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‘Tis The Season

By Michael Crespo

The holiday season is in full swing. Welcome to mid-December 2018!

With the season comes the opportunity to make lots of memories with loved ones. For the health conscious person or the person just beginning their journey into health and fitness, it can be an intimidating time of year. Living among us are a few ‘Saints ’who would n’t consider touching a drop of alcohol or eating a grain of sugar. More commonly, however, there are mere mortals perhaps like you and me thinking we will hold ourselves to a standard. The problem is, there is often a lot of guilt and self-shaming when we fall short. So, how might we think differently about this holiday season?

I have been on a journey of self-improvement for about 6 years now (about 2 years before I began CrossFit) and I would like to think I know a thing or two that could be of use to you. One of the biggest things to consider and not just this holiday season, but every day is that our health is a continual journey. If you happen to have a rough holiday season where you eat a lot of junk, it does not mean that you are not a healthy person, and or you should give up the pursuit of better health and nutrition altogether! All it means is that you are human. If you are on the way to Tahoe and you take a pit-stop in Vacaville at the steakhouse or make it to Auburn and indulge deeply into In & Out Burger, do you stop driving to Tahoe? Our health is like this! If you take a pit stop during the holidays to enjoy them, don’t stop your journey to better health. The greatest reward with health comes with continued effort. Health is gained best through long-term consistency. So, let’s all take the macro view!

Yes, the small individual choices that we make contributions to our overall successes and results, but when you make a mistake don’t let it throw you completely off course. Life is full of different seasons much like the year. This time of year is dark and cold outside but made warm by the extra time we spend with our loved ones. It is a time for celebrating successes and mourning the death of 2018. January will be a time of renewal. It will be time to continue your upward progress once again. So to make a long story short, do your best! Don’t deprive yourself of what you feel you need to do for you. Enjoy the moment and realize ’tis the season. Take notice of how your bodies feel, and see if what you consume serves you. If it does not then you can take note for the next time.

Stress and Guilt weigh us down. They keep us from showing up and being our best self! This reality perhaps is worse than consumption of too much sugar and alcohol! I like to enjoy sweets during the holiday (ice cream most other times of the year). I have learned that for me the second and third pieces of cake often do not taste as good as the first piece. Knowing this I still sometimes slip up. I also know that overall I set a pretty good foundation with my nutrition about 80% of the time, so if I go a bit overboard on the holidays it is not the end of the world. Find what works for you. If you “mess up” take notice. Health is a mix of several factors, along with exercise and nutrition, social interaction, fun, and self-compassion are amongst three of the most important. During the holiday season, our nutrition and exercise may dwindle, but our social interaction and fun elevate. Enjoy it take your fill, and above all be compassionate to yourself. There is a season for everything and learning to be kind to ourselves just might be the key to a more healthy 2019

Pearls of Wisdom

By Michael Crespo

Last Saturday I had an amazing experience. I attended my first daylong meditation at Spirit Rock Meditation center in Woodacre, CA. Attending a daylong has been on my bucket list for awhile because I believe in meditation/mindfulness as a potent skill to cultivate a deeper knowledge of yourself. I am somewhat of a super spiritual person, but I perceive myself as being very practical/rational at the same time. I say all that to say that what attracted me to this particular day long meditation was the title of the event. “True Nourishment From Mind, Heart, to Cell”. As a practicing health coach looking for tools to better serve my clients, this had my name written all over it. If there was ever a time to attend a daylong, the time was now.

Saturday finally came. Armed with a good pen and notebook, I left my cell phone in my truck and prepared to immerse myself in this new and exciting experience.

Our speakers for the day were three amazing ladies. One speaker was a buddhist monk of the Gelugpa Tradition (The same order as the Dalai Lama). The second speaker was an amazing meditation teacher and mindful eating nutrition coach. I gained something from each speaker but the one that spoke to me the most was the third speaker, Dr. Elissa Epel, PhD. Dr. Epel is a Professor in Psychiatry at The University of California San Francisco and she is one heck of an amazing human being. Dr. Epel leads many research studies on stress and the effects it has on our health and longevity. It was from Dr. Epel that I gained many pearls of wisdom.

I know many people who don’t believe that meditation works for them. The cool thing about meditation is that there are about a million different practices. Also for the purposes of this article I will use the terms mindfulness and meditation interchangeably. Mindfulness equates to being fully in the present moment. Practices can range from sitting alone in silence for extended periods of time, to going for a walk in nature, or even playing sports (entering the zone). People practice mindfulness in many different forms sometimes without realization.

What was amazing about Dr. Epel is she was very thorough in explaining the science behind mindfulness. The how and the why. By definition the mind is the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences moment to moment, which includes their environment, their bodies, and thoughts. It is everything that we feel from the temperature outside to the self criticism inside.

I often discuss with my colleagues the connection between the mind and the body. Much like the chicken and the egg one of the questions I wrestle with is what comes first, the feelings of the body or the emotions of the mind? According to Dr. Epel the feelings of the body shape the mind. The mind is also something that is not easily measured. We can measure pieces such as blood flow, attention, and even compassion but these are all parts of the sum. My intent going into going into the daylong was to walk away with something to share, the following bullets are key takeaways I learned from Dr. Epel;

    • “Context shapes cognition” we are easily influenced by our environment (people, places, and things) this perhaps explains why the community aspect of CrossFit is so integral
    • Our natural state of being (default mode network) exists in the midline prefrontal cortex of our brain. With regular mindfulness practice (about 7 months) our thinking shifts to being more aware of actual reality you can see all of this via brain signatures (neuroscans)
    • “Selfing” one of Dr. Epel’s terms creates the illusion that we are separate and leads to feelings of depression and ruminant thoughts (a wandering mind) in the mind which leads to loneliness which she stated is a “sickness of the mind and body”
    • Stress in the body = unconscious stress. We can trick our minds into thinking everything is okay but our bodies hold onto that stress and elicit a stress response
    • When we sleep at night our stress response is supposed to “dip” but if our bodies still feel stressed and do not dip. This has been associated with more occurence of chronic disease.
    • Positive stress (exercise), breathing, and meditation, are ways that you can activate your parasympathetic nervous system to to control your physiology in a better way and lower the stress response.
    • Situations that we know have an end and that we are in control of are positive stressors that add to our lifespan (Hour long CrossFit class anyone?)
    • You can remind yourself you are safe by giving yourself safety cues, it is as simple as being in an environment that you feel safe in and actually telling yourself you are safe and trying to feel it in the body
    • We need more self-compassion in the west. Unique to our western culture is our vulnerability of social stress and our inner critic. Social stress is our common condition
    • Overcoming social stress is about finding emotional independence and not being attached to conditions
  • Loneliness is as dangerous as smoking and causes inflammatory responses in the body

Dr. Epel has a book “The Telomere Effect” which I purchased and am currently reading. In it she discusses her work on telomeres which are parts of our cell whose lengthening and shortening are associated with aging. Behaviors that are detrimental to our health = shorter telomeres and in effect, shorter healthspan and quicker entry into chronic disease. On the other hand behaviors that are beneficial to our health can stall the shortening of our telomeres and in some cases even lengthen them. Now more than ever the reasons for living a healthy life are backed by science. So why don’t we do it?

The truth is it is not as simple as it seems.Turn on the television and within half an hour you’ll see 5-6 different fast food ads. Exercise can be a very vulnerable activity. Without support, a person that comes from a family that suffers from chronic disease may not be able to make the necessary changes to live a longer more quality life. Why should they? Their family and friends likely struggle with making healthy choices themselves and thus the cycle continues.

Health Coaching is one of the newest and fastest growing professional fields. One in two americans has a chronic disease, one in four have multiple chronic diseases. The need for a collaborative health model that is client centered is needed now more than ever. What do I mean by client centered? I mean that the client needs to take charge of their own health. Intrinsic motivation (or self motivation) is the key to reversing this most vexing problem that we face in the US. Were everyone to have enough will power to make the changes necessary to lead healthy lives there would be no need for the health coach. This however is not the case, and as it turns out willpower is a finite resource.

After Saturday the fire in my heart grew tenfold and a lot of pieces came together. The journey to better health is not easy but it is possible. “Many hands make light work”  this is where the health coach comes in. The client holds the keys within. It is our job to help evoke the person that our clients truly are and wish to be for themselves, and their loved ones. Their best self. Through, accountability, support, and compassion. I believe we are in the middle of a health revolution and not only is the future fit, but the future is one that is full of health, self-love, and compassion.

Are You Ready to be Woman Strong?

Are You Ready to be Woman Strong?

By Gilly Boyd

We live in a time where people are becoming increasingly aware of the relationship between fitness and nutrition with overall health and wellness. However, in our pursuit of fitness and health, many are forgetting one of the most fundamental pieces of being human. That is Human Connection.

I am aware of a rising number of studies exploring the concept of loneliness and how the closely related lack of human connection may in fact be contributing to the rising rate of chronic disease conditions. This includes obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression! As the rate of chronic disease is on the rise, and as more and more people feel alone or lack human connection, we see the potential for a person’s health to decline even further. This decline in turn may cause antisocial behavior, thus creating the potential for a vicious cycle of declining health and increasing isolation.

In ancient ancestral times, individuals were supported by the entire tribe. A woman who gave birth had an army of sisters, aunts, mothers, and grandmothers to help care for her and her child, to teach and to guide her on her path through motherhood. Modern tribes and cultures that have these practices in place today report experiencing fewer instances of postpartum depression and chronic disease.

“Amazing things happen when women help other women.” – Kasia Gospos

At CrossFit Novato, we are on a quest to create spaces where women can visit and participate in health focused activities including thoughtful workouts, with the support of other women free from all judgements and fears. These are spaces , indoors and outdoors, where women can talk freely about their struggles, their triumphs, their defeats, their fears,  and their ever changing emotions. This one time “gym” community has evolved into a sacred place where people explore the concept of health, nutrition, and fitness without pressure or shame. A community where the core value is human connection; a place where people gather safely and are given the encouragement, support, tools, and a freedom to begin building relationships with themselves, their families, and others.

Phase I

Phase I of our Women’s Health program was our Postpartum Return to Fitness class series. This class was designed to connect new moms with their new bodies, re-connect them to their core and pelvic floor through their breath and to gently explore fitness and strength again.

Participants ranged from 3 months postpartum to 18 months postpartum. We worked with first-time moms to moms of multiples, from women with little-to-no athletic background to women with years of experience in a gym.

The most beautiful aspect of this class had nothing to do with how much weight people lifted or even how hard they worked. Instead, we focused on building confidence and human connection. Several participants initially reported feeling overwhelmed and unsure of themselves. In the end, participants reported a feeling of believing in their own strength and finally having time and a program that was “theirs”.

Frankly, when I started teaching this class, I was completely unsure of myself, unsure of my ability to connect and help other women.  I was lacking confidence in my abilities as a Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism Coach. As the course came to a close, I felt a special bond and a connection to these women (we cried both tears of joy and tears of frustration together) and more confident than ever that I am on my best path.Thank you to these wonderful women who trusted me with their babies, with their fitness and recovery, and, most importantly, taught me more than I ever thought possible!

Phase II

I am excited to announce the launch of our next Women’s Health Program: Woman Strong. Woman Strong is a female-only, female-coached strength and conditioning class open to women of all ages and abilities. The programming includes basic strength movements; you will learn how to squat, press, pick something up off the floor, and pull yourself up on rings or bars. You will be exposed to dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, barbells, sleds, and medballs. The conditioning pieces will be fun and non-competitive. The coach will work with you to make sure the weight and intensity you choose that day is appropriate. There are no prescribed weights, you get to choose how much to lift in a given day. All movements are coached with consideration for female anatomy, and core/pelvic floor health. The strength you will build in this class will give you more confidence and independence in your life outside of the gym.

This class is a great compliment to traditional cardio-based training such as Cycling classes, Zumba or running. It is a great strength-training program for women looking to preserve bone-density and lead an independent life as they age. This class is appropriate for pregnant women or postpartum women looking to return back to fitness.

The most important aspect of this class is the community of women it will build. Babies and toddlers are welcome to come with you to class and we are a breastfeeding-friendly facility. While there is no specific child-care provided, the women in the class and the coach work together to help care for each baby and child so that every mom gets the space and time to get a workout in. This isn’t a class to come in and beat yourself down with a crazy-hard workout. It’s a place to come in and discover your own strength, a place to wake up to your potential. Are you ready to be Woman Strong?

Our Woman Strong class will run on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:45am-11:45am at our Downtown location, starting on Wednesday September 5th. The class is open to all fitness-levels and abilities.

If you are new to our facility, please contact Head Coach Gilly Boyd at gilly@crossfitnovato or (831)234-3506 to come in and try a free class.

High on Sobriety; A Few Things I’m Noticing

By Andy Boone

A few years ago I was talking to a close friend about his journey to sobriety. He was approaching his 20th year completely sober and I was fascinated with my constructed idea of the discipline it would take for me to get sober; completely sober as a way of life. Not a drop of booze, no other substances whatsoever. In his case, not even Advil. Why did that seem so ridiculous? This idea had me spinning.

Within a week I reached back out to the same friend. I had questions. Why had he made the decision? Was it a single incident? How had the decision changed his life? Any regrets? Any temptations? I shared my typical consumption patterns and routines. For me, consuming alcohol had more or less become a way of life. A part of most social events. Included in most restaurant dinners. Was it time for me to take a break? If I reduced the quantity and frequency, would that be a worthy exercise?  Could I be the guy that just had a few beers now and then or should I test what it was like to go without?

His simple response set me on a new course and it went something like this: “If you are connecting with so many honest thoughts and questions about the subject well, maybe there’s your answer.”

Alcohol and the connection to my overall health was on my mind much of 2017. Could I make it Sunday through Thursday with no alcohol and then ‘back to normal’ with a green light to have a few drinks Friday and Saturday? Should I not drink during the week, but allow myself the obvious few at the organized social events? Could I make it through a weekend without a drink? How many was too many?

All the while, my friend’s comment kept spinning in my head. “If you are connecting to all of these questions well, maybe there’s your answer”. Maybe I did in fact have my answer.

With a few failed stop then start attempts during 2017, I took my last drink this past December. As I approach nine months sober, I thought I would use this week’s blog post to share some of what I’m noticing. This IS NOT an ‘everybody needs to stop drinking and get sober’ post. The last place you will ever find me is standing on a box preaching the way your life should be. If alcohol is a substance you are curious about and you’ve wrestled with the idea of making a change, here are a few things I’m noticing.

I Feel Better

I’m not sure how best to describe this one, so I’ll just sort of lay it out there. I feel better. I don’t feel the low-low energies that I used to. I don’t despise Monday like I used to. My outlook on my own health and life is generally more positive. I feel more patient and I feel more loving. It feels good to feel good.

I Ruminate Less

I’ve spent many years of my life living in my head. The voice that never quiets. I suspect that a mindfulness practice and consistent exercise are also factors that reduce rumination. I also know that after even the most enjoyable alcohol-fueled social event, the morning after is filled with reflection and rumination and sometimes regret. Quitting drinking has helped me to step out of my head.

I Sleep Better

For many years of my life I would wake at about 1 AM. Often times when drinking alcohol I would wake at 1 AM and have a difficult time going back to sleep. Even when I quit drinking during January and February this pattern would sometimes continue. Then in months three and four something shifted. Today it’s not uncommon for me to sleep through the entire night. I experience lucid dreams and awaken feeling rested like I didn’t know was possible.

More Present in Relationships

I especially notice this one with my wife, children, good friends and even teaching classes. I’m more engaged in conversations and am naturally and authentically more curious about what’s going on around me. When we feel better about ourselves and the life we are living, I believe that opens the door to show-up with others. 

I Feel Strong (again) During Workouts

I found myself in the gym discouraged with how I felt during workouts. Something wasn’t right. I didn’t feel like I could really face intensity. Also in a scary sort of way I started feeling like I couldn’t recover. Thus, my participation suffered. I’m enjoying our program more than I ever have.

I Make Better Food Choices

When we drink alcohol, our propensity to choose the sweet and the super savory only increases. Our guard comes down, we crave the garbage and don’t hesitate to dive-in. I don’t crave sugar like I used to.

My Kids Notice

I know that they’ve noticed because they are old enough and they tell me so. They like this dad better. They tell me they are proud of me. That about sums that up.

I’m More Curious About the Long Term Impact

In one of Peter Attia’s recent “Drive” podcasts, he summarizes the physiological effect of alcohol on the body. I encourage you to checkout Attia’s podcasts and, in general, his work on Health and Longevity.  

With respect to “alcohol” we are really talking about the physiological effect of the molecule ethanol on the body. Attia points out that ethanol is in fact a toxin, and that the dose makes the poison.

Many people (not in the world of toxicology) forget there is a probability distribution that drives the impact of a toxin on a population. There are going to be some people at one end of the spectrum who are largely impacted by certain toxins and there are going to be others who are not.

Ethanol is no exception. Like Attia, I don’t believe that there is a single benefit to ethanol, the molecule, in the human body. Ethanol in its metabolic pathway is metabolized by the liver and has an effect on both the liver and the brain. The effect on the brain is what people drink alcohol for. So we can feel deliciously buzzed. You know, that “Oh, heyyy…” feeling. But it also acts as a depressant on the central nervous system and this kicks up some euphoria. So, it’s a depressant, but also excitatory and thus why it feels uniquely yummy and allows us to feel like we can let go of our stress AND feel good.

The effect on the liver is not so yummy. Even though this varies by individual, Attia points out alcohol is metabolized very similar to fructose. They share similar metabolic pathways. Not identical, but not surprising that they overlap given fructose is fermented to make ethanol. Just like sugar, different people tolerate different amounts. Over time, I believe many of use lose our ability to metabolize alcohol, just like we do the refined carbs and sugar.

Writing a New Chapter

If we are willing to first examine and then potentially say NO to certain aspects of our life, especially with habits we’ve developed over many years, where then can we finally say YES? If we can develop the strength to let go of the stories we’ve told ourselves for many years, then what? What new doors can we open? 

A few years ago I found a physician who helped me begin to get really curious about my health. Perhaps more importantly, he helped me begin to pay attention to the life I was living. How did I want to show-up in this great game? Where was I willing to make changes? Where did I need to let go?

Today I am connecting with myself and others more deeply. For the first time, I’m seeing where I want to show-up bigger and stronger, as well honoring opportunities to rest and just be.  The fight, the persistence, the courage as well as honesty and transparency feels right. I am inspired to share my journey with you. 

Client Spotlight: Cristina Zammarchi

Client Spotlight: Cristina Zammarchi

 By Kelly Morlock

Cristina comes from a family of firefighters. She made her own way through San Francisco’s Fire Academy and married husband Eric, an SF firefighter she met 14 years ago.

Prior to firefighting, Cristina was a collegiate softball player. Going into firefighting she knew that her athletic background would prepare her for the  physical demands of the job. After having her first baby, Cristina joined Crossfit Novato on a recommendation that CrossFit could be the ideal way to prepare her for her first Physical Training test postpartum.

Despite her constantly rotating work schedule (not to mention her husband’s opposite shift… I dare you to work that calendar puzzle!), she does her best to get herself to the gym three days a week.  Cristina gives more than 100% effort when she’s there, but as any working mom knows getting to the gym can be difficult at times. She doesn’t let that discourage her though. Instead, she stays committed to bettering her health by squeezing in some fitness at the  fire station or at home when she can’t make it to a class.

Cristina LOVES CrossFit Novato’s Endurance programming.  If “Cristina” was a benchmark workout, it would go something like this…

30 minute AMRAP of wall balls, push press, running, air squats, burpees and rowing.  

Did I leave anything out?  Oh yeah, maybe some Assault Bike too.  

She has goals for building strength, but finds it hard to hit all the gym’s strength days due to her work schedule and Mom life.  Does that stop her from working towards those gains? Absolutely not. She approaches it with a positive attitude and is patient with her progress. As much as she would love to be more consistent with her barbell work, she acknowledges her situation and understands that it just may be a more gradual process for her.

Cristina is okay with that.

She should be.  Cristina challenges herself to be the best version of herself.  She walks away from each class with a sense of accomplishment, knowing she bettered her health and carries that motivation with her the rest of the day. The world better watch out, because this Mama is raising three strong daughters with the potential to be just like her!

5 Things I Want Every Female Athlete To Know

5 Things I Want Every Female Athlete To Know 

By Gillian Boyd

My life has made a huge shift in the last two years; pregnancy and parenthood. Anyone that has experienced both of these events (or even just one of them) knows how life-altering they can be.
I did not enjoy being pregnant. I struggled to be in the gym. “You’re so fit!” they would all say. “You’ll have such an easy labor and delivery! You’ll bounce back in no time!” Those words while well-intentioned ended up being so hurtful.

I didn’t have an easy labor and delivery. I didn’t “bounce back” (what does that even mean?!?!?). I felt lost. I was exhausted. I felt like a failure because I wasn’t doing all the things people said I would. Did that mean I wasn’t fit before? Does that mean I didn’t have a fit pregnancy? Ack! So much anxiety, fear, and hurt.

At the same time, I am also thankful for the experiences I had because they ended up inspiring me to learn anything and everything surrounding pregnancy and postpartum training. Everything about fitness, nutrition, and health for women. I dove head-first into Brianna Battle’s Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism Coaching Certification. I connected with amazing coaches out there doing incredibly positive work for female athletes. I read, researched, and studied. I’m still learning,but it’s time that I share some of it.
The next five things are just the tip of the iceberg. I want you all to read these things, get curious, ask questions, and tell your friends about them. Let’s take better care of our women. Let’s take better care of each other. Let’s take better care of ourselves. Knowledge is power.

#1). YOUR PELVIC FLOOR MATTERS (this is really important for women AND men):
Did you know that your pelvic floor is part of your “core”? Many people know how important your core is for preventing injury and providing stability, but how many of you when cued to engage your core think about contracting your pelvic floor? Most people that I know don’t. We mostly just think of the main abdominals: the Rectus Abdominis, the Obliques, and the Transverse Abdominals. The truth is that these abdominal muscles function best when working in concert with both your diaphragm and your pelvic floor (and they all function via your breath!). When they don’t work well together, dysfunction happens. Symptoms of dysfunction can be hip, back, or pelvic pain, incontinence, feeling heavy, or feeling pressure down below. I know many of you suffer from chronic back and/or hip pain. I did too, pretty much my whole life. But you know what’s crazy? Since learning about my pelvic floor, how it functions, and how to train it to work together with the diaphragm and abdominals…I’ve had little to no back pain! Seriously, this breathwork and awareness is life-changing.
If you are interested in what the pelvic floor looks like and how it functions, here is a little video.

Want to see a cool MRI of the way your core works with your breath? Check this out.
If you are currently experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, I highly recommend going to see a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist. They can help you. This stuff matters. Even for you dudes.

#2). No, peeing yourself, pelvic pain, and having a poochy tummy are not “part of being a mom”
You see this message in Poise commercials. You hear your girlfriends say it. Maybe you’ve even joked about it before. The message I want to get across is that while these things ARE COMMON, they are NOT NORMAL and you don’t have to live with them. There is help. As mentioned above, peeing yourself even when you sneeze or jump is a sign that your pelvic floor isn’t functioning properly. With proper training and help from a professional, you (most likely) will resolve your issue (I put most likely in there because there are rare cases where surgery is needed, but even then the issue is usually resolved). The same goes for pelvic pain. It’s a symptom that something is wrong, just like if your knee was hurting. Most of us would see a doctor for bad knee pain, but yet women “just put up with” pelvic pain because they think they have to. That’s bullsh*t. Lastly, do you hear mom’s complain about the appearance of their tummy post babies ( I’m specifically talking about when the lower abdomen “pooches” out)? What if I told you that often this is just a combination of Diastasis Recti that didn’t heal properly post-delivery and mismanagement of abdominal pressure? That’s right, training the pelvic floor and core through specific breath work and physical therapy might change the appearance of your tummy. Did your mind just explode? Mine did when I found that one out. It’s not always the case, and sometimes there is more at play for this one, but I want women to know there is help other than crash diets and punishing yourself in the gym.

#3). The way you exercise through pregnancy and especially postpartum (1st year or so) MATTERS.
Not a lot of people are comfortable saying this, but I think it needs to be said; Pregnancy is hard on your body. Labor and delivery (in all forms) is traumatic injury/surgery to your body. We have exhaustive rehabilitation protocols for knee replacements, shoulder surgeries, and even sprained ankles. We have no rehab recommendations AT ALL for the nearly 4 MILLION women giving birth every year in the US. Did you know that it’s estimated that around 3.3 million women in America have Pelvic Organ Prolapse? Or that Stress Incontinence (peeing while jumping/sneezing/etc) affects nearly 15 million women in the US? Both of these are usually caused by or exacerbated by pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum habits. Both can also be managed/reduced/eliminated by proper education, care, and exercise. Are you pissed? Im pissed.

I want to change this. There are doctors, nurses, coaches, physical therapists, and so many others that want to change this. Unfortunately, quality information is still hard to find and the internet is rife with misguided recommendations and guidelines. So I’m here to tell you, and I hope you tell your friends too; there are considerations you should make to your training during pregnancy. There are ways to ease back into training that help to rebuild the core and pelvic floor, reduce diastasis recti, and progress you in an intelligent way.

You don’t need to exercise through pregnancy to keep weight gain down (your body does what it needs to do to build a healthy baby. Surrender to that, focus on eating a quality diet). You don’t need to slave away in the gym and go right back to “doing what you were doing” to “lose the baby-weight”.( #buzzkill) You’ll probably gain a lot of the weight you lost post-baby back once you stop breastfeeding (because #hormones *whomp, whomp*).
There are so many more ways to nourish your soul, your body, and your mind than “punishing” yourself in the gym. You’ll likely end up discouraged, peeing your pants, and in pain if you rush things. If we rebuild your core, pelvic floor, and strategy in an intelligent, individualized way you are more likely to return to doing what you love, the way you want to do it, without any complications. Doesn’t that sound like something every woman should experience?

#4). Your Menstrual Cycle Affects Your Training
Yup. You read that right. It’s not a myth. Understanding how your hormones affect your training will help you to understand what you are feeling and experiencing in and out of the gym.

Let’s do a crash-course: Your cycle begins right after you finish menstruating with the follicular phase which lasts, on average, about 14 days. You have an increase in estrogen and normal progesterone in this phase, and an average body temperature. Ovulation happens around day 14 and is characterized by a peak in estrogen and rising levels in progesterone. Your body temperature also rises. After ovulation, you enter the luteal phase where estrogen declines, progesterone increases and your body temperature is elevated. Menstruation then follows.

Now, what does all of this mean for your training and recovery? The follicular phase, or beginning of your cycle is the best time to train hard. You will have a higher tolerance to pain, increased endurance, and your insulin sensitivity levels are higher making your body more tolerant of carb-fueling your workouts. Your basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories your body needs to keep you functioning at rest, is also at its lowest during this phase, dropping to its lowest point one week before ovulation.

During ovulation, you are the most primed to make PRs! You have the highest sheer force generation capacity during this phase. It’s important to note though that studies have found that it is also the time you are most susceptible to injury. Soaring estrogen levels can influence your neuromuscular control and affect collagen metabolism. So be mindful of your form while going for those PRs! Your metabolism is also starting to go up, so you may feel more hungry.
During the luteal phase, you will be retaining water making you feel bloated and uncomfortable. You experience higher cardiovascular strain and your endurance will decrease. This is a great time to step back form intensity, and focus more on moderately paced efforts. Metabolically, you will be at your lowest point, yet your body will really crave a lot of carb-rich foods. Try to stick to quality, high fat foods like avocados as your body is primed for fat-burning for fuel during this phase.
The last phase, menstruation, is a time to transition back to high intensity training, which will peak in the following phase.
Now, wouldn’t it be fun if we could all time our 1RM testing to our Ovulation phases?!?

#5). Consistency and Kindness
This one I’m going to keep short, but it may be the most important:

Consistency over time is THE MOST CRUCIAL factor in weight loss, fitness, health, and wellbeing. There are no quick fixes. Keep your head down and keep going. It will pay off. I promise.

Kindness to yourself. You need it. When you lack it, you won’t be consistent. If you veer off course and then beat yourself up over it, you are less likely to get back to being consistent. Lack of consistency leads to lack of progress. You see the loop this is forming? Do yourself a favor and be kind to yourself. You are doing great. Seriously you are. Now tell yourself that too, because you need to hear it from you!

If this info sparks your curiosity, you need support, or you want to talk more about this stuff, contact me at gilly@crossfitnovato.com or text/call (831) 234-3506. I am here for you, no matter what you are going through or what your goals are.

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