Interval Training for Labor Prep- with Maura Shirey from Bodies for Birth

This week we are honored to have a guest blogger, Maura Shirey, from Bodies for Birth.

Bodies for Birth

Bodies for Birth is first and foremost a fitness company, but it’s so much more than that. It’s your village and your source for connection and resources in the community.  It’s Maura’s firm belief that women deserve to be supported holistically throughout pregnancy and postpartum.

I have enjoyed working with Maura, professionally for the past year. She is passionate and knowledgeable in her work and takes amazing care of our shared clients. Maura is sharing with us this week about the benefits of interval training for labor.

Interval Training for Labor Preparation

While there is so much we can’t control in labor and delivery, we can control how we prepare our minds and bodies.

With that said, this specific preparation looks so different for each one of us. For some of us, that’s attending classes, for others, it’s reading books, having conversations or asking questions. Despite the variable means of preparation, there’s tremendous comfort from knowing deep down that you have done whatever you consider to be your necessary work.

At Bodies for Birth we use a combination of modalities, but rely heavily upon interval training: bursts of higher intensity work followed by efficient, intentional recovery before beginning to work again.

This is in an effort to mimic the work of contractions–a time of sustained effort followed by efficient recovery…repeat, repeat, repeat and in labor…repeat again and again.

The mental and physical preparation allows for the opportunity to recognize the body’s innate ability to work exactly as it was designed and to recover with ease, noticing heart rate and respirations slow with the use of diaphragmatic breathing.

These repeated experiences can provide comfort, peace and resolve as you welcome labor and the uncertainty of it all.

workout-1931107_1920While we don’t pretend that we have any control over a labor or delivery experience or outcome, our goal is to constantly be adding tools to your toolbox. Each squat, each interval and guided visualization, each time you practice your breathing you are adding these tools.

And you won’t know which tools you will call upon during labor until the time comes, but the more tools you have, the better your coping will be. The greater confidence you will have that you are and have all that you need to meet the challenge.

Interval training is a vital component of this training and an essential in the labor preparation toolbox.

While the effortful work is important to train the cardiorespiratory system, to gain stamina and confidence in your body’s ability to perform the work, the magic happens during the recovery between the effortful work.

This is the interlude where the true preparation occurs, an opportunity to practice becoming efficient at recovery so that you can approach the next round of effortful work; ie: a contraction with renewed focus, energy and calm.

In class, we can often be heard saying, “and then, you turn it off. Just like a light switch. The work ends and you recover. Not ruminating on what’s passed or anticipating what’s coming next. Use your diaphragmatic breath to simply settle into this present moment of recovery. Right here. Right now.”

And what do we hear from clients and providers?

That Bodies for Birth clients really know how to recover in labor, that they have mental and physical resilience, a certain confidence in their abilities that translates into enhanced coping in labor.

Ideally, this endures right on into postpartum and motherhood.

Group Class (Photo Credit_ Benjamin Benschneider_The Seattle Times)
(Photo Credit: Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

So, what does interval training look like?

  • It can take the form of strength training or a low-impact aerobic style intervals.
  •  A strength training interval might include: body weight squats, stationary lunges or chest presses with a resistance band.
  • Aerobic-style intervals might include: marching in place with arms moving up and down overhead, repeated stepping up and down from a low step or moving side to side with swinging arms.
  •  If this all feels like too much coordination or aerobics just isn’t your thing, intervals can be incorporated into a walk, into lap swimming or work on the elliptical or other piece of cardio equipment. Swimming works particularly well as each lap can feel like an interval, followed by rest at the end. Hills also lends themselves easily to this sort of natural interval work.
  • Generally we advise beginning with an equal work to rest ratio; for example, begin with 30 seconds of effortful work followed by 30 seconds of recovery. Repeat up to three times.
  • The effortful work initially should be around a level “5” on a scale of 1-10 (10 being your max…which we never approach in pregnancy).
  • If this level of effort begins to feel easy, you may increase the ratio of work i.e.: 45 seconds of work to 30 seconds of recovery, perhaps approaching a level 6-7 on the exertion scale.
  • As you progress, notice the time it takes you to recover, notice your level of exertion throughout, not exceeding a level 6-7. In other words, you should be able to talk throughout the work.
  • Add short bouts of interval training into your routine and focus on the recovery between the work, always returning to your diaphragmatic breath.
  • With practice, notice how efficiently your body begins to recover and take great comfort in all of the preparation and your body’s ability to work exactly as designed.

Remember, intervals are completely versatile and modifiable, so listen to your body with the goal of exercise leaving you feeling energized and never exhausted in pregnancy! Your body is already working quite hard to support the work of pregnancy, so let exercise further fuel that effort, rather than deplete your reserves.

It’s a privilege to do the work we do at Bodies for Birth and such an absolute honor to know that it is making an impact.

No matter where you are in your journey, we will meet you exactly where you are, support you to the best of our abilities and help you to develop strength in mind and body while honoring your unique goals.

Bodies for Birth is much more than physical fitness; it is holistic wellness, and motherhood preparation at its finest, helping you to build strength, confidence and community.

Group classes are now open for all from preconception through postpartum! Visit MindBody to register and please reach out with questions!
Let’s build your village together!
About the Author:
Maura Shirey, RN, CPFE specializes in prenatal and postpartum fitness as the creator and owner of Bodies for Birth. Using current research and evidence-based practices, Maura helps individuals strengthen both mind and body as they prepare for and recover from one of life’s greatest feats! Maura’s wellness background includes work as a Registered Nurse, a Certified Personal Trainer & Chef, as well as a Health Coach & Screener for corporate wellness companies. Maura’s personal experiences, foundational nursing knowledge and passion for fitness and wellness provide the building blocks for Bodies for Birth.

As a woman and mother, Maura seeks to share her personal experiences with the Bodies for Birth community, to break down competitive barriers and to celebrate as clients surprise themselves with the inner strength they already possess. She is dedicated to ongoing education, pursuing best practices and individualizing fitness for each and every person. She is committed to providing a healthy and bold example to her son, Will (who had his own set of dumbbells and began practicing diaphragmatic breathing at 2 years old) and to creating a vibrant and sustainable future for her family doing work that brings her immense joy.

 

Travel Smart- Chiropractic Travel Tips for Flying

Flying can be a pain. Literally. You haul yourself through lines at security, toting your carry on luggage. You wait for your flight in uncomfortable seating or on the floor. The planes are cramped with uncomfortable seats and not enough leg room. The air is dry and blows into your face. You finally reach your destination and are so thankful to be done flying that you haul your carry on luggage down the aisle of the plane and breathe a sigh of relief.

It can be better with some planning.

  1. Carry On Luggage
    • Your carry on suitcase is a strategic decision.
      • It is important to choose a lightweight suitcase, preferably with multi-directional wheels. This allows you to push it down the narrow aisle of the airplane and more easily lift it into the overhead bin.
      • Lifting your case into the overhead compartments can be a challenge. By keeping the case light, and talking with your chiropractor about proper lifting technique, you can spare yourself some discomfort in maneuvering your luggage.
    • Your personal item can make or break your trip.
      • A tote bag or large purse seems like a good idea for a personal item. They hold a lot and can be quite fashionable.
      • I prefer and recommend a backpack for your personal item. You can pack your empty purse inside or in your main luggage. Remember to place your belongings in the backpack with the heaviest closest to your body (ie: laptop). Lighter items can be placed farther from the body.
      • backpack-499000_1920
        A backpack is an excellent choice for a personal item when flying.

        Most backpacks have many compartments which allow you to stay organized and evenly distribute weight. I prefer packs made by backpacking companies like Osprey or Deuter because they are lightweight with many compartments.

  2. Dress the Part
    • Between security checkpoints and the prolonged sitting involved in plane travel, clothing can be an important part of trip planning.
    • Ladies, your hairstyle matters!
      • I have longer hair and have to be sure that my hair is either down or in a top knot. If my hair is in a ponytail or on the back of my head, it forces anterior head positioning.
      • Anterior head positioning causes increased tension in the muscles of the neck and shoulders as well as promoting further poor posture
    • Wear comfortable shoes
      • Shoes should be easily removable for security, but should also be comfortable and practical.
      • High Heel ShoesHeels should be avoided because of the extreme angulation that they place the ankles in- not to mention the positioning of the pelvis while walking.  ***Stay tuned for a future blog that discusses the problems with high heels and their health impact***
    • Choose pants that allow for full hip range of motion. Tight pants, especially jeans can cause nerve and blood vessel impingement with prolonged sitting.
    • Consider compression socks for longer flights. These socks help improve circulation and can help with leg aching with prolonged inactivity.
  3. Remember Posture
    • We mentioned posture when choosing your hairstyle on a travel day… But it goes so much further. Good posture will help prevent low back pain and upper back pain from traveling.
    • Sit fully back in your seat and make sure that you are sitting on your “sit bones” not your tailbone.
    • Place both feet flat on the floor.
    • Adjust your headrest for optimum support.
    • Focus on alignment.
      • Think of your rib cage and your pelvis like 2 bowls.
      • Start by making sure that the bowl of  your pelvis is balanced and upright.
      • Now, line up your rib cage over it.
      • Make sure that your low back is not rounded or crunched forward.
  4. Hydrate
    • The dry environment in an airplane can dry out your mucous membranes- hydrating can keep them healthy and protect you from getting a cold while on an airplane.
      • When your nose dries out, it doesn’t protect you as well from viruses and bacteria.
  5. Sun Salutations!Forward Fold
    • Following your flight, it is time to move. I love how gentle yoga is to help me work the kinks out of my body after a day of travel. Sun salutations will help you to lengthen your spine and loosen tight muscles.

I hope that some of these tools will help you to feel better and be better prepared when you next travel. Please remember that this blog is intended for educational purposes. It is good to speak to your Chiropractor or Primary Care Physician to ensure that these tips are right for you.

A Parent’s Guide to Backpack Safety

Summer is coming to a close and it is time to purchase new school supplies and especially, Backpacks. Instead of choosing the coolest new superhero or princess backpack, I encourage you to ensure that your child’s backpack fits appropriately.

A backpack that is too large or heavy, or even worn improperly, can be detrimental to your child’s posture and spinal health. Textbooks and school supplies are heavy and it is important to choose a properly sized backpack that will make sure that kids are staying safe this school year.

Size

Many children’s backpacks are more focused on bright colors and appealing to kids cartoons than they are on function. They are often oversized and impractical. When choosing a backpack, it is important to fit the bag to the size of the child.

Below, the top left image, demonstrates a backpack that is likely a little large for the child, though if the straps were shortened it may fit more appropriately. The right image demonstrates a bag that is slightly too tall and a little too wide. The boy in the bottom image has a bag that fits correctly.

A properly fitting backpack should reach from shoulder blade to shoulder blade and from the shoulders to just below the waist. Check out this article with a convenient drawing demonstrating proper landmarks for sizing.

A backpack that is too large will place stress in the wrong part of the spine and can be filled far beyond capacity.

Weight

Kids are little! A child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10-15% of their body weight. The forces through the spine from carrying a heavy backpack can be compressive and cause the child to stand with shoulders hunched forward, head forward, and a curved spine.

Packing the weight into the bag correctly is also important. Heavier items like textbooks should be placed closer to the body, while lighter/smaller items can be further forward. Weight can also be managed by minimizing how much actually goes into the backpack. Which books need to be brought home for homework? What can stay in a locker and what needs to be carried home or between classes?

Proper weight distribution comes from a number of factors in a backpack. The pack should be light when empty. Multiple compartments will aid in packing. Wide straps keep the pack from digging into the shoulders. A waist strap can help to stabilize the load.

Overall

A backpack can be fun and functional. If your child is small in stature, consider picking a backpack that is appropriately sized in a plain color and decorating it with patches or fun paints. Minimizing wear and tear on your child from their backpack can help keep them in great shape.

Do you have questions about backpack sizing? Talk to your local chiropractor to have them check your child’s fit!

Same Weight, Different Body- It’s time to ditch the scale and take a broader view of health!

As a Chiropractor, my health is an important part of my practice. I try to “live my brand” and do not recommend things to my clients that I would not be willing to do for myself. That being said, I am incredibly human. I have health challenges. I do not always remember to take my supplements. Sometimes, I eat dessert- in fact, I am writing this in a Starbucks where I am treating myself to a Frappuccino. Recently, thanks to Facebook and my wardrobe, I have come to the realization that my health has drastically changed over the past 1.5-2 years (for the better).

About 2 years ago, I became aware that I was not taking care of myself the way I should be. I have food allergies and sensitivities, and while I had cut quite a bit of them out of my diet, I was desperately clinging on to dairy and rice. At a Standard Process seminar, I made the decision to take my health into my own hands and address how my food sensitivities have impacted me.

2 years ago, I was battling depression, my weight, acne, sleep, and the list could go on. I was also working out regularly, had just finished my first triathlon, working on my spiritual well being, sleeping at least 7.5 hours per night, and getting adjusted regularly. Most people looked at me and called me healthy- but I was far from it.

I was faking it and hoping to make it. When each week ended, I spent the weekends in my pajamas sleeping too much and always tired. I would find myself crying over the smallest things. I was always feeling behind and having panic attacks regularly.

It was time for a change.harmony-1229886_1920

The past 2 years have been a quite a journey. I started by cleaning up my diet further- finally giving up my beloved dairy and rice. Within weeks, I was sleeping more deeply. Within months, my skin was clearer. Soon, my clothes fit better. Slowly, I was climbing out of the hole I had dug myself into during grad school and my first years in practice.

I started to really love who I am again. I started to feel like the fun and upbeat person I pretended to be for years. I scaled my workouts back to yoga, swimming, and weight training to allow my body time to heal and balance without as much repetitive stress. I budgeted time for relaxation and recreational reading.

Then, just over a year ago, my husband and I took a month and a half off to visit Europe and move out to Seattle from our first real home together in the Detroit area. The total reset that this allowed for my emotions was unreal and I truly felt in control of my emotions for the first time since puberty.

All told, this was almost a year long process.

The best part was that even moving across the country, finding a place to live, starting a new practice from scratch, dancing this dream awake, didn’t shake my cool. In the year that we have been in Seattle, I continue to be healthier, I can hike and run again, even completing my first half marathon this past June.

Looking at pictures of myself now, the change in my health really hits home. I look happy. I feel healthy. I am significantly more fit. What’s funny, though, is that pesky scale. You know the one. The bathroom scale. Over these past 2 years, it has not budged more than 5-10 pounds in either direction. In fact, during my most unhealthy years it was both at its highest and lowest weight. As I have worked to recapture my wellness and love my body, I have settled somewhere in between- even though my dress size is smaller.

Here’s the thing. And it is a big thing. Something that took me a long time to learn and something that I continue to learn each day. Health is not any one thing. Some of the people who look the healthiest are not well on the inside. Like me, they battle depression or anxiety.

Health is not merely the absence of disease or pain. Health is the constant pursuit of joy in your body and in your soul. It is ever changing. It is not measured on the scale, nor is it truly quantifiable. “Healthy” me is going to be different from “healthy” you. You can be stick thin or curvy and be healthy or unhealthy. It is important to work with health care providers that are focused on wellness and to build your tribe around you that can support your transformation. Find someone to assess you and listen to you. Health is a discussion.

My story of the past 2 years is in no way unique. But. I hope you were inspired in some way to assess your own health.

Start the conversation.

Take those first steps toward your best self.

3 Summer Fitness Trends to Try This Summer

Summer weather is here! It is warm enough to spend time out of doors and move from our winter fitness routines to summer fun. Read on to learn about 3 outdoor fitness trends that provide more than physical health benefits.

Paddle Boarding

You’ve probably seen them out in the Sound or on Lake Washington. Paddle boarding season is here! This fun fitness trend provides a full-body workout. However, its benefits don’t stop there.

paddle-board-1122355_1920.jpgPaddle boarding is a great way to improve balance. If you have a history of ankle or knee injury, balance work can help to prevent future injuries by improving proprioception (the way your body finds its limbs in space). It is important to check with your health care provider before beginning balance work following injury. For more benefits of Paddle Boarding, check out this article.

Outdoor Yoga

Yoga is a fantastic way to balance the spine and support the core. It helps to normalize and optimize breathing. Many people are turning to yoga to improve mental and physical health.

A great twist on your conventional  yoga class is Outdoor Yoga. According to Yoga Journal, benefits of outdoor yoga sessions include:

  1. Replentishing Depleted Energyyoga-2176668_1920
  2. Heightened Awareness
  3. Boosted Confidence
  4. Enhanced Meditative Benefits

Whether you join an organized class or choose to do some sun salutations on the beach at Discovery Park, you can reap the benefits of an outdoor yoga session.

Cycling Club

bicycle-1869432_1920The time has come! Ditch the spin bike and hit the trails and bike paths. Seattle has so many trails and you are sure to see groups of people on the weekends. Join in. Build your cycling skills and learn to repair your own bike. (Pssst! You can make new friends while you are at it!) Working out with a group helps you to commit to your fitness. They act like accountability partners.

Get Outside and Enjoy the Summer!

It is important to spend time in the summer sun, getting fresh air, exploring nature, and making Vitamin D. Always be sure to consult with a healthcare provider prior to starting a new fitness regime. Looking for a Seattle Chiropractor? Check out the rest of our website to learn more about Seed of Life Chiropractic and Wellness, LLC and Dr. Samelak- our Chiropractic Physician.

Essentialism

Did you miss our book club meeting?

Are you  interested in learning more about living a simpler life?

Did you, perhaps, start by cleaning out your home with Marie Kondo?

It is time to pick up Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less walks the reader through the thought process of an Essentialist. Through a deliberate evaluation of our circumstances, decisions, or commitments, it is possible for us to streamline our lives.

Slide1

This really made me consider the areas in my life where I feel most stressed out or out of control. Maybe it’s work where you are committed to so many projects that you can’t possibly do any of them well. Maybe it’s at home in your relationships with family- boundaries with family and close friends can be difficult to maintain. I know that there are times in my life where I have set aside important commitments to help a friend or family member only to feel that they have taken advantage of my time when it was all over.

What would happen if you simply stopped saying yes?

How would your life change if you chose to stay within your own limits instead of always feeling stretched?

These are the questions that an Essentialists ask themselves on a regular basis. It is not possible to only sort of commit to this behavior. Then, you will only sort of see results.

I, personally, am planning on beginning to implement Essentialist analysis into my lifestyle a little bit at a time. One thing I have committed to is to schedule space in my planner for reflection, journaling, and meditation. These are activities that, I know, make a large difference in my life. When I take space to reflect, I feel spacious in my mind and am both happier and more productive. Yet, when life gets busy, this is often the first activity that I strike from my list.

Slide2

The quote above makes this even more plain. Living deliberately is the fore of Essentialism. When we take a step back, systematically analyze, choose the priority, and know that everything else will work out, we can truly step into a space of elegant simplicity. There is time to think, to look/listen, play, and sleep- if only we are selective in our decision making.

For many years, I have noticed that sleep deprivation is incredibly harmful to my health and my emotions. Sleep has slowly become a priority in my life. Each night, I ensure that I get, minimally, 7.5 hours- though 9 is ideal. If I get less sleep than that more than a couple of days in a row, I feel physically tired, mentally sluggish, and I often get sick with an opportunistic cold or flu.

Play is equally important. There must be space in our lives to play with our loved ones, to engage with ourselves, and to laugh. This feeds the soul and sparks creativity. What games make you happy? Who do you play with? When was the last time you laughed so hard that your belly hurt and you couldn’t breathe?

Slide3

It all boils down to focused decision-making. In all areas of life, McKeown provides examples of how when we reflect and focus, clarity is achieved. This is incredibly conducive to prioritizing our lives and choosing the things with which we engage.

I truly loved this book and connected with it deeply. I highly recommend it as a quick read with incredible depth of meaning. I know that implementing Essentialism into my everyday will streamline my life and maximize its joy.

Did you enjoy Essentialism?

Is there something you would like to see us read in our Book Club?

Tell us in the comments below!

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

… One Bite at a Time!

This blog was inspired by my Motivation Monday post on Facebook.

I have been thinking a lot about achieving goals in fitness, life, work, etc… and they really all have a common theme. Many times the goals that I achieve are those that I have approached logically, with mindfulness, and in a task oriented fashion. Without this, these goals would seem like elephants, huge and immovable.

elephant-2011392_1920

When it comes to health, most people have huge, vague goals that are kind of amorphous. These seem to be extremely difficult to attain because they are ill-defined. Many people start with the generic, “This year, I am going to get healthier.”

What a fantastic statement! By using this as a springboard, we can delve deeper, make a plan, and actually achieve “healthier”. However, if this single statement is the goal, how will we mindmap-2123973_1920know if it has been attained?

Let’s break it down.

What is “healthier”?

  • Is it a goal weight?
  • Is it a fitness goal like a marathon or a Strongfirst certification?
  • Is it fewer illnesses through the year?
  • Is it less back pain?
  • Is it being able to play with your grandchildren?
  • The list goes on!!!

Since a marathon in 2017 is my goal, I will use that as my example in this scenario.

Define the goal: A marathon is a 26.2 mile race. marathon-1649905_1920

What will it take to achieve the goal?

  • Commitment to a training schedule
  • Several smaller races
  • Having a support group
  • Self-Care to ensure that you maintain health while training
  • etc.

Action Steps:

  • I have made monthly goals for miles run weekly and/or cumulatively
  • I have started running with a running group that meets several times a week
  • I have a training partner in my husband who also wants to run a marathon with meTraining Photo
  • I have signed up for a 12K in 2 weeks (7.4 miles)
  • I have plans for a half-marathon in late May
  • I am taking care of myself physically
    • Sleeping 7-8 hours each night
    • Limiting sugar and alcohol in my diet
    • Ensuring that I am eating enough protein and vegetables that are responsibly sourced
    • Getting adjusted by another Chiropractor (see my other blog on this topic)
    • Participating in “prehab” exercises to help prevent injury during training
    • Drinking plenty of water on a daily basis!

Since high school, I have wanted to run a marathon… but I always thought it was too big, too much, an elephant you could say.

Moving to Seattle and deciding to take a logical approach to goal setting and improving my health has made what seemed like a pipe dream, a reality. Along with the encouragement of my husband and new friends, this long time goal is becoming a reality.

What goals have you been avoiding because they are too big or scary? Maybe you can approach them using this type of break-down.

If your goals are health-related, consult your Chiropractor and/or Primary Physician to ensure that you are taking care of your body in the process. I am always happy to help others achieve their health goals. Please feel free to contact me using the form below if you would like to schedule a consult!