A fun-boring vacation and what you should know about TVA muscles

by Kim on July 18, 2014

I’m officially a free woman! Yesterday was my last day at my marketing job.

It ended up being a really fun day—we had a company kickball game and potluck over lunch!—and I surprised myself by almost crying when my boss hugged me goodbye. (Hormones??)

The change doesn’t feel real yet, and it probably won’t until at least next week. Hubby and I are heading out of town this weekend for a long weekend vacay (kid-free!) in Door County (the little “thumb” of Wisconsin that juts out into Lake Michigan). It’s a quaint little lakefront area with cute towns, lots of nature, and LOTS of good food.


The last time we were up there, we were celebrating our 1-year anniversary—crazy that we’re now coming up on our 5th!


We’re looking forward to lots of relaxation, eating, and general bumming around. (We called our last trip “the most fun-boring vacation ever,” which is a perfect description and exactly what I’m in the mood for right now.)

Case in point: one of the highlights of our trip was completing this exercise course at a state park, haha.


It’ll be a little different this time with a 35-week-preggo belly along—but, luckily, the main focus is still eating, and I’m still pretty good at that.

So I have about a million and a half things to do today to get ready for the trip, and to catch up on all the things I’ve been putting off for this exact day. Good thing I woke up at 5:30 this morning, despite my 7 AM alarm. (???)

Basically, my first day off is going to be totally eaten up by laundry, housecleaning, groceries, food prep, packing, and running errands. Oh well—at least I’m not strapped to a desk chair!

Mason will be spending the weekend with my mom, who’s coming into town tonight. I know he’ll do fine, but I hope I can handle being away from him for two whole nights!

In other news, last night was class #3 of the Prenatal Fit Club.


(That’s the studio I’ve been renting for our indoor classes. It’s a huge space, and we get it all to ourselves!)

We did a boot camp style workout with 4 stations, and I was totally pumped about it. Seriously—I was completely in my element, introducing the stations and running the girls through the exercises like a giddy 5-year-old. I’m 100% sure everyone thought I was losing it. But it was just so fun to do something different, and to be able to incorporate a lot of equipment I don’t normally use.

Here was the workout we did:


I used a tabata interval timer on my phone to time out 20 seconds of work with 10 second breaks. We did 3 rounds of each exercise before moving to the next station, and cycled through all the #1’s before moving to the #2’s, then #3’s.

Whew! Yeah. My body is definitely still talking about it today.

After the workout, we went through some breathing exercises and talked about the TVA (transverse abdominis) muscles (SUPER important for pregnancy, but tricky to target).

Here are 3 things to know about the TVAs:

–A huge chunk of the population (including 9/10 pregnant women) have dysfunctional TVAs, mostly due to sedentary lifestyles, hard surfaces, external supports (leaning back in chairs, elbows on tables), inflammation from poor nutrition, and stress. This means that when the body calls on the TVA to stabilize the core, it doesn’t know what to do, and the body is forced to compensate with other muscles that weren’t designed to do the TVAs’ job.

–Proper TVA function is blocked by something called the valsalva maneuver, which is when we automatically hold our breath during movements the body perceives as stressful (could be lifting something heavy, or something as simple as bending over to tie shoes). Really, weight-lifters are the only ones who should be using this, and then only when doing high weight/low rep sets. The rest of us should always be breathing!

–To train the TVA with breathing exercises, you can take a deep breath (filling the belly with air, not the chest) and then release it with 3 piston exhales (short, quick, mouth-open exhales), pushing the air out by squeezing your deep lower side (TVA) muscles. If you put your hands on your lower sides, you should feel tension there during the exhales. If you do this enough, with the right form, you can actually get that muscle burn-out feeling, deep in your core!

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The last 5-10 minutes of class, we just chatted about birth and baby stuff—two of the girls aren’t finding out what they’re having and I just don’t know how they do it. I’d be going crazy by now!

One girl said that she was told the information was in her file if she ever wanted to know—there’s no WAY I’d be able to resist!

What are you up to this weekend?

Ever been on a fun-boring vacation?

What’s your favorite piece of gym equipment?

I’ve been all about stability balls ever since my CPT training—they really drill that balance stuff into you!

Have a great weekend!



{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Presley @ Run Pretty July 20, 2014 at 8:41 pm

So glad you’re getting a trip in before your world turns upside down again! ;) Totally kidding. Well, not about the trip… that’s awesome!

You’re staying home the same month I’m going back to work. YUCK. haha, I’ll live through you!
Presley @ Run Pretty recently posted…Allergy Face: The Struggle Is RealMy Profile


Kim July 23, 2014 at 7:07 am

Don’t worry, I’ll be craving working mom life again in about 14 seconds. :) You totally have the best arrangement humanly possible!


Jessica @ Prayers and Apples July 20, 2014 at 8:06 am

The more I read your posts, the more I can’t wait to be pregnant so I can pick your brain and re-read all your articles for awesome workouts!! lol (Unfortunately, we’re still in the ‘try to find a man’ part of the process lol) I did tell one of my best friends (who’s about 4 months along) to check out the blog though, so hopefully she’ll be stopping by soon :) Have a great vk! :)
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Kim July 23, 2014 at 7:08 am

Aw thanks Jessica!

Hope that guy shows up soon!!! :)


Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries July 18, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Oh I just LOVE Door County!!! We go up there every other 4th of July for a family reunion on my dad’s side of the family. It’s always one of my favorite trips. Eat ALL the cherries and cherry everything for me!

Way to rock your class! Sounds like a fun one! xo
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Danielle July 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Enjoy your weekend away! What a nice way to relax a little before baby arrives! I’m sure Mason will love having some time being spoiled by grandma. The girls spent a weekend with my parents this spring, and while E and I didn’t go anywhere, it was fun to check out some new to us local spots without having to worry about the kids.
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Keischa March 6, 2015 at 2:03 am

I feel so much happier now I unesadtrnd all this. Thanks!


Kristin @ A Mom on the Run July 18, 2014 at 11:19 am

Enjoy your weekend away! I’d love to get away for a weekend just to be able to sleep in! :)
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Giselle July 18, 2014 at 9:59 am

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!!!!


Katie @ running4cupcakes July 18, 2014 at 9:41 am

Oh my – so fun!! Have fun in Door County – that will be so perfect for you guys right now!! We are headed to the Lake (in WI) – with friends for the next week. Sooooo looking forward to relaxing on the boat!
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Kim July 23, 2014 at 7:09 am

Yes! Keep taking those boating pics so I can drool over them! :)


Ashley Pitt @ A Lady Goes West July 18, 2014 at 9:00 am

I love your talk of breathing and the TVA. I’m a personal trainer and at the beginning of every session I do, I take my clients through a “core activation,” which always involves deep diaphragm breathing to activate the TVA as well as a bracing move, so they know the feeling when it comes time to use it on the weight-room floor. Great topic!
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Kim July 23, 2014 at 7:09 am

That’s awesome that you do that!


Katie July 18, 2014 at 9:00 am

Look at all those beautiful bosu balls!!! I have my own, but our studio doesn’t, its on the dream day wish list!
Katie recently posted…Tri for a Cause Race PlanMy Profile


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