Kymberly: We hear your cry, louder than a baby’s and are here with good news/ bad news. The good news: we wrote a post called Wave Bye Bye to Baby Weight on this very subject that is loaded with help for your exact situation. Start by reading that and trying those exercises. More good news: We created a video with a super tummy tightening abs exercise that is a waistline definer plus all-over core strengthener. Try the Side Lying Plank Rotation Move and feel the challenge right away.
As for the bad news: You’ve got to get a move-on as summer is fast approaching. You are going to need to add more mid- to high-intensity cardio activity to your routine to burn the extra fat you may still be carrying.
Alexandra: Your tummy weight is probably two things – muscles that haven’t paid rent in a long time (possibly with stretched skin on top), and extra fat. The muscles can be toned via the video we made just for you, as well as via these other posts: Fab Abs 1, Fab Abs 2, and Fab Abs 3 (do those sound like 3 seasons of Absolutely Fabulous)?
As my sister mentions above, you will need to do some intense cardio to burn off the extra weight. I don’t know if you gave birth via the Big C or the Just Right V, but if it was the latter, you probably don’t like jumping activities, right? I pushed out two big-headed boys and hate to jump ‘cause it feels like I’m going to pee my pants. (Men, don’t read this bit…jumping actually does make me pee my pants. I hate that, and yes, I do my Kegels. And my kids are teens now. They had BIG heads). We have a post called “Move Your Duff if You Want to Get Buff,” which goes into the “short time frame, big fitness goals,” but you might wish to do your high intensity in the pool or stick more with moderate-intensity and lose the excess weight a wee bit slower. Me, I prefer that path to buff glory! Try Step, stroller-based classes or our group fitness classes.
Readers who have given birth and fought that “baby” weight after at least a year: What worked for you?
Guest post by Mary Ellen Ciganovich
For me, fitness has always been fun! I was lucky enough to have been born at a time when fun meant coming home from kindergarten, doing my homework or chores then grabbing my bicycle and riding around the neighborhood with my friends. In summertime we would ditch our bikes for a game of kickball in the street. Or if we could find a mason jar we would catch fireflies! My neighborhood had a small creek running through it, so on really hot Atlanta nights we would wade through the creek like a band of pirates.
I had a very simple case of petite mal temporal lobe epilepsy but my family took it very hard. They tried to explain to me what epilepsy was but nothing made sense at that age. I was told what I “couldn’t” or “shouldn’t” do but I did not feel any different so I continued to play and stay fit as much as possible. If it was fun, why should I stop? Plus playing outside got me out of the house.
My home life was not the best. We looked like the model family at the movies or restaurants, especially on High Holy days when we would go to church. I was very well-dressed, and as my mother often told me, “at least you don’t look like you have it,” “it” being the epilepsy. I used to wonder what people with epilepsy were supposed to look like!
Our true home life was verbally and emotionally traumatic. When mom and dad fought it would just tear me to pieces. I believed they were fighting about me or I had caused the problem somehow. I am a very sensitive person and did not like to hear them yell and fight and …………… I think you get the picture. When I would get on my bike to ride around the neighborhood I could leave all of their turmoil behind me.
I continued to involve myself in activities that were athletic. My epilepsy was well-controlled though medication so to me it was not a worry. In fourth grade I tried out for cheerleading and continued to cheer through high school. I also took ballet through the Atlanta School of Ballet catching rides to get to my lessons with several worthy friends. I went on to attend The University of Georgia, graduating Magna cum Laude in Education and becoming a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.
Even though my mother and sister told me I could never get married nor have any children–at this time it was illegal in most states for people with epilepsy to marry and/or have children–I did get married and have a beautiful daughter! (You can imagine the ignorance about epilepsy back then.)
I remember when my neurologist told me this diagnosis, my first question was, “Can I still work out?” Exercise always made me feel good and normal, something I never felt growing up. She hesitated for only a moment before saying, “You’re going to work out anyway, aren’t you?” I said “yes” so she told me to “go ahead. It probably won’t hurt.” In 1986 there were no medications or shots to take–nothing but prescriptions to deal with the symptoms. My first symptom was a sharp knife-like pain through my right eye. Prednisone took care of it. Then a sol-u-medrol IV treatment put me back on my feet.
I read everything I could get my hands on about multiple sclerosis. I even called the National MS Society asking them to send me their literature. In 1986 this literature was NOT optimistic. When I received and read this horrible “junk” I called the MS society and told them what they could do with their literature. Then I slammed the phone down and tore it ALL up! I was determined to learn what I needed myself.
What I read about MS pointed at keeping three things in balance
Usually you can find me at the Sports Barn on Lee Highway in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I take lots of classes–such as power flex class, step aerobics, cardio dance, and yoga–because I enjoy them. I also work out on the Precor machines. I played tournament racquetball for awhile but I had to give that up because when I get hot my MS flares up and I start seeing two balls or stumble around as if drunk!
Lately in the heat of the summer I’ve had to back down just to keep my MS under control. You have to know your body. Listen to it. Push yourself to get out there and work out. Meet new people. Make new friends. Find a fitness routine that works for you and DO IT! There are no excuses!! Even on my bad MS days I push myself to exercise because when I finish I feel so much better and I know my MS “monster” is back in its cave!
Being active is fun! It means getting together with some of the most wonderful women in Chattanooga who have become much more than workout buddies – they are my friends, my own little support group. (I would like to tell them Thank You! I hope all of you know how much your kindness, love and unending support have meant to me!)
To all of you reading my story: what is your excuse if you are not working out regularly? Lack of time? Money? The old “I don’t look good enough to go to a gym” excuse?
Guest post from Suzanne Andrews
I developed bursitis in my hips creating an inflammation so severe that I couldn’t walk without flinching. I suffered through two miscarriages and eventual gall bladder surgery. My condition had gotten so severe I couldn’t even play with my newborn without becoming winded. Exercise was out of the question. I could barely see my toes; being able to touch them was a fantasy.
Every day was another dose of my harsh reality. Commuting to work on the bus was a humiliating experience, as I had to endure the cruel snickers when I couldn’t fit into the seat. My wake-up call came two years later, at my son’s birthday party. When I saw the videotape of the celebration, I didn’t even recognize myself. Staring me in the face, right there on the screen was the reason my hips and back ached so terribly. I had enough. It was time for a change.
A guest panelist and psychologist on the CBS Geraldo show where I worked, told me meditation could help. I was skeptical, but desperate to try anything that would make me feel whole again. I needed to be there for my son. At first I didn’t understand how a sedentary activity like meditation could help me to lose weight. It was not long before I discovered the secret—during meditation your mind is the CEO and your body the dutiful employee. You tell your body what it needs to do and it follows suit.
The ritual of meditation was the spark that jump-started my weight loss plan. I felt energized to exercise daily, choose healthier options and control my portion sizes. The meditation motivated me in ways I never thought imaginable, helping me lose the excuses and get on the track to better health. I started with gentle yoga combined with low impact exercises, which not only helped me to start shedding pounds, but also made my day-to-day tasks more manageable.
Meditation saved my life and prevented my son from becoming motherless at 10 years old. I credit my success to the incorporation of mind, body and spirit that meditation encourages. The same breathing techniques that controlled my appetite and regulated my stress also helped encourage me to exercise enough to develop my lungs and give them power. It was those same healthy, powerful lungs that delivered me from the brink of death when a medical miscalculation caused my heart to stop on an operating table. As doctors frantically fought to revive my lifeless body with CPR, my body started to shut down, turning my lips, hands and feet a chilling blue. Near death, I was transported by ambulance to the intensive care unit. My body was on the verge of giving up. My kidneys shut down and my veins constricted so tightly that doctors could not administer a lifesaving intravenous line.
My body and my spirit were determined to live. I would not die; I would live; I would see my son again. I started to meditate. After five minutes of willing myself to survive and using my meditation skills, my body started its journey back from the edge. My kidneys started functioning again. My pulse strengthened and my veins opened up. Later, my cardiologist would proclaim in amazement, “I’m an Indian doctor and my patient is teaching me how great meditation is!”
After that near death experience, I had a renewed sense of purpose: motivate others and help those struggling with weight find their purpose. My weight could have been a death sentence, but meditation and determination were my pardon. I went from being introverted and soft spoken to a confident, capable and dynamic woman ready to embrace life.
Dear Readers: Join 45 million in the PBS family and catch Suzanne in action on her PBS tv show, Functional Fitness. If her show does not air in your area, get bizzzeeee and email and request that they broadcast the show where you can work out with her. To learn more about Suzanne’s program, Functional Fitness; to work out with doctor-recommended DVDs; and to see a free preview go to www.healthwiseexercise.com
She says you are also welcome to email her at email@example.com. How friendly is that from a tv star?
When there are changes in the nervous system (spinal cord, brain, neurons, nerves, etc.) and circulatory system (heart, veins & arteries deliver blood to body’s tissues), this can cause a drop in the amount of blood getting to the brain. This decrease leads to Ka-Thunk – loss of consciousness. We discussed this right here and here.
* Anemia is having a lower than normal red blood cell count. Why does this matter? Because a low count means decreased oxygen to the brain. And lots of university students are iron-deficient, which is strongly correlated to anemia. Lots of females with heavy periods are prone to anemia too.
* Eating disorders wreak havoc on the body, so it’s no surprise that fainting is a result.
* Pregnancy is fairly uncommon, but not unknown to this age group. Besides changes to the circulatory system and dehydration, those dang fetuses can sit right on top of the blood vessels and SQUEEZE, there goes the brain’s blood supply.
* Stress affects the nervous system, and not in a good way. Blood pressure goes LOW, LOW, LOW when you get under stress. This is rare for university students, as they never, ever worry about finals, papers, social issues, money, grades; that kind of stuff!
* Drugs do not mix well with exercise, including some prescription meds. Actually, if you’re misusing or abusing drugs, fainting is probably the least of your health worries!
* Medical issues, such as cardiac (heart) problems, seizures, or certain types of migraines are a big deal. If you’re fainting a lot or for longer than a minute, get checked out!
* Hyperventilation (fast breathing) causes carbon dioxide (CO2) to decrease in the blood. Combine exercise with an anxiety/panic attack, and you see the problem!
* Overexercising pisses off your histamine receptors, and they get so upset that they overact.
* One of the most common reasons students faint is dehydration. Drink more fluids, especially water, and eat properly before your workout. Sadly, this is so easy to prevent, yet accounts for most of the fainting. Does this sound like you? If so, get a water bottle. Use it!
* Another frequent reason for passing out in class is becoming overheated. This goes along with getting dehydrated, so after you get your water bottle, stand by the fan, A/C unit or the open door.
And now we come to the reason that I suspect there’s an epidemic of fainting this particular quarter – too many people in the room. More students are showing up to class, which means they are all getting hotter, sooner. Considering the fact that students are not fainting in the early morning classes, but are dropping with alarming consistency in the mid-day slots, my guess is a reasonable one. Now I just have to figure out if it’s better to have fewer students (it’s hard to say no to all those eager undergrads) or require them to bring personal spritzers! Or ask them to be absent more often!
Bonus word: Syncope – This is the medical term for “fainting after exercise.” Pre-syncope is when you have signs that you’re about to faint, but manage to recover before fainting occurs. Not to be confused with “syncopate,” which is to place musical accents on the normally unaccented beats, or to shorten a word such as “Sequim” to “Squim.” (Anyone from the Pacific Northwest knows this one!)
Photo credits: Creative Commons
If you do not know by now that we are lip-smacking fans of the “good stuff,” what is wrong with you, fool? Have you not read our previous posts? Not only is it good for you (in moderation), it is bling for the tongue. Pimp My Tastebuds. As a courtesy reminder, let me just say that milk chocolate (nasty horrid Gollum stuff) and white chocolate (isn’t that a contradiction in terms?) do not count. Pick me up and slap me down.
CocoXan: (www.xanconfections.com) It’s not just because my name has the word Xan in it (I’ll help you – AleXANdra) that I love these; I’d eat them even if they were named CocoKym (but for truth in advertising they should be CuckooKym. Just sayin’). These truffles are gluten free too. I ate them and got smarter, stronger, kinder and healthier. No, I did NOT get pregnant. They don’t have one called Coco Dusty Ovaries.
Chocolats du Cali Bressan (www.chococalibressan.com/) Field Trip. Luckily for me, these crazy French types are near where I live so I was able to drive to their chocolaterie. You, however, can order them online. They will still be delicious and French! The only difference is that I was able to lick their display cases and delicately slurp an espresso. Get over it.
Due to our fair, freckly, oily skin (thanks for the ju-ju genetics parents), we are diva princesses when it comes to stuff that touches our skin (no jokes about hot guys here). These products – we likey!
Bath Petals (www.bathpetalsnaturals.com): We discovered this family business on the last day of the Natural Products Expo last month and were impressed by the feel, smell and ethics of these bath products. Cruelty free, organic and devoid of nasty stuff that isn’t good for your body, we tested the French Alpine Lavender Body Butter, Greek Honey Mint Salt Scrub, and Thai Lemongrass Ginger Body Wash. Maybe I shouldn’t have also taste-tested these, but don’t the names just sound delicious?
Wembe Soap: (www.wembe.com) As we were lugging our
loads of swag sample bags out of the Expo, we came across the most delightful young man extolling the virtues of this natural, vegan, eco-friendly, wild Amazonian soap. We sniffed every single sample (I suspect Kymberly licked one or two, but have no proof; just putting some bad karma on her), and our overall favorite was the Assai. That is probably the first time we’ve agreed on something since our high school days, when we both agreed that I’m the better driver!
You have time to order all of these wonderlicious sparkly goodness treats before Mother’s Day. And we are both mothers, so certain children had better be reading this post!
And we were not paid or bribed in any way to share these products with you, although we did get some divine samples (by “we” I mean I almost shared with Kymberly).
Now, who needs our mailing address? We share (not).
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra: First of all, knowing you are still nursing brings back painful sleep-deprived crazy-pants fond memories of being bitten by nursing my own kids. Other than that, there is one part of being a mom that is the same as for non-moms–calories in, calories out. Good news: you are expending extra kcals since you’re nursing (about 500 per day), but other than that, getting into your pre-pregger pants includes staring down those extra snacks. Kiss your baby hello and the snacks good-bye.
Kymberly: Momma-cita, you are asking about tackling two fronts: reducing “baby fat” and getting your “tight abs” back (or was that back in the front?). And you are right! You do have to reduce overall body fat Let’s start by mentioning that the coupon allowing you to call extra body fat “baby fat” expired about 6 months ago. Keep up the swimming, walking, and biking as it IS helping! However, you may need to increase the intensity to burn more calories to achieve caloric deficit. As for strengthening exercises to move those abs back in time, the focus needs to be on the transversus abdominals, as they get most affected by pregnancy. Did you click on that link? Then stop here and do so as it contains the technical background and juicy wuicy details.
A: Without knowing your method of delivery, I’ll just say that getting your abs to pre-baby hotness is generally a bit more work if you had a C-section, because (to word it tastefully) your muscles were sliced in two by a Black and Decker medical device! We are fans of reverse curls, which are great for any type of delivery (you can do the crunches listed too if you want, even though Fun & Fit have sworn off them)!
K: May we assume that you and your wee one are on a semi-decent sleep schedule? If not, and you are still sleep deprived, you may need to take more naps to lose weight. Is that AWESOME advice or what??!! Basically, interrupted sleeping affects your metabolism, slowing it dooowwwwnzzzzz. Buuuuuut, WAKE-UP! this is usually the case when your baby is a newborn so you may have used up that coupon special as well. And we’re back to the fewer cals in, more cals out with cardio, and adding the disciplinarian parent: strength training!
A: Baby or no, the main point is that you burn more calories overall (even during that nap) with a combo of cardio and strength training. We covered that topic right here: Walk Off Weight. In any case, here are some fun (my students at the U get nervous when I use this word) abdominal exercises:
I love the dead bug simply for its name. But smile when you do them, ‘cause you are a ladybug!
Photo credits: Photobucket and Creative Commons
Readers: Are you craving more ab exercises? Have these cravings coincided with an enlarging belly? Then check out our Get Fab Abs Series: Get Fab Abs, Part 1, Get Fab Abs, Part 2, Get Fab Abs, Part 3.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: Good thing you came to us, since we were once fetuses AND pregnant moms. Yup, revel in those credentials! And we have some super specific, non-generic, targeted advice honed from years hours minutes of checking with the real experts. Listen to your body. If an exercise feels good, it probably is; if it feels like too much, it probably is. Seriously! Read this article, The Pregnant Athlete and see for yourself. Show your wife when she is not having any kind of hormone surge. The bottom line, or would this be the “middle line?” — is that a woman who is fit and active prior to pregnancy will have a good sense of her body and therefore be the best judge. In general, she could continue with her activities, reducing intensity when her energy is low and changing position or exercise when she feels uncomfortable. The American College Of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Guidelines put the kibosh no-no on just a few activities: downhill skiing, contact sports, and scuba diving. Whew! Looks like triathlons are fair game if she wants. What the heck, looks like parasailing is an option. Basically, medical advice is that common sense takes over as MD (Most Decisive).
Alexandra: When your wife hits the 3rd trimester, she will probably not find the swimming too much fun. Not because of the exertion, but because those pregnant-lady swimsuits are so ugly simply lovely.
If she doesn’t mind looking like she’s sporting her own personal life ring in the pool, then she’s active, strong and deluded courageous! Truly, I’d rather give you advice. No matter what, even if she asks and looks oh-so-innocent, you are to say, “You look absolutely fabulous,” as the answer to any question that is even remotely worded like this – “Do you think I look big/huge/large/different/unappealing/unattractive?”!!! And look be sincere!
K: When I was pregnant and teaching 8 group fitness classes a week, the activities I found “best” yet still challenging were buying cute outfits that were gender neutral; holding myself back from snapping at my husband for good no reason; and avoiding hot tubs. No, no, not because the heat was too high for the developing baby, but because I kept displacing too much water.
Physically phit moms: When you were pregnant, what did “active” mean to you? And what did you do with your maternity swimsuit?
Photo credits: Creative Commons
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
A: You have PFS? I have SFS – Sistella Femala Syndrome. That’s when you have a female twin who can’t (or won’t) help a sister out! I have found nothing, but nothing, to alleviate that particular pain. As to your knee…you could do these knee exercises while balancing against a wall (and holding a delicious pregnant-lady snack), yet we suggest avoiding #s 3 & 8 and maybe 4. We love the advice on familydoctor.com, but we also suggest you talk to Real Life Doctor dot Brooklyn Ob-Gyn. Of course, we could suggest you take a break, but you are a pregnant lady, which means you feel impelled to do stuff. But really, your knees would feel fine if you sat down and let the bad boy who got you pregnant do all the work!
K: I think you are secretly asking two questions: “what exercises can I still do to stay fit while pregnant?” AND “what exercises can I do to help with knee pain?” Well, we are offering a two-for-one coupon special (kind of like you and your baby-to-be). Alexandra already addressed the knee situation. Gotta ask — any chance you could and would get into a pool and swim or do aqua classes? You can keep up the workouts with minimal knee loading. Just no peeing in the pool, pregnant personage! For overall activity check out the ACOG Guidelines for exercising during pregnancy. Keep in mind that the guidelines are for the “average” pregnant person, which means averagally inactive and kinda sedentaryish, which you are not. So you and your doctor may free you to do more (we are just in a link crazy kind of mood here).
Once you have your baby, you can enroll in the exclusive fitness training program for parents: lift your baby over your head 10 times per day…..until he or she is 18. After that, employ your baby to do all housework and anything else that might hurt your knee. That should free you to get back to those core strengtheners.
A: We hope these exercises help you get to the end of your pregnancy in more comfort. And peace. And joy.
K: (And that’s just what the baby’s dad will experience once you are out of pain).
Dear Mom Readers: When you were pregnant, what pained you the most? The least? What did you do about it besides taking it out on the partner?
Photo credits: Creative Commons (Editor B)