The Mom Health Crisis

I think that title is a bit dramatic, and maybe misleading BUT, I want to talk about it so let’s go.

The maternal health crisis is not the one to which I am currently referring (though that is a BIG problem that we as a nation need to address) what I want to talk about here is being a mom and putting our health last because we are managing all the other humans and all the other things ALL DAY LONG.

Somewhere along the way, it was narrated that as a mother we must do ALL the things, be self-sufficient, never get sick, be happy, be nurturing, and love the hell out of our kids, ALL THE TIME. Oh, and at the same time just be ok with being exhausted, burned out, and maybe just sad/angry/miserable because that is what motherhood is all about.

Sister-Mama-Friend, I’m not about this life. If any of what I just wrote above resonates with you it’s time for you to not be about it either.

I read somewhere (probably on Pinterest) something like “Mom’s don’t get sick, we don’t have time for that shit” and it’s true but it’s also wrong. There are jokes galore about the “man cold” but seriously, why is it that when we hit our wall it’s just expected that we’ll suck it up and keep at it because it’s just what we are supposed to do?

I’m going to raise my hand right now and say that I have been guilty, on numerous occasions. I have to be knocked down so hard I cannot physically leave my home in order to stop. Or, rather, that was me. Now (in this moment) I can tell you that when I need to stop, I stop.

Taking care of ourselves is NOT a selfish act. I’d argue choosing martyrdom over not taking care is a greater slight.

Before I go any further, I’ll be transparent and say I come from what would be considered a space of “priviledge” to say these things. I have a husband/partner that takes responsibility for the role he plays in our children’s lives and is an active participant in our daily routine. I have my own business and I make my own schedule. I am usually in command of how I spend my time (that isn’t an accident) so my ability to make my health and wellness a priority has been a non-negotiable as well as being part of my job.

But back to my point, Mom’s bust their butts all day and take care of everyone else before they take care of themselves. I’m not just talking about flowery “self-care” like bubble bath’s with scented candles, getting your nails done, or getting a massage (Personally I find that those hurt like a SOB and so while they are self-care and necessary they are NOT what I call relaxing). I’m referring to the act of consciously choosing to make our health (of which self-care is a part) a priority.

Raise your hand if any of the following sound like you:

  • Hit a wall by 3pm
  • Need coffee to get it together in the morning, or anytime during the day
  • Bloated and uncomfortable even when you aren’t pregnant, PMSing or just ate Chipotle
  • All the Brainfog
  • Tired as hell but can’t fall asleep at night
  • Little to zero sex drive

All of these things are common, and I’m willing to bet you’ve assumed most of them just come with being a mom. Common and normal are not the same thing, and everything on that list is a signal from your body that it wants you to pay attention. But we don’t because #momlife.

Well Mamacita, if you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired I’m here for you. None of the symptoms mentioned above just disappear and go away. There is a reason your body is communicating with you through these symptoms (inflammation, auto-immune disease, food allergy or intolerance, hormone imbalance, adrenal fatigue, etc) even if your primary care physician has told you everything is “normal”.

The road is often long, and sometimes it isn’t pleasant, but after the shitstorm that was 2020 I learned that if I don’t have a vested interest in my own health, then only those that profit from me being unwell will.

You keep fifty balls in the air at all times Mama, sometimes those balls crash down, and sometimes you need to put a few to the side so that you can take care of you and get them back in the mix. Taking your health and wellness seriously isn’t selfish, it isn’t out of your reach, and you and everyone around you will benefit if you decide it’s worth your focus. Take care, and we’ll navigate together.

Your fellow Mama in Wellness

~S

Women & Weights- Part 2

In part one of this series we discussed why strength training was beneficial (If you missed that post click here)

Now lets talk about how to get started on your own personal strength training journey.

If strength training is completely new to you, then an ideal first step is going to be finding a coach or trainer to work with. Preferably in person, but this day in age online is also a solid option. One-on-one coaching will give you the most concentrated attention to detail, and you don’t have to do it forever. Long enough to get a solid foundation, twice a week for 12 weeks is the shortest time I’d recommend.

I’m going to take this opportunity to call out something that makes me just an angry as women being told not to strength train, and that’s people actually getting hurt working with a trainer. Accidents happen, but stupid shit also happens when people don’t pay attention or have an agenda that has nothing to do with you and your goals.
Here are a couple things you might not know if you are new to a gym setting.

Not all trainers/ coaches are created equal.
The barrier to entry in the fitness industry is pretty low, and in the online space it’s even lower. Credentials are an important thing to inquire about and even then some of those are better then others.
I am partial to NSCA, ACSM, and NASM when it comes to the “governing bodies” that oversee personal training and strength training. I can attest to the fact that in order to pass those tests you have to have a decent knowledge of how the body works. Also, most people that have a degree in exercise science or the like have at least one of those designations under their belts. Is it the end all be all? No, but it is a solid place to start.
If the trainer you are interested in doesn’t have a certification (which they may not), ask them about their experience. What do they do for continued education? How do they stay current on information? See if you can speak to one of their current clients. Look into it as deeply as you need to in order to feel good about the decision.

Trainers in “Big” gyms work on commission.
That doesn’t mean they don’t know what they are doing. There are many trainers in big-box gyms all over the country helping change people’s lives. But it can mean they are really good at sales and telling you that you need something significantly more then you actually do because they need to hit their numbers for the month. Sorry not sorry, I hate pushy slimy sales which is why I have never worked in a gym like that. I’m not going to tell you something you don’t need, the time in the gym is about YOU, not me, and that’s how it should be.

If the trainer you get set up with does more talking about themselves then listening to you, mark that a red flag.
As I said above, training a client is about their needs and goals, not what the trainer has accomplished as a trainer or athlete. You are hiring this person to teach you a new skill, something that can be dangerous if not advised in an intentional manner. If you don’t feel heard in that first meeting, it’s acceptable to ask for someone else.

There should be some kind of movement assessment and paperwork before you actually begin lifting anything.
Even elite level athletes have basic movement patterns they need to revisit, and a pattern that isn’t ideal needs to be addressed before a movement is loaded. Injuries happen when people get over zealous. In most facilities you will have to fill out some fairly extensive paperwork about your health (past and present). It is equally as important for you to disclose all information as it is for your coach to collect it. Injuries that may seem inconsequential to you, could be a piece of the puzzle that we need to know in order to plan accordingly.

You can fire your trainer/ coach at any time.
The only bad part here might be how much money you are out, but if at any time you are unhappy or just not jiving with your trainer you can cut the cord. As a trainer myself I hope if you didn’t feel like you were getting what you paid for that you would speak up. We are adults here, so conversation is a two-way street. But if even after you converse, you don’t feel heard #girlbye.

My point is discussing all of this is not to discourage you from getting started, quite the opposite really. If I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be this- make sure the person you are working with is someone you feel better being around. Your trainer or coach should be assisting you towards your goals, and overall it should be an interaction that adds value to your life, not sucks the life out of you.

If hiring a coach is not in your budget, there are many other options out there to get you started. Fitness apps abound, and there are some great coaches out there that put educational and helpful content out on their social media, blogs and websites. The internet can also be a black hole of less then optimal information so proceed with caution.
Besides my own content (found here and here) below are other resources I send people to when they ask about various topics and would like to do some reading on their own.

  1. Strong First
  2. Girls Gone Strong
  3. B!RTHF!T
  4. Ben Bruno Training
  5. Coach Karen Smith

To wrap this up, if you are new to strength training, one of the best things you can do for yourself is hire a coach or trainer to get you started. Having their eyes on you to watch for things you are likely not aware of, as well as use consented tactile cuing are attributes that you cannot get from going the journey on your own. Find someone you like and feel can help you to reach the goals you have for yourself.

If I resonate with you, then let’s connect. You can reach me me by leaving me a comment below, DMing me on social media, emailing me at sara@activelylivingawesome.com or you can apply for my coaching program here.

The third and final installment of this series will be things you should know about strength training to get the most out of your workouts. Have a great week!

~S

Women and Weights- Part 1.

Once upon a time women were told that they shouldn’t lift weights because it would make them look like men and thus be undesirable. They wouldn’t want to be bulky, and they could get hurt. More “feminine” exercise was encouraged and anything that looked like “strength” training was il-advised.

Aren’t you glad we don’t live in that world anymore?? Oh wait…

It’s not as bad as it used to be, and with the rise in popularity of things like StrongFirst, CrossFit, The Titan Games, Girls Gone Strong, B!RTHF!T, and social media, strength training for women is getting some great press.

There are still those out there that preach that women shouldn’t lift more then 2lbs (which is laughable if you carry a purse or have children) but somehow that rhetoric still sells.

There are many reasons why women should incorporate strength training into their health and wellness routine, and this is what I want to chat about today. General aesthetics won’t be mentioned, so while that may be a motivating factor to get started I promise that by the end of this you’ll have more information at your disposal.

Before I dive in I want to be clear on a couple things-
The information presented is done so from time spent reading research/ journals and data collected by humans much smarter then I, as well as my own journey in the world of strength training both personally and professionally.
My goal in how this is written is for those that don’t want to read super complex data, but want the information in an easy to understand manner. I am happy to share any and all of my sources if you are interested in reading more. But for the sake of the scroll-averse I’m going to make this as easy to digest as possible.

4 Compelling Reasons You Should Be Strength Training:

More muscle= More efficient body at rest.

The more muscle mass you have, the more efficient your body is at rest. A pound of fat burns 1-2 calories per hour while a pound of muscle burns up to 6 calories per hour. (1) I’m not a mathematician, but I like those odds.
The quality of calories consumed cannot be dismissed, you cannot out-exercise a bad diet. But for those that say they do cardio so they can eat… strength training is a better long-term investment.

Women begin to see a decrease in muscle mass at age 40.

For women, we begin to lose lean muscle mass at 40. To put that into perspective, that means you will lose 50% of your lean muscle mass by the time you turn 80. The magic number “40” doesn’t mean you can’t start strength training at any time, it simply means the earlier you start the more muscle mass you will start with when inevitable aging begins.

Weight training improves bone health.

This one requires me to get a little more science-y, but bear with me. Strength training stimulates osteoblast activity which are the cells that promote bone growth (3).
It is estimated that 80% of the 10 million people that live with osteoperosis are women, and that 50% of women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoperosis.
If that isn’t terrifying, a woman’s risk of breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. (4)
YIKES!!!
Bottom Line, strength training makes your bones stronger so you don’t break them as easily especially as you age.

Being strong makes life easier.

Aside from being the Boss woman that can carry 25 grocery bags in one trip while also holding a baby carrier, when we are strong we simply FEEL more capable. It pisses me off when I can’t get the damn pickle jar open and I have to ask my husband. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does I get real annoyed. The fact that you can do more for yourself doesn’t mean you don’t need a man (unless that’s your jam, whatever floats your boat) but it will make your life easier and more convenient.
Another example I like to use is being able to play with your kids at the playground. Lifting them up and tossing them around, hanging from the monkey bars and jumping off a moving swing. You become a more active participant when you are focusing on what you can do and instead of what you can’t. Strength training helps you do all the things.

The journey to strength training can be intimidating, which is why many women choose not to pursue it at all. That is why for the month of March on my Instagram and Facebook pages I will be going over the “Big 4” movements that are the foundations of strength training.

I’ll also be following this post up with one that talks about how to get started on your strength training journey. Stay Tuned!

~S

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2980962/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4066461/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2811354
  4. https://www.nof.org/preventing-fractures/general-facts/what-women-need-to-know/