My back injury re-hab

It happens a few times every year – I re-strain my low back. My injury is completely unpredictable. Once I finally stopped trying to figure out why it kept happening, I finally felt less frustrated by it.

My back injury is a muscle injury as opposed to an issue with my vertebrae (well technically, it’s affected, but that’s too complex for a rookie). Ironically, the only thing that really seemed to help was pregnancy – seriously.

Here’s my theory about my injury: It stems from a lifelong posture and imbalance issue. I have a dramatic low back curve. I do a lot of work to strengthen my feet, my deep abdominal muscles and I have to be very careful to engage my abs in extension.

I re-injured my back this week so I’m all about TLC. I still need to be a parent and an employee – two very hard tasks when you can barely get off the floor. I wanted to share my process of re-habing my back.

Note: Back injuries are like snowflakes – no two are exactly alike so please be careful. These injuries can also get better for a short time and then return with a vengeance so make sure you’re consulting experts (I am not an expert).

  • ICE ICE ICE – heat does not help me at all. I need to get that inflammation out of my body and fast so I ice for 20 minutes a few times a day.
  • Ibuprofen – this also helps with inflammation, even though I hate taking it.
  • Keep your spine in neutral – when my back is spasming or close to it, I stay in a neutral spine. I do the same for my clients.
  • Back brace – these are a bit controversial, but I like my back brace. It feels like it triggers my abs to engage more when I’m sitting for long periods of time. It is rubber and velcro’s around my waist.
  • Move when out of spasm – once my muscles aren’t freaking out, then I move. Here are my go-to exercises:
    • Cat/Cow: on hands and knees, I round and arch my back. I keep my range of motion small and my abs pulled in tight.
    • Pelvic tilts: On my back with my knees bent, I press my low back into the floor and then arch it over and over and over again. Again, I keep my abs in toward my spine so it’s a very small movement.
    • Leg lifts: I try to fire my deepest ab muscles quickly. I lie on my back with my legs up towards the ceiling and squeezed together. I lift my head, neck and shoulders and lower and lift my legs a few inches (this can also be done with bent knees).
    • Leg Pushes & Pulls: On my back, I lift my head, neck and shoulders with my knees bent into my chest. Then I press my legs out (to where I can control keeping my hips and tailbone down) and pull my legs back in. If that’s too much, start with one leg.
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My peeps doing pelvic tilts…..with wine.

I repeat this system until I finally feel better. I know to listen to my experience rather than my body. My body always thinks it needs lots of stretching and heat, but that always makes it worse.

There are way too many of us with back pain. If you’re like me, I hope those reoccurrences are few and far between.

xx

Summer Leg Series

Hello Summer Beauties!

It’s been a busy June vacationing and playing, however, I recruited some family members to help me film my Summer Leg Series*.

Try the workout and let me know what you think! Next up is an arms workout to fulfill my maid of honor duties.

Thanks for working out!

k

*The Summer Leg Series was created by one of my mentors, Melissa Marks. If you’re ever in NYC, go take a session from her. Your body will be forever changed!

Hi you guys,

So it’s week 2 and I feel pretty great. I mean, of course I have cheated. I am human. I am a new mom. I am ______.

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I drank wine spritzers this weekend since I’m trying to bring back the wine cooler era. But really, you should try it this summer – it’s delicious and easy.

  • Fill a tumbler with ice
  • Fill half way with wine (pinot gris, sauvignon blanc or a white blend works well)
  • Add a splash of sparkling water
  • Squeeze a lime in

I also had whipped cream on my berries. Big time…

My workouts were pretty successful, although ideally I would have been able to squeeze in one or two more. Here’s what last week looked like:

  • Monday –  Pilates chair workout
  • Tuesday – Brazilian Buttlift 25 min dvd
  • Wednesday – Pilates tower/reformer workout
  • Thursday – Too tired
  • Friday – 3 mile hike with the babe
  • Saturday – Nope. Every intention of swimming, but I woke up nauseous (I think from weaning…hormones are nasty)
  • Sunday – Went wine tasting instead

Lunch has been the most challenging because I had not planned it out. So this week, I bought tons of veggies and tofu and chopped it all up ahead of time. So now, I just add lettuce and dressing. So.Much.Easier.

My salad add-ins include beets, roasted potatoes, baked tofu, lentils, brussel sprouts, white beans and cucumbers. I got most of these pre-cooked at Trader Joe’s so it’s not as time consuming as you’d think.

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If you’re also getting healthy and gorgeous, keep it up – you’re awesome! And no judgements for a “cheat” – we’re all just _____.

Please share your tips or favorite recipes!

We all know sugar is the devil and it’s in everything. Over the years, I have completely cut out sugar which not only required an enormous amount of will power, but loads of preparation so I had other choices when I got hangry.

I was supposed to start a cleanse yesterday, however, I just couldn’t get everything prepped. Truth be told, I spent the time hanging out with my family than prepping for a cleanse which is just what I needed.

Instead, I just cut out sugar. I’m still eating fruit, but the no-sugar headache has already set in (that’s when you know it was bad). And yeah, I’m really proud of me too. Anyone want to join me?

So how in world can this be done when you have a huge sweet tooth (read sugar addiction). It’s going to take loads of will power, but here’s how I try to curb the sugar.

First, drink water and grab protein if you can. It’s not a scam. Eat. Real. Food.

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Cinnamon and nutmeg in my morning coffee. Seriously makes a big difference. If you use a milk alternative like me, make sure you buy unsweetened and read the label because they love to add sugar.

Eat fruit. Try a banana or an apple. Berries are the best though and lucky for us, it’s strawberry season!

Grab a protein bar. I usually grab a Lara bar that doesn’t have any sugar (read the ingredients – they are not all sugar-free). I had been eating Quest bars up until this week. FYI – they use fake sugar (sucralose and stevia) which tastes funny. Also, sucralose (think Splenda) is not so good for you so do your research.

Almond butter. This usually satisfies my craving. I put it on an apple or a cracker (bonus if I make my own crackers with almond flour).

Yogurt. We make yogurt at home with the Donvier yogurt maker. It’s super easy and we get to control the type of milk (organic whole or half and half from a local farm). A cup of yogurt is a great afternoon snack especially if you add nuts or berries.

If you’re trying to cut down on sugar, here are some ideas for lower sugar snacks:

Make desserts sweetened with honey instead of sugar. On a good week, we’ll bake something sweet so we don’t come back from the store with ice cream. We often use The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook but the author has a lot of recipes on her website too! I scour my favorite Paleo blogs and pin my favorites. Check out my dessert board.

Drink a glass of chocolate almond milk. This always satisfies my sweet tooth.

Buy dark chocolate. Drink with red wine. Enjoy.

Tea with honey. ok this only works some of the time, but it’s worth a shot.

Share any tips you have. Please and thank you.

 

Low impact, high intensity

I’m always a fan of a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout; however, suddenly it has become critical.

I’m starting to wean from breastfeeding and while that alone has logistics and feelings (oh so many feelings), squeezing a workout in seems to be really beneficial. So while I am feeling very, ahem, full the last thing I want to do is jump around, bounce or well, you get the idea.

Finding time is still challenging so even a 15 minute workout feels like an accomplishment. I’ve been doing 5 minutes of squats and 10-15 minutes of the side leg series from pilates which I lovingly refer to as the summer series.

The Nike Training app is also a great tool. You can choose the intensity, length and fitness goal.

 

I can finally say, “This is the best”

You guys,

You know how everyone always says, “having kids is the best” and “isn’t it just the most incredible thing that has ever happened to you.”

To be honest, I just didn’t get it.

Was it better than when we travelled to Croatia? No. Was it better than our wedding? Nope. Was it better than dancing in a gold lame’ one piece? Of course not. Compared to traveling the world, eating at amazing restaurants, going to new workout classes all over the city and socializing, I just couldn’t imagine it ever being better.

And then suddenly, it was the best.

I can’t tell you the day it happened or even the month, although I think there is a strong correlation with sleeping.

What I can tell you is that I’d go to bed and think, I can’t wait until he wakes up at 5:30am so I can play with him again. I’d look at him and feel like he is the most fun human I’ve ever met. I’m so happy around him, it feels silly and cliche’…. and awesome.

Honestly, I’m a bit relieved to have this experience because I was really beginning to wonder why parenting felt so different for me. I’d ask my partner-in-crime, “do you think it’s the best?” I needed him to be my gut-check to make sure I wasn’t missing something important.

And I know there will be a lifetime of moments when it’s the best and when it isn’t the best. From what I’ve heard the threenager is not the best.

So for now, I’m trying to enjoy my “it’s the best moment” and engrain the memories into my brain.

More importantly, if you’re having an “it’s not the best” moment, you’re not alone. And I’m now quite certain there is a lot of us out there. Loosing freedom is serious business and while there are certainly a lot of perks, we still have to adjust to the massive change that is parenting.

But then there’s this – his first time on a swing.

 

 

 

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Happy Monday! Phase 2 (of likely many) for getting my body back is menu planning. Over the years, I’ve found that the only way I’ll eat a clean diet is to be super prepared. Which involves time – a scarce resource these days.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve started planning our dinners again. My partner-in-crime is an incredible cook, but it takes time and being prepared is critical to eating before 9pm.

Note to all experienced parents: I am fully aware that we’ll have to change our process again once our babe starts eating with us. Another example of the game completely changing once we finally feel that we’ve gotten into a rhythm. 

Meal planning has become a ritual. We plan everything out on the weekend and then Sunday morning we go to family Stroller Strides for a workout and head to the farmers market. Later that day, one of us will go to the grocery store to buy the remainder.

The lentil soup and quinoa patty recipes are from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day cookbook. The rest are old favorites inspired by dinners out.

I also just made a new rule that we need permission to bring anything with sugar in the house. Wish us luck.

How do you do it? What are your go-to snacks? Please share any good recipes and tips.

 

 

 

Working out with a baby

 

I did not expect working out to change much after I had my baby. I was certain I could still squeeze in 20 minute workouts after he went to bed or during naps. Well … I could not have been more wrong. Oh and that first workout back – I can’t even explain how hard that felt.

What I didn’t anticipate is that this beautiful, alert, head strong little baby would suck all of the energy and brains out of my body.

Sleep training has allowed me some energy to figure out a new routine. Here’s what it looks like 7 months in.

  • Pilates everyday – even if it’s 4 minutes, I have forced myself to get on the floor and do pilates. Sometimes afterward, I have the energy to put a load of laundry in and sometimes, I curl up on the couch and watch tv. I’m doing March MATness and the 30 Day Pilates Body Challenge to stay motivated – join me!
  • Mommy & Me Yoga – I loved these classes. My babe was always entertained and I squeezed in a workout most of the time. He’s crawling now so we have to start a class for older babies, which I’d imagine is less of a workout and more of a chase.
  • Hiking – This was my go-to because my babe would nap better in a carrier than at home. And fresh air – do not discount the importance of fresh air when you are overwhelmed, tired and well, tired.
  • Rock climbing – We just took our babe, 7 months, to the climbing gym and it was awesome. He crawled everywhere and even attempted to climb while we took turns bouldering. It is definitely part of our new routine, although, he was full of chalk after (germs are good right).
  • Swimming – I try to swim once a week. My joints are still super loose from the hormones so I have to be really careful to avoid injuring myself – be careful mamas! I’m trying to see a physical therapist for some help.
  • Stroller Strides – We attend family classes next to our farmers market and it’s our new Sunday tradition. It’s a HIT workout that’s more baa-baa-black sheep then boom-boom-pow. We sacrifice a good morning nap, but we both get to workout AT THE SAME TIME and then shop for the week at the market. Win win.

I can’t do all those activities every week (duh), but I do pilates on my own Monday – Thursday. Friday, I either go to yoga or the climbing gym. Saturdays are swimming and/or a hike and on Sundays we do family Stroller Strides.

And it’s seriously hard! Go parents, go. This journey is not for the faint of heart.

Hello, it’s me

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Exactly seven months after my baby was born, I’m back. I’m proud to introduce Knox who as it turns out, is also a mover.

Becoming parents has not been easy, but we’re finally feeling a bit more like ourselves these days. More on that later, but more importantly, it’s March. That means March MATness. 31 days of pilates.

I’m excited on all levels. I’m working, pumping and spending time with my babe which hasn’t left much energy for working out during the week. All parts of me needs pilates everyday.

Let me know if you want to join me!

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For the first time while traveling, I became really frustrated with my workouts. It was still super cold in Cleveland so I couldn’t (ok maybe wouldn’t) walk. I’ve relied on the Nike Training Club App and these go-to workouts, but there just not working as well with my new body. I end up having to adjust the exercises so much, I barely follow the workout.

I tried a bunch of pre-natal workout options and none of them gave me a true workout (or even a little burn which is all I’m looking for). I have even been stubborn and attending a lot of classes not meant for pre-natal ladies. What I learned is that the normal fitness junkie would have a to have a ton of knowledge to modify the workouts because it’s just too much for an instructor to give you the attention you would actually need in class (so please be careful mamas!).

Here are my pre-natal go-to workouts:

  • Hatha yoga – Pre-natal yoga is great, but let’s be honest, it’s not much of a workout. I took a two hour pre-natal yoga seminar from The Pad Studios and it was the best $45 I could have spent. It taught me how to be safe and continue practicing yoga. The flow classes are a bit too much for me personally so I’ve been going to hatha classes which holds the poses a bit longer and is a more intentional pace. These were my favorite tips:
    • Twisting is OK, but twist while keeping your torso open. That means you’ll likely be twisting the opposite direction of everyone else in class. If you think you are crunching your baby – you are crunching your baby!
    • Widen your stance when in doubt. As you grow, your center of gravity shifts making balancing particularly challenging. Stand with your feet hip width apart instead of together. For hip opener stretches, widen your leg to the side more than you would think. In humble warrior, bow towards the center instead of next to your leg. Etc.
    • Squat – just squat all the time. Low squat, high squat, open leg squat – just do it. Squats build those magic pelvic floor muscles and the low squat will release them. I’ll let you think through the benefits of both.
  • Swimming – This along with maternity clothes has completely changed my pregnancy. To feel weightless is indescribable right now. Head to your nearest pool, trust me. I started swimming 2,000 yards (or 80 laps) twice a week and feel great.
  • Spinning – Ok, this one is getting harder. I plant myself in the back because I can’t seem to keep the beat with all those gorgeous 20-somethings, but I feel great after and the arm weight component serves as a good break in between all the pedaling.
  • Pilates – Of course I’m still doing pilates! I plan to post a side kick series video shortly and there’s still a lot I am able to do. I still do abdominal work with a shorter range of motion. While it might not be for everyone especially pilates newbies, it feels great to access those muscles. Note: talk to a trainer before you decide to do pre-natal ab work (you do have to be careful of your rectus abdominis muscles). 

And please stretch! It makes all the difference in the world.

Happy pre-nataling.