Monday, December 28, 2009

All About Hemp Foods


Check out why hemp food products are not only yummy, but good for you too in an article I recently wrote for the Precision Nutrition website:

Monday, December 21, 2009

What will your next 10 years bring?


Last weekend, my business partner and I traveled over to Providence, Rhode Island (we're in CT, so it was very short drive), to attend Perform Better's Results Business Seminar led by Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove. Many of you will recognize Alwyn as the co-author of my book, The New Rules of Lifting for Women, among other awesome endeavors, and Rachel being the new author of The Female Body Breakthrough. This dynamic duo also own their very successful gym in California, Results Fitness, which was named one of the top 100 gyms in the US by Men's Health magazine.

My purpose for attending this conference was two-fold: 1) To learn more about the business side of fitness, and 2) To see my friends (Alwyn and Rachel) again... it's been a long time since we last connected.

I must say, this conference was terrific and if you have a chance to attend it, please do. It really made a difference for me, and I'll explain why below.

Right at the beginning of the conference, Alwyn posed a question to all of us attendees. He asked, in his very cool Scottish accent, a simple (but not so simple) question that I've actually been asked before. His question was:
"Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?"

The first time I was given this question was about 10 years ago by my master's supervisor while contemplating my pursuit of a graduate degree at the University of Alberta. When given this to answer, my response was that I admired my university professors and loved what they did in terms of teaching and research and so, wanted to be just like them. Thus, to accomplish this goal I had to complete my MS degree, my PhD degree and attain my RD (Registered Dietitian) certification because I wanted to research and teach nutrition.

Well, as many of you know, I accomplished all these goals and more. I now hold my PhD and RD, in addition to other certifications and honors that I never thought I'd have.

But, the goal of being an university professor is one I'm not so sure about anymore. So when Alwyn asked us this question and gave us time to write out our answers, I honestly sat there for quite a while with nothing written on my paper.

I thought, "What the heck do I want to be doing in 10 years?". My initial thought was that in 10 years, no matter what, I'm going to have a 10 year old daughter and that's going to be a wonderful and amazing job in itself. But as far as career.... I was stumped.

When my pen finally started producing words on my page, I actually did write 'university professor in an exercise and nutrition sciences department', but then I also wrote 'successful gym owner', and 'write at least two more books' and 'living in Colorado, US, or Alberta, Canada'. To be honest, being a professor at a university would be a great career path, but I'm not so sure it's what I really want. What I really love right now is being able to exercise everyday (yes, even while 26 weeks pregnant I work out at least once a day... sometimes three times) and teaching others how to be active and love it. But, I also enjoy research and teaching nutrition at the university level, so I'm torn.

The point in Alwyn asking us this question was to help us frame how we function right now so that we can achieve these goals. Everything we do right now is going to affect what we accomplish in our next 10 years. By knowing where we want to be in 10 years will help us focus our short-term goals so they lead us to our ultimate goal. But, remember, this goal should be one that makes you happy and successful, no matter what that means to you personally.

So, do this now: Ask yourself: "Where do I want to be in 10 years? What do I need to do to get there and be in that position? Is what I'm doing now going to help me get to where I really want to be?"

Some of you may already be where you want to be - you might already have the career of your dreams, be living in the place you want to live in forever and be doing all the things you've always wanted to do, and this is great! But, for most, we have some work to do, but when we start the process it will only lead to success.

For me, because being a professor is still on my radar, I'm interviewing for post-doc positions beginning August 2010 after baby is about 6 months old. Also, since being a gym owner would also be fabulous, I'm working hard now to clear up my school loans and establish great credit so that I can receive a loan to open up my own place if and when that time comes. Thankfully I worked my butt off in university achieving plenty of scholarships, so my debt is not really bad for 12 years of schooling.

I hope this inspired some of you to start planning for the future of your dreams, especially as a new year approaches. Alwyn reminded us to build a business or career that supports our own lifestyle in terms of time, income and mobility. Don't settle for anything less than the best. You deserve it.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Looking for a great Holiday gift?


First, an apology to my readers. These past few weeks have been busy! I'll fill you in more asap, but for now, I'll tell you that on December 5th was my 30th birthday and my hubby treated me to a night out at the symphony. Then, this past weekend was my belated bowling birthday party, which was a ton of fun! (Hey, what else is a pregnant 30 year old going to do to celebrate? LOL).

But, as you know, the Holiday gift-giving time is just around the corner. And, much like some of you, I'm still completing my shopping as the big day is almost only a WEEK AWAY!!! Yikes!

I wanted to share with you a local CT company that has something that some one on your shopping list is going to adore.

A woman I met two weekends ago at a local craft fair, named Pam, who is also a PhD in chemistry, has a company called Kettlepot Soap. She makes some of the most wonderful, natural soaps, lotions, lip conditioners and body butters I've ever tried in my life!

Pam handcrafted these all-vegetable Kettlepot Soaps in small batches in an old New England farmhouse. She developed her own recipe which contains olive, palm, coconut, soybean and canola oils.

All bar soaps are made with top-quality base oils, essential oils, fragrance oils, natural pigment colors, herbs, flower petals and more. Bars are hand-cut and wrapped in pretty, coordinating fabric. Each mild bar is rich in olive oil and glycerin to produce a creamy, cleansing lather, especially when used with a nylon bath scrubbie.

Other skincare products made by Kettlepot Soap include Lip Lotion, Hand and Body Lotion, Shea and Glycerin Skin Solution Buttercream, Solid Lotion, Massage Bars and Extra Emollient Cuticle Care Cream. These creams and lotions are made from scratch, with lots of goodies for your skin, such as shea butter, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, cocoa butter, mango butter and vitamin E.

Trust me that you won't be disappointed with anything you purchase from Kettlepot. And, you're supporting a local entrepreneur who creates something good for you AND the environment. How great is that?


PS. I'm receiving nothing in return for this posting other than the satisfaction of knowing I'm promoting a quality product from a quality woman. Enjoy!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Manitoba Harvest! Enjoy 25% off online orders!


My favorite Hemp Foods company, Manitoba Harvest, is celebrating their 12th birthday! Wow!

And, to celebrate, they're offering an incredible discount on all their online orders.

Now, until December 7th midnight CST, enjoy 25 % off all web orders! Just use the code: HB11

I don't know about you, but I'm ordering some yummy hemp seed butter and Hemp Pro 70 right now!

Happy Birthday Manitoba Harvest!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Great Article in Men's Health Magazine About Pollution and Our Health


I know this may seem a little strange (being a woman and all), but one of my favorite magazines to read is Men's Health. The reason I love this magazine has nothing to do with the tips from "The Girl Next Door", or the info found in their "Tech Guide". No, the real reason I really enjoy this magazine is (the pictures of the hot guys....) the great articles by their writers.

This past month, their very talented writer Melody Petersen, composed a fantastic article about the health hazards of the various pollutants in our in environment. In this article, she visits an Indian Reserve in southern Ontario, Canada and exposes how two large industrial chemical plants have changed the lives of the residents living in that area. Although she focuses on how these chemicals are reducing the number of males being born, it also shares how these chemicals are influencing their pets and wildlife.

For example, check out this one passage:

"SHARREN FISHER IS FIGHTING her way through the thigh-high brush on a warm July afternoon, taking me to the water-filled ditch where Stella, her dog, would often stop for a drink. Fisher, a member of the tribe, says she's seen what looks like oil in the water. It's impossible to see where the water in the ditch comes from in the tangle of cattails and tall grass, but Fisher believes it drains from two industrial plants that are a quarter of a mile from her house, so close you can hear the roar of machinery.

"I used to take the dogs to the creek all the time," she says. But then Stella, a terrier-poodle mix, gave birth to three deformed pups. One stillborn pup, Fisher says, had no muzzle or fur. It also had webbed feet. That was in 2005, she says; Stella hasn't had any puppies since.

"We lost our ducks and geese," she says. "I couldn't keep them out of the water."

Her two ponies have had three stillborn foals. "We've never had a live baby from them," she says."

Disturbing? Isn't it?

To read more about what Melody has uncovered, visit the article online here. After reading it, you'll start to wonder just how companies are allowed to contribute this type of pollution to our world and how it influences the health of our children.

Beautiful Pregnancy Pictures by Heidi Taillefer


One of my blog readers sent me a link to some absolutely stunning paintings of pregnancy by an artist named, Heidi Taillefer. These can be found on the website Street Anatomy. Street Anatomy, created by Vanessa Ruiz, obsessively covers the use of human anatomy in medicine, art, and design.

I'm really enjoying this website, as I'm a slight anatomy geek. I hope you enjoy it too!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Inspiring Pregnancy Exercise Video




A friend of mine, Matt Pack, sent me the video above of his wife, Grace, going through her last "energy" workout right before the delivery of her baby. She had an easy labour and a healthy child and worked out like this all the way through her pregnancy.

If this doesn't inspire you to maintain your fitness (if you can, medically) throughout your pregnancy, I don't know what will.

NOTE: for those of you reading this post on Facebook, the video won't likely post, so if not, just visit my blog to see her in action.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wonderous Womanhood


Not every woman is going to agree with the following post, and guys might not get it at all.

As a woman, there are those days that you think we were dealt the bad hand in the poker game, the short end of the stick, or the uncomfortable chair on the airplane.... whatever you may call it.

There are those horrid PMS days, those "fat" days, and those hot flash days that make us wonder why we're even here.

For example, most women experience almost all of the so-called "nasty" characteristics of womanhood listed below:

  • Breast development (and stretch marks)
  • PMS (cramps, bloating, mood swings)
  • Menstruation (stained clothing items)
  • Body fat gain... and more body fat gain
  • Pregnancy (and more stretch marks)
  • Labour (woah!)
  • Breast Feeding (super sore nipples)
  • Post-partum weight loss blues
  • Pre-menopause (the start of hot flashes and night sweats)
  • Menopause (IT'S HERE and the body fat keeps piling on)
  • Post-menopause (relief, but now a whole new hormonal challenge)

From this, the guys must think, "Thank Goodness I'm not a woman!" and some women wish they were men instead.

But, despite these unique female challenges, there are many wonderful aspects to being a woman that all women should embrace and cherish.

1) Breasts: When we first developed our little "breast buds" almost every young woman out there probably did their best to hide them. When I first "blossomed" I remember being in ballet practice and not letting my hands down from my chest because I didn't want to let anyone see my little "boobies" showing under my tight pink bodysuit.

Now, women's breasts are sometimes one of their most prized possessions. But yet, women still like to complain: "I wish they were bigger", "I want them smaller", "I want them perkier", etc, etc. And many women take the initiative to enhance their breasts to make them larger, more round, or whatever augmentation you can think of. Blame it on our society that a woman has a hard time loving what is uniquely hers.

I do understand (don't get me wrong) that there are times when breast surgery may be necessary such as very different breast sizes, extremely large breasts or extremely small breasts, but all-in-all, most of those cases are the minority in today's surgery line-up.

One of the women in my boot camp class recently lost both her breasts to breast cancer. But, she still walks around proud and tall showing the world that she beat breast cancer, and still loves her body. She's one of the strongest women I know, and tells all of us to appreciate our breasts no matter what the shape or size, because you never know if you might be without them.

2) Menstruation, "the curse":
There were times in my life that I thought menstruation was a "curse" - a horrid time of agony and discomfort. Also, at one point in time, women were told menstruating women could spoil meat and turn milk, and they should stay away from others for fear of "contaminating" them.

However, when I "lost" my period for over 5 years, I'll honestly say I missed it and knew something wasn't right. Despite countless doctors visits, MRIs, CTs and hormone tests, we still couldn't figure out why it left. Doctors wanted me to go on "the pill" to make it come back, but that wasn't the answer, it was only a cover-up for the true underlying issue.

There are also women out there, due to hormonal alterations such as PCOS, who also can not menstruate and do everything they can to make their periods return. Some are successful, some unfortunately are not.

And now, there is a new birth control pill advertised on T.V. and in magazines telling women that "there's no reason a woman needs to have her period every month". So, she should take this wonder pill and not worry about it anymore. Every time I see this commercial I want to find the makers of this drug (probably men), kick them VERY hard and tell them they're morons.

In truth, menstruation IS a normal healthy process every woman should experience monthly. True, there are reasons why it shouldn't be absolutely agonizing and are natural ways to minimize the pain and suffering, but overall, suppressing your period or losing it on purpose is NOT a good thing.

You don't have to necessarily LOVE your period, but love that it means that you're healthy and not having it could mean that you're not. Having your period allows you to be all that is woman, and in today's world, being a woman is a powerful thing.


3) Pregnancy: When I first found out I was pregnant this past July, I thought my world was over. All I could think about was no time for "me", weight gain, stretch marks, and never looking good again..... how stupid and selfish was I?

Now, I'm ecstatic to be pregnant - I'm pumped to prove that many women CAN stay active throughout their pregnancies, and that they're not "delicate little flowers" or, "poor unfortunate souls". Rather, pregnancy is a strong and empowering time for women and it brings much joy and love into their lives. And, following pregnancy comes many new highs and accomplishments.

I realize more and more every day that it's an amazing gift to be able to create another human being inside of you. Every time I feel my baby girl move within me, I'm amazed that there's actually someone in there growing and becoming stronger every minute. My husband tries to feel the baby move, and does sometimes catch a flutter or a kick, but he really never gets to feel what I feel all day long, and for that I feel incredibly blessed. Especially considering I never thought I'd ever have children or even be able to have children. It's so special.

The other amazing thing about being pregnant is the ability to provide the best nutrition for your baby - you have total control over what goes in your mouth and hence, what your baby receives. For that, your baby is one lucky being, especially if you do all that you can to give him or her the best nutrition possible.

4) Labour: Yes, it can be painful. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, BUT, if you're used to pain (such as kicking your own butt in the gym, on the road, or on the field), you'll realize you can take any type of pain to help your child come into this world. And, you don't need any drugs to do so.

5) Post-partum weight loss blues: Sure, your body isn't going to immediately return to pre-pregnancy state after your baby is born, but, if you know how to eat right and exercise with a purpose even with baby around, you can join the hot mommies club very soon.

6) Women's body fat: It's no secret that women naturally have more body fat than men, and for most women, it's a lot harder to keep that body fat in an "attractive" range. But, IT CAN BE DONE. Look to those women around you that make it happen and learn what you need to do. It takes a bit of effort including being dedicated to healthy nutrition and exercise plan, but remember, eating and exercising in this way (as long as it's not in a disordered kind of way...) is a good thing for your entire life.

7) Pre-menopause/Menopause: I'll admit, this is something I'm not well-experienced in, but I do attend a lot of conferences on the topic and listen to those that know how to manage it. From what I've learned, menopause (like menstruation) is NOT a disease, and can be managed in a natural way.

There are certain environmental factors today (xenoestrogens, toxins, stresses) that make menopause happen much earlier than it's supposed to. But, there are many natural ways to make the transition to menopause happen at the right time, and happen without too many unnecessary side effects. For an example of how this can happen, have read of the article by Dr Desmond Ebanks, entitled, "The Essence of Estrogen"

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Overall, women are a unique and special gender. Yes, we have our challenges and pains, but I hope you see that they're all worth it and make us who we are. Embrace your women-power and realize that with every day that passes, being a woman is the best thing that ever happened to you.

In health,

Cassandra

Friday, November 20, 2009

Slow Harvest Protein Oatmeal Recipe

I'll be honest and admit that it's been awhile since I've eaten oatmeal in the morning. Usually, I have eggs, egg whites and Ezekiel bread because it takes less time to prepare. But, this week I had a few mornings where I had enough time to cook oatmeal and enjoyed it on a cool Fall day.

I don't use a microwave, and also only use slow-cooking oats, hence why cooking oatmeal takes a bit of time. But, when you have time to cook it on the stove slowly, it's worth every minute.

Pictured above is my new oatmeal creation. It's all-natural, high protein (32 grams!), high fiber (11 grams!) and keeps me full for hours. I also incorporated local apples from the farmer just up the road, which was a fantastic addition. The whey protein I use is also all-natural with no artificial flavors or sweeteners (I use Bipro USA whey protein which mixes very well) . To give the oatmeal a bit of a sweeter flavor, you can use a small drop of maple syrup or a sprinkle of Truvia sweetener.

When you have a chance to cook your oatmeal on the stove one morning, give this recipe a try:

Slow Harvest Protein Oatmeal

Ingredients:
1/3 cup slow oats
1 Tbsp Salba (ground Chia seeds)
1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1 scoop unsweetened vanilla whey protein
1/6 fresh apple
1 tsp cinnamon
Truvia sweetener (optional)

Directions:
Cook oatmeal on stove according to package directions. Add Salba and ground flax while cooking.

Once cooking is complete, remove from stove and let cool for a few minutes.

Once slightly cooled, add 1 scoop whey protein, cinnamon, and natural sweetener if desired.

Mix everything together and enjoy!

Nutrition facts:
342 calories, 32 g protein, 33 g carb (11 g fiber), 11 g fat (4 g omega-3 polyunsaturated fat)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New low-carb book for you to read




I'm pleased to share with you a new book by an experienced veteran of the low-carb nutrition world: Jimmy Moore.

Jimmy has published one book already on low-carb dieting and has now come out with his second book titled, "21 LIFE LESSONS FROM LIVIN' LA VIDA LOW-CARB: How The Healthy Low-Carb Lifestyle Changed Everything I Thought I Knew".

If you're interested in low-carb nutrition or just want to find out what the popularity is all about, I highly recommend you check Jimmy's new book. Or, if you're someone following low-carb, but are thinking you might give it up, first hear what Jimmy has learned in his journey and why he still commits to this lifestyle (and you might too).

Jimmy is truly passionate about low-carb eating as it has made a profound difference in his life. Here is a clip about him from his website:

In January 2004, Jimmy Moore made a decision to get rid of the weight that was literally killing him. At 32 years of age and 410 pounds, the time had come for a radical change of lifestyle. A year later, he had shed 180 pounds, shrunk his waist by 20 inches, and dropped his shirt size from 5XL to XL. After his dramatic weight loss, Jimmy was inundated with requests from friends, neighbors and complete strangers seeking information and help. Jimmy is dedicated to helping as many people as possible find the information they need to make the kind of lifestyle change he has made.

If that's not enough to convince you that Jimmy can truly show you more about low-carb nutrition than ever possible, then I don't know what can. He's truly a gem.

So, what are you waiting for? Check out his book today!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Manitoba Harvest November 2009 Newsletter


It's that time of the month again! (not that time ladies and gents...LOL) It's time to have a quick read of Manitoba Harvest's monthly newsletter!

In this issue, find out how hemp foods are helping fight the war against diabetes, and check out two great recipes for Chocolate Rawcoons and Hemp Seed Noghurt Cream Sauce. Yum!

Speaking of recipes, Manitoba Harvest has a ton of great ideas you can use for your upcoming Thanksgiving feast. Check out the recipe page here.

To check out this great November newsletter, click the link below. Enjoy!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Assess and Correct - Fix yourself before you break


As many of my readers know, I have one really bad back. Not a bad back as in, "Back, you've been bad.... go to your room!", but as in, "Wowza, my back hates me."

I also have the pleasure of being hypermobile, with a lot of joint laxity. Now, some people may think it's cool to be able to go "Gumby-like" tricks with your body, but, in truth, it's not that fabulous.

Thankfully, over the years, I've had the opportunity to see many knowledgeable physical therapists and coaches. I've learned in these visits how to correct my posture, why I should avoid certain exercises and stretches, and what to do if I encounter significant pain.

And, even though I've thought I knew all there is to know to keep my body healthy and strong, I always end up learning something new and beneficial along the way. Or, I'm reminded of something that I formerly knew, but just forgot.

My whole point here is that to prevent injury, and be the best we can in the gym without coming home in oodles of unnecessary pain, we need to know how to assess our current performance and mechanics and correct issues before they become a real problem.

And, I don't know about you, but I'd rather not depend on acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the rest of my life. My liver wouldn't like that very much.

So, I'm here to tell you about a new DVD by THE movement and correction experts, Eric Cressey MA CSCS, Bill Hartman PT CSCS, and Mike Robertson MS CSCS.

In this DVD, Assess and Correct, you'll learn how to evaluate your own posture and how to determine your imbalances and weaknesses. Then, you're given over 70 exercises and stretches to correct these issues and return your body to optimal health. This is all so you can perform at your best, and avoid hundreds of dollars paid out to your local physical therapy clinic.

Also, when you get the DVD, you also get these awesome free bonuses:

  • The Assess and Correct Assessment E-manual. This is the corresponding manual to DVD #1 that you can refer to regularly to keep your program focused on your needs.
  • The Assess and Correct E-manual. This is the corresponding manual to DVD #2 that includes photos and descriptions of each exercise that you can take to practice or the gym.
  • “The Great Eight Static Stretches” E-manual. These are our favorite 8 static stretches you can use daily to complement your Assess and Correct program.
  • The “Optimal Self Myofascial Release” E-manual. These are the same techniques we use with our athletes and clients to allow you to work on your own soft-tissue issues.
  • The “Warm-ups for Everybody” E-manual. This manual provides 38 different warm-up programs for 19 different sports and conditions.
All of this, for one low price of just $127. And, just to put this into perspective, one of the physical therapists I've seen in the past charges $90 for just ONE hour with her. Yes, she's worth it, but, you can only learn so much from her in that short period of time.

So, if you're looking to correct issues in your own body and learn how to perform even better, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Assess and Correct today. It's totally worth it and has made a huge difference for me and my back health.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Business of Being Born


This weekend, my husband and I watched the movie, "The Business of Being Born", a documentary of birth by Ricki Lake and filmmaker Abby Epstein.




Even more so than being just about birth, it was about ways to approach birth other than through a traditional hospital, such as home births and water births. Now, I'm not against hospitals, but the movie did show some pretty disturbing clips about how birth in American hospitals has become more of a "business" than a service.

It showed several home births, some in the water, some not. And, I don't know about you, but watching a woman push through labor and then hold her baby in her arms did more than just choke me up (even hubby was a bit emotional). After watching all of these very wonderful home births, my husband was very passionate about us having our baby here at home.

Although a home birth would be a great idea and I've heard nothing but fabulous stories from women around me that have had home births, I unfortunately do not have the option to do so at home (no one in my area that can do it). I've currently been seeing an OB who delivers out of a hospital. My first OB and I did NOT click at all. Every time I waited HOURS for her to see me for an appointment, I felt like she didn't even care at all if I was there or not. She was quite cold. I've recently switched to a new practice (one of the OBs there is in my Boot Camp Class) who has a midwife, but this midwife can not deliver, only the OBs can. Also, there are seven OBs in this practice, and I have to meet with all of them (one I know well) because they're never sure who will be there when I deliver. That's a little unnerving.

I do have some faith in our medical establishment, and the doctors in this new practice, but know now that sometimes, procedures like c-sections and medications can be pushed on women when they really don't want them (or need them). If possible, I also do not want either (I already have enough scars on my abdomen from a colorectomy and appendectomy and don't want any more).

So, I'm feeling that a Doula, someone to hold my standards of care and beliefs up when I might be at my weakest, will be the best option for me right now. Thankfully I do have those around me and am meeting with a few this week. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to have both a midwife and Doula, but for now, this is what I've got going on.

Anyhow, back to the movie: I highly recommend that women who are interested in the best delivery possible should watch this. There's also the book version if you'd rather read.

True, I'll admit that some of the movie is a bit sensationalized - they show some crazy clips of hospital deliveries - but take that with a grain of salt and just use the information to learn more about where you'll be having your baby and what options you may or may not have.

Awhile back I posted a study that correlated low blood vitamin D levels with increased rates of c-sections. Now, I'm highly doubtful that this is true (the writers of the paper had a really good statistician...) and the increased rate may be more to do with what this movie has exposed.

To read more about this movie, visit the website, or read a review from the Giving Birth Naturally website. Both have great information.

I wish all the women around me (there's about ten in my immediate circle of friends pregnant right now) a happy, healthy and natural pregnancy. With knowledge comes freedom. Learn as much as you can, if you desire, and do whatever you feel is best for you and your child.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kettlebell Boot Camp Videos.. while pregnant!

Two videos for you all from one of the Kettlebell boot camp classes I teach. This one was from this past Tuesday.

Here, you can also see the pregnancy belly at work. Who says you have to stop working out if you're pregnant? This was a great workout and baby loved it too!





You'll see in the KB floor presses that I am in a supine position, which is said to be avoided. Well, I've been reading research showing that during exercise, it's not dangerous to be in a supine position. And, I'll attest that I do feel fine. However, sleeping is another story. I can no longer lay on my back at night or I get really (really) nauseous.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Video of Saturday Women's Boot Camp

Hey Everyone!

Here's two videos for you to see what we do at Saturday morning women's boot camp at Lightning Fitness in South Windsor, CT.

In the first circuit, the ladies did 45 seconds on and 20 seconds rest of the following circuit:
1) Inverted Rows
2) Ball Weighted Supine Hip Extensions (SHE)
3) Bar Pushups
4) Squat to Cable Row
5) Mini-band Side Steppers
6) Landmine Rock Stars
7) Ab Wheel Roll-outs
We did these for four rounds following our Dynamic Warm-up. This video was taken at round three, so some of the ladies were getting a bit tired.

You can also see here my growth as a mommy... the belly is starting to get harder to hide :)



For the second round, we did the following circuit, 20 seconds on, 5 seconds off:
1) Battle Rope Drills (Slams, Alternates and Ins-Outs)
2) Kettle-bell Swings



After all that, we cooled down with easy stretching.

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One way to make exercise more appealing?



I love this. One of my colleagues posted this video awhile ago, but then again today my husband sent it to me too - he told me to blog about it (and that never happens...)

It's called "The Fun Theory"
The site who makes these videos has the following motto:

"This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better."

The video above is called The Piano Staircase and says,

"”Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator and feel better” is something we often hear or read in the Sunday papers. Few people actually follow that advice. Can we get more people to take the stairs over the escalator by making it fun to do? See the results here"

I'd love to see this happen. I love taking the stairs even though everyone thinks escalators are so much better. I'd be one way to help people become more active.

Visit The Fun Theory website to learn other fun ideas to make our world a better place.

Monday, November 2, 2009

She's not crazy, she's pregnant....

Pregnancy can be a very stressful time in a woman's life. Not only is her body about to go through an amazing transformation (Hello, Stretch Marks), but her mind is racing with a million and one questions.

Just think about it: For most other big events in our lives, we're taught how to do the task at hand. Take reading for example, no one just hands you a book and says, "Read". No, you're taught over the course of several months and have someone helping you along the way. Then, swimming, no one just throws in you a pool and says, "Swim". No way. For most big events, we're taught, or we have time to learn so that we finally really get it (or have time to make mistakes). It's not like we have Pregnancy 101 in school or anything...

For some women, pregnancy happens when they least expect it, or potentially when they're not even ready. Even for those who try for a long time and finally do get pregnant, they're still left with many unanswered questions.

Questions like:
1) What pre-natal vitamin is really good for me? Are the blue-colored ones from the pharmacy really all that great? Or, is it better to avoid those artificial colors and go with one free of those ingredients?
2) I have a milk intolerance: are my bones or my baby's bones going to suffer because I just can't do dairy?
3) What can/ can't I do for exercise? If I'm a runner, is it ok to keep going? What about keeping my heart rate or body temperature low? Is that still valid? I'm I'm a lifter, can I still lift heavy?
4) What can I do about these food cravings? I feel like I'm going crazy! What do I do?
5) How much weight gain is ok for me? I've heard some women gain only 20 lbs while other gained 40 and both had healthy babies?
6) Who should choose to help me with my medical care? An OBGYN? A midwife? What about a Doula?
7) When I have the baby, can I go back to work right away? Or, will that compromise my baby's development?

Then, there are other topics that come up along the way that you never thought you'd even have to think about. In reality, all you really want to do is just have a healthy, comfortable pregnancy and birth, then raise a child without excessive fear of disease, death or disability to him or her.

Some women don't have much support around them in terms of other women who have gone through the same thing. They may be able to ask a few of their friends with children, but since every pregnancy and every woman is different, it's hard to know what is best for you and your growing child.

Sure, there are guidelines from your doctor, but with the way the medical establishement is moving (pressures on doctors to take more and more patients just to keep their practices running), it's unlikely you'll get more that 20 minutes with him or her if you have other things to ponder. Also, if and when you do find a good midwife, will she be able to answer all your questions either?

Then, you want to help your husband/partner understand the rollercoaster of emotions you're going through, but sometimes, even though they try, they may not fully be able to comprehend (and that's understandable).

Overall, people may label pregnant women as "crazy", but one just needs to consider all the thoughts going through their heads at any one time. It's more than just themselves they need to think about now, it's another human life. So be kind if it seems like some woman close to you is a little nutty. They're only trying to determine what is good for themselves and their child in a very short time.

I'm learning that pregnancy is really such a wonderful time in life even despite all the thoughts racing through my head. Women have been having babies since the dawn of time and it's a process our bodies are built to do. We just need to trust that we can do the right thing, and with a little investigation, come up with credible answers to our nagging questions.

My thoughts are with all my pregnant friends right now as we enter this fabulous phase in our lives. Motherhood is next with all the joys and excitement it too will bring.

Best, Cass

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Saturday Morning Women's Boot Camp workout


Happy Halloween everyone! To start out our Halloween, myself and the ladies of Lightning Fitness had an EXCELLENT morning boot camp class. Everyone was sweating buckets, including myself.

For today's workout, I incorporated Tabata Rounds, which are work-sets of 20 seconds work with 10 seconds rest for 2 straight minutes. I used the GymBoss Timer pictured about to keep time. These rounds might not sound hard, but, trust me, they were. Everyone was loving the challenge in a sadistic, love-hate kind of way.... (and, I didn't tell the ladies this, but I actually had them work for 23 seconds instead of just 20 :)... I know, I'm evil).

Here's what we did: Following a 15 minute dynamic warm-up we moved to Tabatas, alternating an upper body exercise with a lower body exercise for the 2 minutes:

1) Dips or shoulder press (I only had a limited amount of DBs for all my ladies, 1/2 did bench dips and the other did shoulder press. They then switched for each round).
2) Jump Squats
3) Push-ups (on toes or knees - just as long as form was good - i.e., elbows were tucked in and butt was down)
4) Speed Skaters
5) Bent over rows (with DBs - we used anything from 15 to 30 lbs each hand)
6) Split squat jumps
7) Walking push-ups or Dive bomber push-ups
8) Burpees

Then, rest for 2 -4 minutes (we really needed it.... the rounds were killer) and repeat 5 times.

For myself being 20 weeks pregnant, I did pretty good considering. And, I wasn't the only pregnant woman in the class - my girlfriend Sandy was in the class and she's 17 weeks along. Both of us were feeling it - for me: the hardest part was catching my breath because baby likes to take my oxygen. So, on the third round I only did every other exercise and used that time to ensure everyone was doing the exercises correctly (like the push-ups, bent over rows, dive-bomber or walking pushups). I really needed that break and so did Sandra - she also did the same thing on round three.

The coolest feedback from the ladies was from the two who do triathlons. Both of them commented that the class was just like hard sprint workouts and much harder than the long distance running they do. And, they hardly do sprint workouts because they're so hard.

After we felt like our lungs reached their maximum, we moved onto a core/strength workout for 15 minutes and then did 5 minutes of stretching a cool down. It was a great morning and we all felt great.

Following that workout, my girlfriend came in the gym and her, Sandy and I did a bit more light weight training for about 30 minutes. We used this time to have a good gabbing session talking about "girl" stuff and baby stuff.

I hope everyone also had a great Saturday morning. Enjoy your Halloween night and try not to eat too much chocolate!

In health, Cassandra

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Manitoba Harvest October 2009 Newsletter - Check it out!


I'm a huge fan of hemp food products and one of my most favorite hemp companies is Manitoba Harvest. This company is based out of Winterpeg (I mean Winnipeg... only the Canadians will understand that one... :) ), Manitoba and produces some of the most yummy and nutritious hemp food products inlcuding:


  • Hemp Pro 70 - the first high protein hemp protein concentrate

  • Hemp Butter - just as tasty, but even more nutritious as any other nut butter

  • Hemp Bliss - certified hemp beverage

  • Hemp Seed Oil - a terrific fatty acid composition for health

  • Shelled Hemp Seeds - delicious and easy to digest

This month, the company has published a very cool and interesting newsletter to celebrate the Halloween festivities. Check out their recipe for Gruesome Guacamole, which includes the healthy fat-containing hemp oil and hemp seeds.


To read more, click the link here: Manitoba Harvest October Newsletter

Monday, October 26, 2009

Low blood vitamin D and birth by c-section

Tonight I'm prepping for the class I teach at UConn on Wednesday nights and the topic of the evening is vitamin D. Since the text I'm teaching out of is a bit outdated with respect to the recent findings on vitamin D, I had to do some extra researching to provide accurate info to my students. In my search, I came across this interesting study on the relationship between low blood vitamin D levels and c-section deliveries. So, because my brain is engulfed in thoughts on pregnancy and delivery, I was quite happy to share this all with you.

Association between vitamin D deficiency and primary cesarean section

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Mar;94(3):940-5

BACKGROUND: At the turn of the 20th century, women commonly died in childbirth due to rachitic pelvis. Although rickets virtually disappeared with the discovery of the hormone vitamin D, recent reports suggest vitamin D deficiency is widespread in industrialized nations. Poor muscular performance is an established symptom of vitamin D deficiency. The current U.S. cesarean birth rate is at an all-time high of 30.2%. We analyzed the relationship between maternal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] status, and prevalence of primary cesarean section.

METHODS: Between 2005 and 2007, we measured maternal and infant serum 25(OH)D at birth and abstracted demographic and medical data from the maternal medical record at an urban teaching hospital (Boston, MA) with 2500 births per year. We enrolled 253 women, of whom 43 (17%) had a primary cesarean.

RESULTS: There was an inverse association with having a cesarean section and serum 25(OH)D levels. We found that 28% of women with serum 25(OH)D less than 37.5 nmol/liter had a cesarean section, compared with only 14% of women with 25(OH)D 37.5nmol/liter or greater (P = 0.012). In multivariable logistic regression analysis controlling for race, age, education level, insurance status, and alcohol use, women with 25(OH)D less than 37.5 nmol/liter were almost 4 times as likely to have a cesarean than women with 25(OH)D 37.5 nmol/liter or greater (adjusted odds ratio 3.84; 95% confidence interval 1.71 to 8.62).

CONCLUSION: Vitamin D deficiency was associated with increased odds of primary cesarean section.

Looking for a new website

As mentioned earlier, I'm looking for a revamp to my current website, www.cassandraforsythe.com

I'd like a new look, a cleaner layout and a few new components. If anyone out there is looking for work, or knows of someone that would be good for this project, please contact me at cassandraforsythe@gmail.com.

Thank you!

Women's Boot Camp Saturday Workout


This weekend in the North East was absolutely fabulous. The hubby, baby (in tummy) and I headed up to Kennebunk Maine to visit the Cressey's and hang out with our good friends Eric and Anna.

We also got a chance to goof around. Above is me (at 19 weeks and not looking so plump thanks to baggy sweaters) attempting to lift a 3 TON anchor in memory of George H. W. Bush (kidding).

Below is Eric, Anna and I on our bikes posing in front of Strong Lane (yes, we're all dorks).

I've finally learned after too many weekends working that we all need to take time on the weekends to enjoy life. This was one of those weekends and it's made me a better and happier person because of it.

Prior to our trip to Maine, I taught my Saturday Morning Women's Boot Camp Class at Lightning Fitness. After engaging the women in a good 10 min dynamic warm-up, we performed the following exercises in a circuit fashion:
***40 seconds of work, with 15 seconds to switch stations. 2-3 mins rest between sets, repeat 3-4 times.
A1) Landmine shoulder press tosses (basically a dynamic shoulder press with the landmine where you throw the bar from shoulder to shoulder)
A2) Dynamax Med Ball Side to Side Wall Slams
A3) Swiss Ball Supine Hip Extensions
A4) Mini Band Side to Side Steps (I like to call these "7th grade dancing")
A5) Ab Wheel Roll-outs
A6) Kettle Bell Deadlifts
A7) Ball-resisted V-sits

Then, we moved to the following exercises in a circuit style with 40/15 work rest. Repeated 3 times:
B1) Tire Jumps (jump on the 600 lb tire)
B2) Burpees
B3) Jump Rope (good to work those kegel muscles...)

Finally, we ended with a bit of core stabilization:
Bird-dogs
Front Planks/Side Planks
Dead Bugs
Supine Leg Lowering

Then, a good cool-down stretching period.

That was it! And, girl, those ladies were happy and tired! What a great way to start the weekend!!!

After I taught class I did the same workout with my training partner, but then threw in tire flips and a bit more abdominal work. I was pooped!

This week I'll get some video of our workouts so you can all see what we're up to. :)

Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pregnancy, RD and Excess Omega-3 fatty Acids


My apologies to anyone checking my blog and wondering what the heck is going on. It's been a crazy few weeks. So, for now, a quick update and then a cool research study to discuss.

First: I passed my Registered Dietitian exam two weeks ago (Oct 5th). So now, after many long years in school and a year internship, I'm finally able to say that I'm a RD. Yay!
I was so nervous about the exam. I used two different study guides to help me pass, and thankfully, they worked! The exam was pretty tough and I didn't study as much as I should have, but... hey, it doesn't matter!!! I passed and can now officially practice nutrition and dietetics.

Second: My pregnancy is progressing along very nicely. I'm sitting at 18 weeks right now (due date, March 25, 2010) and looking more pregnant every day. It's amazing: some mornings I wake up and swear my belly has grown over-night.
I'm definitely now in maternity clothes, but am starting to appreciate the new curves I've developed. I try to just stay away from my non-maternity clothes because only a small handful (well, very small handful) of them still fit,,,, especially those that were tight around the bust or the belly.
I can't say I've felt the baby move yet, but I sure have seen it. One day this week when I was in the gym for example, my whole tummy was shifted towards the left and looked lop-sided. It was wild and very noticeable.

For training: my intensity went way up between weeks 12 and 16, but lately, it's been going back down again. I do try my hardest to kick my own butt in the gym, but sometimes my lungs don't want to catch up.

Tonight's workout was the following, which required 1+ minutes between sets:
Set A, three rounds, 10 reps:
A1) KB Front Squats - 35 lbs
A2) Cable crunches - 119 lbs
A3) Chain push-ups - 20 lb chain over my back.

Set B, four rounds, 40 seconds at each station, 15 seconds between each exercise. 2 min rest.
B1) KB Swings - 60 lbs
B2) Sandbag Pulls and Squats - 20 lbs
B3) Renegade Rows - 20 lbs each hand
B4) Tire Jumps (jump on a tire)
B5) Snatches - 55 lbs (45 lb oly bar plus 5 lbs each side)
** This was brutal... I was dying by the end, but it was a good dying :)

Tomorrow's workout will be something similar - about an hour of total work time, plus going for two walks with my doggies in the morning and night.

Third: I'm teaching 5 boot camps a week now and absolutely loving it.
  • Two through South Windsor CT Parks and Rec on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 645 pm.
  • Three through the gym I also personal train out of, Lightning Fitness, on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday mornings at 9am (the pics of our new gym with 3,000 sq ft aren't up yet, but will be soon).
If you live in the area, contact me and I can let you know more details.

Fourth:
I'm also teaching a nutrition course at the University of Connecticut, and enjoy it a lot. It's an undergrad course, but the students I teach are just fabulous and some of them really are in love with nutrition (I remember being in their shoes when I was an undergrad).

Finally: I'm looking to completely revamp my website with client testimonials (I do online and in person nutrition counseling), the magazine articles I've written, new services I offer and an upcoming e-book (about pregnancy, nutrition and exercise). I'll keep you posted with the details.

Now, a research update:

While perusing the literature on pregnancy and nutrition, I came across this series of interesting studies on omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil.

Abnormal neurological responses in young adult offspring caused by excess omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil) consumption by the mother during pregnancy and lactation.

Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2009 Jan-Feb;31(1):26-33. Epub 2008 Sep 16

Consuming omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3 FA) during pregnancy and lactation benefits fetal and infant brain development and might reduce the severity of preterm births by prolonging pregnancy. However, diets that are relatively rich in omega-3 FA can adversely affect fetal and infant development and the auditory brainstem response (ABR), a measure of brain development and sensory function. We previously examined the offspring of female rats fed excessive, adequate or deficient amounts of omega-3 FA during pregnancy and lactation. The 24-day-old offspring in the Excess group, compared to the Control group, had postnatal growth retardation and poor hearing acuity and prolonged neural transmission times as evidenced by the ABR. The Deficient group was intermediate. The current study followed these offspring to see if these poor outcomes persisted into young adulthood. Based on prior findings, we hypothesized that the Excess and Deficient offspring would "catch-up" to the Control offspring by young adulthood. Female Wistar rats received one of the three diet conditions from day 1 of pregnancy through lactation. The three diets were the Control omega-3 FA condition (omega-3/omega-6 ratio approximately 0.14), the Excess omega-3 FA condition (omega-3/omega-6 ratio approximately 14.0) and Deficient omega-3 FA condition (omega-3/omega-6 ratio approximately 0% ratio). The Control diet contained 7% soybean oil; whereas the Deficient and Excess omega-3 FA diets contained 7% safflower oil and 7% fish oil, respectively. One male and female offspring per litter were ABR-tested as young adults using tone pip stimuli of 2, 4, 8 and 16 kHz. The postnatal growth retardation and prolonged neural transmission times in the Excess and Deficient pups had dissipated by young adulthood. In contrast, the Excess group had elevated ABR thresholds (hearing loss) at all tone pip frequencies in comparison to the Control and Deficient groups. The Deficient group had worse ABR thresholds than the Control group in response to the 8 kHz tone pips only. The Excess group also had ABR amplitude-intensity profiles suggestive of hyperacusis. These results are consistent with the Barker hypothesis concerning the fetal and neonatal origins of adult diseases. Thus, consuming diets that are excessively rich or deficient in omega-3 FA during pregnancy and lactation seems inadvisable because of risks for long-lasting adverse effects on brain development and sensory function.

From Me: After reading through this study, the authors described similar situations occurring in human women and their offspring from excess omega-3 fatty acid consumption. It seems that the exact dose in humans to achieve this same effect in you or I is not the main issue, but rather the issue is the ratio of omega-3 fats to omega-6s.

Yes, omega-3s are beneficial, but from this line of work, and others, you can really get too much of a good thing, especially from fish oil.

In order to prevent harm to your baby/fetus/child, keep the fish oil to a reasonable dose: 1 to 2 grams of omega-3s per day (from 3 to 6 capsules of fish oil) is often enough to show benefits for your infant. If your diet is quite high in total fat, you could use a bit more omega-3 to balance out the omega-6. A good ratio appears to be a ratio of about 7:1 to 3:1 of omega-6 to omega-3. Any more than that might likely lead to negative consequences.

In health, Cassandra (and baby)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Do Your Genes Determine Which Diet Means Weight-Loss Success?


Recently, Katherine Hobson of U.S. News & World Report interviewed me for her article, titled,: Do Your Genes Determine Which Diet Means Weight-Loss Success?

This article is really great. It discusses why some women (and men) do better with certain diets/diet planning versus other individuals and other plans based on their diet-gene interactions.

She interviews plenty of other nutrition experts, PhDs and MDs and comes up with a lot of really interesting (and factual) information.

Thanks Katherine!

In other news: I just returned from a 5-day trip to Sedona AZ, which is one of the most beautiful places in the desert I've ever seen. My husband has the pics on his laptop, but I'll post some here and on my facebook profile this weekend (add me as a Facebook friend if you haven't already). We went there to celebrate a good friend's wedding, but also get away on vacation. We went with 7 other friends, stayed in a mansion (VRBO), rented Mercedes Benz cars (the groom worked at Enterprize and got us all sweet rides), saw the Grand Canyon, and enjoyed the beauty of Arizona. My baby also got to climb a rock face and see a tarantula (gross!). Overall, it was a great time and I did a lot of recreational exercise (hiking, climbing) which was fabulous.

This weekend I'm studying for my RD (Registered Dietitian) exam, which I'm taking on Monday. This exam finally allows me to have the designation of RD after all my years of school and after doing a year-long dietetic internship. So, other than working out (which, I've finally got my energy back and have been kicking butt in the gym... tonight I pushed the prowler and did 5x3 log press cleans amongst other great lifts), I'll be just studying, which is just SO much fun.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! Be back soon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Exercise and My First Trimester of Pregnancy


Now that I'm almost at the end of my first trimester (I'm at week 14 right now), and everything looks pretty good with my developing baby, I felt like it was time to start sharing with you all my experiences in the weight room during these first three months.

Many of you probably already guessed I was pregnant by the nature of some of my recent posts, but before I was ready to start telling my own story, I wanted to make sure everything was going well (and so far, so good).

First off, this pregnancy was completely unplanned and unexpected. In fact, I was told most of my life that I'd likely never be able to have children due to issues I had with my cycle (more on that later, but in short, I was amenorrheic for 5+ years with no completely clear explanation.... no, I wasn't too skinny, I didn't undereat, blah, blah, blah.... I had chronic yeast and bladder infections in my teens, and I was recently on bio-identical hormones for 15 months). So, it was to my utter and total surprise when I randomly decided to take a pregnancy test at home when my period following cessation of my bio-identical hormones didn't come as expected and I saw two lines instead of one!

I'm guessing I became pregnant at the end of June/beginning of July, RIGHT AFTER I had graduated from my 1 year dietetic internship AND just completed my 5 year PhD. Pregnancy was the last thing on my mind. All I really wanted to do was to start a normal, non-student life for the first time EVER, and get my body back, as I had lost it along the way while writing my PhD dissertation and doing my internship at the same time this past year.

The first signs I was pregnant were about 7 days after implantation: I started feeling uncontrollably tired any time I set foot in the gym (any time I started exerting myself physically). My training partner even made fun of me and thought I was just trying to be a wimp. But, I honestly couldn't even do what I wanted to even though I set up a great training program to get me in awesome bikini-shape.

Then, it was about a week later that I took the pregnancy test and almost passed out in shock: "Me? Pregnant? Never! Ahhh!!!!!"

It took awhile for me to adjust to what was happening, but then I decided that it was all good and that I'd now work on building a 'super baby'. For nutrition, I turned to all the recent pregnancy nutrition research for guidance (such as choline supplementation, which isn't widely known about), and tried to maintain a good diet. I'll talk more about diet in another post though (I had a few weeks of extreme sugar cravings... yuck).

For training: I didn't really know what I was supposed to do and not do for exercise, especially for strength training. I was confused by the older pregnancy and exercise advice to keep heart rate low during exercise (less than 140 bpm to keep body temp below 38C). But this advise was then revised due to new research showing that women who trained at higher body temps and heart rates had no ill effects on their babies.
The book, Women in Sport by Barbara Drinkwater, and The Pregnant Athlete Chapter has some good information about strength-training exercise for pregnant women and basically says that if a woman exercises strenuously prior to pregnancy, she can do almost that during pregnancy, up to a certain extent. According to the authors, there are risks to the fetus of overly strenuous strength exercises such as:
  • decreased maternal blood glucose values, especially later in pregnancy (it's more common for pregnant women to develop hypoglycemia during exercise as the baby grow larger due to the baby's increased demand for glucose);
  • reduced uterine blood flow which would be an issue for both the mother and fetus - however, the baby is protected from this more than the mother because the placenta has a high oxygen extraction rate
  • increased maternal body temperature in response to exercise - however, research on this shows that women become more efficient at dissipating heat as pregnancy progresses
Overall (from Women in Sport), women who exercise during pregnancy are advised to:
  1. Avoid prolonged or strenuous exercise during the first trimester (I can attest to that because you're so darn tired and nauseous in the 1st trimester)
  2. Avoid isometric exercise or straining while holding your breath
  3. Avoid exercising in warm/humid environments (I had to have a fan on me in the gym almost every time I trained...)
  4. Avoid the supine position after the 4th month (I've been bench pressing as much as I can now...)
  5. Avoid activities that involve physical contact or danger of falling (mountain biking is contradicted, to my demise... even though I still mtn biked up until a few weeks ago).

My experiences
1) Oh, the Fatigue:
For me, I wanted to continue weight training with the same intensity that I had been doing before, but that just wasn't happening. As I said, I was extremely fatigued in these first three months. I made it my goal to go to the gym everyday after work, but on some days I was just too tired, and opted to go home and simply walk with my dogs outside. Then, other days, I'd get to the gym (with my eyes closing on my way there) and have to take a power-nap in the parking lot before I started working out. One time, in the gym where I train clients out of, I got there a bit earlier than my appointments, and took a George Costanza Nap - I put my gym bag on the floor under a desk and completely passed out for 20 mins; it felt great.

Also, about 1 month into the pregnancy, was my husband and I's one year anniversary. We got married in Vermont last year and so planned on returning there to do a long weekend of hiking in the Green Mountains. This was all fine and dandy (I love camping), but my body had a really hard time getting up those mountains... I just had no energy at all. My husband even had to get behind me when the mountain was steeper and help push me up. It was pathetic.... but understandable.

2) Recovery: Another issue I was having after I did get in a good workout (this involved exercises like heavy front squats, med ball slams, chip-ups, bench press, ropes) was that it was taking me a lot longer to recover both between sets and after the session was over. I'd be sore for 2-4 days, where I only used to feel like that if I'd take a long time off the gym. And, between sets, I'd have to rest for much more than 2 minutes sometimes just to catch my breath.

3) Strength & Stamina: In this first month, my strength stayed relatively the same, but my stamina suffered. I often cut a workout short because I just didn't have the energy for it.

4) Nausea: I was extremely nauseated from about week 5 to week 10 (I know that's not that bad as some women have it for many more weeks with even worse symptoms). As such, sometimes it was really hard to get in a good lift because all I wanted to do was eat something to ease my upset tummy. Thankfully I never vomited, and thankfully, I found some great remedies that really helped ease the nausea such as Sea Bands and a few different homeopathics.

5) Back & hip pain: I was diagnosed with a Grade 1 spondylolithesis (basically a broken spine) at L5/S1 when I was 15 years old as a result of my gymnastics training. At the time, my back doctor told me that if I got pregnant, I'd have really hard time with the pain I normally experience, especially as I got bigger. Well, I experienced my first bout of really bad back pain at about week 8 after my husband and I flew to MN to visit family. All the sitting and the lack of good shoes totally threw my back and hips out of place. My physical therapist has now recommended that I start wearing a SI belt on a chronic basis to help with my hip and back instability that's progressively becoming worse through the pregnancy.

6) Core Strength and Kegels: Also because of my increased demand for a strong core, pelvis and glutes (due to my back issues in combo with pregnancy), I've really kicked up my core and glute training. Additionally, I'm finally learning how to correctly use my kegel muscles which I think is a department I was sorely lacking in before. Some of the key core exercises I'm focusing on are: bird-dogs, prone and side bridges, staggered kneeling cable chops and rows, swiss ball jacknives, and front body-loaded exercises such as Zercher squats and front squats.

Now that I'm nearing my second trimester I'm starting to kick my intensity back up. For the past two weeks I've been training pretty hard 3 days a week. On the other days, my training is light or it's outdoors with my dogs or on my bike.

I'm looking forward to these next 6 months and will share with you what's going on. Thank you to all the women that shared their pregnancy & exercise experiences. I am still working on this for an article, but need to collect some interviews from gynecologists and researchers.

Ok - now I'm off to teach boot camp tonight.... doing all the work I can while I'm still functioning normally.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Celebrity Interview on Ready to Launch Fitness


A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Casey Roberts of Ready to Launch Fitness. He called it a "celebrity interview" although I wouldn't exactly classify myself as one [just yet, that is ;) ].


He's also interviewed popular fitness trainers and advocates such as Dan John, Adam Glass and Forest Vance. Check out what they have to say about dieting, training and living healthy.

To read my interview by Casey and see what my thoughts are on these topics, click here.

Thanks, Casey!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Great post by Coach Dos


This morning I read an enlightening blog post by Coach Robert Dos Remedios about the popular TV show, "The Biggest Loser" and I wanted to share it all with you.

The Real Biggest Losers.....the viewers

I absolutely LOVE what Coach Dos wrote here for this post. In summary, although "The Biggest Loser" is one of the most popular TV reality weight loss show, it really has a lot of flaws.

I'll let you read what Coach Dos wrote to get the whole picture. Thanks, Coach.

In other news, my 12-week ultrasound on Monday went VERY well. My baby is progressing along nicely: no signs of any NTDs, all his/her parts in the right place, and it's circulation is doing what its supposed to do. I was a bit disappointed because the quality of the scan wasn't so great (the machine looked pretty old), and so we (my husband and I) didn't get the best look at our new creation. However, the doctor was very pleased with the baby's development and said the baby looked "beautiful".

So, now that it looks like everything is going the way it should, I'll start blogging about my pregnancy experiences. My due date is March 23 (or so...) and right now I'm about 14 weeks. My weight for the first trimester really hasn't increased a lot, only about 1-2 lbs depending on when I weight myself, but my body fat is a lot higher. This could be because I've lost muscle and gained fat, or it just could be because fat really doesn't weigh that much and when I put on fat, it's mostly right under my skin (subQ). My tummy is starting to buldge, my chest has grown a full size and my recovery in the gym is a lot longer than it used to be (I'm sore a lot longer after I lift than I ever have been before).

OK - more on that tomorrow. Today I have to study a few hours for my RD exam, which I'm taking on October 5th, then I'm helping my training partner move our gym to a new location (we're moving the gym to a place 3times bigger, so I'm going to have a lot more room to work with my clients and teach my boot camp classes which I plan to teach as long as I possibly can and have 2 morning and 2 evening classes lined up until the end of November for sure).

I hope everyone else has a great Friday and weekend - today's my day off from the clinic, so I'm using it to get as much done as I possibly can (which includes also planning the next two nutrition classes that I teach at Univ of Conn. , studying for my RD exam, getting some much needed housework done, working on an article, etc...and of course, getting in at least 3 solid workouts.... busy, busy)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Get to know your neighborhood while improving your fitness.


One of my most favorite things to do is ride my bike outside.

Now, I'm not a fast road biker in fancy spandex - I tried that sport, but unfortunately, because of my back (I have a grade 2 unstable spondylolithesis at L5/S1 with a herniation at L4), I can't tolerate the flexion position of a road bike, no matter how I adjust the frame.

The bike I ride sits me more like the picture above; mostly upright. And this is a very comfortable position for me to enjoy the beauty of the world around me, while on my bike.

Today was my day off of lifting in the gym and, just my luck, it was a gorgeous one. My husband and I spent the morning at the Hebron Harvest Fair watching the Dock Dogs, Extreme Motocross, and checking out the cute barn yard animals (my favorite are the goats). We returned home at about 2pm (It was getting hot and I wasn't doing so well in the heat), and then spent time with our neighbors celebrating their daughter's 7th birthday.

With my day off, I also enjoyed some "treats" - a slice of birthday cake and an oatmeal raisin cookie - and boy, they were good ;) So, my planned evening hour ride (about 10 miles for me on my Granny bike) was well worth it.

But, what I love the most about riding outside, is, unlike spin class, where you're stuck indoors praying that the air conditioning will work, you get to enjoy the secrets of your own neighborhood and discover new places and people.

For example, I live in a pretty rural part of Connecticut (and I love it). My house is surrounded by a few different farms including tobacco, corn, berry, apple, and peach, and each time I go out for a ride from my house I find either a new farmer's market or a new farm.

Tonight I found a new peach farm just up the road, a new farmers market (Juknis Farms) and then discovered a beautiful field of sunflowers (and I'm a total sunflower fanatic - so I had to stop and say hello to all of them). I also had the opportunity to admire some of the nice homes in my area and fantasize what my future dream home would look like - I don't want anything large or obnoxious, just something open and spacious (minimal walls), with plently of land around it and LOTS of sunflowers.

My whole point of this blog post is just to share with you how wonderful the world can really be when you take the time to admire what you have around you. At the same time too, you can burn some calories, build some cardiovascular endurance and challenge your muscles (especially if you find some great hills to attack... which I did).

You don't have to bike, you can run, or hike, or roller blade, or snowshoe or cross-country ski,.... you get the idea. Just do something that gets you outside and gets your heart working and muscle fibers contracting. No matter if you live in the city or the country, there's always something new to explore and appreciate right in your own neighborhood while you work up a good sweat. Plus, when the weather's co-operative, it helps you open up your mind and take away any unwanted stress.

After my ride, I fired up the stove to boil some local corn-on-the-cob, some East coast mussels and steamed green beans with butter. It was a perfect conclusion to a perfect ride and a great way to end my weekend. I'm looking forward to this upcoming week as tomorrow I'm having my week 12 ultrasound and will get to see how my baby is progressing, and then on Wednesday I'm teaching my third night class at UConn on the topic of carbohydrates and can't wait to share new research with the students on how lower-carb diets are very effective for certain health conditions.

I hope all of you get to enjoy a wonderful week ahead, and if you can, will soak up the beauty in the world around you.

In health and fitness,

Cassandra

Monday, September 7, 2009

Guest Blog: 7 Excellent Blogs for Wellness Tips

Today's blog comes from Mary Ward, a freelance writer who blogs about various job issues in the health care field, including how to study to obtain a MHA online.

7 Excellent Blogs for Wellness Tips

As people search for ways to improve upon their overall wellness, they look to the top blogs out there as one source of information. Though there are a number of blogs out there that focus on health specifically, these blogs will help you to pull out some general wellness tips as you get to better health in the process.

1. Dr. Weil – The nice part about this blog is that it offers a wide array of topics and some very common questions that one may have about wellness and health. No topic is off limits as this doctor goes in depth on everything from sexual health and well being to Vitamin D deficiencies, measuring all along the way just how important these factors are to your wellness. A very comprehensive blog indeed!

2. Wako Wa Salon: Everyday Wellness – This is one blog that appeals to the people and tells you that from the start. This is a blog that focuses around healthy living and wellness overall, with a strong focus on alternative medicine. Rather than throwing out traditional recommendations or going with the general public on all issues, this blog asks for content and contributions from those who know. The content is captivating and you are sure to learn something about wellness on here.

3. Deepest Health – Though the focus of this blog is on Chinese medicine and alternative approaches such as acupuncture, it also incorporates a deep understanding of wellness. You can learn some rather unconventional practices from the mainstream, but get a deeper understanding of how wellness pertains to your life and overall well being.

4. Medicine World – This isn’t what you would expect as it is overseen by a practicing physician, but focuses on your overall well being. The news stories are interceded by personal postings to give a fresh point of view. This is nice as it strays from the mainstream in that it focuses on well being rather than just how to get to better health alone from a very real and informed perspective.

5. Workin on My Fitness – Though the main focus is initially on diet and exercise, it encompasses healthy living and wellness overall. This blog offers a fresh and interesting perspective from a real person with a real point of view. She is down to earth and focuses on why good health equals overall wellness as part of the equation.

6. Balanced Health and Nutrition – What makes this an interesting blog is the fact that it calls out misconceptions and possible misinformation in the media and helps you to understand how to decipher all of it. That’s only one aspect of how this blog focuses on your wellness and how to achieve the results through healthy living and a good positive attitude overall.

7. Onibasu – As this blog focus is on alternative living and health practices, you can gain some excellent insight into wellness. You can learn everything about eating for your health to how to center yourself for proper mental health, making it a very comprehensive and easy to understand blog.

Good wellness tips are hard to come by, but these blogs make finding the good stuff easy. Follow along and be well!