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: 

Healthy Eating At Home

Healthy Eating At Home

Do you find eating healthy at home is challenging?  I feel ya!  Being home 24/7 has its highs and lows when it comes to making right food choices.  If you have kids, it’s even harder!  Junk food takes up a good space of the pantry and way too easy to grab and eat.  Here are some tips and tricks to get back on the healthy eating train:

  • Buy more FRESH fruits and vegetables– If you’re like me, when I have fresh produce in my fridge, it forces me to eat healthier because I do not want the food to spoil and have to throw it all away! TIP:  If you find that you cannot finish all of your fruits or veggies before they expire, freeze them!  Wash, cut, Ziplock and date your produce and store them in your freezer for future use.  I do this all the time and it’s great to be able to quickly grab and use these items when I’m in a pinch for dinner (or a smoothie)!
  • Get rid of the junk food– OK, we’ve heard this before but realistically, junk food is comforting at times, especially at a time like now.  The key is to not go overboard with the quantity of unhealthy food.  Just have a couple items that bring you joy!  Allow yourself one or two portion size snacks per day to keep away those binge cravings. My comfort snacks are pretzel M&M’s, butter toffee peanuts and full-sugar coffee creamers!
  • Have an accountability buddy– This “buddy” can be a family member, friend, neighbor, whoever!  Check in with each other everyday or just once a week to make sure you’re staying on track.  Make it a team effort!
  • Write it down– I promise you, writing down every single piece of food down in a journal or app will open your eyes to what you’re consuming each day!  Whenever I feel like I’m getting off track on my eating habits, I fire up Myfitnesspal app and start documenting.  I know this may sound tedious at first, but just do it for a few days and it’ll be enough to make a difference make you more aware.
  • Get moving instead of snacking– There’s a difference between eating because you’re really hungry and snacking due to boredom and something to do.  Get up and MOVE instead if you’re simply bored.  Even if it’s just doing some jumping jacks and push-ups in your living room, play with your kiddos or go for a walk outside…whatever! 
  • Drink more water– I’ll admit, this is one that I’m continuously working on.  Thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger and that can lead to overeating when we should be hydrating instead.  Our bodies are made of about 60% water!   We should be consuming anywhere between 2-3 liters of H2O per day!  Have a re-fillable water bottle on your desk or next to you at all times and make sure it’s filled.  When hunger strikes and you just finished a meal, taking some big gulps of water and wait about 15-20 minutes.  If you really are hungry after that time, eat a light and healthy snack.  

Incorporate these tips and new habits into your routine and let me know if they worked for you!  

XOXO, Ally

How to Stay Active During Covid-19

How to Stay Active During Covid-19

What a crazy time it is for everyone during this Covid-19 pandemic.  With schools and businesses shut down and people being encouraged to not leave their homes, it still feels surreal and like we’re all in really bad long movie where we don’t know the outcome.  Learning how to adapt to homeschooling AND entertaining my 6-year-old son, Apollo, has also been a challenge as well. I miss teaching my fitness classes, training clients and being around all of my wonderful work family.  

Despite all the negatives, it’s important to still see the bright side and positives in this unique situation.  If you’re at home with your family, take advantage of this quality time to play with your kids more, re-connect with your partner and do more fun home activities together!  For instance, something that we did not do consistently before was eat meals together.  Now, we are eating most all our meals together, playing more board games and just enjoying the little moments!

When it comes to YOUR health and fitness, this is a GREAT time to begin a workout program or continue to progress with your current fitness routine. I totally understand that space and equipment may be limited at home, but that’s no excuse to not get moving!  Here are some fun suggestions on how to “sneak” in exercise while stuck at home:

  • Take a walk outside– Do this as a family!  This will also be a great way to break up the day from work and homeschooling. Commit, as a family, to do at least one physical activity together each day.
  • Do push-ups, jumping jacks, planks, or whatever floats your boat during commercial breaks when watching TV.
  • Wake up an hour earlier (yes, I know that sounds hard) and workout BEFORE everyone else is up- This is what I do for myself most everyday to guarantee a workout.  I get to zone out on my indoor bike or complete a virtual workout sess. Just GET.IT.DONE!
  • Not an early morning person?  Workout at night after the kiddos go to bed!
  • Play like a kid again!  Grab your bikes, ball, have a race or play an active game outside with your kids.
  • Sneak squats and lunges in throughout your day– while brushing your teeth, do some squats, calf raises while cooking dinner, or lunges while taking a conference call. There are so many ways to sneak in exercise throughout the day! 
  • Work those Transverse Abs!  What are the transverse abs (TA)?  They are deep, innermost abdominals closest to your organs and helps support your lower back. When you suck in your stomach (think about pulling the bellybutton towards the spine), you’re working your TA’s!  Do this when sitting or standing and hold for 20-30 seconds increments throughout the day. 
  • Have an accountability buddy! Challenge your friends to a virtual workout sess!  Whether it’s hopping on Zoom, Facetime or House Party and working out together or challenge each other to complete an online workout!  
  • Invest in some affordable home workout equipment.  Here’s a list and link to my favs:
    • TRX Home2System
    • Gymwell Portable Resistance Workout Set– Use my code to save: GYMWELLAA
    • Hope Fitness Gear bands and sliding discs- A portion of all proceeds goes towards helping children battling cancer and other serious illnesses. Use my code to save: ALLYFIT
    • Tidal Tank on Amazon!
    • Carbon38– OK, it’s not fitness equipment but look stylish while working out! Use my code to save on your first two purchases: ALLISONLEEA20
    • Alo Yoga– Just one more for fabulous and perfect fitting fitness clothes!
  • Take virtual fitness classes on YouTube or follow my daily workouts on Instagram @Allyfitatl 

Stay healthy and safe everyone!

XOXO, Ally

*** I am part of several affiliate marketing programs. If you click on a link and purchase, I may make commission.