7 Reasons Why You Should Exercise During Pregnancy.

The benefits of physical activity are countless but today I’m going to touch on why it’s so beneficial during pregnancy. Even if you’re not exercising consistently before getting pregnant, you can still integrate it carefully and reap the benefits. The general recommendation is 30 minutes per day and that can be anything from walking, swimming, weight lifting, yoga or whatever you love doing!

1. Move more, feel better. We all know that pregnancy can take a toll on your energy levels, especially during the first and third trimester. The body is busy making magic and working overtime to create a human so it’s understandable. However, exercise has been shown to help increase stamina and give you more energy. Making time to do some light cardio or stretching when you feel up for it can help combat that fatigue and give you more energy throughout the day.

2. Digestion. With pregnancy comes all sorts of fun symptoms such as constipation and bloating. Exercise gets your blood flowing and can help with these issues. Going for a walk after a meal has been shown to aid with digestion and is a great way to spend quality time with your significant other or catch up on the phone with your mom or a friend! Be sure to stay well hydrated too which will also help with digestion and can help prevent the above mentioned symptoms.

3. Better sleep. Sleeping is so important when it comes to your overall well being. Unfortunately, your sleep can be affected when you have to pee three times per night and you have a growing belly that eventually prevents you from sleeping your stomach and back (it’s ideal to sleep on your left side for best circulation as your pregnancy progresses). The excitement of becoming a parent alone can keep you up at night or if you have other small children they may be disrupting a good nights sleep. Many factors can affect your sleep during pregnancy. However, exercise can help you fall asleep more easily, stay asleep and get better quality of sleep. From one mother to the next, I recommend you try to sneak in some cat naps when you can .. while you still can!!

4.Improved mood. With all the changes happening in your body, your emotions see hormones can become all out of whack. Physical activity releases a happy hormone called endorphins which help improve your mood and reduce pain. Make sure to avoid getting hangry and keep that belly full too! I found this to be especially important during pregnancy to feel my best and to help with nausea.

5. Avoid back pain and improve posture. A very common issue during pregnancy is lower back pain. The extra weight you carry can affect your posture and it’s important to address it before the issue causes long term damage. Stretching tight muscles especially in the hips, glutes, back and hamstrings can help prevent these aches and pains. I loved yoga during pregnancy. Find a prenatal yoga class or let your usual yoga instructor know you are pregnant before starting a class.

6. Prevent gestational diabeties. This is also very common during pregnancy and you will be tested for it sometime between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. Regular exercise can help prevent this so all the more reason to get moving!

7. Easier labour and delivery. Exercise will help your body cope with labour can even help you bounce back much more quickly after pregnancy. I like to compare labour to running a marathon. If your physically fit, it will absolutely work in your benefit. Although lifting weights will help build muscle and strength, any physical activity is beneficial. By the last trimester, your exercise intensity will really slow down so a simple walk is more than enough. Working on strengthening your pelvic floor will also help with labour and recovery. I suggest everyone meet with a pelvic floor therapist before and after pregnancy. In some countries, that is actually the standard. Hopefully it will be in Canada one day too!

Always talk to your doctor or midwife about your exercise routine during pregnancy, especially if you’re having high risk pregnancy. As a rule of thumb, you can continue anything that you were doing before pregnancy. It’s not the best time to start something new or pick up a sport you’ve never done before. Although, if you are just starting up, light cardio and stretching is totally safe and good place to begin. If you want to start weight lifting and have never done it before, I suggest working with a trainer who specializes in pre/post natal or try a prenatal yoga class. Otherwise, stick to what your body is used to and avoid exercises that put you at risk for falling or injury. Most importantly listen to your body and do what makes you feel good!

How to Motivate Yourself to Get in the Best Shape of Your Life.

What does getting into shape mean to you? Perhaps it’s feeling confident in a bathing suit or fitting into your favourite pair of jeans.. or maybe it’s simply feeling healthy and being able to keep up with your kids or go up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath! Whatever that definition is to you, there’s nothing stopping you from making it a reality other than your own limitations you create for yourself. Here’s how you can turn that vision into reality.

Step 1: Set some goals. Write them down and keep the S.M.A.R.T acronym in mind.

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Timely

Step 2: Find something that motivates you and gives you a purpose to work towards. Maybe it’s a special event such as a birthday, a wedding or a vacation. Set a (realistic) date based on your goal. Having a timeframe or date to work towards and creating that urgency will light a fire under your ass.

Another great way to motivate yourself into getting in the best shape of your life is booking a photoshoot. Some fun ideas for shoots are boudoir (a fun gift for your significant other or just for yourself), a glamour or fitness shoot, or a fun family shoot. A great local photographer I loved working with several times here in Ottawa is Martin Dupuis, who specializes in fitness, boudoir and glamour. He’s amazing and will give you some great pictures at a very reasonable price.

www.martindphoto.com

instagram.com/martin_d_photo

What truly motivated me to get into the best shape of my life was signing up for a fitness competition. Since I set that goal for myself back in 2014, I’ve competed a total of 9 times with SAF and Physique Canada.

www.seriousaboutfitness.com

www.physiquecanada.ca

My first ever fitness comp with SAF where I took home 1st place in the open fitness model category.
Competing on the Physique Canada Stage in 2015 and winning 1st place in the Tier 1 Athletic Pro Category shot by Dave Paul.
Landing the cover of Serious About Muscle magazine.

As a result of competing, I’ve also had the opportunity to work with world renowned fitness photographer Paul Buceta, whose work speaks for itself. He’s the chief photographer for Strong Fitness Magazine and he produces some unbelievable photographs. I’m so grateful to have these photos to look back at for the rest of my life.

A shot from my first shoot with Paul Buceta that I was invited to after winning my very first fitness competition with SAF.
My most recent shoot with Paul Buceta for SAF.

paulbuceta.com

instagram.com/paulbuceta

Stepping on stage in a bikini might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe you want to learn to run or sign up for a power lifting competition, or simply just get started! Either way, you want to find what fuels you and let that lead the way. If your goal is to learn how to do a pull-up, you have to envision yourself doing it and keep practicing until you get there. Start with a realistic goal like doing an assisted pull-up with a band or a jumping pull-up. Then once you’ve mastered that assisted pull-up, make it your goal to do a real pull-up. You may have to work on your mobility or decreasing body fat % before crushing that pull-up but you will get there if you keep working for it. Whatever your motivation is, it will be so fulfilling once you reach that goal. That’s why you want to have something to work towards. Same goes for wanting to lose 50lbs. You have to imagine yourself there and believe in your goal before taking action. Which bring me to my next point.

Step 3: Have a game plan. Working with a coach was the best decision I made towards my fitness goals. When I set the goal to get into the best shape of my life when I was 25 years old, I decided to compete and knew I had to find a great coach to help lead me there. I found my current coach Emilie Provencher after my first year of competing. She has not only helped me get into the best shape of my life but she has also been an amazing mentor for me as a coach and she’s a real boss mom I look up to.

My amazing coach Emilie Provencher and I competing side by side for SAF in 2015.

instagram.com/emilie.provencher

Since I became a personal trainer, when I was 18 years old, I’ve invested in personal trainers and coaches. Not only to have a structured plan based on my goals at that time and to gain more knowledge but most importantly for accountability. As a fitness professional, it wasn’t about knowing what to do or how to do it but more so having someone to keep me on track and report back to. Having that second set of eyes and someone to guide you and help you stay focused really makes all the difference.

Perhaps you have a goal that you are determined to reach on your own without the guidance of a coach or trainer. If that’s the case, you still want to have a structured program and nutrition plan. You can use tools like a workout and food/macro logging app such My Fitness Pal or you could join a support group. I’ve always said that the next best thing to having a trainer is having a solid workout partner. You just want to be sure that person is just as committed as you are so they don’t bail on you.

If your goal is to build muscle, decrease your body fat percentage or any body transformation, I suggest taking pictures and measurements with a measuring tape or callipers when you first start and document your progress. Don’t fixate on a number on the scale. Women typically tend to think the lower the number on the scale, the better. However, I can tell you from years of experience as a coach and from my own personal fitness journey, that the number on the scale is really just a number. Sure, along with the above mentioned stats it can be a way to measure fat loss but keep in mind that your weight will fluctuate quite a bit based on hydration, what you ate the day before etc.. You may also be gaining muscle over time which means the scale can go up which is not a bad thing! So, don’t let it be the only thing you rely on to measure your success. I suggest checking your weight no more than once/week on the same day of the week, first thing in the morning.

If you’re looking to get in great shape and feel your best, set some specific goals. Find that something that will motivate you to push you to be the best version of yourself and just go for it! Have a game plan and support system wether that be a good coach, a support group or a friend or family member that will be your cheerleader. Remember, the mind is very powerful and if you have self doubt, that will most definitely get in your way. So, believe in your goal and crush it!

How to Ease Back Into Exercising Postpartum

If you’re a mom, you know that some days feel like a marathon from beginning to end yet you don’t scratch a single thing off your to do list. Taking care of another human is a 24/7 job. It’s the best job in the world but the days are gone in the blink of an eye. From changing explosive poopy diapers to projectile vomit, the surprises never end! A few other time consuming tasks worth mentioning are nursing/feeding your little one and the never ending baby dishes and laundry. Even just leaving the house is twice as much work, especially when you’re going around nap schedules and feeding times. I remember my first time leaving the house with my daughter Valentina I was so overwhelmed. I had a million bags and this extremely heavy baby carrier to haul around and I was just wondering how the hell other moms do it? Especially with multiple children!! After a couple of months, I eventually got the hang of it. But let’s just say becoming a parent has given me a whole other level of respect for other parents. We truly are super heroes! We are at our little one’s mercy and often times that can lead to neglecting our own personal needs.. which doesn’t help anybody! If mommy isn’t taking care of herself, she won’t be much help to anybody else. As a new mom, sitting down and enjoying your meals or drinking your coffee while it’s still hot shouldn’t have to be a thing of the past (except for maybe the first 3 months). Since your sleeping patterns probably have seen better days, that’s all the more reason to make sure to fuel your body properly and find time to exercise, stretch or move in anyway that makes you feel good.

It took me a solid 4 months to really get back to working out postpartum which was quite a long break considering I had been working out 5 days per week on average for over a decade. But sometimes your body needs a break! Especially after giving birth to a human! So, it’s ok to take your time getting back to exercise. Around 6 weeks postpartum, I started by incorporating stretching and rolling newly tight muscles caused by nursing, holding and rocking a “colicky” baby day and night. I then started working on my pelvic floor and TVA (deep core) muscles after meeting with a pelvic floor therapist, which I highly recommend every woman does, especially pre/postpartum. But I wasn’t quite ready to start hitting the gym again. I was happy to be at home cocooning with my new little obsession so I found ways to incorporate exercise into my everyday. Here are a few of the ways you integrate fitness into your day:

Walk – The easiest form of exercise that you can do just about anywhere. Especially since you can bring baby with you either in a stroller, sling or baby carrier (or if you live in Canada, a sleigh ride in the winter time). Jogging is also a great way to get your cardio with the babe but be sure to talk to your doctor or pelvic floor therapist to see how long you should wait before starting up your running routine. The wait can range anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months depending on your birth experience.

Dance: With or for your baby! Either way, they’ll be entertained. When Valentina was 0-3 months old (in her fussier stage) it seemed like all she wanted was to be walked, rocked or moving in one way or another. So, every morning I would put on some fun tunes and dance a solid 3-5 songs. That’s how I got my cardio in.. along with the countless hours of walking and rocking of course. Oh and singing burns an average of 150 calories/hour so you may as well sing along too!

Take the Stairs: I purposely only use the upstairs change station so it forces me to go up and down the stairs several times per day. You can get a whole workout in on stairs but that’s something I’ll share with you another day (keep a lookout in my Instagram page for at home workouts) instagram.com/fitmamasblog – If you’re looking for more intensity and want to get a burn on the stairs, try the good ol’ Tabata circuit: 20 seconds up the stairs (max effort), 10 seconds rest X 8 rounds.

Stretch/Yoga: What better way to make good use of your time when you’re down on the ground playing with baby or while she’s in her exersaucer, jolly jumper or any one of the million gadgets out there for babies. I usually focus on stretching my hips, glutes and hamstrings since those are always tight. Two of my go to yoga poses to do while I’m hanging out with babe are: Baddha Konasana (butterfly) and Malasana (squat).

Roll: Since tight muscles are often an issue for new moms, it’s something that needs to be addressed for the rest of your body to function optimally. That is why it should be one of your primary focuses when starting to incorporate exercise postpartum. I like to roll out bigger muscle groups like hamstrings and calves with a foam roller which you can do when you’re down on the ground while baby is doing tummy time or playing etc.. To target more specific areas, I like to use a yoga tune up ball, they come in all different shapes and sizes (you can also use a lacrosse ball but keep in mind they are firmer). I personally find rolling the piriformis, hip flexors and upper traps with these balls to be very helpful.

Use Your Baby as a Prop: The workout possibilities are endless here but a few key moves that are easy and safe for you to use your baby as a prop for are good old fashioned squats, sit ups and pushups. Doing assisted sit ups with baby after 4 months of age is also a good way to build their core and help them learn to sit! Simply lay them flat and assist them to a seated position while pulling them up by the hands.

These are all great ways to incorporate fitness with baby by your side. No babysitter or gym membership required. However, when your body has recovered and YOU feel ready to get back to the gym or whatever sports/physical activity you love, do it! Be sure to get cleared for exercise by your doctor first. It’s important to get out of the house and have some time away from the baby and give the baby a chance to spend alone time with dad or another other family member or friend for your own sanity and for the baby’s well being. For some people, that might be as soon as a month or maybe you’ll need more time like I did and start back up into a routine closer to 4 months or longer. The important thing to remember is that you want to start off light and slowly build your intensity back up. Be sure to focus on what your body needs postpartum like stretching and working your core and pelvic floor. In the meantime, try out some of these fun ways to incorporate fitness at home.

I hope I have inspired you to move and have given you some ideas to integrate fitness into your everyday life. I’ll be sharing all sorts of workouts and yoga sequences that you can do in the comfort of your own home via my Instagram page and in future blog posts so start tuned mamas!

Welcome to my blog!

Well, here goes nothing! Welcome to fitmamasblog. This is my very first blog post! I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing but something deep inside told me to do it so here I am! My goal with this blog is to help other moms out and share this crazy journey called motherhood together. I also want to share with moms that “being fit” isn’t as difficult as it may seem. It’s just a matter of being mindful, finding balance and enjoying life to it’s fullest along the way. Making sure you work in a lot of smiles and laughing into your days helps too!

Fitness has been a part of my life since I was a teenager. I fell in love with working out when I was in high school and went on to study Fitness and Health Promotion at Algonquin College in my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario. I became a trainer when I was 18 and have been working in the fitness industry for 12 years. Moving and eating well has been ingrained into me but don’t get me wrong, I enjoy life’s little pleasures as well. I never deprive myself of anything I want whether it be nutella or nice big glass of vino. My husband is Italian which works out because I just happen to love Italian food which I luckily get to eat a lot of. However, I do try to eat clean, whole foods as much as possible and limit the not so good things because I know what’s good for me. As you can see, I’m not an extremist in any way shape or form, I’m quite the oppose. 

What inspired me to start a blog truly was being inspired by so many other amazing bloggers and women on social media that are out there sharing their knowledge and helping each other out. We’re all in this together. It really does take a village and I want this to be my little village where moms can come to for advice about relatable shit. This mom thing really is just a guessing game and we are all winging it. Sure we have our family and friends and good ol’ google but it’s nice to discuss everyday struggles and reality with other moms who are going through the same things you are. Dads, grandmas, sisters, aunts or whoever feels like it are all welcome to read along as well!

I will share my two cents on nutrition for moms and babies, how to incorporate fitness into your busy mom life and hopefully make you chuckle a bit along the way.

Thanks for checking out my blog and I hope I can inspire you to move, eat well and just breathe.

“Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused.”

— Anonymous