Stress and exercise + April abs

by Kim on April 3, 2014

This morning during my commute, I was listening to a Balanced Bites podcast episode featuring Jen Sinkler.


Jen is a trainer and the author of a conditioning program called Lift Weights Faster. (The name is based on her answer to the question “what do you do for cardio?” which was “I lift weights faster.” Haha.) She’s also married to an equally accomplished trainer that my husband happened to go to high school with–small world.

Anyway. Jen had some great points about lifting and nutrition–including the unique approach she and her hubby use for picking exercises for clients by testing the exercises.

She also taught me something I didn’t know: that although women need 2-3 strength sessions a week to make changes to their bodies, they can maintain their strength with just one heavy strength session every 10 days. AWESOME. I’ll remember that.

But what really spoke to me were her thoughts on stress and exercise.

According to Jen, the body can’t differentiate between kinds of stress. A really stressful day at work is just as hard on it as a really stressful workout. So if you have a high-stress lifestyle, you need to pair it with low-stress workouts. There has to be balance there (just like in every other aspect of life, right?).

The bottom line is that if you aren’t taking care of yourself outside of the gym, you haven’t earned the ability to push yourself inside it. Your body’s going to fight you, and beg for rest, while you’re beating yourself up and thinking “what’s wrong with me? I was on fire in here yesterday!”

…And possibly even more alarming: “I guess I need to push even harder.”

Yesterday’s workout has nothing to do with today’s. What is related, though, is how much sleep you got last night, and how peaceful it was. What you ate today. How stressed out you were.

One other thing Jen talked about: she said that her primary goal is to make sure her clients feel better after a workout than before. What an underrated goal. Have you ever gone into a workout tired and cranky, and come out of it tired and cranky? (I have.)

In other news, I pinned Gina’s Abs in April plank a day challenge yesterday and I’m totally on board.

abs in april

Who can’t spare a minute a day to get some plank action? Plus, planks are the golden child of ab workouts. Practically perfect in every way.

(Speaking of that phrase, did anyone else think Mary Poppins was a little too stuck-up to be perfect? Even as a kid, I wondered how no one in the movie noticed that.)

With pregnancy #1, I remember thinking it was a total waste of time to work my abs. It’s not like you’re going to be able to see anything.

So I didn’t bother.

What a mistake! I totally regret it now, and I have a completely different attitude this time around.

Not only is core work safe for pregnancy, but it’s hugely beneficial for reducing/preventing back pain and bouncing back postpartum.

Planks specifically work the transverse ab muscles, which do two important things for preggos: hold that baby up during pregnancy and help you get it out during labor. I’d say those are two activities worth supporting.

Do you balance life and workout stress?

Mary Poppins: superstar nanny or total B?

Who’s in for the plank challenge?

P.S. Yes, the blog design is still coming…it’s been a busy week. Tomorrow???



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex @ Alex Runs For Food April 5, 2014 at 2:31 am

Love this!!!! I listened to the podcast….. loved it…. wrote a post about it :) Thanks for sharing! I learned a lot!!


emma @ be mom strong April 3, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Love hearing stuff like this so thanks for sharing!

My friend’s doctor told her absolutely don’t do any ab exercises during pregnancy and I thought that was horrible! Doctors…


Kim April 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm

I loved Mary Poppins but I think it is because I love Julie Andrews so much!!!
I worked my abs up until the last trimester and then I had to quit.


Katie @ running4cupcakes April 3, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Ahhhhh I can’t stand the suspense!!


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