As a trainer and mom, kegels are very close to my heart (not physically, but emotionally). This muscle needs to be tightened and toned for prenatal, postnatal and beyond. Pelvic floor muscles are just like other muscles: exercise makes them stronger, and kegels are an exercise that you can begin at any age or fitness level. The muscles in your pelvis attach to the front, back and sides of the pelvic bone. The two most important muscles in postnatal recovery are the transverse abdominus (the sling muscles that held your baby in your belly as you grew) and the kegels. In order to engage your kegels, you must engage your transverse, so it’s a win-win when you practice your kegels.
- Find your kegel muscles: try to stop the flow of urine while sitting on a toilet.
- Sitting or standing, contract the pelvic floor and count to 10. This will be very difficult at first. Like any muscle, the more you do it the stronger you will get.
- HOLD after counting to 10, then gradually release your kegels to a count of 10 (now this is tough!).
- Think of your pelvic floor as an elevator. Contract the muscles, moving from the first floor to the second, leading up to six. Hold the contraction for as long as you can without ‘dropping’ your kegels. If you drop them, pick them back up, and then release the elevator down, counting backwards from six.
- Repeat frequently. Up to 10 times a day if you can remember.
- Relax your jaw, shoulders, glutes and quads. Do not hold your breath.
- Remember…nobody knows you are doing your kegels. Imagine being so savvy, that no one is aware you are actually doing a complete perineal workout right in front of them!
Remembering to work on your kegels can be challenging, so make a daily schedule that includes time for them. Make sure taking care of you doesn’t fall off the list in 2010.
With the New Year around the corner you are probably planning your most Savvy resolution to date. This year you will make a plan and stick to it, but before you go crunching that heart out, or latching on to the next craze diet, try these seven tips to flatten your tummy, and help your resolution become a reality.
- Sleep: Lack of sleep produces cortisol, causing the body to go into protection mode, storing belly fat. Cortisol also increases your appetite causing you to crave comfort foods, instead of healthy fuel.
- Stress: Did I mention the stress hormone cortisol? Relaxation and meditation are a great way to de-stress, and it only takes minutes a day.
- Water: Drink an average of 3-6 litres of fluid per day. Water helps flush out the toxins from the body. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent in your system (shrinking inflamed muscles and tissue…hello abs!).
- Nutrition/Diet: Diet is 80-90% of your weight loss. So be prepared! It’s easy to grab a croissant for breakfast, but quick fixes add up to calorie-laden, unhealthy choices and nutrient-depleted meals. If your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, don’t eat it! Food is fuel for your body, helping you concentrate, exercise, and be happy. Try using a side plate instead of a dinner plate for meals.
- Exercise: Believe it or not, doing 1000 crunches is not the secret. You will strengthen your core, but you will not reap the rewards of full body strengthening. Muscle burns fat more effectively than any crunches or cardio you do. Building the larger muscle groups (glutes, quads, hamstrings, back and chest) will help you burn fat faster.
- Fish Oil: Omega 3 (DHA and EPA) acts as an anti-inflammatory in the body (including abdomen) and improves eyesight, brain function and joint pain. As an added bonus, fish oils are said to help with anxiety and depression.
- Green Tea: In its purest form, green tea is said to have über anti-oxidants (which helps rid the body of toxins) and a weight-loss quality as well.
So make a resolution this year that is not only going to help you get your pre-baby tummy back, but will help you feel healthier too, and all without doing the dreaded crunches.