Tag Archives: Exercise

Anyone up for a summer health challenge?

As I lay on my yoga mat this morning, I remembered the way my body felt at the end of my pregnancy. Compared to my non-pregnant self, I was disabled. Each movement required effort, changing positions in bed was a conscious act, a walk around the block left my hips and lower back aching. I wanted so badly to run at full speed down the street when we walked the dogs. I swore I was going to make the most of being able to move when I was no longer pregnant.

Three months postpartum I have not made good on this promise. While I am slowly getting stronger, I have been generally too tired or too preoccupied with baby tasks to exercise beyond our evening dog walk, (which took about a month to do comfortably). The first time I tried downward dog a few weeks ago, I practically fell on my face, my arms weak, my wrists throbbing. At the two yoga classes I have attended, my hips, back, wrists, legs have all creaked and ached in ways I never expected.

Put simply, I did not realize postpartum recovery would be such a slow process. I assumed the six week doctor’s visit would coincide with my miraculous return to postpartum health. After all, I eat well, take care of myself, had a natural childbirth… Ha. Apparently sleep deprivation and the act of carrying and then pushing out a baby take different tolls on different people, naturally-oriented or otherwise.

In talking with friends, I have realized postpartum recovery differs for everyone and it really can take anywhere from a month to a year to feel normal. Three months in and I am ready to take matters into my own hands. I want to move better than before and be stronger than I have ever been. When you have known what it feels like to be unable to move, moving suddenly takes on a much greater value.

Which brings me to this post. A year ago, I had just finished a 30-day yoga challenge and felt the strongest and healthiest I had felt in a long time, (also when I got pregnant, hmm…). I want to come up with a new health challenge to get back to (or better than) that point. While I am in no way ready for our next kid, I know I am going to have to be strong and healthy to go through that all again, (I really think if I had been in better shape, my delivery would not have been as taxing and I may have had the energy to actually use a pushing position other than the classic inclined hospital bed).

Using year-ago post-yoga-challenge me as my inspiration... I don't expect (or even want) to ever look exactly the same as pre-baby, I just want to FEEL the same if not better. This picture is probably the healthiest I have ever felt.

Using year-ago post-yoga-challenge me as my inspiration… I don’t expect (or even want) to look exactly the same as pre-baby, I just want to FEEL the same if not better. This picture is probably the healthiest I have ever felt.

So, I need a little inspiration. My time is limited and it is also 100+ degrees outside (yuck!). The more I can do with baby indoors the better. I need goals/ideas for:

1. Healthy eating: I’m already on a restricted diet to help with her colic, (no dairy/wheat/processed sugar), but other processed foods are still a major weakness, (hello Mojo Bars, Late July tortilla chips, turkey jerky, etc). I need easy but filling inspiration, (and when I say easy, I mean no more than 20 minutes to prepare, since baby girl will only sit and watch me for about half that time before she starts fussing). Oh yeah, and I need to drink more water, duh.

2. Exercise: This makes me giggle. I have never been a runner (despite my pregnant fantasy of running at full speed). It’s hot outside. My baby doesn’t wake up until 9AM. I hate exercise videos. I’m full of excuses. I pretty much only like yoga and walking, but I’m going to need some serious encouragement to do enough of either to make a difference. Really, I need a buddy to force me.

3. Mental health: Hanging out with other moms has helped and will definitely be an important ingredient going forward. Writing is also key, but comes at the expense of household chores, exercise, food preparation, etc. Obviously exercise helps, but it already has its own category. Limiting technology makes this list, I find myself sucked into internet on my phone while I nurse, which doesn’t seem good for anyone involved and takes me out of being present with my daughter, (must break addiction)… I digress.

Whether you’re recovering from baby or not, I figure pretty much everyone could benefit from some new health goals or focus. Excited to hear your thoughts/secrets/tips as I develop a new plan for myself. I also encourage you to come up with your own summer health challenge. Life is too short to waste time unhealthy.

{And, side note, I managed to bang out this post in one sitting without baby girl waking up. We’re making real nap progress! Going on two hours! Woohoo! Now to see if there is time to actually proofread, might be pushing my luck…)

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A Good Day for Yoga

Not sure if it has made national news, but if you live in California you’ve likely heard on the radio that yoga was ruled as a form of exercise, not religion in Southern California schools. This is exciting news for me as I figure out how to integrate yoga into my classroom. I still plan to call it something else, but at least there is some backing for the idea that it can be taught in a secular fashion.

And, in less-exciting-to-you yoga news, my husband gave me a new yoga book today and promised he would start participating in home yoga with me. I’m thrilled! If you’re new to my blog thanks to Kozo’s kind repost, welcome. I’m a little obsessed with yoga and what it can do for peace, both mental and physical.

Very excited for my new book and expanding awareness of yoga.

Very excited for my new book and the potential to use more yoga in my classroom.

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My Little Secrets to Travel Health

Gearing up for the second leg of my four weeks of summer travel, I find it necessary to remind myself of the secrets to staying healthy and energized on the road.  These little gems may seem obvious to most travelers, but for me they were slowly won, lesson by lesson, during my three separate treks across Europe, countless American road trips, and a couple of visits to Canada and Mexico for good measure.  Yes, I realize I still have a lot of the globe to see, but I’ll get there with a little luck (and money) on my side.  For now, I’m determined to remember these tips to keep myself healthy for the road already traveled:

Sleep:  For me, sleeping in new places can be very challenging, particularly in noisy cities, or even boisterous small towns like Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre, where the townspeople shout back and forth from their apartments well into the night and again early in the morning.  It was not until my second trip to Europe that I discovered the power of wax earplugs, the kind swimmers use.  While they will not eliminate noise completely, they help you earn a little extra sleep by muffling the commotion, even if what is bothering you is just the stupid in-room refrigerator, (which I have also been known to unplug from time to time).

Now, the second piece of advice on sleep, is if you wake up early, don’t just lie there and wait for your travel companions to awaken– get up!  Get outside!  Some of my favorite travel memories come from early morning walks or runs when a place is just coming to life.  Imagine Rome, just as the shop keepers are opening up their stores for the day, fresh-baked everything wafting through the air, now which is better, lying in bed or getting out and seeing this?

Exercise:  Early morning or not, I force myself to exercise daily.  There is nothing worse than getting home from vacation and realizing that you have a lot of work to do to get back into your regular exercise routine.  I find that even a quick 15 minute run and 10 minutes of yoga, (a few sun salutations, some balance postures, and stretching), go a long way in keeping you energized both during your trip and when you get home.  Likewise, even if you are on an active vacation, this short routine gives you reflective time to yourself and gets your blood pumping for the day.  Best of all, if you push yourself to climb out of bed early enough, you can catch some really amazing sights on your run.  My favorites have always been in Hawaii, where the time change gives you an unfair advantage in getting out of bed early to catch the sunrise while running on the beach.  Life does not get much better than that.

My Montrails are a must pack– officially my favorite running shoes of all time and double as great hiking shoes.

Eat:  Combined with exercise and sleep, eating well on your trip will keep you feeling great both during your travels and when you get home.  There is nothing worse than the cumulative food hangover of consistent eating out.  My remedy for this is pretty easy– work in food from the supermarket during your trip then go sit in the local park or on a bench in town to eat and enjoy the scenery.

We picked up this meal for two for only $11 from the Mt. Shasta Super Market, which carries a wide range of grass-fed, humanely-raised meats. Way better than a fast food meal.

For quick lunches and anytime you’re tempted to eat fast food, these local groceries stores will do the trick.  You’ll save money from a sit-down restaurant, end up feeling a lot healthier, and get to explore local markets in the process.  Whether I’m in Salzburg or Mt. Shasta, I find wandering around a new grocery store to be an interesting cultural experience, and it is fun to buy foods you normally do not keep stocked at home, like dill havarti or German potato salad, perhaps.  Yogurt and fruit also make a nice change of pace from all the other crap you’re likely to be tempted to eat while away from home, which brings me to my other food tip.

Often I find myself ordering whatever sounds the most delicious on a menu, without any regard for health because it’s a special occasion to eat out.  However, a few cheeseburgers deep, my stomach usually starts to hate me, so I have to remind myself to balance in whatever sounds healthiest on the menu as well.  The upside is that usually I am surprised by how the healthiest choice ends up being equally delicious, prompting me to continue ordering this way throughout the trip, and feeling better as a result.

And, last but not least, I carry around a little pharmacy of natural (and not) remedies to cope with those moments you do not feel so stellar while traveling.  Nux Vomica is an excellent homeopathic for car or plane sickness, Emergen-C will fight off that pesky sore throat, enzymes take away some of the guilt for less-than-healthy food choices, and ibuprofen is pretty self-explanatory.  For long air trips, I also carry Dramamine to deal with motion sickness, which has the added benefit of knocking me out.  I may be the daughter of a hippie and into natural remedies myself, but I also recognize that travel time is valuable, so I will do whatever it takes to quickly fix the problem.

Staples in my Traveling Pharmacy

Fun:  So, there you have it.  I love to travel as much as the next gal, but I am careful to keep myself healthy and energized along the way, even if it means carving a little time out for myself to exercise or forcing myself to watch what I eat.  Now, wish me luck as I embark this afternoon on my girls’ road trip to Olympia, Portland, and the Oregon Coast.  Should be a raucous blast!

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