Can You Crack a Walnut with YOUR Va-Jay-Jay?

Posted: 2112 days ago in Wellness

crackawalnutKegel, Schmegel. Ladies of all ages need to be concerned with their perineum.

Peri-what-um,” you say?! Your perineum, or “undercarriage” is where all of the genitals, bladder and rectum exit your body. A healthy perineum takes some attention, and if you ignore it, it can rebel by gifting you with things like incontinence, hemorrhoids and uterine prolapse. Not. Fun.

So, what is the proper care and feeding of your perineum?

Doing Kegel exercises regularly (and properly!) can definitely result in healthy muscle tone (Check out this page courtesy of Wikihow for more detailed exercises). Working on your perineum needn’t be a full-time job, either. You can Kegel at every stoplight or while waiting in line at the bank.

Sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair is also kinder to your vagina. As you subtly rock and shift on the ball, it stretches and massages those delicate areas. So, trade in your office chair for an exercise ball. In addition to being kinder to your privates, it’s a great all-over core strengthener.

Deep squatting. Deeper than you would squat in an exercise class. This also stretches and tones really well. Check out the Garland yoga pose for perfect form. You can incorporate the deep squat into your post-workout stretching. And Couch potatoes, squat while you are watching TV.

Why the title? After having my second child, I put some serious time into strengthening my netherlands. So, imagine my delight when during a recent GYN exam, my midwife nearly gasped in surprise when she asked me to contract my perineum. “Wow! You could crack a walnut with those muscles!”

And that, my friends, was the nicest compliment I’d gotten in a long time.

In conclusion… trust me when I say, you’ll thank me later, ladies!

To Go or Not to Go….Commando?

Posted: 2124 days ago in Everything Else

PANTIESI am surely going to hell for this one, but  I can’t keep my opinion to myself about this any longer.

It’s also clear to me that other women are thinking the same thing since I got a text message last night asking me this very question: “Should I or should I not wear underwear under my workout gear?” World peace does not hinge upon the answer to this question. I know. However, I spend about half of my waking hours in spandex of some form, so it is a subject near and dear to my own heart.

Ladies, I applaud ALL of you who get out of the house day after day, week after week, and hit the gym in your spandex. At the same time, I implore you; please check out the rear view before you go! Hardly anything makes me gag more than seeing the VPL’s (Visible Panty Lines) that only your spandex can accentuate.

Now I hear you. Some of that spandex can be stretched rather thin by, ahem, limitations of matter, and the only thing worse than VPLs is VBC (B as in Butt, C as in Crack). Thongs seem like a happy medium, but they can definitely irritate your netherland as you squat, leap and jump through your workout.

What is a girl to do? Alas, I don’t have an answer, only a plea. Consider all options. Perhaps wearing a long t-shirt,  going  commando or wearing those granny panties you know you own. How about doing yoga in dim light and/or the go-to of wearing a thong?

You get the drift.

Skorts are cute and solve the above problems, but then you are faced with exposing your thighs, so go with the lesser of all evils on any given day. Don’t even get me started on the dreaded camel toe.

Just be aware that although you see your front, many others see your back, and don’t you want to look as cute going as coming?

No conversation about foundational garments and exercise would be complete without talking about the “beastie yeasties” (sorry girls, I’m going to continue to offend you). You need to keep Virginia clean and dry if you want to stay healthy down South. What good is having a tight body if you are dealing with a chronic yeast or bladder infection?

Definitely not sexy.

So whatever undergarments you choose to use or not, make sure they have a cotton crotch, and that you get out of them ASAP after exercise. If you wear thongs and this is an issue for you, you should know that they are particularly good at wicking bacteria up inside of you, so you may want to steer clear for a while.

Sorry for the visuals, but us girls have to stick together on certain matters. And for the record, I’m a thong girl myself.

The Five Best and Worst Things for Great Skin

Posted: 2144 days ago in Mirror Mirror

good vs. bad skin habits

Every year when I write my goal list, I add this line item:

Work towards glowing, healthy skin.

 

And it is a work in progress. Skin cells continually turn over. When we are babies, skin cells replace themselves every two weeks or so. In our 30’s it takes about a month, and by the time we reach 50, it takes almost three months for skin cells to replicate. This turnover is an opportunity to improve the quality and appearance of our skin, but alas, it also means that if we stop taking care of ourselves, that too will show.

5 Best Things for Your Skin

I’m pretty low-maintenance when it comes to my skin, but I’ve found that practicing these five things will keep skin glowing like a light bulb:

  1. Stay really well hydrated to keep skin plump and firm. Picture a nice wet sponge vs. an old dried-up version. Case closed.
  2. Exercise regularly. Increased circulation gives your skin great nutrition and glow, and a good sweat cleans out toxins.
  3. Exfoliate once a week. Dead skin cells look flaky and dull and can clog pores.
  4. Wash your skin every night with a gentle cleanser. We repair when we sleep, and skin clogged with dirt, makeup and oil is swimming upstream. In the morning, a washcloth and warm water are all you need.
  5. Use a non-petroleum based moisturizer around your eyes, neck and other dry areas after each cleansing.

5 Worst Thing For Your Skin

In addition to adopting good habits, do your best to avoid these habits that will make you look like, dare I say it, a hag:

  1. Do. Not. Smoke. It decreases circulation, damages collagen, increases the risk of skin cancer and creates horrid looking lines around your lips. Enough?
  2. Don’t sleep on your stomach. Pillows can grind residual makeup, oil, and dirt into your skin, and will crease your skin over time giving you a funky wrinkle pattern.
  3. Don’t pick blemishes. This will increase your risk of infection and lead to scarring and pitting.
  4. Avoid sun overexposure. A little sun will keep your skin glowing and give you healthy Vitamin D stores, but too much will up skin-cancer risks and leave you looking like a Luis-Vuitton bag. Use good-quality sunscreen thoughtfully.
  5. Dirty makeup brushes and contaminated makeup are a no-no. Keep your makeup bag clean and new-ish.

Finally, don’t underestimate the effects a good lifestyle can have on your skin. Happy and healthy look great on a girl!

You’ve Come A Long Weigh, Baby.

Posted: 2147 days ago in Mirror Mirror

longweighbaby2I was a svelte size 16 with a four-month-old hanging off one breast, and a two-year-old crying for lunch when my mother made the mistake of telling me that when she left the hospital a few days after I was born, she wore her size four pencil skirt. However, she was gracious enough to add that she couldn’t button the top button, so she used a safety pin…

I can still see the smug look on her face when she mentioned that. My mom is not at all cruel, but I still hate her a just a little bit for that.

Generally, you can give two women the identical set of circumstances surrounding their pregnancy, a.k.a. the same diet and exercise routines. One, will look like my mom, and the other will look like me.

C’est la vie.

I think that’s why it’s our job as women to:
a.) Not compare ourselves to others, and;
b.) Not let ourselves be defined by a number.

I was so adamant about not being defined that when I would go for my check-ups with my midwife, I would intentionally stand on the scale backwards so I wouldn’t see how much I weighed.

What was I going to do, eat less?!

There’s no perfect number for how much weight you should gain when pregnant. Yes there are averages and guidelines, but I’ve always considered myself to be above average (*wink, wink*). In this case it was probably true.

So, if you eat real foods, in appropriate amounts, and basically eat when you’re truly hungry (and not bored, or sad, or feeling entitled to eat for two), you’ll gain exactly how much you should to have a healthy baby.

This is not rocket science! Give yourself time and be honest with yourself. While pregnant with our girls, I ate really, really well. For dinner I’d have a dark-green salad with salmon, or chicken and tons of veggies. Afterwards, to satisfy my cravings, I would have McDonald’s french fries (with Francesca) and Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food (with Jules) (I’m not really proud of that, but it is what it is!).

Let’s be clear though; it wasn’t a reward. I just ate well, and if I had a craving, I filled it. If you’re someone who wants that sort of thing all the time, then I’d consider whether you’re feeding your mind and not your body.

My message to you ladies – be healthy, and if you are healthy, give yourself a pat on the back. Please also remember that there is just one you, and only you hold the manual to know what that truly looks like.

Beer Goggles of Pregnancy

Posted: 2165 days ago in Parenting

Beer Goggles of Pregnancy

I was pregnant about a hundred years ago, back when Demi Moore was on the cover of Vanity Fair, naked, and pregnant (with Gossip, Tofu, or some other Moore-Willis baby).

She was beautiful and quite likely airbrushed within an inch of her satiny smooth skin. “I feel that beautiful! I should take a picture like that,” I thought.

Hmmmph. Sure I should have…

Well, I did. And thankfully this was before digital photography, because I didn’t get the pictures developed until AFTER said pregnancy was over. Let me explain…

My ripe belly was the ONLY part of me that might qualify as remotely beautiful. My face was twice its normal size. I stopped my chin count at three. My upper arms resembled mutton-shaped bags of cottage cheese. And my thighs… Oh, my thighs! Never naturally thin; now they were very thick. So thick that the heat index must have risen by 10 degrees when I walked. And veiny. I think I may have been able to navigate the entire Eastern seaboard by the veiny roadmap that used to be the skin on my legs. My boobs are a story for another day, but suffice it to say that if my thighs could navigate me south to Florida, then my boobs took me west of the Mississippi.

My saving graces were my spindly wrists and ankles; cursed for years because of their frailness. Only in these four delicate joints could I see any semblance of the body I used to have, and yearned for once again.

So ladies, I am all about documenting the most wonderful journey that is pregnancy. However, to save yourself from the image of your less-than-perfect (but still oh-so-beautiful) naked-selves being burned into your retinas forever, save the viewing until after you are holding your bundle of joy into your arms. Because then, you will know that it has all been worth it.

If You Don’t Want to Be Alone with You, Why Should Anyone Else Want To?

Posted: 2180 days ago in Mirror Mirror

whyshouldanyoneelseOne of my favorite authors, Marianne Williamson, said something like this in her book, “A Return To Love”: “Of course, men didn’t want to spend the night with me; even I didn’t want to spend the night alone with me!”

Being unhappily single at the time, that really struck a chord with me.

It kills me to see women who are basically throwing themselves at men like flypaper, hoping that they stick. And when it doesn’t work out, and the guys start doing things like not answering their phone calls, or being vague about plans. It kills me even more to see the girls beating themselves up about it, AS IF THEY DID SOMETHING WRONG!

Hello, is anyone out there?

Yes, in fact there is about 7 billion people out there in the world. Now tell me, what are the chances that you’re going to be successful on the first go around? Ok, how about the second? Why would a woman beat herself up over a failure involving 1 / 7,000,000,000th of the population?

Braden once told me that he would ask women that he went on dates with, what they love about their lives. He gauged his interest in them by their answer, and even though that may seem a bit heartless, it’s a good, honest question!

Think about your answer to this question for a second: What do you love about YOUR life?

If you’re having a hard time answering, then you don’t need to be dating, you need to be doing some soul-searching, sister. Here are some tools to discover who you are, so you can create a life you love living. A life worth sharing with someone else.

  1. Create a Lifeline. Past, present, and future. Know who you’ve been, who you are, and who you want to be. I suggest making an actual timeline and writing down major events. Recall everything, those awkward phases, the hard breakups, and the triumphs. In the end, you should have a better idea of the trajectory your life has been on, and whether or not you want to change it.
  2. Create a Dreamboard. Checkout my post on this subject for more details.
  3. Look at Your Relationships Like a Closet. Get rid of the pieces that don’t look good on you anymore. We all change, and sometimes people from our past aren’t okay with it. Make sure you surround yourself with people who are willing to let you, be you. No matter what that looks like.
  4. Gain Independence. If you’re still living at home with your parents, or relying on an unhealthy relationship for support – first things are definitely first. You can’t make decisions that are good for you until you have total control over your finances, and life. So start that job hunt, look for a new place to live, and consider your slate cleaned for the life you want to start living.
  5. Spend time alone!!!!!!! This is huge, and it goes back to the quote by Marianne Williamson. Learn to be good company for yourself. Stay in, treat yourself to a bubble bath, play your favorite music, cook some really good/healthy food, call up an old friend, and most definitely give yourself permission to relax. This is you time baby – do whatever you want and call all of the shots.
  6. Find out what you love. Search for local organizations, volunteer, start a new hobby, reconnect with old friends, take them up on offers to do fun activities – or propose to a group of friends to do a fun day trip. Whatever it is, find things that you love doing for sheer enjoyment.
  7. Be okay with failing. There are going to be bad days where you’ll probably want that ex boyfriend of yours back. Or maybe you just think you’re failing entirely (even though yesterday was a great day). If you can’t tell, ups and downs are inevitable and totally normal. It’s our internal being giving us a reality check to make sure we’re okay with the current situation. So don’t go ape-sh*t judgmental on yourself at the first opportunity. Give yourself a “get out of jail free” card at least once a week.
  8. Give back. Even though it may seem like the world is crumbling in around you, chances are there are thousands of other people within a stones throw of where you are that feel the same, or worse. Volunteering is a great way to do this, and to start feeling better fast, about who you are and what you stand for.

These are just some suggestions, but I guarantee that if you do these things, and even come up with some of your own, you’ll end up surrounded by some good company. The best of which will be your own, because you’re the one who made it all happen.

Wishing love and happiness to you in all your pursuits!

I Hate My Back Fat

Posted: 2195 days ago in Mirror Mirror

IhatemybackfatOver the past 15 years, I’ve walked into my gym over 2500 times.

Every time I do, a hundred cardio machines greet me, with runners, bikers and stair-climbers in every direction I look.

Each time, I have thought to myself, “I hate my back fat”.

You know, the stuff that bulges over, under and around your sports bra, making your back look lumpy-bumpy? Through my distorted lens, no matter the age, size or shape of the person, everyone has had smooth backs but me. Whether I’m in a ‘lean and mean’ phase or ‘crap, I guess I have to stop eating bagels’ phase… I hate my back fat.

Thankfully, there are plenty of moments when I feel proud of my strong core, cut arms or general fitness level – but not 2500 moments of instinctive positive body image. This is totally against my optimistic, happy, accepting nature.

So, the back fat loathing stops here.

Why is it that it’s so easy to overlook all of our good parts, and allow a perceived flaw to speak the loudest to us? Let me know your thoughts ladies. And join me in the pursuit of loving every inch of ourselves, flaws and all.