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8: Healing Diastasis Recti after Babies with Wendy Powell of MUTU

Wendy Powell of MUTU System on The Merry Messy Moms Show

After giving birth, many of us mothers are left with bodies we barely recognize. Bulging bellies, leaking pee when we run or jump, and back pain. This is all the cause of what’s called Diastasis Recti, which refers to a separation in the abdominal muscles that doesn’t always go back after giving birth. In this episode, I interview Wendy Powell, the founder of MUTUsystem.com, which is an exercise and body confidence program that helps women heal their bodies and minds after giving birth.

8: Healing Diastsis Recti with Wendy Powell of MUTU SystemEpisode Recap

When it comes to giving birth, some mothers have wonderful birthing experiences, where things go mostly as planned and the outcome is good. For others, many things go wrong and that can leave a mother feeling like her body failed her, or that she somehow failed to do the job right. Then we go into postpartum recovery equipped with very little information on how to find our confidence, strength and dignity again while we wrestle with a body that has a bulging belly, leaks pee when we run or jump, has back pain, stretch marks and extra weight. It can feel like you have nothing of your own anymore as you sacrifice everything for this new baby.

The wonderful thing is that it doesn’t have to be this way and trailblazers like Wendy Powell of Mutusystem.com are empowering women all over the world to know their own strength, beauty and power and restore their pelvic floor function after giving birth. I have used her program myself and it helped to not only heal my back pain and restore my core muscles and control, it helped to change my mindset and outlook on health and fitness.

In this episode, we talk about her program and what it entails, and the story of how she created it in the first place, from going through two very traumatic deliveries herself to getting her power back and owning a successful exercise program.

Links from This Episode

Listen Here!

 

 

 


Wendy’s Bio

Wendy Powell is a globally recognized leading voice on body confidence and body positivity. Author, international speaker, award winning entrepreneur and certified exercise specialist, she is founder and CEO of world best-selling postpartum recovery program, MUTU® System and accredited education provider MUTU Pro.

Wendy’s work is grounded in her belief that ‘every woman deserves the dignity of a body that works and that makes her feel good’. Her technical expertise, engaging coaching and evidence-based practical strategies ensure that true body confidence is an achievable reality.

MUTU System is an award-winning restorative online exercise program and thriving community of more than 41,000 women worldwide and is medically recommended by respected women’s pelvic health specialists.

Featured on:
CNN.com | Fox News Health | Parents.com | Mail Online | Mother & Baby and many more.

Episode Transcript

Wendy’s honored that her program, MuTu, has gotten to where it is now – tens of thousands of women have really raised the bar and their expectations of how their body should work and feel after having babies.

“It’s about confidence and it’s about dignity. We start there with MuTu. We start with function and dignity. I don’t care what you look like in skinny jeans, if you’re leaking, you’re not feeling good.”

“The aesthetics are the bonus – I strongly believe that every women deserves to have a body that works and that makes her feel good.”

How Wendy Got Started

About 12 years ago, she started as a personal trainer in London. She was in demand, super fit, and looked the part. She now refers to that time of her life as the “self righteous personal trainer.”

You know, if you just drink kale every day, everything will be fine!

She was actually already a specialist in pre and post natal work, had the certification for it and understood the theory.

So she would go to her clients’ houses, moms who were sleep deprived, and she’d be all well rested, trim and energized. One of her clients called her out on it – “you’ve never had babies, have you?”

Her’s was one of the few jobs that you can actually get better at after having babies!

Giving Birth Herself Changed Everything She Knew About Fitness

When Wendy had her first baby, a girl,  all of her theory and training went out the window. Even though she was in great physical shape and had been eating well, the labor and delivery were really tough. She ended up hemorrhaging massively and it was quite a traumatic experience.

We’re always told, well at least you have your healthy baby! But she felt physically broken by it. She felt betrayed by her body – this isn’t fair. She felt bitter – I did everything right, why didn’t I get the birth that I wanted?

And we all can feel this way when the birth experience doesn’t go like we want it to. Like our bodies failed us and didn’t do what they were supposed to do. Like we didn’t perform well enough.

She had another traumatic birth with her second child 2 years later

Same thing happened two years later – it was so bad that it happened at home and she was helicoptered to the hospital. Her son was only an hour old and her husband had to drive him to the hospital wondering if she was even going to be alive when they got there.

The combination of the two experiences left her feeling like she’d failed. She was ashamed, mad and disappointed of her body. It hadn’t done what it was supposed to do. She felt disempowered, out of control, as many mom can relate to.

It’s Not Actually About Fitness

As the months went on after her second child, she began to exercise again and realized it wasn’t actually about exercise. It wasn’t about finding muscles and fixing them. It was about reframing about how we think about our bodies.

“I feel like when we give birth, we should feel the most amazing, strong, feminine, awesome and incredible of our lives. And we don’t – we feel like we don’t look good and get undressed in the dark and feel like rubbish.”

She wanted to change that and knew that the fitness industry was not serving women at all. It’s all about getting strong and bouncing back, but she realized there was this huge missing piece in postpartum recovery for women.

“There was this huge missing part of the puzzle which was about getting our love for our body back, getting our confidence back, and getting our function and connection back.”

We cut ourselves off from the parts of our bodies that we don’t like and it’s very hard to fix something in our bodies that we’ve stopped talking to.

Like when you go for your pap smear we lie there and try to go to our happy place and ignore what’s going on. We end up doing this for years with parts of our bodies that we don’t like.

Our bodies are totally different after giving birth

Nothing about our bodies is the same after pregnancy and birth. The tummy, pelvis, pelvic floor – nothing looks like it used to or feels like it used to.

And if were were someone who used to exercise, the things you used to do to get results doesn’t get results anymore.

It adds to that feeling of disempowerment and lack of control. Like our bodies aren’t our own anymore.

So what often happens is either we try to cover it up and ignore it, or we do exercise but it’s not to nurture our bodies, it’s to punish them.

Like, I will run. Even though I’m leaking, and my tummy feels like it’s falling out and I’m hurting, I will run because when I run I feel in control. But you’re not – if your body is leaking or your belly is bulging, it’s your body trying to tell you loud and clear that it’s not ready to do that right now.

“And as a culture, we’ve gotten to this place where we ignore even when our bodies yell at us, we ignore it. There are women running, but they’re wearing pads.”

They’re punishing the body that didn’t perform. They’re trying to beat it into submission almost.

So instead, come back to, this body has done amazing things and it needs to heal. 

So it’s not that you can’t eventually do running, and crossfit and high impact workouts, but the pelvic floor needs to be restored and healed first to build that foundation so the body functions properly.

If your body is still leaking when you jump on a trampoline or run, it hasn’t healed – you’re still postpartum.

It’s Never Too Late to Start 

The great thing about getting the strength back in your core, abs, and pelvic floor is that it’s never too late. Even if you had kids 20 years ago, her program can still help you heal your relationship with your body and get strong again.

She teaches more than exercises – she teaches you the body mechanics

She loves to teach women not just exercises to do, but to explain why you’re leaking pee when you run, and why you’re having difficulty enjoying sex and why your stomach bulges out and you still look slightly pregnant.

One of the questions she’s asked the most is when can I get back to…running, rowing, dance, aerobics, crossfit, etc. Your body will tell you can get back to it and here’s how it does that. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, what you need to be able to understand the signs and know your own body well enough to know that it’s healed.

It’s Not About Trying to Get Your Body Back

Once we become moms, we are really different people. Stronger, more confident,  more compassionate. Motherhood grows us in so many wonderful ways! So why do we keep talking about trying to get our bodies back? We are different people now. Let’s start talking about bouncing forward and change the mindset. It’s impossible to get our lives our bodies back that we had in the past and we’ll be miserable if we try.

And it’s not to say that we can no longer be all of those that we want – energetic, sexy, powerful. But it’s getting away from this bizarre obsession with looking younger and going back.

Connecting to Your Pelvic Floor

Wendy’s program does such a good job of training your brain to recognize and feel the pelvic floor muscles and then to learn how to contract and release them. Many of those muscles are permanently tight and have to be relaxed in order to grow stronger and to work.

Having tight pelvic floor muscles, or hypertonic pelvic floor, can actually lead to urge incontinence. So when do you have to go to the bathroom, it’s urgent. There’s no off switch – it’s on and it’s intense.

For example, if your bicep is always clenched, when you go to actually pick something up, it’s already being used to it’s full potential, so it can’t expand anymore. It can’t do it’s job.

All About Distasis Recti

This refers to a widening of the gap between the rectus muscle at the front of your abdomen. From breastbone to pelvic bone. These sets of muscles, which are known as the six-pack, are joined by a connective layer of tissue.

These two muscles part when we are pregnant and the connective tissue gets thinner and stretches, which is exactly what it’s supposed to do to make room for a baby.

It’s not a problem unless the muscles stay separated long after giving birth. For most women, the gap remains. It’s usually measured in finger widths, which is subjective since we all have different sized finders. But a normal gap after pregnancy is a 2-4 finger gap.

It can much more easily heal when your body has proper alignment – the way we sit, stand and walk affects our alignment. This is why MuTu is a whole body program. It’s not about doing an exercise to fix a muscle. The whole body must be address to fix and heal the gap.

How do you know if you still have the gap?

  •  Feeling of instability – like your belly is falling out
  • Back pain
  • Still looking pregnant
  • Difficulty having intercourse (painful or not able to squeeze down)
  • Leaking pee when you run and jump

So this program realigns the body so it can be in a position to heal.

It’s all well and good if you can get your core to work when you’re lying on your back doing crunches, but it’s another when you’re holding your baby on one hip, with your keys in the other hand, and kicking the door shut with your leg. Is your core supporting your back and body then?

Pelvic Health is For Life

It’s more about the lifestyle. Wendy goes back and does the program herself now and then even though she’s 10 years postpartum. Pelvic health is for life – it’s maintenance. It’s like brushing your teeth – you don’t brush them once really well and then never do it again.

Sticking to the program is easy when your mindset is in the right place

When you see exercise and this program as a way to treat yourself, to give back to yourself, that you deserve that time, and to honor your body for the amazing job it it growing a baby, it’s easier to do the daily exercises. Because it only takes 10 minutes. And as moms, we are always serving others. It’s about serving ourselves for those 10 minutes.

When you think of it as another thing you have to do on your to-do list, it’s much harder to stick to it.

We can be so critical and harsh on ourselves, and this is the time to start letting that go. Whether you do the exercises daily or try and fit them in as you can – both are good. Both work – making it work well for you is what’s important. Knowing that you can’t get it wrong, you can’t fail.

Move for the sake of Moving

The MuTu program is about building a foundation in your body so that you can then do the activities that you love and enjoy moving your body. When we do it from a place of punishment, it’s so difficult to stick to any kind of exercise at all. It’s not about accomplishing 30 sit-ups, or doing planks for 2 minutes. It’s about moving and having a body that works and functions properly.

It’s as if we’re told after having babies, this is your lot now. You’ll forever look like you are pregnant. You’ll never get your pelvic floor function back. Deal with it. Because we had the audacity to have babies that we have to accept that this is how it is now.

And it isn’t about aesthetics, or being hot, it’s about dignity and feeling good and proud of yourself. And peeing on yourself never feels dignified.

Healing Diastasis Recti with Wendy Powell of MUTU - The Merry Messy Moms Show Podcast with Sara McFall

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Mom Exercise, How to Fit in it as a Busy Mom, and Actually Stick to It – Episode 7

It is not easy as a mom to regularly exercise, whether you work or stay at home. Here are my top three tips from how I went, as a mom of four, from rarely exercising or even eating healthy, to taking back control of my health and fitness!

mom exercise

Links in This Episode

Episode Recap

As mamas we are super busy attending to everyone’s needs in our household and it can be super tough to fit in a regular exercise routine. We are the CEO’s of our households and and have to take care of every need of our children, leaving little time for ourselves. As a mom of four, I was able to go from never being able to stick to a fitness routine or eating healthy to regularly exercising doing things I love, losing some weight and feeling very proud of myself by just changing three things! And they’re probably not what you think. Listen to hear my top three tips to fit in exercise as a mom and stick to it!

Listen Here!

 

 

Episode Transcript

Hi mamas! Welcome back. I’m excited to talk with you today about fitness and how to fit in it our busy lives! I have just 3 steps for you that have helped me to be able to stick to exercising and actually enjoy it!

So there is no such thing as mom who is not busy. It doesn’t matter if you work full-time, part-time, work from home part or full time or stay at home, or you have 10 kids or 1 kid, or 4 kids, or 2, we are all busy. We pour everything we’ve got into raising our children no matter how many of them we have.  We are all IN, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually.

So fitting things in like exercise and self care can be tough. We’ve got errands to run, laundry to do, a house to clean, gotta spend time with our kids, help them with homework, got businesses to run, jobs to get to – it is tough to do much for ourselves.

I used to be Super FIT!

So I don’t know about you, but before I became a mom, I was very active. I grew up dancing 5 to 6 days a week and performing nearly every month on the weekends through the age of 28 – I was SUPER fit, and loved to be physically active!

When I had my first two children, I was still teaching dance and staying active, but finding time to dedicate to exercise was super hard, as I know all of you mamas can relate to!

So, I kept blaming my lack of exercising and eating well on mom life. This is just how it is and how it’s going to be until they’re all in school. It’s just gonna be hard. But still I tried to keep finding the perfect exercise program, switching to buying online programs, dumbbells, buying cute work out clothes and hoping they’d motivate me! Grasping at whatever new shiny thing came along – this will be my miracle!

But they weren’t miracles. No amount of pink and purple yoga pants motivated me enough to get my butt to the gym to get a yoga butt! I simply didn’t have the internal motivation. I was still being so hard on myself and wanting something that was impossible. Oh it would last for a couple of weeks, maybe a month if I was lucky, and then fade out. I got so tired of nothing sticking and thought, is it gonna be like this for the rest of my life? I don’t think I’ve got the emotional energy to keep fighting for it.

Everything changed when I changed my mindset first.

1 – Know You are Worthy Enough to Spend Time, Energy & Money On

So this is the first step – and I know this might sound totally cliche, but I’m here to tell you, if you want to be fit again, feel strong, feel and look healthy, feel proud of yourself, keep those promises to yourself, and for it to last your lifetime not just 3 weeks with that new exercise or diet craze, you’ve got to start with treating yourself like the queen that you are. THIS is what makes it stick. You’ve got to feel worthy enough to spend time, attention and money on yourself.

It’s Not Your Husband’s Job to Make You Feel Good

It’s not our husband’s jobs to make us feel good. Ladies, Imma say it again. It is not your husband’s job to make you feel good. In fact, if he tells you every single day that you’re beautiful but you don’t believe it for yourself, the compliments won’t make you feel more beautiful. It doesn’t make you feel more beautiful because he thinks you’re beautiful, well, maybe temporarily. You’ve got to tell yourself that and believe it for yourself in order for his compliments to stick.

How Do We Learn to Believe in Our Worthiness?

So how? How do we treat ourselves as queens? As worthy and loved? It starts with changing the way we think about ourselves and the way that we talk to ourselves. First, you’ve got realize that you are valuable, worthy, and loved unconditionally with or without accomplishments. No matter where you’ve come from or what others have told you about your worth, you are still worthy.

You Were Born Inherently Worthy

There is nothing you have to do, be, earn or have in order to be worthy. So, powerful, right? Not my words, that comes from Abraham Hicks. I’m gonna say it again –

There is nothing you have to do, be, earn or have in order to be worthy. You were born worthy. Think about babies. They are not less worthy of love, joy, relationships and happiness because they are not yet accomplishing as much as adults can. We know they are worthy because they are our children.

So how do we learn to believe in our worthiness and love ourselves again?

Well for me, I poured into myself into reading every self-help book that I could get my hands on. I watched motivational speaker after speaker on YouTube, and even attended some events in person like Dani Johnson’s First Steps to Success and I also heard Abraham Hicks. Listening to people who think differently than me began to drastically change the way I thought.

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

I wrote down what I love about myself – my eyes, my hair, my toned legs, my cheekbones. And I highly recommend doing this – is there anything about yourself and your body you like? Find something, anything! Your left eyebrow, your ear lobes, your ankles, your lips, the color of your eyes. I used to hate being so fair skinned – I’m basically as fair as Snow White! My skin literally glows in the dark! And that also isn’t acceptable in our society. But I’ve learned to love and embrace that, too. I don’t care what society says, I’m gonna rock my bare white legs and know there is nothing wrong with the color of my skin.

Mirror Work

I stopped allowing myself to sneer as I walked by a mirror. I really try hard not to jiggle my cellulite or poke at it. I know that sounds ridiculous to say out loud, confessions of a crazy sad mom, but I know you’ve probably done it, too! We like to pick ourselves apart as if our bodies are separate objects we’re buying in the produce aisle! I’d like that perfect round peach, no bruises, no scrapes, perfect peachy color.

There’s a great book I recommend for mirror work also, from an amazing spiritual teacher, her name is Louise Hay. Have you heard of her before? She is passed away now, but she was such a beautiful light in this world. She has many wonderful YouTube videos that I recommend. She speaks and writes with such love and a lot of her work was teaching people how to love themselves.

So in her book, Mirror Work, as corny as it sounds, she says to tell yourself in the mirror everyday, “I love you. I really, really love you!” At first, you may not even be able to say it. It might make you cry, or even weep. That’s a good thing, though. You’ll begin to heal.

Changing My Thoughts Changed My Actions

So as my thoughts and talk towards myself changed, so did my actions, and my behaviors. It is MUCH easier to change a habit when you’ve changed your mindset, attitude and thoughts about yourself first. SO much easier.

Eating healthy became natural, it wasn’t forced or out of a place to punish myself for having treats. I wanted to eat healthy because it made me feel good, it gave me my power back. I was proud of myself! I stopped following all of these strict diets and although those diets did help me to heal my eczema, I do believe my health issues were more spiritual than anything.

Give Yourself Grace

There’s also a grace component here. I began to give myself permission to feel things, and acknowledge when I liked or didn’t like something instead of judging myself – feeling like my feelings were wrong and should be different. For instance, I thought I should like going to a gym. Being part of a gym is the way to get in shape, so I’m just gonna make myself love it, darnit! But I didn’t love it – it was really hard getting organized enough to go with the kids, worrying about the nursery and if they would be happy, getting everyone dressed and ready to go. It was such a hassle when my kids were young, at least for me. Some moms do great with it and love it! But it wasn’t for me at the time but it took a while for me to admit that to myself. I was paying monthly to the gym and never showing up to use the membership!

I highly recommend becoming aware of your feelings – it’s okay to not like something everyone says to like. It’s okay to admit you hate that food, or diet, or lifestyle. You can craft your own active lifestyle, workout plan and diet.

So my acknowledging what I didn’t like and removing the judgement from it, I began to realize what I DO like. I realized I love to be outside and take walks. I love to jump on the trampoline with my kids. I like to workout at home and do what I want to do.

2 – Create Healthy Goals

So the second step I recommend doing in order for exercise to be successful for us is to clear unrealistic expectations and beliefs of what we are think we are supposed to look like. Instead of wanting some unrealistic body shape, come up with goals that are suited to you and the way you want to live your life.

Like, I want to feel good, to have energy, to be strong and to be able to run around with my kids, to be healthy and proud of myself. Not – I want to get into that bikini next summer and have no cellulite and have a perfectly flat belly again. I’ve had 4 kids and have to be realistic and know that unless I get a tummy tuck and skin removal surgery, my stomach is never going to look like it did before growing 4 kids. I realized – I just need to own it and move on!

It’s no secret that we are bombarded with images of what the perfect mom and woman is supposed to look like. I mean, it’s bad enough being a woman without kids and feeling like we have to live up to that unrealistic image.

But as a mom? It is much harder. Bounce back after you have those babies! My body has grown 4 children – my belly has been stretched to the MAX, and given birth, and nursed, and gained and lost a ton of weight in the process. I gained at least 50 pounds with each of my kids! And let’s say you’ve adopted or you’re a foster mom – you’ve got mouths to feed and your body feels the emotional weight of raising kids.

Pressure from Society on the Perfect Mom

I don’t know about you, but I really felt the pressure of feeling like I’m supposed to look perfect – not too chunky, not too skinny, perky boobs, cute round butt, no cellulite, gorgeous skin, shiny hair, toned but not like a body builder, and still looking FLY in a two piece. And don’t you even think about showing the world you’re getting older! Oh gosh, how gross! Get rid of those wrinkles, is that an age spot? Zap it! Gray hairs? Nope, not allowed. You may be 67 but you must still look like you’re 27.

It sounds ridiculous to even say these things out loud, doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but if I’m really honest with myself, I really have had many of those looney thoughts.

Be Careful Not to Blame the Fashion Industry

It’s easy to blame the fashion industry, but honestly, it’s is not their fault. They are reflecting back to us how we feel. Collectively, we create the fashion industry! Have you noticed how they’re showing more plus sized models than ever before? Things are changing for the better because we have been changing how we see our bodies and what we believe about beauty.

The industry starts in our minds, our thoughts. Those are things we can change – our own thoughts and beliefs. So I’ve really worked on those and made a lot of progress in how I see myself. If all of us do this, just think how we will see all shapes and sizes on the runways, in ads and stores, and it will become the norm! You have a lot more power than you might think.

3 – Focus on Having an Active Lifestyle

So the third thing I recommend is to focus on having an active lifestyle. Maybe even sit down and journal this one out. You might wanna talk with your husband and your kids – have a family meeting. How can you have an active lifestyle as a family? Make sure to do things you all LOVE and think are fun, or this won’t stick either.

Does your family love to go for hikes? Is it fun to go to playgrounds? You can workout at the playground or chase your kids and play around instead of sitting on the phone! Two birds with one stone kinda deal. I know my kids like to do yard work with us and it’s a great way to spend time together and learn some science. Maybe during the summertime everyone loves to go swimming – this is great mom exercise and enjoyable for everyone! Join an aquatic center during the winter and go together as a family to swim during the winter.

When my kids were young, before they were in school, they loved when I’d turn on an exercise video and they’d do the exercises or yoga class with me.

Move Your Body in Ways that You Love

And now that they’re older I’m back to doing what I love which is dancing! I go to ballroom dance classes and private lessons 2-3 times a week and can hardly tell I’m exercising because I’m having so much fun!

I also try to go for walks in my neighborhood several times a week. These are literally therapy for me! I bring my phone and listen to audio books, or my favorite podcasts and totally lose myself in that 30 minutes to an hour. It is bliss and I look forward to my walks, it’s not at all something I have to force myself to do.

So, that’s why I say, find ways that you LOVE to move your body and it won’t be hard to stick to it.

The MuTu Exercise Program

One exercise program that I do highly recommend for mamas, is the MuTu program. It stands for “mummy tummy.” That’s how the lovely English say it! But it focuses on exercises that teach you how love and appreciate your body and the amazing way it grew a baby (or 2, or 5) and helps restrengthen your pelvic floor, which gets so stretched out in pregnancy.

For most mamas, our stomach muscles do not go back together, causing what’s called a “distasis recti.” This program helps you to close that gap. It’s perfect if you pee when you run and jump, are having painful sex, are having low back pain, and have a mommy pooch. I’ve done her program myself and have a much flatter belly, way stronger core, and pee a lot less when I jump on the trampoline with the kids.

I’ll have the link to her program in the show notes below. And I’m super excited to share that I have interviewed Wendy, the founder of MuTu, and she will be on next week’s podcast!

How Active Are You When You’re Not Exercising?

When we focus on having an active lifestyle, formal exercise becomes less important. I started to pay attention to how much I’m running around the house during the day doing laundry, vacuuming, sweeping,  etc and recognized that I was actually pretty active! I was regularly getting my 10,000 steps just in the house!

Do you work outside the home? You can take a walk on your lunch break, or have a standing desk. Take breaks to stretch and walk around the office. Then on the weekends do active things with your kids. I know going to the gym is probably even harder for moms who work outside the home because when you’re home, you really want to be with your kids and not separated from them even more while at the gym.

What Happened When I Changed My Mindset

So once I changed my mindset and set healthy goals for me and my family, I was able to find short workouts that I really love and can do while my kids are around. I like that they can see me working out and taking care of myself! These workouts take about 15-20 minutes – either some quick yoga, or lifting weights, or leg exercises. I have the arm workout on my blog, and I’ll share the link with you in the show notes below.

So between focusing on having an active lifestyle, short workouts 2-3 times a week, walking when I can, and being aware of my calorie intake (but no special diet), I’ve been losing some weight!

And here I am a year and a half later still sticking to this. It is a part of my lifestyle now and I feel like I’ll be healthy and active the rest of my life.

Recap

So to recap, in order to regularly exercise as a mom first you must realize that you are worthy enough to spend time, money and energy on. THIS is the secret sauce. All of the pieces fall into place when we embody this!

The second step is to create healthy goals that get YOU excited. Make sure to include how to want to feel, and not just want you want to look like or some number on a scale.

The third step is to focus on having an active lifestyle. Formal exercise isn’t the only way to move your body. Find ways that you love to move and do that, with or without a gym membership.

The secret sauce is your MIND – not your actions. Change your mindset first, and you’ll easily be able to fit exercise in as a regular part of your schedule.

How to Fit In Exercise as a Busy Mom and Stick to It - Episode 7 of The Merry Messy Moms Show Podcast

 

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How to Use a Yoga Wheel for Back & Neck Pain

How a yoga wheel can help with back pain and how to use it!

I’ve really been enjoying my yoga wheel to ease neck and back pain and up my yoga game, and in this post and video, I’ll show you how it’s done! If you’re a yogi, chances are you are already acquainted with this nifty wheel. The cool thing about it is that it can help you even if you’re not a yogi!

How and why to use a yoga wheel

A Little Background

The Yoga Wheel was created by the Yogi Master, Sri Dharma Mittra, who has a yoga studio in New York City. It was originally called the Dharma Yoga Wheel. Have you seen his videos? He has some amazing classes on YouTube that I’ve done and they are really good – I feel amazing afterwards!

What are the benefits?

  • Relieves neck, back and shoulder pain
  • Stretches the hip flexors and abdomen
  • Stretches out those very tight muscles of the shoulders and upper back in a safe, supportive way
  • It helps to stretch and massage hard to reach areas of the back
  • Helps to prevent injury by keeping your body in proper alignment
  • Can improve yoga postures like backbends, splits, plow, headstands and more!
  • Feels like a back massage!
  • Use it to intensify core exercises like planks
  • Use it to help you balance for yoga headstands
  • Great for yogis and dancers alike!

What is a Yoga Wheel for?

It was created to help yoga students move more easily and safely through inversions like backbends and also through stretches, like splits. It supports the back and neck as you roll on it, which helps to prevent injury. It also helps make more difficult postures become easier to try!

Not into yoga? That’s okay, it’s for you, too!

For those who aren’t yogis, you can use it to stretch your upper body and back by leaning back over it. We spend a LOT of time these days bent over our phones, devices and computers and this helps to stretch your back and neck the other way. It creates space in between the vertebrae which is really important for a healthy spine.

How a yoga wheel can help with back pain and how to use it!

Like going to the chiropractor!

I feel like I’ve gone to the chiropractor just after 3-5 minutes of using it! My vertebrae pop back into place (not in a scary way, in a totally feel good, amazing way!) and it relieves neck and shoulder tension for me. I even hear my spine cracking, which is actually a good sign because it means my spine is flexible and pliable and is getting movement. I’m used to chiropractors not being able to get any movement out of my spine because I’m normally so stiff and tight!

I roll on it daily now because it just feels so good and is relaxing my tight upper body so well. Although I love going to the chiropractor and to get a massage, this is way easier for maintenance so I can go less often. So hard to fit those things into my schedule – I know you parents can relate!

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Why Good Posture is Important (and how to get it)

Our mothers were right about sitting up straight - here's how to have good posture and why!

It turns out that our mothers and grandmothers were actually right to tell us to sit up straight! Yes, good posture is actually good for your health – it improves confidence and decision making, improves breathing and digestion, and can even make you look like you’ve lost 3-5 pounds! Learn why it’s important and how to get it in this post and video!

Why Good Posture is so Important and How to Get It

I used to have great posture!

Growing up as a dancer, posture was key to everything we did. If the neck or shoulders look stiff or tight, everything is thrown off in dance! I was taught how to stand at the barre with our shoulders rolled down and back, chin pushed back into the neck, and to lift our heads up to the ceiling. I knew it was important for dance, and the training carried over into my everyday life and I always had good posture.

And, then…I had kids

All of that weight in my belly splayed my ribs open and weakened my abs. It was a struggle to keep those shoulders down and back. And then came nursing! I had such a sore neck and upper back from nursing, all of those hours trying to figure out how to get those babies latched on without killing my poor nipples! (Why is something that’s so natural so incredibly hard to learn? I’ll never understand that one!)

Time to get my body back!

So now that we’re done having kids and I’m really focusing on getting my body back, I’ve been realizing just how much I’ve let my posture go, and how my weak abdominal muscles have gotten from a diastatic recti (nope, it’s not a rectal dysfunction, it’s when the abs separate during pregnancy and don’t go back together. Read more here.) While I work on doing my exercises to heal my abs, I’ve been building my upper body strength (see those exercises here) and finally have the strength back in my upper back and shoulders to be able to sit up straight. I honestly wasn’t able to before because I’d lost so much muscle tone! Yikes. Thankfully, that’s easy enough to fix!

Get Dancer Posture and Poise with these tips!

Benefits of good posture?

  • Improves digestion
  • Gives you an instant confidence boost for yourself and others
  • People will take you more seriously – when you have good posture, you exude confidence and poise. You might find that people respond better to you or listen more closely when you talk!
  • Helps you to breath more deeply, which can help reduce anxiety, brain fog, stress and many other things! (oxygen is pretty important, yo)
  • Gives you an instant tummy tuck! Seriously, you can look 3-5 pounds lighter with good posture.
  • Helps you to have proper spinal alignment. This will reduce muscle fatigue and strain caused from improper alignment
  • Reduces back and neck pain – for me I’ve really found this to be true!
  • It actually changes our hormone levels, helping us to feel more powerful and strong!
  • Prevents back injury, especially when you use proper posture and alignment while working out and lifting heavy objects

Hunchback of Notre Dame anyone?

Good posture is especially important in our times when we spend a lot of time hunched over computers and our phones. I worry what our backs will look like when we are 80 – like the Hunchback of Notre Dame? Yikes!

I know one thing is for sure – I’d like to delay the pain a curved spine like that will cause in my old age, especially if I can help it now.

Here’s a great video that gives even more good reasons to focus on posture and body language!

Tips for Good Posture

If you’re not used to practicing good posture, you might feel fatigued at first. This is totally normal! You’re having to retrain muscle memory to get your body to learn a new way of moving. This will take time. I suggest practicing it consciously for 5-10 minutes everyday. Eventually, you’ll be doing it without thinking about it! Just like any new habit.

  • Keep your joints stacked – ears over shoulders, shoulders over ribs, ribs over hips, hips over knees.
  • Roll your shoulders, forward, down and back and engage those lateral muscles in the upper back
  • Be careful not to splay your ribs out, as this will disengage your abs. Bring your ribs together by pretending that you have a zipper from your pubic bone up through your sternum. Zip it up by engaging the abs.
  • Pull your chin back to lengthen the back of your neck.
  • (Ballet trick!) Feel like you have a string on the top of your head that’s lifting your head up towards the ceiling. This works wonders!
  • While working at the computer – have your feet flat on the floor and computer at eye level.
  • I like to stand up to work also, by putting my laptop on top of a dresser or tall countertop. A standing desk or treadmill is also an option.
  • Strengthen your body through exercise – I highly recommend strength training either through body weight, dumbbells or machines. Check out my arm workout here!

How and why to use a yoga wheel

The Yoga Wheel

I talk just a little bit about the yoga wheel I use to stretch out my back, neck and shoulders in the video. It’s actually made for yoga backbends and inversions, which I also use it for, but you don’t have to do yoga to use it. It really is for anyone! This is the pretty turquoise one I got!

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6 Exercises for Strong and Sexy Arms and Back

Six Exercises for Sexy and Strongs Arms and Back

I’ve gone from having pain in my neck and shoulders every day while carrying around my babies to no pain and feeling strong just by doing some simple upper body exercises for my arms and back for minutes a day. In this post, I’ll show you the routine!

6 Upper Body Exercises for strong and sexy arms and back - just 15 minutes total!

Upper Body Weakness is Common Among Women

Weak upper body strength is very common among women and once I started having kids, I really noticed just how weak my upper body was, even coming off of years of ballet dancing. My neck and shoulders have basically been tight and painful for the past nine years since my first kid was born! I’m so thankful I finally started doing upper body exercises.

Upper body strength is important to have because the upper body controls your ability to perform everyday activities such as reaching, pulling, pushing and lifting. Having a strong upper body improves your flexibility, mobility and range of motion. If your upper body strength deteriorates as you age, you are more prone to injuries, disease and a diminished quality of life. – from getfit.jillianmichaels.com

Massage and Chiropractic Care

The pain got so bad that I was getting 2-4 really bad headaches a month, thinking it was something I was eating or a lack of minerals, or maybe stress. I couldn’t figure it out and started going to the chiropractor several times a month. The adjustments helped a LOT, but would only last a few weeks before I needed to go back. I knew they weren’t getting to the root of the problem but at least I was getting relief. However, it was a hassle to go 2-4 times a month and was expensive at $50 a visit, especially with four little kids I was toting around!

I was also regularly getting massages, which of course I loved, but again, the pain and tightness was not getting better. I love using massage as a way to de-stress and detoxify my body and love the benefits it gives. But massage and chiropractic care alone were not fixing the problem – they were both providing temporary relief but did not get to the root, which was a lack of strength. 

Benefits of Strength Building Exercise

There was such a big emphasis on cardio for losing weight for such a long time, and I never agreed with it. As a dancer, I knew how all of those hours of upper body exercises and full-body training at the barre were the secret to my health and skill as a dancer. The cardio was also important for stamina during classes and performances, but was only half of the equation.

We actually start to lose muscle mass as early as in our twenties, and lose up to 40% by our sixties! So weight training is very important to compensate for that part of aging.

Cardio training alone isn’t enough to lose weight and be in great shape. It strengthens your cardiovascular system and does burn calories, but strength training and stretching are very important, too. But why?

Strength training…

  • Builds bone density
  • Burns calories more efficiently (your body works smarter this way instead of harder with cardio)
  • Revvs up your metabolism
  • Enhances the quality of life – able to lift heavy objects and kids, do yard work, get around more easily
  • Helps to manage chronic conditions
  • Gentle on joints – not high impact
  • is efficient. A little goes a long way – 20-30 minutes 3 times a week is enough to see a big improvement in your strength and health

The Magical Set

Do these upper body exercises three times with 30 secs to two minutes of rest in between each set. I do this about three times a week with yoga in between (yoga is really good for strengthening the shoulders!). I started off using 3 lb weights and have worked up to 5 lb weights with up to 20 reps. The point is – do whatever you can do best. No one is watching, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Be gentle and kind to yourself and be proud of each step along the way!

You should be able to comfortably do the set without pain, so if you need to go lighter, do that. If they set is too easy, add weight or increase reps. Pain is your body’s signal that something is wrong and you are close to causing injury. There is no right or wrong amount of weight to lift!

Proper Form

  • Keep your back straight and knees bent when bending over.
  • Engage your abs while doing all of the exercises. This not only protects your back, but also supports your upper body as you do the exercises AND it creates an ab workout! Yay!!
  • Keep your neck in line with your spine by pulling your chin back to create a long line from the back of your head down your spine.
  • Do them slowly and deliberately – this isn’t about speed. If you go too fast, you can injury yourself.
  • Try not to swing the dumbbells up, but slowly control up and down.
  • Keep your shoulders down by engaging your lateral muscles. Roll the shoulders up, down and back to engage them.
  • It’s OKAY to stop and take a breath. In fact, I’ve found it to be more helpful to do so because I can get back into it and do more reps and go for longer without injury! This is the great part of working out at home – you can go at your own pace and no one’s watching!
  • If you are straining or in pain, check your form, posture or reduce your weight. You should not be feeling pain, but you do want it to be slightly challenging!

Bulk versus Definition

For upper body exercises that create more bulk or muscle mass, I would suggest you use heavier weights with fewer reps. To create lean, long muscles that have definition, use lighter weights and more reps. I’m going for the latter as a lady – I want nice tone and definition but not bulk. But it’s a personal choice!

My Upper Body Exercises

  • 12-15 bicep curls
  • 12-15 bicep curls to shoulder presses
  • 12-15 tricep kickbacks
  • 12-15 bent over rows
  • 12-15 bent over or seated shoulder lifts
  • 12-15 shoulder lifts (side lateral raises)
  • Optional (I haven’t been strong enough yet to add this) 12 push ups (and I can only do girl-style push-ups for now)

Upper Body Exercises - Bicep Curls - part of a 15 min arm workout for sexy strong arms!

Bicep Curls

These are your standard curls that you’re probably familiar with!

Start with your hands down at your sides and lift the weights by bending your elbows. Repeat 12-15 times with any amount of weight that is comfortable to you.

Upper Body Exercises - Bicep Curls to Shoulder Presses - part of a 15 min workout for strong, sexy arms!

Bicep Curls to Shoulder Presses

Using the same form for the bicep curls, curl the arms up towards the chest, palms facing the body, and then extend up the hands up towards the ceiling, ending in the position you see here in the picture. Repeat 12-15 times with any amount of weight that is comfortable to you.

Upper Body Exercises - Tricep Kickbacks - part of a 15 min. arm workout for sexy, strong arms!

Tricep Kickbacks

I love doing these as my triceps are much stronger than my shoulders and I can do more reps. Plus, this exercise really gives that arm definition we want so we don’t have “wings” and jiggly arm flab! I can do 20-25 each time so I might increase my weight soon and do fewer reps. Though that will create more bulk, so it depends on the look you’re going for.

 

Upper Body Exercises - Bent Over Rows - part of a 15 min arm and back routine for sexy, strong arms and back!

Bent Over Rows

This exercise targets the lateral muscles, which were some of my weakest muscles. So this one has been really helpful for me! It’s helped me to be able to hold baby Ella more without pain, reduced my neck and shoulder pain, and has made it way easier to practice yoga. It’s also helping with ballroom dance, which I’m currently training in for competitions and shows!

Using the same form (chin back, shoulders rolled down and back, abs engaged), hang your arms down straight in front of your chest. Using your lats, (upper back muscles), pull your arms up as shown in the picture. Repeat 12-15 times and use whatever weight is comfortable to you.

Upper Body Exercises - Shoulder Lifts - part of a 15 min arm routine that creates strong, sexy arms and back!

Shoulder Lifts (Side Lateral Raises)

This targets the shoulder muscles and gives you some nice shoulder definition! Start with your arms down by your sides and raise your arms out to the sides.

 

 

 

Upper Body Exercises - Bent Over Reverse Flys - part of a 15 min arm and back routine for sexy, strong arms and back!Bent Over or Seated Reverse Flys

You can do these seated or bent over standing. This also works the shoulders and up into the neck. This is the hardest one for me to do and I still have to take 1-2 breaks before I get to 12. So, I might reduce the weight until I can get a clean 12 reps in.

You start with your arms down in front of you, extended straight towards the ground. Knees are bent. Lift the arms straight out to the sides, engaging those shoulder muscles, being careful not to swing up. Reduce the weight if you’re not able to lift up without swinging.

EXTRA – add in 12-15 pushups!

To be perfectly honest, I have not been strong enough to be able to do this yet! But I can do one set of pushups with the knees on the ground. I’m sure it won’t be too long before I can do this each set! Gives me something to work towards and I love to be able to keep up with my progress. I have gotten a LOT stronger since doing these upper body exercises 2-3 times a week.

Rest for 30 seconds to a few minutes and repeat 2 more times!

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How I Learned to Love Exercise (as a mom)

As a mama of four littles, I’ve finally found a way to find the motivation for and fit in exercise and eating healthy, and the answer is probably not what you think!

How I Learned to Love Exercise and Fit in In (as a mom)

I used to be Super FIT!

I grew up dancing 5-6 days a week and performing nearly every month on the weekends through the age of 28 – I was SUPER fit, and loved to be physically active!

When I had my first two children, I was still teaching dance and staying active, but finding time to dedicate to exercise was super difficult, as every mama of young children can relate!

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bds1ctyFPIi/

 

Nap times, Gym Bag, Diaper Bag, Car Seat…

I tried and tried to go to the gym, but it was such a chore to work it around nap times, get to class on time, lug my gym bag, diaper bag, and car seat or stroller (that was the workout itself!). And then get my kids and myself ready. Nah-uh. I did not have any energy left over to actually take the class or even walk on the treadmill!

So, I kept blaming my lack of exercising and eating well on the life of a mom with little kids. This is just how it is and how it’s going to be until they’re all in school. But still I continued, switching to buying online programs, dumbbells, buying cute work out clothes and hoping they’d motivate me!

But they didn’t. No amount of pink and purple yoga pants motivated me enough to get a yoga butt in the gym. I simply didn’t have the internal motivation. Why?

My Family

The Mom Guilt

See once I became a mom, I started the fun game of heaping judgement, shame, and guilt on myself. I know you feel me mamas! I never thought I was a good enough mom, so I tried to fix it by being super strict about food (so I could feed them perfectly!), strict about screen time, strict about educating (homeschooling)…And all it did was suck the fun out of it for me. I thought that in order to be the perfect mom, I had to give everything I had to the kids.

I believed that good mothering meant I should sacrifice my happiness, my time, my talents and my desires all for them. It is a trap many of us fall into.

It wrecked havoc on my health, too! The eczema I’d had since I was 16 flared up to an all-time badness (see my post on that here). It all came to a head when my third child, Griffin, was born.

How I Found Emotional Freedom and You Can, Too!

It Starts with Loving Yourself

I know I know, it might sound totally cliche, but I’m here to tell you, if you want to be fit again, feel strong, feel and look healthy, feel proud of yourself, keep those promises to yourself, and for it to last your lifetime (not just 3 weeks with that new exercise or diet craze), you’ve got to start with treating yourself like the queen that you are. THIS is what makes it stick. To feel worthy enough to spend time, attention and money on yourself.

How? It starts with changing the way you think about yourself and the way that you talk to yourself. To realize that you are valuable, worthy, and loved unconditionally with or without accomplishments.

There is nothing you have to do, be, earn or have in order to be worthy.

Love Yourself, Heal Your Life

How do you love yourself?

So I set out to fill MY cup again. I poured into myself, reading every self-help book that I could get my hands on, watching motivational speaker after speaker on YouTube, and even attended some events in person. Check out my post – “How I Found Emotional Freedom” here to see how I changed the way I talk to myself and think about myself.

Eating healthy became natural, it wasn’t forced or out of a place to punish myself for having treats. I wanted to eat healthy because it made me feel good, it made me feel in control and powerful. I was proud of myself! I stopped following diets (like Paleo, SCD, GAPS, etc) and although those diets did help me to heal my eczema, I do believe my health issues were more spiritual than anything.

 

Choose to love what you see in the mirrorNo more hating on yourself in the mirror!

And I stopped sneering at myself when I’d walk by a mirror. Ladies, no more! Put a stop to this. We are beautiful and our bodies did miraculous things to grow and have babies. Love and appreciate your body for that, and make a choice that you say kind, loving things to yourself even if it feels ridiculous (and it will!) at first. Eventually you will literally rewire your brain to think differently about your body.

We can keep blaming the media for feeding us images of super models and live as victims, or stand up strong and take the power back into our own minds where the power is at all of the time anyway! The media has no control over us unless we allow it.

I got back in the game!

After about 3 years of pouring into myself and treating myself as the beloved child of God that I am (and I had another baby during that time), I finally felt ready to exercise from a place of wholeness, love, and true excitement. I had this deep inner knowing that this time it would last. I didn’t have to wait until January 1 to make it a New Year’s Resolution to make it stick!

Be Easy and Gentle with Yourself

I’ve been using free yoga videos from YouTube and weight training videos from Beach Body, working out 3-4 times a week, and I’m already much stronger, leaner and my shape has changed in just 6 months. Yay! Beach Body costs only $99 a year to stream their workout programs (cheap!) and YouTube is free!

Some days I have an intention to workout, but someone wakes up sick and has to stay home from school. Or I have a lot of work to do and have trouble getting it in. That’s OKAY. I now stay out of judgement and give myself a break. This isn’t about being perfect or sticking to a strict regime, it’s about being healthy. We can be flexible and still be healthy! Beating ourselves up is just an unhealthy as eating too much junk!

I'm loving the Beach Body workouts!
This is my favorite workout from Beach Body – 21 Day Fix!

Workout whenever it’s best for you

It’s simpler for me to workout from home since I still have a baby in the family. Once all of my kids are in school, I could see that changing and I might switch to a yoga studio or back to my old fav, the YMCA because I do love the energy of working out with other people. But for now, I can workout during baby Ella’s nap time with no stress, no lugging all of that stuff in and out, etc. But every mama is different and you may thrive in a gym setting! The point is, it doesn’t matter what anyone else’s exercise routine is – find what works best for you.

Intrinsic Exercise

It helps to exercise when we recognize the benefits of what we get in the moment. If the only benefit for us is the weight loss or a beach body that will happen in the future, then the motivation to continue when the results are slow will not be there.

It’s called intrinsic exercise and Psychology Today has an excellent article on that topic. I like to think of how exercising makes me feel so good because I’m keeping my promise to myself. That makes me feel unstoppable, even if I never lost a pound of that extra baby weight, I would still be proud of myself. That is BIG mamas!

I also like how it helps me to sit straighter, walk taller, move better and be able to keep up with my kids. Plus, with me working out at home, the kids have been so inspired to join me! They learn by our example, not our words.

Let’s Love Us, Mamas

So the moral of the story is – as long as you approach fitness – both exercise and eating well – from a place of love and not punishment for yourself, you will find the best way for you to make fitness a lifestyle for you, too. Much love mamas!

 

 

 

 

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Ten Healing Benefits of Yoga

Top 10 Healing Benefits of Yoga and Why I Love It!

Yoga is very healing and restorative both to the body mind. Here are yoga’s top ten healing benefits!

I have long loved yoga as it reminds me of ballet days of stretching, strengthening and using your own body weight as resistance. So I did some research as to it’s healing benefits and wanted to share with you how it has been a part of my healing journey as a mama and a woman.

I’ll never forget taking a yoga class on a trip we took in 2010 to Yellowstone National Park and Big Sky, Montana. While at the resort in Big Sky, I took a yoga class that was so well taught I felt like I had drunk a glass of wine when it was finished! I was rejuvenated body, mind and spirit. I felt like I’d been oiled up like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. I was buzzed!

I fell in love with yoga after that and went on to get certified to teach it. I continued having more children and really got into my blog, so the yoga teaching went by the wayside but I continued to take classes and really enjoyed them.

With four kids, I know do yoga at home but hope to make it back into the yoga studio once they are all in school. For now though, this better suits my lifestyle!

Yoga continues to give me that buzzed feeling. It gently encourages me to focus on the present moment, not worry about the past or future, and like any good exercise, you learn to push yourself farther that you thought possible and to enjoy the satisfaction of that.

So, a Little Yoga History

Yoga has been existence for more than 5,000 years. It is believed to have been first practiced by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India. The ancient sacred Rig Veda texts described the ancient practices by the Brahmans and Rishs (mystic seers). Yoga is also mentioned in the Bhagavad-Gita scriptures that were composed around 500 B.C.E.

Yoga has been refined over centuries to what we know today.  In Western culture is sometimes more of an exercise form than a religious practice. I’ve even seen some churches teach what’s called “holy yoga.” Either way you do it, I think you’ll find benefit.

1. Yoga Promotes Mindfulness

So what the heck is mindfulness? It is the state of being conscious or aware of something. And my fellow American mamas, this is, quite frankly, something we are pretty terrible at doing. Being mindful and allowing ourselves to stop and understand why we feel the way we do so we can fix it if it’s unpleasant. But  if you’re like me, we like to be on the go, stuff our feelings down because we don’t have time to take care of them between baseball practice, teaching Sunday school, running the PTA, bunco night, gymnastics and being room mom. And then we have a meltdown…and it isn’t pretty!

So yoga enables you to create harmony between your mind and body by connecting the body, mind and breath. The teacher encourages you to think of what you’re grateful for, and stay in the present moment. It can seem silly to a Westerner, but I promise, the results are incredible!

Mindfulness is known to give a wide variety of benefits to the body that includes strengthening the immune system, reduction neuroticism and depression. In addition, it helps improve social relationships and concentration at the workplace. Mindfulness can be practised long after you have left your yoga mat.

2. Yoga Increases Flexibility

Yoga has a wide range of sequences and postures that help to increase the body’s range of motion. The mindful approach to stretching ensures that stretching is done safely. The nervous system releases the muscles gently in poses designed to stretch and strengthen at the same time. Therefore, you become more flexible with little injury to your tendons and ligaments. It is a better way to relax the muscles, too. Increased flexibility helps fight fatigue, reduces inflammation, and improves physical function.

I notice I walk differently after yoga  – I stand taller, my posture is better, and I walk more fluidly due to all of that wonderful stretching. As a former ballet dancer, this is one of my favorite parts!

3. Yoga Improves Posture 

One of the most important benefits of yoga is that it’s a balanced practice. The stretching helps address muscular imbalances, relax the tight muscles, and the poses strengthen the weak muscles. Our posture deteriorates with poor sitting habits and standing habits (hips tucked under, back and necked hunched over a computer or phone), and aging. Over time, the slump causes the back muscles to be weak and tightens the chest muscles. Yoga can correct this problem in yoga and restore healthy alignment.

4. Yoga Improves Strength

This is the least known benefit that people tend to overlook, thinking that you’ve got to lift weights or do hard core boot camp classes to get stronger. Yoga strengthens the muscles by causing them to contract and relax in the performance of several postures and sequences. Strong muscles are able to handle the body weight, which is in itself a functional strength. Yoga also engages the body’s core muscles, which helps to improve overall posture, strength and alignment. It is weight lifting in a very gentle way that develops long, lean muscles.

5 Yoga Poses for Amazing Sleep
Click on the picture to see my post on the best yoga poses for amazing sleep!

5. Yoga Reduces Stress

We all need a lotta this! I love how yoga uses centering, focus and breathing exercises. This helps to reduce stress by relaxing our brains with a hectic lifestyle. The practice also promotes mindfulness, which is good at releasing the mental tension that comes with exhaustion and a busy lifestyle. With repeated yoga sessions, you feel relaxed, refreshed, and ready to face the day ahead.

We used to live in France when Kevin and I were first married and I clearly remember a yoga class I attended there. I didn’t understand hardly a word of French yet (I learned a lot more later!), but I could follow the teacher in the class. When we got to the end pose, shavasana, where you relax, I was so relaxed from the class I fell asleep! I am a super energetic person and rarely fall asleep except at night in my bed, so I was shocked. I knew yoga would continue to be a big part of my life!

6. Yoga help keep your joints healthy

Yoga does an amazing job improving the strength and flexibility of your tendons with combination of stretching and strenghtening. The yoga sequences, or flow, improves the flow of synovial fluid that lubricates the joints and helps the bones to move against each other without causing friction. The free movement of the fluid is important in ensuring that nutrients and oxygen are delivered to the cartilage. You can practice yoga to reduce joint pain from such conditions as arthritis.

7. Yoga can Lower Blood Pressure

Many have high blood pressure due to extra weight, stress and poor diets. Yoga helps to relax you, which can help to reduce blood pressure. This, in turn, prevents an increase in adrenalin in the body, which raises the pressure. In addition, yoga helps to enable the blood to run smoothly through the veins through stretching of muscles and mindfulness. This is key to the prevention of stroke. Certain postures such as Supported Bridge Pose and Savasana are helpful in dealing with high blood pressure.

8. Yoga Starts the Body’s Natural Healing Process

Our bodies are made to heal themselves and can do so when the conditions are right – healthy, real food diet, reducing stress or finding ways to process it in a healthy way, using essential oils and supplements, and more! The body can heal itself if the conditions are right. Yoga creates the right environment for the body to heal itself. The mindfulness helps strengthen the immune system and mental health, it strengthens the muscles to improve mobility and function, which improves the body’s ability to heal from injury. Improved mental health can also help in concentration and improved sleep.

9. Yoga Improves the Respiratory System

One of the common practices of yoga is pranayama, which is the cultivation of the life force through breathing. While yogis perform the exercise to obtain higher states of awareness, it also helps in improving the lung capacity and the tidal volume (amount of air that you can hold in your lungs). This helps in performing strenuous activities and is known to even be able to add years to your life!

10. Yoga Can be Practiced Anywhere

Yoga is one of the most convenient forms of exercise. You can do it at an airport, during your picnic, on the rooftop, during your lunch break and even open in the field. All you need is your body, you really don’t even have to have a mat!

Yoga is a continuous practice and more of a lifestyle. You never really master it but continue improving on your last performance. You compete against yourself to be better than the last time and find that your mental strength improves as your body strengthens.

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Watch Me Lose My “Mummy Tummy” – Diastasis Recti

Watch Me Lose My "Mummy Tummy" - The Tuppler Technique to Close a Diastasis Recti

Join me on an 18-week journey to lose my “mummy tummy” and gain back strength to my core, and hopefully eliminate the back pain that comes with being a mom! All with the Tupler Technique to fix my Diastasis Recti.

Watch Me Lose My "Mummy Tummy" - The Tuppler Technique to Close a Diastasis Recti

Baby Pooch, better known as a Diastasis Recti

Loving your body after you have a baby, or two or three, is hard, let’s face it. None of us ladies like having saggy bellies and a little pooch. This is something I’d finally made peace with after my second baby and just thought I was doomed to have a pooch the rest of my life, and that was okay because look what I had to show for it! Know what I learned? I don’t have to live with this the rest of my life! There is something I can do about it and take care of my chronic back pain at the same time.

Ever heard of a diastasis recti? Some kind of weird disease you pick up in the jungle? Nope! It’s a separation of the outermost abdominal muscles, that can be caused by pregnancy, improper core exercises (sit ups are the worst) and lack of exercise. The job of those muscles, the rectus abdominis, is to support your back and organs. It is also a weakening of the connective tissue in between those walls of muscles – the linea alba. Ever noticed, for those who’ve been preggo, that some develop a brown line down the middle of the abdomen? That’s the linea alba being stretch and pulled. If left untreated, it can lead to chronic back pain and even a hernia! Not surprisingly, it is practically ignored by the medical community and many are not treated for it to prevent major problems from occurring. That’s what I’m so excited to share this program with you! Information is power!

Three Babies Later…

Many of you already know I have three precious, messy little boys, ages 5, 3, and 1. They are each 22 months apart, so I have really struggled with back pain. Two years before having our first son, I injured my back hiking in the Alps – I had a bulging disc with horrible pain. With chiropractors and exercises with a lot of stretching, I got much better, but the pain never really went away. Little did I know I was doing incorrect core workouts and creating weakness in my core!

Diastasis Recti - abdominal muscle separation after pregnancy and how to fix itMy Belly Looks like the Grand Canyon!

So, then came three babies, lots of carrying, picking up, bending over…and terrible back pain. I have basically either been pregnant or had a new baby for the past four years! Years of yoga, stretching, ballet, massage and chiropractic care have all been very helpful, but have not gotten rid of the problem yet. Not to mention, the more I’d exercise the more pain I would have! Then after my third baby, I started noticing that my belly looked VERY strange when I’d lie on my back – there was this gap, like a canyon in the middle of my belly. I thought it was just something that would go away, but then a friend of mine talked about diastasis recti and the Tupler Technique so I set out to research and learn all about it. I knew it must be what I had because, after going on the Paleo/GAPS diets and losing all of the baby weight from all my babies PLUS some, I still had a belly. I weighed less than I did before I had my first, yet I still looked three months pregnant. So, I knew something wasn’t right.

I Chose the Tupler MUTU Technique

UPDATE – I can no longer recommend the Tupler Technique. It was not for my personality AT ALL! It was very tedious and only focuses on the belly, not strengthening all the supporting muscles. After three weeks of doing it, I was starting to notice a difference in my “mummy tummy,” BUT I was going crazy from the tedious exercises. So, I switched to the MUTU technique! I did it for 16 weeks on and off and did notice a very nice change in the strength of my core and a flatter belly, but then I got preggo again! So, I haven’t been able to fully finish. But I will go right back to it about six weeks after this baby is born. I LOVED the program – the videos are so helpful, friendly and the exercises are not tedious or hard to do. I bought the 12 Week Learn more here!

I came across Julie Tupler’s, The Tupler Technique, and decided to go with it as there are many testimonials of women who’ve healed their bellies with this program. The training includes three exercises that you do three times a day for 18 weeks, (yes, 18 weeks!), and a splint that you wear the entire time. Plus, you learn how to properly get up and down, and how to use your transverse muscles properly to support your torso.

Now, the program isn’t for the weak – it takes commitment and motivation! To be perfectly honest, I have been putting it off for weeks because I’ve been so intimidated by that number – 18. I’ve been doing an 8-week training boot camp for another part of my business and I thought that sounded long when I started it, but then it went by so fast I can hardly believe it’s over! It snapped me into gear and now and I realized I can do this! I mean, I did give birth to three kids AND have managed to keep them alive, so I can do anything, right? Us mamas are strong people. I was given very good advice to look at it one day at a time, and not as 18 weeks. Plus, I’m going to write about it, which gives me tons of motivation to keep going.

Wanna know some really good news? You can heal your belly at ANY time! Even if you had babies 30 years ago, your tummy can still be healed with this program!

The Tuper Technique for Healing a Diastasis Recti
A very handy-dandy handbook that helps you keep track of the exercises and your progress.

What Comes in the Kit?

You get a handbook/journal which helps you remember the exercises to do and keep track of your progress, a splint (you chose your size), and a very informative DVD. It is so packed with information, in fact, that I’ve had to watch it a couple of times to learn the exercises and commit them to memory.

I’ll Share My Progress With You

Yup, I’ll give you updates at weeks 3, 6 and 18. I hope you’re gonna watch my belly shrink, and you’ll hear about my struggles to stick with it along the way. As many of us already know, the things in life that are worth having and doing take sacrifice and hard work, right? So, LET’S DO THIS!

I hope my journey and story will inspire other mamas and anyone who suffers from chronic back pain to check to see if they also have a diastasis recti, or a separation. You are now empowered with information to know what to do about it, but you must be the one to take the first step! Have any of you done a program like this? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Starting Point Measurements

In the handbook, you keep track of these measurements along the way to track your progress. Here are my starting measurements:

Diastasis Width: 2-3 fingers wide at the widest part, 7-8 fingers long

Connective Tissue Condition: Medium (about 1-2 inches deep)

Body Circumference Measurements: Under Chest – 29.5 inches, Waist 28.5 inches, and Belly Button 32 inches

 

Check Yourself for a Diastasis RectiCheck Yourself for a Diastasis Recti

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Curl your head forward, just barely lifting your shoulders off the floor. Look at your belly, near the belly button. Then, see if you find a gap around your belly button. If you can stick two or more fingers going across your belly button, you have a separation. You also want to determine the length and depth of it – mine is about 7-8 fingers long, 2 fingers wide at the widest point, and about 1 inch deep. Some I’ve seen have a 3-5 finger width, which is much more severe, but can still be healed!

Watch this video and read the article to check your own condition.

 

Week 3 Update – Click Here!