Beyond Kegels: Five Tips for Pelvic Floor Health

By Chris Hayden, CR, Lic. ABT

The pelvic floor is vital for childbirth and in daily life. Having muscles and connective tissue that are resilient and responsive is so useful for getting proper support and mobility throughout the body. But this means muscles that can both contract and relax according to need. Here are some ways to develop your versatility

1) Sit on your sit bones. Also known as your ischial tuberosities, they provide a stable, less tense version of sitting than crunching on your tailbone. You can fin tutorials online, and in-person instruction can teach additional stability.

2) Get into a flat-footed squat (or closer to it). This one can take some time and coaching, but the ability to do a full squat means a pelvic floor that can open as needed. Careful, this one can be dangerous if done improperly or too quickly. I spend lots of time on coaching my tai chi students on it.

3) Don’t hold back. Use the bathroom in a timely manner to decrease chronic pelvic tension.

4) Breath into it. During inhalation, pelvic floor muscles should let out a little and then contract slightly during exhalation. This allows for a more relaxed breath, and a 24-hour exercise program for your floor Most people hold tight here when breathing, so see if you can gently breathe into your abdomen and into the floor, like a ball expanding, as an awareness exercise to get things moving.

5) Walk naturally. If your pelvic bones and sacrum are fairly mobile, every step you take will keep your pelvic floor muscles mobile and active. It can be very hard to become aware of tension patterns in this area, but landing hard on your heels or moving shoulders side to side are two of the signs of strong tension. Movement education or soft tissue and joint mobilization in your legs, pelvis, and back can be very useful.

Boost Your Metabolism

Without Intervals

Never in the mood to do what works best—sprints? Try these still-effective calorie igniters. Add Weight: Whether it’s holding light dumbbells while doing jumping jacks or wearing a weighted vest while walking on the treadmill, the combo will quickly crank up calorie burn. Up Your Incline: Take your walk to a hill and you could torch as many calories as if you were running on a flat surface. ( tighter butt is a bonus.) Cut Out Rests: A superset—two resistance exercises performed back-to-back to create one set—burns roughly 8 to 10 calories per minute, nearly twice the calorie burn of a standard training.

Green Tea

Researchers for years have been linking green tea, and even white tea, to health perks. If you’re drinking tea, choose the type you enjoy the most. Be sure to not overload your tea with sugar or artificial sweeteners or you could be voiding out,or diminishing, the tea’s healthful effects. Instead, sweeten with a tad of local raw honey for an extra antioxidant punch. If you prefer milk in your tea, go for it. Researchers found the flavonoids remain bioavailable with or without milk.

Quark (kwark)

This rising-star fresh cheese from central Europe is similar to Greek yogurt in texture but is milder and less tangy. Like yogurt, quark is packed with good-for-you probiotics and protein, with 17g or more in one 6-ounce cup.  Eat plain, top with fruit, or combine with garlic, herbs, and sea salt for a savory dip.

5 Tips for Stressed-Out Moms

1. Sleep  “Sleep is not a luxury,” says Dr. James O’Brien, medical director of the Boston SleepCare Center in Waltham, Mass. “It’s a necessity for optimal functioning.” As a busy mom, it can be tempting to burn the midnight oil in an attempt to get things done, but cutting into your valuable sleep time will make it even more difficult for you to deal with all of the responsibilities that come with being a modern day mom.

2. Exercise  Unfortunately, for many moms, exercise is often one of the first things to go. Its often viewed as something you do for vanity purposes and when time is spent exercising, moms feel selfish and guilt. But, I’d argue just the opposite. Regular exercise is vital for good health. Exercise isn’t just for weight loss – it helps your mind, body and soul. Experiment with different activities (take a PiYo, Yoga, TRX class, put the baby in a stroller and jog around the neighborhood, swim some laps) to figure out what you enjoy.

3. Clean Up Your Eating  Packaged, processed food might be saving you a little bit of time, but that’s it. Your diet plays a huge role in how you think, act, feel, and respond to situations in your daily life. Give your body the fuel it needs to perform at the optimal level. Eat whole, unprocessed food – closer to its natural state the better. Choose an orange over orange juice, grilled tuna over tuna salad, baked potato over French fries. Think you don’t have time to make healthy food for your family? Make a meal plan for the coming week over the weekend and spend a few hours prepping the meals. And involve your kids in the process – it’s a great way to teach them the importance of healthy eating.

4. Ask for Help  Celebrity moms look rested and calm. Why? Because they have help. Lots of it – nannies, housekeepers, trainers, chefs, personal assistants. This isn’t realistic for most of us, but we can learn from this – having help makes life a lot easier. If you can’t pay for it, ask for it. Are there things your partner can take on? Can you budget for someone to clean your house once a month? Can you call on friends and relatives to help out?

5. Focus on the Things That are Actually in Your Control When you’re overwhelmed and stretched thin, it’s easy to take on every little problem as your own. You can’t clear up the traffic jam, change your bossestendency to give you projects at the last minute, or make a friend arrive on time for lunch. Instead, focus only on things that you have control over.

Snap into Fitness

By Thomas Beranek, Snap Fitness

Everyone understands the holidays can be an easy time to eat more and gain the extra winter insulation that follows. While diet and exercise are important year-round, it’s important to acknowledge the middle of the holiday season is not the ideal time to start a new health regimen; stress is just as much an enemy of a waistline as a sedentary lifestyle.

Exercise is a proven stress reliever.  The central nervous system responds favorably to physical exercise, and regularly exercising to elevate the heart rate for at least 30 minutes three times a week has been shown to significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Yoga is a physical activity ideal for coping with the added stress of the holiday season.  In fact, yoga emphasizes stress reduction through self-reflection and breath control even with the most physically demanding tasks.  You are calmer, more centered, and more able to handle the day’s stressors after a session of yoga.

Don’t worry if you aren’t flexible or particularly coordinated. Yoga is not what is portrayed in the popular media.  Yoga is for everyone.  From the most petite to the burliest, yoga allows you to work up a healthy sweat for your physical fitness and an even healthier opportunity to quiet the stress in your life.

But it’s equally important to build a stress-relieving regimen before the holidays are knocking at the door and it’s suddenly impossible to imagine the time to step away and de-stress.  Taking the opportunity now to participate in a class and start a regular habit is the best way to manage the stress throughout the entire season.  Yoga offers a host of stress reducing-techniques in the classroom and beyond.

At Snap Fitness of Eau Claire, we offer a variety of yoga classes for every age, ability level, and physical goals: Gentle Yoga, Relax Yoga, and Power Yoga.  We avidly believe the benefits of yoga will help you reach your fitness goals while managing your stress.  Please stop by our new location at 1903 Keith Street, just down the road from Memorial High School, and attend a complimentary yoga class.  We can’t wait to help you through this stressful holiday season.

Exercise Your Health

By Julie Hasenberg, Highland Fitness

Is it “I’m stressed from the holidays, not sleeping, over-indulging, and not exercising season”? Coincidence? I don’t think so. When our bodies don’t receive the proper nutrition, rest, hydration, and are on high alert the majority of the time, a weakened immune system will occur, which makes us more susceptible to illness.“ You can’t underestimate the importance of good nutrition when it comes to your immune system,” says Karen Ansel, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietics. “Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants—these are what keeps your body strong, and without them you’re not giving your body the edge it needs to ward off infection.”The number one thing we can do help our bodies function better is drink WATER! If you google “chronic dehydration,” you will find a long list of potential symptoms/illnesses due to lack of hydration. So carry a bottle of water with you…EVERYWHERE!

Rest and relaxation can do wonders for the body and more importantly for the brain. Try Yoga. Calming the brain has a direct effect on our body. At Highland Fitness we offer alignment restorative yoga. Vinyasa and Pilates at no charge with your membership. Exercising is crucial for physical and mental health, especially during the cold, dark months of winter. Exercise helps our mood, gives us energy, and strengthens our muscles. Schedule it just like a doctor appointment. You wouldn’t miss business appointments or kids’ activities, so grab a friend, co-worker, or trainer to be an accountability partner! So what happens if you’re exercising, eating healthy, and getting sleep, and you still end up with the grud? Richard Besser, MD, and chief health and medical editor at ABC News says, “Light to moderate activity may actually help you feel better.”  First Besser says to use the “neck rule.” If your symptoms are above the neck—sneezing, sinus pressure, stuffy nose—then breaking a sweat is generally safe. The best exercise is walking. Studies have shown that people who regularly work out tend to get sick less overall.