Your obstacles are what will make you better than EVER

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Hi there!

If you’re new here, I’m Sarah Smith and I’m a mom.

I have three boys all born over the course of 5 years.
From 2010 to 2017 my life was COMPLETE chaos in SO many ways.

But what’s interesting is that I have accomplished more in the past 8, 9 years than I ever did before I had my kiddos.


The reality is that having children is a blessing and I am so thankful to God that His plan included my becoming a mother to my three boys.


BUT if we are being realistic about children and the work that they require, they are VERY much obstacles to accomplishing things.

I don’t care if we are talking about your “to-do” list for the day, a project at work, cleaning the kitchen floor, or simply just getting a shower.

Kids are MAJOR hurdles that you have to get over in order to “accomplish” things.

But there’s the thing.
In our culture, we think too much about obstacles as bad things.

What I have learned in the past decade of my life is that OBSTACLES and how we respond to them, is actually what shapes us!

They carve out the path for our lives FAR more than all of the successes and wins ever will.

And so today, I want to share three major obstacles that I’ve faced in the past 10 years, and how while unpleasant at the time, even painful trying or devastating, they were tObstaclehe best things that could have happened to me!

So keep reading!



Obstacle #1 Grad school with a baby

Ok, so this is not as major and devastating as the other obstacles, but this particular obstacle sets the stage for what I’m going to be talking about.
I was pregnant and then had a baby while pursuing my MS in Soil Science.
NOT the end of the world! BUT the problem was that I came to NC State University as a qualified microbiology and genetic researcher with years of experience during sophisticated lab-based research at the National Institutes of Health and University of Arizona’s grant with the Dept. of Homeland Security.
I had peer-reviewed publications. I was a “scientist”
Except that once pregnant, I didn’t want to work in the lab anymore and expose myself to various chemicals and once I had the baby, I barely wanted to leave him. Like ever.

I almost quit! Because I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile my new life with my past career and reputation.

I took a semester off to stress about giving up on a dream vs. leaving my kiddo to do long hours of lab-based research and what happened was something beautiful really.

I created a WHOLE new project that was research based on teaching cultural competence in urban community garden settings.

I even published an 4H Manual that is being used now to train agricultural students and people working in community gardens how to teach and collaborate with under-served populations comprised of a diversity of people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

I had the opportunity to work on a project with Will Allen

If it wasn’t for my pregnancy and my first born and ALL the limitations he placed on my life, I would never have had such a creative and unique Masters project and learned all the incredible skills that I did.
The restriction of not being able to be like EVERYONE else, which often made me feel inferior, ended up setting me a part and making me great!!

Obstacle # 2 Working out at home with kids.

Kids are a blessing and I feel honored to be a mama.
Having kids is not some horrible ordeal, BUT it is mega challenging.
Children can be an obstacle that we have to contend with when trying to take care of ourselves.
They force us to go back to the drawing board when it comes to accomplishing even the simplest of tasks, NEVER MIND getting in a workout.

For a few years I fought back against my life as a stay-at-home mom.

I tried to pretend that it was realistic for me to routinely get out of the house to exercise and take care of myself.
And while this might be possible for you (yay!) it was NOT for me.
My husband and I were running a fast growing family business and both time and finances were TIGHT.

I finally realized that taking care of myself in movement, exercise and quiet moments to myself needed to not always be an ESCAPE from my life, but had to be inserted into my day.

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  • I decided it was good for my kids to learn to be independent.

  • I decided that I wanted to focus on growing muscles and strength and stop chasing skinny.

  • I decided that if prisoners could get in incredible shape in prison (I’m not even kidding, I thought this!) then I could do the same in my gross basement.

It’s a long story and I’m sharing some if in the POP Challenge, but I got innovative in my movement and training practice.
I started figuring out how to build muscle, lift weights and use bodyweight exercises with my kiddos around and built my body stronger and more capable than it had EVERY been before!


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I found a new strategy for training that I would NEVER have found had not had the restrictions in my life that I did with kids!
I become more efficient, created programs and workouts that work in all sorts of time frames, situations and with different equipment.

I ended up creating an entire business around the skills that I was cultivating!









Obstacle # 3 Pelvic Organ Prolapse

So this might be the most devastating obstacle that I talk about openly.
Being diagnosed with POP three years ago was a HUGE blow to my mind and ego.

Here I had done ALL THIS WORK and innovation to create a business and cultivate a movement practice that made me feel great, confident and I was told that I had to give all that up.


I could no longer exercise, run, even stand or walk for long periods of time without feeling lots of pressure.

Every time I could feel my bladder prolapsed into the vaginal cavity I felt such shame, frustration and sadness.

I felt like a fraud, coaching women to strength train and exercise when I could no longer do it.
I felt broken.
I felt regret, something I had done had caused this injury and had I known better, I could have prevented it.

For months I wallowed in sadness until one day, I couldn't take it any longer!

I decided to take action.
Prolapse was NOT the first obstacle that I had ever faced-like you I have encountered MANY (not mentioned here) over the course of my life.
I believed that there MUST be a way to work around or through it.
And so I fought.
I researched.
I tried new approaches to movement.
I found people that could help me.


And it worked!
While prolapse never fully goes away and I am FOREVER changed, mine is no longer symptomatic or detectable.



But what the obstacle of prolapse did for me:

  1. Helped me realize that how we move matters for our health. It’s not just enough to exercise. IN FACT, exercise can cause pain and problems if we don’t learn some basics about breathing and movement mechanics.

    Too much of a good thing is too much. Over-exercising can cause damage to our guts, thyroids, adrenals, and MINDS. I developed prolapse right around the time when I was becoming a little too obsessed with exercise. So I am thankful for that obstacle and limitation because as bad as POP is, I think I have avoided some far more devastating health challenges by shifting my relationship with exercise.

  2. Because I had to REALLY get in tune with my body to pay attention to symptom increase and because I could not longer rely upon the same old movement in exercise, i became creative and efficient with my movement. Once again, my training changed and made me BETTER, stronger, wiser and more interesting.

  3. I have become a spokesperson for pelvic health and am helping women every day all over the world, understand and rehabilitate their pelvic floors.



My question for you is what limitation or obstacle is keeping you accomplishing the goals that you have for yourself.

Have you ever tried adopting a new and different perspective about it?
Maybe it is pushing you in a direction that you would never choose otherwise and maybe while unpleasant, it can create positive change in you!

What about accepting that limitation as it is right now and figuring out how best to work with it?

Want help with this? Join the 2019 POP Challenge!! It’s a free 5 day coaching club where I’m sharing MY TRAINING TOOLS for being persistence and innovative.

We will train our minds and bodies to ADAPT to our limitations and get AMAZING lasting results!! You gotta try it!!

Click the image below to learn more sign up!!































Christian women, are you paying attention to your pelvic and sexual health??

Attention Married Christian wives and mommas!

Are you uncomfortable discussing incontinence, painful sex or lackluster sex, pelvic or what feels like bladder pain?

Have you accepted pressure in your vagina and the possible protruding of organs as just, “part of mom life” or the “aging process”?

Are you afraid to ask your girlfriends, “Is this normal?”

Are you nervous that your spouse might consider you “broken”, “damaged”, “old” or “defective”?
Do you accept these discomforts as part of the sacrifice of motherhood?

Are you afraid that as a Christian woman, wanting to actually enjoy sex is wrong?

Let’s talk!

Many married women that are not mommas experience pain during sex and are afraid to discuss it with or even admit it to their partners, but it’s preventing them from fully enjoying and being comfortable with sex. 
Culturally, it’s not always talked about and so they are avoiding intimacy and quietly wondering, What’s wrong with me?

Many married mommas are uncomfortable having sex after baby or uncomfortable in their bodies (not knowing when you are going to leak. ) which also makes them reluctant to engage in intimate activities. 
Sometimes because sex isn’t enjoyable for them or their sexual needs have changed after babies.

Pressure in the vagina caused by organs can shift after pregnancy and birth and this can make sex uncomfortable OR can make one uncomfortable, leave you feeling less than sexy. 
It can also make certain positions less enjoyable than they used to be.

If this is you, YOU’RE NOT alone!


I write this article because sometimes in Christian culture we don't hear enough about women’s health.
Sure there are conferences that are focused on helping couples re-connect, spice up their love life, prioritize intimacy, BUT how often are women coming into your women’s group and saying,

”Let’s talk about your pelvic floor health and how it’s impacting the quality of not just sex, but your life!??”

PS-I will come and talk to them !


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Well I’m here, a Christian momma of three kiddos, married 10 years and a strength coach and pelvic health advocate that THERE ARE SOLUTIONS!!!





What you are experiencing are symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction and possible pelvic organ prolapse. 

These things are extremely COMMON!

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Pelvic floor muscles

Pelvic floor muscles


Pelvic floor dysfunction means that the core/foundation of your core is not activating and relaxing in the ways that it’s meant to. 

It maybe TOO active. 

It maybe TOO inactive.. 

But with breath work, shifting in movement mechanics, and practice, we can change that!


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Pelvic organ prolapse means that one or more of your pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and rectum) have shifted out of place due to lack of support by the muscles the pelvic floor and stretching of ligaments, etc.

There are different degrees of this shifting, but all forms of prolapse can be improved with pelvic floor physical therapy, and again changes in the breathing and movement patterns we use throughout our day!



If you have symptoms of an OVERACTIVE, pelvic floor-

  • bladder pain

  • pelvic pain

  • constipation

  • gripping of the abdominals

  • gripping of the glutes

  • shallow chest breathing

  • pain during intercourse

  • difficulty achieving orgasm

  • difficulty inserting tampon

  • incontinence-especially stress (leaking during a sneeze, jump, cough)

  • tight, immobile hips

  • hypermobile hips



Then you MAY need some manual release by a pelvic floor physical therapist.

  1. You may also need additional foreplay, lubrication, relaxation, communication and the building of trust (so you can relax) during sex. 

  2. You DEFINITELY need to spend time breaking the habit of sucking in your belly. 

  3. You need to work on your breath and practice nice full deep diaphragmatic inhales. 

  4. You may also need to take a second look at your diet and gut health-inflammation and a history of Candida overgrowth can cause the pelvic floor to tighten.




If you have symptoms of pelvic floor that does not activate as needed OR prolapse

  • incontinence (stress or urge)

  • leaking

  • frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate

  • incomplete voiding of the bladder

  • a weak feeling, lack of support at the bottom of your core

  • low back pain

  • pressure in your vagina

  • difficulty fully eliminating stool or contipation

  • shallow chest breathing

  • feeling like you’re sitting on a ball

  • something protruding in your vagina

  • uncomfortable sex

  • difficulty achieving orgasm




Then you should see a pelvic floor physical therapist to be evaluated! 

If any of your organs are prolapsed, it’s good to know what you’re dealing with and how you need to progress activities. 

If you’re struggling to ACTIVATE your pelvic floor, having a PT palpate the muscles and teach you a full pelvic floor contraction (not just squeezing your vagina) can be very helpful!


And here’s the kicker, you can have BOTH prolapse AND a hypertonic pelvic floor.
Trust me, I know from personal experience and so therapy and rehab needs to account for BOTH these conditions, but don’ t worry, we can work with that!


Keep reading!



Let me caution you!

Going to see your OB and chat with them about these issues is in most cases NOT the best course of action. 

OB GYN’s are neither trained to diagnose prolapse or pelvic floor issues, NOR are they often aware of the most progressive information available on pelvic floor dysfunction or prolapse!


IF your OB insists on ONLY sending you to a URO-GYN, that is a surgeon that surgically repairs pelvic floor and bladders, etc.
They often do NOT understand the benefits of PT and are very surgically minded.
Not all of them, but MANY of them.

Even some pelvic floor physical therapists can sometimes use language or methods that are OUTDATED. 

They can prescribe kegels alone (not good enough) or be insensitive in explaining to you the changes that have occurred in your body.
They aren’t always the best about delivering messages of hope.



But all that being said, we have to make the most of the system that is at our disposal.
Getting an evaluation from someone in person can be very helpful. 
You can ask your OB to refer you to a PT, you can Google a local one yourself, or you can reach out to me and I will do my best to find you one.

Just remember:

  • A diagnosis is not a static thing. 

  • Bodies change. 

  • With awareness, intentional practice and training, symptoms improve. 




And if you don’t like the PT or feel like they are not serving your needs, you have other options!

I for example, teach women how to rehab their pelvic floors and create healthy pelvic and breathing habits for daily life and in fitness!




But trust me, you need to take some action and NOT settle for a subpar quality of life because…

-women around you are settling/ignoring

-you feel guilty about spending time and money on this

-no one you know is talking about it

-ignorance isn’t bliss, but it does feel safer today than finding out what is actually going on

-you think this will eventually go away or you’ll adjust.




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I am a mom of 3 and was diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic floor dysfunction 3 years ago. 
I did not have a positive experience with my physical therapist (but there are MANY wonderful ones out there, don’t despair). 

After a few sessions she decided I wasn’t making enough progress and began talking about surgery. 

I left that appointment and never looked back, not because surgery is the worst thing in the world, but because I KNEW that there must be other options for my healing than what was being provided there. 



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And so I spent a year studying the pelvic floor, trying all sorts of strategies and working to improve my pelvic floor health, reduce my prolapse symptoms. 

I even figured out how to train for a VERY challenging and physically demanding kettlebell certification (RKC) after being told that I probably wouldn’t be able to lift more than 10lbs. 

I have since spent 2 years educating women about their pelvic floors and how to have healthy pelvic habits.

I want you to have access to the BEST information about your pelvic floor. 

I want you to find healing. 

And I’m sorry to say that many medical professionals are NOT going to always give you the best information. 

BUT there are many many many physical therapists, coaches and pelvic health experts out there like myself, that can support you!



What you need to do FIRST is ask yourself three questions:

  1. Do I have any of these symptoms or thoughts that Sarah is describing?

  2. Do I trust that there are solutions?

  3. Am I ready to take action?

Next! If you need to work on RELAXING or ACTIVATING your pelvic floor, I recommend starting with daily diaphragmatic breathing. 

Really focusing on that full inhale and exhale. 

Check out my 3 video series on this!

https://youtu.be/WmCVlXC3Rc0

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I can’t not stress this enough, your OB is NOT a substitute for a pelvic floor physical therapist. 


Reach out to me with questions!

I have BARELY scratched the surface here. 

You can search also my page for other articles on the pelvic floor!

Sarah Smith is a personal trainer, level two Russian Kettlebell Instructor, postnatal fitness specialist and pelvic floor and gut health advocate with a Masters in Agricultural Science.
She works online and in Raleigh, North Carolina. 
Sarah specializes in helping women online and in-person feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!

She is a mom to three boys and one English Bulldog. She loves soil, coffee and not folding laundry. Come follow her on Instagram or Facebook.







PMS and Digestive Distress, What's the deal and what to do about it!

Do you experience excessive bloating, constipation and or diarrhea when you’re about to get your period?
Does this aggravate your pelvic organ prolapse?
Cause you to lose confidence in your body?
Do you avoid activity?
Or maybe just get SUPER annoyed with your unpredictable digestion and elimination?
Well let’s talk about why this happens and what you can do about it!

Read More

Managing pelvic floor symptoms this holiday!

I know it can be frustrating when you have to do EXTRA things just to feel normal like everyone else, but there are MYRIAD reasons why your body is asking for extra attention in this context, so just give it what it needs. 
Breath.
Accept that this is a challenge for you RIGHT NOW and it's not necessarily forever. 
Be present in your body. 
Consciously use your breath to relax every bit of your body all the way down to your toes!!

Read More

Gut health struggles Part 2: Solutions for postpartum mommas

So you read Part 1 and all about WHY we may struggle with gut health and digestion after baby, but now let’s talk about solutions!

These suggestions are for educational purposes only and should NOT be considered a substitution for advice or diagnoses from a practicing health care professional!


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Nutrition. Prioritize fiber, healthy fats , vegetables and protein in your diet as best you can! These are going to help regulate hormones, nourish the gut microbiome and improve regularity and stool formation.

Believe me, I KNOW that when we are overwhelmed it ain’t easy to make “nutritious meals” happen daily.
So pick what you CAN make happen!
Maybe a daily smoothie that gets you a bolus of good nutrition?
I’m a big fan of the #bigasssalad movement and like to throw as much veggie, fat, and protein goodness I can find in a bowl mid day to make sure I get at least ONE nutritious meal.
Or maybe you’re struggling to digest raw veggies (like salads) right now, in which case, roasted veggies (literally throwing whatever veggies you like or have in the fridge in a pyrex dish, pouring salt and olive oil over top and roasting at 400 degrees until they look ready) is the better option for you!

In Ayurvedic medicine food after birth is reintroduced SLOWLY for the mother, beginning with the least complex/most easily digestible foods like broth and gradually moving towards more complex ones like dairy, green vegetables and eventually meat.

The mother’s Agni and ama is routinely checked to see if she is digesting the food fully or if the body is holding onto anything undigested and therefore toxic. If there is a white coating on the tongue, any bloating or cramping, and or if the baby shows any of these symptoms, then the diet is NOT progressed.

***Side note: BROTHS!
Historically in the US and still all over the world we nourished new mommas with broths.

Broth is filled with easily digestible nutrition

It’s devoid of allergens (unless you are histamine sensitive)

Broth contains collagen, gelatin and amino acids to help seal your gut, and restore and rebuild your tissues. 

Check out my post on how to make bone broth, the way I do it is SUPER simple).
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) broths are used HEAVILY for the first 40 days after birth. The Chinese believe that birth makes us more “yin” or cold and the warmth of the broth helps to balance that. Giving broth as a source of nutrition, requires little digestive work for the body and therefore allows our immune and digestive systems to rest while we recover.
Even in non-pregnant women, often in China people will start a meal with a cup of both to stimulate digestive enzymes and help the body better break down our food and extract nutrition.
If you can’t already tell, I’m a fan and if you read my post on broth you’ll learn how it brought me back from the edge of sickness that was induced by a poorly healed postpartum and over-taxed body.

When should follow these nutrition recommendations?
Anytime! If you’re 1 day, 6 weeks, 6 months, 9 months postpartum, doesn’t matter, these recommendations still stand.
It’s important to remember that the process of digestion does take WORK and in the early days of postpartum, your body is still recovering from all it’s hard work!
Eating simply and eating a low-inflammatory diet of easily digested foods is a preventative measure that serves most women that observe it well!

**There is a chance that you could have developed some food sensitivities during your pregnancy and postpartum experience (there are multiple explanations for why that could be to be addressed at a later time!). If you suspect that’s the issue, I would HIGHLY recommend getting with a licensed practitioner (like Laura, here) that can help you sort through that.

I’m partial to a registered dietitian and nutritionist OR an ND or MD with functional medicine training.

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Probiotic foods or supplements. Remember when we talked about the effect of antibiotics and stress on the gut and its community of microbes living in it? If you did receive antibiotics or are struggling with digestion, probiotics are a GREAT solution! There are different strains for different problems and different bodies/guts prefer different types. If you think about tit, there is already a community of bugs living in your gut and probiotics are additional bugs that you are now adding.
Unfortunately they sort of have to “duke it out” in the beginning and you can experience some die-off, worsening of symptoms or other discomfort in the first week, but it’s usually short lived, ESPECIALLY if you SLOWLY introduce small dosages.
Consult with your health practitioner about what probotics would be best for you!


I like the Gut Institute’s Bifido-Max-it’s allergen free and contains the keystone species/gut gatekeepers that we were supposed to get from our mommas. They help decide what goes out and what stays in the intestines and improve digestions AND elimination.
It comes in powder form, so it’s easy to SLOWLY ramp up the dose over time. It’s also kid-friendly!

My second favorite right now is MegaSpore probiotic-which has been toted to fight inflammation and seal the gut.

I am not affiliated with these companies in any way, they are just what I use personally.


If you’re not ready to try a probiotic supplement, how about some foods?
There are LOADS of them out there! I love Farmhouse Culture brand and I don’t love spicy varieties for nearly postpartum moms or anyone struggling with digestive struggles!

**Some probiotic strains or probiotic foods MIGHT be better tolerated by a nursing baby than others, so introduce them SLOWLY and pay attention to how you and your baby’s body respond!





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Spend time moving, especially outdoors! This will get you your daily requirement of Vitamin D, help you inoculate your gut with microbes, and lower your cortisol (stress response) to improve digestion. Movement ALONE has been shown to increase the robustness and diversity of the gut microbiome and let’s face it, the more sedentary we are, the longer it takes for us to excrete waste.
Movement makes you poop more regularly!

I’m not a big fan of new mommas jumping right back into a challenging fitness routine.

I think traditional exercise (like group fitness and CrossFit!) is a reserved for rested, recovered bodies.
But MOVEMENT and movement training can be immensely helpful for re-building strength, core and pelvic floor responsiveness and coordination! I have a movement protocol that isn’t specifically for mommas, but can be a great way to get started with movement! I also recommend working with a postnatal fitness specialist AND doing Original Strength resets.



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Prioritize sleep over screen time-just lay down, close your eyes.
I started wearing headbands over my eyes so I could fall asleep more easily.
Believe me, I get it.
You’re tired, you’re stressed. Your body and life have just been hijacked by this cute little baby that needs you all of the time.
Escaping with some screen time after a long day can feel SOOOO good.
And I’m not saying that you should never do it.
But take it from someone that learned the hard way, your body can NOT afford to lose any more sleep than it is already.


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Sleep deprivation is an issue for a health gut microbiome.
Remember in Part 1 when we talked about “rest and digest”?
The gut does a LOT of digestion and repair work at night while you sleep.

Additionally the microbial “rhythm” of your gut impacts your circadian rhythm and vice versa.
One study showed that just two nights of only 4 hours of sleep dramatically altered the subjects’ microbiome-in favor of reduced insulin sensitivity. Other research show that consistent lack of sleep creates stress in the body that will over time eliminate your good gut bugs.
Lack of sleep also causes us to reach for quick forms of energy, often sugary carbs which ALSO select for negative changes in the gut microbial landscape.


Naps can help mitigate the unavoidable challenge of diminished sleep in lives of new parents, but so can grabbing it as often as you can and NOT allowing the blue light of screens or story line of your favorite show to keep you up when you could be grabbing some Zzzzzz’s.

Sleep deprivation is part of our new reality and it’s worse for some people than others.
I personally had RUBBISH sleepers for babies and I know how it feels to just give up even trying to grab sleep whenever possible, but here’s the thing, the laundry, the on-demand TV, the dirty dishes-they ain’t going anywhere and even if you make it through, there will always be more.

During this season of your life and ESPECIALLY if you struggle with gut distress, you need to prioritize sleep WHEN you can. You don’t have to stress about it or be perfectionist, but you do have to persistently pursue it and make the most of what you goT!

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Squat to poop. Constipation is NOT an uncommon occurrence after baby. Our hormones, pelvic floors and alignment are all VERY different from what they once were before baby.
NOT routinely eliminating waste causes the toxins and expired hormones in the stool to be resorbed into the blood stream.
This can be taxing on our immune system and gut health and can also cause imbalances in our hormones-which will negatively impact sleep and gut health too!
Eliminating waste once a day is ideal and getting in a squat position to do so is VERY helpful for ease of doing so!

You can buy a squatty potty or fashion some other foot rests that work best for you!
To be totally frank, the squatty potty isn’t a deep enough squat for everyone, so if it doesn’t exactly work for you, that doesn’t mean that squatting isn’t best.
Play around with positions! I talk more about all this in another article here.

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It’s so very trying to be taking care of a new baby, trying to meet their needs and meet the expectations you and your life could be putting on you, but I can tell you from my own experience, IF your body is sending you signs that something isn’t right, DON’T IGNORE IT!
Do what you can to address it.
Don’t be afraid to invest resources, time and energy in a practitioner to help you, if necessary! Just be frank with them about your financial situation and time limitations and ask them for guidance in helping you choose the MOST impactful changes for you, your life and your body!

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Sarah Smith is a personal trainer, level two Russian Kettlebell Instructor, postnatal fitness specialist and pelvic floor and gut health advocate with a Masters in Agricultural Science.
She works online and in Raleigh, North Carolina. 
Sarah specializes in helping women online and in-person feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!

She is a mom to three boys and one English Bulldog. She loves soil, coffee and not folding laundry. Come follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

Gut health struggles for postpartum mommas Part 1; No matter how far postpartum, this could still be you!

photo credit: Dr. Lia Andrews

photo credit: Dr. Lia Andrews

I hear it all of the time.

”My digestion was just never the same after I had the baby.”


Many a woman is struggling with digestive distress after birth and their lives are so full that they don’t always have the time to acknowledge it to themselves, never mind address it.

But it’s not uncommon and unfortunately, it probably isn’t going to resolve on it’s own, UNLESS it’s strictly due to hormonal changes, which is possible, but even then the recommendations in this article will help you survive digestion and elimination experiences in the meantime!

Let’s talk briefly about the reason why our digestion and elimination experiences can be different after birth.


Antibiotic treatment
Many hospital births require the administration of antibiotics during labor. When warranted, this intervention can prevent systemic infection, but unfortunately it can significantly alter your gut microbiome by obliterating many of the beneficial organisms that live there, leaving space for the flourishment of some not-so-beneficial organisms like Candida (yeast). You can read more here from Dr. Amy Myers!


Hormonal changes
Your digestion processes as well as elimination (pooping) is effected by various levels of hormones (progesterone and estrogen) in the body and as you probably know your hormones are still in flux for a little while after baby.


Possible increase of inflammation and intestinal permeability
There is preliminary evidence that pregnancy alters the barrier integrity of the intestines and increases low levels of inflammation in some individuals, depending on their microbiome and weight pre-pregnancy (Kerr et al. 2015) . And there is loads of evidence that individuals engaged in long endurance exercise events (ahem-birth) temporarily experience increased intestinal permeability that leads to diarrhea, cramping and digestive distress (Cronin, 2017). While labor fits this description, research being conducted on how labor and delivery impacts the mom’s intestinal lumen is NOT readily accessible or visible in the peer-reviewed literature-and so I looked to Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine to see what those vastly under-used resrouces thinkMore later!

Unintentional shifts in diet
If you’re breastfeeding and or recovering from birth, then you need to consume more calories than you are probably doing so. Additionally if you’re tired and don’t have time or energy to prepare meals or are just looking for easy snacks, then you most likely consuming a higher amount of starchy carbs (they are the convenientist!). This which will in turn change the landscape of your microbiome (in high quantities, it can cause bad bugs to proliferate) and can make digestion/elimination move a little bit more slowly.
Forgetting to chew your food, or eating faster
Digestion begins with the teeth and enzymes in the saliva! A habitually fast eater pre-baby, I was SHOCKED to see how much faster at eating I became after having kiddos. When we get a moment to eat, we are often famished and or pressed for time and so we tend to eat FAST! But there is a communication that must happen between the mouth, brain and gut in order to ready our body for digestion. The parasympathetic nervous system slows heart rate, increases intestinal activity and opens gastric sphincter in order to facilitate the NOT uncomplicated process of digestion.
Precision Nutrition has a great synopsis on this topic:

“Think of digestion as a chain reaction. As soon as we see, smell, or think about food (step 1), we start salivating to prepare for putting that food in our mouth (step 2). Saliva contains enzymes that break the food down, and moistens the mouth for easier swallowing.

Meanwhile, digestive steps 3, 4, 5 etc. have to get ready to go to work. Our stomachs start to secrete more acid. Our small intestine starts to get ready for some peristalsis. And so forth.

If we rush this process, we force our GI tract to deal with stuff before it’s fully prepared. Surprises are great on birthdays, not so great during digestion.”

Trying to digest food that has NOT been properly broken down by the stomach acid and enzymes can be really hard on the gut AND it can cause us to OVER-eat. While over-consuming calories is NOT something I want you to stress about, eating too much, too fast can be uncomfortable and cause bloating, cramping and other forms of digestive distress, ESPECIALLY if it’s foods that are difficult to digest like protein and fibrous veggies.


Stress and lack of sleep
Motherhood is stressful. New babies are a lot of work, I don’t care if this is your first or your fourth, a new person in the mix always changes the dynamics and routine of the household. That coupled with lack of sleep can TOTALLY lead to stress mental, emotional and mechanical stress on the body. Stress slows things down. It kills your good bugs. It diverts blood away from our gut so that we can’t digest and absorb nutrition efficiently and over the longterm the gut becomes MORE permeable to toxins and food particles. When these guys get in our blood stream they can make us food intolerant and cause all sorts of negative responses to foods, including rashes, bloating, cramping, diarrhea…
Stress is also part of life!
It’s fine, don’t stress about it, but keep reading about ways to help MANAGE these changes.Ok, well this is the situation we find ourselves.
ONE or possibly ALL of these variables are messing with our digestion and causing bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation or a little bit of EVERYTHING.


So what can we do about it?

Head on over here to read Part 2

References

Armstrong LE, Lee EC, Armstrong EM. Interactions of Gut Microbiota, Endotoxemia, Immune Function, and Diet in Exertional Heatstroke. Journal of Sports Medicine. 2018;2018:5724575. doi:10.1155/2018/5724575.

Benedict, C., Vogel, H., Jonas, W., Woting, A., Blaut, M., Schürmann, A., & Cedernaes, J. (2016). Gut microbiota and glucometabolic alterations in response to recurrent partial sleep deprivation in normal-weight young individuals. Molecular Metabolism, 5(12), 1175-1186. doi:10.1016/j.molmet.2016.10.003

Cronin O, O'Sullivan O, Barton W. Gut microbiota: implications for sports and exercise medicine Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 11 January 2017. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097225

Kerr, C.A., Grice, D.M., Tran, C.D., Bauer, D.C., Li, D., Hendry, P., and Hannan, G.N. (2015). Early life events influence whole-of-life metabolic health via gut microflora and gut permeability. Crit Rev Microbiol. 41(3):326- 40.

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Sarah Smith is a personal trainer, level two Russian Kettlebell Instructor, postnatal fitness specialist and pelvic floor and gut health advocate with a Masters in Agricultural Science.
She works online and in Raleigh, North Carolina. 
Sarah specializes in helping women online and in-person feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!

She is a mom to three boys and one English Bulldog. She loves soil, coffee and not folding laundry. 

Are you qualified?

Injuries sustained in pregnancy or postpartum, can plague clients for decades after the fact.
I have clients in their 50’s just NOW healing their diastasis recti and pelvic floor problems sustained 20, 30 years ago.
And you know what.
They’ve been to a lot of gyms and no one told them that leaking, and persistent back pain, chronic shoulder injuries and hip problems were related to their diastasis recti and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Read More

About that extra weight....

The majority of folks that I talk to these days believe they are carrying some extra weight. 

They will often even tell you exactly how much "extra" weight they are holding and often even what weight they are supposed to be. 

But the interesting thing here is that while THEY might believe that they are holding onto "extra" weight and their doctor or society might be telling them the same thing, their body has no idea what they are talking about. 

You see the body doesn't grow your fat cells, store more fat or more efficiently extract nutrition from food for no good reason. 
It does it because it believes that it NEEDS to. 

The information that you are sending it on a daily basis via your nutrition practices, your sleep, your movement habits...THIS is how it's gets ideas about what you need with respect to fat. 

For the human body FAT is a resource. 

I know that in our culture it's demonized because, yes, high percentages of fat storage in the body can cause some health problems and make it more difficult to lose weight.
Fat cells produce cytokines-which create inflammation/stress in the body  and fat cells also release estrogenwhich in high levels signals to the metabolism-"SLOW DOWN!" 

But fat itself is an amazingly beautiful resource. 
It's your body's,"Break glass in case of emergency" life-saving way to quickly provide you with energy and fuel IF you need it! 


And if your biology is responding to your lifestyle in a manner that communicates to your metabolism, "Things are bad here, we need more emergency resources!!" then all the diets and stressful exercise programs in the world are probably NOT going to work for you. 

In fact if you are age 35 or older, then you REALLY can't look to conventional weight loss programs.

Why? Because your body is stressed.It's inflamed. It's hormones are imbalanced and most importantly, its gut is not populated with the microbes that you need toONLY extract the calories that you NEED from food, the microbes that fight off organisms that make you crave sugar and lack energy,the bugs that help your body create dopamine and serotoninso that you feel GOOD!


Under-eating, cutting carbs, and stressing your body with long periods of exercise just ain't gonna cut it, because these strategies DON'T address the root issue. 

These approaches don't tell your body, "Hey-things are cool here, you can chill out and stop clinging to those fat cells like it's the end of the world."

So what DO YOU DO to alleviate the body's stress and help to balance it's hormones, metabolism and gut to get it to reduce holding onto unnecessary fat stores? 

Well I'll tell you!

 

  • Sleep
  • Move
  • Manage stress-not just emotional stress, PHYSICAL stress (we talk about this in the program!)
  • Heal the gut
  • Cut out toxic hormone-mimicking substances

If you do all of these things in an efficient manner that jives with your lifestyle, then your body is going to chill out. 
It's going to become more balanced and less stressed. 
It's going to let go of the "resources" it no longer needs. 


These are the strategies that I have used with over 100 women to help them feel more vibrant and confident in their bodies!
These are the strategies that I use in my own life to help keep my body balanced and minimally stressed!

And these are the strategies I will be introducing to you via my Get Up And Go With Your Gut Program!!!! 


Registration closes tomorrow, June 17th,but IONLY have a few spots left, so grab yours NOW!!! We start Monday, June 18th!!

Click the image below to learn more about this 4 week program to nourish your gut, alleviate digestion and consequently leave your body feeling more balanced and less stressed!!!

Discover your Primal Pelvic Floor, Part 2!

In the same way that your minimal shoes are helping you to resurrect the muscles in your feet, and your primal diet is restoring your gut and brain function, these three steps to discovering your primal pelvic floor are (Plus my DPPF Program) are going to get your pelvic floor back online, more akin to the pelvic floors of our ancestors and, give you an overall better quality of life.

Read More

You asked questions about the pelvic floor and pelvic organ prolapse and I answered!

I 100% DO NOT believe in rules and formulas when it comes to working with the pelvic floor. 
There are some very helpful guidelines and effective strategies for dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction and related injuries, but I will tell you that EVERY CLIENT I SEE IN-PERSON OR ONLINE presents with pelvic floor issues slightly differently and therefore we tailor their programming to their unique problems. 

Read More

When it comes to fitness, vagina and vulva health matters and yes we can talk about it!

I first began to work with female athletes in 2004, they were high school track athletes. 

Two days into the job, I realized how much our fitness and athletic performance is tied to our unique female anatomy and how being one of the only female coaches was going to mean I better have some tampons and pads handy 24/7.

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So what's the deal with pubic hair removal????

Well, pubic hair is basically like eyebrows and eyelashes for your vagina. 
Like the eye, the vaginal canal is a sensitive part of the body open to the outside world!
It is susceptible to invasion and infection by bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoans. 
As a moist environment with mucosa-lined membranes, it can provide the exact niche preferred by some of these foreign invaders. 

The coarseness and shape of the hair makes it easier to trap foreign particles like dust, pollen, pathogenic bacteria....


So if you're like me, you might be thinking, "Ok, but is that still necessary in the modern era? How likely is it that foreign particles are going to get into my Lululemon leggings that I can barely get into myself?"

Read More

Trick # 3 ....

Everyday that you try to exercise there will be a million other things that you could, should, and want to do.

Guest bed buried in laundry today...and many days.

Guest bed buried in laundry today...and many days.

The fear of being interrupted, the inconvenience of actually getting dressed in workout clothes (don't forget Trick # 1!), a work call you have to make, that laundry you need to fold these things stop us in our tracks.
They give legitimacy to our procrastination.
Our lives are demanding, so we put off working-out until later...and later...and later....months, years can go by and those hindrances are still there in one form or another and we're still not exercising.

Exercise is never going to be super convenient.
I'm going to teach you how to be as efficient and low-tech as possible to help you make it happen AND get results.
Even with that help, you will have to create space in your home, your life, and your mind.

Maybe you want to be healthy and you want to do it in a way that is realistic for your life.
Or you already know the excuses and the legitimate reasons you have for not exercising, but you also know that you need to make it happen, and you're not exactly sure how to do it.

If this is you, here's my advice,

 

JUST START!

 

Or just "staht", as we say in my middle class New England family.

When I'm tired, crunched for time and I have lists upon lists of things that I need to accomplish I say to myself, "Just start the workout and see where it takes you," and 7 out of 10 times, I finished it and felt better for having exercised.
Other times, maybe I got 5, 10 minutes in before being interrupted by life, but it was better than nothing AND by just starting that mini-workout, it was easier to "just start" the next time I needed to. 

How did I start doing this?

 Six months after having my first baby, I started attentinding a workout class with other moms who supported one another in fitness, motherhood, and life.
I knew it was good for me, and I felt bad when I missed a class, but sometimes with a new baby and the exhaustion, I just couldn't imagine myself getting there and THEN working out for an hour.

So I started trying to just get there.
I gave myself the permission to do it as IMPERFECTLY as necessary, to stop if I needed to...and sometimes I even left early.
Having that freedom made me feel in control of the process, this was also the beginnings of my cultivation of a #persistenceoverperfection of #pop mindset!!

No one was forcing me to workout, I made the choice and some days I chose to stop because I needed the rest.
I needed to be gentle.

Oddly enough, this gave me the power to start the workouts and more often than not, push through to the end.
After that, I used this same approach for attending other exercise classes, getting to the gym, and I found that my attendance was even better than it had ever been.

Maybe for you, it's not about workouts. You're not even there yet. You're not sure how to "just start" because you don't even know how to work out. For you, it's more like taking that first step towards living better?

If that's the case then I am happy to tell you, you're already doing it.
By reading this post, you're seeking, researching what to do next.
Keep it up.
Keep researching.
Find people online (like myself) and in person that inspire you to make good choices, to learn what good choices look like in your life. These folks will help you be accountable to the commitment you wish to make.

Start using the mantra, #persistenceoverperfection!!

Every baby step you take towards creating habits of wellness in your life, the closer you get to looking and feeling better and the easier it becomes to live your live health-full life.

 

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Sarah Smith is a personal trainer, level two Russian Kettlebell Instructor, postnatal fitness specialist and pelvic floor and gut health advocate with a Masters in Agricultural Science.
She works online and in Raleigh, North Carolina. 
Sarah specializes in helping women online and in-person feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!

She is a mom to three boys and one English Bulldog. She loves soil, coffee and not folding laundry. Come follow her on Instagram or Facebook.