Most people know that in order to build a certain muscle, that muscle must be stressed first. However, often the general advice is that strength training helps build stronger bones but very little conversation time is given to how this works. In order for new bone to build, osteoblasts must occur and occur. These osteoblasts build new bone. Osteoblasts must be stimulated and migrate to the stressed area due to force exerted on the bones (which includes strength training). Put in plain english: bone is created when pressure/stress is put on the bones (Google: Wolff's Law). Additionally, the stress should be progressively increased in order to continue to stimulate growth.
The other day I heard a very interesting statement that I would (intuitively) think was true. The gist of the statement was that an individual could have appropriate calcium, vitamin K, and vitamin D but still lose bone density if there was no stress placed on the bone. This statement assumes that these vitamins would not help protect against the demineralization/loss of density of bones. I found a few sources that support the concept that no amount of supplementation guarantees absorption without stress on the bone. I invite comments on this discussion.
International Osteoporosis Foundation
Sage DG, Exercise and bone mineral density, Sports Med. 1995 Feb;19(2):103-22.
Layne JE, The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density: a review, Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999 Jan;31(1):25-30.
This post is not to be construed as medical advice or as offering a prescriptive exercise program. I wrote this blog post because there is very little context offered when a person hears the the general advice that he or she should do strength training exercises to build stronger bones. I invite comments and discussion.
During pregnancy the abdominal muscles are stretched, the spinal column realigns to help the mom maintain balance, and the babies added weight gives mom more to carry. In other words, your back will hurt from weight and the feeling of lack of support. I have a history of back pain and during my pregnancies (especially my first) I felt constant pressure despite regular chiropractic adjustments.
I thought I would share a few poses that help stretch and flex the back.
Cat and cow are classic opening poses in many yoga classes. Start on your hands and knees. Hands should be shoulder distance apart with weight distributed evenly across the palm of the hand. Knees should be under the hips. Cow: Inhale, lift your head to look towards the sky, open your chest, and drop your belly towards the mat. Cat: Exhale, drop your head to look at your thighs and stretch the lower back lightly as you separate your shoulder blades away from each other. Do not over exaggerate these poses. At any point you can replace the cat with a neutral spine in the flow.
If you have a neck injury do not look forward or at your thighs, but instead keep your head inline with your torso
I personally found that due to my weight and acid reflux the classic cat-cow poses were not always comfortable. For those times, I simply replaced the poses with a seated spinal flexion/extension that may be performed on a chair or in an easy cross-legged position.
Spinal Extension on the Knees
This pose can be done with a chair, bench, or ottoman. Simply sit on your knees facing the chair and come up on your knees. reach towards the chair. You may need to readjust so that you are far enough away from the chair to allow your torso to be parallel to the ground and forearms resting on the chair seat.
Begin this pose on your hands and knees with your big toes touching. Exhale and sit back on your knees. You may choose to either separate your knees and allow your belly to rest against the ground or keep your knees together with your belly against your thighs. Reach your arms along the ground in front of you. This is a pose often used to rest but works well to stretch the low back muscles and can also function as a hip opener for those with tighter hip muscles.
Called "malasana" in sanskrit the wide squat was one of my favorite poses during pregnancy. Start in mountain pose, standing straight and evenly distributing your weight across your heals and foot pads. Exhale and lower your body towards the ground, if your heels lift that is okay. (See these instructions in order to understand just how far you need to lower;))
This is one of my favorite poses. Cobbler's pose is a hip and groin opener. Sit in staff pose with your legs out in front of you. Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to fall outward like a book. Bring your heels as close to your body as comfortable, allowing more space between your heels and groin if you feel any pain in your knees.
This is not an all-inclusive list. I specifically left off certain standing poses such as triangle pose and select twisting poses because twisting can be a contradiction to pregnancy depending on the pose selected and the manner performed.
I have been away from the blog longer than I should have been! The last couple of months have been particularly difficult and I had the added difficulty of of dealing with addiction issues of someone close to me. All of my energy was sapped from by that experience when added to the load of other issues.
While I was dealing with all of these dramas I started to pay a little more attention to yogis who deal with these areas of life. One who stands out in the recovery/addiction world is Tommy Rosen. He runs a Recovery 2.0 program. I personally think yoga is a good beginning point to recovery.
In the world of trauma sensitive yoga, David Emerson is one of the first names to come up in a search and he currently teaches at Kripalu. I think picking up a few materials on this subject could benefit any yoga practitioner because it allows us to hold a space for others who may need freer yoga cues or more sensitivity.
Hopefully this blog brought to light some areas of yoga you hadn't previously thought of. I enjoyed taking time to learn about these areas and hope one day I may be able to explore them in more depth.
If there are two things that moms of toddlers may have on their "frustrations" lists it is complete and utter determination to NOT NAP and being picky about food. I am the last person to give advice on trying to convince a toddler to nap (call this my daily stress) but I am constantly trying new ways to get my little munchkin to eat things that do not come out of a wrapper (just an FYI that my second child will be getting nothing but whole foods for his first year after dealing with my first child...).
Anyway, the harm of wrapper food is already done with my first (but it was organic!) and so I am now on the "convince to eat real foods" train.
The neat thing about my first child is that if he picks his food directly from the plants he eats it enthusiastically. He may be the one child that happily chomps down on freshly picked kale but won't test a sweet potato. Consequently, I have decided to have him help out in the kitchen a little bit in hopes that participation in the food preparation may breed interest in eating some of it.
Nutrition.gov provides a good starting list of kitchen activities for kids 2-5. Since my first is 2 years old his activities could include:
I absolutely loved this list as a starting point for kitchen helpers and hope it inspires you.
The one thing that plagued me during my pregnancies like nothing else was not nausea, it was extreme exhaustion. I may have gotten reflux, backaches, and morning sickness throughout the entire pregnancy, but nothing was as bad as literally not being able to get out of bed due to extreme exhaustion. I realized pretty quickly that my diet was not supportive enough for my pregnancy. Although I never beat the exhaustion 100%, I found one superfood that made a difference in my energy levels. In the mornings I began to drizzle a teaspoon to a tablespoon of sulfite-free blackstrap molasses over my oatmeal. To this day, I still will sneak a little into some smoothies or mix it into my own and my kids oatmeal.
What is blackstrap molasses?
Blackstrap molasses is a byproduct left over from sugar production.
What are the benefits?
Although there are many benefits enumerated online from relieving anxiety to helping ease rheumatoid arthritis, I believe that the real benefit is that it is a rich source of nutrients including: calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, selenium and vitamin B6.
What does it taste like?
Sweet, earthy, and a little rough. Too much on your oatmeal and you may want to spit it out. It makes a warming drink if you mix a teaspoon or two with a cup of boiling water/milk and spices such as cinnamon or ginger.
This was the one supplement that helped me survive my second pregnancy with a 2 year old running around. I hope you find it equally rejuvenating.
For anyone who tuned into the last post, the food culprits causing a rash on my poor infant were dairy and coconut.
I am almost 7 weeks postpartum and baby and I are great. However, he still has faced his own little challenges. One of these is a full body rash. When I first saw the rash, I realized that this was likely to become a little challenge for myself, as well.
I spoke to his doctor and the first suggestion was to eliminate dairy in my own diet. Let me offer some background before I go much farther. I am on paper allergic to wheat, corn, sesame, shrimp, egg white, peanuts, and onions. Dad is allergic to dairy. We both still sneak almost all of these foods into our diets. Additionally, I ate chocolate like it was going out of existence during the past few months. With all of this background in mind, I chose to eliminate the foods listed above from my diet and intend to go through a month and then potentially reintroduce these foods.
The results were striking to my baby's complexion. The rash faded and is almost entirely gone. One day I had chocolate and nuts because I thought I shouldn't be unnecessarily restrictive and it would be easy to eliminate those foods if the rash reappeared... lets just say he definitely has an issue with either chocolate or nuts. Consequently, I am now completely committed.
So what the heck does mom eat now? (Because I seriously mope about the chocolate). We have entered a new era of food prep in the house. My go-to is now to keep buddha bowl components in the fridge.
In order to make a buddha bowl you can keep the following on hand:
Portion control is fairly simple as you can, for example, cook 4 servings of rice at a time and divide it roughly 4 ways.
There are limitless variations to buddha bowls to keep you from getting bored.
Lately, I have noticed that Target has a lot of products that I would typically want to try and purchase online. I also have been purchasing a few more supplements than normal because I delivered my second son about 2-3 weeks ago and tend to eat more protein during the postpartum period. It is also nice to have smoothies and cookies when you leave the hospital and can no longer have someone make all your meals but are still recovering and simultaneously caring for a teeny baby.
Protein supplements are not necessary. I buy powders and occasionally bars because I enjoy them. Consequently, these are my processed food treats. Even during early recovery I noticed energy drops if I didn't incorporate enough real food throughout the day and tried to only lean on these when too exhausted to cook (or chew). Do what feels right for you and what your doctor or nutritionist recommends during this period.
Lenny & Larry's Complete Cookie (plant-based)
These cookies just taste good - for a store bought cookie. The sugar is higher than I prefer but my son steals them and I am ok with him trying these cookies as well. I keep these around but don't eat them daily and treat them as I would normal cookies. Trader Joe's now sells a 2oz pack if you think you would eat the whole 4oz cookie in one sitting *raises hand*.
RX Bars for Kids (egg-white based)
RX Bars are a great option if you want a Larabar but also want some protein mixed in. They recently launched a "kids" line that includes berry, chocolate chip, and apple cinnamon flavors. I really like the adult version and purchase the apple cinnamon for my son. My only sadness is that egg white is listed as an allergen for myself, so I don't stock these.
Tera's Whey (whey)
I love Tera's whey. I wish target sold the unflavored version, which I personally purchase. The chocolate and vanilla are both very good, though. My love of Tera's products is largely derived from the fact that I purchase them when pregnant. They have been incredibly easy on my stomach and the short ingredient list (protein, vanilla, and stevia) helps ease my mind about what is going into my body while I am pregnant.
Tone It Up Protein Powder (plant-based)
I loved the Tone It Up protein powder when I tried the vanilla. The chocolate was less enticing but still good. Both have a subtle coconut flavor. These women have cute branding and if you wish to stick with plant-based supplements the bars are pretty good, too. The product is not organic but contains very little sugar and a short ingredient list. If you are looking for a plant-based protein powder without a lot of "superfood extras" this is a nice one to try out.
Olly Salted Caramel Slim Smoothie (plant-based)
Olly Salted Caramel Slim Smoothie is my newest favorite. I went with the caramel version because I enjoyed the taste and it had less grams of sugar. I use half a serving of the protein powder with a tablespoon of chia, almond butter, or flax seeds mixed in. This smoothie is also one of the few veggie blends that do not contain maca root and agrees with my stomach. Although I try to stick to organic products when possible, this smoothie is not organic and does contain both stevia and sugar.
Today we celebrated my husbands 32nd birthday! My husband and I decided that we had plenty of cake over the last week due to generous family and friends that we did not need another big cake around the house. Rather than work on a homemade cake, I opted for whole wheat muffins. The recipe I used was an adaption from Oh She Glows. The two changes I made to the recipe were using whole wheat flour (all purpose worked fine, although generally I use pastry) and using an entire cored apple blended in the Vitamix rather than applesauce. Tip of the day *you can often get away with using finely shredded apple in place of applesauce.*
The husband still got a candle and an embarrassing song plus the memory of our little one playing with a birthday cake from the night before...