EXPOSING DIET INDUSTRY MYTHS: THE SOLUTIONS THE DIET INDUSTRY DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW

By Vera Ross, MA, Public Health, Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®),

Stick to 80/20 diet: eating clean, whole foods most of the time, allowing space for ice-cream, salty treats and wine without feeling guilty about it:)

Stick to 80/20 diet: eating clean, whole foods most of the time, allowing space for ice-cream, salty treats and wine without feeling guilty about it:)

In a culture obsessed with the newest advances in weight loss products and services we are constantly bombarded with advertisements for quick fix solutions to our health problems.  Americans spend upwards of $60 billion (BILLION! With a “B”!) on weight loss and diet products each year. How can we be sure that what we’re paying for in these products actually works?  What I will illuminate for you in this article is how the diet and “health” industries manipulate real scientific data to misrepresent their products in order to sell us products that they never intended to work in the first place.  Why? Because if their products worked and we achieved permanent weight loss/a slimmer waist/long term results of any kind, those companies would no longer have any customers! Read on as I debunk some of today’s most popular diet industry deceptions- as well as the science-based practices that have proven to be effective in helping people improve their health.

Note: It is important to respect everyone’s beliefs surrounding their personal health, and to understand that every person and every body is unique.  One person may find success with a health product, while another may find that the same product did not produce any result for them. Again, every individual is going to have their own reaction to a particular food/exercise program/nutrition supplement.  This article is not intended to shame anyone about their own personal health choices nor beliefs. 

The Deception: Quick fix weight loss meal delivery plans.  I can’t mention them by brand name, but let’s just say one of these popular plans is named after a famous region of Miami, and another one of these famous weight loss meal delivery programs rhymes with “Shmootra-system”:  While these systems can in fact claim to be backed by science, the only scientifically proven mechanism by which their customers lose weight is basic calorie control.  That is, these programs sell you pre-packed, pre-portioned foods so that you are eating a reduced number of calories overall, and of course if you consume fewer calories you will lose weight.  However, the quality of the calories in these prepared meals is very low, and have low nutritional density (nutritional density refers to how many nutrients are contained in a food; the higher the nutritional density, the healthier a food is for you).  These types of weight loss plans ship their customers high sodium, hyper-processed packaged foods with low nutritional value. The calories you are consuming are reduced because the portions are smaller, but this type of system doesn’t teach you anything about how to prepare healthy food for yourself, making long-term weight management difficult.  Remember the old saying, “give a woman a fish, and you feed her for a day; show her how to catch fish, and you feed her for a lifetime;” well, these types of systems are not showing anyone how to catch fish. While these prepackaged weight loss meal companies may provide a level of short-term weight loss for some, this method is not sustainable for most because you can’t just eat pre-packed meals for the rest of your life- at some point you’re going to have to learn how to catch your own fish.

The Solution: Steady, incremental weight loss through behavior modification.  The reason you will likely not succeed with long-term success when ordering from one of those corporate, name brand weight loss meal delivery plans is that these plans do not teach you how to eat for a lifetime.  Let’s be realistic: are you going to go on your holiday vacation carrying ice chests full of your pre-packaged meals? No. Of course, these plans can honestly boast a measure of short-term weight loss success for their clients- simply because they are delivering a pre-portioned meal plan which will force you to eat less calories than you normally would, if you stick to their plan.  But at the end of the day it comes down to a quick fix versus a long-term solution. Learning how to shop for, prepare, and store your own healthy meals is a behavior modification that will stick with you for the long run. Quick fixes will get you results that disappear just as quickly. For meaningful, lasting change we must learn to adopt new behaviors instead of paying a company to do it for us.  

The Deception: Fad diets.  We’ve all heard of the “latest and greatest” new diet.  Right now, Keto (or the ketogenic diet) is the newest diet that is all over the news, internet and social media.  Last year it was Paleo (short for Paleolithic, or the time during human evolution at which this diet claimed human nutrition was at it’s best-yikes), and before that it was the Whole 30.  Don’t get me wrong, if you have personal experiences of success with any of these diets I applaud you- I am glad that you have found a system of eating that works for you. However, my problem with these fad diets is that they are always advertised as being THE perfect diet for everyone, and that is a big problem.  One diet or eating pattern may work perfectly for one person, but be completely wrong for another individual. These fad diets cherry pick scientific data and skew the results to sell their product. Most of the fad diets have one really good tenet in common: they teach people to avoid consuming hyper-processed foods, sodas, and alcohol.  But those are simply the basic rules of proper nutrition! There is no one magic bullet diet that will produce long-term, sustainable weight loss or weight management results. 

The Solution: Eating clean, the 80/20 rule, and becoming your body’s own best expert.  Most of the fad diets mentioned above can truthfully advertise that their followers find some weight loss success because the underlying concept of all of these diets is to get you away from eating junk food and get you to eat more whole, un-processed foods (like vegetables, whole fruits, fish, chicken, nuts…etc.).  However, the restrictive nature of these diets works against our psychology and ultimately we cannot stick to the rigid guidelines of the diets. Instead, rebuild your relationship with foods by staying away from hyper-processed packaged foods like chips, snack bars, sodas, and fast food. Opt for foods like grilled chicken or fish, roasted veggies, and replace all sugary beverages with water.  When we teach ourselves how to prepare and eat real food, our tastes gradually change and we start to crave those real foods again. And by eating clean most of the time we can allow ourselves the wiggle room to enjoy our favorite desserts, a glass of wine, or a salty snack once in a while. That’s the 80/20 rule: eat healthful, nutritionally dense foods 80% of the time, so that the other 20% of the time we can be more flexible with what we put into our bodies.  These concepts will help you to find the dietary pattern (that is, the foods that you eat on a regular basis) that works best for your body and lifestyle. For more tips on repairing your relationship with food and how to eat for a lifetime of health, I recommend the book Intuitive Eating– you can find it here.

The Deception: Waist trainers/body wraps for weight loss.  Think of these pieces of equipment as another magic pill: get 6 pack abs and burn fat just by sitting around in your waist trainer!  Ok ok so most of these devices are advertised to be used in conjunction with diet and exercise. But then of course we could just attribute their “success” rate to the diet and exercise!  Ding ding ding– that’s right!  Waist trainers- the binding corsets advertised to be used during exercise- are at minimum a waste of your money and at the most they could lead to serious injury.  Due to their extremely tight fit, waist trainers can be dangerous for your internal organs and digestion. Add to that their constrictive fit gets in the way of you taking a deep breath, so you run the risk of passing out if wearing these during strenuous physical activity- because you can’t breathe!  In fact, waist trainers actually decondition your core and abdominal muscles because the waist trainer is holding everything in and doing the work of your muscles for you; you can actually injure your back when your abdominal and core muscles get deconditioned. There are only two scientifically proven ways to burn fat: converting fat into carbon dioxide (CO₂) when you exhale, and to a lesser extent losing fat through sweat/urine/feces.  When you exhale more and create more CO₂, that’s called cardiovascular (or aerobic) exercise: brisk walking, tennis, bike riding, running, swimming, kettlebell swings, box jumps, jump rope, Zumba, etc, are all great forms of aerobic, fat-burning exercise. 

Body wraps- like the ones advertised at many spas- also have zero evidence backing their claims of reducing cellulite and taking inches off of your body.  These wraps may make your skin appear firmer and tighter immediately after treatment, but just as with waist trainers there is ZERO scientific evidence to support their claims that you will lose body fat, weight, inches, or even cellulite.  The only weight you’re guaranteed to lose if you purchase these products is the weight of your money leaving your wallet. 

The Solution: Good old fashioned hard work.  Just as there is no magic pill, powder, or one perfect diet that will help you lose or maintain weight, there is no substitute for the sweat equity you put in at the gym.  However, just as there is not one perfect diet for all, there is no one “better” form of exercise that will help you get in shape quickly. The key to getting and staying in shape is consistency.  Find a physical activity that you enjoy doing- we are more apt to want to repeat an activity that we enjoy, and the same goes for exercise. Find ways in which you enjoy moving your body and do it regularly- 5 or 6 days a week!

The Deception: Weight loss teas AKA “Skinny Teas:”  Think of the skinny tea products like the waist trainers- a shortcut to success that has no basis in reality.  All of the teas I researched for this article come with the following disclaimer: “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary from person to person and are not guaranteed.”  Pay particular attention to that last line: results may vary from person to person. Again, if you drink these products and you like the way they make you feel, I think that is awesome and you should keep drinking your tea (as long as you’re not any sweeteners!). While these teas are not made with dangerous or harmful ingredients (the ones I researched all contain nothing more than herbs and spices), the idea that they contain some unique blend of herbs that will magically help you burn fat simply by drinking the tea is just untrue.  The success that we see people having with these teas when they post photos on social media has more to do with correlation than direct causation; that is, the photos of fit models drinking these products do not necessarily mean that those models got “skinny” with any help from the tea. There are other correlating factors that most likely led to a skinny tea model looking the way she does: she most likely has a rigorous exercise routine and I would guess most of the models used to advertise these teas are practicing some form of restrictive dieting.  The point is, we cannot know simply from an ad campaign if the model whose image was used to sell the product is simply using the product as directed or if she is also practicing other healthy (or not so healthy, if we’re talking about over-exercising and under-eating) lifestyle habits. Bottom line: as with the waist trainers and wraps, there is no scientific evidence to support the claims made by these so-called “skinny teas.” 

The Solution: Stick to water.  These specialty beverages have absolutely zero nutritional benefit.  For optimal hydration, good old H₂O is the best thing you can drink.  

The biggest piece of information I would like for you, dear reader, to take away from this article is that there are no quick fixes when it comes to our health.  There is an overwhelming amount of scientifically tested evidence showing that behavior change is the best method for sustainable success for any health habit we are working on implementing or improving.  For more on how I can help coach you towards your health goals, schedule your consultation here.  I would love to learn how I can help you on your journey to becoming your healthiest self!

About the author:

As an independent health and fitness coach, Vera has worked with over 200 individuals and several corporations to implement strategies to create sustainable health-positive behavior modifications.  Through earning a Master of Public Health degree and becoming a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®), Vera is uniquely prepared to help clients work towards their health goals.

As a small business owner operating a health and fitness coaching practice for over 6 years, Vera has been educating clients on all aspects of creating and maintaining healthy lifestyle behavior modifications.  As a qualified and highly educated health coach Vera is an effective agent of change, helping clients to create sustainable, lasting lifestyle modifications.



Back Saving Yoga Tips for New Moms

Take few minutes every day for yourself. Your body and mind will thank you!

Take few minutes every day for yourself. Your body and mind will thank you!

We all know being a new mom is an around the clock job, and between nursing and diaper changing, you don’t even have time to take a shower, let alone find time to sneak in a yoga class. Aching shoulders, wrists and back are the most common complaints among new, breastfeeding mamas, so read on for simple tips on how to sneak in some powerful yoga remedies without having to plan/ find babysitter,  leave the house or your baby and worrying if you’re gonna leak breastmilk in class:-). 

When I was a new mom, just couple of weeks after having my baby, my inner yogi kept bugging me and I really wanted to move, stretch and get back on the mat. My back and shoulders were so tight and achy. But even child’s pose was painful because I suffered a pretty severe perineal tear and had lots of stitches. Not to mention my shoulders and wrists were in so much pain from feeding and holding my new little baby around the clock. I honestly felt like I was hit by a bus, and my pelvic floor so weak, I would leak urine whenever I laughed or sneezed:-). Everywhere I looked said “wait at least 6 weeks before resuming yoga or exercise” so I wasn’t even sure what is OK to do that would make my body feel better.

I now know that this is a feeling common to pretty much all new moms. And I also know that if we don’t create that little bit of time to take care of ourselves, no one else will, and we will eventually burn out, physically and mentally. Yoga always helped me to be a more zen, centered person, as well as physically strong and pain free mama! 

During the postpartum period and many months that follow, yoga does not have to mean “going to a yoga class” or having a full hour for a complete practice. You can start slow, even just couple minutes at a time. That way you can practice yoga every day, even multiple times, and not being dependent on someone watching your baby.  

Here’s few yoga tips that any new mom can follow, even in those first 6 weeks postpartum:

  1. Have your mat easily accessible, maybe you keep in rolled out in the living room, so you have that constant reminder to sneak in few minutes of yummy stretches whenever you can.

  2. Whenever your baby falls asleep, put everything on hold, and get on your mat. We give everything to our new baby, and it’s ok to give a little bit back to ourselves. Doulas and midwifes call it “mothering the mother”. Newborn baby sleeps a lot, so let’s take advantage of that! Keep the dishes piling up and laundry overflowing… Put yourself first, and then you’ll be able to tackle everything else with so much more strength, joy and determination.

  3. Live in yoga leggings and a soft, comfy sports bra that can double as a nursing bra. That way you’re ready for your mini yoga practice any time your baby naps.

  4. Shoulder stretches, gentle cat and cow pose and kegels (pelvic floor activation) is your gold standard, before even worrying to make it back on the mat for a full class. 

  5. Do kegels while breastfeeding or while driving, especially when your are stuck in traffic or sitting at a red light. 

  6. Repeat shoulder stretches after each breastfeeding (no exceptions!) It will make a world of difference to how your body feels, your posture, and your ability to breastfeed comfortably. 

  7. Try to repeat this simple 5 minute routine every day: Start seated comfortably on your mat, maybe on a pillow or cushion, inhale reach your arms up overhead, interlace your hands and flip your palms up. Look up and take few breaths. Release, interlace your hands behind your low back, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and open up your chest. Take few breaths. Release, reach your arms up again, grab your right wrist, and take a side bend to the left. Switch sides. Then get on all fours, tabletop position, and take few cat/ cow spinal extensions. Stretch back into child’s pose and take 10 deep breaths. 

If you are ready for longer yoga practice, check out my gentle postnatal flow video: 

https://yourbuddhi.com/videos/yoga-for-postpartum-recovery/


Prenatal Yoga is great during all three trimesters

Wednesdays 11 AM at TRILOGY SANCTUARY

Fridays 10:45 AM at BUDDHI YOGA

Release, relax, and connect with your growing baby.

Can’t make it to class? Try my online prenatal yoga:

TRY IT HERE

We all know how hard it is to find a studio that offers prenatal yoga, and if you do, the times usually don't work for you. That's why I decided to start offering online prenatal yoga classes so that anyone could join in, all you need is an internet connection. You can now enjoy prenatal yoga anytime, anywhere, even from the comfort of your own home.

The class is lead by me (Magdalena Patterson), from La Jolla’s beautiful Buddhi Yoga studio. Relax, release tension, connect with you growing baby and your changing body. It is so much more then a series of modified poses. it is all of the above and more. With breath work and meditation, you start preparing for the progressing pregnancy, labor and birth. Prenatal yoga helps you learn to be present and connected with your growing baby.

Why am I so passionate about yoga during pregnancy? I really believe it must be the most important time in a woman’s life to practice yoga. From the moment of conception, our baby experiences life through us, our emotions and state of mind. Our little baby feels our sensory impulses, and recognizes what brings us joy and what feels toxic. Deep inside the womb, our baby feels our neurological responses to daily situations. They can feel when we are stressed, and they can enjoy the moments of happiness and contentment with us. That is because whatever emotion we experience, our brain releases the corresponding hormones into our bloodstream. Those hormones cross the placenta and travel through the umbilical cord to our baby. .

DSC_0056.jpg

Babywearing and the 4th trimester

I want to do babywearing with my newborn - but I am intimidated by the wrap....READ ON, it's easy!!! And so rewarding for you and your baby:)

What in the world is fourth trimester, you may be asking? This theory is based on age-long wisdom combined with latest research: Your pregnancy does not end with your baby's birth, but three months into your baby's life, when your baby is transitioning from the life in the womb to the life out there in this crazy, wild world. During the first three months of life, your baby is happiest and most secure when it feel as if it was still inside of your body. On your chest, skin to skin, feeling your warmth and scent, breastfeeding anf being carried. Did you know that immediately after birth, your nipples exude the scent of amniotic fluid, and baby is drawn to curl up there and breastfeed? You can help your baby to feel this warmth, familiar scent and sense of security by babywearing as much as you can during the first three months of their lives. What can be sweeter than having your newborn baby curled up on your chest, happy, content and peacefully asleep? 

The best way to wear your newborn is using a wrap - it mimics the womb - it's nice and soft, tight, warm, baby curls up into the same fetal position they are used to from the womb, and they hear your voice, heartbeat, and they enjoy the rocking  and swaying as you walk. Studies have shown that babies who enjoyed babywearing in their 4th trimester are calmer and more content. Commercial baby-carriers cannot achieve this sense of comfort for your newborn baby. 

 

 

 

Here's a step-by-step tutorial on (in my opinion) the best way to use the wrap with your newborn. Also please follow video that I posted above:

1. Unfold your wrap completely and find a middle of the fabric.

2. Hold the middle against your belly and wrap the fabric around toward your back, cross the two ends. 

3. Place each end over your shoulder so they hang from your shoulders on the front of your body

4. Tuck both loose ends through the piece that goes across your belly, crossing them again.

5. Pull both ends of fabric around your low back and tie them on your low back.

6. Take your baby, and place them on your chest, toward your left shoulder. 

7. Slide your baby under the right side fabric, pull it over them. Then the left side.

8. Finally, pull the bottom piece of fabric over your baby to secure them in place. 

9. Your baby will find whatever position is most comfortable for them. They will just curl up and be happy. 

10. Make sure that your baby's head is always VISIBLE and KISSABLE (don't carry your baby too low).

11. ENJOY the love and endorphins that babywearing brings!

 

 

Busting the pregnancy yoga and workout myths: Podcast by Mommy Workouts

I loved talking with Magdalena! After a while of shamelessly insta- creeping her account, I knew I just had to finally ask her to be on. Her Instagram, is the cutest! You see her, and her growing belly while practicing yoga with her 2 year old daughter. And it's real. Sometimes her daughter participates and sometimes she runs around. But you know thats life. And I love that Magdalena shows the realness and the acceptance of the fact that it may not be perfect but it is what it is. 

Listen to the podcast HERE

So, for this episode I wanted to talk about some of the myths and benefits of prenatal yoga. I looked into Magdalena, and she is highly educated about prenatal yoga and it's so close to her heart that I knew she could give us really good insight. Especially if we are prego and hesitant to try it. 

She is truly the sweetest and I hope you find this episode informational and helpful if you are wanting to do yoga when you have a little bun in the oven. 

Yoga during pregnancy: Beyond the physical benefits

Why am I so passionate about yoga during pregnancy? I really believe it must be the most important time in a woman’s life to practice yoga. From the moment of conception, our baby experiences life through us, our emotions and state of mind. Our little baby feels our sensory impulses, and recognizes what brings us joy and what feels toxic. Deep inside the womb, our baby feels our neurological responses to daily situations. They can feel when we are stressed, and they can enjoy the moments of happiness and contentment with us. That is because whatever emotion we experience, our brain releases the corresponding hormones into our bloodstream. Those hormones cross the placenta and travel through the umbilical cord to our baby. 

~I am holding a four hour prenatal workshop on March 11th at Buddhi Yoga in La Jolla, CA ~ 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM        

Neuroscience and yoga philosophy come together and agree on the fact that life learning clearly starts before birth, and that experiences long before birth can affect and mold personality. When a pregnant mother is at peace and harmony, the more harmonious and content is her baby’s development. To the contrary, when a pregnant mother is constantly stressed, her unborn child experiences the bouts of fight or flight stress response with her. Stress hormones act by mobilizing energy from storage to muscles, increasing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate and shutting down metabolic processes such as digestion, reproduction, growth and immunity. That used to be a life-saving reactions back in the days when we actually faced real fight or flight situations on daily basis. Nowadays, without us actually having to undergo fight or flight, stress hormones (cortisol and epinephrine) just travel through our body and cannibalize our health. Unfortunately, they also travel through the umbilical cord to our baby. 

 

Through yoga, we can become more centered, calm, content and present - and our baby enjoys these feelings being transferred to them. They literally bathe in our happy hormones, and their developing brain is absorbing our endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. Through yoga, we can help mothers get into a peaceful state of mind, so that their babies enjoy feeling loved, nourished, secure, happy and content, long before birth. 

 

There is no way we can simply eliminate stress from our lives. But we can certainly change the way we react to it. Pregnant women usually seek out prenatal yoga classes to help them with physical ailments such as achy body, fatigue, nausea and leg cramps. Soon they realize, that while enjoying all of those benefits, yoga also helps pregnant women to become less reactive. By emphasizing breath and relaxation, we teach pregnant women to create their “yoga bubble” around them to shield them from the outside world. We can teach them to flow through their daily life without reacting to stressful situations or annoying comments from strangers and coworkers. (Yes, during pregnancy everyone feels to have the liberty to give you “friendly advice” and unsolicited comments about your body, belly size, even what type of birth you should choose). Being less reactive means brushing these situations off, and preventing stress hormones from rising in our body. 

 

Just like our body protects our baby physically from the outside world (always the right temperature, no sharp edges, no loud sounds, everything is muffled and absorbed by the amniotic fluid), our mind needs to do the same mentally. Otherwise we are exposing our baby to the stress epidemic we see out there today. Mind and body are inseparably one, just like the pregnant mother and child create one unit. You are your unborn baby continuously share each others feelings and experiences, and our baby is mostly just the helpless recipient, who cannot protect themselves from stress or sadness. 

 

Prenatal yoga is so wonderful because pregnant women are such natural yogis. Even if they have never done yoga before, they just get it. The elusive yogic goal of “being in the moment” or “being present” becomes so natural to pregnant women. They put their hands to their belly during meditation and immediately feel so deeply connected with their baby, experiencing the miraculous process of growing a little person inside, the ancient wisdom of the woman’s body, the miracle of life. Meditation becomes very deep and profound. The respect for our incredible body and for nature becomes very deep. Our pregnant body miraculously delivers just the right amount of nutrients with each bite of food we take, and just the right amount of oxygen with every breath we take. Nobody has to teach us how to be pregnant, our body does it automatically, as if it has done it many times before. We call that the ancient wisdom of the female body, and through yoga, we can learn to channel all the ancient midwifes, doulas, and all the women who were pregnant before us and who gave birth. It is a very powerful feeling. 

 

Prenatal yoga is so much more then a series of modified poses. It is all of the above and more. With breath work and meditation, we prepare the pregnant mother for the progressing pregnancy, labor and birth. We teach her how to be present and connected with her baby. We teach her how to appreciate every moment in her pregnancy in a society that only has us looking forward and counting the weeks to our due date.

 

I am holding a four hour prenatal workshop on March 26th at Buddhi Yoga in La Jolla, CA.      More details and to register here

Your body after baby: How I did it.

Workout anytime, anywhere, with your baby! 

We all know being a new Mom can be very hectic. Between diaper changing and nursing, you feel like you don't even have time to take a shower, let alone workout! When my daughter was born, I was dying to get back to working out. I didn’t have anyone to help me watch my baby, so the gym and my favorite yoga studio was out of the question. I tried to workout at home, I can do this, I said to my self. But we all know the story, as soon as I put my workout clothes on and thought that my baby girl is sound asleep, there she goes again crying her lungs out wanting my boobie! At most I could do was few minutes here and there…then I started including her in my workouts, I let her just watch me as I do my Jane Fonda moves on the mat, and then I would grab her and workout with her. She loved it! I realized that it was working, I found the formula to loose the baby weight and to feel great. I didn’t need a nanny, the gym or the standard “hour” for my workout, all I needed was a mini workout using my own body, and my baby (if she wasn’t napping) a few times a day. It really came down to using what I already had - my body, that took me through pregnancy and birth, a woman’s body that is the most incredible and capable machine out there.  

I used my background as a yoga teacher and a personal trainer, and I would create my own short, high intensity workouts. I would combine cardio movements like mountain climbers and jumping jacks with strength exercises like squats, pushups and lunges. From years in the fitness industry I know that’s the perfect formula to burn the most fat and tone up the body. If she was napping, great, I got my workout in. If she woke up, I would simply put her on the mat next to me and grab her for all the strengthening moves, such as squat and press, and walking lunges. I included many yoga moves, especially planks and all it variations, as we know being a new mom is all about rebuilding your core. 

By including my daughter in my workouts, I created a fun activity to do few times a day for both of us, and most importantly, my daughter got used to exercising with me literally from day one. Now, at two and a half, when she sees me roll out my mat, she knows it’s time for yoga or workout, and she respects that, and is so excited to join in. 

I went on to create Mommy Workouts, a workout app that you can follow right from your phone. I wanted to share my experience with all the new mommies out there that may have felt the same, and didn’t know where to start with their postpartum exercise. Each workout is just five minutes long, so you can fit it in anywhere, anytime. If you have more time, simply repeat the same workout or stack multiple workouts together. Videos feature upbeat music and gorgeous backdrop of Pacific ocean. Mommy Workouts celebrates being a new mom, having your baby with you and moving your body. What better prescription for happiness? Bellow I’m sharing my favorite moves that you can do at home with your baby. And always remember, get an OK from your OB-GYN that you are good to exercise, and always listen to your body. Start slow, especially if you are recovering from a C-section. 

My postpartum exercise tips:

         1. DON’T FORGET YOUR PELVIC FLOOR - it really gets weak after pregnancy, your pelvic floor muscles support your growing baby and uterus. During birth, your pelvic floor gets even more stretched out and weak. So do Kegels as often as you can, whenever you are sitting down, driving, or laying down: Quickly squeeze the muscles that stop the flow of urine. Make the contractions progressively longer: squeeze for five, hold for five, and release for five. Repeat 10 times.

         2. BEING A NEW MOM, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CORE - rebuilding and strengthening. Solution: Plank. Plank is a static full body move, looks like a starting position for a pushup, contracting your core muscles (pulling bellybutton toward your spine), and you body in a straight line from shoulders to ankles. You can start with a knee plank, progress to a classic plank, elbow plank, side plank, and all different variations. Start with holding for 10 seconds, gradually increasing to 30 seconds or more. 

         3. FULL BODY MOVES- As new moms, we can’t afford to waste time with isolation exercises - do full body moves such as squats, pushups and lunges for maximum muscle impact and calorie burn.

         4. GET OUTSIDE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN - the fresh air and sun on your skin will sure boost the flow of endorphins.

         5. THROW A YOGA MAT IN YOUR STROLLER - whenever you are on a walk, find a beautiful place and do a quick workout while your baby is catching a nap:)

         6. PUT YOUR WORKOUT CLOTHES ON first thing in the morning, and as soon as you put your baby down, get moving, and then repeat a mini workout as many times as you can during the day. Remember, us new moms don't have time to shower anyway, so we might as well be sticky and sweaty all day in our leggings and sports bra :)

 

My favorite moves with my baby:

 

  1. Squat and press: Start with feet about hip width, hold your baby at your chest. Squat down keeping your weight in your heels, and as you come up, press your baby overhead.
  2. Backward lunges and pulse: Start standing, holding your baby at your chest. Step back into a lunge, stay low and just pulse up and down, until you feel the burn.
  3. Boat pose: Sitting on your mat, your baby at your chest, drown your belly in, lean back and pick up your legs, keeping knees bent, balancing your your tailbone. 
  4. Leg lifts: Lay on your back, hold your baby at your chest, and lift both legs to 90 degrees, while keeping your core engaged and your low back flat. Slowly return your legs down. 

 

You can find all my workouts on my Mommy Workouts app, available on ITunes, or www.mymommyworkouts.com

Follow me on instagram for more inspiration for new mommies! @mommyworkouts_

 

Love,

Magdalena Patterson

Yoga teacher, personal trainer, founder of Mommy Workouts.

DSC_9811.jpg

Home-made body butter, perfect for pregnant bellies:-)

This heavenly body butter has become a must for me (especially now that my belly started showing beautifully), it became a part of my nightly ritual. I must say that I have done the exact same ritual every night during my first pregnancy, and I can confirm, no stretch marks left!:-) 

During pregnancy, we are instructed to only eat natural, clean foods and nourish our body inside and out with clean, natural products. Since skin is our larges organ, it makes perfect sense to create your own body butter – with only the best and cleanest, chemical-free ingredients. It’s perfect for fighting dry, itchy skin and preventing stretch marks (common side effects of pregnancy)

I have been making my own body butter throughout the entire pregnancy, and this is my best batch yet. I simplified the ingredients to three of my favorites:


1. Shea Butter (raw, organic)
2. Vitamin E oil
3. Essential lavender oil

The process is so simple:
1. In a double boiler, melt the entire content of your Shea butter jar.

 

2. Remove from heat, stir in vitamin E oil (anywhere from few drops to half bottle of the container pictured). Adding more oil will make the final product more easily spreadable, but also more oily. So it’s up to you)

3. Add about 20 drops of your favorite essential oil.

4. Allow mixture to cool, and when it starts to solidify, whip it with a hand-held blender to achieve a dreamy whipped texture. 

5. Spoon the mixture right back into your Shea butter jar, and you have your own home-made slice of heaven!

Every night, I have my own little ritual, I call it the bonding time with my growing baby: after a bath or shower, I sit or lay down (with plenty of pillows under my back, of course:), with candles lit, and I apply this rich body butter on my belly in big circular motions, talking to my baby. Sometimes I spread the butter all over my body (you end up being little greasy, but it feels so good for your skin to be that hydrated!

Why pregnant women are the best yogis

Prenatal Yoga Teacher Magdalena Patterson Shares Her Pregnancy Experience

 

This is me 8.5 months pregnant. Meditation becomes a second nature for a pregnant woman. 

This is me 8.5 months pregnant. Meditation becomes a second nature for a pregnant woman. 

I have practiced yoga for the last 15 years, but it wasn’t until I did prenatal yoga that I truly experienced what felt like the “real yoga.” I didn’t need a yoga mat or a set time and place to “do yoga.” I found myself in a constant state of total bliss and continually felt present in every moment. I was very connected to my breath and felt completely in-tune with my body. As a yoga teacher, this was a powerful awakening for me.

 

Prenatal Yoga Is Very Intuitive

Practicing yoga during pregnancy was hard at first. I was scared of what poses might hurt the baby due to all the conflicting advice out there and I got frustrated with not being able to do some of my favorite poses. I love inversions but they made me nauseous and did not feel good. Then a lightbulb went off. I intuitively started to relax into the poses in a way that felt good for my body. I stopped focusing on what my poses looked like or what I could or couldn’t do.

I studied prenatal yoga and found out that the intuition of pregnant women becomes very strong and their bodies will let them know where to go and where not to go. Meditating became second nature and I felt most connected and intuitive when I put my hands on my belly to feel the baby. I had never felt more present. Yoga and pregnancy melted together into a profound yogic experience, and I realized the powerful connection between my practice and my ability to relax and stay calm throughout pregnancy, labor and birth.

Women in Prenatal Yoga Are Amazing Yogis

Prenatal yoga is my favorite class to teach. It is so close to my heart, and seeing mommies-to-be relax, meditate and feel good after class is the best gift I can get as a teacher. I feel so blessed to teach prenatal yoga because pregnant women, even if they have never practiced yoga before, are the best yogis ever! They just get it. They are in the present moment. Being pregnant is a daily yoga practice in itself. It is very natural for women to pause and pay attention to their breath, to be in-tune with their bodies, to feel their baby kick. In prenatal yoga, we nurture this process, and we help pregnant women to listen and trust their body, relax, and enjoy their pregnancy.

 

Prenatal Yoga Creates a Deep State of Relaxation

It is incredible to see so many pregnant women reach such a deep state of relaxation. Especially considering the constant stress that expectant mothers can be under. They hear different opinions from everyone they meet, not to mention all the unsolicited advice they receive on a daily basis.

We live in a beautiful time to be an expectant mother and have a lot of options when it comes to birth. Some women choose to have a home water birth while others have a planned C section. In prenatal classes we create a community where women feel comfortable discussing their birth plans without judgement. It has been wonderful to see women learn more about their delivery options. Whatever you choose, be calm, relaxed and don’t stress about it. Don’t try to fulfill someone else’s agenda.

Prenatal Yoga Creates Happy Hormones in the Womb

While studying for my prenatal yoga certification, I was intrigued by the research on fetal brain development. In addition to good nutrition, what also plays a huge part is the hormones that mom’s brain secretes during pregnancy. Neuroscience and yoga both agree on the importance of staying calm and relaxed during pregnancy. If any nutrients are missing from a woman’s diet, the body is capable of creating them or borrowing them from somewhere else in the body. Emotionally our body cannot compensate and create happiness and contentment when the mother is anxious and stressed out.

The baby in the womb receives the same hormones that mom’s brain releases. If the pregnant mom is relaxed and happy, the baby bathes in happy hormones. If the mommy-to-be is constantly stressed out and in the “fight or flight” state, the baby experiences those feelings too. Most importantly, the baby’s brain is growing and developing every day, so our mission in prenatal yoga is to create and nurture the most loving and calm environment for that development. What better way for a mommy-to-be to stay calm and relaxed than regular yoga practice!

 

Looking back, I know there’s no better way to prepare for labor and birth then to practice yoga. I love hearing my students’ birth stories when we connect in Mommy & Me yoga after. My birth was much like a crazy long yoga class. It was very intense, but my breath and movement took me through it. I went through many different labor positions that all look like yoga. Malasana (squat), cat & cow, and puppy pose to name a few. Some of them I held for hours, but I didn’t know because I withdrew my senses and lost all concept of time. All I remember is that I kept breathing. I have never been more present in the moment or have experienced a stronger sense of yoga. Twenty two hours later I had my beautiful baby. Mother and baby going through this journey as one is the perfect definition of the yogic concept “unity” or “yoking”.

From that magical moment, I knew I had to keep sharing the gift of yoga to other mommies-to-be.

I teach prenatal yoga every Friday 10:45 am-11:45 am at Buddhi Yoga La Jolla. 

Practice Mom-Asana every day

Sweet Savasana surrender with my daughter Alessandra

Sweet Savasana surrender with my daughter Alessandra

Mom-asana

In Sanskrit, the ancient yogi language, the word "asana" means simply to sit. So all those fancy names for poses that end in "asana" (asho-mukha-svanasana, downward facing dog for example), simple mean to "sit" in the described pose - meaning finding comfort and relaxing into the pose, breathing...even if you're not really sitting. 

Let's practice Mom-asana, relaxing into the most content self as a mom. First, we need to understand that being content is very different from being happy. Happiness is usually tied with many different conditions that need to be fulfilled in order for us to be happy. "I'll be happy when..." You fill in the blank. Contentment, on the other hand, resides into relaxing into what is. It asks us to embrace what life is offering in this exact moment. No expectations, no judgement. We already have everything we need to be content. Just try to relax into contentment with the following exercise:  

Find a comfortable seat. Place your hand on your heart. Pause. Feel the absolute magic that is in the inhale and exhale that sustain life. Then, find your child or children and notice who they are in this exact moment in time. If they are older, remember the open wonder with which you watched them as infants and let yourself see them with that purity of vision as they are today. If you are pregnant, place your hands on your belly, close your eyes and feel the magical connection with the beautiful life growing within you. Notice how beautiful this moment is, and try to forget the to do list for a moment, try to forget even what day it is and what time it is. Everything just is, and it is perfect. 

Regular yoga practice helps with finding and practicing contentment. 

Have a wonderful day!