Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Staying Fit While Pregnant

I haven't posted a good article on here in a long time. Being in school full time and training made that nearly impossible. However, I am no longer in school, due to the fact that I am in the process of moving to California and growing a small human being inside of me.

Here's me at 27 weeks and 1 day

I decided, due to my pregnancy, and the things I have learned on my journey through pregnancy, that I would write an article about keeping up your fitness level during pregnancy.

Every woman is different, and every pregnancy is different. I do believe, however, that mine has been a lot easier than most women's pregnancies, and I want to give most of the credit to my active and healthy lifestyle. 

My first trimester was somewhat rough, I was constantly nauseated, but never threw up. The only times I didn't feel nauseated was when I was doing cardio, so I kept hopping up on my elliptical nordic track machine almost every day, praying for relief. I only got 30 minutes some days, other days I made it 60 minutes. I always felt better afterward, and slept better.

By my 12th week the nausea was gone and I was able to really get in some good work outs. I started weight training again (I didn't weight train at all the first trimester), and found that I was still pretty low on energy. Over time I gained more energy and continued doing cardio at least 3-5 days a week for usually 45-60 minutes at a time. I have continued this and plan on continuing weight training and cardio as I progress through my 3rd trimester (which I just entered yesterday).

Weight training can be difficult during pregnancy, especially if you don't know what you are doing. It can also be dangerous if you don't know what you are doing, so I recommend that if you want to weight train while pregnant, you check with your doctor first and consult with a Personal Trainer who is knowledgeable in prenatal fitness.

When you are pregnant it is important that you keep the weights light. A chemical called Relaxin is produced during pregnancy that helps your ligaments relax in order to prepare the hips/birth canal for birth. Unfortunately it's not a targeted hormone, it effects all of the ligaments in your body, making you especially susceptible to accidental subluxations or dislocations of other joints in your body. For this reason, it is advised that you not lift too heavy or you may put yourself in a precarious position and accidentally injure yourself. 

For this reason I prefer to do body weight exercises during pregnancy, I watch my range of motion and take special care not to over stretch any body parts, or hyper-extend. When I do use weights, I keep it usually between 5 and 25 lbs depending on which muscle I'm working, but this is personalized to me so you have to know your own limits. I recommend if you were lifting a weight comfortably and without a spotter before you were pregnant, either stay at that weight or lighten it 5-10 lbs and then just up your repetitions. 

Cardio is an area a lot of women get confused about during pregnancy. What can you and can't you do? Well it depends on what you did before. I wasn't running regularly enough to be comfortable with jogging, and you CANNOT sprint during pregnancy, so I decided to go with an elliptical as my main method of cardio. I like that it's easier on the joints, and doesn't jerk your body around as much. I would swim if I had access to a swimming pool and a better maternity swimming suit. 

I also want to stress that there are a few things you should NEVER do while pregnant. Mainly Jumping, Cutting (like in soccer), Contact Sports, Sprinting, Anything Upside Down, Anything on your Back after the 20th week. No Gymnastics, no Plyometrics.

That being said there are a lot of Isometric exercises that are great to do while pregnant. I also recommend keeping those legs nice and strong. I like to do a lot of squats, lunges, and glute strengthening exercises. I also try to keep my arms and chest strong, as those muscles will be very helpful when carrying a baby and a baby carrier. 

Caitlin's List of Great Pregnancy Exercises: (Please don't do these unless you know proper form)

- Plank
- Squats (body weight or with light weights in each hand)
- Lunges (walking or static)
- Squat Holds (holding the squat for 30, 60, 90 or more seconds)
- Fast Squats
- Yoga Ball Chest Press
- Push Ups onto a slightly raised surface (my belly gets in the way too much for military style)
- Kickbacks with a band
- Lateral band walks
- Side Lunges
- Sumo Squats
- Wall Sits
- Inner Thigh Ball Squeezes
- Curls
- Tricep Extensions
- Chair Dips
- Step Ups


I also highly recommend going to a pregnancy fitness class if you feel lost or clueless, or seeing a personal trainer who specializes in prenatal exercise. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Biggest Mistakes I See People Make When It Comes to Healthy Eating/Weight Loss

As a Personal Trainer, I have the opportunity to watch several people change their lives, and I get a front row seat to the transformation.  I find it rather interesting the way people evolve their views on eating, exercise, and weight loss. Most people come to me hoping for a miracle. They think that by simply signing up with a trainer, the weight will come off. Many make the mistake of believing that somehow I am going to be doing the work for them, and they are wrong.

The thing is, I'm not a magical genie. I can't jump inside any one's body and exercise it for them. I can't be there, waiting by the fridge to tackle you as you reach for that frozen cheesecake. I would love it if I could, it would actually make my life easier.

Once we get past the "I want to lose weight but I don't want to have to make any sacrifices to do it" stage, I then start to see people make small changes. They lower their carb count, they eat smaller portions, some even go super extreme and burn out within a month or two. The problem I see occurring, is most people eventually go back to the way they ate before. I am not sure if it's for comfort, emotional eating, or because they give up. The problem with this, is that the way most people eat in America is extremely unnatural and unhealthy. White carbs, hydrogenated oils, MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, cancer-linked sugar substitutes all exist in abundance in our convenience-obsessed food market. I want it to end.  But that's a different post all together.

These are the norms... and I kept racking my brain as to WHY people start going back to old habits, and I felt that it was time I made a modern list of the TOP 20 Mistakes People Make that Sabotage their Diet (aka Nutrition).

TOP 12 Mistakes People Make that Sabotage their Diet (aka Nutrition):

1. Watching the Food Network Channel : If you're a food addict, you need to avoid this channel and any channel on television that involves delicious food, eating, candy, etc. Just don't do it. If you were a drug addict, would you go hang out at your local crack house and watch people shoot up? No.. you would stay as far away from that place as possible. The same applies to food. Don't watch the Food Network, don't go to the ice cream parlor just to SNIFF the ice cream, don't go to your local donut place and watch people devour the delicious but extremely unhealthy pastries. That's self torture and eventual self sabotage.

2. Pinning Delicious/Unhealthy Desserts and Foods on Pinterest: I'm friends with most of my clients on Facebook and Pinterest. I watch many of them pinning recipes online about delicious foods, foods no one should ever make, like a Reeses Peanut butter Cup Frozen Cookie Crust and Lard Pie (Ok I made up the Lard part... sort of). This is just as bad as watching the food network... really, the point of eating and living healthy is to end the addiction/obsession with food. You should spend your time on Pinterest consumed with other things, like fun activities to try, crafts, etc. If you're going to pin food, pin healthy food you can actually make. If you're pinning it, it's pretty much like throwing the recipe in your recipe box... if you never plan on making it, why are you putting it in there? (Feel Free to Follow me on Pinterest especially my Guilt-Free Nom Nom's board).

3. Not counting small bites of things: Every bite counts. Every morsel you put in your body counts.

4. Allowing Other People to Make them Eat/Drink Unhealthy: Ahh.. Peer pressure. Well, I didn't want to eat those cookies, but so-and-so made them just for me. I didn't want to drink that alcohol, but everyone else was looking at me like I was some sort of jerk because I wasn't participating. I hear this excuse a LOT. I have used it myself. I'm not proud of it. Allowing others to dictate what you put into your body needs to stop. If you aren't eating white carbs, don't let anyone tell you/influence you to change your mind. If you can't have alcohol because it will sabotage all the hard work you've done this week, DON'T LET SOME ONE ELSE'S OPINION DERAIL YOU. Learn to say NO, stand up for yourself. There are many ways one can do this. If you don't think you can do this, avoid the situation/people who will derail you all together. (A side note, whenever I go to or have parties, I always make healthier alternatives so that instead of not eating all together, I can offer others healthy options and keep to those during the party).

5. Eating out of Boredom: Don't eat in front of the television. The commercials are specially designed to make you hungry for their product, many of us have been taught to eat while distracted, and it makes us consume more calories than we would have, had we been actually paying attention to what we were putting in our mouths. Don't eat because you're bored. If you think you're hungry but you've already eaten recently... try drinking a giant glass of water first and wait about 1 hour to see if you're still hungry. Meanwhile, distract yourself far away from any food.

6. Convenience Eating: I don't have any time so I have to go to McDonalds every day for lunch and eat a Big Mac. Um... no.. no you don't. Let's say you don't plan well and you get to work and have no lunch options before you. The cheaper option may very well be going to McDonalds or Arbys... but I say, is there a local grocery store nearby? Can you not go in there and find some healthy fruit, perhaps a pre-made salad? When I forget my lunch and get desperate at school, I eat peanuts out of the vending machine. Sure, it's not necessarily a balanced meal, but I know that all I'm getting are peanuts and a little salt. What are you getting in your overly processed/1-days-worth-of-calories big mac? Quit making excuses and find solutions. Otherwise, plan out your away-from-home meals 1 week ahead of time on a designated day (like a Sunday).

7. Leaving Temptations In The Home: How can I stress to you the importance of removing temptation from your life? We are human beings. We want what we want when we want it. If you have access to diet-destroying foods, eventually you will eat them (unless you've got the will power of steel I have yet to come across). I hear this a lot "but my husband loves doritos, I can't possibly not stock the pantry with doritos." Guess what? My husband loves doritos too, and you know what I tell him? "If you want to slowly kill yourself with Doritos, you can buy them on your own... but I will only be purchasing and supplying food that ensures that you live as long as I do." Many of my clients also love to use their kids as an excuse. Sorry. It just doesn't fly with me. I realize your kids have different nutritional needs, and that's fine, but try teaching them now to eat healthy... which means those fruit snacks everyone thinks their kids need??? They don't. Pure sugar. Just give them a piece of fruit. They need the fiber and the antioxidants. I just don't see eating natural and wholly being something that could possibly be bad for children. Sorry.

8. Going to Restaurants without a Plan: Just because you're trying to eat healthy doesn't mean you can't go to a restaurant every once in a while. But you have to remember that restaurants are not usually nearly as concerned with the healthiness of a dish as they are with taste. So go with a plan. Think about where you can go that may offer healthy options. As a person with MANY food allergies, and an inability to eat disgusting chain-restaurant food, I find it extremely fun to search Austin for new healthy restaurants... and I tend to find the best options are Asian food like sushi, Thai food, and a few of the more healthy places downtown.

I suggest avoiding Salmon Roe sushi though... bleck!

9. There are Starving People in Africa, Finish Your Plate: Never be afraid to box food up or just let it go to waste. I know, there are starving people in many places. However, you won't ever be able to ship all that food to them, is over stuffing yourself going to solve their problems? No... it's just going to add to yours. I think this is the most ridiculous sentence I have ever heard, and I have heard it from MULTIPLE sources. So... let me get this straight... there are starving people in Africa, so I should gluttonously over-eat in acknowledgement of their suffering? Um... I don't think so. How about you eat what portions are proper for you, and you send those starving people some money.
(Go to to donate)

10. Fat is the Enemy: The whole, "I eat a low-fat or fat-free muffin every morning and I can't lose weight. What am I doing wrong?" is a common complaint I hear. Here's what you're doing wrong. You think that fat is the culprit. It's not. America's been living on "Fat-free" carbs for decades and we're just getting fatter. Eliminating fat from your diet is actually counter-productive. You need good fats like avocados, olive oil, even the fat that comes from beef is good for you as long as you keep the portions under control and don't eat it every single day. If you don't have good fats in your diet, it can hurt your skin, your hair, many metabolic processes, and it can actually cause your body to hoard any fat it gets. Maintaining a healthy level of healthy fats can actually signal your body to let go of some of the fat it's hanging on to. A low fat diet is not the answer... chances are, you've been eating low fat most of your life (unless you like the Big Mac... but I assume most people *hopefully* don't eat big macs daily). I know I ate a low-fat diet as a child. Heck, I practically LIVED on bread. And I was a chubby kid past the age of 12. I loved skim milk and hated fatty foods because they made me feel TOO full. Now I use fats to keep myself satiated. I love eating nuts as a small snack between meals for a good protein/fat source that keeps me full and curbs sugar cravings.

11. This New Fad Diet is my ONLY HOPE: Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers... these diets have been around for a long time. Do they work? Sometimes. Do they work long term? Only if you commit to them long term. What about the newest latest craze? HCG??? It's dangerous, stupid, and a bad idea. Eating a diet below 500 calories for 6 weeks, injecting yourself with HCG, and slowly starving the weight off is my idea of a horror movie. Yes, you get fast results, but you get them at the price of your physical health, your mental health, and possible scary side effects. You also lower your metabolism, and most people put the weight back on. It's dangerous. Beware of new fad diets, and do your research before starting anything questionable like the HCG diet.

(Oh and you can't always trust your doctor on this one... many doctors actually sell HCG even though it has not been approved by the FDA as a weight loss drug)

12. Food Is a Reward, I EARNED this: There's a book I recommend reading called "Eat to Live." Food is not a reward. Food is a means to fueling your body. Stop rewarding yourself with treats and food. It's fleeting and not worth it. I know. The delicious brownie makes you feel better for 5 seconds, but you spend the rest of the day regretting it (whether you regret how sick it makes you feel or the calories you just sabotaged your diet with). Instead, reward yourself with something else. Like a long hot bath with a good book, A facial, A massage, A Yoga Class. Something that will further your health goals and make you feel great in a totally better, more positive way. (Like these sweet new sprinting shoes).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Caitlin's Top Ten for 2012

Happy New Year! I can't believe it's already 2012! As many of my clients have told me, they already got started on their resolutions for this year when they signed up to train with me. This is excellent news, but I wanted to go ahead and write a post for my blog readers or clients who want a little extra help when it comes to healthy resolutions.

First of all, many of the "TOP TEN blah blah blah" posts on New Year Resolutions are going to give similar info. I suggest you read them and take that info to heart. It's mostly good advice. I'm going to try to give you new advice that is also quite important for your New Years Resolution goals.

Caitlin's TOP 10 Rules to a Successful 2012 (Weight Loss) Resolution:

#1. Stop thinking of it as a resolution... you'll forget about it by February.
#2. Start thinking about what you want the rest of your life to look like. No diet is more successful than a diet you plan on following forever, so don't attempt to change your diet so drastically you head straight for the cookie isle the minute you fall off the wagon.
#3. Don't think that exercising makes up for a bad diet. I don't care how many squats, sprints, lunges, or crunches you do, if you eat an entire bag of Doritos, you are not going to work it off.. plus you'll probably be too sick to work it off. Gross.
#4. Learn to Recognize the Enablers in your life. If you're best friend keeps offering you margaritas and getting annoyed with your dietary restrictions, or you husband insists on keeping your favorite ice cream stock piled and continues offering it to you, they are not helping you. They're holding you back. Find a way to communicate how serious your goals are and make sure they're on the same page, or you will struggle 50x more than you have to to reach your goals. In my opinion, someone who does this is usually insecure about you changing yourself, especially if it is a spouse, sometimes serious changes like dietary and health changes may require some superb communication (i.e. a serious discussion) and possibly couples therapy.
#5. Quit Whining. Stop beating yourself up, complaining about how you look, complaining about how bad healthy food tastes, and suck it up. Use all that whiny energy on something useful, like a workout and making a healthy meal that tastes good. It is totally possible and it will be a much better use of your time. Whining only brings you down... find a way to look at yourself positively and harness that positive energy to succeed.
#6. Get a Physical. Get your hormones checked, your body checked, and make sure you're healthy and that you have no other medical conditions that could be holding you back.  Every once in a while it IS a thyroid problem, so make sure yours is OK.
#7. Don't be a Poor Sport. If you "mess up" on your diet, or you have a lazy few days... don't destroy everything you've worked for so far by just giving up. Suck it up (a common theme here) and get back to business.
#8. Understand what you are taking on. Weight loss is one of the most difficult things to achieve. It is not only difficult to take weight off, it's also difficult to keep it off. It is not easy. There is no magic pill, there are no magical fairies, and even the magical surgeries fail often. Why? Because people expect life to be easy. It's not. Weight loss requires discipline, hard work, and a solid willpower of steel. You have to decide for yourself, I WANT THIS, I am GOING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. Repeat after me "I can do hard things!"
#9. Find something you love about it. Weight loss and healthier habits are meant to be good things. They are beneficial in so many ways. You'll be lighter, move easier, your joints will thank you, etc. Exercise can actually be fun, too. Find things to keep you active throughout the day. Go for nature walks, walk and talk with a friend or neighbor or spouse, learn a new sport, take up kickboxing (my favorite!).... there are many FUN ways to work out, and stay active, so find them and do them.
#10. Eliminate the Crap. Do some in-home cleaning. Get rid of all that tempts you. If the food lasts longer than a few months, it's probably not great for you. If it has chemicals in the ingredients list that you cannot pronounce, it's probably not good for you. Get it away from you, don't eat it. Just get it out and start over with healthy, clean foods that don't give you a guilt complex and make you feel amazing.

I hope these are helpful to you. Happy 2012!