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My Blog

March 2014

Fuel Your Body: 3 Pre-Workout Snacks

Many people tackle their workouts on an empty stomach, leaving their body without fuel and sustenance to build and repair muscles.  If you don’t have fuel to burn, your body can start using up muscle to keep it going!  I recommend eating a SMALL snack about 30 minutes prior to exercise. Make sure it includes a protein and healthy sugar. That way you have the energy to make it through the workout, and the building blocks to increase and mend muscle mass. Here are 3 easy snacks you can try!

Apple Slices and Peanut Butter:
Try a half of a small apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter. Remember to use natural peanut butter free of sugar and hydrogenated oils!

A DYI “Kind Bar:”
Create a fun mix of almonds, coconut, dried cranberries, pepitas, and chia seeds. Use an organic corn syrup to bind it all together, and bake. It is super easy. Try this recipe!

Greek Yogurt and Honey:
Remember to go easy on the honey, and if possible opt for an organic greek yogurt.
They are hard to find, but Stoneyfield makes a good one!

Not Your Mom's Prenatal

My mother was a prenatal yoga instructor in the 1980s. As a child I remember quietly watching her teach from the next room. She led women through gentle stretches, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. It was SUPER GENTLE. There was no sweating, no grunting, and no muscle burn. While I think a little TLC is beneficial and necessary for the pregnant body, I am glad times have changed!  Pregnant woman can now exercise at a more vigorous level and it is not only proven safe, but beneficial for mother and baby. Pregnant women are now encouraged to continue with moderate cardiovascular and strength exercises throughout pregnancy. It is a great way to stay strong, manage weight gain, decrease stress, and grow a smart and healthy baby!

A study conducted last year discovered that woman who exercised for 20 minutes, three times per week during pregnancy gave birth to newborns with higher brain activity. Another study in 2011 showed that mothers who continued regular cardiovascular exercise throughout pregnancy gave birth to babies with stronger hearts (slower heart rates with more variability). More and more mothers are deciding to stay active not only for themselves, but for baby as well.

This winter I had the privilege of working with an exceptional group of women.  My prenatal Mind Body Mama class was full of mamas who were not afraid to break a sweat. In fact, they were asking for it!  We tackled everything from circuit training to kick boxing to yoga. I never saw a group of pregnant mamas so committed to staying active. It was inspiring, and a clear sign that times have changed since my mom's approach to prenatal fitness.

Melissa, one mom in the group, caught my attention as she executed military push-ups with perfect form… 30 plus weeks into her pregnancy. Melissa is a prime example of an active woman who is keeping her fitness level in check safely and effectively throughout her pregnancy.  I had to ask her a few questions about her approach to exercise.

Here is what Melissa had to say:

What was your fitness routine like before pregnancy? 
Before pregnancy I worked out 6 days a week, with usually one day of rest or light cross-training, such as yoga.  Most days I would run for 45-60 minutes and incorporate 10-20 minutes of a light arms and shoulder work out.  I also tried to have 1-2 days a week of high intensity circuit training or a kickboxing class.

What your fitness routine like now that you are pregnant?
I am 32 weeks pregnant and I am still running (well, jogging about 2 minutes slower that my pre-pregnancy pace) 45 minutes 4-5 days a week and doing 10-20 minutes of a light arms and shoulders.  I also practice prenatal yoga once a week and participate in Meghan's fantastic prenatal fitness class once a week!

Did you have a similar experience during your first pregnancy?
My first pregnancy was a lot harder, I wasn't used to carrying the extra weight while running and I wasn't as strong.  Although I was able to keep up running and working out until the week I delivered, I had to cut my distance and time a lot earlier in the pregnancy and I struggled with sciatic back pain.  This time around, I spend a good portion of my day chasing and carrying around a 26lb nearly two-year old -- which has definitely helped to keep me in overall better shape. 

What do you feel are the benefits of staying active while pregnant? 
The biggest benefit is how much it improves my mood.  If I wake up feeling tired, nauseous or emotional -- running and working out always leaves me feeling 100X better and with great energy to keep up with my day and my toddler son.  Additionally, staying active helps manage my weight gain throughout my pregnancy.  I never see unexpected weight gains at my doctor visits and I manage to stay within the recommended healthy range.  I also found with my first pregnancy, the "baby weight" came off pretty quickly.  I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within 4 months.

How do you stay motivated while dealing with the physical changes happening in your body?
Since I have stayed active during my first pregnancy, I know how much exercise benefits a woman during labor and delivery.  Keeping my legs and core strong throughout my pregnancy probably played a big role in my relatively quick delivery of my son (25 minutes!)   Whenever I'm feeling lazy or want to skip a work out I just think of this and power through at least some form of activity every day.  I also don't beat myself up when I have days that I need to listen to my body and skip a work out or take it extra easy.

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for other pregnant women in regards to fitness?
No matter what form of exercise you choose, just find something you enjoy and can do for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.  It's a wonderful escape from the various emotional and physical pains we feel being pregnant.  And keep reminding yourself -- staying fit can really help lead to a healthy labor and delivery for both you and your baby!

Great words from an experienced mama! I agree: aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. If you were NOT active prior to pregnancy, you may want slowly integrate it into your lifestyle, or find a trainer with prenatal experience to guide you. Don’t be afraid to break a little bit of a sweat! And always honor your body when you need a rest. Happy exercising, mamas!:)

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