Being Better

Physical Therapy and Yoga

Hey all! My name is Brittney Ellers, and I am a licensed physical therapist and certified yoga instructor. This site will connect us for private physical therapy and yoga sessions, as well as let you know where you can find me on the mat teaching yoga to the masses. Thanks for stopping by!

Top Four Faves: Postpartum Yoga Postures

So you went through nine-ish months of pregnancy, labor and birth of your baby, who is now taking up most of your bandwidth. When is it time for you to focus on you again and get back to your yoga practice? (Or any kind of movement for that matter?)

Trick question. It is imperative that mom and dad pay attention not just to the baby, but to each other, and to themselves. That good old saying “you can’t give from an empty cup” I think rings truest for parents.

To keep things as simple as possible again, I recommend the four following yoga postures as a part of the postpartum healing process. The intention behind postpartum yoga is NOT the same as prenatal. While prenatal yoga is meant to help create space in your pelvis and belly for your baby, postpartum yoga is meant to help bind your body into strong alignment again.

The postures don’t have to be done in sequence, or as a part of an hour long session. They can be sprinkled in whenever you have the time. I actually prefer my clients to spread their exercises and/or stretches out throughout the day. It’s like eating. You wouldn’t want to eat everything you’d eat in a day in one sitting, you’d spread it out over a few meals and a couple of snacks.

BIG side note: I recommend having a physical therapist help you in regaining the connection back to the correct muscle groups before you try anything more difficult than these postures below. That includes before you get back to running or your favorite exercise class, which your structure might not be ready for, even after your six-week check up with your doctor.

Of course, I preach that you know your body best, but sometimes, after birth, that connection is lost for a bit. So to err on the side of caution, have an in-home therapist come to you (like myself) to assess you while you remain comfortable and close to your baby at home while healing.

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Bridge Pose with Block

You can begin on your back with your block in between your thighs, feet directly in line with your ischial tuberosities (by your glutes). Press firmly into your feet, backs of your arms and head with your chin off your chest. Engage your pelvic floor, transverse abdominals, and glutes to lift up your pelvis and spine. Squeeze your block gently and hold for 10 seconds or 3 breaths. Lower yourself down and repeat up to 10 times staying aware of your back body and inner thighs, which need strengthening after birth (vaginal or cesarean).

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Supported Fish Pose

Place one block length wise underneath your upper back along your thoracic spine and place the second one behind your head. Play with the heights, you may want more or less sensation for your back and chest depending on your healing process and how much your baby feeds. This posture is meant to reverse your posture from the feeding and carrying position that rounds in your chest. Take your arms out by your side with your hips grounded and feet firm into the floor. Open up through your pectoralis muscles across your upper chest and let the weight of your arms give you more sensation. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Roll over to the side to get out of this position, especially if you have a diastasis rectus.

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Chair Pose with a Block

As a functional and foundational pose that follows mountain pose (tadasana), chair pose should be felt in your glutes, core and upper back. With the weight mostly in your heels, sit your hips back until you feel these muscle groups turn on. Keep your spine long without overtucking or over-tilting your pelvis one way. You have many options with your arms, such as the cactus arm position I demonstrate that follows the supported fish pose for strengthening the upper back body and shoulder girdles. Hold for 5 seconds and return to standing. Repeat up to 10 times. Add the block between your thighs to keep your knees in line with your ankles at hip-width distance apart to start. Once you feel ready in your pelvic floor, try holding your baby as a weight.

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Low Lunge Pose

Deceivingly difficult, this is a great progression towards the single leg strengthening needed to get back to more dynamic exercise such as running. Keep your front knee stacked over your ankle and keep your back knee down underneath your hip. Position your pelvis until you feel a stretch along your back leg thigh in the front (hip flexors). Keep your shoulders over your pelvis with your core engaged. Keep your hands at your hips for balance or add your arms overhead. You can challenge your balance by lifting up your chin, gaze upward in between your thumbs. Breathe and hold for 10 seconds and switch sides.

For all you DADS out there…

These postures wouldn’t hurt you either! They will keep you connected to your body and breath as well, which can be put on the back burner for you also when you have a new little one to care for. If you don’t believe me, try them!

Let me know your thoughts on these postures, whether you had another favorite, or want to learn more about postpartum yoga by commenting below!

Top Four Faves: Prenatal Yoga Postures

I hope that everyone knows by now that breathwork and movement are great during the prenatal season of a woman’s life. It can get overwhelming to figure out what to do, so I wanted to keep things as simple as possible for all you mamas-to-be out there with my four favorites. This post will be the start of a series I want to do for young families as you transition into parenthood so stay tuned for the next few weeks!

First things first, YOU are in charge of your body, and paying attention to how you feel is the essence of yoga as you breathe and move from moment to moment. Your practice can change from day to day, trimester to trimester. Maybe these postures need modifications as a pregnant person progresses, so remember to pay attention to what it is you’re actually feeling.

Without further ado, here are my faves (in no particular order than by trimesters)!

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Extended Puppy Pose

Keeping your hips stacked over your knees, walk your hands out long in front of you. Inhale and find length in your sides and arms, exhale and let your chest sink towards the floor and relax your shoulders. You can always place some extra padding (blankets) under your knees or forehead for more comfort. Stay for a few minutes or as long as you feel comfortable. Not only does this posture allow for the baby to hammock in a comfy position, it opens up your thoracic spine and can decompress your back.

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Reclining Bound Angle Pose

Depending on which trimester you’re at, you may need more than one bolster or thick pillow. As your belly grows, the compression on your vena cava will make it hard for you to breathe and feel comfortable while laying on your back so start supported and add/take away height for your chest as needed. Lie back on the support with your whole torso and bend your knees to bring the soles of your feet together. Let your arms fall out to the sides to open up your heart. Breathe deeply and smoothly while relaxing your hips and pelvic floor.

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Low Lunge Pose

Keeping your front ankle underneath your knee, sink down into your hips to allow for a hip flexor stretch on your back leg with the knee down. Work on bringing your torso low by leading with your heart. If your belly is on the larger side, try a wider stance so your hands are on the inside of your front foot. This posture is great for indigestion relief as well as making room in your adductors (inner thighs) for your baby. Add movement with some hip circles to make this stretch a little juicer and dynamic.

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Garland Pose (Yogi Squat)

Sitting on blocks or bolsters, dive your hips low with your toes pointed out. Knees should track over your 2nd toe while your hips feel evenly grounded. Keep your hands at your heart or find a hand position that feels grounding. Focus on getting heavier in your hips and relaxing your pelvic floor in prep for labor and birth on every exhale. Stay for up to a minute if you can in this pose and try visualizing space being made for your baby through the vaginal canal.

If none of these make sense…

One of my missions is to help empower women through this sometimes trying and difficult time. Pregnancy doesn’t have to be hard, and neither does labor or birth. I believe in the best case scenario, we were designed to go through labor with ease feeling supported with whatever choice you make. And I think that paying attention to your body, especially to the pelvic floor during and after this time is especially important to help moms get back to feeling whole with functionality and the quality of life they want.

Part of this is having that one-on-one time with a practitioner that can teach you all the things and help you find all the resources. And that’s where I come in: to educate you on what you need to know about PT, yoga, pelvic floor health, and other aspects of pregnancy and parenthood that leave some people feeling helpless (dad’s group anyone?!).  Leave a comment or shoot me an email if you or someone else can benefit from this kind of information. It’s up to us to spread the word!

The Body Keeps the Score: How My Stress Manifests as Pelvic Floor Problems

Let me just give you fair warning: this isn’t a happy, go-lucky kind of post. But I hope for some, there’s light, acknowledgement, and validation for your feelings.

In all honesty, I personally have a hard time allowing myself to feel, let alone feel vulnerable, especially when life just doesn’t seem to allow for me to have that time. So I’m using this platform to actually take that space, reflect, and share.

Over the past month, it seems that there hasn’t been time to slow down with my brother’s wedding, cramming clients and classes into a short work week, a road trip to Arizona, and a week long lululemon employee training all back to back. I can admit- I did this to myself, thinking I could handle it all, especially with my cycle-syncing super powers.

Reality check: I burn out when I don’t have proper time to recharge and reflect.

Not only was the travel and new schedule messing with my diet and exercise routine, there was a lot I didn’t get to process emotionally. I was questioned many times at the wedding how old I was (29) and if I was married (no, I’m not) and why I wasn’t married (I don’t know/I’m focusing on my career/I’m legit scared). Feeling pressured into someone else’s (and my old) timeline for what society thinks is right for relationships, marriage, and so on did not feel good to me.

On top of all that, I’ve been changing my outlook on where I want to put my time, focus and energy, and that includes working at lululemon part-time. I didn’t realize how much they support their people, and the training was intense for me (I tried not to show it too much) but I took it very seriously with all the self-reflection imbedded in the training.

I had to face a lot of my demons and it finally came to a head as I got ready to teach yoga right after the end of the training.

Before I teach, I like to do a few things: set up an idea for what the theme is, say hi to everyone, and make sure to empty my bladder. So 15 minutes before class, I headed to the restroom having just finished the last of 4 days of lulu training, and I get the most uncomfortable and familiar feeling of urge incontinence. Even though I had let down some urine, my pelvic floor felt tight and painful, and my bladder didn’t feel empty. As soon as I stood up from the toilet, I wanted to sit back down and try again.

For anyone who hasn’t experienced any kind of pelvic floor issues, it is usually painful, debilitating and embarrassing to share. But in order to help myself, I needed to share my problem with my studio manager who helped me get one of my classes covered so I could go home and rest. However, I had to buck up and teach the class that was coming up in 15 minutes.

In every attempt to be strong in front of my students, I couldn’t hide what was true to me:

I hadn’t been listening to my feelings of exhaustion and insecurity, and my body was letting me know through a flood of tears and pelvic floor pain.

I had never cried in front of a room full of students, and to my surprise and relief, they were very cool about it and even appreciative of my vulnerability. It’s hard for me to share that even now, because my feeling overwhelmed doesn’t happen often, but when it happens, people are usually taken aback. My usual self is sunshine and smiles, so I get that it can be uncomfortable for some to hold space for anything other than that.

So how have I made progress/full recovery since then?

For me, it meant taking time off from teaching for the night, going home and vegging on the couch reading, writing, and having conversations about my feelings. That got rid of the emotional pain and tears.

The following day, I practiced deep breathing and patience whenever I had to use the restroom in order to release my pelvic floor muscles and their control over the sphincter. It took all day long of this practice and another night in on the couch relaxing my system for the pelvic floor pain and urge incontinence to go away.

But it did go away. And I hope it never gets to this point again, but at least I know I have the capabilities to keep it from happening again with better awareness.

As for you, you may feel your pain (emotional, mental, or physical) manifest in other ways or places, like chest pain at the onset of a panic attack, nausea, or headaches. But I guarantee it would only help you to do the following:

  1. Listen to your body. I’ve learned this lesson for good after this particular episode.

  2. Practice awareness and deep breathing/meditation for a sense of peace and balance in control and letting go.

  3. Allow the feelings to flow. Give yourself the space to feel sad, frustrated, angry, hurt.

  4. Remember it’s a practice.

The body will always keep the score. It’s your responsibility (and mine) to keep it even.

What is Being Better?

Curious about how Being Better came to be and the vision behind it?

Ever wonder what the weird shape between ‘Being’ and ‘Better’ is and what it means?

Never heard of The Active Female and Her Cycle or Project Cup for Cup before?

I can already tell you that this is just the tip of the iceberg for my practice, but it’s a really amazing start (in my humble opinion!). There’s so much more I have to offer, but I’d love for you to learn more so you can share with your friends and family who could be positively impacted by Being Better!

Badass and BOLD: 3 Things I Learned About Business

I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was able to finally finish You are a Badass by Jen Sincero just as this year’s Mindbody BOLD Conference was done. I think subconsciously I hadn’t wanted to finish it because I was scared that once I did, I’d have no other excuse to finally make the moves I needed and wanted to take in my personal life that, of course, overflows into my work life.

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The BOLD Conference (which, if you didn’t know, is geared towards Mindbody’s software users, including fitness, wellness, and spa boutiques and studios) was the extra kick in the butt that I needed to finish the book and carry the pieces of wisdom that resonated with me into action.

After careful deliberation and processing, here are the pearls that I want to share with you all from You Are a Badass with reflections from BOLD built in.

My 3 Takeaways

  1. Our entire experience on this planet is determined by how we choose to perceive our reality (pg 138).

    I have to remind myself over and over that I have autonomy and the choice to look at my life (business included) in a certain way. I can grumble about not having as many clients or bookings as I’d like, or I can appreciate the free time I DO have to be able to do other things I love. I can also put a bigger effort into marketing in a way that feels authentic to me that makes me feel appreciative of the clients I DO have. I choose gratitude every time, even if I need reminding.

  2. We’ve made being in fear a habit // My faith in the unknown (and myself) is greater than fear // On the other side of your fear is your freedom // Our greatest fears are the greatest waste of time (Ch 20).

    It’s that one thing that makes me stop dead in my tracks - fear of failure. But then I remember that there are plenty of people that begin businesses that fail. And most of the time, they start again and succeed. Many of the speakers and other attendees at BOLD can attest that there’s nothing wrong with failure unless you give up. My business is still under a year old, but I can tell you right now- I’m not going to give up on this dream of mine and you shouldn’t either.

  3. Love yourself. Because Jen Sincero said so.

    Just kidding. But really, she makes an excellent point and reminds you often enough that you truly start to do it and believe in yourself. I don’t know about you, but I need that reminder to love on me as much as I love on everyone else- ESPECIALLY when it comes to being in business with yourself. This could mean paying yourself first instead of taking whatever’s left over. Taking care of you financially speaking counts as a version of loving yourself.

So, for all of you who are reading this and are maybe needed inspo to finally do that thing you’ve been avoiding, consciously or subconsciously, let this be an invitation to just freakin’ do it already. Stop with the excuses and old stories and do that badass thing for yourself or your business. I’m right there with you.

I’m scared of failure and all that, but I’d rather let my dreams run wild than let my fears control my actions. And on top of it all, I know that the Universe has something GRAND planned for me. And for you. So I’m choosing to trust and fall back on what it has to offer once I’ve put in my work. What’s your choice? Fear of failure or wild dreams coming true?

If you can’t decide and also need a kick in the pants, give this book a read. Promise you won’t regret it!

xo

Syncing Your Skincare to Your Cycle

Not sure if it’s purely my Asian heritage or my skincare routine that should get the credit for all the compliments for my skin. It’s one of the first things people notice about me, especially in the summer when the olive notes come out after being in the sun.

I don’t want to hide any of my routines, including my skincare. One thing I’ve noticed is that my skin cycles through phases that also correlate to my menstrual cycle. (Duh, how could it not also be affected by my hormones?)

Your skin is the biggest organ you have. It lives, breathes, cleans and heals itself. So when you care for yourself from the inside out, it shows. Over the course of this year, I’ve been blown away by how food really affects my skin (like when I was drinking whole milk sugar-loaded chai tea lattes for a month and broke out all over my face!). On top of that, I’ve begun to pay attention to the products I cycle through that I use directly on my skin.

Before I share what I personally use, I want to give you the WHY. Check out the big player hormones -Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone- and what kinds of care you can provide for your skin!

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Now that you’ve seen the WHY, I’ll share my HOW.

MORNING ROUTINE

Face wash and wipe down with reusable pads (to help reduce waste on mama Earth)

Facial oil and guasha I love using the rose quartz heart shaped one to get into the grooves for my facial structure.

Tinted sunscreen All day, errryydayy. I love this local SD brand that I got at the farmer’s market. I have been using it for a year, and now it’s sold online and at Jimbos!

NIGHT ROUTINE

Dry brush face and body before shower (during Ovulatory and 1/2 Luteal phase)

Face wash (same as morning)

Facial oil and guasha (same as morning)

SHOWER ROUTINE

Loofah with Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap

Moisturize with either coconut oil or body scrub (made by a friend) with coconut oil and sugar

OTHER PRODUCTS

Collagen peptides I like adding mine to my smoothies or morning drink during second half of luteal and menstrual phases for a little extra boost of collagen. Feels like my skin gets a bit thinner during this time, and the extra collagen fights that.

Face mask For a little love and self care that won’t leave you dry!

There you have it! I hope this helps some of you figure out that you don’t need alllll the products, but it’s important to find and use the right ones for the right times! Got any questions or comments?? Let me know below!

Why I'm Kicking my Coffee Habit

Currently sitting in my favorite local coffee shop, I feel like a reeaalll poser.

That’s because I’m going to tell you why and how I’m altering my morning ritual to get rid of these caffeine cravings I’ve been having lately.

Truth be told, I’ve always known that caffeine/coffee/espresso is addicting. I remember my dad going through phases of “no coffee” and he would have these major withdrawl symptoms. Headaches and moodiness seemed to be rough on him.

My coffee addiction started slowly but progressed due to long days (and nights) in grad school, followed by long days in the clinic, followed by a growing love for sitting in the morning and chatting with friends, holding onto a warm cup of coffee and coconut milk.

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Little did I know how much power can be held in one little cup. There are obvious effects of coffee that we all know and sometimes use without the knowledge of why or how. Yes, that includes your system’s morning purge (not a good sign to need coffee to be able to poop, btw). There are benefits and of course cautionary tales to this lovely beverage. I’m going to share a few of them with you all - as well as my favorite people/resources - and HOW I prefer to have my coffee, if I have any at all.

Benefits

  1. Ritual and Connection - There’s nothing like starting your day with a cup of coffee and conversation. It’s one of my favorite ways to connect with friends and that probably won’t change. What will change is what I’m ordering at the cafe!

  2. DNA protective properties - One of my favorite brainiacs is Rhonda Patrick, PhD. She posted that One study found that 500mL of dark roast coffee per day actual protects your DNA and reduces damage.

  3. There are other benefits listed by one of my favorites, godfather of wellness Paul Chek, which you can look at here. HOWEVER- if you are a woman, I urge you to read on. The way Paul talks about caffeine does not necessarily cover all of the reasons women should be even more careful around caffeine/coffee.

Careful, Now

  1. Caffeine is a diuretic, and inherently very drying. Yes, it will help you evacuate your bowels. But if you NEED this to have a bowel movement that could mean you are actually constipated.

  2. It can stimulate you into overdrive and affect your sympathetic nervous system so much that you are pushed into adrenal fatigue, where you actually feel drained throughout your day and never get quality rest. Cortisol (stress hormone) levels are heightened when in a sympathetic state, which is the exact opposite of melatonin (sleepy hormone). When caffeine is allowed into your system past a certain time, cortisol levels stay up, and counteract your body making enough melatonin for you to actually get to sleep on time, which is because of caffeine’s half life in your system.

  3. It can throw off the female hormonal balance that controls lumpiness/pain in breast tissue, period and reproductive issues, as well as infertility. Here’s the why, written by Alisa Vitti from Flo Living. Although she is very adamant that women shouldn’t drink coffee, she does a good job explaining what caffeine does to your female system - which is VERY different from males in digesting caffeine.

My Coffee, My Choice

I will never tell you to stop drinking coffee all together. But I will challenge you in understanding your why around it and help you prioritize what’s important for you. For you ladies and gents out there reading with constipation, adrenal fatigue, sleepless nights, here are my tips for incorporating coffee into your life - IF you choose to incorporate it. For the ladies that are dealing with period, sex drive, and infertility issues, I dare you to try quitting caffeine for 2 months using Alisa’s protocol and see what happens with a spirit of curiosity. Then, make sure to try these tips to bring it back into your life - IF you’re dying to drink that delicious drink.

  1. Start your day with water and a big old breakfast before any sip of caffeine. 8 oz of water, a smoothie, eggs with cooked spinach, half an avocado or oatmeal are what hit my belly first before I drink my coffee. Fueling with energy sustaining food is KEY - think vitamin B rich foods for lasting energy.

  2. Keep your coffee simple. Have one espresso, maybe an americano, but definitely limit your sugar and dairy intake. If your liver already struggles to balance your hormones, having that extra stuff in there will make it even more difficult for you to process caffeine. I will add sugar-free coconut or oat milk to my (decaf) coffee and make a lil latte of sorts. A dash of cinnamon on top is my fave.

  3. Watch the timing of when you have caffeine. Because of its half-life in your system, it can wreck havoc on your cortisol levels and in turn, melatonin levels, which make it hard to get to sleep. I never have caffeine after 12 pm for this reason. My body and mind love its rest, and that, to me, is worth prioritizing over a little coffee in the afternoon.

So what are your thoughts? Would you be willing to kick your caffeine habit for the sake of seeing how your body responds? What sounds do-able? What is out of the question? I’d love to hear from you!

Craniosacral Therapy 101

One goal of mine is to learn about as many tools as possible to help as many people as possible. So when I heard about craniosacral therapy (CST) and somato-emotional (SE) trainings that were offered for physical therapists and other healthcare practitioners, you know I was intrigued. Since taking my first CST training and treating friends, family, and clients, I’ve noticed many things.

First thing I learned: Your touch can go a long way, and your energy can go even further.

That being said, craniosacral therapy is an amazing modality that puts many people’s minds and bodies at ease after even one session. So what is it anyways?

Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance using the body’s craniosacral rhythm (one that takes practice feeling but is definitely there).

The how and why it works is explained very well HERE, but if you believe in the ability to feel and move energy, as well as nervous system regulation, then this treatment could be for you!

Who benefits from it?

Many different populations with the following conditions can be treated using this light-touch technique:

Chronic pain, migraines, concussions, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, neuromuscular degenerative diseases, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, TMJ disorders, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, ADD/ADHD, pain caused during pregnancy, stress and tension related disorders.

So what?

The reason I wanted to touch on CST briefly is because I think it’s an untapped resource that could help a lot of people. And don’t worry - more to come on how it ties in with somato-emotional techniques. Many of my clients suffer from chronic pain and even just daily stress or anxiety that manifests in their bodies. If there’s one more thing I’ve learned from my reading and experience it’s that physical ailments aren’t always JUST physical.

They are emotional and psychological, and can be blended into one. The Body Keeps the Score is an awesome read for those of you are interested in learning more about healing and trauma for brain, body and mind and really makes the connection clear.

If you’re still unsure if this is something you would try, here’s a snippet of a session I did for a friend of mine.

Curious to find out more or schedule yourself a session? Ask your questions or send me a message for more information!

Sources: www.upledger.com

Foods, Fat, and Phases

I know that food can be a trigger for a LOT of people, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year, it’s that food isn’t just fuel. It’s INFORMATION for your body.

And when it comes to the menstrual cycle and fertility, you ovulate when your body feels safe. And it will feel safe if it’s given good INFORMATION about its environment.

But sometimes, it’s hard to figure out how to do that without feeling deprived or like you’re on a diet. So I wanted to make this easy for you. I’ve noticed that my body was carrying weight from excess estrogen, storing fat in places like my thighs, hips, butt and belly that has completely changed since I started cycle syncing my food.

If you’re at all interested in regulating your hormones naturally, it can be as easy as rotating through foods to meet your body’s nutritional needs on a weekly/monthly cycle. And of course- these are just ideas that I’ve researched and implemented into my own life to regulate my hormones over the past year that are all based on books, research articles, and podcasts that are from EXPERTS in their fields.

*Before doing a full blown revamp of your diet, clear things with yourself and consult your preferred medical care practitioner. I’m going to start small, but still. You might be surprised what these little tips, tricks and new habits might do for you. For more background on the WHY behind cycle syncing your food, click HERE to read more and begin by tracking your cycle’s phases.

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What do you think? Sounds easy enough right?! Let me know if you have any questions, or if you want to see more of my go-to recipes! I love sharing what I’m eating on Insta and Pinterest if you’re curious now!

As always, I’m glad you’re here and on this journey with me on the road to Being Better.

xo

My Weekly Workouts

As a person who thrives on routine, I find it super valuable to schedule things into my days. From most important to least, I make time for the following:

SLEEP (7.5-9 hours)

NUTRITIOUS FOOD

EXERCISE

QUALITY TIME WITH FRIENDS/FAMILY and MYSELF

If I can blend a couple of these activities together into one, even better. I’ve been asked many times how I fit my workouts in, what my plans are for exercise and how I manage it all. So I’ve taken the time to lay out my go-to’s, classes you can usually find me in, and how I like to keep my body guessing!

But before you scroll down for the visual, I’ll just preface this and say I don’t always get a workout in every day. Sometimes my plan falls apart and I have to make adjustments. This is an IDEAL schedule, as if I were in the Follicular, Ovulatory, or first half of Luteal phase of my menstrual cycle (3 weeks out of the month). I usually cut back when my energy starts to wane, and then, after the menstrual phase, I begin to amp it back up slowly with more hot yoga until I get back into the more demanding classes/exercise. I will pick ONE of the classes each day, unless I’m really feelin’ it and want to go for two!

Ok without further ado… here it is!

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Couple of EXTRA notes for ya:

Y6 CB: YogaSix Carlsbad (my home base, where I teach and take classes) Hot yoga there is a set sequence, meaning you do the same poses every time, but is modifiable. Boot Camp is always a big old ??? with what KLove wants to do, which is how I keep my body guessing the most.

Y6 SB: YogaSix Solana Beach (along the 101, another home base and where I did my yoga teacher training!)

Mantra: A yoga studio in Carlsbad across the street from the outlets where my friends Katie Kasten and Nichole Pavlick teach. It’s the only place I’ll splurge on classes like Buti and various heated yoga classes!

EoS: A gym I’ve joined that’s super close to Y6 CB, that has all the things I love for a workout- TrueStretch, medicine balls, weights, squat racks, kettle bells, battle ropes and boxes of all sizes! (I stay off the machines and stick to a lot of functional exercises)

Canyon: Just one option for an outdoor run/walk, but you can do that almost anywhere near your home, especially in SD!

Snaps by Gregory Cain // Encinitas Ranch trails

Snaps by Gregory Cain // Encinitas Ranch trails

Special note on Buti Yoga: Might need to dive a little deeper on this one in the future, but basically, if you want to feel like a badass back up dancer wannabe like I do, you’d love it. It’s a mix of power yoga, plyometrics, dance, and cardio - and it’s done to a lot of old school dirty hip-hop. Check out the video below of my AMAZING friend Katie teaching this class at Mantra if you’re curious! And trust me - the energy in the room is something special. More on that later :)

I could take this post in so many directions, but I just want to keep it simple for now! Have any questions about how to find the right studio for you or how to even afford it?! I’ll let you in on a little secret: give a few hours of your week to “Yoga for Trade” and most studios will allow you to practice for free. If I didn’t already work at a studio, I’d use Class Pass or Groupon for great deals on packages depending on the studio. You can also be brave and message one of the instructors on social media and ask to be a guest. Most likely, no one’s claimed their FREE guest spot.

And guess what! For any yoga class I personally take (at Y6 only- for now!), I can bring a free guest as well. So if you want to combine a little movement and quality time with me, leave a comment below!

Remember, this is just to give you an idea of how I map out my movements for the week/month in real time (and in North County SD) to give you inspiration to make movement a priority in your life. I don’t think I have to remind you about how good exercise is for you and how it makes you feel but…

Bottom line: do movement that makes you happy. xo

Project Cup For Cup

Snapped by Eunique Deeann

Snapped by Eunique Deeann

As some of you may know, I’ve been on a bit of a journey for my menstrual health and have become a huge fan of the menstrual cup ever since I made the switch a year ago. (If you have no idea what a menstrual cup is, check out my last blog post HERE). About one month ago, I had a little idea that has sprouted into something I’ve been calling Project Cup For Cup aka #projectcfc. I thought if I could find a way to give back to women (and in turn, the rest of the population) and to the environment in a big way, I’d be extremely happy!

And it turns out that there are other people in my town that care about the same thing…

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I reached out to Becky Mendoza, one of the founders of Changing Tides Foundation, which is a local non-profit organization that leads tons of projects that greatly impact our communities here and abroad. I had only just met her officially this past April for CTF’s annual Earth Day Leucadia clean-up. Telling her about this half-baked idea that I wanted to work with her on by sliding into her DMs on Instagram felt like a long shot. But guess what.

She was stoked!!

One of the other founders, Anna, had done something similar for the local women when she went to Fiji last year. They were hoping to get their own project for menstrual waste management going, but were waiting for the right time! Looked like this was it.

But where do the cups come in?? Well, I had done lots of research on different menstrual cup brands, and decided on one that felt professional, safe, affordable, and gave me all the good vibes.

That company turned out to be OrganiCup.

Now, blending it all together in a way that gave back to my community is another story that I took the time to film. The purpose of the video below is to share my WHY and this vision of how YOU can actually feel like you’re giving back too when you support this project.

This project would mean nothing without your help.

I think my face says it all: I care a lot about helping women and the planet in this way. To me, it’s the easiest and most effective way to give back and participating helps you too!

Watch below for a more in depth explanation for what Project CFC is and how you can help today!

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OR

If you don’t happen to have a need for a cup, donate here at Changing Tides Foundation with Project CFC in the comments or to Solutions For Change, the shelter where the cups will be donated with education to change these women’s lives!

Snapped by Eunique Deeann

Snapped by Eunique Deeann

Thank you thank you thank you for your support!

Let's Talk about the Menstrual Cup

Let me start by explaining myself: I care SO MUCH about women and their health, education, the environment and helping others. So if all of my passions could be rolled into one thing, it’d be the menstrual cup.

What’s a menstrual cup, you ask?

It is a small cup made of medical grade silicone, which comes in varying sizes depending on a woman’s vaginal canal before or after giving birth. It is sanitary with proper use of clean water and soap, and is reusable for up to several years!

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Maybe you’ve never heard of the cup. Or maybe it seems a bit daunting, unfamiliar and scary. But I promise, making the switch from pads and tampons to a cup was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made.

Here are my personal TOP 3 reasons for making the switch and being PRO cup!

  1. It’s safe and convenient!

    There’s no leaking, no odor, and no chance of Toxic Shock Syndrome because there are no chemicals, non-organic fibers from tampons, or GOOD vaginal secretions/good flora that get striped when using tampons. The cup collects for up to 12 hours, you drop the contents in a toilet, clean the cup with clean hands and water and can reinsert until your period is over. You don’t have to worry about making pitstops at the bathroom every 3-4 hours! Time saverrrr.

  2. It saves you money.

    Every woman throughout her life has around 400 periods (thanks Hormonal for that drop of knowledge). When you buy a standard box of tampons (let’s say a mixed box of Tampax pearls-my preferred choice before I made the switch), it costs around $15. If you need one box per period, that adds up to $6000 to cover all of your periods. SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS. And that’s not even counting the pantyliners, the ruined underwear, sheets that can never be bleached enough, or your favorite white pants that are gone forever.

    A menstrual cup is what I see as the most affordable and sustainable solution for women these days. They are affordable, ranging from $30-40 per cup. So say you bought one cup every 5 years. That would mean for the ~35 years that you were in a fertile phase and having regular periods (12 yrs old to 47 yrs old-ish), you’d be paying for 7 cups. That’s $280. Versus $6000. Kind of a no-brainer, when you’ve only factored in the money involved.

  3. It’s environmentally friendly.

    When you think about all those pads, pantyliners, tampons, and the individual wrapping that goes around those single use products, where do you think they end up? Landfills. Or clogging up our infrastructure, but hopefully it’s common knowledge that flushing anything down other than your waste can clog up the pipes!! We don’t want to do that. This kind of waste keeps adding up in huge piles, and we as women can do our part by making this switch by using the reusable cup!

So are you ready to make the switch? Need to know more? What are your thoughts?

Watch the video below to learn how easy it is to use one and leave a comment below!



A 29er and a 49er

My journey took me to the University of Washington because of their Division I sports and the beautiful campus. Not only was I obsessed with school spirit (cheerleader at heart) but I was in love with this vision I had for myself.

Since I decided to pursue physical therapy as my path, I had dreams about working for the NFL.

Why the NFL?, you may ask. Well, I grew up watching football with my dad, made it my thing in high school (team manager and then cheerleader), and loved the community it stood for.

I was accepted to UW’s athletic training internship, where we learned about treatment, exercise, and injury prevention and rehabilitation while working side by side with the University’s team trainers. I stayed in this internship for three years but quickly realized that the football athletes were bigger, stronger, and more powerful beings than I could handle. Imagine 5’3” me using my entire body to lift the leg of a 200+lb. player to give an effective hamstring stretch. Nope. Not gonna happen. Throughout the rest of my internship, I was teamed up with the softball team- an amazing group of young women who were killing it.

Fast forward through college, graduate school, yoga teacher training and working in the field for the past few years, and I just got one of the best testimonials I’ve ever received from a client I’ve known for a few years since my days in the clinic: Joe Staley, a San Francisco 49er. What started out as an intermittent yoga practice for Joe has turned into an off-season routine to keep his body and mind in the best shape possible. I can’t express how proud and happy it makes me to know that this kind of dedication exists and the benefits are being reaped. I wish I had some “before” photos of Joe to share when he first started but I can honestly report that when we began, there was no way he could get his toes to the floor.

Plow Pose, April 2019

Plow Pose, April 2019

I’m happy to share Joe’s experience below:

I began working with Brittney going into my 12th season in the NFL at the age of 33. I have experienced a multitude of injuries over the seasons with the majority being lower half related. I immediately noticed a difference once I started treatment and one on one sessions with Brittney. I went into my 12th year feeling better than I have in a long while and proceeded to have one of my best performing years at the age of 34. The following offseason I decided that I would see her more frequently and I am very glad I did. At the age of 34 going into my 13th season with the 49ers I can confidently say that this is the best I have felt. My mobility and elasticity is at an all time high. I 100 percent attribute that to Brittney and her knowledge. She has made a personalized menu of treatment for myself and has helped me realize a goal of playing football at a high level late into my 30s a reality. I would highly recommend Brittney to any of my fellow teammates and will continue to work with her long after I retire from the game of football.
— Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers Left Tackle 

His testimonial is not just a nod towards how proud of how far I’ve come as a 29 year old in realizing MY dream of working with NFLers, but of how proud I am of my clients that put in the work that benefits them and helps them achieve their goals. Yew! Go team! It’s pretty amazing what can happen when you commit and put your heart into something.

As far as dreams go, I realize this was just one step of a long journey of serving others. Currently my dreams are shifting, my visions are expanding on who I can help next. Daring to be great and I CAN’T WAIT to share what’s in the works. Stay tuned!!

Helpful and Hormonal

I’m never going to claim to know everything there is to know about hormones. But the more I read, the more I learn! Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve been reading a book I picked up from B&N (does anyone else still browse for books??). Truth be told, I picked it over a book I’ve been wanting for my library for a looong time because of its colors. Definitely judged it for its cover. But the content inside was just as captivating.

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Hormonal: The hidden intelligence of hormones- how they drive desire, shape relationships, influence our choices, and make us wiser is written by Martie Haselton, PhD, a professor of psychology at UCLA and the Institute for Society and Genetics. She basically takes all of these scientific studies, humor, societal observations, past and current politics, and personal experience and writes comprehensively to show what I already felt was true about females and their hormones.

I enjoyed reading this book for a fresh perspective on hormones and the reasons they are important to pay attention to them.

To keep it simple as possible, I’m going to boil down a few of my favorite bits of knowledge. If the female hormonal cycle is something completely new to you, you can read more in detail about it on my blog post called Cycle Syncing 101 to familiarize yourself with the phases!

Here are my TAKEAWAYS on Hormonal:

  • As much as I sometimes hate to admit (because, granted, we have highly developed brains), “human female behavior during fertility echoes animal behavior” (20). When we enter the ovulatory phase of our cycle (the fertile phase about midway through the menstrual cycle), our physiology AND our outward behavior changes: competitiveness increases, risk taking increases- however, we are more cautious when feeling vulnerable, flirting increases, and even our dressing style becomes sexier and more revealing! This is all for attracting the best mate and continuing our lineage through producing thriving offspring!

  • Progesterone does a lot more than I thought. Reminder- it peaks in the later half of our menstrual cycle, after ovulation and then takes a dive before menstruation. In terms of PMS, the author suggests that instead of seeing it as a syndrome or side-effect of being a woman, we can look at it as a strategy. When this drop happens and we have similar feelings to “withdrawal”, including irritability, physical discomfort, and antisocial feelings, we can actually use it to our advantage and from an evolutionary standpoint, can weed out or ward off unwanted partners for reproduction.

  • In pregnancy, those high levels of progesterone and estrogen serve a purpose, creating the “Mama Bear Effect” and “Mommy Mind” that are real AF. Progesterone clues a woman into who and where is safe for her to be, to protect against any kind of threat, so that her offspring will survive through the pregnancy. The high levels of estrogen are correlated to specifically poor verbal recall, where a woman can’t quite think of the right name/word/phrase, especially towards the end of pregnancy and even three months postpartum. I’m going to let this be a good reminder for my mamas that this is totally normal and NECESSARY when your body and brain are literally just trying to keep you and your baby (or babies) alive and well.


Of course, there is SO much more knowledge to glean from this book. I’m hopeful that you found this helpful and that you choose to pick up Hormonal to read so that you can see for yourself how important it is to understand what your hormones are doing in your body and how they actually affect you- with a more scientific approach!

Let me know your thoughts below or if you have a book about hormones, women’s health, or cycles that YOU love! xo

April Aspirations

Just to get straight to the point, this last month has not been easy. The full moon’s new energy, Mercury in retrograde, and knowing that these will be the last days of me being 28 years old have been making me feel like I’ve been in a tailspin.

I also realized that we’ve just completed Q1 of 2019- WHAT! I can’t believe how much has happened since January 1st. Maybe you’re familiar with the changes that have been occurring in my life, but just to briefly remind everyone (myself included), here’s what’s been happening. I started my own concierge-based PT and yoga business while remaining contracted with Redefine Health and Fitness, started presenting mother/daughter workshops and hormone balancing workshops for women of all ages, and have taken on new roles in other businesses in the hopes of big collaborations to benefit more people.

Hobby-wise, I still love to make macrame, plant new things around the house, make jewelry, and have now added ceramics to the mix.

Honestly, after writing all that out, I don’t even think I should be stressed out about it all… but I am.

I have deep worries about when I’ll be financially free, able to pay off that big cloud of student debt and start saving aggressively. I mean… I’m turning 29 and I had been planning to be done with paying off my debt by the time I turned 30! Some people say the best way to make God laugh is to make a plan. Well, as it turns out, God has completely scratched my plan and I’m a little ways out from where I want to be. And I know I’m not the only one.

I have friends who live well in debt. They are successful business owners-healthcare practitioners like myself- and home owners. Some of them have rent on their business to pay, some have families they need to care for. Sometimes I wonder how they make it all work, and most days I’m grateful that I only have me to look out for (is that selfish?!)

I wanted to make this entry more about goal setting, since it’s been a practice that I’ve been slacking on. I say I want to manifest a ton of different things (in career, in relationships, and life in general), but sometimes, I forget to dive deeper into that energy and what it would actually feel like. I’m just “manically manifesting”.

But I also keep my goals very loose, because I’m honestly scared to fail. But I want to be able to hold myself accountable for allll the things: business goals, financial goals, fitness goals and even relationship goals. So without further ado, here are my April Aspirations with *tiny reminders for what they are actually meant to accomplish for me!

  1. Plan and execute a successful inservice for physical therapists/aides on pelvic floor and perinatal care.

    Because when I feel like I can serve others, I feel like I’m serving my purpose- which is to be a guide and educator. It feels good to be recognized, needed, and appreciated.

  2. Teach my yoga classes with 1 new guest for every class. (I’ll be adding in a new time slot for Deep Stretch at Yoga Six starting this Thursday!)

    Because I love having new faces in class and exposing them to something new. Again, it’s about serving others, and guiding them through a practice that has literally saved me over and over again.

  3. Take at least 15 fitness classes - whether it’s Buti yoga, pilates, yoga, or boot camp. It counts! (I’ve never made it past 13 classes in one month)

    Because exercising makes me feel resilient physically and mentally. I feel bonded to the people I’m around and sharing energy with while I work out. I feel a sense of belonging in my community when I take class.

  4. Celebrate my birthday with as many people that I love as I can in a place that I love.

    Because I want to celebrate all the lessons learned and wisdom gained in one year, with respect for whatever the future holds. It makes me feel grateful to be on this planet and excited for everything to come.

I know it can be a lot to specifically name and call out what you want, but I encourage you to try! When you can name it, it becomes more tangible, and even more attainable according to studies when you write it down.

What will you aspire for this month??

Maybe you can share ONE THING in the comments below! I can’t wait to read your responses! xo

Flow for Five!

I’m excited to share my FIRST more than 1 minute long video here on the blog/Instagram/Youtube!

Let me just tell you, there is a LOT that goes into filming, editing, and uploading any kind of video. I have a new appreciation for content creation after today. To be honest, it’s been a bit of a struggle with a steep learning curve and technical difficulties to boot (thanks Mercury!).

Now about the yoga…

This one little video is just a five minute snippet of a longer vinyasa style flow you could potentially do in the comfort of your own home. I thought that my voice instructing over the video would be too distracting but if you follow along, you should be just fine! For the people with menstrual cycles out there watching, this flow can be done at any point in your cycle. If it seems like too much effort to do it during your period, don’t sweat it. Maybe just skip the chaturangas!

Reminder: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY and BREATH before, during, and after you practice. And like I mention before the flow starts, feel free to keep going with your practice and end in savasana or meditation.

Thanks for watching! xo

Blissful Bolsters

Bolsters have never been a huge part of my personal practice until this last year. I’m definitely not consistent with a yin practice yet, but I plan on using my newly purchased Manduka Enlight bolsters more frequently!

You can bet that yoga props are an investment, from a sturdy and life-long warranty kind of mat, blocks, strap, to bolsters. You can also bet that when I stumbled across these blue tie-dye bolsters on sale for $17 each a month ago, I snatched quite a few up! (They are usually around $60 each. STEAL.)

So for your viewing pleasure and to learn more about how to support your practice yin/restorative style, here are a few ways I love to use a bolster.

One other note: the perfect time to do these postures is right before bed, a nap, after a stressful day or a sleepless night, or if it’s getting close or you’re on your period. These postures promote relaxation and rest, a way to realign your nervous system into a more parasympathetic state aka rest, digest, and recover. You can hold them for a longer amount of time if you’d like. Since you have the support, you might as well melt into it and experience yourself softening. These postures can be held for up to 10 minutes in a formal class setting, so be sure to tailor your practice to your needs. Maybe you do one for 2 minutes, another for 5! The choices are limitless.

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Supported Child’s Pose

Opposite of the heart opener above, this one dives into your hip flexion. Start by straddling the bolster between your knees. As you fold over, snuggle your chest towards the support. Do what feels good for your shoulders. Try putting one ear down, breathe, then switch sides for a stretch for your neck.

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Supported Kneeling Pose

This posture can be great for stretching out the tops of your feet, ankles, and shins with a deep knee flexion. Sitting on a block may be too rough for your pelvic floor or ischial tuberosities (sits bones), so a bolster may be your solution. Vajrasana is an amazing way to ground yourself and practice your meditation.

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Supported Prone Twist

Sometimes it helps me to be facedown for a twist, so I like to start this one side sitting close to the bolster (this one is my left hip), turn gently to the left and lower myself down. If it feels good for your neck, you can continue to twist into your cervical spine by looking to the left as well. If being facedown doesn’t feel great for you (because there’s a baby in the way, for example), you can take this twist on your back. Try it on both sides!

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Supported Half Pigeon

From a table top, slide your left shin forward and extend your right leg back behind you. Don’t worry about what it looks like, but check in with where you feel this posture to start. If you have discomfort/pain in your knee you may want to slide your heel in closer to your groin so that you can feel this one in your left glute. Slide the bolster underneath you so you can relax over it and hold for a longer amount of time (about 5 minutes to encourage full relaxation). Don’t forget to switch sides!

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Heart Opener

Snuggle your backside close to the end of the bolster. Gently lean back and spread your arms wide for a soft extension through your entire spine. Your legs can remain straight out, soles together with knees out (see the Blocks for the Better post to get there comfortably!), or as pictured with knees knocked in towards each other for more low back space. Remain here for a long as you’d like. You may even fall asleep!

In my opinion…

This practice is about slowing down. I think our culture has pressured everyone into doing more, more, more when really there should also be a time to reset. Just like the days cycle through day and night, the years cycle through the seasons, it helps to carve time out for a less doing and more BEING for a full recharge.

The “grind” that we push our gears through can only go on for so long before it needs a tune-up.

The bolsters are just there to help. Feel free to use a big pillow or two instead! Use what you have. And soon, I’ll show you how you can use BOTH bolsters and blocks together, which can help more for my pregnant ladies and for those that can’t lay all the way down on their stomachs or backs. Hope you learned a little something about props for your practice-stay tuned for more! xo

Workshop Wonders

Since November, I’ve been conjuring up ideas, wishes, and hopes of reaching young women to teach them about their cycles and how to care for themselves. This past weekend, it finally happened, and it was amazing to feel like my dream was manifested. And it feels like I can manifest more. But first, a little background.

Lately, all my ideas seem to blend and cover similar areas that I want to tap into, so I wanted to take the opportunity not just to outline them for you, but to be a little clearer for myself!

My idea has mostly been about serving up more workshops for a greater audience, so that I can reach more than one person at a time (even though that’s still how I function most of the time in one-on-one PT/Yoga sessions). But these workshops for sure have some crossover, so I’m just going to list them out and explain what’s what for future reference.

THE ACTIVE FEMALE AND HER CYCLE (AFC)

This workshop is honestly for any female (or male) that wants to learn about the menstrual cycle and what kind of impact it can (and will) have on your body. We got over the big players in hormones, cycle/hormonal symptoms that aggravate and how to resolve them, nutrition/diet, exercise and their impact on your body. I highly encourage any women who has their period or heading into menopause to come at least once. This one can also be helpful for sport and health coaches and trainers who are male and want to support the women they work with.

I love doing this one for athletic teams that want to get a better understanding of each other and for the general public. If the groups are big enough (20-30+ people) we make it more of a big discussion, which is VERY enlightening and draws people closer knowing they might not be alone in their hormone struggles.

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WOKE & WELL WOMEN

Back in November, I met Lorin Beller at her first Conscious Women’s Network by the Sea, where we had lunch on the beach in Cardiff. It was an easy friendship and understanding that we could make a dent in how women operate today if we worked together by creating a workshop for not only young girls, but their moms.

I had been playing with the idea of the words woke and well for my own use, but it felt right to use the phrase for our offering, because creating strong and balanced females starts in the home with a good relationship between mother and daughter.

So we planned our first event out, from the venue at Be+Well in Encinitas, a healthy and delicious lunch, community outreach, to a donation from Lululemon that gifted the participants headbands!

This workshop was formatted so that the moms and teens had time to be together, as well as separate for their own individualized growth. While I worked with the girls on similar things I talk about in the Active Female and Her Cycle, Lorin worked with the moms on how to lead in the home and what that looks like for that particular woman. For me, after having had our first one with 4 girls and 3 moms, it was super special to have a group that could get to know each other a little better than if it were a public class. It felt more intimate and loving. I honestly wished I could have spent more time with them outside of the 4 hours we were together, it was that powerful.

We want to have more of these workshops in all types of venues, although it would be amazing to have a home for this one! We want to take it to the schools in our neighborhood, yoga studios, or local workspaces like Be+Well where the intentions are pure and meant for connection to self and others.

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LUNCH AND LEARN

I am beginning to understand that even the professionals that I work with sometimes need refreshers on how to care for their female patients/clients, especially when dealing with the pelvic floor and pregnancy/postpartum precautions. I am offering 1 hour lunch and learn sessions for any professional group that would like to ask questions, do a review of anatomy, or go over case studies for PT or yoga.

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WOKE, WELL, and WORTHY (W3)

Although my friend Meagan Andrew and I haven’t put together anything officially, I want to write this down as a manifestation that I can hold myself accountable for. W3 was created a mere month ago in January 2019 as an educational platform on Instagram. I still loved the words ‘woke and well’, and Meagan suggested ‘worthy’ being the last word that just put the cherry on top. We call it W3 and we have some dreams bubbling. We would love to put together a travel experience where we can surf, do yoga, and heal using all of the tools Meagan and I have learned through our years of working as physical therapists and women ourselves. It may be a few years away, but things are in the works!

As of today…

There is no particular schedule that I offer these workshops. But eventually I would LOVE to have something on the regular so a greater impact can be made. My soul purpose is to touch the lives of women (and men), in ANY way, if it helps them to take better care of themselves so that their soul purpose can be fulfilled. I hope that this clears up my vision a bit better for you. If there are any questions, comments, or suggestions, I’m an open book! xo

Pelvic Floor 101

After talking with my fellow females, friends and followers, I came to the realization that not everyone understands what the pelvic floor is, which made it difficult for them to understand why all the PT and yoga exercises that I like to talk about geared for the pelvic floor even mattered!

 

So here is a break down and a couple of visuals for ya.

Image credit: Heal Pelvic Pain by Amy Stein, MPT

Image credit: Heal Pelvic Pain by Amy Stein, MPT

Image credit: Heal Pelvic Pain by Amy Stein, MPT

Image credit: Heal Pelvic Pain by Amy Stein, MPT

 What is the pelvic floor?

If you think of your pelvis as a bowl, the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) are at the bottom of that bowl. These muscles connect in a bunch of directions, from your sitz bones/ischial tuberosities) to your tailbone/coccyx to your pubic bone at the front. Your pelvic floor muscles actually have five main functions:

  • Support // keeps your pelvic organs (bladder, vagina/uterus, prostate gland, colon) in place against gravity and sudden increases in abdominal pressure like a sneeze, cough or big belly laugh!

  • Stability // When you think of your core, you might only think of your abs. But if you imagine your core as a big house, your abdominals are just the walls wrapping from front to back. Your diaphragm is the roof and your PFM are the foundation. They help stabilize your hips to your pelvis and sacroiliac (SI) joint, all the way to your low back and abdominals.

  • Sump pump // The pelvis contains big storage for blood vessels and lymph nodes, because there are so many organs there! Contraction of the pelvic floor muscles helps to stimulate movement of blood and lymph, keeping the fluids from becoming stuck and stagnate.

  • Sphincter // They actually contract and relax around both male and female urethral and anal sphincters. They prevent leakage with a light constant resting tone, but can allow for healthy passage of waste (bowel movements and urination) with ease during relaxation when working properly.

  • Sexual // Resilience is necessary for PFM function for full and pain free penetration/sexual intercourse for a woman. It’s also needed for orgasm! If your pelvic floor is sensitive, it can contribute to pain during or after intercourse or even child labor. For males, if the prostate gland is enlarged or sitting in an off place, it can put pressure on your PFM and can affect your sphincter control as well. 

If there is some sort of dysfunction, which can come in the form of weakness (hypotonicity) or tightness (hypertonicity), there can be a whole range of issues. Leakage of waste (incontinence), prolapse of pelvic organs, and pain with intercourse are just a few that people deal with on the regular.

Anterior view of pelvis // Front

Anterior view of pelvis // Front

Superior view of pelvis // Top

Superior view of pelvis // Top


 

Now, there are some things we’ve been told for years that are just not true anymore. Move away from these common but completely outdated beliefs!

MYTHS

It’s normal and ok to pee a little when you laugh, cough, or sneeze.

TRUTHS

It’s absolutely NOT NORMAL. Just common amongst a lot of women, especially after any kind of childbirth. Even a cesarean.

You should test to see if your pelvic floor is working correctly by stopping your flow of urine while using the restroom.

Pleaseeee don’t do this. This messes with your PFM’s connection to your brain and to your sphincters. You’re disrupting the important neuro-feedback loop in your body that tells your pelvic floor to relax to open the sphincters to relieve yourself. Don’t confuse it! It will only make it harder when you actually DO want to relax your pelvic floor.

You (and your little ones) should go pee – just in case – before long runs or drives.

This is teaching your bladder to not fill fully. Your very first instinct telling you to go pee is usually when your bladder is 50% full. Going at your second internal notification is more beneficial for training your bladder to fill all the way. Normal urination frequency is about 5-8 trips to the bathroom/day. For bowel, about 1-3/day is indicative of a healthy flushing out.


If for any reason, these aren’t your normals, come talk to me! Or I’ll help you get hooked up with a pelvic floor PT in your neighborhood who can physically check you. Don’t hold off on this stuff. It can be very liberating to know you don’t need a bathroom every 30 minutes or can have pain-free sex with your partner.


In My Opinion…

One of my roles as a pelvic floor physical therapist is not only raising awareness of these issues, but to treat them if you’ve got them, and to prevent them through education.

And this is what I do. I can evaluate and treat by going internally (yes, through the vaginal canal for females) and see/feel what’s going on. This is a truly unique, special, personal, and IMPORTANT part of someone’s body that needs to be treated with the utmost respect for boundaries and levels of modesty. Some people are super comfortable in their own skin, but this can be a triggering experience, with an old pro or newer practitioner. If there has been trauma to the area through sexual abuse or a trying labor, for example, this evaluation needs to be done with care and compassion.

And on that note- even when you’re getting an annual physical from your doc and they are performing a prostate check or pap smear - you can always say no, ask for them to tell you what they are doing before they do it, slow down, or have no eye contact if that’s what you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for anything that is going to make you more comfortable with your care. This is your body, your rules. Every practitioner should understand and respect that.

Again, if you have any questions or comments, leave them below! Hope you learned something new and interesting about your body and about this awesome profession. xo

Cycle Syncing 101

Have you ever noticed as a woman that you feel one way for part of the month, and then completely different for another??

Some days you feel like you’re crushing it at work, and you have enough energy to get your laundry, grocery shopping, a workout, and a date night in one week with something left to spare. Other days, all you want to do is curl up in bed with the latest Netflix original with a cup of cocoa.

What if I told you this was normal. This flux of your energy, vibrance, and even your productivity has everything to do with being a woman.

About 5 months ago, I tapped into this awareness surrounding this flux. And really, it’s a significant flux in your hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol and so many more. After reading WomanCode by Alisa Vitti, listening to tons of podcasts on hormonal health, reading current literature on female hormones and injury prevention, I decided I was going to get off birth control (BC) and see what my body had to say. Looking back over the years of being on different kinds of contraception (oral pill, Nuvaring, and the patch), I realized they all contributed to my weight gain through college, mood swings and outrageous crying fits and depression right around my period, and even lumpier breast tissue that I religiously checked as cancer runs in my family. Truthfully, I’ve been on and off BC for the last 10 years, and I really didn’t even know what my real personality was like.

To me, if I was so diligent and careful about what I fed my body, it didn’t make sense to be feeding myself synthetic hormones. It was important to me to learn how my body operates on its own when supplied purely with nutritious food, a well-rounded exercise regimen, self love and positive talk.

What I didn’t expect was that when I paid attention to where I was at hormonally, not only did my body benefit, my mind and soul did too.

To keep a long story short, I didn’t go off birth control cold turkey, which I had read could cause even more hormonal issues. I followed Alisa Vitti’s FloLiving Birth Control Rehab special report and started with 4 different vitamins that I picked up from Sprouts: Vitamin B complex and probiotics for my liver and hormonal elimination, L-glutamine and NAC (n-acetyl-l-glucosamine) for immune strengthening and anti-inflammatory effects. I was taking these for one full month every day before getting off birth control.

Then I began cycle syncing.


What is cycle syncing?

Cycle syncing is when you adapt your nutrition, exercise routine, social/work/school calendar, and brain focus according to where you are hormonally in your menstrual cycle. Your hormones can affect your mood, energy, attractiveness, pain tolerance, and even food cravings. Syncing to these shifts, which are happening in the background anyways, can make you feel like your life is streamlined without all the fuss.

Of course, we live in a very masculine and linear world where things are always supposed to increase, grow and go. But if we as women can shift this perspective, support our biological blueprint and actually harness the feminine energy that we carry, we will find so much more success and ease in our lives.

What are the benefits?

There are three primary goals for cycle syncing according to Alisa Vitti’s book and protocol:

  • regular periods and cycle

  • improved fertility

  • regular libido (sex drive)

  • becoming your best self (really though)

Not listed are all the symptoms that cycle syncing can help with that are directly related to your hormones. Like I shared before, I dealt with weight gain that I was not comfortable with, mood swings, depression, anxiety, and PMS. What this book taught me was that while these symptoms are common and almost expected and accepted as being part of a woman, none of these things are normal.

Let me repeat: these symptoms are NOT NORMAL.

We could go off on a huge tangent here with how this relates to feminism, body image issues, period shaming, self esteem and confidence in our young women today, but I’d rather share with you the interesting information about your cycle, so that you can check in and see if you notice the changes in your body, mood, energy, and overall livelihood. So let’s start from the beginning and go over the four phases: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal.

Side note: I’m not a nutritionist or medical doctor, but I am able to speak about these things through my research and personal experience, because I am an expert of my own body. I trust that you will read this through your own lens, take what resonates, leave what doesn’t, and begin to get curious about how you cycle through these phases.


Menstrual // Day 1-7

Hormonally: Progesterone and estrogen begin to drop off, causing the uterine lining to shed, which creates the blood that you get if you’re not pregnant.

What to eat: Stick to warm and grounding foods like soup or stews. To replenish your body with iron and vitamin B for improved energy, think leafy greens or even seaweed. I love getting sushi during this time!

How to move: Do you even feel like moving?! Depending on your energy levels, think about taking a nap, a walk, or restorative yoga class. You can always ramp up your activity when your days get lighter and your energy increases.

Where to focus: This is a perfect time to take time for yourself, and do whatever you deem as self-care. I love to read, get massages, do my nails, and focus on letting go (physically and emotionally) of anything that’s not doing me any good. I also take into account what was working/wasn’t working over the past month for me in my life goals and begin evaluating.

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Follicular // Day 8-13

Hormonally: Estrogen and progesterone begin to rise again. One follicle that carries an egg in your ovary will begin to grow, and your uterine lining will begin to thicken.

What to eat: Sticking to lean meats and proteins, as well as a wide array of veggies and fruits, can help your liver eliminate any excess estrogen/progesterone. Estrogen dominance throughout your cycle can look/feel like weight gain around the hips, thighs, butt, arms, and face, as well as heavy periods, mood swings, and PMS. I love to eat fresh salads with added chicken, stir fries with tons of veggies, and citrus fruit for my sweet tooth.

How to move: You will feel that surge of energy right after your period is done in this phase, so think about this being a fresh start for a new workout class! Try something you haven’t done before, or switch up your routine and work different muscle groups with new exercises.

Where to focus: Think about all the new and creative things bubbling up in your head… now jot them down! You’ll find fresh ideas flowing during this time so take advantage of your creativity and begin a new project. This is when I take a look at my planner and game plan the month for all aspects of my life, including meetings for potential collaborations, problem solving, and getting social.

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Ovulatory // Day 14-18

Hormonally: Estrogen and testosterone spike! Here is when that mature egg is released from the ovary and enters through the fallopian tube towards your uterus, where it waits to be met with sperm for fertilization. You may notice changes in your vaginal discharge, as it usually turns into a milky texture, similar to egg white.

What to eat: Foods full of vitamin B, glutatione, and magnesium to keep the hormone balances of estrogen and progesterone in check. An easy go to for me during this phase is a homemade red sauce with gluten-free pasta (quinoa based is my fave) with shrimp and a spinach or brussel sprout side. You may experience a craving for sweets like me. I like to grab a dark chocolate bar during this time (because it’s so rich in magnesium!).

How to move: This is when I have the most energy for group workouts and HIIT (high intensity interval training). You can catch me in a boot camp or buti yoga at least twice this week of my cycle. Try that group fitness class, or even amp up your cardio, add plyometrics, and go for that long run! You have the energy and the neuromuscular control during this time to avoid injury.

Where to focus: This phase is all about socializing. Energetically and biologically, this is when you were meant to become impregnated, so your mood, attractiveness and attention is heightened. Your communication abilities are also amazing right now, so this could be the time to have a serious conversation that you’ve been avoiding, or even ask for something that you’ve been needing at work or in your relationship. Schedule a first date, set up that public speaking engagement, or go out with friends during this magical time.

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Luteal // Day 18-28

Hormonally: Estrogen and testosterone begin to fall, and progesterone levels peak, so that the uterine lining can thicken enough to prepare for an eggs implantation. If the egg doesn’t get fertilized, these hormones drop from their peak and cues your uterine lining to shed.

What to eat: When I think luteal, I think roots, like sweet potatoes, carrots, squashes, and cruciferous foods to keep the liver and digestive system flushing out progesterone and estrogen as these levels continue to drop. Think about minimizing any alcoholic beverages to help keep your liver and digestive system on point and working smoothly, while making healthy food choices.

How to move: You may notice a decent amount of energy left during the first half of this phase, so you can keep doing what you were doing during your follicular and ovulatory phases if you like. But start to check in half way through and you may notice a need to slow down. I like to take slower yoga classes, with slow and intentional weight lifting to work on control, not speed. This time isn’t great for cardio, as it puts too much strain on your cardiovascular system. And during the second half of this phase, any cardio can actually go against muscle building that you’ve been working on and can lead to injury when doing high impact or plyometrics.

Where to focus: Just as in your exercise regimen, you’ll notice that you can keep up socially for a bit into this phase, but slowly your energy will start to turn inward. This is a perfect time to get your affairs in order, reorganize anything that isn’t working, do a whole deep clean of your home, finishing up all those cool projects you started earlier this month. This way, when you start to bleed again, you’ll have a tidy mental and physical space to relax and enjoy.

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What if you don’t have a cycle?

If you’re on birth control, pregnant, peri-menopausal or in menopause, there are alternative ways to cycle through your nutrition, exercise and focus.

One way is to use the lunar cycle, which is also a monthly cycle.

  • New Moon = menstrual

  • 1st quarter moon = follicular

  • Full Moon = ovulatory

  • 3rd quarter moon = luteal

Cycle syncing this way can still give you balance to your efforts and energies that can feel more natural to you as you ebb and flow throughout the month rather than constantly following that linear path of growth without stopping.

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Photo by Celso Oliveira on Unsplash


Final Thoughts

I am a woman, and I am different every day, so why wouldn’t I adjust my life to that? It just seems to make perfect sense to live life in a way that plays to our strengths rather than against them. When we don’t live according to our design, we can feel so much burn out, fatigue, and completely lackluster. I know because it happened to me!

So if you’re thinking about giving this all a go, do your reading. Click here to pick up your copy of WomanCode. If you decide to go for it, be easy on yourself when trying new things!

Of course, the yogi in me wants to remind you that no cycle is perfect. I still deal with the occasional breakout when I happen to roll through In-n-out every once in a while. But this is a practice. Make one change at a time. Start tracking your cycle (I use the MyFlo app by Alisa Vitti). Be open and curious, listen to YOUR body. It has so much wisdom and intelligence inside of it, which can sometimes get bogged down by the outside world and our mind’s thoughts.

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If you truly took the time to listen and pay attention, you might find you already do a lot of these things.

So go slow, be patient, and watch the magic that you already have inside flourish, so that you can become a more thriving version of yourself. xo