Oh No! Bathing Suit Season!


The weather is getting warmer and thoughts of bathing suits and tank tops are looming in our heads. While we all reflect on our winter goal of getting our bodies ready for summer, I am here to tell you that you have set the wrong goals. Year round health and fitness is the most important goal you can set for yourself. There is no “preparatory season”. If you set these cyclical goals, you may end up deeper in the trenches of weight gain and frustration.

Lets walk together through a typical year for many of us…

Workout Hard and Cleanse  (January – March)
We begin the year with good intended New Years resolutions. We tell our friends that we are no longer eating carbs, we are only eating food grown from the earth, we are cleansing (UGH…blah, don’t get me started on this), we are joining a Bootcamp or a new gym. We use winter as the season to focus on weight loss and increase our overall fitness. We suffer through difficult diets and fitness classes because we have set a finish line. We have the focus and the drive to dive head first into these adventures, but these life changes are usually not sustainable. Remember this is not a sprint to the finish line, it is a life long journey.

Oh Crap! I’m Running Out Of Time  (April – June)
Spring is here and so is the panic that may settle in as we realize that we may not have achieved the goals we set out on New Years Day. We know that bathing suit season is right around the corner and beach trips are booked. We try as hard as we can to achieve those lofty & sometimes immeasurable goals. Nevertheless, some of you may have achieved the goals you set in January, but the method you may have used to get there was not a long-term solution. The elimination diet or “Dry-uary” is now over (thank God!) and you jump back into your regularly scheduled programming. The life we led before the extreme diet takes over again.

Oh Well! It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere!   (July – September)
Time to settle into summer, where our schedules and calendars are as different as night and day. The kids are out of school and you don’t have as much personal time as a parent. Pool side cocktails and vacations fill our days along with delicious snacks and happy hours. This time of year is a weight-gain ninja! It sneaks up and attacks us…we never saw it coming! July and August can be the biggest weight gain season of the year. We have accepted how our body look and our days are filled with a more relaxed state of mind. Vacations and pool time replace our fitness class and boot camp.

I Have No Time During The Holidays  (October – December)
Thank God summer is over and you can get back to your regular schedule…oh wait – It is now Holiday Season! We may find ourselves just accepting the results of the year behind us and preparing for the fun-filled holidays that will completely take over our lives for the next 3 months. During the cold months, it is difficult to make time for fitness. It may be too cold outside, you may dislike going to a gym, there may be too much to do before the family visits, whatever the reason…cold months are hard to make fitness happen. As we enjoy “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”, we also may place our fitness further down on our priority list. We now may just push it off until January, when we will refocus and get our lives in order for the New Year…(sound familiar?)

All of these things are done with good intent but do not address the bigger picture. A LIFESTYLE of health and fitness. One of the most important things to accept is that we are going to have good days and bad days. We are going to set goals and we are going to achieve some of them. We may miss the mark on a few goals or lose the battle of a basket (or two) of chips on taco Tuesday, but that does not mean we give up the war! Every day we wake up to new challenges, no day is the same. We have to prepare by setting ourselves up for success. Goals are great but keep them small and achievable. Try to avoid extreme methods that cannot continue (at least in part) once you achieve your goal. Be fair to yourself and accept that Life Happens. You may go on vacation and not get to workout like you do at home, but continue to be active and don’t throw in the towel!

Strength in Moms is here to support you in achieving your fitness goals! Do you have a dream to run your first 5K, start weight lifting at the gym, finish a Triathlon? Do you want to keep your fitness and strength up throughout your pregnancy? Whatever your goals are, Strength in Moms is here to support you! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

We are such a strong force and our mission is clear –

Making Women Stronger, One Mom at a Time!

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Posted in Exercise, Fitness, Health, Health & Wellness, Holidays, Mom, motivation, Resolutions, Stress, weight loss, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Years resolutions, cleanses, juicing, extreme dieting…WHAT DO I DO?


New Years resolutions, cleanses, special extreme diets, elimination diets, juicing….so many choices of ways to start the year off clean and healthy. What Should You Do?

Do these really work?

Every year we are bombarded with ideas of ways to clean out your body and get rid of the toxins…and every year I remind all of my clients that your liver and your kidneys are AMAZING organs that clean out your body EVERY SINGLE DAY, not only in the month of January. If you take care of your body throughout the year and feed it good food and keep a balance in life, your body will take care of you. If the new year is the kick start you need to make a healthy change in your life, than please go for it….but do not look for a cleanse or a crazy diet to fix your health concerns. There are many pieces that work together for weight loss…calorie consumption, hormone levels, vagal nerve stimulation, appetite and BMI. The toxins that you put into your body are not eliminated because you drank a juice cleanses for 3-4 days. Every day your organs are cleaning your body and working to rid it of chemicals and so called toxins. There is no storefront fix that will do the cleaning for you. Your diet and lifestyle choices are what determines how successful the cleaning process will go.

Ideas for your New Years resolutions:

  • If you feel like you have consumed too much alcohol, make a decision to significantly reduce your consumption. Be aware that if you decide to eliminate alcohol for a specific time, when the time is up, do not over compensate after and return to your regular consumption. Make a decision to reduce your consumption as a lifestyle.
  • If you want to “clean out your digestive system”, do not rely on an expensive cleanse system to do it. Begin to make your own meals and reduce your meals out at restaurants. Plan for you meals throughout the day and don’t skip meals. If you skip meals, you are more likely to over eat at the next meal. Choose whole foods and eat all of them. Eat the skins of certain fruits and vegetables. Don’t just drink the juice, eat the fruit…chew, chew, chew. Buy healthy proteins and make a balanced meal. Your plate should include protein, vegetables, fruits, and grains. This will allow your body to have fast energy from simple carbs, slow release energy from the proteins, and fiber from the vegetables and fruits.
  • Take care of your body! Feed it healthy foods, move it as often as you can and rest it every night. If you have a vacation or evening out and you go overboard with food or alcohol, don’t give up! The next day you can get yourself right back on track!
  • If certain foods seem to make you feel bad (dairy, too much gluten, certain vegetables, etc…) then try an elimination diet. For a few weeks, eliminate that type of food to see if you feel better. Your body may have a sensitivity to that particular food. You may be able to reintroduce those foods again, you just might have to reduce the amount you consume.
  • Don’t fall for the EASY solution to your weight loss problems. There Is No Easy Fix! There is no magic pill that will put you back in your high school jeans, DON’T BELIEVE THE LIES!
  • Weight loss is hard work. You have to put in a lot of energy and work in order to loose the weight.

Take care of your body & it will continue to take care of you!

Posted in Diet, Exercise, Fitness, Health, Health & Wellness, Holidays, motivation, New Year, nutrition, Resolutions, weight loss | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Holiday Regrets…the morning after!


The holidays are here and so are the parties, the celebrations, and the family gatherings. At this time of year we can find ourselves snacking more often and eating items that are not typically on our normal diet. We are surrounded by chocolate, candy treats, delicious casseroles and appetizers. We take in more liquid calories than normal through alcohol, frapachinos, and mixers. All of these items add up! The imbalance occurs when these calories in outweigh the calories out. During the winter season the outdoor weather is not very inviting. We typically have to find time to get to the gym or workout at home. This ends up creating a tailspin to frustration for many of us.

I am not here to preach the obvious…we all know that we need to stay active and eat a well balanced diet. What I hope to express today is my support! Many of us will take our fitness and diet frustrations and implement them into our New Years resolutions. We will enter the holidays with an acceptance that the battle versus food is lost and we will restart after January 1st. What I want you to understand is that even if you lost control last night at the holiday party, the war is not lost! Get out of bed today and begin anew! Refocus on your goals and get back on track. Don’t give up and wait until January!

This is also not the best time for quick weight loss. There are so many temptations and our schedules are atypical. Some of us will try to significantly cut calories as a means to drop weight fast. When you cut significant calories you will drop weight…but you also will increase your hunger hormones, you will slow down your metabolism and ultimately your body will fight you to return to the balance it had before the weight loss. To explain that simply, once you lose the weight, your body will fight you to put the weight right back on!

Here are my suggestions for surviving the Holidays!

  • Taste everything…but don’t finish everything – 2 to 3 bites, and stop.

  • Don’t stand near the appetizer table.

  • Watch your liquid calories

  • BE ACTIVE! Track your steps…move as much as possible!

  • Eat a small meal before you go to a party. Fill up with healthy calories.

  • Stay on track! Even if you fall off track once or twice…just get back on!

  • Enjoy being with your family – don’t always focus not the food & treats.

  • Have a Blessed and Happy Holiday!

Posted in Christmas, Diet, Exercise, Fitness, Health, Health & Wellness, Holidays, motivation, New Year, nutrition, Thanksgiving, weight loss | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Curse of the Summer Puff


Last March I began writing a blog entry to submit, but I never actually finished it. It sits unpublished in my post inbox. The problem that this has caused is that this summer, I fell victim to my own summer warning. The blog post was addressing the “Curse of the Summer Puff”.

The story begins with a woman thinking about bathing suit season. It is early spring and she knows that soon she will be sitting at the beach or along the side the pool with her family and friends. This image encourages her to stay on her fitness schedule. She workouts, she lifts weights and she eats a well balanced and healthy diet…..for a few weeks. She does her best, but life happens.

Spring soon becomes summer and she finds herself now sitting at the pool with her girl friends. At this point she has no choice but to love & accept her body. The story takes a sharp turn as July enters into the picture! July is one of the top months for weight gain in both men and women. People don’t typically think of summer as the time for weight gain. Most assume that the winter holidays are top of the list. For many of us, July can be a crazy and chaotic month filled with travel, lazy days of summer and relaxed schedules & rules…for everyone. This is what creates the “Curse of the Summer Puff”.

Recently I was sitting in my car on the phone, while sitting in the drivers seat I looked down at my midsection and noticed a “puff” that was not there a few months ago. My eyes could not believe what they were seeing…I fell victim to my own warning!

Don’t Let Summer Take Over Your Body!

You see, once July hits, most people have accepted that they are in their “summer body”. There is nothing more they can do to change that….this acceptance leads to complacency. With July schedules, we lose control of our fitness routines, we have a few too many cocktails & we eat differently.

In August, many of our kids go back to school. Parents find themselves back on a regular schedule with earlier morning starts and calendars filled with meetings, activities and family responsibilities. This is when we realize the unfortunate results of our summer fun. BUT….we can fix it!

*  Get your life back on schedule  *   Put the fitness classes back in your calendar  *  Go back to the gym  *  Begin lifting weights  *  Find a friend to keep you accountable  *  Make nutrition a priority again  *

You can get your fitness and health back on track.

Do you need help finding a fitness routine? Do you feel lost and confused when you go to the gym? Do you know how to strength train? if not, we can help you! Strength in Moms is here to be a part of your team!

Reach out with any questions and we can try to answer them and guide you towards your fitness goals.

Strength in Moms
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Adults & Sports – Reduce Your Risk of Injury


Over the last two months I have been researching the possible cause of the many lower body injuries in women. I know that injuries are a part of sports and being athletic. Nevertheless, I have become concerned with the number of female friends who have had some unique & severe injuries. The number of calf injuries among women my age is rising. You can tell when a person has suffered a calf injury recently or in the past because they now wear compression socks to help prevent being re-injured. The questions that came into my head were: How are these women working out? What they are doing outside of tennis that may be increasing their risk of injury? Are they stretching? Are they strength training? Are their muscles particularly tight and shortened?

For many adults, the muscles on the posterior side of our bodies (aka the backside) are often tight, shortened or underused. We tend to focus our exercises, our functional activities and most of our day on the front side of our bodies. The way we sit and work at desks and drive our cars, the strength exercises we perform, the cardiovascular activities we choose are often ones that involve the anterior or the front of our bodies. If the posterior side of our bodies are tight and we decided to play sports that ask for significant lateral, forward and backward movements (ie: tennis, basketball, soccer, etc…), HOW will our bodies perform?

I have been involved in sports my whole life and began playing tennis a year ago at 40 years old. When you are a part of a team as a kid or taking a fitness class, the instructor or coach is directed to get the team to warm up before they play and also to stretch afterwards. As adults, we RARELY do this…(I am as guilty as the rest of you). In college while playing lacrosse, the head trainer realized that a increasing number of girls were tearing their ACL’s (knee injury) during sports like soccer, lacrosse and basketball. He found that if they performed certain warm-up exercises before practice or a game, these severe injuries declined significantly. You can now see his research being incorporated in many female sports programs all over the country. His research is what has me concerned with the number of injuries in women out of college.

Playing competitive sports with significant lateral and stop & go movements are already increasing the risk of injury, but there are many ways we can reduce that risk and continue playing.

Everyone needs to ask themselves these questions:

  • Are you performing dynamic stretching before you play?
  • Is your fitness program supporting your lifestyle or sport?
  • Is your nutritional need being met?
  • Are you stretching and cooling down properly afterwards?

I am a realist and know that most adults are rushing to their game or match right before it begins and afterwards are pouring a beer to celebrate their friendships off the court or field. Nevertheless, I feel that with the recent spike in achilles, calf and hamstring injuries, we NEED to reevaluate our routines. Even if you can add just one of these into your workout, your body will thank you! (I am going to use tennis as the sport for these suggestions)

  1. Warmup: add in a dynamic warmup! This means move around, don’t just stand there and stretch your quads & hamstrings. Jog around the court 1 or 2 times and get the blood flowing, side shuffle your feet back and forth along the baseline 1 or 2 times, high knee skip up and back along the baseline 1 or 2 times.
  2. Make sure that your fitness routine supports your sport! If you play tennis or basketball or other sports that involve a lot of lateral movement and twisting, then your fitness routine should also incorporate these movements. Make sure that your strength workouts do not focus only on lineal movements, add in side lunges and side hops or slides to your routine. Also, make sure that your core is STRONG! Your core should be engaged in every movement (even if it is a lower or upper body move). If your core is engaged, your whole body is committed to the move and this can reduce your risk of injury.
  3. Stretch your lower body, most importantly your calves & hamstrings.
  • Standing Heel Raises: while standing, raise up on your toes and release back down
  • Wall Calf Stretch: Leaning against a wall with your hands, step one leg back and stretch, switch legs.
  • Step Stretch (A): Standing on a step, alternate dropping a heel off the back of the step.
  • Step Stretch (B): Standing in front of a step, place toes up on the rise of the step, keeping the heel on the ground, lean in for a deeper stretch.
  • Ankle Rotations: Rotate each ankle around in circles (both directions) as well as flex and extend your toes (point & flex).

4. Pay Attention To Your Body! Listen to what your body is telling you. There is a difference between “acknowledgment” & “pain”. Being sore at times is a normal part of a good fitness routine, nevertheless, your body may be telling you something. If there is a muscle or muscle group that is excessively sore or you feel pain, slow down and reevaluate your fitness plan. Remember that we are involved in recreational activities and not professionals. Also make sure that you are well hydrated and fueled for your match or practice and after wards you are refueling your body. If you don’t take care of your body, you will miss out on its greatness!

5. Cool Down & Stretch (& Ice, if needed)! As good as that cold beer or glass of chilled chardonnay sounds right after your match, you have to give your body time to recover. Stretch your upper and lower body afterwards and if there is a muscle or muscle group that is giving you some feedback, ice it! You can sit down, enjoy your adult beverage, ice you muscle and ask your friends to join you.

*** Originally I planed on only writing this blog about injury prevention. As I was collecting information & talking to other professionals I was led to the topic of a second blog – Trainers need to get over themselves!
Stay tuned…

Posted in Exercise, Fitness, Free Weights, Health, Health & Wellness, Injuries, Lifting, Strength Training, Weights, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Exercise During Pregnancy – Healthy for Mom & Baby


Pregnancy is such an exciting time for new moms-to-be! As your body goes through endless changes throughout the 9 months of pregnancy and into the postpartum stage, it can also be a very confusing time for many women. One major area of confusion is exercising throughout pregnancy. Whether you have an established fitness routine or you are looking for guidance to begin one, exercise during pregnancy is important and safe for most women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Always discuss with your OB/GYN before beginning a fitness routine to ensure there are no contraindications.

Exercise during pregnancy is focused on maintaining health and reaping the benefits exercise can have for you and your baby. This is not a time for weight loss or personal bests.
Benefits of exercise for mom and baby include:
Maintaining a healthy weight throughout pregnancy and overall physical fitness level
Decreased aches and pains, especially low back pain when core exercises are included
Decreased risk of Gestational Diabetes and Caesarian deliveries
Increased stamina for labor and delivery
Decreased recovery time during Postpartum period
If you were sedentary before, start slowly, beginning with 15-20 minutes of daily physical activity (walking or jogging), with a goal of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week including 2-3 days of strength training. Always make sure you stay well hydrated throughout the day, wear loose exercise clothing, and avoid exercising in high heat or humidity. It’s especially important now to listen to your body, and rest when needed. You should be slightly out of breath, but should ALWAYS be able to talk while exercising.

The first trimester can be one of the most difficult times to find motivation to stay active. Many moms experience nausea and fatigue throughout this time period. Start with walking or jogging as your body will tolerate it and eat small meals throughout the day. Focus on building the deep muscles of the core by performing Deep Belly Breathing. Lay on your left side with your hand on your belly button. Gently take a deep breath in, allowing your belly to expand, followed by a gentle exhale drawing your belly button into your spine. Continue breathing deeply, but gently enough that you do not feel light headed. Glute bridges, squats, and planks are all exercises that will help build a strong support system for the lower back and better posture throughout pregnancy.

During the second trimester, many moms experience an increase in energy as their nausea and fatigue begins to diminish. Avoid exercises that require lying on your back for prolonged periods and modify strength exercises from a standing to seated position as needed. As ligaments loosen to prepare the pelvis for pregnancy and birth, many moms may experience pain in their glutes and legs, especially when lifting one leg at a time. Single leg exercises may need to be avoided. Exercises can be done in a seated or kneeling position to reduce pain. Gliders and stability balls can also be used to decrease pain.

The third trimester often requires many modifications as your center of gravity shifts and balance changes. Stability balls are a great tool to perform exercises safely and comfortably throughout this time period. Strength exercises previously done from a standing position can be done while seated on a stability ball. Challenge your balance and core strength with the bird dog exercise. On hands and knees with a neutral spine, extend your right arm and left leg while continuing to breath. Hold for 10 seconds and return to the center, and switch sides. Complete 3 sets on each side.

Throughout all three trimesters, focus on engaging the core with each exercise and performing Deep Belly Breathing. Stay hydrated throughout the day, and make sure to drink water at least every 15-20 minutes throughout your workout. Always listen to your body, modify or skip exercises that cause pain as your body changes, and rest when needed. Remember, you always know what’s best for you and your baby, and have the power to be a strong, fit mom!

 

 

Kristen Szewczyk, RN, CPT is a Registered Nurse and Certified Personal and Perinatal Fitness Trainer in Nashville, Tennessee. Kristen works with Strength in Moms to provide personal training to pregnant and postpartum women in Nashville, TN and Atlanta, GA. For more information on exercise during pregnancy or to set up an individual session with Kristen, please visit http://www.strengthinmoms.com or email Kristen@StrengthinMoms.com.

Posted in Exercise, Fitness, Free Weights, Health, Health & Wellness, Lifting, Mental health, Mom, mommy and daddy, new moms, Nursing, nutrition, pregnancy, Strength Training, Weights, women | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Together Our Voices Are Louder! #WomensMarch


While I cannot march today with my fellow women, men and children, I feel like I can still show my support. Today there are women all over the world showing their solidarity for each other. There are marches in cities all over the US, in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and even in Russia (where you have to have a permit in order to march, so their are strolling around together). There are tens of thousands of people standing together in order for our voices to be heard.
 
This Women’s March is not about Donald Trump. It is more about the common inequalities in the world. It is not about the election in the US, but about the protection of women in every country at every level. I am not anti-Trump, because I am an American and I love my country. I do not want him to fail, but I want him to learn and understand the frustrations of many of us. I am Pro-Women!
 
I believe in gender equality, racial equality, LGBTQ equality, reproductive freedom, equal pay for equal work, paid family leave, an end to violence against women, and an end to the general acceptance of verbal and physical abuse of women.
 
Women have stood up against inequalities together for centuries. Almost 100 years ago we fought for the right to vote and today we stand together to push these rights further and further in order to protect more people.Womens Inequality
 
I do not think Donald Trump is evil and hates women, but I do think that he lacks respect for women. As the leader of the free world, respect for all is a MUST! Throughout the election, he made statements that not only insulted women, but also people of color, immigrants, the poor and our planet. He generalized people into categories and engaged Americans into an ‘Us vs Them’ debate. The “locker room talk” that he laughed about and tried to brush under the rug is stuck in my head. I am not okay with how he speaks to people and about women. My kids even see him as a bully.
 
Over the next 4 years I will pray that he learns how to work with people and not over people. I pray that he does not isolate people, instead he unites us. I pray this because I am an American and I live here too. I pray this because there are people in my community who cannot speak for themselves or who are just not heard. Together our voices are louder!
 
Women are beautiful and strong. Women are leaders and team players. Women are hard working and determined.
This is why, today….Women March! #WomensMarch
Womens March
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