The Exhausted Mama: Should You Exercise On Little Sleep?

Clock - credit: lusiIf sleep is limited, the risk of injury spikes.  Performance levels will be half of what you’re normally used to, which will either A, disappoint and discourage you, or B, cause you to overexert yourself.

As much as it sucks, especially if you’re pregnant or a sleep-deprived mommy trying to fit in workouts, taking a day to rest is necessary.  It might be a no brainer to some, but for the beginner or the woman who wants to accelerate her fitness/weight loss this is so frustrating!  You’d much rather workout than take the opportunity to nap if it arises.  You’re already seizing extra ways you can exercise and balance everything else, you really don’t have time for this!

But you do.  Believe it or not, tissue repair happens when you’re getting ZZZ’s, so even if you worked out with weights the day before and you wanted to do cardio the next, accepting that chance to nap instead of exercise is still better than logging those burned calories.  This means aiding the process in building toned muscles, which is good!

Think you’re getting enough sleep, even with a crying baby or pregnancy insomnia, but still lack the energy you’re positive you should have?  Ask yourself these two questions, you might be surprised what they reveal to you.

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DIY Motivational Measuring Cups (to encourage portion control!)

When I went on my weight loss adventure in 2011, I found one of the best ways to track my portions accurately, every-time I wanted to snack – was to eat straight from a measuring cup.

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I kid you not!

And let me tell you, it DOES work. You can have peace of mind knowing you’re getting the exact amount the nutrition label lists per serving, and it also trains you to “eyeball” your portions later on. Eyeballing makes dieting and eating healthy feel less like you’re dragging yourself around in chains, because you’re hardly having to think about the size/weight/measurement of your food.

But let’s be honest – holding a measuring cup can look a little awkward, even when we’re chowing down by ourselves. It’s a cooking utensil! That’s why I decided to improve upon this little habit of mine by spicing up the outer appearance of my cups – and adding a mood boosting statement of support on the handle. I can’t wait to hear/see what mood boosting lines you come up with! Be sure to leave a link/picture to your motivational cup in the comments below, because I have a special surprise for those who are willing to showcase their creations on my blog.

TO GET STARTED

What you’ll need:
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  • Measuring Cups
  • Decorative Duct Tape, or in a pinch, pretty band-aids (you’re using them for their grip and color, don’t be grossed out!)
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Paint (optional)
  • Fancy paper, gems, beads, ribbon or whatever you’d like to spice it up (optional)
  • Black Marker for writing – but I recommend printing out your quote, it makes it look so much nicer. I didn’t do this on this particular one of course, tsk tsk on me!

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My Top Ten Pregnancy Superfoods

Pregnancy Superfoods

Please pardon my fabulous, fabulous pajama pant bottoms and admire the lovely, rich green color of the avocado.

During pregnancy we all know that it’s important to make those extra 200-300 calories count and pack a nutritious, optimum punch.

I’ve put together a list of my personal favorite, top ten pregnancy superfoods that get the job done not only for pleasing baby and helping them grow, but for those taste-buds of yours, too!

10.  Avocado
Let’s start off with something I think we all are familiar with – the glorious avocado.  While commonly used in guacamole, this particular fruit has healthy omega-3’s and keeps a growing appetite in check for quite a long time.  Pair it with beans, whole grain rice chips, or use it diced as a topping on some grilled chicken. Continue reading

Easy Interval Walking Workout

Footprint

So! You’ve resolved to be active during your pregnancy. That’s great! Now that you’ve come to an agreement with your OB or practitioner on what is safe, you’re ready to get in shape during one of the most exciting times in your life.

Walking is super effective. It’s a convenient way to ensure you’re still logging in some cardio even when you’re having a sluggish day. I want to take you through an example workout that can be adjusted to take up 20-30 minutes of your time. We’re going to be talking about interval walking.

As I am not a health professional, always seek your doctor’s approval before starting any fitness routine and stop immediately if you feel pain, short of breath, or dizzy. Pregnancy is never the time to push yourself further than you feel your body can go! And as always, remember to warm up/cool down.

Intervals in exercise involve a series of high intensity bursts that are interspersed with recovery periods. The point to this easy interval walking workout is to offer you some variety other than just straightforward strolling. Any movement in pregnancy is beneficial, but if you want more bang for your buck and a way to tone those legs, read on!

This workout has been written out for the treadmill – where I live, it’s mostly snowing and the ground is covered in ice from November-March!

BEFORE YOU BEGIN:

Make sure you have a water bottle full of water (no, really?), a good pair of sneaks and a positive attitude. A couple of your favorite tunes might help, as well!

Do some gentle stretching! I prefer shoulder and arm circles, standing leg swings (easy version), sitting in the butterfly position and doing careful roll ups through the spine. To stretch out your calves, do a calf wall stretch.

TO START OUT:

Introduce your body slowly by doing a warm up for 5 minutes. Because everyone is different in terms of height and leg length (for one woman 3.0 MPH might be dragging her feet, for another, she’s pumpin’!), I don’t like to put the MPH pace in my workouts when I share them – especially during pregnancy, because your heartrate and breath should be what you factor in the most during these nine months. Listen to your lungs and pay attention to your breath, and wear a heart rate monitor if you feel at all concerned (the 140 beats per minute limit is kind of old, though, so speak to your practitioner/personal trainer for advice).

The warm up should be enough to wake up those muscles and get you in the groove. I like to compare it to walking the dog, or doing a leisure pace in the park.

THE WORKOUT:

The next step is to pump it up a little! Start walking at a moderate pace for about two minutes — it should be brisk but not in a hurry.

By the end of these two minutes, speed it up to where you’re pumping your arms; (Don’t chicken wing! Elbows at your sides.) like you feel you’re running late for an important date.
Do this for two minutes, then drop back down to the moderate brisk pace for another two minutes.

Ready to go again? Do the ‘running late for an important date’ style for two/three minutes but this time, start increasing your incline. Because all treadmills are different, this could be a percentage or a number. I start mine at 1.5 and move up to 3.0, 3.5, and so on and so forth.

After the 2/3 three minutes of arm pumping and walking at an incline, drop the the incline back down to the original start up point and walk at your moderate pace again. Repeat the above 2-3 times and you’ve got yourself a nice interval workout!

Here’s a better breakdown:

Minutes 0-5: Walk leisurely.
Minutes 5-7: Increase speed to a moderate pace.
Minutes 7-9: Increase speed to arm pumping goodness!
Minutes 9-11: Drop back down to a moderate pace.
Minutes 11-13: Increase speed to arm pumping goodness and add incline!
Minutes 13-15: Drop back down to a moderate pace, and drop your incline.

Repeat the above 2-3 times, and adjust settings/pace as needed! You may also want to change up how many minutes you perform each speed/incline depending on your personal fitness level. Mix it up until you find what is challenging for you.

Enjoy, mammas!

NEXT POST’S TITLE PREVIEW: My Top 10 Pregnancy Superfoods.

God Bless,
Katie

Why Keep Fit During Pregnancy?

I’m currently nearing the end of my 23rd week in pregnancy, and I feel tired achy sore GREAT!

Notice how those three words are crossed out?  Not an attempt to brag.  Just pure, unabashed honesty.  And I am so incredibly thankful.

Believe it or not, I didn’t start exercising again until the middle of my second trimester… I’ve actually been on a 4 month-long hiatus after discovering I conceived, due to possible complications.  But, now that most of those are in the clear, I’m back at it and ready to share with you why staying active during my pregnancy has been the best decision I could have made not only for my baby, but myself as well.

Now you should know, this is my first child — so accepting advice from someone who is a parenting/baby-parasite host (I say that jokingly, and with love) newbie might be a little difficult.  Stay with me, though, all I want is for this to benefit you and help you.

There is plenty of medical and scientific proof behind keeping fit and pregnant.  It improves your sleeping patterns, gives you a jolt of energy when you need it (especially if you’re cutting caffeine), prepares your body for delivery and keeps your self-esteem higher than it would be without it.  I have watched some friends during their pregnancies — some who kept active and some who didn’t.  There is a vast difference between those who keep things at a minimum than those who simply adjust their current routine or keep at it.  Of course, I’ve seen women who have continued to power lift with moderation and gone on to run 10K’s even in the third trimester!  I won’t openly say I advise against or that I am for those methods, because I don’t really have much business spouting what I don’t know when it hasn’t affected me personally.

But here’s what I do know!

Some basic information:
Walking keeps you off the couch and away from those crappy back-aches.  It encourages blood flow, breathing and actually can sway a baby in-utero to sleep (cue the awww’s)!  It’s easy to do and doesn’t require a gym membership or equipment and can be done practically anywhere.  Snowing outside?  Walk in place!

Swimming is an excellent exercise because it is low impact, relaxing and can actually improve circulation and build muscle definition without lifting weights.  Plus, you feel light as a feather, and I don’t know about you but that’s very appealing when you’re carrying a miniature basketball in your belly.

Strength training with dumbbells is an excellent way to build stamina and resistance against fatigue… both traits you’ll probably need during labor!  I know I will.  Liftiing weights will help maintain toned muscles as well, for those of us who are just a little ego-centric. 😉

Some things to know, however.  Never start an exercise regimen without consulting your practitioner first.  There are safety guidelines with everything in pregnancy (food and makeup, too!), as I’m coming to discover in my own journey.  Even if you’ve been active prior to conception, it’s always best to check with them first to see if anything needs to be toned down and/or adjusted.  There are also certain diagnosis’s that can alter how much activity should be allowed in your pregnancy.  Read all about them here, and some safety guidelines here.

Until next time, mamas!

Katie