Kegels for Men & Women

Kegels for Men & Women

Did you know that both women AND men have pelvic floor muscles?  The stereotype is that only women have a pelvic floor (PF) and should do kegel exercises but in fact, men also have a PF and need to do kegel exercises!  Read on to learn more…

Pelvic Floor Facts:

  • The PF muscle is a large muscle roughly the size of a sheet of paper connecting your tailbone, pubic bone and hip to hip bone.
  • In women, the PF supports the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. 
  • In men, the PF supports the prostate, bladder, small intestine and rectum.
  • Causes for weak PF muscles include pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing, and being overweight.
  • Having strong PF muscles leads to: less chance of urinary or bowel incontinence, reduce the chance of passing gas and an increase in sexual function (YES, that means more orgasms!).

Ways to strengthen the Pelvic Floor:

The most traditional way to strengthen the PF floor is to perform kegels.  The best part of kegels if they can be performed in any position and nobody knows you’re doing them! Sitting or lying down is ideal but can also be completed in a standing position.

  • If you are not sure if you’re contracting (lifting) the PF properly, imagine stopping urination mid-stream (do this once, but do not make this a regular habit it can lead to a urinary tract infection).  Think about lifting up all four corners of the PF muscle.
  • When performing kegels, DO NOT tighten your glutes or abdominal muscles.  Also, do not hold your breath (breath normal). 
  • Once the PF muscle is lifted, hold for 2-3 seconds and then slowly relax. Repeat for 20-30 seconds multiple times each day.
  • Play around with different counts like hold for 4 counts, relax 4 counts.  Try Quick Flicks: 30 seconds lifting and relaxing quickly for 30 second blocks.

Kegels should be a permanent part of your daily routine to keep your pelvic floor healthy and strong! 

Check out my YouTube video highlighting proper kegel technique:

If you’re having any issues performing kegels or not sure if you’re doing them properly, consult with your physician or healthcare provider.

The moral of the story is: DO YOUR KEGELS!

XOXO,

Ally

Are you Pregnant and Meeting your Nutritional Needs?

Are you Pregnant and Meeting your Nutritional Needs?

If you are currently pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, here is a quick guide to dietary supplements that should be included in your daily regime according to the most recent version of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  These are important minerals to include in addition to eating a healthy and well-balanced meal plan.

**Consult with your healthcare provider for guidance regarding caloric intake during pregnancy and lactation.

Supplements and foods to consider:

  • Folate/Folic Acid- It is important to increase folic acid intake at least one month pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy in order to prevent neural tube defects.  The recommended amount is 400-800mcg of folic acid per day.  Food sources include dark leafy greens, beans, peas, and lentils. All enriched grains (i.e., bread, pasta, rice, and cereal) and some corn masa flours are also fortified with folic acid.
  • Iron- Levels tend to fall when pregnant and then return back to normal post-lactating once menstruation begins.  Pregnant women need twice as much iron in order to make the blood supply for the baby.  Iron also helps move blood from your (and your baby’s) lungs to the rest of your body.  Iron deficiency is very common for pregnant women so it is very important to consume at least 30mg/day to support this.  Most prenatal vitamins cover this amount.  Food sources include most animal sources, dark leafy greens, beans, lentils and peas.
  • Iodine- Having the proper amount of iodine consumption is important for neurocognitive development of the fetus.  Iodine is primarily in dairy products, eggs, seafood and iodized salt. Most pregnant women do not need to take a supplement. 
  • Choline- This mineral supports infant brain health and spinal development.  This mineral is typically not found in prenatal vitamins but can be found in eggs, meat and some seafood as well as beans, peas and lentils.  Speak with your healthcare provider if for choline supplement guidance.
  • Seafood- A great source for Omega-3’s which are found in fatty fish.  It is recommended to intake 8-12 ounces of seafood per week from sources lower in methylmercury. Over time, this mineral can be harmful to the brain and nervous system if a person is exposed to too much of it over time.  This, in turn, can lead to negative effects on the developing fetus. Here are the best options:  sardines, pollock, flounders, cod, tilapia, shrimp, oysters, clams, scallops and crab.

For more information about the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines, visit: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov

If you’re interested in joining my Prenatal or Postpartum Fitness classes, submit your request HERE or e-mail:  Allison@allyfitatl.com

XOXO,

Ally

New Year, New You?

New Year, New You?

Who else HATES that saying?  I totally get the idea of New Year, New You…BUT that saying is so overused and misinterpreted in many ways.  INSTEAD, let’s focus on continuing our healthy habits from the previous year and build on that.  If you fell out of your fitness and or eating routine over the holidays, no worries!  If you’re like me, I was surrounded by not-so-healthy foods and my workout schedule was inconsistent.  And that is A-OK!  No need to beat yourself up for that.   Start fresh TODAY and get back to your healthy pre-holiday habits.   

Here are 5 tips for getting back on the healthy train:

  1. Get back to eating whole, nutritious foods at home:   Get rid of the processed junk food that accumulated over the holidays and fill up the fridge and pantries with healthy, fresh foods.  Review my previous post, “Healthy Eating at Home” on my blog, Click HERE
  2. Have an Accountability Buddy:  It’s been proven that having an accountability buddy will help increase the likelihood that you’ll stick to a healthy lifestyle program.  Whether it be your spouse, friend, trainer or nutrition coach, etc. knowing that someone is checking in will keep you more accountable and less chance to fall off the wagon!
  3. Reduce Alcohol Consumption:  This one seems very obvious, but the day and age that we’re living in now has probably made reducing alcohol consumption a bit more challenging.  According to medical experts, alcohol has been used MORE during the pandemic to help deal with individuals battling mental and emotional distress, loneliness and physical isolation.  With some things still being out of our control and many of us continuing to work remotely 24/7, it’s important to be aware of weekly or daily alcohol consumption.  Be proactive and make the change to reduce this habit.  I’m not saying to completely give up drinking, but maybe instead just have a glass or two on the weekends and cut out the weekday/night drinking.  For more information, visit www.alcohol.org
  4. Be more Active: Dedicate at least 5 days a week to 30-60 minutes of exercise.  Believe me, you’ll feel MUCH better when you can get up and move!  No time?  Break this up into mini workouts of 5-10 minutes multiple times per day instead!  Check out my YouTube channel for a variety of short and longer workouts fit for any fitness level HERE
  5. Soak in some sun:  I know it’s winter where most of you are located, but breaking up the work day by stepping outside for even 5-10 minutes once or twice can have such a positive impact on your day overall!  Soak in that Vitamin D and take a few deep cleansing breaths!  Of if you’re like me, take the pups out for a walk and now you both get a break from the house AND a quick workout in!

Happy New Year and cheers to a HEALTHY and FIT 2021!

XOXO,

Ally

Holiday Fitness Series 2020

Holiday Fitness Series 2020

Seasons Greetings!  ‘Tis the season to stay in shape and not gain the dreaded holiday L-B’s. Join me in this 3-part Holiday Fitness Series that will keep you moving and in shape throughout the holiday season! 

Here’s the Challenge:

  1. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel, Allyfitatl, and get notified when videos are released!
  2. Complete all three videos at your own pace within one week during the holiday season.
  3. Follow my fitness account on Instagram, @Allyfitatl, and share a post or story that you completed the Holiday Fitness Series.  TAG ME and at least one other fitness pal to complete the series next! 
  4. Use the hashtag: #allyfitholiday and I’ll share your success in my IG Stories!
  5. Last but not least, HAVE FUN!!!  It’s all about enjoying yourself during the crazy holiday season. Laugh, eat, drink and workout! It’s all about the balance!  Grab a virtual workout buddy and let’s get moving together. 

Let’s finish the year STRONG!

Cheers to Healthy Holidays!

Cheers to Healthy Holidays!

To indulge or not indulge over the holidays?

The holidays are quickly approaching and if you’re like me, it’s the most challenging time of year to stay ON TRACK with healthy eating and exercise!  The key is to plan ahead before temptations arise with these few easy steps:

  1. Plan your Weekday Meals– Before the holiday even begins, don’t stop meal prepping for the week! This means over the weekend, write down your family’s meals for each day of the upcoming week and put your grocery list together.  For my family, that usually means grilling or baking proteins like chicken or lean meats and washing, roasting and prepping fruits and vegetables so they’re ready to grab and eat. With my husband and I both working from home, this is great because we never have to think, “What’s for lunch?”. 
  2. Limit Alcohol Consumption– Holidays are a great excuse to eat AND drink a little bit more…but did you know that one festive drink can rack up to 300+ empty calories?  Yikes!  That doesn’t even include meals!  Even wine isn’t calorie free  The average, 5 ounce glass of wine has 120 calories, martini about 200 calories, margarita and daiquiri…wait for it….up to 300+ calories PLUS over 50 grams of sugar! (think about how many glasses were consumed at your last holiday event!).  So before grabbing that first or even second alcoholic beverage, think twice and maybe enjoy a small extra helping of your favorite food dish instead!
  3. Make Healthy Cooking Substitutions– I LOVE a good, rich dessert and creamy mac & cheese (who doesn’t?)!  Unfortunately, that probably means there’s extra butter, cream and sugar in that yummy dish.  If you’re planning to host or bring prepped food to your next family gathering, think small ingredient substitutions that, honestly, no one will know you made except you!  Play around with recipes before the event. 

Here are some of my “sneaky” healthier cooking subs:

  • Cut the amount of sugar by a third or half in cookie recipes.
  • Use applesauce instead of butter in cake recipes.
  • Substitute two egg whites for one whole egg in any baking recipe.
  • Making mashed potatoes?  Substitute half cauliflower for half of the potatoes, use fat free half-and-half or low-fat milk instead of heavy cream, cut the butter in half, use fat-free plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • Use whole-wheat pasta for the next mac & cheese dish and also low or fat-free milk instead of whole milk. 
  • For cheese and charcuterie platters:  Choose low-fat cheeses and leaner meats like turkey salami or thin sliced lean ham.
  • For regular ground beef dishes, use ground sirloin/extra lean ground beef or substitute ground turkey or chicken breast instead.
  • Plan your Workouts– Don’t let the holidays get in the way of your regular workouts! Even if it’s just 20-30 minutes/day, get it in!  Make it a family affair and take walks or hikes together or play outside.  You can also follow along with some of my no equipment home workout videos on Youtube! 
  • Choose Food Splurges Wisely– Is there one or two special dishes or desserts that you only get to eat once a year?  Enjoy those foods MORE and minimize the foods you can have any other time of year. 

Stay up-to-date and accountable with more health and fitness tips throughout the holiday season on my YouTube Channel and Instagram page! 

Happy holidays!

XOXO,

Ally

Is it Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?

Is it Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?

The answer is…YES! According to ACOG guidelines (The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists), “Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises before, during, and after pregnancy”. It is recommended that pregnant and postpartum women get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity spread throughout the week. Here are just a few of the benefits of staying fit during pregnancy:

  • Women who exercise during pregnancy have been shown to have a decrease risk of cesarean birth, operative vaginal delivery and reduced postpartum recovery time.
  • Feel more energetic throughout pregnancy.
  • Helps prevent depressive disorders in the postpartum period.
  • Experience less overall bodily pains and aches during pregnancy; in particular lower lumbar and sciatic.
  • A reduced risk of gestational hypertensive disorders, gestational hypertension and lower glucose levels.
  • Experience quicker recovery postpartum.
  • Aerobic training in pregnancy has been shown to increase aerobic capacity in normal weight and overweight pregnant women

Here are some great types of exercise to do while pregnant:

  • Walking
  • Stationary cycling
  • Prenatal fitness classes
  • Dancing (low impact)
  • Resistance exercises (eg, using weights, elastic bands)
  • Stretching exercises
  • Hydrotherapy, water aerobics

If you are pregnant or have recently given birth, try one of my online virtual classes for FREE!  Send me a message or check out the Perinatal Fitness Class page for more information and schedule. 

The takeaway is, do not be afraid to workout or begin a fitness program while pregnant!  It is the BEST thing you can do for yourself and your little one.

XO, Ally

*Please consult with your physician or OB before beginning any fitness program during pregnancy and postpartum.

For more information about exercise guidelines, visit: http://www.acog.org

Keep COOl when Working Out in the Summer Heat

Keep COOl when Working Out in the Summer Heat

It’s HOT, it’s HUMID and you still need to get your workout in….

It’s the middle of summertime for many of us and that means sweating a good amount more during your workouts, especially if you’re working out outdoors.  Before heading out the door, be smart and plan ahead so you don’t get caught getting dehydrated or over-heated.

Here are some “Stay Cool” tips to keep in mind when working out this time of year:

  • STAY HYDRATED– Did you know that a loss of only 20% of total body water can cause death?  Yikes!  Water makes up the majority of our body composition and if you are dehydrated, you’re already past the point of thirst.  Read more about the importance of hydration in my previous post.  When the temps are high, increase your water consumption to at least 4-8 ounces for every 20-minutes of working out (more if you’re working out at a higher intensity).  After your workout, consume 16-20 ounces for every pound lost during the workout to help replenish fluids.
  • TIMING– Time your outdoor workouts BEFORE it gets too hot outside.  Get outside before 9 or 10AM or in the later evenings evenings after the sun goes down.  For myself, I love working out in the mornings and try to get out early (especially when I ride my road bike).  Lunchtime and mid-afternoon is the HOTTEST, so avoid going outside during those times. 
  • DON’T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN– Remember to lube up any body part exposed to the sun with sunscreen about 15-20 minutes before heading out.  Look for “Sport” or “Waterproof” screens with at least 30-45 UVB/UVA sunscreens.  Don’t forget your face as well!
  • FIND SOME SHADE– If you’re doing yoga, interval/circuit training or more stationary type exercises, try to find a nice shady spot to do these workouts in.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much cooler it feels in the shade compared to in the sun. 
  • TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS– Listen to your body and take frequent breaks as needed.  If your energy level feels a little low, it’s OK to slow down, walk it out, or even stop and take longer to hydrate in the warmer temps.   
  • WORKOUT INDOORS– I understand with some gyms still being closed, working out indoors is not much of any option.  Be creative with the areas you have in your home and get your workout in!  Check out my Instagram, Allyfitatl, for exercise ideas that work in small spaces 

Stay cool, stay hydrated and keep up the great work!

XOXO, Ally

Stay Hydrated this Summer!

Stay Hydrated this Summer!

It’s officially Summer which means being outside more in the hotter weather! With that, a higher risk for severe dehydration and heat stroke, which can be very scary.  The average woman needs to consume about 91 ounces (2.7 liters) and men 125 ounces (3.7 liters) per day.  The key is to stay on top of your water intake throughout the day so you can stay hydrated reduce your risks for dehydration. 

A few fun H20 facts related to the human body:

  • The human body is made up of 50-70% water! 
  • 70% of the human brain is made up of water
  • Children in the first 6 months of life consume seven times as much water per pound as the average American adult.
  • Each day, we also lose a little more than a cup of water (237 ml) when we exhale it.
  • Helps gets rid of bodily wastes
  • Important functions of water include:
    • Regulating body temperature
    • Protecting vital organs
    • Assists with nutrient absorption
    • Water weight constantly fluctuates in our bodies due to food, sweat, urine, feces, metabolic production
    • Maintains blood volume for optimal athletic performance
    • Water weight is higher in athletes and will decrease with age and diminished muscle mass

Tips on how to stay hydrated:

  • Keep a water bottle with you EVERYWHERE
  • Drink BEFORE the thirst hits.
  • If you’re feeling hunger pangs (and it’s not meal-time), try drinking 8 ounces of water before eating food to help curb cravings and prevent over-eating.
  • Don’t like drinking water? Try sparkling water or add fresh fruit like lemons, limes, cucumbers or oranges in your H20.  In the warmer temperature months, substitute a no/low sugar sports drink to help replenish fluids.
  • Enjoy more water-soluble fruits and veggies like watermelon, peaches, oranges, grapes, tomatoes, etc.
  • If your urine is a very deep, yellow color, you’re probably dehydrated. 
  • Watch out of caffeinated beverages!  These can actually do the opposite effect and cause dehydration!
  • Drink water before, during and after your workout.
  • If you’re working out, consume 16-20 ounces of water for every pound lost due to sweating.

In the end, don’t overthink your water intake.  Just be aware to stay hydrated to keep cool in the summer heat!

Happy Summer!

XOXO, Ally

Resources:  ACE Fitness & Nutrition, www.cdc.gov

Do You Hate a Love/Hate Relationship with the Scale?

Do You Hate a Love/Hate Relationship with the Scale?

You are not alone if you said YES! Do you get frustrated when you eat that one extra salty meal or when it’s that time of the month and all of a sudden gained an extra 5lbs. on the scale?  Aaagghhhhh! I totally feel you and want to take that scale and throw it out the window!

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the scale my entire life, even to this day.  When I was a teenager and all through my 20’s I was OBSESSED with the number on the scale.  In high school, I would weigh myself in the morning before school, then after my workout and then again before going to bed.  I was pretty neurotic about it and it consumed my every waking thoughts and life.  Every morsel of food I ate, I would think, “is this going to make me gain weight”?   Even if I hit my goal weight, I still wasn’t happy and in the long run this wasn’t physically or mentally healthy.  If I could turn back time, I’d tell my younger self, “STOP living your life around the number on the scale!”.    

What have I learned as an adult?  The number on the scale should not consume one’s well-being.  Weight fluctuation is a part of most everyone’s life and we should just come to accept that.  I can tell you now that it’s been months since I’ve stepped foot on a scale and I feel so mentally free from scale jail!  Instead of obsessing about hitting a goal weight, I go by how my clothes fit and how I physically feel.  If my pants are little bit tighter, I know that I probably have not been eating as healthy as I should, so I re-evaluate my current meals (mostly snacking) and make adjustments. 

Ever notice when you do start a diet that the first couple days, weight drops quickly but then plateaus?  That’s water weight and it can easily go up and down and shouldn’t be confused with fat loss or gain.  Our bodies are made of about 60% water and causes our weight to fluctuate up and down constantly.  Mentally, this can drive us nuts and sometimes feel frustrated. 

What should we be focusing on if it’s not body weight?   Without getting too technical or into extreme detail, you should aim to keep your body-fat percentage and muscle mass within the recommended range.  In general, for optimal health, women should keep their body-fat percentage under 30% and men under 25%.  Getting a body composition test done through Dexabody or InBody will give the most accurate analysis and include details like body-fat percentage, muscle mass, water weight and skeletal mass.  We’ll save more info on that for another post   

For now, focus more on how you’re feeling and keep up the good eating and fitness habits!  If you’re feeling sluggish and lethargic, do something active instead of eating an unhealthy snack or meal.  It can be something small like taking a quick walk around the neighborhood or doing a few push-ups and planks.  Do whatever physical activity it is that makes you HAPPY!   

In my opinion, don’t weigh yourself every single day!  I’m not saying that you should never weigh yourself….just don’t weigh yourself obsessively every single day (or multiple times per day) and be a victim of “scale jail”. If you need to know your weight, minimize weigh-ins to once per week or month just to stay in check.  When you do weigh yourself, do it first thing in the morning before eating or working out for the most accurate reading. 

***The content in this post is my personal opinion.  Please consult with a physician if you have any serious health issues or need medical attention.

XOXO, Ally

Sleep and Your Health

Sleep and Your Health

Do you get enough sleep each night?  On average, 40% of people do not get the proper quality shut eye they need.  Getting good sleep plays a HUGE part in your mental and physical health.  From the brain to the muscles, sleep is a crucial time that the body repairs itself so you can function and feel good during the awake times.  Here’s a quick overview on the positive benefits of getting good sleep:

  • The Brain:  When it comes the brain, sleep plays a part in learning and memory.  Sleep allows your brain to get ready for the next day so you can think, learn and remember information.  Lack of sleep can lead to increased memory loss, troubles with problem-solving, decision-making and creativity.
  • The Heart: When you sleep, your heart gets a rest from pumping so hard when you’re awake and more active.  Sleeping helps lower the blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Immune System:  Your body’s working on keep the harmful stuff OUT so you can stay healthy! When you get ill, the immune system works hard and cells regenerate during sleep to heal and repair so you can get better faster. 
  • Muscles:  Sleep is the key essential to muscle repair and recovery, especially after strenuous workouts.  Without proper sleep, your muscles cannot repair properly so you may not feel as energetic and strong during your next workout or athletic performance.
  • Mood: Long-term lack of sleep can lead to having more mood swings, lack of motivation or even depression.

How much sleep do you need?

Based on the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep per night. The average teenager needs 8-10 hours.  It’s best to try and keep a regular sleep pattern and schedule even on the weekends to keep your body on a regular sleep-wake rhythm. 

Quality of Sleep.

It’s not just the total amount of sleep that’s important, but the quality of sleep you’re getting.  Without getting into too much details, Going from Non-REM (rapid eye movement) to REM sleep is a process your body goes through when you sleep at night. Most people average 45-90 minutes of deep sleep per night. At this point, your heartbeat and breathing are the slowest and even brain waves slow down. REM sleep follows and can last about 90 minutes.  There is more rapid eye movement, dreams occur, heart rate increase and breathing may not be as consistent. 

How can you get more sleep?

  • Get on a regular sleep schedule- Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day (even on the weekends). Stay on a regular sleep-cycle for better consistency of sleep.
  • Stay away from caffeine and alcohol later in the day– This one totally affects my sleep!  Caffeine is a stimulant so keep try to consume only in the mornings or early afternoons.  For alcohol, the more you drink, the quality of sleep goes way down.  REM sleep is greatly affected with alcohol and can lead to sleep apnea, snoring and disruptions to the body’s circadian rhythm.  Hello, hangover! 
  • Limit screen time in the late evenings– Melatonin makes us feel sleepy when it starts to get dark outside.  Light will stimulate this, even the blue light in electronic devices and cause your body to not produce melatonin so you’re not sleepy.  Make it a habit to turn off the TV and devices at an earlier time and maybe read a book so your body can wind down and get ready for sleep. 
  • Healthy eating and regular exercise– We all know that we should eat healthier for physical and mental health, but also to help with sleep!  Have a regular exercise routine, but try not to workout too late in the day (if your schedule allows this).  The heart rate stays higher than normal after a workout, which can affect sleep.  I personally enjoy working out first thing in the morning to help wake my body up and feel energized for the rest of the day!
  • Manage Stress– Ever have those nights where you can’t sleep because your brain will not stop thinking? Whether it’s work, kids, society, deadlines, the news or whatever it may be stressing you out, this will totally affect your sleep!  I know it’s challenging to “turn your brain off” and we all have been through this.  Before bed, try to shift the focus away from any stressors and try to clear your mind.  Meditate, do a crossword puzzle, read, write in a journal or take 5-10 minutes and do mindful breathing exercises. 

Try some of these methods if you feel like you’re feeling tired and restless.  If your sleep symptoms are not getting better and absolutely nothing has worked, please consult with your doctor.   

XOXO, Ally

Resources: