Amanda Fisher Coaching

I help women get crazy strong - physically AND mentally - through strength training, sustainable eating habits, and a heathy mindset.

Author: Amanda (page 2 of 162)

Postpartum: Three Reasons To Get Your Pelvic Floor To A Physical Therapist

Did you know that once you have a baby, you are forever postpartum?  Seriously.  Postpartum doesn’t last six months or 12 months, it lasts for the rest of your life.

And, I don’t know about you, but I’m noticing TV ads geared towards women my age (mid 30’s), for pads and incontinence products for their workouts, for their life.  Peeing a little bit when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or workout is VERY common.  It’s almost a badge of honor it seems…..”After I had my baby(ies), a little leakage happens here and there.”  I was watching Real Housewives of Orange County last week and heard one of the cast members talking about peeing a little bit when she coughed too.

Unfortunately, if we don’t talk about this more, we will be seeing more and more ads for incontinence products.  Because common doesn’t always mean normal.

And to be honest, incontinence is only ONE of the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.  And leakage isn’t the only symptom.  Frequently feeling like you have to go, feeling like you can’t quite empty, constipation, and alllllll that stuff are symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction under the umbrella of incontinence.  And where you think of “incontinence” as pee, know that it can you can interchange the word “poop” as needed.

But WAIT!  There’s MORE! So sexy this topic is.

Pelvic pain, pain during sex, , back pain, feeling like something is falling out of you or something ACTUALLY falling out of you (pelvic organ prolapse – your bladder, your uterus, or your rectum or vaginal wall collapsing) are all ALSO grouped together under pelvic floor dysfunction.

I’m working through a post natal fitness course on this very subject as well.  Did you know that 50% of women suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction?  And that the first line of defense seems to be “get the surgery” where they sling up your pelvic floor.  And did you know that surgery has a 70% fail rate?  Eek.  These numbers, ladies, are not good.  And to be honest (and I’m not science-y), I’m not quite sure I understand slinging up muscles for a system that is dysfunctional and will just continue being dysfunctional if the work isn’t done to get it more functional, lol.  But of course, I’m still learning.

All of these issues are signs that your pelvic floor is not working properly.  And it likely has something to do with your entire core canister – your diaphragm straight down to your pelvic floor muscles.

There could be MANY reasons for this.  For many women, it’s the fact that they carried and birthed a baby or multiple babies and their core was stretched and their pelvic floor was under constant strain of a growing baby PLUS the force of birth.  Could be a birth with interventions – forceps, vacuum, loooonnggg labor, etc.

There can also be MANY reasons that have nothing to do with pregnancy.  Chronically poor posture that doesn’t support core and floor function in optimal positions.  Hypertonic (always tensed, never relaxed) pelvic floor muscles.  Chronic coughing, constipation, and all those sexy things that put lots of force on pelvic floor.  And if you are reading THIS list, and not the pregnancy list, and you are a DUDE, know that you can suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction too.

But back to the postpartum stuff.

Here are three big reasons to get your pelvic floor to a women’s health physical therapist about 4 -8 weeks (or anytime after birth really, even 20 years or more) post birth.

  1. They help you understand your body, and the workings of those precious muscles of the core and floor, and that entire SYSTEM.  And they do it in a way that is in regular words, and not PT speak.  They help you understand that you JUST HAD A BABY, and liken labor and delivery to tearing your ACL.  Your body has experienced trauma, and that area needs to rest and recover, and begin to rehab, just like you would your knee after an ACL injury.  They help you understand that you REALLY need to rest (sit) a lot, because basically standing and doing stuff is basically force on those muscles.
  2. They help you understand how force works on your core and floor, and help you understand how to work with your body during your new life with all these new activities with baby.  They help you understand how to contract your pelvic floor at just the right time when you are heaving that infant carrier full of baby out of your car, off the floor, into the shopping cart at Target, etc.  They help you understand optimal posture and it’s importance.  They help you incorporate your breathing into your life better, and to be honest, teach you how to use your breath strategically when putting your floor in vulnerable situations.  And they help you COORDINATE this all one step at a time, and help your brain get on the same page as your muscles and your body.
  3. They help you understand how YOUR core and floor are working or not working via biofeedback and drills and tests that they go do with you at your session(s).  They help you understand what a kegel ACTUALLY is and when to use it, and not use it – depending on the workings of your own core and floor.  They give you homework to do while lying, sitting, standing, jumping (as you progress), running, lifting, etc.  They make you imagine a blooming flower when you do your pelvic floor contractions.  And they help you understand how to RELAX your pelvic floor.  Much of this is done while you are hooked up to biofeedback sensors near your rectum, on your abdominals, etc.  Some of this is done internally.  Some of it is done with them talking you through things.  They also help you understand how every single factor of lack of sleep, stress, overtraining, undertraining, hormonal changes, periods, and the like impact EVERYTHING.  In the event you are dealing with prolapse, pain, etc….they help you develop strategies to help you in REAL LIFE with your normal life activities.

I know you can tell from my writing that I think EVERYONE should see a women’s health physical therapist.  I do think that.  I think that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You can ask your doctor for a referral, or you can self refer (I did) if you know you need help with some of these issues.  We need to start talking about this more so this is the FIRST line of defense for those dealing with these issues, and surgery is the LAST line of defense.

I’ll also be writing my personal experience with a women’s health physical therapist next week.  Cliff’s Notes – I made my first appointment “because I should, because I tell my clients to go” and turns out I had a lot of things to work on.  Stop back here next week!

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Fourth Trimester: Month Three

He-yoooooo!

I think I’m something like 14 weeks postpartum (not gonna pull out a calendar and count, so I could be off, lol).

Time to do an inventory and let you guys know what was up in Month 3 of the Fourth Trimester!

I’m gonna write fast because I have two kids down for a nap at the SAME TIME and I’m hoping to check a few things off my to-do list, lol.

Nutritionally, my appetite is way leveling out.  But it’s still kind of nuts some days.  At week 12, I stopped nursing, so I’m not needing to eat as much anymore, and I can tell my body is starting to figure out where it needs to be.  I can also tell that my cravings and appetite are wonky many days because my sleep happens well about 2-3 days per week, and then a few days each week I’m getting less, mostly because of work and not Maren, HA!  I’ve also been feeling better not eating first thing in the morning.  I’m just not hungry then anymore, and so my first meal of the day is between 9-11AM, when it used to be 6:50AM STAT when I woke up or got done with my morning classes.  Still prioritizing a protein and produce in each meal because that makes me feel good.

Workouts are gaining steam, but still no where what I’m used to yet.  Still trying to be smart about unweighting lots of exercises.  Because I only stopped nursing a few weeks ago, I still have lots of loose joints and connective tissue (Relaxin hangs around for 3+ months after nursing).  I still also have some weak-ish pelvic floor muscles going on, and focus more on activating core and floor during each rep than I do pushing weights around.  I’m getting better at it!  I did try some single leg deadlifts with light weight last week and those were too much for pelvic floor right now.  I can do them unweighted just fine, but adding load was a little much (it was only 18 pounds dude, I’m used to doing those with like 70 pounds, for context).  Lots of half kneeling core work, side and reverse side planks, farmer carries.  Lots of unweighted squats and single leg work.  Never thought I’d say this but I’m so sick of unweighted glute bridges I could vomit, lol.

Crazy postpartum hormone wise, I’m starting to feel more and more like my old self.  Not all days, but most, HA!  I feel way more relaxed at this stage than I did with Emma.  Probably because it’s the second time around, and you sorta get an idea of what to expect and what’s going on.  And we’ve already raised one kid through four years, so we know we can at least get that far, lol.

Let’s talk about body composition though, since it’s a juicy topic for most postpartum women.  I mean, magazines tell us we should “bounce back” super freaking fast, right?  During pregnancy, I hung onto a good amount of my muscle for a long time, and then after week 30 and beyond, when lots of exercises weren’t feeling great, and I was still puking on the regular, I didn’t lift as frequently.  The loads that I was lifting were enough to make me feel good but nowhere taxing enough to stimulate muscle growth.  So, between then and now, I’ve lost tons of muscle.  I weigh a few pounds less than I did last July when I found out I was pregnant, but I look waaaayyyyyyyyy softer.  Less muscle, more body fat, even though a scale would tell you I should be smaller (but we know that the scale is only one slice of the puzzle).  Each woman is different.  Some women drop weight like a boss when nursing and after baby.  Some struggle to lose it.

Here’s how it seems to be working for me (since it’s pretty similar to when Emma was born).  The three weeks post birth, my weight drops like a rock.  Somewhat to be expected, given that an almost 9 pound baby is outside versus inside, plus fluid, blood volume, placenta, and all that stuff.  During this time I literally eat everything that isn’t nailed down because recovery from birth is no freaking joke PLUS trying to establish milk supply for a little baby takes energy.  Then, I hold steady for awhile, and my cravings level out but I still get them, and I’m kind of all over the board with hunger, plus not a whole lot of physical activity.  Then, I begin putting on some pounds again, and it usually appears to be in the form of body fat.  This time has been really no different than last time, to be honest.  That body fat part can become a mind game though.  However, I can also tell it’s leveling out and even starting to take care of itself since nursing is no longer.  My hunger is regulating, as are my hormones.  My guess is after my first cycle (boy, I’m an exciting bag of convo these days between cycle talk, nursing, and pelvic floor, lol), this will begin taking care of itself like it did last time, given I’m eating pretty nutritiously, sprinkling in my beer and treats, and also beginning to get stronger in my workouts again.  I’m not worried about it.  But I like to bring it up because I think it’s helpful for people to read that each woman will experience something different, and it’s not necessary to get nuts about diets, your body really just needs time to get back to an even keel hormonally, and that shit TAKES TIME.  I suspect NEXT July that I’ll be feeling way more like my old self.

I also use the term “old self” loosely. My self right now is just fine, but I’m kinda excited for the days when my hormones are on their old level playing field, and I’m back to a workout structure that my brain and body crave, if that makes sense.

Here’s the thing.  Your body is your body.  Growing a baby and birthing a baby and recovering from all that is a huge undertaking.  The biggest thing that it takes is TIME.  Yes, nutrition, yes strategic workouts, but TIME is the biggest player in recovery.  Self care too.  And so, in my mind, talking about bouncing back and fat loss and all that shit….is really just a ton of noise for a body that just freaking needs TIME.  I’m more after doing workouts that make my body and energy feel good, eating foods that definitely meet the health equation but also allow me to enjoy myself, and trying to just take care of my body.  And that stuff trumps fat loss fat loss fat loss right now.  Because if I feel like I want to tackle something like that, I will….when it’s TIME and I feel like I’m ready to do that. Or, I might just freaking roll on with life and not worry about that.  To each their own.

I think I’m going to continue on with the FIFTH trimester posting, and keep you guys up to speed over the next three months as well as I begin progressing more.  Oh, and I’m drafting up a bloggy blog all about my experience working with a women’s health physical therapist too, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Reshape Your Workouts: Why You Should Choose Purpose Over Beast Mode

You guys.  Last week we talked about reshaping your workout routine and dropping our Cardio Queen status a few workouts each week.  Did you catch it?  If not, feel free to read it here.  Cliff’s Notes on that post is that doing ONLY cardio won’t get you the body you want.  But, being smart, and dropping a few cardio days for some strength training days WILL.

Here’s the thing though.  For some reason with fitness….doesn’t matter if it’s cardio or lifting or WHATEVER, we can convince ourselves that every day MUST be a hard day.  A “leave everything in a pile of sweat on the floor” type of feeling.  Or, as I like to refer to it…..Beast Mode.  It’s also easy to get fitness A.D.D. and try to Beast Mode at too many fitness things at once.  

And here’s the truth.  Beast Mode DOES have a place sometimes.  That’s the keyword….sometimes.  There are certainly days when we are feeling friggin’ amazing, and it’s a good day to test the limits.  And there are also certain times in your year where you just wanna go with the flow for a month or two and do random workouts and fun shit and not focus on something specific because life.

But, EVERY WORKOUT is not a Beast Mode day.  There is no way to improve when Beast Mode is every day.  Your body gets fried, your muscles don’t recover, your nervous system becomes a wreck, and to be honest….you are injuries (yes plural) waiting to happen.  And it’s also a good way to NOT get better.  And every day, if you want to improve your strength game, is also not a “just wing it” sort of day either.

So, I have a little way to secretly still date Beast Mode sometimes, BUT still stay healthy and injury free and still improving (and liking!) your workouts.  

Become BFF’s with being PURPOSEFUL about your workouts.  

Most of us never stop and think about the purpose behind our workouts.  That’s actually really pretty normal.  We are all just trying to get more fit, right?  And maybe we see a cool workout or move on YouTube that looks amazing, and we try to copy it, whether or not it’s a good thing for us to be doing.  I know I used to never consider WHY I did WHAT.  Then I started learning, and eventually became an RKC and personal trainer and learned that holy buckets, WHY we do what we do in the gym is really freaking important, lol.

When I started paying attention and learning how to program my workouts intelligently, I got better at the skills I was working on.  A LOT better.  I started learning that I can’t just throw a bunch of stuff into a workout and call it good if my purpose was really to get better at whatever my focus was at the time. 

Here are a few examples:

  • After Emma was born, I struggled for a good year with my workouts and getting them in consistently.  I also struggled with wanting to just beast on the days I DID actually work out, and that wasn’t a very healthy approach to a postpartum body….my body needed a tuning up of strength and awareness BEFORE beasting.  And so, my purpose wasn’t necessarily getting more awesome at a few skills, my goal was to get more consistent with my fitness again.  This was easy to plan and program, as I was just focusing on general fitness.  Strength training three times a week, with plenty of walking on off days.  My strength workouts were the basic movement patterns, mostly kettlebells, dumbbells, and bodyweight as tools, and mostly just a good honest mix of hinges, lunging, squatting, pushing, and pulling three days each week.  I began nailing consistency because I took away the need to beast.  I also got stronger overall…..which was perfect because………
  • I began training for the RKC with a body that was READY for more.  The RKC is demanding, and tests six kettlebell skills for THREE DAYS STRAIGHT.  I was lucky to have a kettlebell coach to help me prepare.  For the RKC, I trained those six skills five days a week, rotating between medium intensity days, hard days (eff that snatch test practice), and swing volume days (OMG). I trained HARD with purpose for about five months before hitting the RKC.  My training program was basically three strength days (with waving the volume of lifts each week), plus a weekly snatch test, and a weekly complex day, where I basically cussed for 25 minutes straight with heavy double kettlebells in the darkness of early January mornings.  I was in the right frame of mind for that training, I had a deadline, and my purpose was be awesome and freaking pass.  
  • After the RKC, I was done mentally with JUST kettlebells for a bit.  I completely switched my approach, and found a powerlifting coach.  For three months, my purpose was get better at the big three of powerlifting – bench, squat, deadlift.  I LOVED this change after the RKC.  I was mentally ready to do something different, and because of the base of amazing strength and conditioning I had built up from RKC prep, not to mention alllllll the movement patterns I had worked to perfect, my body was like EFFFFFF YASSSSS, let’s go heavy.  

Here’s the point of all these words I’m rambling through.  

I had a purpose with each fitness “thing” I wanted to do.  While I was training for the RKC, I wasn’t ALSO trying to train for a 5K.  My body would have rebelled, and that would have been too much, and a road to injury. My PURPOSE was the RKC.

While I was focused on powerlifting, I wasn’t doing an RKC snatch test once a week.  I was using kettlebell lifts as assistance work, but NOT training to train kettlebell skills PLUS my powerlifting program.  Again, would have been too much.  My PURPOSE was getting better at powerlifting.

Another example – my best fitness friend Jen and I have a coaching group going on right now called Jacked Runner.  Our Jacked Runner crew has the PURPOSE of becoming stronger runners, and so yes, they still lift, BUT how their program is put together is different from just straight strength training to allow them to prioritize their running while still staying strong.  

Here’s why I’m telling you this.  Because it’s easy to want to get better at alllll the things and do alllll the cool things that we see on the Crossfit Games, on Youtube, on social media.  And they are all cool, and that’s awesome.  BUT, if you want to get better at something, you can’t always do that PLUS 10 other fitness things.  Your workouts program needs to all flow together to make you BETTER, more PURPOSEFUL, at the few things you want to improve at.  If you are going hard in the gym 4-5x per week and still trying to sprint on your off days, we need to take a look at your true purpose, and cut the meaningless stuff while focusing on getting you better at what you want.  You know?

And I want to tie this all back together with Beast Mode.  You CAN Beast Mode some days here and there when you’ve been purposeful with your training.  Because your body has built this amazing base of skills, and strength, and you’ve worked on those skills over and over and over and your body is WIRED to do them well, and probably in your sleep.  So when it’s that unicorn day in the gym, and things are feeling easy, your body is READY to push the limits that day to maybe set a new PR.  Your body is NOT ready to Beast Mode when you’ve haphazardly thrown together your workouts for a year, and now you want to do a Crossfit workout that combines working up to a max effort push press, a rope climb, 75 deadlifts, and 200 box jumps.  That’s an injury waiting to happen on an untrained body with no solid base of preparation in sight.

So, what’s your purpose?  General fitness improvement?  Powerlifting?  A faster 10K time?  A figure competition?  Twelve weeks of focused fat loss?  Rehabbing a postpartum body and working at safely re-entering the weight room?  Choose ONE thing and focus on it for a while.

We need to identify the purpose and not just throw fitness shiz at the wall and hope it sticks and we magically pull a 300 pound deadlift off the ground.  

A coach can help you here, BIG TIME.  Because coaches have a way of taking out the BS, finding your weaknesses that, if trained properly, will help you get better at what you want to get better at.  We can also help you be purposeful with what your overall training picture looks like.  Finding a good coach sounds scary, and really it’s not.  It’s a really smart way to help you lock down your purpose and plan to get from Point A to Point B with a smart and realistic plan.

Think about what you want to get better at…..your PURPOSE.

Plan 2-3 months of training surrounding just that.

Execute and enjoy the journey.

Get better, take some notes, keep record of what you learned so you know what to do next.

That’s the secret recipe.  

What things are YOU working on in your training?  What’s your purpose?  Let’s chat about it on my Facebook page!

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