Moms, the struggle is real. Staying fit is hard enough in the first place, let alone after being pregnant for nine months and THEN the responsibilities of being a mom to a growing family. Even worse, your fitness takes on a whole new dimension after your baby is born – particularly if you’re breastfeeding! You probably have a lot of questions, like how to lose weight while breastfeeding, how to get your belly back in shape and more. I’m a mom of two AND I have a Master’s degree in Exercise Science and I want to answer these questions for you. Read on!
Lucky for you guys, I put this all in a short and sweet video course called The New Mom’s Guide to Fitness.
How to lose weight while breastfeeding
For me, I was always scared to lose baby weight because I didn’t want to mess with my milk supply. Most moms don’t know how to lose weight while breastfeeding – and there’s definitely some important points you don’t want to miss. You should never eat below a certain number of calories, and it’s important to have a specific mix of nutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrate). It’s also important to lose fat at a gentle pace. I talk about the specifics in the New Mom’s Guide to Fitness and include a worksheet that shows you how to calculate our daily calorie intake AND your proportion of fat, protein and carbohydrate.
How to safely train your core
The most common abdominal exercises might actually be dangerous after you’ve had a baby – especially the types of workouts you get on Pinterest and in mainstream fitness DVDs. Crunches, planks, V-ups and burpees can be too much load on your weakened midsection. There are some very specific steps you need to take to protect your abdomen postpartum, or you might end up with a hernia. I talk about what NOT to do, and also include a video with a few sample exercises you can do instead.
Preventing baby wearing injuries
A lot of moms end up with VERY sore backs from carrying or wearing their little ones. Since your kids always want to be held, this is not good. There are a few tips that can help you head off aches and pains and I’ll cover those in the New Mom’s Guide to Fitness.
The right goals
There’s so much else that goes into staying fit after having a baby. Planning and goal setting are two HUGE components where moms make a lot of mistakes. My goal is to help you get off on the right foot by having the right plan for you.
I’m an experienced fitness professional and mom. I’ve got a short, sweet and affordable video course to help you take ownership of your fitness after having a baby!
Choosing the right footwear for your kids is crucial for promoting optimal development of gait patterns, spinal curves, deep body stabilization, proper alignment of bones and efficient control of the body by the nervous system. There are more than 33 joints in your feet; In the wrong shoes, many of them (sometimes all) can’t move properly. You need healthy kids shoes!
Healthy Kids Shoes
Give your kids as much barefoot time as possible. Even a shoe that fits all of my “shoe rules” can’t replace barefoot time – a shoe threshold between the foot and the ground prevents foot nerves from sensing important information like temperature, ground texture, and other environmental factors. Nerves are meant to feel stuff, so they aren’t as healthy when they’re deprived of information (stimulus). In fact, neurologists often recommend wearing water shoes (on my list of good shoes) year round for kids with developmental delays. If your babies/kids can’t be barefoot then consider a double layer of socks. If that won’t work, then find kids barefoot shoes that fit the following parameters:
1. “Foldable” – you should be able to fold it in half from front to back.
2. Thin soled – as thin as possible. You’l’l notice that thick soles interfere with the “foldable” factor, too.
3. Flush from front to back – no heels!! – the toes should sit on the same level as the heels, with no rising or dipping in the sole at any point.
4. Plenty of room for all the toes – no squishing and regularly check the fit.
5. Attached to the heel and the toe – unlike flip flops, which are just attached the toe. Shoes fixed at the toe cause a pattern of tension throughout the foot and lower leg. Ultimately, they can lead to bunions.
6. Fits snugly without constricting the foot – some shoes can become cast-like when they fit too snugly, preventing proper muscular function.
OPTIONS OF BRANDS/STYLES FOR TODDLERS, KIDS AND YOUTH
Check out our “Store” link for the direct link to the shoes that are available at Amazon.com
Robeez (Baby & Toddler)
My all time favorite. Robeez are a great brand because they combine an exceptional shoe with an unparalleled cute-factor. Unfortunately, they stop making shoes after 24 months. Not all the shoes have rubber soles and are no-slip, so check the description. My favorite style is the Ethan Minishoefollow.
Skidderz are a very mainstream brand – you can find them at Target, Big Lots and Babies R Us. There are a lot of similar brands on the market, sold as non-skid socks or shoe socks. Like the name implies, they’re more like socks with a grippy rubber sole. Sometimes they’re so grippy that they get “stuck” on things and come off of little feet. Occasionally, I do get concerned about the grips holding the foot in one direction while the knee goes another – however, we’ve never experienced any injuries. These are affordable, ranging in price between $6.99 and $12.99 per pair. I’ve seen sizes for older kids at Big Lots, where the prices are also the lowest, but they’re most widely available for babies and toddlers through size 18-24 months.
PediPed (Infant, Toddler & Little Kid)
I’ve gotten great shoes from Pediped. Many of them don’t look like they have a flat sole from the outside, but the appearance is actually an illusion meant to make the shoe more fashion-y. The shoes are flat on the inside. We got a great pair of waterproof boots from Pediped – they weren’t as flexible as I would like, but they are the best I have found so far.
See Kai Run (Infant, Toddler & Little Kid)
Similar to my PediPed review, mmany of them don’t look like they have a flat sole from the outside, but the appearance is actually an illusion meant to make the shoe more fashion-y. The shoes are flat on the inside. I’ve only purchased one shoe from See Kai Run, so I’m not sure if all the shoes are the same quality and meet my “shoe rules.”
ShoesZoo (Infant, Toddler & Little Kids)
ShoesZoo is like Robeez in bigger sizes. They are also extraordinarily affordable because they make the shoes themselves and there is no middle man. They are a Canadian company with reasonable shipping charge to the US. However, the don’t make rubber soled or grippy shoes – only soft suede, moccasin-style shoes. The ShoesZoo line has hundreds of adorable patterns.
Soft Star(Toddler & Child)
Soft star makes leather and sheepskin shoes in moccasin and slipper styles. Many people I know love them and they may be a good option for your family. I didn’t like the construction of the shoes because they have a thick lip around the outside of the shoe, beyond the point where the top fabric is sewn into the sole. My son kept tripping when he was wearing them and the lip would get caught on tree roots, etc, when we were in the woods. I contacted SoftStar about it and received great customer service – they believe that a child will adapt their movement to the shape of the shoe and tripping shouldn’t be a problem after they get used to wearing the shoes. They are right, but I prefer a shoe that my child doesn’t have to adapt to – to me, the whole point of a minimalist shoe is “minimizing” adjustments the body must make for the shoe.
Water Shoes (Toddler and Child)
Water shoes make great every day shoes for toddlers and children. However, not all water shoes meet the six roles above – and some tend to wear out quickly because they’re made of fabric. Avoid using them on concrete or gravel if you want to prolong their life. I love them for warm rainy days or morning playground trips when everything is still wet – they’re so easy to wash and dry that I don’t worry about ruining shoes from wet grass.
We’ve yet to try VivoBarefoot, but I hear good things about the brand – however, they’re expensive.
Vibram Five Fingers (Child)
They don’t sell shoes for toddlers, but the famous five finger shoes are available for kids. Smallest size is a toddler 11.5.
Minnetonka (Toddler and Child)
We haven’t used these, personally: Minnetonka makes a variety of moccasin products for kids and toddlers. Not all of them meet my requirements because some have padded insoles or thick soles, but a great many do – includingthe Minnetonka Back Flap Booties follow and Minnetonka Classic Fringe Bootfollowie. I have a more extensive list of Minnetonkas under the shoe section of the store (click on the menu bar).
Mostly for infants. Sizes stop at 18-24 Months.
See the “Specific Product Links” below for good shoes that come from manufacturers that make traditional shoes, too.
WEB SITES FOR BROWSING BAREFOOT KIDS’ SHOES
1. Happy Little Soles
I just made my first purchase from Happy Little Soles – they are a web site and store that stocks products from several different shoe companies, like Bobux, Vivobarefoot, See Kai Run & Livie and Luca. The company is in the UK, so expect the price to reflect the difference in the American Dollar v. the UK Pound AND the price of shipping via Royal Air Mail. Shamless Plug: Use my name at check out (Lauren Saglimbene) to help me work towards rewards points and free shoes!
SPECIFIC PRODUCT LINKS
Some companies have select shoes that fit my “shoe rules.”
1. Bogs Kids Baby Dots Rain Boot for Toddlers: Girls
2. Bogs Kids Baby Zoo Rain Boot for Toddlers: Boys
follow3. Stonz Rain Bootz
follow3. Barefoot Merrell Trailglove
4. Barefoot Merrell Flux
followI wear the adult version of this shoe and it’s my favorite on the market. I haven’t been able to purchase these shoes for my son because they don’t make his size anymore. Merrell sells some infant shoes and other models on their web site, but I find that they have too much structure in the shoe for my taste – particularly where the arch of the foot is concerned.
5. Haflinger Kids’s Slippers for Toddler/Little Kid: My Star
These are intended to be slippers but they have a rubber sole, so I don’t see why they couldn’t be used as shoes. I don’t believe they have any cushioning or arch support but I can’t guarantee it.
6. New Balance Minimus for Kids
As a general rule, “kid equipment” can be undesirable in three ways:
1. It forces your child to be sedentary – time spent moving is extremely important for a child’s physical development. Movement is the “miracle grow” of the brain, so it’s also important for learning and cognitive development.
2. It overly supporting the body, so it takes away from the activity of postural muscles.
3. Placing a child’s skeleton into an undesirable position, affecting his muscles, joints and nervous system.
Car Seats: Car seats are only good in one way: They are the safest place for your child to be in the event of a motor vehicle accident. For movement, however, they’re bad in all three ways listed above. Time spent in a car seat means time not moving. The child is completely and totally inactive in the seat – since her entire body is supported by the cushions of the seat, there’s no need to use any muscles at all. Lastly, your pelvis is tucked under and your shoulders/upper back are rounded when you sit in a car seat. This is particularly undesirable for infants because they’re still working towards developing the natural curves of their spine – the car seat directly counteracts that. Unfortunately, cars are a real and permanent part of our lives. Here are a few things you can do to help minimize the effect of car seats:
Spend as little time in the car seat as possible. Organize your day to prevent unnecessary trips and time spent in the car. Walk whenever and wherever you can. Don’t take your baby places and leave them in their car seat. Remove your child from the car seat to sleep.
Have an active lifestyle. The only thing that counteracts poor movement/lack of movement is more good movement!
Cloth Diapers & Disposable Diapers: In most cases, all types of diapers force a child’s legs apart and affect their walking gait/leg position in some way. I love cloth diapers because they’re cute and environmentally friendly, but they’re a huge offender when it comes to alignment – they’re so bulky and force little legs apart quite a lot, which impacts your baby’s movement quality and ability. Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, give your child as much naked time as possible. Make sure you’re choosing the right size diaper for your child so you don’t have too much bulky fabric accumulating between their legs. Change disposable diapers frequently to avoid the “mass” of wet diaper between your baby’s legs. Note: Your pediatrician should check your baby’s pelvis for abnormalities at check ups.
Strollers: Strollers force your child to be sedentary AND often put them in an undesirable body position. Go for baby carrying or baby wearing, instead. Ask your older ones to walk – they’ll learn about how they’re expected to behave as well at the same time they’re getting physical activity.
Wraps & Carriers: I prefer baby carrying (just using your arms) over baby wearing because wraps, slings and carriers often OVER support infants. This takes away from their ability to use the postural muscles of their head, neck and trunk. Still want to use your wrap or carrier? Reevaluate your infant every few weeks and adjust the position of your wrap or carrier according to their abilities . For example, fold your wrap down a little more so your baby is only supported up to the middle back – she has to support her upper back and head herself.
Booster Activity Seats: These are the seats with toys all around them for baby to play with – they only allow a little rotation, so they limit a baby’s movement at an age where what the baby really needs to do is develop functional sitting – the only way to do that is by moving!! They need to be moving via tummy time, being carried (upright stability), rolling and more. The only benefit to a booster activity seat is that it might give mom a brief break to do something that she can’t do while carrying a baby.
Bottle Feeding v. Breastfeeding: The movements of bottle feeding are different than breastfeeding, so the mouth & jaw develop differently. Read more about the implications of oral development here.
The Bumbo Seat
Having a healthy, vibrant adult body starts during childhood. Team sports, PE class and normal play aren’t enough to keep children’s bodies mobile, aligned and healthy.
Our bodies change in response to our environment – everything from the temperature, light and smell to the seating options, floor surface and air quality. School and home environments are where kids spend the most time. The school is a harder environment to control, but your house isn’t.
Is your home set up to promote healthy and normal physical development for your child? Most people’s homes aren’t. These five items can take your kids from sedentary and stiff to constantly moving.
1. Eliminate most “sitting” furniture.
Furniture like chairs and couches puts kids in a 90/90 position (90 degree angle and knees and hips) – a passive position that requires little strength, flexibility or muscle activity. Add a cushion and kids will likely sit for a long time without moving. As small children, we all have a natural drive to move around. However, we lose the drive as we get older. In theory, the cultural and social impetus to move should replace the biological imperative. It doesn’t work that way anymore, thoug; Instead of engaging in hunting, gardening and migrating kids now go to school and sit in a desk.
Why is that bad? A lifestyle of constant movement is important for healthy mental development, healthy structural development (bones and joints) and maintaining the level of flexibility that we are born with and are meant to maintain as adults (yes, your teenage son should still be able to sit in a deep squat position or touch his toes. So should your husband. So should your grandma.) Constant movement doesn’t mean running on a tr eadmill all day long – it means sitting criss cross applesauce, then squatting, then sitting with your legs wide apart, then kneeling, then playing hopscotch, then hanging from the monkey bars, then going inside and squatting on the floor again… and so on.
Sitting on the floor is self-limiting; Meaning, you get uncomfortable pretty fast and move into a different position. Sitting on the floor/eliminating “sitting furniture” is the easiest, most no-brainerest (definitely a made up word) way to encourage constant movement in your child’s life. Kids will naturally move from one position/activity to another as they regulate their comfort level and attention levels.
Are you totally confused by how this works in real life? Katy Bowman of Aligned and Well has a wonderful video tour of her mostly-furniture-free home. Click here to go to the postfollow. Also, stay tuned for TLM tutorials on living without chairs.
Not ready to ditch the couches? Save them for guests and institute a “no sitting on the couch” rule. If your children have learned to stay away from great grandma’s China then they can also adapt to the new couch rule.
2. Introduce a squatty potty.
Squatting is easy and natural for a toddler. Keep it up!
A squatty potty is a platform that you stand on while you use the traditional toilet, allowing you to descend into a squat position while you do your business. Yes, I know I’ve lost a lot of you right here! “Weird,” “Gross,” “Freaky,” you might be thinking.
First, let me tell you that many far eastern countries ONLY have squatty potties. As-in the toilet is actually sunken into the floor and you have to squat over it. I first saw them when I visited Japan. It was so shocking for me that I used an entire roll of film for toilet pictures. If you’ve never seen a squatty potty then head over to this Amazon.com Linkfollow.
Second, know that squatting is one of the most important positions to put your body in. It’s crucial for maintaining supple ankles, knees, hips and spines. It was also the only way we sat for centuries. My brother in law called me from Turkey a few months ago in disbelief because everyone squats there. He saw an extremely overweight, very old woman squatting at the bus stop and couldn’t believe his eyes. He wanted to take a picture to show me. Everyone is capable of squatting if they never stop squatting!
A squatty potty is part of a “lifestyle of movement.” Simply trying to squat more during the day may mean that you drop into a squat for 3 or 5 extra times per day. It becomes homework. However, if you had to squat every time you went to the bathroom then you’re naturally integrating several repetitions of squatting into your daily life. No need to think about it. No need to plan.
A side note: If you know anything about natural birthing methods then you probably know that the deep squat position is one of the best positions to eliminate things from your body – like babies and *cough* other stuff. Ideally, your knees should always be above your pelvis during elimination. The higher your knees are the better the position. Traditional toilets place your thigh bone in line with or below your pelvis, so elimination requires straining (a major player in hemorrhoids). Interestingly, many babies and toddlers prefer to potty while squatting but are untrained to do so.
Don’t want people to think you or your kids are weird? Put the squatty potty platform in a bathroom that guests don’t use, or get a squatty potty platform that you can stash away when guests come. Teach your kids about the difference between the different ways of pottying and why they don’t have a squatty potty at school. My husband and I had many heated discussions about the squatty potty and if it would introduce unnecessary social challenges for our son – I believe that offering the squatty potty as an option and also offering the traditional potty as an option is the best course of action, provided that you explain to your child that they use the regular toilet outside the house.
As a side note, if you have daughters then the act of introducing the squatty potty is helping to educate them and prepare them for successful child birthing as adults. The oral tradition of birthing education has been lost over the last century, just as with breastfeeding, but it doesn’t have to be.
3. Have a place to “hang out.”
Kids need objects to hang from.
Hanging from the hands is an extremely important part of a child’s physical development. Most parents know that hanging helps develop upper body and core strength, but many don’t realize that it also helps with grip strength, hand articulation and wrist articulation that are crucial for writing.
Unfortunately, most kids only have access to a place to “hang out” when they are at a playground – nowadays, many kids don’t even have a good tree limb to hang from.
Even a baby and toddler can grab on to a bar and experiment with hanging. At 1.5 years old, hanging made my son giggle and he kept running back to his bar for more.
Get a child-sized pull-up bar or monkey bar set for your home. Some people install monkey bars near the ceiling of a long hallway with a wall ladder providing access for tiny people.
You can also use a trapeze, gymnastic rings or TRX Suspension Trainer – note, however, that A) Children love to swing on these things, which may or may not be a bad thing to you B) the straps are a potential strangulation hazard and your child should always be supervised during use. Also, remove any necklaces, hoodies with strings and jackets with strings.
If you’re worried about your child crash landing (let’s admit it, that’s likely!) then arrange some couch pillows, body pillows or gymnastics mats under their hanging area. You’re never too young OR too old to start hanging!
4. Have objects to climb.
Kids often only get the chance to climb at the playground.
Climbing is also a big part of a child’s physical development. If you make it to a playground or wooded area for your child’s daily dose of climbing then you may not need to introduce climbing objects in your home. However, if your schedule is inconsistent then you may want to introduce at-home options.
There’s no need to buy fancy playground equipment for them to climb on- consider using used items like an A-frame pool ladder, a wooden ladder installed on an angle or an ottoman. Don’t forget about trees, too – those are free! Get creative.
Just as with some hanging equipment, remove any necklaces, hoodies with strings and jackets with strings.
If you’re worried about your child crash landing (let’s admit it, that’s likely!) then arrange some couch pillows, body pillows or gymnastics mats under the hanging area.
5. Never introduce a pillow for sleeping.
Humans don’t actually need pillows, by design. Pillows are assistive devices for sleeping when no assistance is needed (Katy Bowman of Aligned and Well likens them to orthotics in your shoes). We adapt to the stimulus of the pillow, meaning simply that using a pillow makes you need a pillow.
Humans have been sleeping on the ground, without pillows, for thousands of years. Our bodies adapt to every situation we’re in – including our sleeping situation. If your torso, shoulders and neck are malleable, relaxed and flexible then you’ll have no problem sleeping without a pillow. It’s a a chicken-or-the-egg situation because sleeping without a pillow also keeps your body malleable, relaxed and flexible.
Children are born with the perfect structure for pillowless sleep, so don’t mess with a good thing.
Most children A) Never ask for a pillow but are given one by well meaning, concerned parents or B) Ask for one because they see that there parents have one.
Please note that older children who are used to sleeping with a pillow may need gentle exercises for regaining neck, shoulder and torso mobility before they are able to enjoy pillowless sleep. Gradually downsize the pillow from extra puffy, to normal, to flat, to a camping pillow, to a rolled towel to nothing. Immediately removing the pillow can lead to discomfort. You may find that children who sleep pillowless may have some discomfort while sleeping if their bodies are becoming immobile from other parts of their day, like sitting in a desk at school or riding in the car for long trips. This is a sign that daily activities need to become more body-friendly.
Kids are less likely to resist sleeping pillowless if they see their parents doing the same. Stay tuned for tips on helping adults sleep without a pillow.
I don’t believe in “good” or “bad” foods. I believe in eating what’s right for you, your life and your family. That depends on who you are, what you’re eating and how much of it.
There are some elite athletes who have included pizza delivery as a regular part of their diet…or consumed up to 20% of their weekly calories from added sugar. In most cases, you can accomplish your goals and maintain your health while including a little junky food. However, there are just as many people who are very affected by added sugars, refined foods and more.
That being said, I do have a philosophy that we stick to in our house. These are our “food rules,” in list format. Stay tuned for blog posts going into more depth about the reasoning behind each.
There are also very specific “proportions” of food intake I recommend (protein:fat:carbs) for different goals – these are NOT included here. For more information on those, contact me about nutrition coaching! Even without thatinformation, you can make a big change to your diet just by keeping this rules in mind.
My philosophy on eating is summed up perfectly by Michael Pollan in his book “In Defense of Food.” They’re general rules and apply no matter what goal you’re working towards – including fat loss, muscle gain, weight maintenance, longevity and just plain ol’ feeling good!
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.”
On the outside, these seven words may seem simple. Here are some “quick notes.”
– More Than 6 Ingredients? It’s not food, it’s a product.
– Can’t understand or easily identify an ingredient? It’s not food, it’s a product.
– Is it more than 2 steps of human processing from it’s original form?
(Flour, for example, is harvested as a grain , ground , then bleached  and sometimes enriched with vitamins/minerals).
– Is it found in nature in its current form? For example, you cannot find low fat cow’s milk or dairy products in nature. They do not exist. Lowfat dairy products are not food – they are a product.
Eat to Nourish.
NOT TOO MUCH
– Eat only when you’re truly hungry.
– No second helpings
– Or, second helping of vegetables only.
– If you’re having alcohol or dessert then don’t have a starch with dinner.
– Avoid using food as a treat or relaxation method.
Pretty self explanatory! Aim to consume a mostly plant-based diet.
And some more items…
Cultivate your taste for things other than sweets.
– Even natural sugar sources like agave, honey and dates.
– Even artificial sweeteners like stevia and splenda.
– Try to eat more vegetables than fruits, or at least an even amount.
– Choose less sweet fruits over sweeter ones (ie apples, papaya, berries). Save sweeter ones for treats (watermelon, cantaloupe).
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES ARE CARBOHYDRATES
– Fruits and veggies can make up a large portion of your daily carbohydrate requirements.
– Refined grains, pasta and bread are not nutritionally necessary when other foods are present in your diet.
BE PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR HEALTH
– Being healthy is an uphill battle in our social climate.
– Being passionate means you’ll keep learning, helping you to make the right choices happily.
– Your family will feed off your passionate energy and will understand that new changes are important.
– Being passionate about losing weight and being passionate about being healthy are not the same thing.
MAKE IT SOCIAL
– Meal time is primarily for nourishing your body, secondarily for nourishing your friends and family.
– Eat with your family and friends.
– Focus on the people around you just as much as the food around you.
– Eating shouldn’t be about filling your tummy or gorging.
ople always say that you need to live a healthy lifestyle. What exactly does that mean? To most people, living a healthy lifestyle is going to the gym 4-5 days per week and sticking to a healthy, clean diet. While I’m in favor of anything that gets people active and eating well, an hour per day in the gym is not enough – neither is a spin class, a hot yoga class or a long run.
It’s true, one hour per day and a healthy diet can keep you slim and sexy. That part is a matter of calories in, calories out. However, having a beautiful-to-look-at body won’t be enough for you one day.
All gym goers – actually, all humans – have one thing in common: you are going to grow old. The question is, how do you want to grow old? Do you want to be the 75 year old who still lives by himself, can still play with her grandchildren, who can walk confidently and unassisted? Or do you want to be the 75 year old who lives in an assisted living or nursing home, who needs a walker to walk, who sits on a bench and watches her grandchildren run around the yard and isn’t able to follow them? Do you want to be the 45 year old who has already had two knee surgeries and is on track for a hip replacement because of osteoporosis? Or do you want to grow old with all your own joints and bones? Do you want your child to be the
Another question is, how do you want to be young?
Do you want your child to be the 14 year old who pees a little when she sneezes because years of sitting at a desk have affected her pelvic floor muscles? The child who is diagnosed with arthritis in his early twenties because he overused a body that wasn’t aligned correctly to begin with?
What’s the best healthy lifestyle tip I can give you?
The most important thing you can do is take care of your bones, joints, muscles and organs by engaging in a lifestyle of movement. A lifestyle of movement isn’t about running, lifting heavy weights, working up a sweat or burning a lot of calories – it’s about returning to a way of life that helps maintain optimal alignment and healthy bones and joints. You can do all the fun, extreme fitness stuff to some degree – but only when you’ve set a foundation for your body to handle it.
The most important element to a lifestyle of movement is… you guessed it… movement.
Movement keeps your muscles strong and mobile. It keeps your tissues pliable and hydrated. It prevents you from losing range of motion and postural strength as you age, which ultimately limits your ability to move independently.
Working towards a lifestyle of movement means workings towards:
1. Putting your joints and body in as many different positions as possible, per day.
Examples of possible “resting positions” – squatting, sitting cross legged, sitting cross legged with one leg out, sitting with legs apart, kneeling on two knees, kneeling on one knee, sitting with legs in a butterfly, lying on your stomach, lying on your side, lying on your back, sitting in child’s pose, standing, standing with one leg up, standing while leaning forward onto something and sitting in a chair with your legs elevated.
Examples of possible “active positions” are infinite – walking, running, walking while carrying an object, squatting, bending and lifting, lunging, digging with a shovel and more.
2. Avoiding any one position for too long, especially the 90/90 position of sitting in a chair.
Chairs and couches need to go.
An hour per day in the gym is not enough time to counteract 8 to 10 hours sitting.
To accomplish goal #1 and #2 (above), you must make changes to the way you live.
The #1, best thing you can change?
Minimize the presence of chairs/couches in your life.
This means modifying your home, your office or your school to allow for more movement.
What’s the problem with chairs?
They’re not self limiting. That means the nature of the chair doesn’t inspire movement. The 90/90 position doesn’t put any of your joints in an extreme, active position. Cushioned surfaces mean that you’re not bothered by the downward pressure of your body onto the chair surface, as you would with other types of sitting.
Children sit in desks for hours at a time.
In other words, sitting in a chair is so comfortable that you don’t want to move and you don’t need to move. You could sit for hours without getting uncomfortable enough to move. So you do – you sit for hours while your body stiffens and your muscles don’t do anything. You miss out on countless chances to move your body into different positions, helping you to stay strong and limber.
If you squat, your hips will begin to ache after 5 minutes. When you kneel, your feet will begin to lose circulation from the weight of your hips on your feet. When you stand, eventually you’ll get tired and want to sit down. And so on.
In theory, you could achieve 5 different body positions in the course of a day (during your “chair life”) or you could achieve 10 different body positions more than five times each in the course of a day (during your chairless life) Multiply that by the number of days in a week, the number of weeks in a year, then the number of years in your life… if you live until 80, then you are doing 145,600 different body positions compared to 1,456,000 different body positions over the course of your life time.
That’s a pretty big difference in the health of your joints, your overall mobility and about one million billion gazillion trillion other health benefits associated with activity.
Living with minimal sitting can sound pretty intimidating/crazy/overwhelming/etc. to begin with… but I assure you it’s possible and actually pretty easy. And people everywhere are doing it.
They’re changing their offices. They’re changing their homesfollow. They’re changing their classroomsfollow. Most importantly, they’re changing their bodies and their lives.
Not ready to ditch your chairs and couches completely? Change the way you use them. I have a mental rule that I won’t sit on my bottom in a chair. I sit cross legged. I kneel on chairs. I sit like a pretzel. I sit on the floor and use the chair as a desk. Anything is possible! The more you practice a lifestyle of movement, the more natural it becomes.
Hey everybody! I’m excited to tell you that I was featured in “13 Ways You’re Not As Fit As You Think You Are” in Men’s Fitness online. Please check out the article here and see the two sections I contributed to – I am sure that most of you have probably never tried these two exercises before. Try them out – you will see a difference in your training!
I’d like to thank Amy Roberts and Men’s Fitness Online for the opportunity to share my knowledge with others! Training and nutrition are my greatest passion and it’s an honor to share that in a nationally recognized publication!