Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Nellie's All-Natural - Safety and Performance

Pregnancy is a great motivator for many women to improve their health and lifestyle. As a Fit 4 Two® participant we know you're already convinced exercise is good for you and baby and many of you are trying to make healthier food choices more often. New parents baby-proof the house and research oodles of baby products for health and efficiency.  What many parents are unaware of, is in their attempt to have a clean and safe place for baby, they might actually be increasing the environmental toxins in their home. Meet Nellie's All Natural.

Nellie's Safety AND Performance 

According to The David Suzuki Organization "Canadians spend more than $275 million on household cleaning products in a year. We buy these products to fight germs, streaks, stains and odours to keep our homes sparkling clean. Cleaning is supposed to be about maintaining a healthy home, yet some common household cleaning products contain chemicals that can harm human health and the environment."

Since having my own baby, I've tried several kinds of "natural" cleaners and been underwhelmed with their performance, but I was willing to compromise. I figured having no chemicals or perfumes in my household cleaning products was the priority. Having the whitest whites was not something I was going to stress about. A few times, I even attempted to make my own, but it ended up being more work than was worth it. When I found out they were a Canadian company (North Vancouver!), I was definitely curious to try out Nellie's All Natural products. 

Nellie's All-Natural Laundry Products

I tried Nellie's Laundry Soda and was quite pleased with the results. My family`s clothes looked and smelled clean, but not perfumy. Ironically, I got a mossy green stain on my knee taking the above photo, but I treated it with the lemongrass WOW stick before throwing it in the wash and got the stain right out. 

Nellie's also make a vegetable-based baby laundry soap which has an oxygen brightener built right in. It is designed to be gentle on baby's skin, yet effective on protein (read poop) stains. The all natural lamby dryer balls help reduce drying time significantly. For me, it cut down the drying time by about 15 minutes, which helped to get one of my most unfavourite chores done much sooner. I also feel better about reusing the dryer balls vs using disposable dryer sheets. If you like lavender, you'll love their scented dryer ball. 

Nellie`s All-Natural Cleaners

I also tried three of their household cleaners in the bathroom. While some chemical cleaners will make your eyes water and take your breath away, the natural lemongrass scent in Nellie's was subtle, pleasant and left my bathroom shiny and clean.  What else could you want in a cleaner?

Nellie's products are non-toxic, biodegradable and not tested on animals. For more info click here. After trying several Nellie's All Naturals, I know you don't have to compromise safety for performance.

Fit 4 Two® Client Special

Stop by the Nellie's All-Natural booth at the Vancouver Home and Design show Oct 27-30. Purchase the show bundle pictured below for $100 and get an extra 50 wash soda for FREE when you mention Fit 4 Two®.

*this post was sponsored by Nellie`s All Natural, but all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

FAQ #2

How many sets and reps should I do?
During pregnancy and when we are easing back into fitness, it is advised that we focus on muscular 'endurance'. Generally speaking, this is 2-3 sets of 10-16 repetitions.  But...there is more to it then that. 

Think of the 10-16 reps as a window and ask yourself these questions as you go along:

Am I breathing well?
How is my form?
Do I have any joint-associated  pain?
How many more could I do well?

You want to stop on this side of your edge.  In other words, your last rep should meet all of the above criteria.  This is not the time to push through for one more rep. The last thing a mom-to-be or a new mom needs is an injury....especially a preventable one.

You'll sometimes hear a Fit 4 Two instructor say things like "Zero to four more." or "How many more can you do well?" or "Muscle fatigue is normal.  Joint and back pain is not normal." You might notice that we look around the room as much as we count reps.  We are looking for good form and healthy breathing.  These are some of the ways that we keep you safe and help you to get to know your body.

On a related note...if you find that you can do 3 sets of 16 reps no problem...your resistance is likely too low. To be frank....you are wasting your time.  It is probably time to increase your resistance. Moms need muscles. 

FAQ #1

I had my baby 8 weeks ago, I feel great, when can I start running again? 
Running is a great exercise because it is accessible and free. It is also high impact and high intensity so we need a solid base before easing into running.

What I like to see before a new mom begins easing back into a walk-run program

1. Infant feeding is established
2. Mom is getting enough rest that she can enjoy running
3. Mom is pain and injury free
4. Mom has an assessment by a women’s health physiotherapist who will assess mom’s:
  • Alignment
  • Stability of joints
  • Rectus abdominal muscles (checking for diastasis recti)
  • Pelvic floor muscles
  • Ability to engage deep core muscles
The women's health physio can then make recommendations about if, when and how to ease into a walk-run program.

It may seem like a pain to make an appointment and go see a physio but I often see new moms who feel great, don’t have DR, feel good about their pelvic floor….go back to running but then end up with injuries due to misalignment and instabilities….or pelvic floor issues they didn’t know that they had.

Invest in yourself and honour your amazing body. Here are some women's health physiotherapy clinics you might consider in Vancouver BC.  If you live elsewhere, talk to your doctor or midwife about a referral.

Dayan Physio, Envision Physiotherapy and Treloar Physiotherapy Clinic

Safety note:
It is recommended that baby is strong enough to support a helmet before running with baby in a stroller, and that the stroller is intended for running.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Diastasis Recti - Abdominal Separation

What is diastasis recti?
Diastasis Recti (DR), often called abdominal separation, occurs when there is an over stretching of the fascia, the linea alba, that runs vertically between the right and left rectus abdominal muscles. Most pregnant women will develop some level of separation in their third trimester.. It is usually considered a diastasis if the gap is  3cm+ at or near the umbilicus, or 1cm+ anywhere else between the pubic bone and the xiphoid process. This over stretching also causes the linea alba to lose tension.

What causes diastasis recti?
It is caused by a combination of pregnancy hormones dedicated to softening connective tissue and increased intra-abdominal pressure.

Abdominal separation usually develops in the 3rd trimester when the growing uterus puts the most strain on the abdominal wall.  Some women develop DR during the pushing stage of labour as well.  We have seen it develop in the second trimester among Fit 4 Two® participants who are petite in stature, short-waisted, carrying multiples, had DR in a previous pregnancy or who are blessed with a bountiful belly sooner than later.  DR is usually persistent postpartum so a post natal assessment is important.

Why does diastasis recti matter?
DR does not usually cause pain locally, but it may lead to back pain, pelvis pain, and pelvic floor dysfunction during and after pregnancy.  Postpartum, it may affect the aesthetic of how a tummy looks.  Some women with DR look ‘pregnant’ several months postpartum, have a belly button that looks like an extreme ‘outie’ or notice a severe coning shape when they do a curl up.  In some cases, if the diastasis is at the umbilicus, it can make women more susceptible to a hernia.

The good news is that it can usually be rehabilitated postpartum by avoiding certain movement patterns and focusing on others.  This is why we educate about DR at our Fit 4 Two® classes and either offer to assess for it or encourage moms-to-be and new moms to get assessed by their healthcare provider or a women’s health physiotherapist.

How do I know if I have it?
While you can check for DR yourself, we recommend having your abdominal muscles assessed by a professional that has more experience.  This might be your healthcare provider, a women’s health physiotherapist or a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist.

Typically, the person assessing you will ask you to lie on a mat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor and do an abdominal curl.  As you raise your shoulders off the mat, they will use their fingers to feel for both sides of your rectus abdominal muscles and measure the gap in between.  Generally speaking, a gap of 3cm+ at the umbilicus or 1cm+ above or below the umbilicus, is considered a diastasis.

If you are being assessed postpartum, it will be more involved.  They will also want to assess the tension of your linea alba, how your gap changes or doesn’t change when you engage your deep core muscles before and during the curl up and so on. 

If you are pregnant, and you DO NOT have DR
It is safe and beneficial to train all of your core muscles if you can do the exercise without pain, without breath holding and with good form.  Avoid exercises that cause your tummy to bulge or your back to sway.    If you aren’t sure about your form, ask a women’s health physiotherapist or a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist to assess you while you do the exercise.

As you enter into your third trimester, when developing DR is very common due the growing uterus putting strain on the abdominal wall, we recommend that you start exercising as though you have DR.  This means avoiding exercises that cause intra-abdominal pressure like curl ups, front planks etc.  Another way of thinking about it is avoid doing exercises that work your 'six-pack muscles'.

If you are pregnant and you have DR

1. Avoid abdominal exercises that put strain on the rectus abdominals like abdominal curls, v-sits and front planks. You'll want to avoid other less obvious exercises that engage the rectus abdominals like push-ups and cable pulley tricep press downs.  When in doubt, ask your physiotherapist or certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist for guidance.

2. Focus on pelvic floor exercises.  The pelvic floor co-contracts with the transverse abdominals so you'll benefit from a healthy, strong, connected deep core.

3. Choose mindful movement strategies.  Ex. When getting up out of bed, roll over onto your side and use your upper body muscles to bring yourself to sitting.  Avoid getting out of bed 'sit-up' style.

4. Register for a prenatal specific fitness program with instructors who are not just certified to teach fitness, but certified to work with pre and postnatal women.  At Fit 4 Two® all our prenatal classes are designed to support women who have DR and other prenatal related conditions.

5. Book an appointment with a women's health physiotherapist 6-8 weeks after your due date.  These clinics can sometimes be very busy.  But booking your appointment now, you avoid waiting several weeks when you realize you need one.

If you are postpartum

Remember, even if you didn’t have DR in pregnancy, you may have developed it during the pushing stage of labour.

While you can check for DR yourself, I recommend having your abdominal muscles and linea alba assessed by a professional that has more experience.  This might be your healthcare provider, a women’s health physiotherapist or a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist.

If you have an abdominal separation postpartum

1. Avoid abdominal exercises that put strain on the rectus abdominal muscles like crunches, v-sits and front planks. You will want to avoid other less obvious exercises that engage the rectus abdominals like push-ups and cable pulley tricep press downs.  When in doubt, ask your physiotherapist or certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist for guidance.

2. Focus on pelvic floor and transverses abdominal exercises.  If you are not sure where to start, seek out a Fit 4 Two® Tummies 4 Mommies program or book a one-on-one session with a women’s health physiotherapist or a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist.

3. Don’t cave under the pressure to ‘bounce back after baby’.  It took 10 months for your body to grow an amazing human being.  Give yourself time to restore your core and mindfully ease back into fitness.  Do you want to set yourself back weeks or even months because you ignored your diastasis?  Show your amazing body love and patience it deserves.

4. Choose mindful movement strategies.  Ex. When getting up out of bed, roll over onto your side and use your upper body muscles to bring yourself to sitting.  Avoid getting out of bed 'sit-up' style.

5. If you are not already seeing a women’s health physiotherapist, I recommend booking an appointment. Through a full assessment, they might find that there are treatable muscular imbalances contributing to the diastasis and related discomforts.  They can help you rehabilitate and realign.

6. When you are ready, seek out a postnatal specific fitness program with instructors who are not just certified to teach fitness, but certified to work with pre and postnatal women.  At Fit 4 Two® we offer a postnatal core rehabilitation program called Tummies 4 Mommies® and all our multi-level postnatal fitness classes are designed to support women who are healing DR and other common perinatal conditions.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Maternal Mental Health Month

Posted by Dee Clarke, Fit 4 Two Vancouver Westside

About a week ago, I learned that May 4th has been declared World Maternal Mental Health day and the month of May has been declared Maternal Mental Health Month. Given this new information, I thought it was an interesting coincidence that I recently received this note from one of my clients:

"I just wanted to say thank you so much for your classes, they were very important to me. After <baby> was born my "baby blues" never went away. Around the time I started stroller fitness, I was having panic attacks all night and started medication for postpartum anxiety/depression.
Your classes gave me something to be accountable to, and something healthy to commit to to help make myself heal.

The fitness and social aspect were both instrumental to the fact I feel great now. I just wanted to say thank you and tell you how important you and your class were to me. I will truly miss it."

According to the Pacific Postpartum Support Society, 1 in 6 mothers experiences postpartum depression and for some women, depression begins during pregnancy. At a time when so much of our attention is placed on caring for the baby, it’s important to put some of our focus back on the needs of the mom.

You are not alone.

If YOU are a new mom:

Many mothers get the baby blues in the first few days and weeks after childbirth. However, if you are struggling with anxiety, worry, stress, anger, guilt, or sadness that does not seem to be letting up, you may be experiencing postpartum depression. Talk to your doctor, midwife or community health nurse or get in touch with your local Postpartum Support Society.  In BC we have www.postpartum.org and in Manitoba we have www.ppdmanitoba.ca  If you live elsewhere in North America you can find a full listing of support groups at  www.postpartumprogress.com Maternal mental health complications are common and treatable with the right help. 

Depression doesn't always look the way you’d expect it to.
Until I read her note, I had no idea, not even a clue, my client was dealing with depression. She was often one of the first to arrive to class, attended consistently, looked put together and always cheerful, with a "Bring it on!" attitude we fitness trainers love. I’m thankful she got the help she needed and that my classes were part of her recovery, although I was completely unaware of what she was going through at the time.

If a woman in your life is a new mom:
Ask her how's she doing even if everything appears to be going well. If she tells you she is having difficulty, acknowledge her feelings. Let her know it can be better and that help is available. Encourage her to speak with her doctor or midwife or put her in touch with your local postpartum support group  Maternal Mental Health Care saves moms.

Moms deserve all the support we can give them. Start the discussion. #AskHer #TellHer #MomsMatter

Monday, March 21, 2016

Why Babies Benefit from Fit 4 Two Classes

Tummy Time: Wanting to watch mom and look at the other babies will motivate your little one to spend more time on his tummy.  Tummy time will strengthen his neck, shoulders and trunk muscles while preventing flattened head syndrome. 

Visual Tracking: As baby watches you move from side to side or forward and backward he develops his ability to track objects and strengthen his vision.          

Separation Anxiety: Many babies go through separation anxiety.  Attending Fit 4 Two classes with your baby from a young age helps teach him that even when you are moving around the room, you are still there and you'll always come back. 

Role Modeling: Children who see both parents being active are 5.8X more likely to be active themselves. It is never too early to begin being an active role model

Thursday, February 18, 2016

5 ways running a marathon is like labour and childbirth

1. You should train for it.  Just as you would begin a walk/run program, slowly increasing your distance and speed, a solid prenatal fitness training program will prepare you physically, mentally and emotionally for labour and delivery.

2. They are long.  The average marathon time for a 30-year-old woman is around 5 hours.  The average first time labour is 16 hours. 

3. They are intense.
Running at a steady pace for 5 hours is a tremendous challenge.  Labouring for 16 hours is a life-altering challenge.

4. You get a prize. Medals are cool but babies are super cool.

5. You never forget it.
  You will always remember feeling like you couldn’t do it.  You will never forget how it felt to hold your baby (or your medal) in your hands.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

5 Reasons You Want to Be Strong During Pregnancy

As your uterus grows and becomes heavier, it pulls your pelvis forward causing extra strain on your lower back.  As your breasts grow heavier, your upper backs being to round forward and your shoulders start rolling in.  Strengthening and stretching the right muscles can prevent and minimize poor posture.

The postural changes described above often cause pain, especially back pain. Strengthening and stretching the right muscles can prevent and minimize pain.

As your pregnancy progresses, normal movements and activities will begin to feel harder.  If you are strong, you will be better able to handle the extra intensity and avoid injuries.


Staying strong during your pregnancy will improve your physical, mental and emotional confidence

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

4 Ways Attending a Prenatal Fitness or Yoga Class can Help you Prepare for Labour

Labour is called labour for a reason. Its hard work…and we recommend training for it.  Attending a prenatal fitness or yoga class taught be a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist can help you to prepare.  You can expect to:

1. Practice breath work for stress reduction and coping with the sensation of pain.

2. Learn how to activate and tone your pelvic floor muscles in order to reduce the likelihood of pelvic organ prolapse, perineal tearing or the need for an episiotomy.

3. Practice comfort positions that you can use during pregnancy and labour.

4. Strengthen and lengthen the muscles necessary for the many positions and movements of labour and childbirth.

Have you been to a prenatal fitness or yoga class yet?  Contact info@fit4two.ca for a TRY A FREE CLASS pass.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Preparing for Your Growing Baby

Most babies double their birth weight in the first 2 to 4 months.  You need muscles!  Try this fun test to see if you are MUSCLE READY for parenting.

Hold an 8lb dumbbell in one hand.  Make it your dominant hand.  Now move your hand about a foot from your side body.  Walk around.  Now take that weight another foot away from your side body.  How’s that feeling?  Chances are, not good.  Ouch! 

The average infant car seat holding a newborn dressed in one layer with a blanket on top is 18lbs!!!  You are holding 8 lbs!!!  Are you beginning to get my point? 

From the day you take your baby home from the hospital you are going to need a strong and stable body.  Pregnancy is your opportunity to prepare.  You won’t regret it. Click here for prenatal strength training guidelines and tips.

 P.S. It’s always best to click your car seat into the stroller rather than carry it around for any length of time.  Carrying that much weight that far from your side body for a long time can mess with your rotator cuffs.  As a new parent, you don’t have time for an injury. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

5 exercises you can do during pregnancy to give you more stamina for labour

Labour can last a few hours, day or longer. It requires incredible mental, emotional and physical strength. Here are 5 exercises to help you build stamina for the big day:  

Squats and Lunges
Labour involves a lot of walking, getting up, getting down, dancing and standing.  It also involves having the strength to hold challenging positions for long periods of time. You need strong legs and glutes.  Squats and lunges are ideal because they are functional movements and you don’t need any special equipment.  Aim to do 10-15 of each every other day.

Power Walking
We won’t belabor (pun intended) the possible length of labour....so let’s just say that being in good cardiovascular shape heading into labour is well worth it.  I’ve never heard anyone say “I wish I hadn’t stayed fit and strong during my pregnancy.”  Have you?  Aim for power walk for 20-30 minutes 4 days a week. 

Pelvic Floor Toning
The weight of your growing uterus and the pushing stage of labour put tremendous pressure on your pelvic floor.  A healthy and toned pelvic floor has more stamina for childbirth.  If you are not sure how to activate your pelvic floor, talk to a pre and postnatal fitness specialist or physiotherapist.  This article is a good place to started 

Super Moms (pictured below)

Chance are you will want to spend some time, perhaps a long time, on your hands and knees during labour.  It is important to build up strength for holding that position.  This exercise has the added bonus of strengthening AND lengthening your body.  Plus the more time we spend on our hands and knees during the third trimester the greater the chances of optimal fetal positioning. I.E. Baby is more likely to be in the correct position, head down facing mom’s spine, for birth. 

Practice these exercises and more at a prenatal fitness class.  Contact info@fit4two.ca for a TRY A FREE CLASS pass.

Friday, February 5, 2016

5 Ways Exercise During Pregnancy Will Help You THRIVE!

1. Exercise increases energy and boosts mood. 
2. People who exercise on a regular basis are often happier.
3. Prenatal specific core exercises and stretches can prevent and reduce back pain. 
4. Regular exercise means less cold and flus. 
5. Active people report feeling more productive at work and in life.

What are you waiting for?! If you are a healthy woman with a normal pregnancy, it's time to get moving.  Talk to you doctor or midwife about programs in your area.

We recommend completing a PARmed-X for Pregnancy form with your healthcare provider before beginning or continuing an exercise program during pregnancy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

3 Exercises that will help you birth in the position you choose

Are you hoping to birth in a squatting position?  On your side?  On all fours?  Here are 3 exercises that will give you the strength and flexibility you'll need when your baby is ready to be born.

Squatting lengthens and strengthens the muscles needed to birth in a squatting, semi-squatting, hands and knees or even standing position.

Lunges increase gluteal and thigh strength which will come in handy if you decide to push in a side-lying or squatting position.

Hands and knees exercises (Ex. Cat/Cow, Super Mom) will give you the strength and stamina needed if you spend a prolonged period of time in this position during labour.

Need some guidance and motivation? Contact info@fit4two.ca for a TRY A FREE CLASS pass. Click here for the most up-to-date prenatal fitness guidelines.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

5 Ways Exercise Makes Pregnancy Better

1. Exercise prevents and reduces pain.  The #1 complaint during pregnancy is lower back pain.  Squats, lunges, and deep core exercises prevent and minimize back pain.  So does stretching the back, hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps.

2. Regular cardiovascular exercise during pregnancy reduces your chances of developing gestational diabetes. While there are risk factors out of your control, eating well and exercise can have a significant impact.

3. Moving is good for the mind!  Exercise reduces stress and boosts mood. That is healthy for you AND your baby.

4. Active women are more likely to gain an appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy.  Weight is a taboo topic in our culture but excessive weight gain during pregnancy increases the chances of health complications during pregnancy, birth and beyond. 

5. Exercise increases energy!  Many pregnant women suffer from low energy throughout their pregnancies.  Many find that regular exercise makes a significant difference.

Need some guidance and motivation? Contact info@fit4two.ca for a TRY A FREE CLASS pass. Click here for the most up-to-date prenatal fitness guidelines.