How To Start Running And Avoid Injuries

How To Start Running

Running is an activity that humans have been doing since the beginning of time. In the past, it was a means of survival similar to animals out running predator’s. Today, running is considered as a means to get healthy and stay active. Regardless to why you do it, knowing how to start running is so important. 

Many of us in our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, have forgotten how to run. Something that we used to do for fun on the school playground, and that our ancestors did daily in order to live, now fills us with dread and loathing at the mere thought of it. The phrase “Oh, I can’t run!” is one of the most common responses I hear when I tell someone that I am a runner.

Here’s the thing: Yes, you can run.

Of course you can run! Our bodies were built to do it. Your body has just gotten out of practice. In this article, I am going to coach you through how to start running again. Beginning with proper preparation all the way through to recovery afterwards. So let’s get running!

what muscles does running work

What Muscles Does Running Work?

This is a complex topic, so for now I’ll give you an overview so you know just how amazing it is for your body. 

Muscles Worked When Running

  • Abdominals (Abs)
  • Hip flexors
  • Glutes (aka your butt)
  • Quadriceps (front of the thigh)
  • Hamstrings (back of the thigh)
  • Calf muscles
  • Tibialis anterior (this muscle runs along the front of your shin)
  • Pereoneals (these run down the sides of your shins)
  • The back and shoulder muscles (from swinging your arms)

Not to mention your respiratory and cardiovascular systems, also known as your lungs and heart which also get an incredible workout!  Running, just like all cardio exercise, helps to keep those systems strong and healthy.

5 Running Tips for Beginners 🏃 5 Things I Wish I Knew about Running from the Beginning

How To Start Running Again

I am deliberately using the word again here, because whether you haven’t run since the last time you were forced to in grade nine gym class or you participated in your company 5k two years ago and haven’t tried again since, you used to “know how to run”. I’m just here to remind you. 

First of all, I highly suggest that you run outside as opposed to a treadmill. You will learn to run properly and develop the proper muscles better than on a moving belt that does some of the work for you. What’s more, is that running outside gives you better views and fresh air.

Secondly, check your shoes. You don’t need brand-new, top-of-the-line runners, but you don’t want to be running in sneakers that you’ve had for years, either. When buying new running shoes, your best option is to go to a running store (yes, they exist!) and ask someone who works there. They can assess your stride and recommend a shoe based on your body, your foot, and your running goals.

For more information on how to choose the best running shoes, click here.

how often should I run

How Often Should You Run?

The most important tip when starting to run again: Don’t do too much too soon.

If it has been months or years since the last time you ran, you can overdo it easily and end up injured, most likely shin splints. The easiest way to avoid this is taking things slowly and ensuring adequate rest. My suggestions for this include:

  • Running less than you think you’re capable of, and
  • Not running consecutive days

Running every other day, or three to four non consecutive days per week at the beginning, will allow your body to adjust, particularly your small muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They do a lot of work keeping you stable and take a huge amount of pounding when you are running, so give them the break they deserve. Once you have more experience, you can start adding additional days if you want to.

how many miles should i run a week

How Many Miles Should I Run a Week?

This is highly dependent on the person and what their baseline of fitness is. Some will be able to handle more than others, and that is perfectly okay. This is about you and your personal fitness journey.

That being said, not doing too much too soon is not just about the number of days you run, but also about how far you go each time. This is especially problematic for those who have a decent cardio base from other types of workouts. You may be physically capable of running 5k right off the bat, but it doesn’t mean that you should. As I said, you need to give your body a chance to get used to this new kind of activity.

Try going for time instead of distance, for example going out for a 20-minute run instead of a certain number of kilometers.

Once you have built up your endurance and are running steadily for 30 minutes or more, you can then consider adding more. Much of this magical number of miles is completely dependent on you, your goals, and your body. If you are training to run a 5k you will need to run less than if you are training for a marathon.

If entering races, particularly long ones, is something you aspire to do, then finding a running crew, coach, or online program is recommended to reach your goal.

Run Longer, Build Endurance: 3 Proven Ways to Improve Stamina

How To Build Running Endurance

At the beginning, you will want to take things slowly. The best way to do this is with a walk-run. This looks like this:

  • Week-1: Run for two minutes, walk for four.
  • Week-2: Run for three minutes, walk for three.
  • Week-3: Run for four minutes, walk for two.

For each run, you start and end with five minutes of brisk walking. Walking/running for 30 minutes. You should fit about five rounds in each run, with the idea of getting to 30 minutes of non-stop running in just 10 weeks.

Click here for A 10-week run-walk plan for complete beginners. You know your own fitness level best, so you will know what you are capable of. 

Once you are able to run for 30 minutes without stopping, you then want to increase your mileage by 5% per week, if running longer is your goal. This means you would run 31.5 to 32 minutes the following week. Then 33 minutes the next week, so-on and so forth. This seems conservative, however the goal is to avoid injury that could end up taking you back to square one.

how to run faster and longer

How To Start Running Faster

There is a quote you’ll hear many running veterans say about training to run faster:

“The only way to run fast is to run fast!”

Confusing, but if you really think about it, true. You can’t train to run a distance faster if you don’t spend time running fast! Many new runners just go out and try to push themselves to run their same neighborhood loop a little bit faster each time. While this will work for a little while, you will eventually plateau, and also get bored.

To run faster you need to do workouts. In the running world, workouts mean things like interval sessions, tempo runs, and fartleks. 

  1. Interval Sessions


    These are similar to a fartlek run, however are typically somewhat more structured and involve standing rest as opposed to active or jogging rest. Often you will see people doing intervals on a track. This could look like five to six times 400m (one lap of a track) with one or two minutes rest between each interval.

  2. Tempo Runs

    A tempo run is a longer, sustained effort at a higher pace. Typically these runs are paced at ten to twenty seconds slower than your goal pace. If you want to run 5km in 30 minutes, then your pace per kilometer would be 6 minutes. This means for your tempo session, your pace would be 6:15-6:20 per kilometer. This could look like a 10 minute jog warm up, 20 minutes of tempo pace, followed by another 10 minutes of cool down jogging for a total of 40 minutes.

  3. Fartlek

    Fartlek is a Swedish word that means “speedplay”. This is when you change up the pace during your run. For example, you start your run at a consistent speed for five or ten minutes, then you run faster for two, slower for one, faster for four, slower for two, and so on. You can make it up beforehand or make it up as you go. Sometimes you can use visual cues as well. This could be sprinting for the length of two telephone poles with one length jog in between, or running fast every other block of your neighborhood. 

Another great type of training to help build power and speed are hill repeats. Just as they sound, they involve sprinting up a hill, jogging back down, and repeating. 

All of these workouts would be part of a standard training plan, which will vary depending on your experience and your goals.

Proper Breathing While Running | How To

How To Breathe While Running

One of things that many people say when they first start trying to run is that they feel like they can’t breathe. It usually takes the first five to 15 minutes for you to regulate your breathing, depending on how fit you are. As you run more and improve your cardio, this will get easier.

In the beginning, remember is to relax: Focus on taking one or two deeper breaths every so often. Relax your shoulders and face. You are running, not dying. Your breathing will regulate after some time, and that will go faster if you aren’t panicking.

Breathing while running is not like breathing while weight lifting or doing yoga – you want to breathe to your full capacity, which may mean breathing in and out through your mouth. If you are trying to breathe in only through your nose, you will likely get a stitch in your rib cage area.

what to eat after a run

What To Eat After A Run

Everyone likes to make nutrition complicated, however just like Michael Pollan says:

  • Eat food
  • Mostly plants
  • Not too much

Food Means Real Food

Think items you would find on the perimeter of the grocery store, or those with less than five ingredients listed.

Mostly Plants

This means just what you think it does – vegetables! Try to eat a variety of colours, especially dark, leafy greens. For more information, click here to read, Are You Eating Enough Colour?

Not Too Much

Do not over-eat. Eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and stop when you are full (not when your plate is empty). If you are hungry again later you can eat more then.

Eat A Balanced Meal

  • A protein source
  • A carbohydrate
  • Vegetables
  • Plenty of water

Whether it’s cold or hot out, you sweat when you run and you need to replace that lost water. The micronutrients in vegetables will help combat the oxidative stress your body is under when exercising. 

The carbohydrates you take in will help to replace the glycogen stores you used while doing longer, sustained cardio. These are important for recovery, so that you can have energy for the rest of your daily activities and your next run.

Protein is important for rebuilding some of the muscle that you worked while running. This can be in the form of lean meats, beans and legumes, eggs, soy, or dairy products.

what to wear running

What To Wear Running

You are probably tired of me saying “it depends” but that’s the honest truth. Especially when it comes to the weather.

How to run in the heat versus what to wear for winter running are two very different things. However, the basics are somewhat the same:

  • Sunscreen (all seasons)
  • A hat with a visor
  • Lightweight, moisture-wicking base layers

From there you can change things up depending on your climate. You can add layers or take them away, as long as they are breathable and easy to run in. Avoid cotton for a base layer, as once it gets wet from your sweat you will get cold quickly in the cooler temperatures.

For the men out there, look for softer materials that won’t chafe your nipples. Also, those of us who want to wear shorts in the summer but deal with thigh chafing, put some vaseline in between your legs before heading out the door. 

Beyond that the main point is that you are comfortable. 

The Bottom Line On How To Start Running

We were all born to run and to move our bodies, you included. If you start slow and maintain a positive attitude, you’ll be amazed at how far your body can take you.

Happy running!

Importance Of Exercise During Pregnancy

Importance Of Exercise

We all know that exercise is good for us, but you may not know the importance of exercise during pregnancy and how it benefits both mom AND baby. It is well known that exercise improves mental and physical health. But what about exercise during pregnancy? Exercise during pregnancy not only boosts the mother’s mental and physical health, but also has specific benefits for a healthy pregnancy, smooth delivery and faster postpartum recovery. What’s more, when a mother exercises during pregnancy, both mom and baby reap the benefits!

safe pregnancy exercises

Importance Of Exercise During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy imposes a lot of unique physical demands on a woman’s body. Regardless of your level of physical activity before pregnancy, there are many benefits to exercising during pregnancy for both mom and baby.

Benefits For Mom Include:

  • Improved physical and mental health
  • Reduced discomfort
  • Higher incidence of vaginal delivery
  • Lower incidence of: excessive gestational weight gain, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertensive disorders, preterm birth, and Cesarean birth
  • Faster postpartum recovery
  • Lower risk of postpartum depression

Benefits For Baby Include:

Furthermore, the benefits of maternal exercise during pregnancy extend beyond birth. This study discovered that babies whose mothers exercised during pregnancy had better motor skills than those whose mothers did not exercise during pregnancy.

Nutrition also plays a key role in maternal and fetal health during pregnancy. Click here for more information about pregnancy nutrition and supplements.

Study: Exercise During and After Pregnancy Increases Benefits of Breast Milk for Babies

How Often Should I Exercise During Pregnancy?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends regular strength and aerobic training throughout pregnancy for women with uncomplicated pregnancies.

More specifically, the ACOG recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week during pregnancy, aiming for 20-30 minutes each session. These guidelines apply to women of all fitness levels, though the type of exercise and level of intensity will vary. Furthermore, women who exercised vigorously pre-pregnancy can continue to do so during pregnancy.

Need some new workout gear to boost your motivation? Check out my post Pregnancy Fitness Essentials.

best prenatal exercises

Best Exercises For A Healthy Pregnancy (And Beyond)

The following exercises will strengthen your body for a healthy pregnancy, smooth delivery and faster postpartum recovery. These exercises are safe to do in all trimesters for healthy women with low risk pregnancies. Although the importance of exercise during pregnancy is well documented, consult your doctor about what your individual exercise routine should look like during pregnancy.

prenatal squat

Squats

Squats are an excellent exercise for strengthening your entire body, especially your pelvic floor. Many midwives and physicians recommend this exercise specifically to prepare for labor and delivery, and some women even give birth in this position! Try doing 3 (or more) sets of 25 reps 3 days a week, either with or without weight. If you are going to use a weight, it’s best to hold it at your collarbones to help with posture and balance.

prenatal glute bridges

Glute Bridges

Strong glutes are essential for maintaining a strong core throughout your pregnancy. Along these lines, having strong glutes will also help with lower back pain that is common in pregnancy. Glute bridges can be done in the supine position (lying on your back), with or without weight. However, exercises in the supine position can be uncomfortable for some women as pregnancy progresses. In this case, you can perform the exercise with your head and upper back elevated by a bolster/pillow, small exercise ball or bench. Perform 3 sets of 25 reps (or more!), 3-4 times per week.

prenatal bird dog

Bird Dogs

This exercise strengthens the entire core unit and is a great way to ensure your core remains strong without having to do any crunches or planks, which can put unnecessary strain on a pregnant woman’s body. Bird dogs also help with balance, which is often compromised during pregnancy. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps (each side), alternating sides, 3-4 times per week.

prenatal dead lift

Deadlifts

This exercise strengthens the powerhouse muscles of the posterior chain, or back-body. This is your go-to exercise to prevent back pain! Deadlifts can be done with a barbell, kettlebell or dumbbells; however, start with light weight if you are new to this exercise. Try doing 3 sets of 15 reps 2-3 times a week to strengthen the back and core.

prenatal push ups

Push Ups 

Push-ups are known for building upper body strength and muscle tone, but they also play a key role in core strength for a comfortable pregnancy. Plus, you’ll need strong arms to carry around a baby in a few months! Because this exercise becomes increasingly harder as pregnancy progresses, try doing push-ups on your knees, or with your hands elevated on a bench. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10 reps, 3 times per week.

prenatal step up

Step Ups 

Step ups are a full-body exercise that will serve as both strength and cardio! It’s simple—all you need is your body and a step, bench or box. You can also hold dumbbells to make it even more challenging! However, because balance is compromised during pregnancy, make sure the height of your step, box, or bench isn’t too high. Perform 3 sets of 15 step ups on each leg 2-3 times per week.

prenatal monster walk

Monster Walk 

During pregnancy, your hips and glutes can become tight and/or weak. Monster walks help strengthen these muscles to support your changing body and help with lower body discomfort that is common during pregnancy. You can vary the intensity of this exercise by varying the resistance band. When you step laterally, make sure to lead with your hip and knee in alignment, rather than the foot, to engage the muscles properly. Aim for 3 sets of 10 steps (each direction) 2-3 times per week.

prenatal hydrant

Hydrants 

This exercise likewise strengthens the core, including the back and glutes. You can do this exercise with or without a resistance band to vary the intensity. Make sure you keep your hips and shoulders square to the floor, pressing evenly into the floor with both hands. Complete 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg, 2-3 times per week.

prenatal band pull apart

Band Pull Apart 

This exercise is the solution to poor posture and back pain that is common during pregnancy. With a light resistance band, squeeze your shoulder blades together to strengthen the postural muscles of the back. Make sure to engage your core and keep your knees soft so as not to strain your low back. Complete 3 sets of 25 reps, 2-3 times per week.

healthy pregnancy

A Healthy Habit For A Healthy Pregnancy 

I hope you now understand the importance of exercise during pregnancy and how it benefits both mom and baby. There will be times where exercising is the last thing you feel like doing, and that’s okay! Do your best to stay consistent while also listening to your body. Remember that exercise will both alleviate pregnancy discomfort and yield long term benefits. A regular exercise regimen that includes the above exercises will promote a healthy pregnancy, smooth delivery and faster postpartum recovery.

Now that you know the importance of exercise during pregnancy (and beyond), check out my post, 4 Types of Exercise For Your Strongest, Healthiest Body.

How To Increase Fertility Naturally

how to increase fertility

Are you trying to conceive? Check out the latest resources on how to increase fertility naturally using scientific advancements for prenatal care.

We are born with our genes, but our environment shapes how those genes are expressed. For example, we can turn off genes that express for disease and turn on genes that express for health. This is achieved by simply changing things in our environment such as:

  • Food
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Getting adequate sleep

However, some people have certain gene glitches (like MTHFR) that make it harder for them to metabolize nutrients needed to create a healthy egg (or healthy sperm). The health of your egg and sperm is critical for:

  • Conception
  • Maintaining a healthy pregnancy
  • Giving birth to a healthy baby
dna testing

DNA’s Role In Pregnancy

The good news is we can use DNA like a blueprint to tell us where the glitches are. Furthermore, it can help determine what foods and supplements we can use to work around the glitch.

It is extremely important to ‘fix’ these glitches before IVF because you still need a healthy egg and sperm to get and stay pregnant. Even with medical manipulation. Therefore, DNA testing is beneficial for both partners since both partners contribute to the health of a baby.

Genetic Testing

Is Your DNA Sabotaging Your Pregnancy?

If you have already tried IVF without success and plan to continue using old eggs, you most likely will keep get the same devastating results. This is because those eggs may be adversely affected by gene glitches.

So, if you want better results with IVF or even better, a natural pregnancy without the need for IVF, the first thing you want to do is find out how your DNA may be impacting your ability to get and stay pregnant.

Only then will you be able to take the steps necessary to:

  • Turn on the genes that work for you
  • Turn off the genes that are working against you

Click here to read,  Get Your Body Ready For A Baby.

prenatal testing

DNA Testing

There are a number of DNA testing companies out there but not all of them are helpful. Some provide a supplement based on your results which can be particularly harmful.

You really need to work with someone knowledgeable about DNA to get the results you want. Only they will look at your DNA in conjunction with a full health history and other labs to pinpoint your true nutrient needs.

DNA alone will not give you the best results and you might end up taking the wrong form of supplements which will prevent you from getting the results you want.

What Is DNA Testing?

DNA testing generally involves a cheek swab or spitting in a vile. This process can take several weeks to get results. DNA from 23 and Me or Ancestry.com can be used in conjunction with a third party like Genetic Lifehacks to help you understand the data.

Companies like Maxgen Labs and ASG do testing that is relevant to your health. In addition they provide a report with suggestions for what to change in your diet and supplements. Furthermore, working with a qualified practitioner can speed up the process of getting to the right foods and supplements so you get to a baby faster.

dna gene testing

Final Thoughts

Knowing your DNA can provide answers to unexplained infertility and lead you to a solid plan for getting your body ready to receive, hold onto and nourish a healthy baby to term. Click her to download my free guide, 5 Things To Fix Before You Start IVF, or a one week prenatal meal plan. Also don’t forget to follow me on social media @themommymaker for even more tips and guidance on this incredible journey.

Do You Really Need Prenatal Vitamins?

prenatal vitamins

The first thing you hear when you mention wanting to get pregnant is, “start taking prenatal vitamins.” But how do you choose the right one? Furthermore, do you really need one?

When pregnant, the only nutrient needs that significantly increase are for iron and folate. You also want to ensure plenty of the omega-3 fat DHA to support proper brain development in the baby. Beyond that, nutrient needs aren’t much different from non-pregnancy.

Do You Need A Prenatal Vitamin?

No, because you can find regular multivitamins that contain iron and folate. There are even some that contain DHA. However, you might need more iron than is found in a regular multi so you can take that separate if you want. Here are some guidelines on what to look for in a supplement, whether acting as a prenatal or for everyday.

best prenatal supplements

What To Look For In A Supplement

Vitamin A

If you have a low functioning thyroid, diabetes, or autoimmune disease, you might need up to 5000 IU of preformed vitamin A. Most supplements contain beta carotene which can be converted to vitamin A. However, that conversion is impaired in people with health issues so I prefer the source be fish liver oil.

Vitamin D

A recent study found that 4000 IU of vitamin D supported a healthy pregnancy and reduced the risk of preterm labor. You most likely won’t find that amount in prenatal vitamins or a regular multivitamin so will need to get an additional source. Getting in the sun daily without sunscreen is also a good idea. Look for D3 or cholecalciferol as D2 or ergocalciferol is more likely to cause toxicity. It is a good idea to also take vitamin K2 if you take vitamin D. This is because K2 helps you utilize the vitamin D and get calcium into bones.

Vitamin C

High doses of vitamin C might be harmful during pregnancy. Therefore it’s best to stay at 500 mg daily or less. Instead, focus on eating vitamin C rich foods like citrus, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli.

Vitamin E

Make sure it is natural vitamin E. If it says dl-alpha tocopherol, it’s not natural. Look for d-alpha tocopherol and put it back if there is an l by itself or with the d.

Folate vs Folic Acid

Folate

You want 600-800 mcg of folate and the methyl form (not folic acid) is probably preferable. This amount can be found in a regular multivitamin. But in both prenatal and regular vitamins, it can be difficult to find it in methyl form. So if you can’t find one than don’t worry so much about the form.

Iron

Most prenatals have around 27 mg of iron and most women’s multivitamins that contain iron have 15-18 mg. If you don’t have anemia, you really don’t need 27 mg of iron. Infact, studies haven’t found iron supplements (whether anemia exists or not) to prevent preterm birth, low birth weight, or infections during pregnancy.

Furthermore, excess iron can cause problems. So I think it’s best to stick with a regular multivitamin prior to pregnancy if you do not have anemia. Also, try to avoid ferrous sulfate as the source of iron. 

Iodine

Supplements will usually contain 150 to 225 mcg. I think the higher amount is preferable as iodine is essential for the healthy development of the fetus, but you can also use kelp flakes on food for an iodine boost.

Riboflavin

Getting adequate riboflavin is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, helps you utilize and absorb iron, can reduce the likelihood of pre-eclampsia, helps with blood pressure control, supports methylation – a process that is essential for good health, and it gives you energy. You need at least 2 mg daily and I recommend taking some with each meal. 

fertility diet

Final Thoughts On Prenatal Vitamins

Having said all that, finding a multivitamin, whether regular or prenatal, is quite a challenge. I found three prenatals that can be found in stores;

If you opt for a regular multivitamin, keep in mind the amount of folate you need and add extra folate if the multivitamin does not have the recommended amount. You can also add additional iron if needed and either DHA or cod liver oil depending on the form of vitamin A.

If the form of vitamin A is beta carotene, opt for the cod liver oil. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Women’s formula is a good option here, but it is low in iodine. Therefore, you would need kelp flakes, cod liver oil and possibly an additional iron supplement as it only contains 8 mg of iron. 

For both a regular multivitamin and prenatal, you can also add extra vitamin D with K2. If you need an energy boost, you might try getting some riboflavin with each meal with a low dose B-complex.

A good multi can help fill in the gaps and ensure adequate amounts of important nutrients, but it doesn’t replace a poor diet. So make sure you are eating real food and plenty of leafy greens. For more information click here to read, Get Your Body Ready For A Baby .

What is Your Self-Love Language?

What is Your Self Love Language

Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages describes five different styles of showing your love. Whether it be to your spouse or loved ones. These include;

What Is Your Personal Self-Love Language?

How do you best respond to acts of love done by you for you? Most of us run through our days checking off our to-do lists. Ensuring that the needs of everyone else are met. By the time the day is over, you may be feeling tired or drained. Maybe even overwhelmed by the never-ending list of tasks that are yet to be completed.

Unfortunately, living like this is not benefiting your health or your relationships with;

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Children
  • Neighbours
  • Co-workers

It is time to tune in to what your self-love language is and start showing yourself some love.

Make Yourself A Priority

The five self-love languages are the same as what we listed above. However, you are going to be tending to the most important relationship you will ever nurture, the one with yourself.

This concept might feel strange at first. Especially if you aren’t used to focusing your attention on yourself. But I encourage you to power through those feelings. Really work hard on filling up your own love tank so that you can be a more grounded and happy person.

find your love language

Find Your Self-Love Language

Let’s take a look at how these different types of self-love languages could be applied to our lives.

  1. Words of Affirmation – The inner dialog that you have going on with yourself is vitally important to your health and self-image. Spend time everyday saying nice things to yourself.  While you brush your teeth, or in the car on the way to work, tell yourself 3 things that you value and love about yourself. With each passing day this task will become easier as you become more comfortable with having this type of dialog with yourself.
  2. Acts of Service – To perform an act of service for yourself, look at ways to fill your heart with joy.  It may be delving into your faith or volunteering at a local charity, or donating something to someone in need.
  3. Receiving gifts – Set aside twenty dollars per week (or whatever you can afford) to use to buy yourself something that you have always wanted, or invest in a hobby.
  4. Quality Time – Spend time doing something that fills you with joy and relieves stress.  It may be taking a yoga class, learning how to do a hobby, reading a great book, or it could be as simple as taking a rejuvenating nap.
  5. Physical touch – To show yourself love through physical touch, you could get a massage, a manicure or pedicure, get a new haircut, or get a reiki treatment. Other options would be to sweat it out at the gym or your favourite workout class.

Whatever your self-love language may be, start today by making yourself a priority.

9 Ways Your Mind And Body Are Telling You That You Need Some ‘Self Love’

self love

It could be any activity during a typical day; I’m cooking, my son is playing in the kitchen, my partner is asking me something and all of a sudden I’m like “uuuggghhh!!!” and I start feeling angry. Do you feel me? This is my body and mind telling me: Hey Mama show yourself some self love and get some “ME” Time.

As women, wives and moms, we get caught up in a cycle of doing things for others and we forget ourselves too often.

Click here to read, “Parental Burnout: When Exhausted Mothers Open Up”.

When you start feeling angry and impatient without any reason (especially if EVERYTHING and EVERYONE annoy you) that’s one of the signs that you need to take some time alone for self-care. If ignored, you risk becoming overwhelmed emotionally and physically.

Luckily, I’ve come to recognize the warning signs that appear when I’m pushing myself too much and stretching myself thin. Below you’ll find a list of what to watch before so you don’t self-destruct.

new year new me

9 Ways Your Mind And Body Are Telling You That You Need Some ‘Self Love’

You…

  1. Want to ignore your phone when it rings
  2. Frequently feel frustrated
  3. Want to hide in the bathroom, bedroom or closet
  4. Are overwhelmed by the little things
  5. Start snapping at your loved ones
  6. Find that nothing sounds enjoyable
  7. Feel uninspired
  8. No longer know what you want
  9. Constantly feel stressed

Taking some time for yourself it’s the key to having balance in your daily life. So next time you notice those signs, talk to your partner. Explain why you need some time for yourself to recharge. Then, find a way together to make it happen.

For further reading and information about the best way to get in some ‘me time’, click here to read, “Gentle Ways To Welcome The New Year With Self Care”.

I promise you will feel better, recharged and more focused. It will be beneficial not only for you but for all the people in your life. So show yourself so much needed love!

Click here to read, “What is Your Self-Love Language”.

 

the good life

Further Reading

In today’s fast-paced world, it can be difficult to find the time to look after ourselves.  There appears that there is no time for wellness.  Meal planning is a nuisance if we decide to do it all, and we often find ourselves scarfing down whatever is convenient, eating food to survive instead of to thrive. We find ourselves fatigued and wonder what is wrong, where does the day go? We must learn to make ourselves a priority. We need to pay attention to what we do with our bodies because it is our health that gives us the quality of life we want. It is essential that in chasing after these things, we do not forget the organism that is helping us achieve all these things—our bodies.

Click here to continuing reading, “6 Essentials for a Vibrant Life”.

Natural DIY Self Care Product Recipes

natural

There is an incredible amount of toxic chemicals lurking in your cosmetics that significantly affect your health. Although you can find many organic, toxin-free options at your local health food store, why not try making your own natural, inexpensive versions at home.

Here are some of my favourite ‘recipes’ I like to use and share with my friends and family.

Natural Body Butter

In a double boiler on your stove, add:

  • 1/4 cup natural beeswax (let this melt completely before adding the rest of the ingredients)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin, organic, raw coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup sweet almond oil (Use avocado oil if you are allergic to nuts)
  • 20 drops of your favourite essential oils (mine are grapefruit and vanilla!)
  1. In a double boiler, allow the natural beeswax to become liquified.
  2. Add the coconut oil and almond oil, until it is all liquified. Then remove from heat.
  3. Next add your essential oils.
  4. Once it has cooled slightly pour into small containers and place in the fridge to harden and use liberally!

It can be stored for several months in the fridge.

Caution – if you are allergic to bees, or sensitive to bee pollen, etc, do not use the beeswax in your recipe. The cream might become liquified on hot days, but it will re-solidify when the temperature returns to normal. The beeswax helps to keep the cream solid in the heat and hold the moisture on your skin. Also, if you are allergic to nuts – swap out the almond oil for avocado oil (everything can be found at the health food store).
natural deodorant

Natural Deodorant

This recipe for natural deodorant is to replace the aluminum and preservative nastiness that is found in conventional deodorants. It doesn’t work quite as well as regular deodorant for many people, so test this out at home before arriving to work! Paired with a clean diet and drinking lots of water, your body will begin to naturally detoxify and not have underarms that produce as much smell.

  • 6 tbsp Coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup Baking soda
  • 1/4 cup Arrowroot powder
  • Essential oils of your choice
  1. Mix baking soda and arrowroot together in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Mash in coconut oil with a fork until well mixed.
  3. Add your favourite essential oils.
  4. Store in small glass jar or old deodorant container for easy use.
natural toothpaste

Natural Toothpaste

Toothpaste can be filled with all sort of toxins, from sodium lauryl sulfate to fluoride, and
artificial sweeteners to triclosan. It is very easy to make your own toothpaste, and you
may even find that it helps to whiten your teeth and leave your mouth feeling fresher
than ever before!

Click here to read, “Are you still using Crest toothpaste?”

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp Baking soda
  • 15 Drops peppermint essential oil
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together. If the coconut is really hard, you may have to warm it slightly to let it soften.
  2. Keep mixture in a small jar in your bathroom. To keep germs out of it, use a spoon to put the paste onto your toothbrush.

For more information about common chemicals you should try and avoid, click here to read, “What Chemicals Are You Putting On Your Face?”

Fibromyalgia Pain And It’s Effect On Pregnancy

fibromyalgia pain

Are you suffering from fibromyalgia pain? It is estimated that fibromyalgia affects 3-6% of the world population with women in the childbearing years being the most affected. Fibromyalgia can make it more difficult to get pregnant and it can create some problems during pregnancy.

Ideally, you would want to get to the root cause of fibromyalgia before becoming pregnant. Fibromyalgia can be caused by;

hyperthyroid and fibromyalgia

Hypothyroidism And Fibromyalgia

Hypothyroidism is very common in people with fibromyalgia. Coincidentally or not, fibromyalgia increased when changes were made in the diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Before 1970, low thyroid function was a clinical diagnosis, based on symptoms. However, now it is based on a single blood test, TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). The problem is that one can have a normal TSH and be in a hypothyroid state.

Before pregnancy, insist on a full thyroid panel. Even if your TSH is normal. Look for any hypothyroid symptoms you may have such as;

  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Brittle nails
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Hair loss
  • Low blood pressure
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Poor memory
  • Irritability
  • Muscle weakness
  • Puffy eyes
  • Inability to concentrate

Nutritional tests would also be a good idea. Catching these problems before pregnancy will improve your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy and baby.

But What If You Are Already Pregnant?

Well first, congratulations! Second, don’t panic, because there are some things you can try to help manage fibromyalgia during pregnancy. We want to support and focus on the root cause.

nutritional Deficiency

Nutritional Deficiencies

The first thing to do is ensure a healthy diet . Eat real food and cook as much as you can from scratch. Reduce or eliminate sugar and refined grains. Get leafy greens in every day. Whole eggs, nuts, red palm oil (excellent source of vitamin E), and liver (once a week). When pregnant, food is the safest route for nutrients. 

Vitamins

You want to ensure adequate fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. You need to eat animal foods to get vitamins A (liver is the best source for A) and D. The best source of vitamin D is the sun. So, get outside every day that you can without sunscreen for at least 20 minutes. Vitamin K is found in leafy greens and a form called K2 is found in natto, a fermented soy food, and full fat dairy foods. These nutrients support the thyroid and a healthy inflammatory response.

Water-soluble vitamins are important as well, particularly riboflavin (B2), B6, folate, and B12. Eating the leafy greens will provide plenty of folate, but B2, B6, and B12 are best from animal foods (B12 is only found in animal foods); just one reason liver is so good; it’s nature’s multivitamin.  

Minerals

Minerals like zinc, selenium, magnesium, and iodine are likely to be deficient and they are critical for thyroid health and can help with fatigue.

  • Animal foods will provide zinc, selenium, and iodine.
  • Brazil nuts are also a good source of selenium, though they vary in content depending on the soil.
  • Seafood and seaweed are rich in iodine, but care must be taken due to heavy metal contamination. A good way to get iodine is with Maine Coast organic kelp flakes.
  • Avocados, nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate are good sources of magnesium as well as an Epsom salt bath.

One risk that does increase with fibromyalgia is intrauterine growth restriction where the baby doesn’t grow at the normal rate in the womb. Zinc deficiency may contribute to that risk so it’s important to ensure adequate zinc intake. Animal foods contain zinc in a form that is more absorbable. To increase zinc absorbability from plant foods, grains should be soaked, sour leavened, or fermented.

Legumes and nuts are also best soaked and then nuts can by dehydrated. The book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon is an excellent resource for the proper preparation of plant foods.

Iron is another important mineral. You will most likely need a supplement while pregnant as iron is not absorbed well and the need for iron significantly increases during pregnancy. Again, animal sources like beef and liver are better absorbed than plant sources (dried fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, spinach). To increase iron absorption, you can eat a vitamin C rich food (citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, papaya, sweet potato) with the iron rich food.

thyroid health

Thyroid Health

Getting the fat-soluble vitamins, selenium, and iodine will go a long way to nourishing the thyroid gland. Managing stress is also important so include activities like yoga, meditation, or Tai Chi in your daily routine.

Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) provide a lot of nutrition and are also good sources of folate. But, if eaten raw, they can interfere with thyroid function so avoid more than one serving of raw cruciferous a day. 

Eating the right fats and avoiding the wrong fats will support thyroid function. Good fats include;

  • Coconut oil is an excellent fat to use along with butter
  • Red palm oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil

Avoid fats such as oils from;

  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Cottonseed
  • Canola
  • Grapeseed

These oils contain fats that promote inflammation in the body which can damage the thyroid gland.

protein

Protein Intake

Protein intake is important to provide the amino acids tyrosine (a component of thyroid hormone) and tryptophan which supports healthy thyroid function and also helps with serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitter) production. Eggs, salmon, cheese and nuts are great for tryptophan. This is a difficult amino acid to get as it’s like the runt of essential amino acids and is absorbed last. Eating these foods with carbohydrate rich foods, like starchy vegetables, can improve the absorption of tryptophan.

Boosting glutathione, the master antioxidant in the body, can protect and heal thyroid tissue. Getting at least a half a gram of protein for every pound of body weight is a good start to boosting glutathione. Include glycine rich foods like gelatin and chicken broth.

If you use any protein powders, use grass fed whey protein (though I don’t recommend daily use of protein powders). Avocados and parsley are particularly rich in glutathione. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is a supplement that can be taken to boost glutathione and is safe during pregnancy.

Alpha lipoic acid is another supplement that can boost glutathione and it also supports healthy nerve function and may support pain management. It, too, has been shown to be safe during pregnancy.

gluten free

Go Gluten Free

This might be helpful if there is an underlying thyroid condition. Avoiding foods you are allergic to can help as well. Pay attention to how you feel when you eat foods to get a sense of whether or not they are supporting your health or hindering it. Cutting out gluten and other allergenic foods is critical if you have an autoimmune condition.

Gut Health

We are learning so much about our microbiome and how important it is to our health. It is important to get rid of allergenic foods when dealing with gut issues. A probiotic can help support a healthy microbiome and is safe to take during pregnancy. It can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. Eating sauerkraut with meals can aid digestion and is safer than taking an enzyme supplement since they haven’t been studied in pregnant women.

When looking for a probiotic, try to find one with multiple strains. Ginger is safe to take while pregnant if you experience nausea or digestive upset. Coconut oil, in addition to supporting the thyroid, can also support gut health. It is important to avoid GMOs and glyphosate as much as possible. So, use more organic foods. Gelatin and chicken broth are supportive for gut health as well as thyroid health.

toxic

Toxicity

If you have any kind of toxicity, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it until after the baby is born. It is not advisable to detox while pregnant and if you do, it really needs to be done under the care of your physician. 

What you can do is reduce exposure to toxins. Make sure you are not living with mold. Reduce your use of plastic (particularly plastic containers used for food and store receipts). Use the Seafood Watch app to find clean fish and seafood and the Healthy Living app to find clean personal care products.

Vaccines contain mercury and aluminum so you might want to discuss the appropriateness of vaccines for your condition with your doctor.

Practicing gratitude and eliminating negative emotions can also help reduce your toxic load.

Sleep

Fibromyalgia may make sleep difficult and being pregnant will just add to the problem. Try to get some early morning sun and have a regular schedule for going to bed and waking up. Ensuring that you get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Use a body pillow for comfort and sleep in a dark room away from wifi devices; don’t sleep near your cell phone. 

Click here to read, “Top 10 Tricks For Getting The Best Sleep Ever!”

Adding gelatin and chicken broth to your diet can aid sleep, too. The amino acid, glycine, supports healthy sleep. Melatonin as a supplement could be useful and may reduce the risk of intrauterine growth restriction, but it has not been studied thoroughly in pregnant women. So, consult with your doctor before taking it.

Taking a warm bath in Epsom salts with essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus, and sandalwood can relax you before bed and make it easier to fall asleep. These oils are safe during pregnancy.

pregnancy yoga

Pain

Managing pain can be more difficult while pregnant. Engaging in yoga or Tai Chi type exercises can help along with some aerobic exercise and weight training. You only need about 20 minutes of exercise; you don’t want to overdo it.

Alpha lipoic acid supplements, as discussed earlier, can be helpful as well as the homeopathic remedy Rhus Toxicodendron (6C dose). These are both safe for pregnancy. Mind-body work might be something to try for pain management while pregnant as well.

Having fibromyalgia while pregnant may or may not pose any additional risks. You could actually feel better, or you could experience more pain. Eating real food, making a few lifestyle changes, and taking the right supplements can go a long way to helping you manage symptoms safely while pregnant. 

Gentle Ways To Welcome The New Year With Self Care

I have declared that this upcoming year will be the year of self care for myself and my family. So, this year, rather than having a specific resolution (that I’m not likely to stick to) I’ve decided to explore different ways to really improve my personal well-being through self care. I’m going to let my intuition guide me to figure out what I need at any given time to provide myself with the best self care possible.

What Does Self Care Mean To Me?

There are four major themes I’m going to focus on this year, which we’ll explore together below. My intention is to let my self care evolve as I make changes and become more grounded and focused.

Here are my four main focuses for a better me include;

  1. Become more gentle with myself
  2. Move my body in different ways, everyday
  3. Remove ‘junk’ from my diet
  4. Grow my list of hobbies – try new activities and visit new places
read

Become More Gentle With Myself

I have begun by allowing myself time to rest (and I don’t mean sleep). By taking time to;

I am providing myself with valuable time to relax and feel satisfied. My goal is to step away from the chaos in the world and work at keeping my life more tranquil and serene. I am working on pushing out the negative thoughts, media outlets, and interactions to maintain a more positive outlook.

I believe that gentleness is the cornerstone of self-care and my mission is to inject gentleness into my daily life, and routine. Even the mundane tasks, to experience them in a more meaningful way.

best stretches

Move My Body In Different Ways Every Day

My goal is to get off the treadmill (of life) and step into different ways to move my body.  I have already begun by incorporating;

I’ve been mindful to listen to my body and really connect with the sensations that are left behind in my body from a good workout. That also includes listening to my body when it is tired and needs a break from exercise.

best diet

Remove ‘Junk’ From My Diet

Over the holidays we tend to loosen our grip on our normal daily eating habits. This usually means ‘junk’ foods start to creep in and become the new “norm”. So, I have started focusing on removing the simple sugars, and foods high in unhealthy fats. I’ve also been more conscious of my portion sizes and making good food choices that are going to nourish my body and provide me with a clean source of energy.

Click here to read, “How To Find The Best Diet For You”.

Remember to be gentle with yourself here – we are not always going to make good food choices and feeling guilty about our choices is not a means to be gentle with yourself. Work towards a healthy balance that still allows some flexibility in your diet so you feel fulfilled and satisfied.

new hobbies

Grow My List Of Hobbies – Try New Activities And Visit New Places

This one is like a mini bucket list for me. Trying new things is exhilarating and it can help to strengthen relationships with our loved ones as we try new things together. My intention is to feel more free and alive with excitement to have the opportunity for new experiences.

Hopefully during this new year, you too will find ways to improve your self-care and infuse gentleness into your daily life. Let’s make this year more fulfilling, successful, and joyful than the last.

Dangers Of Vaping

E-Cigarettes Found to Have 10 times More Cancer Causing Ingredients than Regular Cigarettes

Recently the dangers of vaping has been all over the news and social media. Vocalizing the hidden risks after reports of numerous deaths and illness that incurred to seemingly healthy individuals.

Where It All Started

There have been many products developed over the years to help people quit smoking.  In fact, vaping was initially introduced for that exact reason. However, recent reports are stating that;

e-cigarettes will impose similar long-term cardiovascular and pulmonary risks as those associated with conventional cigarettes.

How Vaping Works

E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine to a user in the form of vapour. Typically via a rechargeable battery-operated heating element. Hence where the word vaping came from.

The cartridges filled with nicotine and chemicals inhaled by the user are replaceable. However, the FDA has not evaluated e-cigarettes for their safety.

Dangers Of Vaping

Originally, E-Cigarettes became popular because of their ability to provide a hit of nicotine. Supposedly without the worry of added chemicals and toxins found in regular cigarettes. However, vaping cannot be considered risk free.  Reports are now surfacing stating that vaping can cause harm to the lungs and attribute to disease including COPD.

Furthermore,  there was a CDC study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research;

“More than a quarter of a million youth who had never smoked a cigarette used electronic cigarettes in 2013. This is a three-fold increase from 79,000 in 2011 to more than 263,000 in 2013.”

Here at Family Health Advocacy, we’re all about living the most healthy lifestyle that you can. Eating well. Enjoying movement. And eliminating toxins.

vaping

Are You Ready To Quit Smoking & Vaping?

Follow these tips:

1. Stop Buying Them!

They are harder to get your hands on if they’re not in the house. Also, the inconvenience of going to purchase them may allow you enough time to convince yourself not to buy them!

2. Load Up On Fruit & Vegetables

I know this sounds lame.  However the vitamins and minerals your body has lost from smoking must be replenished.  Helping yourself to reduce cravings.

For further information, click here to read, “Nutrition and Smoking: Foods to Help You Quit!”

3. Antioxidant Diet

According to research, eating a diet high in antioxidants, especially those found in tomatoes can help to repair lung damage caused by smoking.

4. Talk To Your Natural Health Practitioner

Your natural health practitioner can put together solutions customized specifically for you. There are many herbs and natural remedies that can support your body through this difficult transition.  Although natural, they are also very powerful to help you quit smoking.

Try these solutions for yourself.  Avoid the dangers of vaping, smoking, JUULing. QUIT TODAY!