This is a woman that feared telling ANYONE about her diagnosis for fear they would be uncomfortable, assume the worst, conduct a Google image search and then assume that my body looked like the horrifying images they saw.Read More
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
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In flight to Paleo f(x) in Austin, watching Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Did I tell you guys that I met Sam Rockwell last year in the Atlanta airport on my way home from RKC?
Gosh, could that dude be any cooler!
I didn't know he was making this movie, but I wish to God that I had, because I would have pumped him for as much info as I could.
My hubs and I are big Martin McDonough fans and loved In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths.
Anyways, watching a film in peace is NOT something that happens to me often.
The turbulence of the plane's got NOTHING on three boys under 8...so my brain was EASILY able to watch the movie and think about my time in Austin.
I'm sitting there thinking about the Paleo f(x) presentations I want to catch, the new food products I'm going to try, the people I’m looking forward to visiting and suddenly realizing there needs to be more talk at this conference about the primal pelvic floor.
In the Paleo world, you hear about primal foods, primal movement, primal cooking, foraging, love-making…but what about the primal pelvic floor?
Ok, so maybe nobody really cares about that right now, but hopefully by the end of this article, YOU will care and you will want to embark on a hunt to discover yours.
Because a healthy pelvis is going to help you move better, experience less pain, have less anxiety about leakage or bathroom habits or even sexual performance.
It’s going to make you stronger, fitter, and more confident.
Really, WHO WOULDN’T WANT A PRIMAL PELVIC FLOOR?
So let's do this!
To kick it off, let’s define the word “primal” , because to so many of us it’s synonymous with “cave-man”, “wild”, ‘animal-like” or “paleo”, but the word “primal” ACTUALLY means essential; fundamental.
If something is primal then it’s necessary, of central importance.
Well if that doesn’t describe the pelvic floor, then I don’t know what does?!
The pelvic floor (PF) is a group of muscles, ligaments and fascia that form this basket of support at the bottom of your trunk/core. It provides structural integrity to the body.
If you think of the body as a canister that contains most of your essential organs with appendages and a head attached, the pelvic floor is the bottom of that canister, the foundation of your body. (What about the feet? Well if you know anything about structural design, and I know VERY little, in this analogy the feet would be the “footers”. Appropriate, right?).
We all know what happens when the foundation of ANYTHING is compromised….it caves, implodes, loses structural integrity, quality, longevity, value, strength and function.
One of the most fundamental requirements for a strong, optimally functioning body is a healthy base, therefore a healthy pelvic floor is by definition, primal.
But how do we get one, or maybe the question is really, why don’t we all have one already?
In a word, modernity.
To get an optimally conditioned pelvic floor, we have to fight back against modern (no-) movement culture and sedentary tendencies.
We have to resist the urge to solely think of the body in terms of “fat” or “lean”, “healthy” or “unhealthy” and adopt a systems-thinking approach that allows us to see the body and all it’s parts as systems that need to be functioning fairly well AND most importantly, as a team.
Because pelvic floor problems are becoming more of a problem for all people and it’s a problem of systems that don’t coordinate well and these out of sync systems compromise the quality of the larger system, the body.
We see 74% of moms of all ages experiencing some degree of pelvic floor dysfunction (leakage, pelvic/hip/low back/ pain, pain during intercourse, chronic constipation, and pelvic organ prolapse), BUT we also see non-parous women and men struggling with pelvic floor issues as well.
And EVEN if they aren’t displaying symptoms of dysfunction YET, all you have to do is sit in an airport for an hour and watch people’s pelvis (like a creep) and you can see that we have a MAJOR problem on our hands.
People are living their lives postures that is weakening their entire body, including the pelvic floor and THIS is causing them chronic pain and setting so many on the path to surgery.
Many of these folks with tilted pelvises, flared ribs, compromised shoulder joints, compressed spines, jacked up hips, bad knees and tight hamstrings are trying to or wanting to hit the gym and get healthy, not realizing that building muscle and adding load to these structurally unsafe bodies is akin to trying to add another floor to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
And so naturally they quit exercise and movement (if they can ever even start in the first place) and life a life of inactivity.
They start saying things like, “I have a bad back.” “I can’t lift heavy things” and “I need to do more yoga.”
Their lack of movement increases their body’s stress and negatively impacts mood and health.
They gain weight.
Because their body isn’t working in the way that it should, in the way that it used to before sitting and lack of movement taught their body poor movement patterns.
Because their pelvis is in poor condition.
Because they don’t have a Primal Pelvic Floor!!!
Ok so just to summarize what we’ve covered thus far.
A well-positioned pelvis makes for a functioning pelvic floor is, which is essential for a healthy body
A chronically tilted pelvis is going to negatively impact movement and quality of life, and will eventually cause injury.
Modern sedentary culture has us unfamiliar with movement and therefore in bad alignment that leads muscle imbalances and a life of chronic pain
So what to do?? How do we discover our primal pelvises and pelvic floors?
We can begin to do so in three easy steps!
***Just a quick disclaimer here that IF you already have pelvic floor dysfunction, you are probably going to need more individualized programming and cues than what is listed here.
This list is for people that have little to-no pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms, currently.
Step 1. Retrain the breath.
As you can see in the photo above, the core of the body is a canister with the top being the diaphragm and the bottom the pelvic floor.
When you inhale, the diaphragm lowers, the rib cage expands and the pelvic floor RELAXES downward. When you exhale, the diaphragm rises, the rib cages deflates and the pelvic floor contracts (lifts).
It’s a subtle sensation, but for many of us, we don’t even know that our breath, core and pelvic floor should all coordinate, much less HOW TO DO IT!
How did we get here? That’s a whole other long story, but lack of regular movement or too much strictly cardio (heavy breathing) and belly sucking (you know, when you suck in your tummy to make it look less squishy) can train us to be shallow chest-breathers that never get a full breath and therefore never active our pelvic floors.
These habits can cause some people to adopt a reverse pattern where they inhale and tighten their pelvic floor OR the position of the pelvis causes the pelvic floor to remain chronically tight no matter the breath. If you have tailbone, hip pain, trouble eliminating waste, pain during sex, premature ejaculation, or pelvic pain in general, then this might be yoU!
Begin to notice your own breathing pattern and start to practice deeper inhales and exhales WITH pelvic floor coordination.
See if you can feel it?
Here is a video to guide you!
Practice head on over to read Part 2!!! of this Your Primal Pelvic Floor!
Sarah Smith is a trainer, and postnatal fitness specialist and pelvic floor and gut health advocate based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
She specializes in helping women online and in-person feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!
Her specialties include kettlebells, gut and pelvic floor health optimization , mobility and movement and making fitness fun!
She's also a mom to three boys and one English Bulldog.
Check her out on social media here or get on her email list!! for more free content!
Having an interesting discussion in my DM’s this morning with a company that used one woman’s alleged (I say alleged because it’s an ad and we don’t actually know what this individual’s life or body is really like) fitness and training practice during pregnancy as precedent for “no excuses” NOT to train and track nutrition.
I confronted the company for this message and they maintain that their intention is only to encourage others to not use pregnancy as an excuse to NOT pursue their personal goals.
We had a respectful discourse.
Where I shared my concerns with the messaging.
They also mentioned that their “on-staff” MD approved this message.
First of all, you don’t encourage others to care for their bodies in the way that THEIR bodies require care by setting one individual as the standard for that that looks like.
I spent my third pregnancy being affected by every image I saw and idea I had created about how fit and pregnant women needed to be. I believed all the messaging that told me that pregnant women are no different than non-pregnant women, they just have a baby in tow and therefore have to be a little stronger.
I spent my third postpartum experience believing that birth was a minor thing and I needed to get right back to my fitness regimen, “get my body back, ASAP” to feel normal and regain my identify as a “fit mom”.
Where did I get these ideas? I will FULLY admit that a lot of them came from my own pride and need to look and feel a certain way. I didn’t want to lose my strength or ability. I didn’t want to lose individual self in the sea of babies and motherhood, again.
But this was also the first pregnancy in which I was working in the fitness world. This was the first time I was bombarded by women working their asses off through pregnancy, looking exactly the same way they did pre-pregnancy, except plus a cute bump. And that was shaping my ideas and expectations about MY OWN physique in pregnancy.
And you know what? I pushed too hard and hurt myself. I hurt my gut, I hurt my pelvic floor and core, I hurt my mind and mood.
So when I saw this ad last night I thought, “OH HECK NO.” and I confronted them and when they wrote back justifying their post I confronted them again with more information and my strong experienced opinion.
Because I have women come into my gym every week that need to be reminded that training when pregnant or postpartum has to look different, HECK training even when you’re not pregnant should really look different than what is often most popular if you’re interested in longevity and sustainable results, I get fired up! I encourage my clients to look at what THEY can do TODAY and not to what someone else MIGHT be doing, ESPECIALLY not Fitspo or fitness advertisements for products!
Because I have rehabbed my own body that was injured by this messaging and the associated pressure that comes with it. Because I help other women rehab their body because they heard messages that told them, “Be like this,” When what they needed was “Look for these signs that your body isn’t responding well,” or “Be aware of these risks____________.”
Because I HATE the idea that women feel like failures in fitness because they don’t look like a stranger that is being set as one of the many standards of what we should all look like.
My messages with Trifecta:
"After all that, I'm just ready to be me." -Lauryn Hill
I'm work fitness.
I help women stretch beyond their comfort zones and grow.
I help them find time in their days and space in their lives to care for their bodies with movement and training.
I help them crush goals, change how they feel in their bodies and even change aspects of their physique.
I do NOT tell them that they have to be like me.
I do NOT encourage them to look to Pinterest boards and fitness models as inspiration for whom they should become.
I have an online presence that features me working out, sharing my accomplishments, challenging others to do more in their lives.
I follow other women that are crushing online.
I look to them and their accomplishments with admiration.
I use them to challenge me.
I work HARD to make sure that I refrain from EMULATING them or believing that I have to do exactly what they are doing to be successful, to be happy.
You see, I am 100% in opposition of is the idea that we should EVER make another individual human being the standard for what WE SHOULD BE.
I spent from age 13 to 19 suffering chronic whiplash from always looking around at what EVERYONE else was doing and using that as a measure of what I needed to be.
Consequently I had NO direction.
I felt like a failure and a fraud.
I pretty much hated my life.
At 19 years old I had two amazing faculty members at the University of New Hampshire, that changed my life.
They saw me.
They saw my talents and my potential for the successful achievement of goals.
They believed in me.
They weren't confused about who I was.
They weren't comparing me to anyone else.
They weren't telling me to become something else.
They simply let me know that I was capable and that I could cultivate a life for myself beyond what I was doing now.
I could do better.
And never in a "you don't measure up" sort of manner, but in a, "I see you. You got this," sort of way.
And suddenly I wanted to change EVERYTHING.
I wanted to invest in myself.
I wanted to expand my comfort zone and pursue all the things that I wanted out of life.
I saw fellow students buckling down and succeeding in school and I went after MY OWN version of that.
I saw my friends enjoying their hobbies and academic pursuits and I wanted to figure out how to do that for myself too!
I took a hard look at the habits, relationships and activities in my life that WERE NOT working and I changed them.
I took another job.
I studied like I had NEVER studied before.
I set goals.
I wrote them down.
I changed who I spent time with.
I found new tasks and activities that actually nourished me.
My life suddenly looked like no one else's around me and you know what.
It was good.
Of course this took place over a couple of years and while I learned this incredibly important lesson early in life, I have had to re-learn it and grow it and build upon it time and time again.
BUT the foundation that nineteen year old Sarah Smith laid has FOREVER impacted my life and helped me to stop chasing everyone else and invest in my own life.
And this is why I feel so passionately about speaking out against the MANY messages in fitness, social media and popular culture that tell you,
"Be this_______[insert snapshot of popular, fit, successful person]."
Especially for pre and postnatal women, women struggling with their body image, confidence, self respect and a sense of place in this world.
Because when we are in theses states we are vulnerable.
We can be more susceptible to harmful messaging.
We can do ourselves harm chasing standards set for us by the culture EVEN when we don't know that we are doing it.
That nineteen year old young woman that was affected by what everyone else around her was doing, she came out again during my third pregnancy and postpartum period.
I found myself being affected by what fitness culture was telling me pregnant and early postpartum women should be doing, looking like, be capable of.
I didn't even know that I was doing it!
I was working my ass off.
Training, lifting, chasing kiddos, not always eating enough, exhausted, a little fried...
Because I thought that's what you did.
And then I injured my body.
The good thing about my injury is that it taught me that I could no longer copy what anyone else was doing.
NO one readily accessible to me rehabbing pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasis recti, pelvic organ prolapse AND training with kettlebells.
I had to look to my own body.
I had to pay attention to my own life.
I had to work around my own restrictions and capitalize on my own strength.
Once again I had to stop using what others were doing as my meter stick for success and fitness.
And it was good!
I now am SUPER outspoken about the fact that pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse and other injuries shouldn't stop you from living your life and crushing your goals.
But I the way that I train and the messages that I share are always based on the idea that we need to learn what works for us as individuals.
We need to challenge ourselves to grow.
But trying to keep up with other people and do exactly what they are doing is both an empty, dangerous and unsatisfying pursuit.
At the end of the day, we are 100% responsible for shifting our focus and our mindset from looking to other people to learn "What we should be."
But I also know how impactful it was to have two very successful intelligent people in my life say, "I see you. You can do more. Dig in and grow. "
And so that's what I do with my coaching and my online community.
I see you.
You can do it!
It doesn't have to look like what anyone else is doing to be good, valuable...to be a success.
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.
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.
We have told women that being and looking "fit" during pregnancy is of utmost importance.
We shame women that gain "too much" weight (whatever that means) and or don't exercise during pregnancy.
We revere women that remain relatively thin and active during pregnancy.
So today I feel that it's important for me as a mom, as a woman and as a trainer to make 3 very important points about the journey into motherhood and I'll tell you a bit about how I came to form these opinions.
I feel like there is this lingering understanding or assumption that when a mom has a baby, the first 6 to 12 weeks will be hard, but then after that you'll be doing what you used to do, working on getting your "body" back and then now you'll just have a cute little baby in tow.
My feeling is that becoming a mother doesn't mean that you are no longer an autonomous individual, but it does mean that your life and your body will never be the same as it was before the baby.
Let's start with bodies.
You will never have the same body that you did before you had a baby.
There are physiological changes to your pelvic floor, your cervix, your abdominal cavity, your breasts and your vagina that occur as a result of growing and birthing a human, yes, even if you had a C-section.
You have a new and different body that resembles the old one, but almost comes with an entirely new user manual.
It's needs and function will be different.
You're going to want to give it time to process, time to heal, time to be restored...
You'll need to reacquaint yourself with movement and alignment AND you'll be doing all this while holding often holding a baby.
This does not mean that you can't feel strong, confident, capable and joyful in your postpartum body, but it does mean that it will be different.
And if you're looking at your friend that appears to have NOT gained baby weight and thinking, "Gosh, she's back to what she was pre-baby," trust me.
Maybe her body's changes aren't easily detected, but every woman that has had a baby has experienced a MAJOR metamorphosis of their life and physical being.
Scars, prolapse, pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasic recti, mental and emotional conditions, hormonal imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, and weight-gain are ALL souvenirs from the amazingly challenging battle that is pregnancy and birth.
YOU DID IT!
YOU SURVIVED YOUR OWN UNIQUE BIRTH EXPERIENCE!
AND NOW YOU HAVE THE BODY PROVE IT AND THAT'S OK!
Actually, it's more than ok, it's wonderful!
Don't let our culture steal your joy when it pits you against other women.
Heck, don't do it to yourself either!
No other woman is the standard of what you should be or should be doing.
It's totally ok to want to be healthful and feel at home and comfortable in your body, but you have to be vigilant about the messages that you all yourself to take in from TV, magazines, social media...
Your journey will not look like anyone else's.
Your needs are different.
Your birth souvenirs are different.
Your babies' needs will be different as will the demands of your unique life.
We've taken thin and fit women who seem to either barely gain weight in pregnancy or easily lose pregnancy weight and made them the model of health.
We've put them on a pedestal to sell products and programs without conceding that, well yes, maybe they aren't holding on to their baby weight in the same way that torahs are, but they could be struggling in other areas.
We use reductionist thinking and focus on this one variable, weight, without talking about the MANY moving parts that make a woman healthy and happy in her new life as mother, because even if a woman appears to "get her body back" in the first year postpartum, there are myriad other issues that might not be addressed.
Issues that can cause physical and emotional pain further down the line....
Is she supported? Is she sleeping? Does she feel isolated? Is she secretly ashamed of bowel dysfunction or incontinence? Does her back hurt constantly? Is she anxious and or depressed? Is she nutrient-deficient? Is she struggling to find ways to enjoy herself? Is her baby particularly challenging right now?
So let's stop making the prenatal time about being fit while pregnant.
And let's also let go of this bizarre need to have women bounce back to their former bodies and lives.
New moms are busy.
They have a lot on their plates and they don't need to feel like their value and their health are tied to how productive they are or what size they are.
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?"
So while we aren't necessarily sure of the exact mechanism by which state of a person's metabolism and gut is going to play a role in the health of their pelvic floor and their risk for pelvic organ prolapse.
1. Gut dysbiosis and elimination
Gut dysbiosis is when there is an imbalance in the presence of beneficial and pathogenic microbes in your gut. Gut dysbiosis can cause a number of negative symptoms, but one of the most common is diarrhea.
The frequent elimination and inflammation that occurs when one is experiencing frequent bouts of diarrhea irritates not just the rectum, but the entire pelvic floor.
The increased incidence of elimination leads involves straining that puts consistent and persistent downward pressure on the muscles of the pelvic floor and like any muscle, they can fatigue and become weak from CONSTANT pressure.
For those of you that don't know, weak pelvic floor muscles are not as effective at supporting the pelvic organs (rectum, bladder and uterus (if you have one)).
Weak pelvic floors can also cause urine and fecal leakage.
2. Poor nutrient absorption and depletion of spleen Qi.
The microbes that reside (or are supposed to reside) in your gut have the amazingly important responsibility of harvesting energy from the food that you eat.
I know you've been walking around giving yourself and your body credit for this incredible job, but sorry. Your body has LONG been outsourcing it.
There's even research to suggest that the efficiency of nutrient absorption AND how the fuel is used (is it being used as energy or stored as fat) is determined by specific strains of microbes. Citation
Poor nutrient absorption disregulates the metabolism which frequently results in cravings, consuming more calories than necessary and high BMI in patients, ALL of which can play a role in elimination struggles and pelvic floor dysfunction.
Additional, a lack of nutrient absorption in the gut ALSO contributes to reduced elasticity, tension and recovery of muscles.
Weak muscles and lack of tension/elasticity contributes to the incidence of pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic organ prolapse. (Citation)
But what's even more amazing (to me) is that the first step in the nutrient absorption process is DIGESTION. Digestion begins in the mouth with teeth and saliva. It continues in the stomach thanks to enzymes and acid. And then continues in the small intestine.
In Chinese medicine, pelvic organ prolapse is associated with a depletion of spleen energy. The health and balance of the spleen (yang) is directly related to the health of its yin, the stomach.
When the stomach (part of the gut!) is dysbiotic (remember that means that good microbes are absent and bad ones are present) it produces less acid and inefficiently digests food.
Inefficient digestion and low acid conditions allow pathogens that should otherwise be killed and starved in the stomach to thrive and survive on the undigested foods.
Inefficient digestion negatively impacts nutrients absorption while the impaired health of the stomach ALSo negatively impacts the spleen...
"One of the most common patterns found in western people is something we call Spleen Qi Deficiency. This can arise from any number of reasons but a poor diet mixed with irregular eating patterns and stress is a common way to develop this pattern. Spleen qi deficiency involves symptoms such as poor appetite, bloating (particularly after eating), weakness of the arms and legs, fatigue and/or loose stools.
As spleen qi deficiency continues to progress a subsequent pattern may develop called Spleen Qi Sinking. This pattern is essentially the same as spleen qi deficiency but with prolapses of the stomach, uterus, anus and/or vagina along with frequency or urgency of urination. This pattern shows a more internal weakness where the body can no longer hold the organs in place." (Reference)
Come on! Now tell me THAT isn't interesting and a perfect illustration of how the health and wellness of the pelvic floor and gut are intricately intertwined!
3. Gut microbiome determined muscle wasting and insulin resistance
The pelvic floor is this amazing system of muscle, ligaments and fascia at the base of your trunk that stabilize and support your body!
In order to effectively do it's job, these muscles and ligaments need to have some bulk, elasticity and resilience.
Sarcopenia, the progressive loss of muscle mass and strength is associated with aging, cancer and other diseases but it's also highly correlated with inflammation, chronic infection and malnutrition caused by imbalanced gut micro biomes deficient in legacy keystone strains of microbes.
"One recent animal study suggests a relationship between muscle wasting and alterations in the gut microbiome. Muscle wasting induced by a model of acute leukemia in mice was reduced by orally supplementing the mice with specific Lactobacillus species.(44) The Authors suggest that gut micro- biota may influence muscle physiology through altering amino acid bioavailability; influencing metabolites such as bile acids; and modulating production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.(42)"
In 2015 Maranhao et.al., evaluated the relationship between insulin resistance and pelvic floor strength.
They found that in their small sample group that as insulin resistance increased, strength of pelvic floor contractions and ability to recruit all the muscles of the pelvic floor decreased.
We know that the gut microbiome plays a significant role in the development of insulin resistance therefore this is yet another way in which the condition of the gut microbiome could impact the health of the pelvic floor. (Citation)
4. Anxiety and mood
The research is in, the oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, endorphins are all neurotransmitters that control stress, anxiety, mood and behavior whose production by the body is MEDIATED by the bugs in your gut.
Stress, mood and anxiety are responsible for increased pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic organ prolapse symptoms.
The peer-reviewed literature is ALSO showing that the psychological state of an individual contributes to flare-ups of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
IBS is highly associated with pelvic floor dysfunction because of the strain and pressure that bouts of diarrhea and constipation place on the pelvic floor.
5. A hypertonic (too tight) pelvic floor
Over-recruiting the pelvic floor muscles via exercise or every day life makes for too tight pelvic floor muscles and results in pelvic floor dysfunction.
You can imagine that since your pelvic floor stretches from your bladder to your rectum if it was too tight it could make you feel urge to urinate frequently AND could make elimination difficult.
Health routine bowel movements and urination rely upon the pelvic floors ability to relax.
When the pelvic floor is overly and consistently tight, then elimination habits are disrupted and trouble starts.
The colon is where water is resorbed or absorbed by the stool, depending on what is necessary to create healthy, easy to eliminate stools.
When overly-tight pelvic floor muscles make it difficult for waste to be excreted, one becomes constipated.
Besides being uncomfortable and causing straining to the pelvic floor, constipation ALSO negatively impacts the gut.
When stools remain in the colon for too the toxins that are supposed to be excreted begin to accumulate. The accumulation of these toxins leads to intestinal permeability (leaky gut syndrome) in which the mucosal lining of the intestines breaks down and begins to allow various substances to leak out of the gut into the blood stream.
Constipation can also mean that metabolized hormones in the stool are hanging around (causing hormonal imbalance and inflammation) preventing the body from making fresh new hormones!
So there you have it!
If you didn't consider the pelvic floor and gut to be two parts of the body that were impacted one another AND your whole body strength BEFORE you read this article, then hopefully you are beginning to see their connection now!
The body never ceases to amaze and fascinate me.
Sarah Smith is a trainer, lifestyle coach and postnatal fitness specialist that specializes in helping women feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!
Her specialties include kettlebells, gut health and optimization for fitness goals, pelvic floor health and function and making fitness fun! Check her out on social media here or email her!
Most of these actions can be really helpful at getting us results BUT many popular versions of these changes, negatively impact the metabolism by changing the landscape of the gut microbiome which results in digestive distress, increased appetite and weight gain.Read More
One FREQUENT complaint in pregnancy and early postpartum is digestion.
Physical changes to the shape of our bodies, babies encroaching on our abdominal contents, hormones, cravings, irregular sleep schedules and voracious appetites have us in many ways eating and living in a TOTALLY new and different way!
Greetings from snowy Raleigh, North Carolina!
We woke up to a wintery wonderland this morning and while this former New Englander isn't a huge fan of wintery weather, I secretly think the snow today is rather beautiful.
This winter I've been taking more time to write.
In fact, I'm going back to my microbiology roots and talking about the gut microbiome and its influence on metabolism and whole body strength.
My new project is called "Strong butts and guts: increasing whole body strength with microbiology and natural daily movement"...or something like that..
For those of you that don't know, before I was a trainer, I worked in microbiology, first on the health front at the National Institutes of Health, then as environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona and finally finished with a masters in soil and agricultural science at North Carolina State University.
I. LOVE. MICROBES.
My husband has been a pest management professional and self-proclaimed "bug geek" for close to 15 years now and the other day I realized,
"Oh my goodness, I'm totally a bug geek too!"
Just a different kind of bug....the microscopic kind!
The amazing thing is that I never ever ever would have thought that my love for microbiology would be SO RELATED to my job as a trainer and lifestyle coach.
But we are learning more every day about the far-reaching influence of the trillions of microbes that live in our gastrointestinal system (the gut).
Nutrient absorption, to metabolic regulation, cravings, energy, sleep, muscle synthesis, hormonal regulation (very important for both metabolism and building lean muscle) the gut is an INTEGRAL part of all of these functions of the body.
One of the biggest issues that we are facing in modern life is that lack of movement, little time outdoors and the Standard American Diet are all killing the ancestral strains of microbes that have been evolving with us since the beginning.
These strains are designed to keep us alive and well and fully functioning, because we are engaged in a symbiotic relationship that is mutually beneficial!
They keep our bodies running like a top, we provide them with a safe place to live, aka, food and shelter.
BUT these strains of bacteria (many of which derived from the soil, we inoculated ourselves by being outside and eating foods that were grown in the dirt) are not happy.
In fact, they are dead (or close to it) in many a gut!
Herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, many prescription medications, loads of processed sugar, food additives (like guar and xanthan gums), and artificial sweeteners (Splenda!) are killing off the good guys (dubbed "Gut Guardians" by Dr. Grace Liu) in our gut microbiome, and leaving room for nasty ones that historically were kept in check by the guardians.
Consequently we are seeing more and more food sensitivities, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel syndromes and diseases (which by the way are symptoms, not medical conditions), chronic fatigue, inefficient metabolisms, mental emotional health conditions....and the list goes on.
My interest was peaked when I realized that the pelvic floor is strongly impacted by the gut, makes perfect sense since they are neighbors!
So I have launched a whole research project into better understanding how our lifestyle, and nutrition habits are impacting our guts and how our guts are impacting our abilities to build strong bodies!
AND logically, I'm writing an ebook on the topic.
I'm not totally out of depth here, I am a published author in a bunch of other super obscure topics (look to the right!)
But never have I ever written something about which I feel so much passion.
So, e-book is coming.
As part of my Inner Circle you will be learning about how your gut is impacting your body and ways to get it on board with you and your personal goals.
Today I am sharing a link to a recent blogpost that I wrote on the interactions between the gut and the pelvic floor.
It's written to coaches and trainers, and I know that some of you are that!
BUT it's about all of us, so don't skip it if you don't work in fitness.
YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS STUFF in order to protect yourself and possibly even get to the bottom of some chronic health issues that you've been ignoring!
The post is mostly about diarrhea, constipation, bloating and how irregular digestion is negatively impacting our pelvic floor, potentially causing pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence of ALL kinds.
I'd love for you to check it out here and leave comments!
This effects us all!
But we aren’t all given the tools (or courage) required to engage in conversations that help us determine when a client’s body, particularly their pelvic floor, is not responding well to training.
How often is a coach saying to their client:
“We’re working on clean and jerks today, but you need to be honest with me and with yourself if at any point you begin leaking anything (fecal or urine), experiences low back pain, tailbone pain, pelvic pressure or the frequent urge to urinate during or after our workouts,” ???
I've been taking a break from all social media this week and while I miss seeing my online community daily, I'm amazed at how much time I have to CREATE content and brainstorm about ideas that have long been percolating in the back of my brain.
I've also been chilling with my boys quite a bit which is both amazing and a tad bit exhausting.
Those boys can GO!
This blog post will be automatically uploaded to my Facebook page, since I'm still off social media, but if you wish to contact me about it, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ok, so let's talk about physique changes.
When it comes to burning fat and building lean muscle we know that one needs the following:
1. Appropriate calorie deficit **fat loss
2. Sufficient nutrition and nutrient absorption **lean muscle synthesis
3. Diverse gut microbiome **fat loss, energy, lean muscle synthesis
4. Effective stress management strategies (this includes sleep!) **fat loss
5. Physical activity (daily natural movement + training) **fat loss and lean muscle synthesis
In a nutshell, if you want to lose fat and build lean muscle to improve the strength of your body and overall efficiency of your metabolism, you need to eat well, live well and move well!
Sort of simple, right?
Some folks find that investing lots of energy in one or 2 of these areas can initially be most impactful for them.
While others might find that they prefer to gradually change their habits in all 5 of these areas over time.
If a person wants fast results, then one would devote a lot of time and energy of cultivating lifestyle practices that meet these requirements for fat loss right away.
OR, if an individual was content to slowly get results from a gradual integration of new habits over time, then the work would be somewhat diluted and the individual would have time to slowly change their lifestyle.
As a coach in the online fitness business, I talk with women all of the time about their physique goals and current lifestyle.
And you know what, for the most part they have an inkling of what it is that they need to do to change their bodies.
They might not necessarily know the most time-efficient or impactful ways to go about it, but I find that most the folks I talk to say things like,
"I know I don't get enough sleep..."
"I could eat better..."
"I sit at a desk all day and don't get much movement in...."
"I have a very high-stress job..."
And with unlimited time, energy and motivation, they could probably make the necessary changes in the above 5 ares of their lives to get the results that they want.
But in this day of information accessibility via the internet, people are not lacking for rules, programs, diets, information, tips, or advice on how to be healthier.
They are lacking support.
They need someone to help them make change feasible for them.
They need someone to show them how to break the pursuit of their goals down into simple, manageable actions.
They need someone to be there, to care when they show up for their goals!
They need someone to help them troubleshoot challenge, slumps, major obstacles, lack of motivation.
They need to feel like they are not alone in the pursuit of their goals.
I know this personally in not just from my fitness experience, but from my graduate school experience, from my experience with building a business, from my time as a mom.
When it comes to honoring commitments and or even responsibilities:
We get tired.
We lose motivation
We often get bogged down in the details of the moment and can't see the forest through the trees.
We let feelings of failure and inadequacy stop us in our tracks.
We struggle to find the way to keep going when we've been stopped in our tracks.
Sometimes we have the answers, solutions or even willpower deep down inside, but we need someone to pull them out, someone to encourage us, someone to say, "I see you and you're doing great."
In October of 2016 I ran my first online fitness challenge.
It was called the "Persistence Over Perfection" or "POP Challenge".
I came up with the idea out of the blue one day after thinking about my own experience in pursuing goals.
I realized that what was the ultimate game changer in life for me was learning to break my goals down into small manageable steps that I chipped away at gradually, EVEN when my process was UBER imperfect.
You see you don't need the perfect program and you don't need to be perfect in your nutrition and movement practices.
What you need is to consistently do your best at making improvements, no matter how small or gradual.
And the key to consistency is SUPPORT, ACCOUNTABILITY, and ENCOURAGEMENT.
You can absolutely go it alone.
There have been plenty of times in my fitness journey when I have worked alone to pursue my goals, but inevitably I have hit a wall and turned to someone more experienced and knowledagele in my area of pursuit to help me.
They gave me direction.
They gave me pointers.
They helped me focus on what was going to be MOST impactful for me at that moment in time.
and most importability they recognized all the work I was doing gave me the encouragement that I needed to keep going!
So if this feels like an advertisement for working with me, it is sort of, except that I am in NO WAY wanting you to exclusively hire me as your coach.
I love that you are here in my Sarah Smith Strength community and that tells me that there's something about my messaging that resonates with you.
So thank you for your support and thank you for allowing me to share my experience advice and resources with you.
If you're look at 2018 with goals of changing your lifestyle, I can NOT STRESS enough the benefit of working with someone.
That might mean me, or another coach.
It might mean going a class, seeing a dietitian, functional medicine practitioner, counselor or therapist.
It could mean joining yoga studio, a CrossFit gym or a running club.
Only you can determine what form of encouragement and support is best designed to meet you where you are today.
I would just encourage you to work with someone on some level so that you're not solely relying upon yourself to be consistent.
If you are interested in learning more about working with me you can head over to: sarahsmith.me/workwithme
Right now my online coaching club, Cultivate For Life Coaching Club is open for enrollment.
Enrollment closes on January 1st at midnight EST.
I keep the numbers of this group small so that everyone experiences the benefit of a close-knit community of women that encourage and support one another in addition to my coaching.
Learn about it here today!
Check out C4L here now!
Whatever you choose to do this year and however you choose to eat, just remember, if this holiday or the days after the holiday tend to stress you out, this year start practicing strategies that make you feel good both on Thursday, but also on Friday and Saturday.Read More
You're packing for your vacation but this time you're flying and have to bring a bag that's half the size of what you are used to toting.
You look at all of the clothes spread all over the bed (and maybe the floor) and suddenly have to decide, which things you want MOST with you on this trip.
You select your favorite items, the new ones you bought for the trip and also your favorite staple clothing items and then worry that you forgot something or that you won't have enough clothes.
On the trip, you realize that you didn't really need all that other stuff.
Those additional items were less about necessity and more about comfort and easing your anxiety.
Packing everything that you owned meant that you didn't have to make decisions before the trip and that's what you were used to.
Perhaps you travel SO RARELY that you have very little experience packing your bag efficiently.
So when you are about to embark on a trip you feel like you have to bring everything.
Choosing what to eat (and what not to eat) on a special occasion can be a lot like packing your bag for vacation, especially if you've recently begun to think about how much food your body actually needs vs. how much it can manage.
I'm sending daily emails this week to my Inner Circle.
In each email you can expect to find support, strategies and encouragement for navigating the stress around a food-centric holiday like Thanksgiving.
Click the button below to join now and get answers and action steps delivered RIGHT to your Inbox!
If you're not in the practice of making choices and or trusting yourself to make satisfying decisions, then you might find yourself over-packing your body with food.
So many of us are in the habit of showing up to a holiday occasion or celebration and we are like the person that rarely goes on vacation.
We are starved for a good time around food.
We are inexperienced.
And we have a tendency to overpack.
There is LITERALLY a limit to how much food we physically can eat, but there's also a mental and emotional limit to how much food we can happily eat today and still feel good about tomorrow.
People who travel all of the time learn which clothing items are tried and true, which things they are always happy to have with them.
They learn to be economic in their packing because in truth, it's less stressful and more comfortable to feel confident in your travel staples and have to tote less stuff with you.
Less to carry.
Less to keep track of.
Less to wash on the other end.
But it takes practice, mindfulness and trusting yourself to get to a place like that.
It's the same thing with eating.
We are better at making choices the more we practice making choices.
We are going to be much happier with our eating experience if rather than eating everything (and feeling sick or bad about it the next day) we choose the items that are MOST important to us, savor and enjoy them.
It's not wisdom to waste room in your bag on that beach sarong you got on sale that you've never worn and can't actually see yourself wearing.
And it's not wise to waste room on your plate or in your body on that dessert item that you didn't even really want or enjoy.
Give yourself the space and freedom to PRACTICE navigating these occasions.
Make this the year that you're not obsessive or restrictive, but rather intentional about what you choose to eat.
If you have a tendency to diet right up until the holiday, let yourself have a nice treat the day before and see how that effects your decision making.
If you tend to over-eat out of inexperience, anxiety (FOMO) then remind yourself that more isn't better. Better is better.
Choose the best foods.
Let this be a learning experience.
This week I'll be talking about our mindsets around food to help you navigate the holiday season in a guilt-free manner!
Today I'd like to talk about the abundance mindset vs. the scarcity mindset, particularly as they relate to food.
You see a scarcity mindset tells us, "You better hurry up and get yours NOW because otherwise you're going to miss out. There's not enough to go around. "
How many of you have been at a party or holiday event and either seen (or brought) a food item that YOU REALLY wanted to eat and then were sort of plagued by anxiety about getting your share of that food?
Sometimes this can happen with multiples foods OR if we've been dieting and restricting ourselves to foods that we don't enjoy, our scarcity mindset can manifest in an even different way.
It can look more like, "This is my one chance to enjoy all the foods that I want because tomorrow I go back 'on plan'."
However you might experience it, that feeling of "I have to capitalize on this opportunity to eat" is routed in a scarcity mindset.
Now maybe it's just old habits that haven't died since you've given up "dieting" or maybe you are still struggling to be satisfied with your daily nutrition practice.
Whatever your feelings about food and dieting and your routine nutrition plan, adopting an abundance mindset can help!
Because an abundance mindset prevents us from feeling frozen or anxious or impulsive around food.
It reminds us that there's PLENTY of food and opportunities to eat food.
You don't have to limit your eating enjoyment to today.
Thanksgiving is an amazing holiday, yes, but it's also just a Thursday.
The biscuits, the stuffing, the desserts, the alcohol....you can eat it tomorrow too, and the next day, if you want to.
"But you don't understand, my aunt only makes this dish once a year!"
Ok, but COULD you get the recipe and give yourself the freedom to eat that dish any other day of the year?
Don't feel like you have to cram all of your eating into one day and then make up for it tomorrow.
Food is food. Eating it is not a moral choice.
You MIGHT indulge quite a bit on Thursday, you might not.
It's not the food that you eat this week that will affect your goals so much as it is your mindset around the food.
If you allow Thursday to be the start of or to perpetuate a vicious cycle of indulging and then restricting, that's going to be WAY more harmful than if you eat 5 biscuits.
Choose to remember that you're an adult.
You have a car, you have resources, you can buy or make any treats that you want.
There's no diet.
There's no right and wrong.
There's just food.
Some foods make us feel good in the moment AND after the fact, some don't.
You get decide which ones have a place on your plate this Thursday and EVERY DAY!
Dealing with guilt, anxiety or stress about your diet and figure this week?
Get support and strategies to ENJOY this holiday .
I'm sending out an email DAILY this week to my Inner Circle to help you navigate choices in food, loving your body, and not giving a hoot what other people think!