How I Got People To Stop Asking Me When My Baby’s Due

Henry was in his last year of nursery school when I climbed into a cab on my way to the gym.

“This is a miracle!” said the cabdriver as I fastened my seatbelt. He looked at me from the rearview mirror. “I’m retiring today, and every single one of my passengers has been a pregnant woman!”

He went on to list the five pregnant women who had been his passengers since early that morning, ending with me.

I didn’t want to burst his bubble, so I wished him the best in his retirement and disembarked at my local big box fitness emporium, determined to work off the post-baby belly that had plagued me for years.

When I stopped at the juice bar after my workout for a smoothie, the young woman behind the counter congratulated me.

“Thanks!” I replied, thinking I had won a free smoothie.

“When are you due?” she persisted.

“Four years ago,” I mumbled.

I tried to accept that as a mother, I had a different body. I tried to see my tummy as cute. Look at babies. Look at pandas. They have tummies and they’re so cute. But put a panda in a bathing suit? Exactly. And although “tummy” rhymes with “yummy,” in the end, it’s really just another word for excess abdominal fat, the visceral fat that surrounds your organs and is a predictor of heart disease, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.

Not cute at all.

I had been doing a lot of running. I think running is great and has amazing physical and psychological benefits when you do it properly and cross-train. But that’s not how I had been doing it. Hamsters have a brain the size of a grape, and yet I was training like one, putting in about 8 miles a day, usually on a human Habitrail that went round and round while I watched the E! Channel. I lost weight, but eventually I gave myself bursitis in both my heels, ending both my running career and my relationship with the Kardashians. And while the rest of me shrank, my belly looked even more prominent.

So I started really focusing on the belly in my workouts. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. My post-baby bump remained.

Why? Because I was exercising my core as if its primary job was crunching. And guess what: Once you’re born, you really don’t need to be good at the fetal position anymore.

In fact, the core is a marvelous, complex series of muscles that go far beyond the rectus abdominis (the six pack) to almost everything except the arms and legs, including the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, and the diaphragm. Many of the core muscles are hidden beneath the muscles we all typically train.

Most often, our core acts as an isometric or dynamic stabilizer for movement or transfers force from your lower extremities to your upper extremities. Have you ever heard a kick-boxing instructor say that a kick comes from the core, not the legs? The power behind a punch comes from the core too. Think about a golf swing. It originates from the ground up. So does a baseball swing.

Core strength is the ability to produce force and control the force we’re creating. No matter how strong we are, or how far we can run, without core strength we’re prone to injury and ineffective and inefficient in our movements. We’re also failing to protect our spines.

If you’re like me, you might also keep that early-second-trimester-look into your child’s first day of kindergarten.

Exercise physiologists agree that the hard and fast crunches we see so often in the gym are not effective. Slow, controlled movements work better, especially when we incorporate other muscles, like the shoulders and glutes. Great moves for the core include planks and crawls, twists and side balances. To work the smaller, hidden muscles, we need more subtle moves, like pulling the navel toward the spine and engaging the pelvic floor. Lunges and squats are fantastic core stabilizing exercises.

It wasn’t until I started to work the entire core that I started to see real changes in my post-baby, forty-something body. And it’s been months since a stranger offered me his seat on the subway. I see that as a very good sign.


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What the heck is CoreMotion?

CoreMotion is the workout that will finally transform your body. It’s challenging, satisfying, and like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

Because the machine we use, the Megaformer, was inspired by the Pilates reformer, some people like to call our workout “Pilates on steroids,” or even “Pilates on crack.” Crack and steroids have no place in a fitness studio, but you get the drift: this is a core-based workout, but one that will have you shaking in places your grandmother never said aloud. Your core will be engaged for the entire duration of the class, but your legs will be wobbling and your arms will be throbbing too. We take each muscle group to effective muscle stimulation.

What does that mean? It means we work you to the point of effective intensity without impact so that you build muscle, increase endurance, change your body composition, find your balance and gain flexibility — all while treating your joints, spine and connective tissue with the loving care they so richly deserve.

What should you expect from your first class? Everyone’s experience is different based on their fitness level and also their capacity for leaving their ego in the bin where we store the boots and purses.

Personally, I am not good at just rolling with a new experience and understanding that I won’t be great at it the first time I try it. During my first Megaformer class, I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position on the carriage and suck my thumb. The second time I tried it, I went in like a Marine and came out like a humbled 40-something. By the third class, I was addicted. By the fourth, I had the brilliant idea that I should open a Megaformer studio in Fairfield.

Understand this: I love spin class. When I clip my shoes into my pedals, I feel like Ironman putting on his suit. I like my seat in the back row with its view of a sea of pumping legs and hearts. It’s a rave on wheels, and honey, I need to rave.

I love dance class too. There’s nothing like learning a new choreography and getting your groove on, making the dance your own and at the same time, being part of an organism bigger than yourself.

Like those kinds of group fitness classes, we have pumping music and synchronized movements. There’s certainly sweat and an increased heart rate. But that’s where the comparisons end, and why CoreMotion is such a great complement to other workouts.

In a CoreMotion class, the movements are slow and deliberate, almost balletic. Form is paramount. The intensity is constant. The key to our workout is the core, the most critical and probably least-understood area of the body. We’re not talking just about the six-pack region. We’re talking about the area from your pelvic floor on the bottom to the diaphragm on top. From the transverse abdominals, internal and external obliques and rectus abdominis in the front to the erector spinae muscles and multifidus in the back. In other words, your trunk, which plays a critical role in all of those great movements you’re making when you’re dancing, spinning, running, swimming, playing tennis, or doing any other activity you love.

We say go for it. Just let us help you do the things you love longer, better, and with fewer injuries. Give us a try. If you don’t like your results, we’ll give you your old body back.
Check Out the Drop Dead Plank To Pike


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Elise Takes a Field Trip to Trader Joes

Grocery shopping with your nutritionist is a lot like taking your mother with you to buy a bathing suit. You are going to hear some painful truths. But at the end of the day, you’ll probably make much better choices.

Our director of CoreNutrtion, Barbara Lincoln, took me on a whirlwind tour of Trader Joe’s yesterday. (Thank goodness, because we had a freak blizzard and Henry and I otherwise would have been reduced to a breakfast of pasta with Splenda this morning.)

We were focusing mainly on breakfast, lunch and snack foods, since I have a nasty habit of treating gas stations like they’re restaurants. I also have many days when I fail to eat enough to sustain life. Which is just murder on the metabolism. Especially when you have the metabolism of a 46-year-old … Not that I’m 46.

We began with the pre-made salad section. Lots of saturated fat-filled dressings, lots of hidden sugars and carbohydrates. Egads! I ate these all summer, feeling virtuous, nay, holy, as I did so. We took the egg white salad with chives and split.

We had more luck in the fresh fruits and vegetables section, as might be expected. I loaded up on pre-washed kale, organic baby carrots, Brussels sprouts, and red, yellow and orange peppers. We invested in lots of blueberries, my breakfast fruit of choice. Barbara gently steered me away from the bananas, distracting me with a bag of pretty little honey crisp apples. Then we bought more avocados than I think I’ve ever had in my life. Barbara loves avocados. “Put them in omelets! Chop them into a salad. You can have half an avocado at a time!” I thought: A fun drinking game would be to do a shot of tequila every time Barbara says avocado. But then I remembered it was 2 p.m. and we were in Trader Joe’s.

We picked up organic string cheese and these adorable little balls of goat cheese. “Have two while you’re making the kids dinner,” Barbara recommended. Done. Then I started heading towards the bread section, which is right next to my favorite part of the store, the Tasting Station. I sometimes feed Henry lunch there.

“Nope,” Barbara said, putting a well-muscled arm on the cart and steering us away.

“But…”

“Unless the kids need bread for sandwiches?”

I was reaching toward those loaves of bread that come half-baked and make your house smell great while you pretend you’re baking bread. I could lie. I could tell her we were all out of bread. Except the kids never eat bread. They like a hot lunch. I paused, realizing that honesty is the cornerstone of the nutritionist-poor eater relationship. “No,” I mumbled.

“Nuts!” Barbara announced. We stocked up on mini bags of raw almonds. I wanted the ones with chocolate. Barbara did a bag-to-bag comparison on sugar and calories. I relented. But she let me buy a box of 100-calorie super dark chocolate bars for emergencies.

Then Barbara literally hugged a bottle of extra virgin olive oil to her chest: “This is like nectar,” she said. “Food of the gods.”

When we went by the beans, I picked up a can of garbanzos, thinking it made me look good. “It’s fine,” she said, “but they’re a carbohydrate. Don’t treat them like a protein.”

“”Really?”

“Look at it this way, would you rather have beans or a glass of wine? Or beans or a piece of chocolate?” I threw down the can of beans as if it was on fire.

We bought canned salmon, something I truly thought only cats ate, and sardines (likewise). Barbara recommended I try the salmon with a tablespoon of real mayonnaise. It’s worth a shot. And she suggested I add the sardines to stewed tomatoes. I could imagine a yummy, puttanesca-like flavor. Without the pasta.

I brightened up considerably at the dairy section. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. We selected Greek yogurt (I like 2%), organic raw eggs, a bag of pre-hard-boiled eggs and whole milk for my coffee. Barbara nixed the organic raw coconut I love to sprinkle on my yogurt. “Blueberries and almonds are really enough, right? Aren’t you just using the coconut for the sweetness?” she asked.

“Doesn’t it have fiber?”

“Raw almonds and blueberries have fiber.”

No coconut. I will have to withdrawal from it slowly.

As we went to check out, I had the feeling that I had taken someone else’s cart by accident. Where were the Joe Joe cookies, the half-n-half? What happened to the frozen Indian food entrees? The bread?

And yet, today I found myself having green tea and an apple for a snack. An apple. I like apples in theory, but I had always thought the only people who actually ate them were third graders who packed their lunches. It was surprisingly delicious.

Some of Barbara’s favorites:

• Prepackaged raw almonds or cashews. Stash these little bags everywhere for a quick snack!
• String cheese (full fat) and mini balls of goat or brie cheese. A great food choice when you’re preparing dinner for the kids. Much better than, say, shoving a fistful of their mac-n-cheese into your mouth.
• Avocados. And more avocados.
• Apples. Pair one with string cheese between meals or spread raw almond butter on slices.
• Whole hardboiled eggs. Slice them into salads to add protein. Especially if, like me, you are trying not to eat meat.
• A rainbow of peppers and other fresh vegetables, including a good salad base like kale or chopped Brussels sprouts.
• Extra virgin olive oil. Made mostly of monounsaturated fats (unlike coconut oil, which is mostly saturated fat), it also has antioxidants.
• Dark chocolate. Because you deserve a treat. In moderation.
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