Gift Guide for Fitness Fanatics

Gift Guide for Fitness Fanatics

fitness gift guide

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Have a fitness fanatic (or a wannabe fitness fanatic) on your holiday shopping list?

You’ve come to the right place: I’ve compiled a gift guide for fitness fanatics to help!

I’ve got you covered! Literally!

Inspirational running socks

There are more than 25 styles of these fun and uplifting socks, so there’s a perfect message for everyone. These would make great stocking stuffers, too. Can’t you already hear everyone excitedly talking about which socks they received and how the quote is just right for them?!

Oiselle Tracktion Bra

Best sports bra ever, IMHO. Why do I give it this rave review? I wore the Oiselle Tracktion bra in both the 2016 and 2017 Comrades Marathons….and had ZERO CHAFING. We’re talking running for more than 11 hours at a time in hot weather and having no painful chafing to show for it. So, yeah, I declare it the best bra ever. I do recommend sizing down.

Gift Guide for Fitness Products to Get You Moving

52 Stack Strength Cards

If you’re a veteran exerciser who just needs a little help coming up with a workout that will challenge you, the fitness cards from 52 stack can help. With all bodyweight exercises, the cards are a fun way to keep your workouts fresh. A great option for the at-home exerciser or someone who travels a lot but wants to keep up her workouts.

Balance Virtual Bootcamp

Yes, I’m biased. Balance Virtual Bootcamp is my six-week course that emails a workout to you every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The workouts can be done in about 30 minutes and use minimal equipment. All exercises have video demonstration (by Yours Truly) and written descriptions. Modifications to suit a wide range of fitness levels are given. There are also weekly motivational videos to keep you on track.

Fit2B Membership

Fit2B was started by Beth Learn, a perinatal fitness expert whose online workouts are all “tummy safe.” Beth’s extensive knowledge of diastasis recti and her realistic approach to fitness align with my coaching philosophies. If you’re looking for ongoing at-home workouts that are based in body alignment, good form, and functional strength training, I recommend a Fit2B membership.

(Yes, I am recommending someone else’s online fitness program. That’s how good Fit2B is!)

Accessories for your Fitness Fanatic Family and Friends

Kaiman Exo Lady Sphere Goggles

 

For the swimmer on your shopping list, get her a pair of goggles she’ll love. These Kaiman Exo Lady Sphere goggles are my fave. Why? I have a small head.

(Go ahead and make your jokes….)

These are the only goggles– other than junior sized goggles– I have found that actually fit my head. And swimming is a much better workout and much more fun when you’re wearing goggles that work well.

Peace Yoga Strap with multiple handles

 

I love fitness equipment that serves several functions. This yoga strap is long (7ft), so it works well both on land and in the water. I also like the multiple handle loops sewn in to the strap, as it allows for easier gripping regardless of where on the strap you hold. This is key for anyone who has grip issues– like arthritis. If you have an aging yogi on your list, this yoga strap will be a hit.

Live Infinitely Massage Stick

My favorite massage tool! This little stick works wonders, especially for sore quads and calf muscles. It’s easy to pop into a suitcase to use after a long day of travel, too. Is there anyone on your list who wouldn’t enjoy a little post-workout self-massage?

What’s your favorite product or service I left off my gift guide for fitness fanatics? 

 

 

What to Eat After Exercise

What to Eat After Exercise

post workout nutrition

Have you ever finished an absolutely rocking workout and then a few hours later either fallen asleep or felt so hungry you could eat a horse? If you knew what to eat after exercise, you could avoid both of these situations!

Let’s think first about what happens inside your body while you’re exercising.

Your body needs energy to fuel your workouts. The energy your body uses to fuel your workouts comes mostly in the form of glycogen. Glycogen is metabolized and stored carbohydrates. Some glycogen is stored in your muscles. This is the main source of fuel when you’re exercising.

Exercise requires your muscles to work harder than normal, resulting in microscopic breakdown of proteins in your muscle fibers. This is a good thing! It is in repairing these muscle fibers that you gain strength.

After your workout finishes, your body has two main jobs: replace glycogen stores and repair muscle.

These two main jobs require two different nutrients– carbohydrates to replace glycogen (and keep up your energy levels) and protein to repair muscle.

Keep in mind you’ll want to eat a ratio of about 3 grams carbs to 1 gram protein for the optimal post-workout nutrition balance. This ratio changes slightly based on the type of exercise you do. An endurance cardio workout like running, swimming, or biking uses more carbs than a strength training session.

Now we can better understand what to eat after exercise.

Need some food for thought? Here are 5 great post-workout snacks.

  1. Peanut Butter (or other Nut Butter) on a Banana
  2. Scrambled egg and whole wheat toast
  3. Tuna and multigrain crackers (BONUS: topped with avocado)
  4. Cottage Cheese with fruit
  5. 8-12 ounces Chocolate milk (Like these little boxes you can take with you!)

Each of those post-workout snack options gives you a balance of carbs and protein. By eating them within 30 minutes of finishing your workout, you’re setting your body up for a speedy recovery. (If you ate a meal before your workout, you can go as long as an hour afterwards without eating. Your body will still reap the benefits of the glycogen and protein synthesis.) Don’t forget to hydrate, too!

By knowing what to eat after exercise– and eating it!– you’ll stave off the post-workout energy slump and reduce the likelihood of a binge eating session later in the day. Talk about keeping your body well-balanced!

What to eat after a workout.
3 Pitfalls of Early Parenting

3 Pitfalls of Early Parenting

early parenting guilt

Being a parent is hard. While we hear a lot about babies and cuddles, there are big challenges in the early months and years of parenting. Even though my babies are all in school now, I work with clients who are still in the trenches of early parenting. It’s hard work, y’all.

There are three pitfalls of early parenting that I experienced myself and I see my clients struggle with all the time.

Lack of sleep

Y’all, my three babies have so many gifts. They are all very healthy, intellectually capable, and display relatively age-appropriate understanding of caring for others. But, oh my goodness, they are terrible sleepers. All of them.

My oldest just flat out doesn’t require much sleep. I had a baby with a serious case of FOMO. He was an information junkie. It was as if his brain could not shut down; he wanted to collect every bit of data out there and store it away for future reference. This meant sleeping was not really on his radar.

But enough about him. Let’s talk about ME. While my baby was perfectly happy on his not-sleeping-much schedule, I was a WRECK. It was also emotionally exhausting worrying about how much my baby wasn’t sleeping.

I read sleep books. Tons of them. But my kid didn’t seem to care what the experts said. Gah! I was trying everything, and still he never slept. (And neither did I.)

In the end, despite my exhaustion, I decided to follow the advice: parent the child you have.

(Guess what? At 14, my baby is still this way. He is an information collecting machine. Even after two nights of being up past midnight for marching band events, he “slept in” all the way till 8am.)

All that to say, new moms with your so-tired-you-shouldn’t-be-allowed-to-drive-a-car fatigue, I FEEL YOU….

But, really, that old advice to sleep when the baby sleeps? It’s truly the golden nugget of surviving early parenting.

Isolation

Social isolation that accompanies the early months (and sometimes years) of motherhood often strikes unexpectedly. While we have visions of people clamoring to come adore our new baby, the reality is that people are busy. And while having a new baby has absolutely rocked your world, life moves on around you for everyone else.

Being aware that this tendency to social isolation exists can help moms-to-be brainstorm ideas before the baby as to how they’re going to cope when baby arrives.

I hit the jackpot with my first baby. Although I was living a continent away from my friends and family, I was fortunate to fall into a friends-group of women also becoming mothers for the first time. We met in our childbirth class. That was nearly 14 years ago, and I count several of them as good friends to this day.

At our final childbirth class, our instructor passed out a calendar with weekly hostess duties on it for the next six months. We were to meet weekly as an ongoing support group as we transitioned into motherhood.

Most of our outings included sitting in local parks and drinking tea and eating cakes. We admired each other’s babies. We listened to each other kvetch. We supported each other through the challenges of breastfeeding.

Of course, living in London where my friends could take a full year of maternity leave was a key part of keeping our community strong. When I returned to the US and my second child was born, I had a much harder time seeking out a similar community. (I never found it.) It made me realize just how special my girlfriend buoys were in my transition to motherhood.

I urge you to seek out a new moms group. Yes, it can be awkward to go at first. But I guarantee you every other woman there is also nervous about going. Be support for each other.

We women are at our best when we lift each other up.

Guilt for self-care time

Shifting priorities once women become mothers often means less time (FAAARRRR less time!) for self-care. Furthermore, many women feel guilty when they do commit to self-care, thinking that their main priority at all times should be their child.

And maybe it should, but self-care is an integral part of being the best parent you can be. Like the old saying goes: you can’t pour from an empty cup.

So whether your self-care involves a regular exercise habit, taking time to read a juicy novel, or just enjoying your morning cup of coffee in peace, know that honoring your own needs is vital.

Have a conversation with your partner about the support you need in order to keep self-care on your schedule. The more communication you have about this, the more likely you’ll be to keep it up. If both of you understand that things may (read: WILL) change, you will in a good place to have a realistic approach to self-care in the early days of parenthood.

Guilt-free!

Support for new moms is essential to finding contentment in early parenting.

I urge you to seek out support for the physical and emotional demands of motherhood. I know your time and sanity are limited right now, but you’re worth it!

And if you’re one of the lucky mamas experiencing early parenting and perimenopause at the same time– I feel you! Our modern life of having children in our late 30s and early 40s is totally out of synch with our evolutionary biology. Knowing that doesn’t make the day-to-day any easier, but it may explain some of your feelings!

If you don’t know where to start with supporting the physical and emotional challenges of early parenting, drop a comment below. I’ll help you find some groups or resources in your area.

Self Care For New Mothers
Going Deeper with Aqua Yoga

Going Deeper with Aqua Yoga

Led by pioneering yogi Camella Nair, I was fortunate to spend a long weekend going deeper into aqua yoga study. The three-day intensive Aqua Yoga Specialist workshop was both exhilarating and exhausting.

It is always uplifting to be in the presence of women who are committed to improving the lives of others. We have all chosen yoga as our path to reach people often marginalized by traditional fitness programs.

Aqua yoga is wonderfully accessible. The buoyancy of the water allows people– regardless of their body’s ableness– to move in ways that gravity on land prohibits.

One of my favorite new-to-me concepts was using yoga straps as a sling in the water. I’ve used straps before to help people utilize the pool wall as an available surface. Using the strap as a sling to support the body, however, opens up so many new possibilities.

 

We spent some time exploring how aqua yoga could offer benefits to people who are wheelchair-bound. While recognizing that people utilize wheelchairs for a variety of reasons– some temporary, some permanent– there is also a wide variety of body movement we can offer them.

Perhaps the greatest benefit to the wheelchair bound is that gaining length in the spine allows the chest cavity to expand and the lungs to fill more easily. Imagine the release and relief of being able to breathe deeply while feeling supported by the water.

 

For people whose lower body is extremely buoyant, utilizing ankle weights and noodles allows the person to feel balanced in the water. The balance gives way to a relaxed confidence that the body is safe. The mind can calm and enjoy the support of the water in an unusual but nurturing position.

 

Playing with buoyancy and gravity is especially fun with how it relates to aqua savasana. The water is an ally of the parasympathetic nervous system. Allowing people to find calm and restoration in the gentle embrace of warm water is an avenue of healing we should all explore. Throw in a snorkel, and you can bliss out in ways you never thought possible!

 

Best of all, aqua yoga promotes inclusive community.

At its essence, breath, movement, higher intention, and honoring other peoples’ journeys are at the heart of yoga. I look forward to bringing this healing modality to even more people!

Aqua Yoga Fitness

Interested in more posts about Aqua Yoga? I’ve got a whole series for you!

Wish you could find Aqua Yoga classes in your area? Find out if there’s an Aqua Kriya Yoga certified instructor near you!

 

Does Posture Really Affect Emotions?

Does Posture Really Affect Emotions?

posture affects emotions

Stop schlumping! Stand up straight! Your mom wasn’t trying to nag you or make you look like a prom queen– she knew your posture affects emotion.

Erik Pepper is a psychologist at the University of San Francisco, and his work focuses on how emotions and thoughts affect energy levels and posture AND how energy levels and posture affect emotions and thoughts.

Our brains receive information from neurons all throughout our body. And the way we hold our body sends the brain particular messages. This is one reason why many people feel emotionally down after a day at work. All of that sitting (and slouching in front of the computer) is sending your brain a message of depressed energy.

Think about it: when you’re excited, your body automatically stands taller with your chin higher and facial muscles engaged. You have open eyes and a relaxed, smiling mouth. When you’re angry, though, the closed posture of crossed arms, slumped shoulders, and clenched jaw sends your brain a very different message.

Your posture embodies your emotions, but your emotions are also sending your brain a message, too. Your brain responds by releasing a hormone appropriate for the situation. That’s the neurological feedback loop at work.

Have you seen Harvard professor Amy Cuddy’s TED talk about Power Poses? In that 2012 presentation, Cuddy raised the idea that by taking particular postures, we can trigger the brain to release beneficial hormones. This concept changed the way people think about how posture affects emotion.

If you can hold your body in ways that actually make you feel more confident and assured, shouldn’t we be practicing that all the time? But like most things in life, our posture is habitually rooted. Changing it, even if we know the benefits of doing so, is hard work.

I think, though, that’s where the real power of Power Poses lies: they are used in specific, trigger events where we need to psyche ourselves up. If we can turn our attention to how our posture affects emotion in big situations, that will raise our awareness at other times as well.

To put it another way, the link between how posture affects emotion is a two way street. Emotion also affects posture. We can use this to our advantage!

The next time you’re feeling low– whether it’s mentally low or physically low– stand tall. Whether you choose to simply hold a power pose or go for a walk (or a skip!), you’ll be flipping the script your brain is writing.

This is not just exercise moving blood around the body to reinvigorate you. This is you taking control to send your brain a message.

And if you’re really feeling like embracing the spirit of how posture affects emotion, take a cue from our Friend Phoebe and let your body take the lead:

http://edzika.tumblr.com/post/60457397622

 

If you’re interested in posture, check out 3 Ways Good Posture During Exercise Boosts Benefits.

Posture and Emotions
3 Ways Good Posture During Exercise Boosts Benefits

3 Ways Good Posture During Exercise Boosts Benefits

posture workout

Ensuring that you have good posture during exercise allows you to maximize the benefits of your workouts. It’s not just a matter of looking good!

There are three key reasons why you should always aim to maintain good posture during exercise.

  1. Proper alignment allows muscles to work most efficiently

Have you ever seen someone lifting with bad form? Of course you have!

And if you’re anything like me, you immediately straighten your own spine, roll your shoulders back, and lift your chest. In doing so, you’re improving your spinal alignment.

As your spinal alignment improves, your pelvis can sit in a more natural position. From there, your core muscles can engage to stabilize your body and allow your limbs to move in their optimal alignment.

Good posture during exercise means that not only can the working muscle be most efficient, but they’re working in concert with stabilizing muscles, too. When you get your whole body working together, that’s super-charged efficiency!

When muscles work efficiently and in concert with the whole kinetic chain, not only do you get stronger faster but your injury risk declines.

Bonus!

  1. Tall posture gives lungs most room to expand

Many popular forms of cardio exercise– such as running and cycling– also encourage a forward-leaning posture. When the lean happens from the hips and the spine stays tall, the lungs can expand fully.

Similarly, strength training– whether with machines or free weights– is best done with a tall spine so muscles can work optimally, as explained above.

But as you fatigue, slouching tends to set in. Slouching compromises lung capacity because there’s no room for the lungs to expand in the chest cavity.

Less oxygen leads to fatigue setting in faster. Keeping a tall spine allows you to breathe deeply. Fully oxygenating your muscles means you can complete your workout without depleting fatigue setting in.

  1. Paying attention to posture during exercise will raise awareness of movement patterns throughout the day

With spinal alignment now a focus of your attention while you’re working out, you’ll find that you are more aware of how you move even when you aren’t exercising.

Maybe you’ll think about how your shoulders tend to slide up to your ears when you’re washing dishes, and you’ll encourage them to slide back down your back.

Or perhaps when you’re lifting your child up and out of the grocery cart, you’ll first take a moment to get your feet underneath of you, bend your knees slightly, and exhale on exertion.

Good posture during exercise boosts benefits for your workout and beyond!

By setting the stage of working out from a posture that allows your muscles to work most efficiently, you’re on the way to improving your alignment all throughout the day. When you stand tall and take deep breaths, you flood your muscles with oxygen. Well-oxygenated muscles work for longer before fatiguing, both when exercising and in the Olympics of Everyday Life. And when you raise your awareness of how your body carriage affects your movement patterns while exercising, you’ll start to notice your posture at other times of day.

Just imagine how great you’ll feel then, when you’re always holding yourself optimally and breathing deeply. There will be no stopping you!

Good Posture and Exercise