Blog

Balance

Weightlifting and Yoga; Yin and Yang for Your Fitness Routine

Being a Personal Trainer and a Yoga Teacher, it’s obvious my fitness routine is includes both, weights and yoga. Weightlifting and Yoga are like Yin and Yang, balancing the body in every way it needs. Strength training helps breakdown and build muscle while yoga speeds up muscle recovery and improves flexibility, all the while, connecting to your highest self. Strength training is the outer work while yoga is the inner work. This yummy duo packs a punch when it comes to improving your fitness progress. I believe in balance and these are two tools you don’t want to miss out on your own Balancebuilding® journey. Adding a mix of both to your weekly fitness routine has endless benefits but here’s a few reasons why you should be considering it.

Stretching and increasing flexibility..

  • Increases endurance and strength
  • Improves balance and flexibility
  • Improves body posture

Improving these things will…

  • Encourage muscle growth
  • Improve muscle efficiency
  • Improve circulation
  • Decrease lactic acid build up
  • Reduce muscle recovery time

And not to mention, you get all of the other blissful benefits of yoga including…

  • Improve respiration, energy and vitality
  • Encourage relaxation
  • Decreasing stress
  • Reduction in inflammation
  • Promote sleep quality
  • Relieve anxiety
  • Can reduce chronic pain

Yoga could be the key to unlocking the extra nudge in progress you need. Start out by trying a yoga class on YouTube or find a local class you enjoy. There is so much more to gain than lose from just trying!

*If you are local to me, in Morgantown, WV, I am starting a Weekly Stretch and Flex Yoga Class July 13th at 9am at the MindBody Center (2000 Coombs Farm Road). See you there!

  • Intro special- $12 a session through July
  • August on- 6 week session- $90- 12 week session- $160

 

 

Balance

Chasing the “Love” Hormone

I have stumbled upon yet again a new Balancebuilding journey for myself that hit me unexpectedly, although it really shouldn’t have. Its the moment I left my Milkmaker title behind and stopped breastfeeding. It was February 14th and Maddux was staying with the in laws while my husband and I went on our annual date to The Forks Inn, Maddux had been only nursing at night for a couple of months and I realized this was my chance to eliminate the night nursing! Yessss! After the roller coaster ride we had been on with breastfeeding, the indescribable bond with Maddux, the oversupply issues, the elimination dieting due to allergies, the gratitude of being able to breastfeed my son who has allergies, the crying over all of the pumped milk that couldn’t be used because of allergies, the abundance of emotion of donating hundreds of ounces of milk to a mother who adopted a baby with formula sensitivities, the pumping and the exhausting self advocacy at work. I am so thankful I was able to breastfeed, but after 15 months of it I was so excited to have some body freedom and sleep back,  so much so, that I didn’t pay attention or plan according to the actual physiological changes that happen afterwards.

Thankfully, we had a long, gradual weaning process which probably made things a little better than they could have potentially been. But my body was definitely missing the prolactin (hormone for milk production- also brings feelings of calmness, well-being, and relaxation) and the oxytocin (hormone required for the “let-down” of breastfeeding- also known as the Love hormone). I felt down, unmotivated, irritable and just not myself. And not to mention, the instant 10 lbs I gained back because I am now not burning the extra 500 calories or more a day, that was nice while it lasted. Breastfeeding was legit my cardio for most of that time period. (Thank you Jesus, because I didn’t sleep for 15 months, so that wasn’t a priority) So with that, and eliminating multiple foods from my diet and going on a more plant based journey I was able to get back to my pre pregnancy weight. But how could I have not planned for this moment?! This is what I do, prepare and recover the body through each Balancebuilding season. Well, I am just a mom like a lot of you, trying to balance everything, family, work, home, and wasn’t as concerned about myself as I should have been. Sometimes it can be so challenging to be proactive for ourselves but it is so important. I think the key thing to remember at all times is that it is NEVER too late to start caring for yourself. One thing I am thankful for that I have been gifted through all of my Balancebuilding journeys is self-awareness. I was self aware enough to know that I wasn’t feeling my normal self, I needed to support myself during this time and that this too shall pass.

Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus and secreted by the tiny, pea sized, pituitary gland. This hormone is associated with trust, anxiety, bonds, and relaxation. The production of oxytocin is controlled by a positive feedback mechanism. When this mechanism is triggered, oxytocin is released.

So mainly what I am after is naturally creating more of the “love” hormone minus the breastfeeding. Whether you are a guy, a girl, a mom who breastfeeds or a mom who doesn’t, this list of ways to chase feel good hormones can benefit anyone. But I am also not discounting real mental health issues, if you are someone who has been dealing with intense feelings of depressions/anxiety, please reach out to your physician.

So, here are some things I am actively working on to boost my mood…

  • Creating a nourishing food/workout plan
    • Now that Maddux has a spot on structure with nap and bedtime, I am able to plan out my days better, my workouts/yoga/cardio, meal planning, etc., I can be more consistent, which is key for success.
    • Reverse dieting- Eating with a caloric intake that is high enough without gaining fat while eating enough to feel satisfied. This helps with cravings and binge eating.
  • Adding in foods that contain Tryptophan which can promote oxytocin production.
    • Eggs
    • Bananas
    • Yogurt
    • Rice
    • Quinoa
    • Salmon
    • Beans
    • Spirulina
    • Potatoes
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
    • Breathing deep and slow, filling up the lower part of the lungs into the belly actually immediately triggers the vagas nerve which is directly related to our parasympathetic nervous system.
    • Lowers stress responses associated with “fight or flight” mechanism
    • Improves heart rate variability- which is the measurement of variations between beat-to-beat intervals.
    • This is great to do anytime, anywhere for any amount of emotion, anxiety, stress, or irritability- because life.
  • Hugs
    • Oxytocin actually gets released when you hug or hold someone close for at least 30 seconds! It is a little tough to hug or hold onto a toddler for this long but I take what I can get!
  • Getting outside
    • Thank goodness it is spring! This warmth and sunlight is everything right now! Nature stimulates all of the feel good emotions.
    • Even taking it a step farther and grounding bare foot in the grass instantly helps balance and transfer energy improving our health.
  • Exercise/Yoga
    • Literally exercise and yoga fixes everything, it boosts dopamine and oxytocin, reducing stress and improving confidence and love for your self. #selflove
  • Increasing Magnesium intake
    • relieves anxiety by promoting oxytocin production
    • relieves constipation
    • strengthens bones
    • can help with migraines and headaches
    • relieves premenstrual symptoms
    • increases energy levels
    • fights inflammation
    • You can find magnesium in foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, avocado, figs, almonds, black beans. You can also take a supplement capsule as well.
  • Meditation
    • Meditation promotes a higher level relationship with yourself and a broader connection with others. It enables oxytocin, positive emotions, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. It can increase pain thresholds and provide healing. Meditation is so powerful and underutilized.

These are things I have always done but now I am reprioritizing my Balancebuilding journey specific to what I need at this moment. Right now I just need a little extra self care to get me through this rough patch. As soon as I came up with a plan I instantly felt better. Just goes to show you, sometimes it is the simple things that make the biggest differences!

 

Babybuilding

Trying to Conceive? Balancebuilding before Babybuilding

The motherly instinct we get as women kicks in long before baby gets here. As mothers, or future mothers, we need to plan ahead in creating the most fertile and healthiest environment in our bodies for the baby and ourselves. The road to a positive pregnancy test can be daunting so taking action months prior to conception can get your body at its peak level to support conception and a growing baby.

So, what are the first steps you should take after making the decision to expand your family?

1. Schedule an appt with your OB/GYN.

Scheduling a pre-pregnancy appointment where your physician can review your family history, health issues, past pregnancies, what to expect and a plan moving forward. And it is always a must to consult your physician before making any changes to your health regimen.

2. Check your lifestyle and manage your stress.

Now is a good time to engage in stress management tools such as yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, eating healthy, exercise or whatever you consider healthy self-care to be. Evidence states that everyday stressor can impact fertility but most experts believe that this isn’t due directly to the stress but the stress from the unhealthy habits that people turn to in response to the stress like smoking, drinking, overeating, undereating, neglecting to exercise, etc.

Using the Holmes-Rahe stress scale can help you calculate your own stress levels based on huge life events and everyday stressors. If you are under a serious amount of stress, talk openly to your physician about it so they can work closely with you to help manage it.

 3. Evaluate your health and diet.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), you should focus before and during pregnancy, on consuming a healthy, balanced, vitamin rich diet. Being underweight or overweight, going into a pregnancy, can have adverse effects on you and the baby’s health.

Risks to being underweight:

  • Fertility issues
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Low birth weight baby
  • Preterm labor
  • Labor issues
  • Health and behavior issues well into childhood and even adulthood

Risks to being overweight:

  • Fertility issues
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • High blood pressure
  • Preeclampsia
  • Preterm birth
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Macrosomia- Larger than normal baby
  • Increased risk of birth injury and cesarean birth
  • Increased risk of Neural Tube Defects
  • Increased body fat can make it difficult for your health care provider accurately monitor the baby.

These are definitely good reasons to start evaluating your health and start thinking about what you are consuming. It is also important to make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet. It can be tough to get in all of the vitamins and minerals we need from food alone so the ACOG also suggests taking a prenatal vitamin even before becoming pregnant.

List of important vitamin and minerals to enable a healthy pre-pregnancy body (ALWAYS consult your provider before taking any supplements):

    • Zinc– Important for Men and Women prior to getting pregnant
      • 25-50 mg per day for fertility purposes
      • For women
        • Zinc helps the body utilize estrogen and progesterone in the body.
        • Regulates menstrual cycles.
        • Enables high quality, mature eggs ready to be fertilized.
        • Zinc deficiency can cause miscarriage, imbalanced hormones, irregular periods, and ovarian issues.
      • For men
        • Helps develop high quality, mature sperm and a higher quantity, making it easier to fertilize the egg.
        • Zinc deficiency can cause low sperm count, chromosomal defects (due to the low quality of the sperm that fertilized), which can lead to miscarriage.
      • Foods that contain Zinc
        • Sunflower seeds
        • Pumpkin seeds
        • Eggs
        • Beef
        • Turkey
        • Shrimp
        • Venison
        • Whole grains
        • Dairy that contains whole fat
  • Folic Acid/Folate
    • 400 micrograms daily at least one month before becoming pregnant
    • 600 micrograms daily while pregnant
    • Taking a supplement containing folic acid can help assure you consume enough.
    • When taken before pregnancy and during pregnancy folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects. Just by taking the recommended dose of folic acid prior to conceiving, you can decrease the chances of an NTD in from 4.8 in 1000 babies to 1 in 1000 babies, according to the Center for Disease Control.
  • Iron
    • 27mg daily for Pregnant women, half of that dose for a non-pregnant woman.
    • Iron is used by your body to make a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your organs and tissues. During pregnancy, your body needs extra iron to make more blood to supply oxygen to the baby.
    • Research shows only one in five fertile women starts her pregnancy with adequate iron levels.
    • A study on how Iron affects infertility shows that women who consumed iron supplements had a significantly lower risk of ovulatory infertility than women who did not use iron supplements.
    • Taking a prenatal vitamin supplies you with adequate Iron but you can also get Iron from certain foods including…
      • Lean red meat
      • Poultry
      • Fish
      • Dried beans
      • Peas
      • Iron fortified cereals
    • Iron rich foods are also more easily absorbed if ate with Vitamin C rich foods like…
      • Citrus fruits
      • Tomatoes 

4. Ditch the Toxic Products.

    • Scientific evidence accumulated over the last 15 years have shown that exposure to toxic chemicals before conception and during pregnancy can have significant and long-lasting effects on reproductive health, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
    • This research, along with the Environmental Working Group’s research, has determined that reproductive health problems linked to toxic chemicals in cosmetics and other personal care products include…
      • Infertility
      • Low birth weight
      • Preterm birth
      • Cancers
      • Birth defects
    • These toxic chemicals are not regulated and continue to be used in common household products and beauty products.
    • These toxic chemicals include but not limited to…
      • Pesticides
      • Synthetic fragrance
      • Phthalates- a family of toxic chemicals that have been linked to allergies and asthma, infertility, reduced testosterone concentrations, and abnormal development of reproductive system in baby boys.
      • Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen
      • Mercury- which can lead to kidney and nervous system damage
      • Lead- a known neurotoxin
      • Asbestos- a carcinogen
      • Isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben- research shows parabens can be linked to breast cancer and disruption to the endocrine system.
      • Toluene- toxic to the brain and nervous system
      • Triclosan- affects the thyroid
    • Do your own research and be your own advocate. Take action and replace your household cleaners and beauty products with more natural products. Research companies and take labels that claim they are “natural” or “organic” as face value because they are not regulated by the fda, so these companies are not required to show all ingredients or disclose what is really in the product.
    • Download the Think Dirty App to help you find out where your favorite products rank on a toxicity scale!

5. Start Exercising if you don’t already.

    • Exercise has so many health benefits so you can’t go wrong with starting a new exercise routine to incorporate in your Pre-Pregnancy health regimen that continues during pregnancy.
    • Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery, according to the ACOG.
    • Regular exercise during pregnancy benefits you and your baby in many ways including…
      • Reduces back pain
      • Helps digestion
      • May decrease your risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery
      • Promotes healthy weight gain during pregnancy
      • Improves your overall fitness and strengthens your heart and blood vessels
      • Helps with endurance and strength to endure child birth
      • Helps you to lose the baby weight after baby is born
    • Exercise Guidelines for Pregnant Women- “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. An aerobic activity is one in which you move large muscles of the body (like those in the legs and arms) in a rhythmic way. Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating. You still can talk normally, but you cannot sing. If you are new to exercise, start out slowly and gradually increase your activity. Begin with as little as 5 minutes a day. Add 5 minutes each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day.
    • If you were very active before pregnancy, you can keep doing the same workouts with your health care professional’s approval. However, if you start to lose weight, you may need to increase the number of calories that you eat.” https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy
    • Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity include brisk walking and general gardening (raking, weeding, or digging). You can divide the 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts on 5 days of the week or into smaller 10-minute workouts throughout each day.

6. Have fun!

Trying to conceive can be stressful and disappointing for so many, do your best to eliminate stress, become your best, balanced self and rely on your health care provider for any questions or concerns! Best wishes on your TTC Journey!

 

 

Sources:

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Good-Health-Before-Pregnancy-Prepregnancy-Care

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140529092816.htm

https://www.conceiveeasy.com/get-pregnant/zinc-and-your-fertility/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10559448

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/3150/pre-conception-and-early-pregnancy-iron-deficiency-harms-brain.aspx

https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2006&issue=11000&article=00015&type=fulltext

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Nutrition-During-Pregnancy#iron

https://www.ewg.org/research/exposing-cosmetics-cover/toxic-chemicals-threaten-healthy-births

https://www.ewg.org/californiacosmetics/toxic20

https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2015/11/common-preservative-in-personal-care-products-linked-breast-cancer

https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2008/12/phthalates-phthalates-everywhere

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy

Uncategorized

Spirituality, Yoga, and Meditation for Beginners

Spirituality and religion get misinterpreted often when it comes to yoga. I personally have heard a lot misinterpreted information when it comes to this subject. You don’t have to be a certain faith or religion to practice yoga. Yoga is not affiliated with any organized religion. It’s the spirituality that yoga offers that makes yoga special. Spirituality is personal for each individual, but it is what makes us feel whole and complete. Spirituality is connecting with your authentic self and/or higher power. Our spirit is the foundation of everything we do, it is our moral compass and driving force in life. Yoga is not a specific religion but with pranayama (breath work), asanas (poses), and meditation, it is great at aligning each being with their source, whatever that may be. Yoga challenges us to sit in silence with ourselves and be accepting of who we are and where we are in life. It challenges us to release the past, be present, and be worry free of the future. This self-awareness has a profound effect on how we live our lives. The better self-awareness we have the better we make decisions for our greater good. The more consistency you have with yoga, the more access you gain to self-awareness and self-alignment. This is how showing up to the mat, can little by little, change your life.

The word yoga means “union” or “unite”. You can define what that means to you because that could mean something a little different person to person. For me, I believe it is the act of uniting our true authentic self with the mask we try hard to keep on. It is the union of our authentic self with our higher power. It is the union of our authentic self with our physical self. This trinity of wholeness between the mind, body and soul is something we all try to align with whether we are actively trying to or not. That place where we stop resisting that alignment is the place where your life begins.

Silencing your mind and sitting alone with yourself can be challenging. We live in a busy, fast world where we prioritize everything else before ourselves. We need yoga more now in this life than ever. A diligent yoga practice can bring up the not so pretty moments in your life that need healing, the things we distract ourselves from thinking about. But this is where true healing can begin. Bringing these issues up, feeling them and releasing them is how we stay present, balanced and blissful. Yoga empowers us to be strong and trusting of ourselves and to go with the flow of life. I believe yoga is one of the most underused life management tools and not to mention you only need yourself to start.

HOW TO SILENCE YOUR MIND: MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS

            If you are unsure of where to start, a good place is allotting just a couple of minutes to meditation daily and working on adding time as you go. The more you practice, the easier it becomes to focus and silence the noise. There are many types of meditations that you can explore that include concentration meditation, mindfulness meditation, walking meditation, and imagery meditation. There are meditations for everyone. This meditation exercise a good place to start if you have never had experience meditating. This is something you can practice anywhere, anytime.

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Bring your attention to your natural breath and how your body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. If your mind wanders or thoughts start taking over, return your focus back to your breath.
  • Maintain this for 2-3 minutes to start and then add time the more you meditate.

After a few sessions of this, start practicing deeper, more controlled belly breaths.

  • Inhaling into your belly, filling up your belly, then chest at a count of 4
  • Exhaling, emptying your belly, then chest at a count of 4.
  • Focusing on breaths. Imagining inhaling positive energy and exhaling anything that no longer serves you or any thoughts you need to rid your mind of.
  • Repeating this during your meditation practice.

No matter the active practice, I hope you are able to challenge your own self-awareness and deepen your personal spirituality by embracing your own unique practice in this world full of unknowns and challenging situations. Don’t focus on healing the world, focus on healing yourself. If every person heals themselves, how different the world might look.

Balance

What is the Balancebuilding® Philosophy?

Balance can seem like something that is easily achieved, but it is actually something that so many people struggle to find. Struggling with balance is something, I have found, that no one really talks about. Society has placed this stigma that if you aren’t balanced, happy, aesthetically pleasing and centered at all times, then you are weak or a failure. I can assure you that everyone struggles at some point in their life with imbalance in some aspect. And that is where the Balancebuilding Philosophy can help!

The Balancebuilding Philosophy is living in a way to bring balance to all aspects of your life; mentally, physically and soulfully. There are a multitude of tools that comes with this philosophy to help in achieving this. Balancebuilding is the act of working on your personal mind, body and soul goals to achieve a life of overall wellness. Just as bodybuilding is challenging and takes dedication, consistency, persistence and time. Balancebuilding is the same, but it takes into consideration the other pieces that need added to the foundation to be able to sustain and maintain the physical aspect of it. Everyone has a situation or certain circumstances in their life and your ratio of what balance looks like differs from the person sitting next to you. Our lives are ever changing and so does our Balancebuilding journeys. Instead of feeling guilt and shame for things we can not change we simply shift how we approach our journey.

I wear many hats including writer, Holistic Life Coach, Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, soon to be Yoga Teacher and Mompreneur, but my main focus is collaborating all of these hats to bring the Balancebuilding Philosophy to everyone’s way of living. I am on a mission to get the tools out to others, to empower them to achieve their goals physically, while nurturing their mind and soul, working in while working out. I created the Balancebuilding Philosophy after going on my own journey to finding balance, recovering from the physical and mental extremes from competitive bodybuilding, going from a bodybuilder to a balancebuilder. The Balancebuilding Philosophy helps alleviate the dieting mentality, by combining information and tools to help others achieve complete synchronicity between the mind, body and soul, for a lifetime.

Message me for more information on how the Balancebuilding Philosophy can help you achieve your goals! I want to help you become a better balanced self!