First things first: the winner of the Pure Via Summer Fit Kit giveaway is posted! Is it you??
Next important topic of the day: I’m wearing a white T-shirt to work today. And I’m nervous.
When you’re pregnant, something you spill that might otherwise go to the floor in front of you (or your lap if you’re sitting down) is going straight to The Belly Shelf.
I’m being ultra careful right now, but I can’t promise the same thing for 2 PM. Anyone want to place bets on how long this shirt will survive?
I’m also wearing a super-long maxi skirt (like one of those floor-grazers), which means I’ll be doing this all day:
It also means that the chances of me falling on my face sometime today WHILE wearing a stained white T-shirt are pretty high.
In other news: tomorrow is class #2 of my prenatal fitness club! It’s also the first class that will be happening outside at a park, so fingers crossed for good weather!
I’m really excited for class, but also a little nervous about the workout I have planned. It’s almost entirely bodyweight exercises–meaning lots of squats and combo moves and plank work–and I just hope it’s not too hard! Obviously I’ll have tons of modifications, but I certainly don’t want any preggos overdoing things. (Last week, I was worried that I’d forget to offer modifications along the way, but I was actually surprised at how easily and often they came to mind.)
We also have a few new members this week (woohoo!), which is of course awesome, but I’ll have to work a little harder to monitor how everyone’s doing and adjust accordingly.
Along with the workout, our discussion topic of the week is going to be breathing.
A couple years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at the idea. Yeah yeah, breathing is important, yadda yadda, we get it.
But the more I learn about how much proper breathing really impacts our bodies, the more evangelistic I feel about the whole thing. Obviously, breathing is the most important thing our bodies do for us, and they’re willing to sacrifice anything to make sure we get oxygen.
If that means using different muscles to breathe because the right ones are restricted by stress and poor breathing habits, so be it. And if using those different muscles leads to shortness of breath and heart palpitations (due to shallow breathing), so be it. And if those poor overworked secondary muscles eventually leave us with chronic neck and back pain (neck tension is almost always a sign of poor breathing mechanics), well, too bad for us. The air has to get in, priority numero uno.
A few years ago, I was in a job I didn’t love and totally stressed out (although I didn’t realize it at the time). I constantly felt like I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs (I was always having that scary drowning feeling), and started having heart palpitations, to the point where I actually went to the doctor to make sure I didn’t have a heart problem (they run in my family).
The doctor put me on a heart monitor, which required me to go to the cardiac center downtown. I was the only person there under the age of 60, and the technician said he’d never put anyone my age on a heart monitor before.
Oh the joy!
My heart checked out fine, and since I was thinking about getting pregnant at the time, the doctor didn’t want to put me on anxiety meds. So I ended up leaving without answers or solutions.
Only years later am I able to see what my real problems were: stress and chest-breathing.
When you take a deep breath, what do you notice moving the most? Does your chest rise, or does your stomach go out? (Some people even do reverse breathing, where they suck in their stomachs while breathing in. Not good!)
The healthy way to breathe is with your diaphragm, deep in your belly. When you breath in, you should see your stomach go forward and your sides expand a little. Your chest should be the last thing to move, if it moves at all.
Stress shuts down this process. When your body senses stress, it goes into fight-or-flight mode and switches to shallow chest-breathing–which is the same thing it would do if you suddenly started sprinting.
Your body doesn’t know the difference between you worrying about a work deadline, working out super hard, or running from a tiger–it’s all stress, and your body only knows one way to deal with it.
The problem is that when the body’s in fight-or-flight mode, it puts other bodily processes on the back burner until you’ve outrun the tiger and you’re back in a safe place. Some things that get put on hold are:
–Nutrient and waste exchange
–pH regulation, which affects hormonal balance
–biochemical regulation, which affects mental/emotional stability
So…all bad stuff, right?
If you’re trying to lose weight, your hormones need to be balanced first. And with too much stress in the picture, that’s not going to happen.
If you’re wondering why you’re getting sick so often or easily, could it be stress?
As for toxin removal, everyone loves talking about cleanses and sweating and liver support, but actually, the body is designed to discharge 70% of its toxins through breathing alone. (Per Gay Hendricks, PhD, Conscious Breathing.) A little bit of sweat at a hot yoga class is a drop in the bucket compared to what proper breathing could do to help us detoxify.
But breathing just isn’t that sexy is it? Because it’s harder to fix than just drinking a green juice here and there.
Luckily: if we can train our bodies to breathe properly, the benefits are practically immediate. You can get your body to switch from sympathetic (fight-or-flight) mode back to parasympathetic (rest/growth/repair) mode with just a few minutes of deep diaphragmatic breathing.
Some people use meditation-style chants while breathing, like Leeet Goooo (Let on the inhale and Go on the exhale), but you could also try: The Tiger Is Goooooone…
Or maybe more accurately: The Tiger Is Still Here, But He’s in a Cage, So I’m Totally Saaaaaaafe…
(Haha. Yeah. Totally kidding about those.)
Anyway, I could talk about this for hours, but I’ll leave it at that for now. At tomorrow’s class, we’ll be doing some breathing practice and learning how to engage not just our diaphragms (for inhalation) but also our TVAs (transverse abs, for exhalation) in the breathing process.
I’ll be back to tell you more about that!
Have a great day!
Do you ever struggle with chest breathing?
How do you manage stress?