Are you a yo-yo fitness dieter?

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All exercise is healthy. Right?

Not so much.

While there isn’t anything wrong with any one training modality, form of exercise or exercise class, per se, the mindset and practice we cultivate around it can be damaging, for sure, toxic even.
It can foster feelings of hatred, resentment, failure, and frustration towards physical activity and exercise and therefore becomes a TOTALLY counterproductive thief of our joy!


Come see what I mean!



Raise your hand if you’re someone that is either “On the exercise wagon” or completely 100% off of it.


Do you have a rigid idea in your mind of what exercise needs to look like?

Does it need to take a certain amount of time? Occur in a specific place in certain clothes?

Does it have to look exactly like what your peers are doing? What celebrity “X” is using to get her amazing body?


Does it always have to leave you pouring sweat and gasping for air?

Do you believe that if you miss a day you will fall behind? Lose momentum? Lose results? Gain weight? Backslide into old habits?



This is the sort of mindset that I used to have around exercise and just like with dieting, I was TOO restrictive and so I never found my groove. I would binge, restrict, binge restrict, overdoing it with BOTH sedentary AND active phases-never finding the balance between training, moving and resting.



I never could figure out how to make my fitness and movement practice just a part of my life because I had REAL rigid ideas of what I needed to do in fitness in order for it to “count.”

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Can you relate?

I was either running 6 miles a day 5 days a week, or nothing.
I was sticking to a strict schedule, attending a certain class, consistently using only one training modality or I was doing nothing.
And I wasn’t “healthy” when I was exercising hard and constantly.
I became injured, I was tired. I lost my appetite…



Just like when we are on a diet, I felt locked in by “the rules” .
Whose rules? I have no idea.
I’m sure they were a combination of

  • what I saw others doing

  • what fitness culture was telling me was “effective” and

  • whatever routine was JUST enough out of reach that striving for it made me feel like I was really accomplishing something-making up for lost time. I mean if it didn’t sort of feel like punishment, would it even work? Was it enough?




Consequently I was happy for excuses to skip out on workouts, miss runs, take it easy.
And when I was “off the wagon” I missed how exercise made me feel but I NEVER actually missed the exercise itself.
I didn’t miss the pressure, the feelings of failure, the guilt when I “skipped” a workout.
And the more I grew accustomed to this cycle of inactive vs. super active , the more I had to REALLY PUMP MYSELF UP to want to get back into the active part of the cycle, because I didn’t enjoy it-even if I felt there was an aspect of it that did make me feel better.


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But my sedentary habits weren’t make me feel great either.
My mood and digestion would suffer. My body was achy and I felt like I was craving movement!

So I would find something new- a new class at the gym, swimming, training for triathlons, lifting weights and that worked for a while, but I finally realized that it wasn’t the exercise itself that was the problem, it was my mindset.

I was too restrictive.
I was dieting, white knuckling it, so super perfectionist and holding myself to standards that I thought were what I needed to do in order to get results!





It wasn’t until I had my second baby that out of necessity, I began to change my mindset and FINALLY found my groove with training and movement.


Here are the guidelines that I used to cultivate a consistent and life nourishing relationship with movement and exercise! THESE ARE NOT RULES, but simply a framework that I used to integrate movement and fitness into my lifestyle and get out of the cycle of fitness dieting!





  1. Move daily-no matter what it looks like, and do it outside when you can!

    1. I knew that movement made me feel good. I knew that getting outside in the sun and fresh air was good for my mental health, vitamin D and my babies, toddler and infant at the time.
      So I made a commitment to move every day in one respect or another, no matter for how long or how it looked.

    2. Movement took place in a number of different forms, but it happened.
      Often it was a leisure walk around the neighborhood with kids in the stroller.
      Sometimes it was yoga in the living room with them close by.
      Other times it was just crawling around in the grass in the backyard or doing some raking or simply doing yard work while the littles were hanging with me outside.
      And several times a week, when I could make it work, it would be some version of a short workout.

    3. Moving daily in all the different ways helped me to maintain momentum. It made the hurdle of getting up or getting out to move, far less intimidating and when I had the time and energy to do so, it made it FAR easier to get in a real workout, because I was already used to moving, and now I just had to move a little more intensely for a period of time.

    4. Yes there were days when no intentional movement happened either because I was tired, the kids were sick, or whatever, but on those days, I missed my movement practice and because I had such lax requirements for what movement needed to “look like” it made it easier to get back to it!



  2. Strength train your body-

    1. I transitioned away from an “exercise” mentality and gradually started to train my body. I trained for strength, resilience, body composition changes and endurance.

    2. I realized that part of my problem with exercise was that there was never any clear goal. For me, exercise was largely about showing up to burn off calories or fat, lean out…and those are such nebulous goals that are not always appropriate for new nursing mommas (which I was at the time), are difficult to measure, and impacted by our hormonal cycles. I needed a clear bullseye, I wanted something to work towards, so strength and endurance because my new targets.

      1. This was awesome because regardless of how many calories I burned doing one set of pushups in my kitchen while emptying the dishwasher, I knew for certain that I was building strength and getting better at pushups.

      2. Maybe sprints in the driveway didn’t take the full 60 minutes that I had believed and exercise class needed to take, but I could feel my legs, core and reflexes growing stronger, my speed and lung capacity were increasing and I didn’t need more than 10 minutes for a sprint workout.

    3. Besides, strength training was convenient for me. I could leave weights in any room of the house and do a few rods of weighted squats while the kids played on the floor. I could throw a kettlebell in the bottom of the stroller, walk to the play ground and work on my swing. I could bring bands to the park or out in the backyard to do some presses or pull aparts while the babies napped in the stroller.






  3. I learned to view rest part of my process-

    1. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a total amateur momma just trying to hold it together while you care for two young kids, you need REST and RECOVERY! I had totally bought into the mindset that we are supposed to exercise almost EVERY DAY, 5 to 6 days a week for sure! And if we didn’t, we weren’t doing enough to get good results. But there is no science to support that this approach over time is the best option for all people and there is PLENTY of science that shows if we don’t rest, recover, sleep and move gently between training sessions, we will get hurt, we will create loads of chronic inflammation, we will NOT get good results.

      So I started to make rest part of it!
      I even learned about some of the hormonal benefits of resting in my life, between rounds, between workouts, or whenever I needed it. Rest was intentional.
      Rest was strategic.
      Rest was what was going to keep me consistent with my fitness and movement practices!



  4. #persistenceoverperfection became my new motto for life-

    1. Moving away from rigid expectations and approaches to exercise helped me to finally get consistent.

      Movement and training because actions that NOURISHED me. I wanted them to be a part of my life, so I began to prioritize them.
      I also knew that if I was tired, training wasn’t going to be good for me, that movement was OFTEN the key to feeling better about my day, even when everything felt like it was falling apart and I was constantly failing,
      And I saw the value of rest because resting one day almost ensured that I would get back into my training or movement practice of BOTH the next day.

    2. The more lax I because in my expectations, the more disciplined I actually wanted to be.
      The more I gave myself a pass to shorten my workouts, or not train at all, the easier it became for me to make them happen. Sure maybe it would take me ALL day to get in 4 rounds of a simple 5 minute circuit consistent of 4-5 exercises, but I would do it! And because I did, I became more consistent, got the best physical results I have ever gained form exercise and I finally had a relationship with fitness and movement that wasn’t one of obligation and guilt.
      It was there FOR ME to make me better and when I was rested and had the time I would use it to the best of my ability that day, because I was PERSISTENT in my pursuit of movement and fitness practices, but I was NO LONGER perfectionist about what it needed to look like.




What about you?
Are you stuck on the “on again, off again” fitness dieting cycle?
Do you feel locked into a specific approach to exercise?
Are you consumed with the message that exercise needs to kick your ass and burn ALL the calories in order to be of value?


Share your thoughts in the comments below!


IF YOU WANT TO TRY A NEW AND DIFFERENT APPROACH-you can download my Strong Guts n’ Butts movement protocol AND or my 5 minutes circuits that can be done at home with MINIMAL equipment!

Sign up below!

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Sarah Smith is a personal trainer, level two Russian  Kettlebell Instructor, postnatal fitness specialist and pelvic floor and gut health advocate working online and in Raleigh, North Carolina. 
She specializes in helping women online and in-person feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!

Sarah is a mom to three boys and one English Bulldog. She loves soil, coffee and not folding laundry. 

Write here…




How I make bone broth

I make bone broth on a routine basis because we eat a lot of pasture-raised organic chicken and there’s NO WAY I’m letting those precious drippins and bones go to waste!

Also, bone broth is an old, trusted friend of mine.
Its nutrient, gelatin and collagen content is the reason I recommend it to my clients suffering from pelvic organ prolapse, chronic inflammation and joint pain, gut dysbiosis and a history of restrictive (under-eating) and malnourishment as well as my pregnant and postpartum mommas!

Five years ago when I was SUPER sick with three parasites and Candida overgrowth, my body couldn’t tolerate many foods.

I was malnourished and had horrible stomach pains more often than not.

I had heard of bone broth and it’s ability to sooth and heal/seal the gut, so I decided to give it a shot.
It sounded warm, soothing and easy to digest, so why not?


I can still remember breathing a sigh of relief when I drank my first mug.
The salty, nutritious goodness of gelatin, collagen, and amino acids from the chicken meat and bones PLUS the vitamins and minerals from the veggies I had used, it was bringing me back to life.

Finally I had something that I could consistency eat that didn’t make me feel terrible.
PLUS it was also sealing my leaky gut, helping me heal a bit.
It was giving me nutrition at a time when I was struggling to eat enough food to sustain my body and had dysbiosis that mades it difficult to sufficiently extract nutrients from the food that I was eating.


“Good broth will resurrect the dead,” - South American proverb.




We easily eat a roasted chicken once or twice a week so I pop the bones, carcass and drippings in a ziplock bag and throw them in the freezer.
I typically wait until I have two birds worth of bones before I made a broth.

Even when I have grass-fed beef bones, I STILL make add in the chicken.
Beef broth is a lot of nutrient bang for your buck, but chicken broth has a milder taste, so mixing the two is my preferred broth.


If I make the combo, then I start the roasted beef bones FIRST for 12 hours and then add in the chicken.
Chicken doesn’t need as long of a cook time as the beef bones do, and I don’t love the flavor of a bone broth that’s been cooked for too long.

Ok, so here are my super simple directions for making bone broth.

Stephanie Gadreau of Stupid Easy Paleo has recipe for making it in the Instant Pot.

I don’t go that route, but if you’re into your Instant Pot, then try that version!




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Chicken Bone Broth Instructions (not a recipe) -easiest done on the weekend if you work a traditional work schedule, since you have to monitor it for 24 hours.

1. Take two-three chickens worth of bones (I usually have them frozen from previous meals) and pour 1/4 cup of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar or lemon juice on the bones and let sit for 5 minutes.



2. Cover the bones with filtered or spring water (fluoride and chlorine-free if possible, but do what you can, #persistenceoverperfection!)


3. Bring water to boil.


4. Throw in 1-2 organic onions (whole is fine) and 2-3 cloves of garlic.


5. Add in any other veggie scraps that you have hanging around! I frequently use celery stalks or hearts, carrots, or sweet potatoes. I do not respond well to nightshades, so no potatoes, peppers, tomatoes or eggplant.

6. Allow to continue to boil with the veggies for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer. You can transfer to a pre-heated crockpot if you feel safer, but I leave mine on the stove, because I live on the edge. **Making sure there is nothing flammable nearby.

7. Simmer broth for 20 hours (anything between 12 and 20 is fine, but I like to check the bones and make sure they are easily crushable before taking the broth off the heat). Keep an eye on the water level and add more water when necessary. I top it off before I go to bed.

8. Don’t add any water (unless absolutely necessary) in the last 5 hours because it dilutes your rich broth.

9. Turn off the heat and let broth cool a bit.

10. Strain veggies and bones! I use something like this to scoop out the bones and veggies, DO NOT THROW THEM OUT!

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If you miss a few bones, it’s not the end of the world, IF you checked to make sure the bones were easily crushable and not choking hazards.



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11. I freeze extra broth-or broth I don’t want to use immediately, in bags and distribute the rest into jars.
It’s best to divide it up according to how much you will use in one sitting.
When the broth cools, if you included skin or gelatinous fat from when you cooked the bird, a layer of fat will form on the top. This will ESPECIALLY happen if you included beef bones.
The fat layer helps keeps the bone broth by sealing out bacteria, so leave it on there!

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Sarah Smith is a personal trainer, level two Russian  Kettlebell Instructor, postnatal fitness specialist and pelvic floor and gut health advocate working online and in Raleigh, North Carolina. 
She specializes in helping women online and in-person feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!

Sarah is a mom to three boys and one English Bulldog. She loves soil, coffee and not folding laundry. 

Are you qualified?

Injuries sustained in pregnancy or postpartum, can plague clients for decades after the fact.
I have clients in their 50’s just NOW healing their diastasis recti and pelvic floor problems sustained 20, 30 years ago.
And you know what.
They’ve been to a lot of gyms and no one told them that leaking, and persistent back pain, chronic shoulder injuries and hip problems were related to their diastasis recti and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Read More

Why I created Kettlebells For Cool Kids and why YOU should do it!

1. People need access to more kettlebell training that doesn’t just whip them into shape, but ensures longevity and enjoyment in their fitness practice (aka doesn’t hurt them).

From breathing patterns to pelvic position, core muscle development and alignment, WOMEN ESPECIALLY need education and support on how to train SMART to prevent weakening or over-training their cores and pelvic floors.

Read More

You Compare Yourself

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Over a hundred women signed up for the #topdowntguchallenge  this week.

Every day we learn a tiny piece of the Turkish get-up and practice ONLY THAT ONE PART. 
 

It's been SO AWESOME to see all of these women working on learning the Turkish get-up OR working on improving their technique. 

They are slowing down the movement. 
Taking time to breath and become more aware of how their body moves. 
They are becoming acquainted with the get-up on a WHOLE new level. 
And you know what?

Because of all that, their technique is damn good. 

 

When you’re doing a challenge like this, it’s easy to get caught up in the game of comparing yourself to others. 

With social media, we can check and see how other people are doing and WHEN we see someone that we perceive to be “doing better” than us,  we can’t help but feel discouraged. 
Same goes for ANYTIME we begin a new fitness practice. 

If we are going to the gym or a class, we look around and observe where other people are. 
We begin to size them up and then move on to ourselves... 

“I’ll never look like that.”

“I’ll never be that good.”

“I’m too old to do this.”

“I’ve had too many [babies, injuries, too few years in fitness], etc. to ever be that fit.”


 

Personally, I look at people online ALL OF THE TIME and accidentally put them on a pedestal. 

I look at their level of fitness or business success (in the video of photo posted online, which isn’t always the whole story…) and I make judgementsabout themabout myselfabout my process

 

And SOMETIMES that briefly stops me from progressing. 

Sometimes that makes me feel bad about where I am and discourages me from continuing to work.

 

But over the years I have learned that EVERYTHING I WANT OUT OF LIFE is on the other side of those feelings. 
 

I HAVE to break through them, if I’m ever going to get anywhere. 

I have to mute the messages in my head or online that tell me, “I’m not good enough.” OR “I can’t be me.”

 

With the #topdowntguchallenge, we are seeing lots of different people moving intentionally, beautifully, and I’m telling you, I am SUPER impressed by what you all are doing. 

 

I especially love the posts that say, “I didn’t think I could do this, but I did it!!”

I mean, that’s what this challenge is all about. 

That’s what strength training and kettlebell work is all about!

Learning to see ourselves as capable people that can grow and challenge ourselves, improve and do amazing things. 

 

And our process won’t look like anyone else’s. 

Our bodies aren’t going to look like other people’s either. 

My geometry is not your geometry, so my movement will take a different shape than yours and yours will take a different shape than someone else’s. 

Yes there are fundamental guidelines that we follow for technique and safety, but the body interprets these things in it’s own unique and beautiful way. 

 

Practice is practice. 

Progress is progress. 

And people are people. 

 

We are all different. 

Always, always let your process meet you where you are TODAY and lead you to where YOU WISH TO GROW. 

 

Don’t get distracted when you see other people potentially progressing faster than you, or looking more “perfect” than you. 

Keep your head down. 

Maintain your focus. 

 

I promise you, all those people you compared yourself to will start to fade away into the background and you will like where you end up.

You will feel proud of yourself.

 

If you want to learn more about the Top Down Turkish Get-Up Challenge OR get on the waitlist for my upcoming 10 week Kettlebell Instruction and Workout course,  Kettlebells For Cool Kids! 
Head to this website now! www.kettlebellsforcoolkids.com
 

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Sarah Smith is a personal trainer, level two Russian  Kettlebell Instructor, postnatal fitness specialist and pelvic floor and gut health advocate working online and in Raleigh, North Carolina. 
She specializes in helping women online and in-person feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!

Sarah is a mom to three boys and one English Bulldog. She loves soil, coffee and not folding laundry. 

Healing the gut with movement and exercise to STOP chronic disease

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Due to their positive effects on clearing inflammation in the body and improving the health and diversity of the gut microbiome, movement and exercise are recommended as some of the most effective tools for healing and reducing the risk of chronic disease.

But in this case, NOT all forms of exercise are beneficial to everyone!
SOME forms of fitness will actually:

  • INCREASE the body’s stress response
  • create inflammation
  • cause leaky gut syndrome and consequently, associated health conditions, you will learn them soon.
     

So let's talk about:

  1. Inflammation, what it is, why it's problematic and what causes it.
  2. How the nervous system AND gut play a role in creating and clearing inflammation.
  3. How movement and exercise INCREASES the health and diversity of the gut microbiome, BUT also has the potential to harm it and why that matters for chronic disease.
  4. What forms of fitness are BEST for beginners and those struggling with chronic disease and how probiotics can also help!

 

I feel very strongly about this topic and feel that it's important for you to know that all the claims I'm about to make are supported by the peer-reviewed literature.
But if learning about that is NOT your jam, you can skip to the summary at the bottom. 
It won't hurt my feelings. 
Here we go!


What is inflammation? 

 Image credit: Innovation Toronto. 

Image credit: Innovation Toronto. 

  • Acute inflammation is a natural, healthy immune response that helps your body heal.
     
  • Chronic inflammation is associated with many modern diseases, including obesity, diabetes, Alzheimers, coronary heart disease, coronary artery disease, cancer, chronic fatigue, inflammatory bowel disease, fatigue and a whole host of other conditions! (Harvard Health, 2006)
     
  • Chronic inflammation occurs when the body creates an inflammatory response to a non-specific, perceived threat.
    “The white blood cells swarm, but have nothing to do and nowhere to go, and they sometimes eventually start attacking internal organs or other necessary tissues and cells”. -Dr. Scott Walker, Gunnison Valley Hospital in Utah.
     
  • Chronic inflammation negatively impacts the central nervous system whose job it is to help clear inflammation. When left unchecked, the sympathetic nervous system has to work overtime, all of the time, which leads to high blood pressure, insulin resistance, muscle and body wasting, and cardiovascular mortality (Pongratz and Straub, 2014)
  • When chronic inflammation is suspected, doctors can test for C-reactive protein levels (CRP), which increase when the body is inflamed.
     
  • Gut distress and chronic inflammation are related for a number of reasons, largely the gut is home to the enteric nervous system AND 80%  of the immune system.

What are common signs of chronic inflammation:

1. Lots of belly fat-I’m not talking gentle relaxed, soft bellies here-which I love (folks are too obsessed with six-pack abs), but rather growing fat storage around the middle.

2. High blood glucose levels-blood sugar imbalances, loss of insulin sensitivity.

3. Digestive problems like gas, diarrhea, bloating, or constipation.

4. Chronic fatigue or exhaustion.

5. Skin problems like eczema or psoriasis, or your skin is red and blotchy.

6. Allergies.

7. Puffy face, or puffy bags under your eyes.

8. Gum disease-see Dr. Lin’s The Dental Diet-FASCINATING!

9. Depression, anxiety, brain fog

10. Erectile dysfunction in men, pelvic floor dysfunction in both men and women.

 

The gut and its relationship to inflammation


One extremely common source of inflammation that is being linked to more and more chronic health conditions  (diabetes, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, PCOS, autism and more!) is gut dysbiosis (imbalance of good and bad microbes) of the gut leading to erosion of the mucosal lining of your gut, aka-leaky gut syndrome. 

The intestinal epithelium is the largest mucosal surface in the body.

 OralWellness.com

OralWellness.com

It is the barrier between the rest of the body and the food, fluid and air that comes in from the external environment.

This barrier’s job is to be selective about what it allows to pass through into the blood stream and internal environment of the the body. 

 Image credit: goodfoodeating.com

Image credit: goodfoodeating.com

When the epithelium is compromised by toxins in your environment AND food, stress, gut irritants, antibiotics that kill good bacteria, other pharmaceutical drugs, pathogens, etc.,  it erodes (leaky gut syndrome) which allows toxins, food particles, etc. get into the blood.

These toxins and food particles (that often look much like our own proteins) can be attacked by the immune system causing a chronic immune and inflammatory response in the body, like food sensitivities and eventually the many chronic diseases filed under autoimmunity. 

Our gut microbes are also in strong communication with our nervous system.

In 2017, Zhu et. al., reported that ,

“Disorders in the composition and quantity of gut microorganisms can affect both the enteric nervous system and the central nervous system (CNS), thereby indicating the existence of a microbiota-gut-brain axis. Due to the intricate interactions between the gut and the brain, gut symbiotic microorganisms are closely associated with various CNS diseases.”

The microbes living in our gut talk directly with our nerve cells to control the brain and it's response to NUMEROUS stimuli. 

Since the gut, immune system and nervous system are intimately involved in mediating chronic inflammation and also profoundly effected by fitness and exercise, let's talk about the how to use fitness training to HEAL and nourish the body WITHOUT pissing off the immune and nervous system, shall we?
 

Movement and Exercise Piece



Research shows that the health of the gut AND reduction of the inflammatory response can be improved with certain types of routine movement and exercise.

American adults who engaged in frequent physical activity are better able to clear inflammation than adults who live a more sedentary life.

 Kettlecise 

Kettlecise 

For example, a 2010 study with eighty-two patients found that in type 2 diabetics, (key term coming up) long-term high intensity resistance and aerobic training reduced inflammatory markers over the course of a year (independent of changes in body weight, meaning activity was the key factor). (Balducci et al, 2010

Numerous studies have shown that sedentary individuals have a different gut microbiome than active ones (Allen et. al., 2017, Cronin 2017) and that routine exercise modifies the composition of the gut microbiome creating significant differences in the community of microbes of active individuals vs. sedentary. 

In fact, Bressa et al. 2017 found a significant correlation between the presence of specific species of microbes, fat-loss, body composition, and physical activity!

This means that there are certain microbes that live in the guts of leaner more active individuals AND that by growing our daily movement practices we can affect what bugs are there AND increase the diversity of the microbial community that lives in us and helps us maintain our health!
 

But what kind of exercise is best for the gut?

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This seems to vary somewhat with the individual.

For example, a highly trained athlete or individual with lots of exercise experience is better able to recover from the stress of high intensity and strenuous exercise. They can routinely attend Crossfit, HIIT, participate in Triathlons and providing they consume enough nutrition and take time to recover, they will not experience negative health effects.

A beginner, on the other hand, someone that has historically been sedentary, individuals with over-taxed immune or adrenal system and leaky gut, or is sporadically consistent with exercise, will not respond well to fitness that is too intense and does not allow for adequate recovery time. (Barton, 2017)


These folks are better off turning to more from moderately challenging exercise like weight training, movement and mobility training and routine walking. 

If they desire to be able to engage in high intensity fitness classes like HIIT, Crossfit or Metabolic Conditioning, then they should TRAIN for that slowly and give themselves adequate time to recover between intervals AND workouts. 
 

You see,  strenuous (relative to the individual) exercise diverts blood flow away from the gut and can increase leakiness of the gut lining, immune system activation, stress the kidneys and other forms of stress on the body. (Clark and Mach, 2016).

Unfortunately, the popularity of high intensity fitness classes for beginners or individuals that have been sporadic in their exercise practice or are already struggling with chronic inflammations can be counterproductive and harmful. 

While initially folks will perhaps see an initial drop in pounds, this is often followed by a strong inflammatory stress response that leaves them susceptible to injury, fatigue, and experiencing STRONG cravings, gut distress and a frustrating lack of physique change.

If you struggle with symptoms of leaky gut syndrome (food intolerances, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.) then you are going to want to be vigilant about your workout intensity AND recovery time. Prioritize STRENGTH training to increase your fitness and gradually work to improve your conditioning and cut down on your recovery time. 


To see an example of a training program appropriate for someone that wishes to build strength, increase their fitness, and improve their metabolic flexibility WITHOUT stressing their body, get my gut-nourishing Strong Guts and Butts Movement Protocol here

 

Using probiotics to aid recovery and fitness

While exercise has been shown to improve the health of the gut, probiotic supplements and probiotic foods are ALSO important for recovery and health!

Intestinal microbes reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Individuals with a more diversely populated gut are better able to recover from exercise and manage stress.

 

Research is now being conducted on how the use of probiotics (good bugs for your gut) and prebiotics (food for your good bugs) can be used therapeutically to aid athlete’s  nervous systems, mitigate their stress response, decrease inflammation and in some cases even avoid harmful conditions like exertion heat stroke! (Armstrong, 2018)

“Preliminary experimental data obtained from studies using probiotics and prebiotics studies show some interesting results, indicating that the microbiota acts like an endocrine organ (e.g. secreting serotonin, dopamine or other neurotransmitters) and may control the HPA axis [THIS IS YOUR CENTRAL NERVOUS RESPONSE] in athletes.” (Clark and Mach, 2016).

 

“In athletes, the administration of different Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains might help maintain a state of general health, enhance immune function, improve gut mucosal permeability, reduce oxidative stress and obtain energy from plant-carbohydrate sources.”  (Mach and Botella, 2016).

Summary time...

Movement and improved fitness are the keys to reducing your risk of developing or recovering from many chronic diseases because of its positive effect on the immune and nervous systems stress and inflammatory response.

The key is to choose the BEST forms of movement and training for your current state of health and fitness ability.

The lowest risk forms of training that will increase health and fitness are leisure walks, mobility and natural movement coupled with routine strength training.

Supplementation with probiotics and prebiotics is being shown in the literature to aid recovery and reduce inflammation because of it’s positive effects on the gut, nervous and immune systems. 

In short, if you are “out-of shape” or battling chronic disease, start walking, lift some heavy objects, move all of your body in all the plains, eat probiotic foods and give yourself adequate time to recover between training sessions.

Grab my MOVEMENT protocol, complete with daily natural movement training AND strength training!
 


 

Also, I read a ton of science to write this article. References below. 

 

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Sarah Smith is a personal trainer, level two Russian  Kettlebell Instructor, postnatal fitness specialist and pelvic floor and gut health advocate working online and in Raleigh, North Carolina. 
She specializes in helping women online and in-person feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!

Sarah is a mom to three boys and one English Bulldog. She loves soil, coffee and not folding laundry. 
Check her out on social media
here or get on her email list!! for more content!

 

 

Allen, J.M. , L. J. Mailing, J. Cohrs, C. Salmonson, J. D. Fryer, V. Nehra, V. L. Hale, P. Kashyap, B. A. White & J. A. Woods (2017) Exercise training-induced modification of the gut microbiota persists after microbiota colonization and attenuates the response to chemically-induced colitis in gnotobiotic mice, Gut Microbes, 9:2, 115-130, DOI: 10.1080/19490976.2017.1372077

 

Armstrong LE, Lee EC, Armstrong EM. Interactions of Gut Microbiota, Endotoxemia, Immune Function, and Diet in Exertional Heatstroke. Journal of Sports Medicine. 2018;2018:5724575. doi:10.1155/2018/5724575.

 

Barton, Wiley & Penney, Nicholas & Cronin, Owen & Garcia-Perez, Isabel & G Molloy, Michael & Holmes, Elaine & Shanahan, Fergus & Cotter, Paul & O'Sullivan, Orla. (2017). The microbiome of professional athletes differs from that of more sedentary subjects in composition and particularly at the functional metabolic level. Gut. 67. 10.1136/gutjnl-2016-313627.

 

Barton, W. et al. The microbiome of professional athletes differs from that of more sedentary subjects in composition and particularly at the functional metabolic level. Gut, doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2016-313627 (2017).

Bilski J, Brzozowski B, Mazur-Bialy A, Sliwowski Z, Brzozowski T. The Role of Physical Exercise in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. BioMed Research International. 2014;2014:429031. doi:10.1155/2014/429031.

Bressa C, Bailén-Andrino M, Pérez-Santiago J, González-Soltero R, Pérez M, et al. (2017) Differences in gut microbiota profile between women with active lifestyle and sedentary women. PLOS ONE 12(2): e0171352. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171352

 

Clark A, Mach N. Exercise-induced stress behavior, gut-microbiota-brain axis and diet: a systematic review for athletes. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2016;13:43. doi:10.1186/s12970-016-0155-6.

Cronin O, O'Sullivan O, Barton W, et al Gut microbiota: implications for sports and exercise medicine Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 11 January 2017. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097225

Harvard Health Letter, Inflammation: A unifying theory of disease. April, 2006. (Link

Núria Mach, Dolors Fuster-Botella, Endurance exercise and gut microbiota: A review, Journal of Sport and Health Science,Volume 6, Issue 2,2017,

Zhu X, Han Y, Du J, Liu R, Jin K, Yi W. Microbiota-gut-brain axis and the central nervous system. Oncotarget. 2017;8(32):53829-53838. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.17754.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About that extra weight....

The majority of folks that I talk to these days believe they are carrying some extra weight. 

They will often even tell you exactly how much "extra" weight they are holding and often even what weight they are supposed to be. 

But the interesting thing here is that while THEY might believe that they are holding onto "extra" weight and their doctor or society might be telling them the same thing, their body has no idea what they are talking about. 

You see the body doesn't grow your fat cells, store more fat or more efficiently extract nutrition from food for no good reason. 
It does it because it believes that it NEEDS to. 

The information that you are sending it on a daily basis via your nutrition practices, your sleep, your movement habits...THIS is how it's gets ideas about what you need with respect to fat. 

For the human body FAT is a resource. 

I know that in our culture it's demonized because, yes, high percentages of fat storage in the body can cause some health problems and make it more difficult to lose weight.
Fat cells produce cytokines-which create inflammation/stress in the body  and fat cells also release estrogenwhich in high levels signals to the metabolism-"SLOW DOWN!" 

But fat itself is an amazingly beautiful resource. 
It's your body's,"Break glass in case of emergency" life-saving way to quickly provide you with energy and fuel IF you need it! 


And if your biology is responding to your lifestyle in a manner that communicates to your metabolism, "Things are bad here, we need more emergency resources!!" then all the diets and stressful exercise programs in the world are probably NOT going to work for you. 

In fact if you are age 35 or older, then you REALLY can't look to conventional weight loss programs.

Why? Because your body is stressed.It's inflamed. It's hormones are imbalanced and most importantly, its gut is not populated with the microbes that you need toONLY extract the calories that you NEED from food, the microbes that fight off organisms that make you crave sugar and lack energy,the bugs that help your body create dopamine and serotoninso that you feel GOOD!


Under-eating, cutting carbs, and stressing your body with long periods of exercise just ain't gonna cut it, because these strategies DON'T address the root issue. 

These approaches don't tell your body, "Hey-things are cool here, you can chill out and stop clinging to those fat cells like it's the end of the world."

So what DO YOU DO to alleviate the body's stress and help to balance it's hormones, metabolism and gut to get it to reduce holding onto unnecessary fat stores? 

Well I'll tell you!

 

  • Sleep
  • Move
  • Manage stress-not just emotional stress, PHYSICAL stress (we talk about this in the program!)
  • Heal the gut
  • Cut out toxic hormone-mimicking substances

If you do all of these things in an efficient manner that jives with your lifestyle, then your body is going to chill out. 
It's going to become more balanced and less stressed. 
It's going to let go of the "resources" it no longer needs. 


These are the strategies that I have used with over 100 women to help them feel more vibrant and confident in their bodies!
These are the strategies that I use in my own life to help keep my body balanced and minimally stressed!

And these are the strategies I will be introducing to you via my Get Up And Go With Your Gut Program!!!! 


Registration closes tomorrow, June 17th,but IONLY have a few spots left, so grab yours NOW!!! We start Monday, June 18th!!

Click the image below to learn more about this 4 week program to nourish your gut, alleviate digestion and consequently leave your body feeling more balanced and less stressed!!!

Poor Potty Habits for the Pelvic Floor

Preemptively peeing. This is a poor habit because it trains the body to need to go more often. I know it starts out with just you being anxious that you’re not going to have access to a bathroom and God-forbid have to pee in public, which by the way I think is why women were long skirts for so damn long in history. I mean how much easier is it to relieve yourself without a bathroom if you’re donning a long privacy curtain,  but I digress….

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Digestive distress when traveling??!! Check out my strategies here!

The reason why these tips work so well to keep me feeling good and vibrant when I travel is because they are imitating the pattern of my real life at home!
This is how I live to maintain good gut health and feel vibrant and mostly good in my body!

At home to care for my gut I move often! I mostly eat foods that feel good, don’t create a lot of inflammation or irritate my gut, these are my staples!
I routinely take probiotics and magnesium and I get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. 

Read More

Let's talk hard style breath for postpartum women and folks with prolapse and pelvic floor dysfunction

When working with my postnatal and pelvic floor rehabilitation clients that have been diagnosed with an inactive pelvic floor or pelvic organ prolapse, we spend A LOT of time both inside and out of the gym re-learning to breath. 

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Discover your Primal Pelvic Floor, Part 2!

In the same way that your minimal shoes are helping you to resurrect the muscles in your feet, and your primal diet is restoring your gut and brain function, these three steps to discovering your primal pelvic floor are (Plus my DPPF Program) are going to get your pelvic floor back online, more akin to the pelvic floors of our ancestors and, give you an overall better quality of life.

Read More

How to discover your Primal Pelvic Floor!!!

Search for archived blog posts!

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In flight to Paleo f(x) in Austin, watching Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. 
Did I tell you guys that I met Sam Rockwell last year in the Atlanta airport on my way home from RKC?

Gosh, could that dude be any cooler!

I didn't know he was making this movie, but I wish to God that I had, because I would have pumped him for as much info as I could. 
My hubs and I are big Martin McDonough fans and loved In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths.


Anyways, watching a film in peace is NOT something that happens to me often. 
The turbulence of the plane's got NOTHING on three boys under 8...so my brain was EASILY able to watch the movie and think about my time in Austin. 

I'm sitting there thinking about the Paleo f(x) presentations I want to catch, the new food products I'm going to try, the people I’m looking forward to visiting  and suddenly realizing there needs to be more talk at this conference about the primal pelvic floor

In the Paleo world, you hear about primal foods, primal movement, primal cooking, foraging, love-making…but what about the primal pelvic floor

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Ok, so maybe nobody really cares about that right now, but hopefully by the end of this article, YOU will care and you will want to embark on a hunt to discover yours. 

Why?
Because a healthy pelvis is going to help you move better, experience less pain, have less anxiety about leakage or bathroom habits or even sexual performance. 

It’s going to make you stronger, fitter, and more confident

 

Really, WHO WOULDN’T WANT A PRIMAL PELVIC FLOOR?

So let's do this!

To kick it off, let’s define the word “primal” , because to so many of us it’s synonymous with “cave-man”, “wild”, ‘animal-like” or “paleo”, but the word “primal” ACTUALLY means essential; fundamental.

If something is primal then it’s necessary, of central importance. 

Well if that doesn’t describe the pelvic floor, then I don’t know what does?!

 

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The pelvic floor (PF) is a group of muscles, ligaments and fascia that form this basket of support at the bottom of your trunk/core. It provides structural integrity to the body.

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If you think of the body as a canister that contains most of your essential organs with appendages and a head attached, the pelvic floor is the bottom of that canister, the foundation of your body. (What about the feet? Well if you know anything about structural design, and I know VERY little, in this analogy the feet would be the “footers”. Appropriate, right?).

 

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We all know what happens when the foundation of ANYTHING is compromised….it caves, implodes, loses structural integrity, quality, longevity, value, strength and function. 

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One of the most fundamental requirements for a strong, optimally functioning body is a healthy base, therefore a healthy pelvic floor is by definition, primal. 

 

But how do we get one, or maybe the question is really, why don’t we all have one already?

In a word, modernity.

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To get an optimally conditioned pelvic floor, we have to fight back against modern (no-) movement culture and sedentary tendencies. 

We have to resist the urge to solely think of the body in terms of “fat” or “lean”, “healthy” or “unhealthy” and adopt a systems-thinking approach that allows us to see the body and all it’s parts as systems that need to be functioning fairly well AND most importantly, as a team. 

Because pelvic floor problems are becoming more of a problem for all people and it’s a problem of systems that don’t coordinate well and these out of sync systems compromise the quality of the larger system, the body. 

 

We see 74% of moms of all ages experiencing some degree of pelvic floor dysfunction (leakage, pelvic/hip/low back/ pain, pain during intercourse, chronic constipation, and pelvic organ prolapse), BUT we also see non-parous women and men struggling with pelvic floor issues as well. 

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And EVEN if they aren’t displaying symptoms of dysfunction YET, all you have to do is sit in an airport for an hour and watch people’s pelvis (like a creep) and you can see that we have a MAJOR problem on our hands. 

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Manchester-Bedford Musculoskeletal

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People are living their lives postures that is weakening their entire body, including the pelvic floor and THIS is causing them chronic pain and setting so many on the path to surgery. 

 

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Many of these folks with tilted pelvises, flared ribs, compromised shoulder joints, compressed spines, jacked up hips, bad knees and tight hamstrings are trying to or wanting to hit the gym and get healthy, not realizing that building muscle and adding load to these structurally unsafe bodies is akin to trying to add another floor to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

Not. Kablamo. 

 

And so naturally they quit exercise and movement (if they can ever even start in the first place) and life a life of inactivity.

They start saying things like, “I have a bad back.”I can’t lift heavy things” and “I need to do more yoga.”

Their lack of movement increases their body’s stress and negatively impacts mood and health.

They gain weight.

Why?

Because their body isn’t working in the way that it should, in the way that it used to before sitting and lack of movement taught their body poor movement patterns.

Because their pelvis is in poor condition. 

Because they don’t have a Primal Pelvic Floor!!!


Ok so just to summarize what we’ve covered thus far. 

  1. A well-positioned pelvis makes for a functioning pelvic floor is, which is essential for a healthy body
  2. A chronically tilted pelvis is going to negatively impact movement and quality of life, and will eventually cause injury. 
  3. Modern sedentary culture has us unfamiliar with movement and therefore in bad alignment that leads muscle imbalances and a life of chronic pain

So what to do?? How do we discover our primal pelvises and pelvic floors?

We can begin to do so in three easy steps!

***Just a quick disclaimer here that IF you already have pelvic floor dysfunction, you are probably going to need more individualized programming and cues than what is listed here. 

This list is for people that have little to-no pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms, currently.

Step 1. Retrain the breath.  

As you can see in the photo above, the core of the body is a canister with the top being the diaphragm and the bottom the pelvic floor. 

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When you inhale, the diaphragm lowers, the rib cage expands and the pelvic floor RELAXES downward.  When you exhale, the diaphragm rises, the rib cages deflates and the pelvic floor contracts (lifts). 

 

It’s a subtle sensation, but for many of us, we don’t even know that our breath, core and pelvic floor should all coordinate, much less HOW TO DO IT! 

How did we get here? That’s a whole other long story, but lack of regular movement or too much strictly cardio (heavy breathing) and belly sucking (you know, when you suck in your tummy to make it look less squishy) can train us to be shallow chest-breathers that never get a full breath and therefore never active our pelvic floors. 

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These habits can cause some people to adopt a reverse pattern where they inhale and tighten their pelvic floor OR the position of the pelvis causes the pelvic floor to remain chronically tight no matter the breath. If you have tailbone, hip pain, trouble eliminating waste, pain during sex, premature ejaculation, or pelvic pain in general, then this might be yoU!

********Your homework!!
Begin to notice your own breathing pattern and start to practice deeper inhales and exhales WITH pelvic floor coordination. 


See if you can feel it? 

Here is a video to guide you!

Practice head on over to Part 2!!!

 

 

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Sarah Smith is a trainer, and postnatal fitness specialist and pelvic floor and gut health advocate based in Raleigh, North Carolina. 
She specializes in helping women online and in-person feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!
Her specialties include kettlebellsgut and pelvic floor health optimization , mobility and movement and making fitness fun! 
She's also a mom to three boys and one English Bulldog. 
Check her out on social media here or get on her email list!! for more free content!
 

My take on the "no excuses" movement.

Having an interesting discussion in my DM’s this morning with a company that used one woman’s alleged (I say alleged because it’s an ad and we don’t actually know what this individual’s life or body is really like) fitness and training practice during pregnancy as precedent for “no excuses” NOT to train and track nutrition. 

I confronted the company for this message and they maintain that their intention is only to encourage others to not use pregnancy as an excuse to NOT pursue their personal goals.
We had a respectful discourse. 
 

Where I shared my concerns with the messaging. 

They also mentioned that their “on-staff” MD approved this message. 

Ummmmm. What?

First of all, you don’t encourage others to care for their bodies in the way that THEIR bodies require care by setting one individual as the standard for that that looks like. 

I spent my third pregnancy being affected by every image I saw and idea I had created about how fit and pregnant women needed to be. I believed all the messaging that told me that pregnant women are no different than non-pregnant women, they just have a baby in tow and therefore have to be a little stronger. 

I spent my third postpartum experience believing that birth was a minor thing and I needed to get right back to my fitness regimen, “get my body back, ASAP” to feel normal and regain my identify as a “fit mom”.

Where did I get these ideas? I will FULLY admit that a lot of them came from my own pride and need to look and feel a certain way. I didn’t want to lose my strength or ability. I didn’t want to lose individual self in the sea of babies and motherhood, again. 

But this was also the first pregnancy in which I was working in the fitness world. This was the first time I was bombarded by women working their asses off through pregnancy, looking exactly the same way they did pre-pregnancy, except plus a cute bump. And that was shaping my ideas and expectations about MY OWN physique in pregnancy. 

And you know what? I pushed too hard and hurt myself. I hurt my gut, I hurt my pelvic floor and core, I hurt my mind and mood. 

So when I saw this ad last night I thought, “OH HECK NO.” and I confronted them and when they wrote back justifying their post I confronted them again with more information and my strong experienced opinion. 

Because I have women come into my gym every week that need to be reminded that training when pregnant or postpartum has to look different, HECK training even when you’re not pregnant should really look different than what is often most popular if you’re interested in longevity and sustainable results, I get fired up! I encourage my clients to look at what THEY can do TODAY and not to what someone else MIGHT be doing, ESPECIALLY not Fitspo or fitness advertisements for products! 

Because I have rehabbed my own body that was injured by this messaging and the associated pressure that comes with it. Because I help other women rehab their body because they heard messages that told them, “Be like this,” When what they needed was “Look for these signs that your body isn’t responding well,” or “Be aware of these risks____________.”

Because I HATE the idea that women feel like failures in fitness because they don’t look like a stranger that is being set as one of the many standards of what we should all look like. 

 

 

 

My messages with Trifecta:

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Why you don't want to use another person as the standard for what YOU should be

"After all that, I'm just ready to be me." -Lauryn Hill

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I'm work fitness. 
I help women stretch beyond their comfort zones and grow. 
I help them find time in their days and space in their lives to care for their bodies with movement and training. 
I help them crush goals, change how they feel in their bodies and even change aspects of their physique. 

I do NOT tell them that they have to be like me. 
I do NOT encourage them to look to Pinterest boards and fitness models as inspiration for whom they should become. 

I have an online presence that features me working out, sharing my accomplishments, challenging others to do more in their lives. 
I follow other women that are crushing online. 
I look to them and their accomplishments with admiration. 
I use them to challenge me. 

I work HARD to make sure that I refrain from EMULATING them or believing that I have to do exactly what they are doing to be successful, to be happy. 
 



You see, I am 100% in opposition of is the idea that we should EVER make another individual human being the standard for what WE SHOULD BE. 



I spent from age 13 to 19 suffering chronic whiplash from always looking around at what EVERYONE else was doing and using that as a measure of what I needed to be. 

Consequently I had NO direction. 
I felt like a failure and a fraud. 
I pretty much hated my life. 


At 19 years old I had two amazing faculty members at the University of New Hampshire, that changed my life. 
They saw me. 
They saw my talents and my potential for the successful achievement of goals. 
They believed in me. 
They weren't confused about who I was. 
They weren't comparing me to anyone else. 
They weren't telling me to become something else. 
They simply let me know that I was capable and that I could cultivate a life for myself beyond what I was doing now. 
I could do better. 

And never in a "you don't measure up" sort of manner, but in a, "I see you. You got this," sort of way. 

And suddenly I wanted to change EVERYTHING. 
I wanted to invest in myself. 
I wanted to expand my comfort zone and pursue all the things that I wanted out of life. 

I saw fellow students buckling down and succeeding in school and I went after MY OWN version of that. 

I saw my friends enjoying their hobbies and academic pursuits and I wanted to figure out how to do that for myself too!

I took a hard look at the habits, relationships and activities in my life that WERE NOT working and I changed them. 

I took another job. 
I moved. 
I studied like I had NEVER studied before. 
I set goals. 
I wrote them down. 
I changed who I spent time with. 
I found new tasks and activities that actually nourished me. 

My life suddenly looked like no one else's around me and you know what. 
It was good. 

 

And so now, you know, I understand that it was because I was measuring myself or trying to compare myself to a standard that wasn’t reality. It wasn’t the standard at all, you know. There’s a scripture in the Bible that we, what does it say, it says ‘We compare ourselves amongst ourselves’ you know. That’s not the standard. You already are the standard. What are you trying to fit into a standard for? We were each created to be individual standards, you know. And we’re trying to fit into a standard? It doesn’t make any sense, you know....After all that, I’m just ready to be me.
— Lauryn Hill, Unplugged
  Click the image to listen to and read these lyrics about why we shouldn't compare ourselves to others!!

Click the image to listen to and read these lyrics about why we shouldn't compare ourselves to others!!



Of course this took place over a couple of years and while I learned this incredibly important lesson early in life, I have had to re-learn it and grow it and build upon it time and time again. 
BUT the foundation that nineteen year old Sarah Smith laid has FOREVER impacted my life and helped me to stop chasing everyone else and invest in my own life. 


And this is why I feel so passionately about speaking out against the MANY messages in fitness, social media and popular culture that tell you, 
"Be this_______[insert snapshot of popular, fit, successful person]."

Especially for pre and postnatal women, women struggling with their body image, confidence, self respect and a sense of place in this world. 
Because when we are in theses states we are vulnerable. 
We can be more susceptible to harmful messaging. 
We can do ourselves harm chasing standards set for us by the culture EVEN when we don't know that we are doing it. 


That nineteen year old young woman that was affected by what everyone else around her was doing, she came out again during my third pregnancy and postpartum period. 


I found myself being affected by what fitness culture was telling me pregnant and early postpartum women should be doing, looking like, be capable of. 

I didn't even know that I was doing it!

I was working my ass off. 
Training, lifting, chasing kiddos, not always eating enough, exhausted, a little fried...

Why?
Because I thought that's what you did. 

And then I injured my body. 


The good thing about my injury is that it taught me that I could no longer copy what anyone else was doing. 

NO one readily accessible to me rehabbing pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasis recti, pelvic organ prolapse AND training with kettlebells. 

I had to look to my own body. 
I had to pay attention to my own life. 
I had to work around my own restrictions and capitalize on my own strength.  
Once again I had to stop using what others were doing as my meter stick for success and fitness. 

And it was good!
I now am SUPER outspoken about the fact that pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse and other injuries shouldn't stop you from living your life and crushing your goals. 

But I the way that I train and the messages that I share are always based on the idea that we need to learn what works for us as individuals. 
We need to challenge ourselves to grow. 
But trying to keep up with other people and do exactly what they are doing is both an empty, dangerous and unsatisfying pursuit. 

At the end of the day, we are 100% responsible for shifting our focus and our mindset from looking to other people to learn "What we should be."

But I also know how impactful it was to have two very successful intelligent people in my life say, "I see you. You can do more. Dig in and grow. "

And so that's what I do with my coaching and my online community. 

I see you. 
You can do it!
It doesn't have to look like what anyone else is doing to be good, valuable...to be a success. 


 

You asked questions about the pelvic floor and pelvic organ prolapse and I answered!

I 100% DO NOT believe in rules and formulas when it comes to working with the pelvic floor. 
There are some very helpful guidelines and effective strategies for dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction and related injuries, but I will tell you that EVERY CLIENT I SEE IN-PERSON OR ONLINE presents with pelvic floor issues slightly differently and therefore we tailor their programming to their unique problems. 

Read More

When it comes to fitness, vagina and vulva health matters and yes we can talk about it!

I first began to work with female athletes in 2004, they were high school track athletes. 

Two days into the job, I realized how much our fitness and athletic performance is tied to our unique female anatomy and how being one of the only female coaches was going to mean I better have some tampons and pads handy 24/7.

Read More

For the moms and future moms: Pregnancy, fitness, fat-loss and training for motherhood

We have told women that being and looking "fit" during pregnancy is of utmost importance. 
We shame women that gain "too much" weight (whatever that means) and or don't exercise during pregnancy.
We revere women that remain relatively thin and active during pregnancy.
So today I feel that it's important for me as a mom, as a woman and as a trainer to make 3 very important points about the journey into motherhood and I'll tell you a bit about how I came to form these opinions.
 

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I feel like there is this lingering understanding or assumption that when a mom has a baby, the first 6 to 12 weeks will be hard, but then after that you'll be doing what you used to do, working on getting your "body" back and then now you'll just have a cute little baby in tow.

My feeling is that becoming a mother doesn't mean that you are no longer an autonomous individual, but it does mean that your life and your body will never be the same as it was before the baby. 

Ever. 

Let's start with bodies.

You will never have the same body that you did before you had a baby.

It's impossible. 
There are physiological changes to your pelvic floor, your cervix, your abdominal cavity, your breasts and your vagina that occur as a result of growing and birthing a human, yes, even if you had a C-section. 

You have a new and different body that resembles the old one, but almost comes with an entirely new user manual. 

It's needs and function will be different. 
You're going to want to give it time to process, time to heal, time to be restored...
You'll need to reacquaint yourself with movement and alignment AND you'll be doing all this while holding often holding a baby. 
 

This does not mean that you can't feel strong, confident, capable and joyful in your postpartum body, but it does mean that it will be different.

And if you're looking at your friend that appears to have NOT gained baby weight and thinking, "Gosh, she's back to what she was pre-baby," trust me.

She's not.

Maybe her body's changes aren't easily detected, but every woman that has had a baby has experienced a MAJOR metamorphosis of their life and physical being. 

Scars, prolapse, pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasic recti, mental and emotional conditions, hormonal imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, and weight-gain are ALL souvenirs from the amazingly challenging battle that is pregnancy and birth. 

YOU DID IT!
YOU SURVIVED YOUR OWN UNIQUE BIRTH EXPERIENCE!
AND NOW YOU HAVE THE BODY PROVE IT AND THAT'S OK!

Actually, it's more than ok, it's wonderful!
Don't let our culture steal your joy when it pits you against other women. 
Heck, don't do it to yourself either!
No other woman is the standard of what you should be or should be doing. 

It's totally ok to want to be healthful and feel at home and comfortable in your body, but you have to be vigilant about the messages that you all yourself to take in from TV, magazines, social media...

Your journey will not look like anyone else's.
Your needs are different.
Your birth souvenirs are different. 
Your babies' needs will be different as will the demands of your unique life. 



We've taken thin and fit women who seem to either barely gain weight in pregnancy or easily lose pregnancy weight and made them the model of health.

We've put them on a pedestal to sell products and programs without conceding that, well yes, maybe they aren't holding on to their baby weight in the same way that torahs are, but they could be struggling in other areas. 

We use reductionist thinking and focus on this one variable, weight, without talking about the MANY moving parts that make a woman healthy and happy in her new life as mother, because even if a woman appears to "get her body back" in the first year postpartum, there are myriad other issues that might not be addressed. 
Issues that can cause physical and emotional pain further down the line....

Is she supported? Is she sleeping? Does she feel isolated? Is she secretly ashamed of bowel dysfunction or incontinence? Does her back hurt constantly? Is she anxious and or depressed? Is she nutrient-deficient? Is she struggling to find ways to enjoy herself? Is her baby particularly challenging right now?


So let's stop making the prenatal time about being fit while pregnant. 
And let's also let go of this bizarre need to have women bounce back to their former bodies and lives. 

New moms are busy.
They have a lot on their plates and they don't need to feel like their value and their health are tied to how productive they are or what size they are.





 

So what's the deal with pubic hair removal????

Well, pubic hair is basically like eyebrows and eyelashes for your vagina. 
Like the eye, the vaginal canal is a sensitive part of the body open to the outside world!
It is susceptible to invasion and infection by bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoans. 
As a moist environment with mucosa-lined membranes, it can provide the exact niche preferred by some of these foreign invaders. 

The coarseness and shape of the hair makes it easier to trap foreign particles like dust, pollen, pathogenic bacteria....


So if you're like me, you might be thinking, "Ok, but is that still necessary in the modern era? How likely is it that foreign particles are going to get into my Lululemon leggings that I can barely get into myself?"

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