Guest Post: Managing Stress with Yoga

The quick and dirty

Since I last posted, we:

  • moved to Madison, WI at the end of 2017.
  • celebrated 5 years of marriage in 2018.
  • welcome bebe no. 3 in March, 2019.

But more on all that another time …

I’m sharing a guest post from FamilyLivingToday.com on managing stress with yoga. During my maternity leave with bebe 3, I did a lot of hot yoga. It allowed me to sweat out the hormones, spend some quiet time on me and allowed my body to gently recover. I’ve also found it to to be a great compliment to CrossFit.

See what you think of our guest post and let us know the benefits of yoga you receive!

Get More Sleep: Manage Your Stress with Yoga

With the advancement of technology, the world seems to be moving at an ever-increasing pace. Unfortunately, for most people the fast pace brings stress and, consequently, sleep deprivation. While you can’t always slow down the pace of your life, you can be proactive about stress management.

Yoga as Stress Management

As an age-old form of exercise, yoga still proves to be effective today. Yoga is also versatile because different methods and pose sequences can do different things for your body. Some poses are meant to invigorate and enliven the senses while others slow the heartbeat and calm turbulent thoughts. No matter the purpose of your yoga, the benefits are hard to ignore.

Studies have shown that yoga reduces the release of the proteins that cause inflammation. It can also improve moods, especially forms that use meditative breathing and focused thought. Improved emotional management helps break the stress-sleep deprivation cycle.

Get the Stress Out

Yoga can be used along with other stress relieving methods to give your body the chance it needs to get a full seven to eight hours of sleep. The body needs the full time to reach the deepest levels of sleep. Methods that work well along with a consistent yoga routine include:

  • Journaling: You might not see the connection between journaling and stress management at first, but there is something cathartic about putting your worries down on paper. Journaling lets you see and examine the events of your day as well as your thoughts and feelings about those events. Sometimes the mind needs somewhere to let thoughts rest. You can also use a journal to keep a running list of tasks to complete the next day, relieving yourself of the burden to remember.

  • Focus on Gratitude: Gratitude can change the way you look at yourself and your challenges. Taking a moment each day to remember and acknowledge the good in your life helps focus the mind of positive thoughts. You can write the thoughts down in a journal or a daily planner where you can review them often.

  • Meditation: While many yoga methods use breathing and focused thought similar to meditation, a consistent meditation regime can have a big impact on your stress levels. Meditation triggers the relaxation response, which causes the heart rate and blood pressure drop. It also improves the connection between the reasoning and emotional centers of the brain.

Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep always starts in a bedroom that’s devoted to creating a relaxing atmosphere. Your bedroom should include a comfy bed; there are many comfortable but budget-friendly mattress options online. The room should be kept dark, quiet, and cool with the temperature between 60-68 degrees.

You can also start thinking about ways to improve your sleep hygiene, which includes all the habits in your life that contribute to the quality of your sleep. After that, it’s about developing the right habits like:

  • A consistent bedtime

  • Regular bedtime routine

  • Regularly spaced and timed meals

  • Daily exposure to natural light

  • Turning off electronics at least two to three hours before bed

  • Stopping your caffeine intake in the early afternoon

Post Partum: Weeks 12 and 13

Awesome week and finally made it to Back Alley in addition to yoga and walking. Feeling excellent! I’m attending the 101 classes twice a week. This is allowing me to ease back into it and minimize any scaling. I’m also still wearing my heart rate monitor to now gauge my capabilities without a baby.

Some things I’ve learned in my short three months as a momma:

1. CrossFit is the best way to start shedding that baby weight. Shouldn’t come as a surprise, I know, but after just two days, I can see and feel a difference.

2. The minute you don’t have clothing back-up, the baby will have a blow-out. Thanks little miss for christening my come back to the box with a blow-out mid-WOD. Glad you’re comfortable in just a diaper!

3. That being said, less really is more! All of the sudden my car is full of stuff – bags of returns, swimming gear, workout gear, library books, a stroller, dog gear – and our baby is only three months! We love the Skip Hop pronto changing station. We now have three because they are totally genius. I keep mine stocked with diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, Advil, first aid kit, extra outfit. When out and about, I can easily just grab it to change her – in the car, in a random bathroom, at the box, etc. We have three because we keep one in each car and one with the stroller.

4. Drive-throughs are a mom’s best friend (and I don’t mean the McDonalds!). Thanks Starbucks for keeping me caffeinated and hydrated while I keep my baby sleeping in the back seat.

I’m sure it’s old news by now, but love that CrossFit HQ is finally giving some attention to all the awesome women out there who CrossFit while pregnant. Be sure to watch the latest video, if you haven’t already.

For a quick snack pre- or post-WOD, I recently made these no bake protein bites from HeandSheEatClean. Super simple to make and who can beat the no bake part?! I also made mine lactation friendly by adding in a tablespooon of brewer’s yeast. You can easily sub the peanut butter for almond butter for a more paleo-friendly option. YUM!

And we have been meeting the newest CrossFit babies! Both Katie and Sara delivered healthy, precious babes. Aren’t they darling?

With Katie and Baby Rounds at Back Alley

With Katie and Baby Rounds at Back Alley

Meeting Baby Hillman at the hospital.

Meeting Baby Hillman at the hospital.

Postpartum Weeks 10 and 11

As I mentioned in my previous post, my number one goal is to preserve my ability to make milk. However, I am equally eager to shed some of these added pounds in the next few months. This balance is a huge mental challenge, especially because I don’t like what I see in the mirror. I read a blog post by Blonde Ponytail on “Body after Baby,” which provides great tips, number five being the most important for me: BE PATIENT.

In the spirit of CrossFit’s constantly varied mentality, I have been working out slowly and strategically OUTSIDE the box. Yoga. Barre. Running. At home weight training. Easing my body back into it before I hit the big weights. Week 10 I managed some running and yoga. This week, I worked in a Barre class and managed to do something Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Not too shabby. Here’s hoping I can keep up the momentum and work in some higher intensity.

In the meantime, I’ve received some great questions from readers about my experiences while pregnant.

Did you increase [weight] during your pregnancy? My doctor said to stop lifting at seven months. I see you did not do that. I am no where near the weight you lift but did you decrease your weight the last few months? Yes, but I understand I’m an anomaly. My coach and I worked closely together to monitor this. But my body craved and thrived with bigger weights. I hit a number of PRs on a number of Olympic lift in my third trimester. As always, work closely with your doctor and coach before attempting this and LISTEN to your body.

After having your baby have you lifted weights? While traveling recently, I visited two boxes and did some Olympic lifts, but I haven’t been to my home box yet. I have done some free weights at home. I’m trying to balance a lot and I hurt myself around weeks 5/6 postpartum with a kettlebell workout, so I’m hypersensitive because of that.

I want to try to keep my core as strong as possible so it isn’t as rough getting my mid-line back in shape after the baby. I do a lot of planks, but do you have any other suggestions? During my pregnancy, my core modification was v-sits on the box. It was amazing for my mid-line post-baby and something I plan to do daily next baby. Planks are also great, especially if you can vary with side planks and leg or arm raises.

What things did you stay away from in the second and third trimesters? Again, do what makes you feel good and work with your coaches to determine modifications. What worked for me, might not work for you. With that said, here are the modifications I used:

  • Once I started to put on weight, I couldn’t do pull-ups (that isn’t a strength of mine and something I was working on prior to my pregnancy). I subbed with ring rows.
  • I avoided inversions, but I know previously featured athletes Sara and Katie had no problems with handstand walks and push-ups. Coach & I subbed in something else entirely for me here.
  • Sit-ups became v-sits on the box (though I did sit-ups longer than some of the other athletes thought I should have. I probably could have gone longer, but I let them get in my head.
  • Push-ups became problematic third trimester because of my protruding belly, so I worked on push-ups on the wall.
  • I slam my body during burpees; in the first and second trimester, I subbed with push-ups and jumping jacks; third trimester it was wall push-ups and air squats.
  • Box jumps became step ups.
  • I didn’t do any bench press and in the second trimester stopped snatching. Usually, I just did another lift. I did a lot of shoulder work my entire pregnancy, which was to my advantage because it’s a weakness of mine.
  • Running was uncomfortable in the third trimester so I walked or rowed.
  • I stopped yoga at week 35 or 36 because the positions got too uncomfortable.

Any lessons learned? I wish I would have eaten cleaner/more paleo so I wouldn’t have gained as much weight. Ironic I know because I was poo-pooing the doctors for scolding me. Live and learn. But the reality is that losing these extra pounds is a tricky physical and mental challenge for me because I’m up against a low milk supply + a strong desire to nurse for 12 months.

I also wish I had known my heart rate prior to becoming pregnant. Any readers out there who are trying to get pregnant: I highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor now and learn what your body is capable of before you get pregnant. That way you can better modify and understand your limits.

All-in-all, I was blessed with an easy pregnancy, delivery, and first two and a half months. I appreciate my support system and all my readers.

And nothing like getting major inspiration watching the CrossFit Games, which are live on ESPN 3 this weekend. Be sure to tune in and watch some of the best. Wish we were there again this year! Such an awesome weekend, celebrating the sport we love.

Any words of wisdom or modifications to add?

Nine weeks Postpartum

What an awesome journey! We are loving parenthood with all the joys and challenges it brings, and we’ve had many of both. The joys are pretty obvious – nothing can compete with the love in our hearts, especially with all the smiles and coos she shares with us.

The greatest challenge has been milk production. Since we weren’t sure I would even be able to nurse, we’re obviously thrilled that I can. However, it took quite awhile (six weeks) for my milk to truly come in and it took some time to figure out how much I was producing. With the help of an excellent lactation consultant and support of many momma friends, I have found the right balance of supplements needed to boost my supply (the best of the best being Fenugreek). And little miss is gaining the proper weight (but that took many weeks!).

Fenugreek

As a result, I haven’t been back to CrossFit as quickly as I wanted because I haven’t wanted to hurt my supply. For the early weeks, I was also nursing around the clock, so I was too depleted to even try to get in the box. Now add in the 115 degrees and, well, it’s honestly a challenge to motivate.

In the early weeks, I did do a few at home WODs, one of which left me injured, delaying my return. It seems as though my joints are more sensitive and I’m more likely to pull a muscle now that little miss isn’t around to hold me together. It’s what my doctor warned me of during my pregnancy, but since it never happened, I never thought it would happen postpartum. A week of ice, heat, Advil, and a trip to the chiropractor and I was healed. But it left me nervous to do too much.

We also spent three weeks in the Midwest and Colorado. That time afforded me cooler temps to walk, run and squeeze in some WODs between visits with family and friends. I visited CrossFit Fond du Lac with my cousin, Maggie, for a great workout. Definitely check out this box in you’re in the area. Nick is a great coach and was extremely sensitive to my injury and postpartum status.

CrossFit FDL WOD

CrossFit FDL WOD

Post-WOD with Maggie

Post-WOD with Maggie

I was also able to fit in some lifting at CrossFit Beat, the newest box in South Boulder, Colo. Awesome garage set-up and fun atmosphere at the foot of the Flat Irons. Our friend Adam is a great guy and coach. Strongly recommend hitting it up when in Boulder.

Lifting at CrossFit Beat

Lifting at CrossFit Beat

Field bounding for Frankie in Boulder

Field bounding for Frankie in Boulder

Now that we’re home, and I am feeling more confident in my ability to nurse, I’ll be getting back to Back Alley and hopefully some yoga. Can’t wait for the cooler temps to walk and run, too!

Any postpartum tips or motivation you have to share?

Pregnancy: Week 32

Team Leatherman

Team Leatherman

Little did I know I was in store for such an awesome week!

Monday we went to our monthly doctor appointment. From what he could feel, Baby L has moved into position. No wonder I’ve felt feet in my rib cage! All my stats are great; except the weight gain. I received another scolding and was told to return to strict paleo. Everyone I share that with is pretty shocked considering I still scare people when I turn around (definitely don’t look preggers from the back). I’ll try to curb as much as I can, but I’m also not going to stress about it. Probably means I need to hit the box more often.

Tuesday, I worked late and had a ton of errands to run before we left for San Diego on Wednesday. All day I received abnormal texts from the hubs (i.e. “I vacuumed the house.” “I swept the patio.” “I cleaned the bathrooms.”). I couldn’t figure out what got into him! The texts continued into the evening, asking my ETA and wanting to join me on my errands (say what?!). I complied and called him on my way home, having knocked out half the errands. When I pulled in the driveway and opened the garage door, my MOMMA comes walking out!

I was STUNNED (and subsequently confused!). No wonder Chad was doing chores on a Tuesday and begging me to come home – he had an awesome surprise for me! These two were conspiring for weeks and many of my Aunties, who I had recently spoken to, were also in on the surprise. Those stinkers!

Wednesday, after work, we headed to San Diego for a long weekend with family, friends and some beach time. It was just what we all needed. The weather was perfect all weekend long.

Frankie and friends

Frankie and friends

With momma

With momma

Enjoying the beach

Enjoying the beach

 

Profile of the bump

Profile of the bump

Frankie got an awesome afternoon at the beach and the dog park. He hunted lizards and played with his cousin Cami. Plus he got in some good sunshine sleeping.

Frankie checking out Cedros Ave

Frankie checking out Cedros Ave

Saturday, my Aunts hosted a beautiful baby shower for me. Chad and my Uncle hit the golf course, avoiding the ladies lunch. We were again showered with amazing gifts and fellowship with dear friends and family. The day was filled with fun games, delicious food and sunshine. Baby L is so lucky to have so many people already loving it! We feel so blessed.

San Diego shower hosts

San Diego shower hosts

Love my SD friends!

Love my SD friends!

Long-time family friend from Chicago

Long-time family friend from Chicago

Family!

Family!

Pooch got to party

Pooch got to party

Chad's glorious day on the golf course

Chad’s glorious day on the golf course

 

Week 32 WODS: As a result of our travels and surprises, workouts suffered.

Monday – Flow Yoga I – With the baby in position, so many more of the poses felt impossible and it wasn’t as enjoyable. Total bummer.

Food: As I mentioned, the doc wants me strict paleo again. I listened to a degree. I wasn’t going to turn down all the yummy food cooked for us in San Diego and at the shower. I just tried to make the best possible decisions and balance it all with a lot of fruit, veggies and protein.

Pregnancy: Week 28

It was a great week focused on yoga and long walks with pooch. My body is craving the yoga. The stretching and quiet time feels amazing on my expanding body. During shavasana, the baby gives me happy flutters. That makes up for the many poses I can’t do because of the babe’s positioning.

We had our monthly check up this week and met with one of the female doctors in the practice, whom we adore. She’s a realist and clearly loves her job. She walked through what I should expect in these final weeks and we also discussed my weight gain.

I’m up 26# and with the exception of my face rounding more, I’m primarily carrying all that weight on my front. The tatas are a heavy burden! We talked about how much I’ve grown in cup size; she was shocked at the dramatic jump and rationalized that as I was implying, majority of my weight is in my chest. Glad she agreed after the scolding I received last month from another (male) doctor in the practice.

While I haven’t really restricted myself of what I’m eating, I am conscientious to make sure I am consuming enough veggies, fruit, protein and calcium. I have definitely veered far off the paleo track, but our nightly meals are centered around our traditional paleo cooking. I’m having lots of yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and grain; more than I have in a year. It’s obviously going to take a toll on my weight, regardless of growing another human. The reassuring thing is that I know with strict paleo and heavy doses of CrossFit and hot yoga, the extra gain will slide off once Baby arrives.

My paleo sous chef

My paleo sous chef

This appointment was also the time for my whooping cough vaccination, Rh factor shot and my glucose blood work. I was poked and prodded from head to toe!

To ease the eczema on my face, I found my trusty bottle of Bio Oil. This stuff is magic! After using it morning and night for a week, the dryness has subsided and the dullness/patchiness isn’t as extreme. Bio Oil is also known for working wonders on stretch marks. I’m going to start using on my belly and chest to help.

We ended our week with a date night at our church. It was a great opportunity to spend some quality, spiritual time together and meet other couples in our parish. It was much needed time for us individually and together.

Saturday was full of “nesting.” We bought some awesome furniture from a new boutique – Twigs and Twine. Then it was on to tackling the garage, which was in much need of organization and sorting. We felt very accomplished by the end of the day!

Baby L's dresser

Baby L’s dresser

Awesome new chair

Awesome new chair

Week 28 WODs:

Feb. 3 – Flow Yoga with our favorite instructor. She provides lavender soaked wash cloths during shavasana. It adds such a nice touch to relaxation! I’m going to make sure we have some of her water soluble lavender oil on hand during labor since it has such a calming effect on me.

Feb. 5 – Centered Yoga, filled with hip and pelvic openers. Many of the poses will come in handy in April!

Feb. 6 – 2.5 mile walk with pooch, enjoying the gorgeous day, and deep cleaning the house. I mean deep; I worked up a good sweat!

Feb. 7 – 3 mile walk with pooch

Yoga with these gorgeous ladies!

Yoga with these gorgeous ladies!

Feb. 9 – Yoga with my lovely ladies, outside in the gorgeous sun. Can’t think of a better way to start the day!

Pregnancy: Week 27

It was another nutty week for us, but I managed to squeeze in some good workouts. Since the baby seems to love yoga and it feels amazing to stretch my expanding body, I’ve been more drawn to yoga classes lately.

I have definitely expanded through my belly, but am super thankful my backside isn’t widening. I’m also not swollen/showing signs of water retention. All great things.

Saturday morning, I treated myself to some much needed spa time. I enjoyed a body scrub, massage, and facial. Pure bliss! The baby was extremely active throughout the treatments; I wasn’t surprised since it loves everything else in my life that calms me (pooch, yoga, church).

Hospital Tour at 27 Weeks

Hospital Tour at 27 Weeks

Saturday evening, we went for a hospital tour. Since I’m new to the Valley and pretty unaware of the hospitals, I was thankful to learn that our hospital has a NICU and is Level 3 trauma. We also know some of the nurses in labor and delivery, which makes our lives so much easier!

Week 27 WODs:

Daily walks with pooch.

Family hike

Family hike

Jan. 26 – Hike with the hubs and pooch. Went 2.25 miles on one of our favorite trails. Definitely worked up a good sweat since it was a warm day.

Jan. 28 – Good Morning Yoga class focused on deep stretching

Jan. 29 – warm up

Deadlift 145#

Deadlift 145#

strength/skill: deadlift 5×10 Took our time and worked up to 145#. Probably should have worked in another 20#s.

Food: With the stress I’ve endured, my appetite isn’t as strong (which definitely isn’t keeping me from gaining weight – I promise!). I love eating greek yogurt with granola and still find the greatest satisfaction from comfort foods. I always attempt to make a casserole paleo, if I can figure it out. Drinking lots of water, but still love coffee in the morning. My face is definitely showing signs of dullness and eczema so I’m hoping my increased water consumption will help.