Your house? Your core? Your upbringing or family and friends?
They all are correct answers, but in regards to our body our core… It would be our inner unit and muscles that help us stand tall and protect our spine and do every day activities … that would be our foundation.
What makes up our body’s foundation?
Our Inner Core Unit
TVA’s/ Internal Obliques/ Multifidi
Our pelvic floor
If you are asking yourself what the heck is all of that stuff and how does our pelvic floor relate…..then good I am writing this for you.
Lets start from the beginning :
When we are born our body is relaxed no tension in our shoulders or neck, were not stressed out to the level we are today. All we care about is eating, sleeping and pooping….. Look at any baby and beg to differ. Exactly.
As we get older we start taking on more stress, we carry it in our neck and shoulders, we take on all the things, stress over tests, over work, over home life, finances (isn’t adulting fun?). As this happens we lose our original relaxed breathing patterns and start implementing paradoxical breathing – meaning shallow. When we inhale we raise our chest and shoulders and traps and exhale they all go down. You might think this is ok- but over time it is not.
Those muscles become over active and cause aches and pains and imbalances. In turn our diaphragm (which is our primary breathing muscle with the lungs) becomes underactive and weak. When this happens we stop engaging the correct core muscles to aid with breathing and as a result our muscles can become weak and our outer core muscles become overactive (which = imbalances and pain). Our pelvic floor does the same- the wrong muscles become tight from clenching or being stressed and not being engaged to relax with breathing.
This equals one big mess of imbalances which can stem all throughout the body- not just those muscles I mentioned. Think about it- when those are weak and not doing their job, then other muscles will over compensate and can lead to the wrong muscles doing the wrong job which can lead to injury. Our body is one big kinetic chain yall- it will get done what it needs to using whatever it can…..
So to get fixed – we must relearn how to breathe and in turn build a strong foundation to go off of.
It is easier said than done.
But here is what we gotta do:
2- RELEARN TO DEEP 360 BREATHE
3- RELEASE TIGHT MUSCLES AND ACTIVATE WEAK ONES
THEN —— We feel BETTER!
So how do we relax?
Try to implement self care time daily (from reading to going for a walk to yoga to meditation to sleep)
Then learn to breathe right…..
First you gotta understand how breathing as we are suppose to works.
Think of our inner unit as a canister
You got the diaphragm and lungs and ribs at the top
This bad boy is our breathing muscle and it contracts and flattens to pull air into the lungs when you inhale and expands and pushes air out when you exhale.
The inner core unit in the middle
Transverse abdominals, internal obliques and multi fidi these should have the right amount of pressure applied during inhale and exhale to contract and release to provide support
The pelvic floor at the bottom
The PF provides a foundation you could think of us a bottom of a bucket or canister holding it all up
When you inhale you should feel your belly and ribs expand as you fill your lungs with air then when you exhale you are pushing air out and contracting within the core as the pelvic floor pushes the air out and up. Think of emptying it out from the bottom up in the exhale.
You should not raise your shoulders when you do this at all or feel anything in your neck.
You should feel your back expand to help relax tightness that may be within your ribs and spine and it is allowing your lungs to really be filled up
Your inhale should match the exhale
Think inhale for 2 or 3 then exhale for 2 or 3
The more you do this the better you will get. Breathing this way not only helps relax your body and overly tight muscles but it also helps strengthen your foundation and inner core which supports the spine. (essentially all of it supports your spine but you get what I mean).
The more relaxed you are the more efficient you will be day to day. The better your body will work, and the more you will feel a difference in your workouts.
I will be digging more into this in coming weeks but I hope this helped. I challenge you to try to do this for 5 minutes a day for the next 7 days. See if it does not become easier. See if you do not become stronger and feel better for it. I swear it is magic (our bodys know what to do!).
What do you think of when thinking of ways to lower inflammation? Getting a massage? Eating less processed foods? Taking supplements? What about working out? Does working out help? The answer is yes. Many types of work outs are proven to lower the bodies overall stress response and in turn can lower inflammation levels. However not all workouts are created equal.
When we think workouts that can help us lower inflammation we want to think more moderate exercise. Like a long walk, or something to get you moving for 20- 30 minutes.
In fact one studyshowed that just 20 minutes a day of exercise can prove to be beneficial in lowering inflammation in the body (again this is moderate exercise not super high intense stuff). The reason being is it promotes our sympathetic nervous system, doing so can help fight off the overwhelming amount of TNF cells our body has. These guys aren’t necessarily bad, they help with our natural immune response when we are sick or get cut, etc. However due to chronic inflammation and us being exposed to so much they can be in overdrive and causing harm to us.
Why wouldn’t you want to do something more challenging??
The answer is because if you are already inflamed, if you already have too much stress in your life and in your body whether it is physical or mental, the last thing you want to do is add more stress to that. Intense workouts like crossfit, HIIT classes, really long runs, are just a few that can do more harm than good for some people. This is NOT to say no one should ever do them, but if you are working to lose weight and have not been able to for a while regardless of the work you are putting in, if you are stressed, not sleeping, etc, then you need to take a step back for a few and then you can rebuild yourself to be able to enjoy those more intense workouts again if that is your thing. You don’t want to add more stress to an already stressed out body!
So what types of workouts are recommended??
Walking – outside if you can – taking a decent pace can not only help those who are getting into working out moving but also those who work out hard can use a long walk as a reset to their taxed muscles. Walking promotes the lymphatic system to move and drain to help get rid of toxins and inflammation as well as blood circulation, and heart rate goes up!
Body weight or lighter resistance workouts – once you have a foundation built doing lighter weights or moderate resistance workouts can be great for helping the joints get more mobility and the muscles to get active and working properly. Always start slow and progress your way up. This is why I always start clients with a foundation building phase. It is something I learned over the years from some of the great people I work with at CYB Atlanta but it really does help in the long run to ensure you are moving and doing right for your body.
Yoga and/or mediation with deep breathing – deep breathing is my go to for everyone. Be it fitness professionals, every generation, pre and post natal women, I could go on. It promotes relaxation in the body by really turning on the right responses, It therefore decreases stress all over – hence inflammation decreases. Yoga incorporates this so you can do two things at once. If you are not into yoga then just simply practicing deep breathing 5-10 minutes a day can make a big difference, add in mediation if you can to get even more bang for you buck. See more on that here
Foam rolling and stretching may not be a “workout” for most but it should definitely be part of your workout program. Your muscles need to be loved and worked on. Foam rolling is great way to do just that and to not have to spend tons of money on massages every week.
Not sure what this is? I got you-
Overall working out is a benefit to us. No matter what our fitness level or goals. Moving a little bit each day can really go a long way. Putting ourselves as a priority and taking care of ourselves through working out, rest, and movement will pay off for not only ourselves but others around us too.
You can get a four week workout program and save $10 with code CHANGEUP by going here. – WORKOUT PROGRAM
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This is going to get personal, I want to say it right up front and center because it is. I believe vulnerability is a beautiful thing and this is only the beginning.
First let’s take it back, I was diagnosed with RA when I was in college. For those of you who may not know what RA is it stands for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Basically it is a disease where you immune system thinks its super cool and defensive and starts attacking your joints thinking they are the enemy…. when they are not.
The struggle can be real stemming from things like
pain and achy joints
warm and swollen joints
extreme intolerance to cold or heat
it can also lead into things like anxiety and depression
It is crazy to me because you can start to think…. how does something that causes joint pain cause all these other things?? I have since learned it is due to the immune system in general being overactive, its working overtime to fight these fake issues so it takes energy we should have for other things (like daily activities) away.
When I was diagnosed in college, my biggest issue what pain and stiffness. Waking up and trying to walk down the stairs of my sorority house and feeling like I was 90. Exactly what ever college girl dreams of lol. I am on the lucky side that I was diagnosed and started treatment quick due to my father having the disease and him taking me right to his doctor as soon as I told him.
After that though it was an uphill battle, graduating college, starting a new life back in Atlanta yet I felt so alone. Not knowing how or who would ever want to be with a girl who was going to be crippled one day (or so I thought). This led to depression which led me to my doctor (who practices tough love, which I love) insisting that I get off my butt and start working out to see if it makes me feel better. He really just wanted me to get outside and do more to get moving. Smart guy he is, he knew that moving also helped create energy and got me to not be alone with my thoughts so much.
Around that same time I reunited with old friends and was taken into a new church that is when my perspective started to shift. I began to see the improvements in my pain and my mind. This led me to want to workout more, I actually went on to compete in some body building competitions (bikini division and please don’t google search those :0). It also led me to realize that I didn’t want to be in the corporate world the rest of my life, that I wanted to do something that served a true purpose. I wanted to share how great I felt with others in hopes they would feel the same.
So I took the leap and started personal training. The first few years were awful I can’t say it any other way, I met some great people but working and stressing and trying to figure out what I ultimately wanted to do with it and how to make money was hard. Not to mention lack of sleep, over training and working was taking a toll on my body that had at one point gone into actual remission of the disease. I was determined to not let it take me off my focus.
I landed my next and so far longest studio gig and moved into where I truly started to discover the type of training I wanted to do. I also have done work with the Arthritis Foundation over the years and realized I wanted to help more with corrective exercise and primarily work with women. Which kept pushing me in the direction to where I am today.
My day to day now-
I recently moved to a new studio which encompasses even more what I am about – Stat Wellness. (little side note it is my functional doctors practice). I am working 1 on 1 with clients there as well as still doing virtual training that you can find out about here.
As far as my health goes – Some days are great, some days are hard. The worst part is when I am literally fatigued and feel like after training 4 or 5 clients I have to sit down to I train them…. talk about feeling hypocritical…. “don’t mind me I will just coach you from the floor why you feel like you are dying”… it sucks! Granted that is not every day but it does happen. This is probably the biggest issue for me. Understanding and accepting that as a trainer sometimes my energy is not where I think it should be. I can’t do all the early mornings like I used to or my clients will pay the price for me being not on top of things. This can really mess with my head, especially when some people make comments and just don’t get it. Asking why I am tired all the time, or when I can’t workout 100% like I feel like I should. On the flip side of that though it has taught me so much on slowing down and learning to listen to my body. It is something we all should do. Not just if you have a disease but if you are stressed, or recovering from something you may need extra time off. The last thing our bodies want is to be put into an intensified stressed state when they are already stressed. Be it physical or mental from work, relationships, finances, lack of sleep, disease…. anything!
It has also made me learn how to gauge and progress workouts for clients. You need a strong foundation before you progress to full strength or injuries happen…. right? Same goes for someone with an autoimmune disease and even post partum women. You have to build the right things first to stay strong in the long run. Starting slow, increasing as you go, that is how you build long term success. No one starts out all in at something and experiences all positive returns, chances are setbacks happen due to lack of education or just unfortunate circumstances (not ruling that out here).
Being critical of myself is something I have to deal with though and my own insecurities and comparison issues are just as bad as the next persons. I do find myself constantly reminding myself that I am me for a reason. I am successful for a reason, I have great clients for a reason (which I do). So I must be doing something right. It does get hard at times, but thats where vulnerability and honesty come to play. My clients know me and know what I am about, they know that I don’t want to sit down but sometimes I have to.
As far as pain goes I am lucky on that end . My hands and fingers and shoulders will ache at times and fingers will get stiff. Sometimes gripping weights is hard…. another insecurity. But again I have come to realize and really work at reminding myself that this is me. I am alive and despite my insecurities and some inabilities I am still helping others. That right there is rewarding.
I try to eat the best I can, but I also believe in balance. If I want chocolate or wine I have it. I just walk away after and know I may have a few consequences the next day. Anti Inflammatory foods are my go to which you can find more about here. I drink alot of water and I try to be in bed by 10pm every night (my husband loves that….. that is sarcasm by the way ;)).
I have come to discover that it is all about priority and self care and love. I have to put myself first in a sense to make sure that I can take care of those I want to be there for. If I am not great, they won’t get what they want from me and when it comes to my work that is a major priority. So cutting back some hours and working from the couch when doing plans and social stuff is part of what I have to do. And ya know what? I am ok with that.
Overall the bottom line is- I try to treat my body how I want others to treat theirs. I try to fuel it the best I can, and support it with rest too. If you are someone who is struggling with ANYTHING I pray that you find a tiny bit of inspiration in something you read in this. Remember each day is a gift, we all have choices daily, and we have to do what is ultimately best for us in every area of life. We all go through hard stuff, but don’t judge someone if you don’t know the whole story. Ya with me?? I hope so.
I know my journey is just getting started, and I hope to share so much more with you along the way.