilates. Choices are hard ;-) Just wanted a fast update, since it has been so long. I didn’t vanish again. I swear! I was just busy enjoying life outside of blogging for a bit. That happens and is good.

 

It’s a few days into April here in the Chicagoland area. You wouldn’t think it though. It is still very cold and windy on a regular basis. I am not entirely sure summer will ever arrive for us. I am starting to accept that. (Ok, maybe not. I still long for warm sun and playing outside without shivering)

I am into my 2nd trimester. I have a 3 year old that is as active and hilarious as always. I also know what this second baby is as far as gender! We got our Panorama test results back earlier this week. My family is coming by on Sunday for us to tell them. I didn’t do anything cutesy with Jack and I decided I wanted to do something cutesy this time around. I am over the moon about what we are having!

My energy levels have been way up. As a matter of fact, today is my first “rest day” in over  a week! I have been running and doing Pilates. It feels great to not feel like total death on a regular basis. I feel slightly like my normal not pregnant self. Jack hasn’t asked me to “not be cranky anymore” in a while. So, he too has seen the improvement. I felt bad every time he said that to me, but hormones man, hormones. I always apologized to him and explained sometimes having a baby in my belly makes me cranky and it will get better.

The checkout girl at Whole Foods yesterday asked me if Jack was a “helper or a hinderance” as far as grocery shopping. He is a chatty kid and I always speak to him like he is an adult, so I answer his questions and have conversations with him. He was being his chatty self in line. Helping me put all the food on the belt. Talking about each item and asking me questions. I was answering them. Telling him no to more candy and reusable bags (the kid has probably 50.) The comment took me aback. Obviously he is my little helper. Even on days where I wish I could just do it all myself, I always think “one day I will want him to help and if I always deter him now, he may not be interested in helping at all” I wanted to tell her that. To give her my insights on how to parent, but I just smiled and said “he is my little helper!” I really try to avoid making him feel like he is in the way. I would certainly never tell a stranger, right in front of him, “oh, he hinders all of my errands. We never get anything done!” I am convinced that often, people do not think before they speak. I don’t think I would ever ask that of someone. And as a matter of fact on every other errand we have ever been on and someone sees his utter exuberance for life, they always say “You have a little helper on your hands!” They smile and usually tell me how cute he is.

My kid isn’t a hinderance. This second one won’t be either. Sure, sometimes it takes longer to get out the door than I would like. Sure, sometimes we have to stop in a public bathroom, which I hate because they are gross. Sure, sometimes he wants to put the jam on his toast and I am thinking we have to eat now so we can get out the door for school by 8:30. Sure, sometimes he spills food or drinks during dinner. But that is part of it all. That is part of childhood. That is part of parenting. That is part of this whole adventure together. It is my job to build him up, not tear him down. It is my job to teach him how to put the jam on his toast and to cheer him on as he does so. If he thinks I will scold him for those small unimportant mistakes, then what will he think when he makes a big one? I don’t want him to keep big things from me. I want him to know that he can come to me and sure, I may be upset, but I won’t hate him. I will help him. I will love him.

Don’t tell you kids they are a hinderance. Just don’t And certainly don’t ask someone that in front of their child.

This morning I woke up at 5:20AM wide awake. I was craving a run. A serious legitimate craving to go outside and run until my legs were too tired to make another lap around my subdivision. Running is where I work a lot of things out. I get a lot of thinking done when I run. It is just you and your head. Maybe some tunes, but really, you get to be alone with your thoughts. I could use some time like that right now. Yesterday we got nearly a foot of snow. Maybe more, maybe less? I am not certain I didn’t follow the news. I just know we were predicted to get between 6-12 and it snowed a lot.

So the weather is nasty. I have had the flu of some sort for over a week now. It migrated to my chest a bit. I also have mild asthma in general. My nose is still congested. When I blow it chunks of something comes out with lots of blood. And occasionally I cough. All of that being said, running in the winter cold is not the best idea. So I likely wont get to hit the pavement today. I was wide awake. There was no falling back asleep for me. This happened a lot with Jack too. But I will say, if these are the kinds of reasons unborn #2 wakes me up at ungodly hours, then we will get on just fine.

Speaking of that. I cannot get enough veggies. I find any dinner jam packed with veggies to be mouthwatering delicious. I was thinking last night that this baby will be born and the first thing he/she will ask for is some “broccoli and kale kind sir” I am hoping it stays this way. I remember how quickly I had an aversion to fish with Jack. Veggies without something unhealthy all over it weren’t so appealing either. I had a sudden hatred for nut butters. Not this time so far.

Dinner Wednesday night:

Salmon, baked garlic/lemon zucchini, and garlic roasted red potatoes

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Dinner Thursday Night:

A pan sautéed steak with grape tomatoes, steamed broccoli, and smoked paprika baked sweet potato fries.

IMG_3281Friday night:

I ate it too fast to photograph, but I made a Paleo sweet potato chili. I even make my own homemade broth to cook it with. I topped it with some cilantro, avocado, and Greek yogurt. It was heavenly. It was the tastiest meal ever. I have a sneaky feeling I will be making it a lot.

Saturday night:

Whole wheat linguini with broccoli, red peppers, spinach/kale/chard, with some mild turkey sausage. I removed the casings. Next time I may use ground white meat turkey I season/cook myself. There was too much dark meat in there for my liking but the veggies were so good! I sprinkled it with fresh basil and Italian parsley. So many nutrients in one little bowl!

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I just cannot stop eating broccoli. It tastes so good in my mouth! Ha! And garlic. Today is Superbowl Sunday. My parents are coming by. I am making those yummy garlic roasted potatoes, green beans, and this pretty healthy bbq pulled beef. I bought regular buns the other day but I may run to Whole Foods and grab some whole wheat ones for myself. Fresh Market didn’t have whole wheat ones when I stopped there for stuff on Friday. If I feel crazy, maybe I will roast some broccoli with garlic/lime/chili powder! mmmm

I have to say, both my husband and son really wanted pizza for dinner last night. I was strong and kept suggesting this pasta dish I had purchased all the ingredients for. I was tired. It was a long day. Hormonal day, to say the least. I could have just said sure. It would have been easier. My husband knew deep down I just wanted my veggies. so he joined the healthy side and said just make the pasta! Jack had to deal. We all ate lots of good food for dinner.

What kinds of exercise or food do/did you crave while pregnant? 

 

 

It is no secret that I am a Pilates instructor. I LOVE doing what I do. I am lucky that I get to use my passion to work. It is no secret that I love to stay fit myself. Or that I love to practice Pilates and I love to run. My husband is something wonderful. He has this bad habit of spoiling me. Ok, so it is not really a bad habit! For Christmas I received my very own Reformer! The exact Reformer I teach every time I am at work. It is all mine to do with what I want in my very own home. I have been over the moon for the past couple weeks. I have used it nearly every day. Except this last Saturday, because it occurred to me that I hadn’t taken a rest day in weeks. It has been too difficult to step away from my new toy.

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I have had the chair since last April. It is my other favorite apparatus. When I took this photo I really felt like my Pilates life felt complete. I can give myself a great workout. I can train people in my home and give them a well rounded workout. I can just sit in this calming room and relax. The purple hues are very relaxing. I can even start posting about my favorite moves with photos. I still have to get some mirrors installed, but the holidays have been crazy.

A couple weeks before Christmas my husband hired a handy man to come out and fix a few things around the house. He didn’t tell me he had also hired him to finish the painting/slight remodel of this room! It was before I received the Reformer. Before I even knew I was getting one! He did a great job at surprising me all around.

What I am really excited about is that I think this is going to really help me grow as an instructor. Because I have a young child, my schedule usually revolves around him. I have time each day to workout, in my own home though. I was able to find time here and there to hop into the studioI work at to practice a few things on the Reformer. But it was not as often as I would have liked. I feel now that I have this in my home that my class development is going to really expand. I can prep and test my classes out on myself. I can watch/do more videos and get a feel for the moves even more. I can do this on my time. I don’t have to worry about trying to fit it all in on one specific day. Jack is even happy to hang out in the room and play while I do Pilates. Some of my clients come to me more than once a week. This means I am usually developing 2-3 different class plans each week. I am sure that is not a lot to some people, but to me with my full time job still being my son, that is a good amount. I really feel like this can only make me a better Pilates instructor! I am excited for what 2014 has in store for my Pilates career.

 

I have a big and not so pleasant anniversary quickly approaching. Monday, the 22nd, will mark the 1 year anniversary of my IBS diagnosis. It has kind of put me in a weird place this last week. You see, the doctor’s only prescribed treatment was to toss a small sheet of paper at me and say “This is a new diet that they are trying out to manage IBS you could try this. There is really little else that can be done” I took it to heart. I drastically altered my life and my diet. It is called “Low FODMAP” I stick to it religiously. I do not eat wheat, dairy, sugar, and an assortment of wonderful fruits and veggies it restricts. These include garlic, onions, nectarines, apples, and many more. The list is constantly changing. I have become exhausted with it. I still wasn’t feeling perfect. Do we ever?

I recently started turning to Eastern medicine for managing my chronic digestive illness. My Western doctor wasn’t overly helpful or caring. I was marked off a list because I tested negative for everything else, so it must be IBS, right? Here is this list they are working on in Australia and it could help. Sigh. I went to my 6th acupuncture appointment yesterday. I love my acupuncturist. She is phenomenal. At my 5th appointment we had a lengthy discussion about how at this one year mark maybe I need to take my digestion and health into my own hands. Since, I said that I still had a lot of digestive woes regardless of following this diet for a year! I thought about it and I decided she is right. I already started with essential oils and acupuncture.

Since starting acupuncture I have noticed a gradual improvement in my digestion. It wasn’t over night. It has however started to slowly improve. Without going into too much detail, I have had more better days than bad days. Especially in the past week. I see her once a week. I have started trying foods again, with caution. But I have allowed myself to cross that threshold. Something I would never do before. I have been researching the crap out of things. My BFF sent me some info about Aloe Vera for IBS. I looked into it, liked the findings, and I tried it. I have a fresh aloe plant that I cut and add the innards to my smoothies. I have noticed even more improvement! That was nowhere on any piece of info my Gastro gave me. When I explained this to my acupuncturist she was so happy that I have started to give myself to freedom to change or at least try.

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Another big thing….running. I was a runner. A daily avid runner and racer. My last race was Mother’s Day 2012. I placed SIXTH in my age group! After this diet restriction I ended up giving it up. I turned strictly to Pilates. Running drained me. At first I had no idea how to fuel myself and maintain my running. I abruptly took all of my pasta and bread away. Yet I was still running 3-3.5 miles on an almost daily basis. After extreme exhaustion that happened after each run, I decided to quit. Last night, I went for a run. My studio has a running group that recently started. I showed up. I ran. I actually ran at the front of the group the whole time. Muscle memory. My master teacher also goes on the runs. She commented to me that I run beautifully. My torso is in a great position, my hips stay square, and my legs just kind of float underneath me. My coworker, who is running this program, is a very seasoned marathoner, a ton of them under her belt. She ran the Boston Marathon this year. It wasn’t her first time running that one. She commented after that I have a really great pace. She wanted me to come run with her again right then. It is a beginner program that the studio is offering. It is building up to a 5k we are sponsoring this fall. It will get harder each week. I was tempted to go. I could have easily ran more. I said no though because little man was sick and my husband had stayed home to take care of him while I worked, went my appointments, went to my running club, etc. Maybe next Wednesday though.

pink  Brooks are back in business

pink Brooks are back in business

I am a runner at heart. Pilates has strengthened my entire body to keep me in running shape without running. I have not felt this amazing in a while. I am getting anxiously happy just writing about last night. I have missed running. More than I even realized. I am not saying I am not a Pilates fanatic. That is still my world. But like my heart for my family, there is room enough for more than one major fitness love of my life.

It is very hard to lead such a restrictive lifestyle. Especially when it is not by choice. I am feeling really positive that I have begun to allow myself some freedoms to take my own health into my hands. I have lived in this terrified state regarding foods and food prep for a year. That is hard. It is hard on me and my family. I am not jumping right in gobbling up everything I see. No, I am taking baby steps. But like my acupuncturist said, the point is that I am trying.

I have begun to lose faith in the Low FODMAP concept. It hasn’t exactly served me very well over the past year. I do know there are foods on the list that bother me but there are many that don’t. They say you should only eat 1 cup of berries at a time. I can eat berries, especially blueberries until my heart is content. The list is always changing. They used to say Tahini was okay, and then suddenly halfway through my year of this, they took that back. Well I had been eating Tahini often, as an alternative for other dips etc. So I haven’t had a bite of it since then. Sweet potatoes were A-ok when I first got the list. Then they changed it to only a small amount at a time. I stopped eating them as frequently after I read that. One more restrictive thing. It gets in my head that it will harm me and then I freak out, afraid to try it. Or suddenly I feel a little off because I did try something on the said no list. Last night I made baked sweet potato fries with dinner. I gobbled them up. Not counting or measuring. I feel perfectly fine today. I felt perfectly fine after. In fact, I ate frozen grapes after. Without counting. They limit those to about 8 grapes at a time, or so I read at one time. So I think, from this point on, I am not going to be checking for updates. I am going to take my time trying foods here and there. I am going to continue to do my  research of alternative methods. I am going to continue to tailor my digestive needs specifically to me, and not to some list created by well meaning scientists in Australia. Healing is not a one size fits all program. That is why I am falling in love with Eastern methods. It centers around the person specifically. It has been making a positive change in my life. I am feeling happier than I have in a while. I am feeling in charge.

I have been itching to start a bit of a series on here. I want to share my favorite moves and pieces of equipment/accessories. I have been putting it off for various reasons. First it was that we were in the middle of a move. Then I was busy unpacking and starting my summer hours at the studio. NOW my husband has begun remodeling my Pilates room/in home studio. Despite the fact that my Pilates stuff is currently shoved into a small space in our guest bedroom that has a queen bed, rocking chair, a desk, a dip station, and a weight bench, I am going to give this a shot. I figured I could start with one that I photographed while living in our previous home. Sigh, it is not the gorgeous in home Pilates studio that is being created right now, but it will do. I am hoping that after my room is done these posts will get a little more photo heavy.

So that brings us to this first move I want to talk about. It is a favorite of mine. I do it on a daily basis. The High Bridge.

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You can see how old this photo is by my charming decor in the background! Anyway, I love it. Why? It opens everything up. I initially started doing it for digestion. I was looking for moves that specifically help with digestion and this was one of them. I found that it took me time to be able to hold it higher and longer.

How do I get into a high bridge?

  1. I always warm up. I never start out trying to just go into this position. You can and likely will hurt your back. You also may not find the flexibility you are looking for. Roll downs, regular bridging, swan on the chair, jackknife, and  shoulder stand are just a few of the things I do to warm up. I usually wait until the end of my work out to go into this. So my entire body is nice and warm.
  2. I will always do a few Mat or Chair Bridges immediately before extending up.  If I am doing a Mat Bridge, I lay flat on my back. Feet in hook laying position (flat on the floor) Arms are long at my side. I inhale to prepare and on my exhale I curl my hipbones toward my belly button as I articulate up one vertebrae at a time, stopping at about my bra line-ish area. I will pull my belly deep towards my spine, inhale, exhale and articulate back down. I will do several of those. Sometimes I will do variations, pulses at the top, lower/lift one leg. The point being, my spine is being warmed up for the grand finale.
  3. When I am ready to open myself to this position I take a few deep breaths. Melting my shoulders away from my ears. Feet are still flat on the floor. Sometimes I will scooch them in closer to my butt. I inhale and exhale starting to curl up, I bend my arms and place my palms near the side of my head. I continue to curl up, striving to place even weight on my hands and feet. I take it slow. Seeing how my back is moving. On a great day I get nice and high. At this point in my practice, it is likely higher than this photo above.
  4. I am focusing on breathing, pulling my belly deep towards my spine, keeping my weight even between hands and feet, and letting my heart and front of my body really open and elongate in this position. I squeeze deep into my hamstrings and glutes. My arms are engaged while getting a stretch. I relax my head and neck, trying to avoid drawing tension into them.
  5. By now I have been able to add some variations. I can come into a high toe, so heels lifted. I can also extend one leg up at a time. That takes tremendous core strength and pelvic stability. It is something you have to build on as you master this position.
  6. To get out, I take in a deep breath and on my exhale I slowly start to articulate down, being mindful that the tension is not in my neck. Shoulders come down first, my arms slowly release their strength and as my spine articulates down I bring my arms back towards my sides. I melt into the mat. I will always cross my legs and hug them close to my chest. Letting my spine settle and taking a moment to enjoy the end of my favorite pose.

I love this position because it is a challenge. It takes practice and strength to do it. You have to be open in your mind and body in order to achieve the height and openness you are looking for. There are days where I barely get up at all. I can feel how tight my body, spine, and in many instances my mind, are that day at that moment. I have to clear my head, I have to allow myself to relax. When I am in the pose and I want to stay nice and lifted I have to surrender myself to the position. I have to think about my breath and where I am feeling the weight and stretch of my body. I cannot be thinking about anything else that is bothering me. If I do, I will not find the work I want to find in this position. Sometimes I count. I want to eventually be able to hold it for a minute. I can currently get to 30.  It feels amazing to melt back down into the mat. There is a sort of high that comes with this position. When I melt down and let my back settle, rocking side to side, knees close to my chest, I just get that moment of relaxation. I always turn to this position when my digestion is bothering me. That usually means I take 10-20 minutes to do a mini workout, even if I worked out earlier. Since I am so focused on warming up my spine for this challenging position.

I hope that if you are working on your high bridge that you find the joy in it that I do. If you haven’t tried this yet be open to the idea of it. Take your time. Warm up and build on this position one step at a time. Remember, if you are not a certified Pilates or fitness instructor it is a good idea to work with one before attempting advanced and challenging moves. We will help you better understand the movement and we will help to keep you safe.

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