loosing pregnancy weight

In western culture, there is pressure and also a desire to lose pregnancy weight as fast as possible. It often seems that a woman is somehow more noble and has it all together if she can manage to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight in a month or so! Some women do and that’s good, but there are so many factors to consider such as nursing, hormones, metabolism, diet, exercise…etc. Whether delivery was a c-section or vaginal is also considered to be an important variable. I’m not suggesting that one should not try to lose the pregnancy weight-I just think we should be very patient and kind to ourselves, our bodies and our self-esteem-they have just been through A LOT! The fat gives us energy we need to breastfeed and care for our babies. We burn 500 calories a day in order to produce milk.

We see magazines with movie stars who’ve lost their weight in a miraculously short time period and hold that up as our standard. Let’s remember that most of them have personal trainers, nannies and a personal chef to cook their diet. Also, they are in an intensely competitive field and there livelihood depends a great deal on their image. So in a way they DO have that pressure to live up to.

Our bodies are our babies environment too even after birth. Imagine your baby holding on to you-which they love to do as often as possible! Doesn’t it seem to be the way nature intended that we should be soft and fleshy so our babies feel comfortable adjusting into this new environment/world? Try pinching your belly and lovingly consider it your “scoochieness” for them for a while!” My brother said something very kind to me at this stage when I was fretting about losing the weight. He said, “You have the rest of your life to lose the weight just enjoy this time with your baby.” His point really struck a true note for me. It is such a special, brief moment in our lives when they are so small and so dependent on us, so why waste a second condemning ourselves for not being thin!

I did walk regularly and used a Pilates videos almost every day when I felt up to it.  Sarah Picot’s video, Postnatal Pilates is excellent and only around 25 minutes long.  She promotes interaction with your baby as you are exercising.   I think I developed stronger “core” muscles than before I was pregnant. My arms and legs have gotten stronger from carrying my baby often. Muscle weighs more than fat so don’t trust the scale. Going by the way your clothes are fitting is a more accurate measure. Of course if you have a medical condition follow your doctor’s advice on weight management. Cardiovascular exercise is a key component to weight loss-try investing in a treadmill, elliptical machine or  a stationary bicycle for your home. Use them as a temporary alternative to the gym since it can be challenging to find the time to get back there!  You can also put on some favorite music and gently dance with your baby.

Remember, most people are focused on your baby now and if you are into baby wearing like I am, those carriers do wonders for hiding that post pregnancy ponch!  Furthermore, wearing your baby has many other physical and psychological benefits.  To read about all the “Attachment Parenting” Rewards (see Dr. Sears website). There are many different carriers available.  My husband and I use the Ergobaby and absolutely love it.

My point is to encourage women to not be so hard on themselves especially at a time when they deserve all the patience and compassion they are giving to their baby or babies. It is a healthy pattern to begin now to model for them a good sense of self-esteem. How we treat ourselves shows them how to treat themselves in the future. Try giving yourself the same compassion and you will probably not even notice the weight coming off. Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water. Weight Watchers is an amazing organization to help with sensible weight loss after pregnancy and can help set up great habits for your whole life as well as that of your children.

I am still about five pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight and I am gently conscious of it falling off.  Being a nursing mother of an eight month old and an active member of La Leche League, I know I need the extra cushion for energy to generate milk production. There is a saying that “it takes nine months to put on—it can take nine months to take off.” So I feel I’m on track. That saying really helped me be patient and realistic.

So, remember what a truly beautiful time this is and keep your focus on health and balance for you and your whole family. I heard the Dalai Llama speak once and he said “the better you take care of yourself, the better you will take care of others.” What a perfect quote for motherhood.

winter bluesWinter can become a very melancholic time for some.  The shorter days and cold weather tends to keep us inside more and out of the sunlight.  Being indoors too much can make us feel less active and our bodies can become lethargic.  The indoor air is not as oxygenated as the fresh outdoors which can also contribute to our feeling stagnant or down.  Of course we may need to stay inside more at times so it is good to let your home and office have some color stimulating and sense stimulating factors in it.  It is important to try to keep your spirits up and embrace the winter.

This is also true for those who live in warm weather climates such as Florida or California.  Post-holiday crash can contribute to a depressive feeling.  There have been cases of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in the summer though it is more rare.  We will be focusing more on mild cases of winter SAD.

Depression comes in many forms and on many differing levels.  This is not meant to treat or diagnose true depression.  Please contact a doctor or health-care professional for treatment of severe or even mild, chronic depression.  These are, however, preventative measures for mild winter blues.

1.   Force yourself to get outside and get some much needed sunlight and fresh air.  Fight the urge to stay in.  Get yourself some silk long johns-they really make a difference in enjoying the outdoors.  You may get out of the house for work or school but it is important to make a special effort for recreation as well to see some new stimulation and get out of a rut. Destinations such as a museum can be excellent if it is really cold.

2.  It is very important at any time of year to maintain a regular cardiovascular routine.  Cardio exercise is vitally important for your health on many levels, ranging from strengthening your heart and lungs to improving your digestion and your sleep.  With better circulation one can feel as though they have an inner furnace keeping them warmer than if they don’t exercise.  An increase in endorphins (the hormones released when you exercise) will lift your mood (check this article for great tips on the benefits of cardio exercises).  Wouldn’t you feel great at the end of the winter if you are slimmer and more in shape than when it began?

3. Using Aromatherapy can be very uplifting for your mood.  It can also have a clearing effect on negative feelings.  You can use it to trick yourself or your mind into enjoying scents of other seasons such as lavender or rose/geranium.  A simple soy-based candle can do the trick.

4. The use of full spectrum light bulbs is very popular in places where it is complete night for 6 months out of the year ( i.e  near the poles and within  the arctic circle)  These bulbs mimic actual sunlight in that they contain the full spectrum of light and not simply one color as many conventional bulbs.  They do tend to cost a bit more but they can outlast a regular bulb by several years!

5. By understanding and embracing this season one can relish in the quietness it can embody.  Remembering that wintertime is a time for the land to lay still and replenish itself for the spring,summer, and finally the harvest of the fall. It is a good time for us as well to regroup and find our stillness.  There is a natural slower rhythm to the winter maybe it is time to connect to that slower and more subtle energy.  Make time for the slower more mindful activities like reading writing and meditation.

6. Set some manageable and even enjoyable goals for the winter.  When we are focused on something and have positive intention toward that focus, it keeps our minds active and productive.  Some examples are as mentioned health related or books to read, projects completed etc.

7. Be sure to make time to visit with friends and socialize.  Winter is not a time to isolate yourself too much or for too long.  There’s nothing like friendships to brighten your spirits and to lighten one’s mood.

8. To donate time or money to someone else can help get you out of your own head!  Being active in caring and practicing effective empathy is an excellent way to create a positive results from your time.

Remember that your perception towards winter is  a state of mind.  How do we perceive the winter?  Cold, Dark, inactive.  In Chinese medicine this is a very yin time– a necessary time during which the earth rejuvenates itself.

Bolsters and pillows for joints comfort

Supporting your joints with the right pillows is more important than you might think.  With good support as you sleep or rest on the couch, you can help retrain your body to be in better alignment.  You can also reinforce any training you are doing throughout the week.  Bolstering means to support or to strengthen.  A pillow that is not correct for your head and neck alignment can cause pain and discomfort down the road.  It can also lead to headaches.  This is so simply avoided by taking the time to find the right fit for you.

Bolstering can really help relieve your knees, lower back,  hip, neck  and shoulder joints.  The correct  pillow between your legs/knees aligns your hip and keeps them from knocking together.  They also allow your bones, muscles and ligaments to decompress because they are able to let go and feel supported.

It is soothing and comforting to use pillows this way.  For example. many of us hyper-extend our knees.  In this case, it’s great  to place a pillow under them while laying in a face up position watching t.v. or using a  a laptop computer as it helps decompress your tendons, ligaments and muscles.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

The cylindrical-shaped pillows are great for both your neck and knees. However, make sure that the size is not too large since you don’t want your head to be pushed too far forward.

Tempur-Pedic memory foam pillows are designed to cradle your head and make space for your shoulders to keep you in good alignment as you sleep.  This way your shoulder does not creep  up into your ears while you are sleeping.  Experiment with different ones till you find the brand that works best for you.  Be aware that some of them are expensive but they can keep you in comfort for over three years.  Generic brands can work well, but tend to wear out faster.  Both cylindrical and Tempur-Pedic type pillows are available at local medical supply stores and on the Web.

For neck and shoulders, use Tempur-Pedic contour pillows (memory foam).  For lower back, use wedge-shaped pillows by placing them under the knees.  Cylindrical-shaped pillows are used for either knees or neck.

Often I will place a heating pad directly on my Tempur-Pedic contoured pillow because the heat is then pressing just on the right spots  to to relieve my tense neck and shoulders.  Keeping these area as relaxed can prevent headaches and other aches and pains.  Be aware  that your pillow will probably not last as long doing this because it does wear down its firmness.  Do not use a heating pad if you have high blood pressure or any other condition where it is advised not to use heat.  Do not fall asleep with it on, and do not use for more than ten minutes as it can actually begin to tighten your muscles if placed on too long.

There is an emotionally supportive and restorative benefit to relaxing and feeling held by the pillows.  It is a great way to decompress and meditate at the end of the day.  Place your pillows strategically under your joints  to let them feel held and they will repay you in the long run.  Helping to relax your body will help you feel centered and connected with more focus and energy for your mind.

In this new age of computer screens and Blackberries, our eyes are forced to undergo a whole new adaptation to decipher and process digital information. The nature of computer screens themselves present a vision challenge. Computer images are not solid characters since they’re made up of pixels, which makes focusing on them difficult for the human eye.

Here are two exercises that can help relieve tired, sedentary or strained eyes. There are six external muscles of the eyes. They are: Superior, Inferior, Medial and Lateral Rectus, and the Superior and Inferior Oblique muscles. Just as we need to stretch our hamstrings or our gastric muscles, it is equally important and worthwhile to stretch our eye muscles. It feels good too. You will probably want to do this one alone or with people that know you really well-since you might look pretty crazy while doing it!

Procedure one: Counterbalancing eye strain for the external muscles of the eye:

Imagine a large clock in front of you. Look up to the TWELVE. Now down to the SIX. Do this movement three times slowly. Now look to the THREE and then over to NINE. Repeat three times slowly. Next, do ONE and SEVEN. Three times slowly. Now, ELEVEN and FIVE. Yes, three times slowly. TWO and EIGHT. Three times slowly. Lastly, do TEN and FOUR. Three times slowly. When you have completed the whole cycle move your eyes in a clockwise circle three times slowly and then counterclockwise three times. Now, rub your hands together fast to warm them up and cup them gently over your eyelids.

Notice the interesting sensation when you do the diagonal movements. These muscles are not used as often(unless you are a frequent eye-roller:-) and its good to activate and get circulation to these areas of the eyes. You may notice more of your periphery (side vision) as this is a good way to enhance it.

Procedure two: Counterbalancing eye strain for the internal muscle (the Ciliary) which controls near and far vision.

The constant close proximity to our computer screens does not give our eyes the chance to use the long distance focus as often as we probably should. Get outside and look at a far distant point and give this muscle a chance to shift into far focus.

This heightening and care of your senses leads to a more tactile awareness overall. Our eyes receive and are at times even bombarded with so many images. These exercises should help in giving them some much needed relief. As with all of these exercises they are meant to promote good health. Please see your eye doctor for regular checkups and any issues.