To Be Safe Again: A 10th Birthday Celebration of MommaStrong

I’ve been writing different versions of this post in my phone notes the past few nights while camping out by my three year old’s bed. Her body has decided to take her brand new ear tubes for a high octane test drive, steered by Mystery Preschool Virus #1,763,980 of the year. Negative for COVID, positive for WTF.

 

It’s ok. Really. No, actually it’s not. THIS IS HARD. I didn’t know that parenting would be the hard we expected plus the hard no one told us about. There are things you just can’t possibly know until you know, you know? But, in any case, outside of the germ-pocalypse I’ve been restless anyways, spending the last few weeks figuring out how to process what today is: MommaStrong’s 10 year anniversary.

 

Deep breath for that. 10 years. 

 

In an effort to mark this incredible milestone, I’ve been combing through ancient email accounts and dropbox folders, searching for images and videos from the start of MommaStrong. This means I have come face to face with The Past, along with a very complete visual documentation of said past. Who else can say that they have a video of themselves working out everyday-ish for the past ten years? It’s impressive from the outside, I know. And from where I stand, it’s also been jostling and definitely cringe-worthy. 

 

The plan for these images and videos is to create a time lapse of MommaStrong history. It has reminded me of kids’ graduation slideshows that stir up hot happy tears as we feel hope and pride and nostalgia. This slideshow, though, did something different for me. I felt proud, yes, and also bewildered. So much has happened and yet so much is the same. It was a reminder that parenting shoves us all in this strange bubble where so much is being learned, so much growth is occurring, so much time is passing, and yet so much is the same. Like those sci-fi movies where someone gets frozen and then emerges into the world decades later.

 

So, yeah, I felt for the young 31 year old me on screen, knowing all the things she was going to go through in the next ten years. Wishing I could be a traffic director for her life, cutting off certain turns that she didn’t need to take and beckoning her to slow down. I also felt for the 41 year old me now, clearly weathered and clearly needing a good long vacation. But, above all of that, I also see hard fought wisdom, the sort of wisdom that will grant me the tools to be the traffic director now I needed back then.

 

Knowing this brings me to the purpose of this post, which is gratitude and reverence. I’d like to say a few quick things about what Mommastrong has taught me (and you maybe) and celebrate where we are going and what MommaStrong will teach us in the years to come. Here we go:

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for teaching me that I actually have a pelvic floor and that it involves more than just a vagina. I didn’t know that before I had kids or even after, until I met you. 

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for teaching me that my belly wasn’t broken, but that the process of pregnancy and birth resulted in, shocker, medical conditions like diastasis recti that weren’t my fault and that deserved clinical level help. 

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for teaching me how to do weird technological things way back in 2012 when you basically still had to know html. I feel special because of you.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for helping me feel loved even in my galactic cat leggings and with my weird/lame jokes.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for giving me something else to do other than drink/yell/cry/tantrum/run away/fight/flight/freeze.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong for my glutes. They are awake. And thank you for letting me use the word tuckus as much as I please. I also enjoy the cheeky cheeks opportunities.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for teaching me that a hand bra is the best bra of all bras when doing jumping jacks, especially while breastfeeding. Just hold them, when in doubt. 

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for relieving me of chronic, debilitating back pain that I didn’t think I would ever ever ever recover from. 

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for giving me a place to be a leader in fitness without asking me to prove my value through how fit I look.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for creating new qualifications for a woman who is well and for being one of the first in this industry to demand change.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for being nimble, for sharing ownership of your method and your presence with every member who takes a risk and signs up here. Thank you for giving them room and safety to ask for what they need and help you become better.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for standing up for body ownership for all humans as a human right and not a political chess piece.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong for your work in diversity and inclusion, which I know is only just at the beginning of where it will be. Thank you for your new trainers and their expansive narrative and experience of parenthood.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for my wardrobe of basically all MommaStrong logo clothes. I would be naked without you.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for getting me through the pandemic. And two divorces. And getting sober. And heartbreak. And three kids. And sick kids. And, well, effing life.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for asking me to show up as I am and holding me accountable every day.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for loving me through all of my hair cuts.

 

Thank you, MommaStrong, for being enough. Always. 

 

Before I sign off, I want to reaffirm my vows here, my commitment to this work, how it’s changed and how it will change. I am here for it as long as it will have me. And I know that the past bit of time has been hard on all of us, so I am officially hitting the refresh button on my inner browser to get curious and devoted to how to help us all out of “it”. 

 

The hard truth is while looking at the videos and images of myself over the years, it was clear to me that the last 3 have been the hardest. For the most part, I can say that I can see how I have wilted. That’s how it feels and that is how it shows up.

 

That is hard to witness, to see yourself clearly like that without self-hate or judgment, just witnessing. It makes me sad and mad and all the basic feelings. But it also brings me to a place of deep compassion for all of us who have gotten through what we have gotten through. I also find the burden of hope in here, which says, you know, it’s not too late to heal and to find a new way that we didn’t know we needed.

 

If you feel wilted and weathered, hi. It’s ok. No wonder we do. Look at what we have been through. Our focus here at MommaStrong remains what it has always been, but in the coming years ahead, we will be extra focused on how to help you show up for yourself even when there is no space to show up

 

This sort of showing up within the massive presence of uncertainty in the world is a skill that will require a new kind of training. The old mantras of even just a few years ago no longer apply. “Just Do It” won’t cut it anymore. We need more than mere inspiration. We need to know how to do “it” and why we ought to do “it”. We need the nuts and bolts for our real deal life in a wobbly world. 

 

I personally want to find a way to feel safe in my body again so that I can engage fully again. I want to relearn—or maybe learn for the first time—what it means to carve out the space to make my wellness matter and to truly put it first. I want to know my worth and I want to protect yours.

We will do this together, this much I know. 

 
Happy 10th Birthday, MommaStrong.

A Little Taller This May: The Hows and Whys of a Happy Spine

Oh May. 

 

This is the month that feels as ferocious as September’s Back to School insanity. May’s End of School, however, comes with zero post-summer sunny reserves to help buffer the hustle. AND, at the end of May, you end up with kids home for many months, so there it is: May is more ferocious than September. I’m glad we talked that through.

 

This feels especially relevant to me right now, as I currently log about 5-6 hours a day in the car, commuting here and there and everywhere. Kids needing this and that. No one told me that parenthood was also going to be a part time unpaid taxi driver position on top of your normal full time job that actually pays the bills. And I know a lot of people will say, oh that’s not manageable Courtney, you need to find a solution. Yes, I do, however it’s just what it is right now. And it will change soon enough when my teenager starts driving in omg 6 months. Terrifying, but also, bring it.

 

In any case, the point of this post is not about the struggles of parenthood, but about the stuff I haven’t been doing to physically survive parenthood and my taxi driver position. Namely, taking better care of my spine. As much as I’d like to report that I follow all of my advice about sitting in a car with functional alignment, let’s be real. After hour 2.5 of commuting, I entirely give up into a slumpity slump slump. It happens during my Zoom-y work day too, which means that most of my body’s experience in life is Slumpville lately.

 

I can feel this. I can even see it. The way subtle shifts in my posture affects the way my clothes hang on my shoulders or the way my neck looks after a long day. All in all, I am not invincible to the effects of ignoring my spine’s health even though I have a tried and true habit of working out basically every day. This habit is life changing and life saving, yes, but it’s not powerful enough to override the amount of time I spend slumped. Something has to give or something in my body will give.

 

This is rather poignant for me to admit this month, as we head towards celebrating our 10th anniversary here. 10 years ago, when I first started MommaStrong, it was ALL about retrieving my sense of wellbeing and sanity after yearssssssssss of acute back pain. And the relief and possibility I felt when I discovered small shifts in pain were the motivation I needed to keep going, to do the impossible and make this company a real service to more people. I could have never ever in a million years imagined that my back would get to a place of health such that I could do what I do today. And it’s the ten years of consistency and curiosity – and member accountability – that has gotten me here. 

 

This is all to say that I am bringing my focus back full circle this month to our spines, to what it means to have a happy spine. And while I know this will be an interesting and informative adventure, it will also be bigger than that. In my experience, when I tend to my spine and I allow myself to wander and wobble on the path to supporting it, I also help my nervous system become a bit more balanced and responsive. Standing tall is, yes, a posture we can assume, but it’s more than that. It’s an agreement with your nervous system and your environment that you will take up space and find a way to preserve yourself even in the midst of the conditions of the environment.

 

And that’s the thing about the spine. We can’t control much of what happens in our body, but we can consciously choose to align our spines in a functional way (unique to our individual bodies) even when shit is hitting the fan. We can come back to a place that asks, is this how I need to hold myself? What does my spine need? Even right now, I bet you are sitting up a little taller, giving a little more room to your vertebrae, and rekindling an awareness of the center of you. It’s possible. And, yes, you have structural things to address and pain to remediate and long lived histories of trauma, hiding, uncertainty, stress, relentless caretaking that are included in this process. We won’t forget all of that. But, I will be here with you to remember that it’s worth it to investigate the possibility of putting your spine first and finding a way to move through life that tends to this incredible structure. 

 

SO, join me in this very special and wild month of May, as we tackle the subject of Happy Spines and also celebrate the birth of MommaStrong. We will be addressing a few different themes each week this month, including the nuts and bolts of the anatomy or our spine, common misconceptions of pain and treatment, and how MommaStrong is here to help you feel better and take up more space. AND HOORAY, we will be joined by our own PT Advisor, Stephanie Dillon, to bring a friendly, expert understanding to this part of our bodies.

 

You can sign up today through Monday, May 2nd. You can do that as a current member by logging in to your membership and then clicking Challenges in the teal navigation menu. OR, if you are not yet a member, voila, perfect time to get started. Simply sign up for your 14-day free trial and follow those instructions above. 

 

And in case you are new to our challenges or new to MommaStrong, the way these challenges works is simple: You register and then we deliver weekly content to you that is extremely digestible via a short, engaging, personal podcast between myself and Jya. AND, we encourage you to attempt to show up for 5-15 minutes of movement on your terms every day-ish of the challenge. That is truly it. This delivers TO YOU, rather than asks more from you. 

 

Join us. Celebrate with me this month. Bring a friend or two. Let’s get through May a little taller this year.

 

10 Years and 1 Habit

 

My 15 year old told me yesterday that she didn’t want to play her (first ever) tennis match today and that she was considering telling her coach that she wouldn’t be able to do it because she needed to pack for our upcoming move. When I shook my head with a smirk, she then asked me how bad the rain was going to be and if I thought the courts would be too wet to play. When I showed her the sunny afternoon forecast, she dropped her head in defeat. She continued, “Maybeeeeeeeee I could just …”. We laughed and I reminded her that showing up may not feel good and it may not even go well—or maybe it will—but that she’ll feel whole and congruent afterwards no matter what. I said, “You’ll match your insides and your outsides.” She agreed and also said that I was “cringey”. 

 

I get this entirely. I get the art of negotiating the stuff to which we’ve said Yes and even the stuff that is actually healthy for us, good for us. In fact, I will sheepishly admit that I spent most of my life before turning 40 doing that. Everything was negotiable. And flaking out of something always felt good and true. In fact, a lot of times, I would feel like I was standing up for myself and my true wants. BUT BUT BUT. I always ended up feeling regret later. Always. At least with the stuff that mattered and the stuff that I actually had capacity to do. 

 

For me, this has to do with two things: Neurodivergence and worth. I get overwhelmed with “normal” life things that will be overstimulating only to me and then I get embarrassed and then I sign up for the thing anyways because I don’t want to be that person. And then, at the last minute, my nervous system has a giant freak out and the only option left is to just excuse myself from the thing, aka flake out. As for how this relates to worth, the more I do the above, the more I think that it doesn’t matter if I show up or not. And this then creates a vicious cycle for me in which the excuses feed shame and shame feeds excuses. 

 

I’m not sure what your experience here is, but I am sure you can relate in some small ways, maybe particularly in the area of wellness and self preservation. For me, I was this way with exercise for so long. I would flake out or never start or set up inevitably impossible goals. It was just a giant failure to launch, framed inside lots of hopes and ideas for how to move my body, how to feel vital, how to experience physical adventure, how to feel powerful, etc. And I just always bailed out. Always.

 

This is actually the underpinning of the Daily 15 in MommaStrong, funny enough. It came from a deep, mostly unconscious, drive to create something that I would actually do every day AND to create some requirements around it that made it basically impossible for me to not show up. And I think I must have known that it needed to be short, different every day, pain relieving, anti-fitness, zero unitards, zero-ish equipment, no shoes or bra needed … and my actual job in order for it to stick. 

 

And here we are, ten years later. TEN YEARS. Ten years. Ten years. Thousands of Daily 15s filmed. A daily-ish habit that no longer gets tossed around in my head as a maybe, but more of a fine I’ll do it. It’s changed my life, if I’m honest. It’s been here with me through two divorces, getting sober, surviving major life and business hurdles, countless moves (omg), the birth of my third kid, a friggin global pandemic, and everything in between. And while my body has healed and my strength has integrated … beyond that, I have learned to stay true to me in this process and I have learned that exercise is probably my number #1 tool for my mental health. I have become embodied. 

 

I just got chills thinking about this. I couldn’t have done this by just willing myself into the behavior or by reading enough self help books. There was no magic switch waiting in my brain that would then launch me here. It happened because I changed the way I set up my goals and I changed the way I was going to pursue a habit. I didn’t know I was doing it at the time. I didn’t know I was being rebellious in relation to all the health/fitness industry teaches us about motivation. I just was, well, maybe a little desperate and over it. 

 

The lessons here for me are that what we think about motivation and what we’ve been taught about habits aren’t always true for all of us. What is true for ALL of us is that habits stick when they are true to you and when they honor where you have been and where you are now. When they match your insides and your outsides. When they help you in the ways that matter. AND when they allow you to be human.

 

I could have never ever ever ever imagined that I’d be here today, reporting back after ten years. I’ve learned that I’m not a bad shower-upper. I’m actually a pretty awesome one. I just hadn’t set my own terms. And now I have. And now I have a contract with showing up for exercise that has extended into how I show up in life. I don’t flake out even when I want to, even when my mind has one bazillion valid excuses. I do it anyways, as long as it all matches. As a result, I feel what we all want to feel when moving towards health: I feel good about me. I feel sturdy in my integrity. I feel resilient. I just … can feel. 

 

I feel.

 

That’s a weird word when you type it a lot, FYI.

 

OK, good news for you is that the month of April in MommaStrong is dedicated to the art of habits that stick with a month-long challenge called Streaking. Yes, Streaking. You will learn how to show up consistently for yourself ON YOUR TERMS. And you will laugh. You will attempt daily-ish workouts. You will hear about whether or not you should clean your sheets more than once a year. You will hear about how exercise can change your life, if and only if it’s doable regularly. You know, we cover it all and we help you be human and also show up. 

 

Join us starting Monday, April 4th. Register today (it’s a free part of your membership). You can do that as a current member by logging in to your account and then clicking Challenges in the teal navigation menu. OR, if you are not yet a member, voila, perfect time to get started. Simply sign up for your 14-day free trial and follow those instructions above. 

 

That’s it. Tadaah. Now to go convince myself to do a D15. 😉

A Different Kind of Triathlon

 

I signed up for a triathlon recently. It was late at night. I had been texting with a friend and she was joining me in the fierce determination I had been feeling to fight for something, get gritty, move my body, and—oh yeah—get the eff out of the house and my bubble. And so I googled “soonest and nearest triathlons” and found one coming up and then signed up. I even found an app to help track how to train for it and signed up for that. 

 

Let’s rewind the tape here. Hahahaha. I’m currently averaging maybe at most 5 hours of sleep a night. I most often forget to eat three meals a day and end up eating who knows what on the run. I have exactly 30 minutes of alone time each week. And, yeah, the last time I rode a bike was when I was still drinking and I borrowed a friend’s wheels in order to get home safely. Not exactly competitive biking if you know what I mean. AND OH YEAH, I need to learn how to swim laps.

 

So. 

 

Listen, I get it. I was an incredibly athletic kid. I did all the sports, all the things. Movement and pushing my body were things that most certainly served as my life raft in the wild rivers of Growing Up. And I feel so far away from that part of me. The part of me that was a professional dancer, who defined herself as an elite athlete. And this is probably why I signed up for that triathlon. I want that part of me back.

 

I want it back. 

 

Whew. There’s a deep mothering breath in the aftermath of that statement that quivers at first and then ushers in relief. One that is attached to wisdom that rubs my back and wraps a blanket around me. One that says, this makes sense. These feelings belong. It’s going to be ok. It’s also a part of the wise self that knows that before a triathlon, before reclaiming this type of movement and life force, I need to build myself back up. 

 

That is a hard pill to swallow, isn’t it? I want to just pummel my way into health and vitality. I was to rip the bandaid off and wake up early each day and make lunches without panic and feel solid, substantial, calm, strong, ready, powerful. I want to cross a finish line that has nothing to do with dinner and bedtimes and homework and soothing the big feelings of growing humans. I want that verve back. My body’s edges and boundaries. My body’s agility and ability. My body’s autonomy. My body’s safety. My body’s lovely, soft collapse after a long day of conscious and wanted productivity. 

 

I want it back.

 

And this is ok. This does make sense. We are all pulling out of such a long ordeal and now facing new strife, all of which has tapped our individual and collective reserves more than we could have ever expected. This is why we have all moved from languishing to paralysis. We just don’t know how to begin again now. We wonder if we want to. We wonder what will happen in a couple of months if we do. We wonder if we will be hurt again by hope. We wonder if there’s room left for us to take up space and take back space. We wonder if our kids are ok. We wonder we wonder we wonder. 

 

This month, while I watch the daily emails of my triathlon training come and go and I ignore another notification about making sure I recover after my imaginary swim practice, I’m going to redirect these feelings to really knowing myself. Where I am right now. What I need right now. What my tendencies are in these moments of paralysis and wanting. What I can do to begin to build myself up rather than conquer myself and my reality.

 

This is what I know about me right now. I need to build myself up. I need to move away from my tendency to want to disappear when stuff has been hard and heavy for too long. The wild part of this is that the actions of building myself up by going to bed earlier, finding quiet time without distraction, eating three meals a day, and making time to connect with my friends in person … these actions will all take the sort of heroic effort that I associated with the triathlon. It’s not as sexy or endorphin releasing, but it is the truth. It is going to take dedicated retraining and dedicated action.

 

So. Yeah. This is where I am. This is me, knowing myself right now.

 

I invite you to do the same with us this next month in our March Challenge: Know Yourself. We will be investigating together what our realities and our tendencies are and how those can help us move forward and begin again on our terms. You will be encouraged to do a workout a day, maybe 5 minutes or 15 minutes. Heck, we even just released a 10-day Hackathon dedicated to recovering from the pandemic. So, you could start there with 5 minutes a day. The point here is, whether you are not yet a member or a current member, you can start with us as you are right now.

 

Join us Monday, March 7th. This means you need to register as soon as possible! You can do that as a current member by logging in to your account and then clicking Challenges in the teal navigation menu. OR, if you are not yet a member, voila, perfect time to get started. Simply sign up for your 14-day free trial and follow those instructions above. 

 

I will see you there. Or here. Right here, with all of my reality and all of yours. 

Because Our Insides Match Our Outsides

 

It’s that time of year again when the world attempts to clean the slate in one area of life and one area mainly: Health. Most people will soon be inundated with new messages about the best way to undo the effects of the pandemic, to finally retrieve all that we have lost, and to just simply feel better.

 

And I get that, I really do. In fact, the last two weeks have been a profoundly fulfilling and informative chunk of time for me during a break from busy-ness. I feel an urge to grab a hold of the “me of me” and make good on promises made to myself and to my girls. I have already planned a long chat with them in which I will discuss some health and wellness changes to my daily life, with the hopes that they will follow my lead. Going to bed earlier, reading more, getting out in nature, green smoothies (always with the green smoothies), etc etc etc etc etc. 

 

This is all good and this is all warranted, yes. But, as I have been taught to do in therapy, I think it is important to “investigate the fantasy underneath” this. So, what is my fantasy, really? That I feel rested? Hmmm, maybe. That I feel more healthy? Sure, yeah. That I am a better steward of my attention span? Probably. BUT. What is the real motivation, the real hope?

 

Let’s go there. 

 

Underneath all of those good things, the truth is that my fantasy is that by doing the above things, I will become invincible to the unpredictable, out of control-ness of human existence. It’s hard to admit this, but it’s true. And it doesn’t take away the need for change in some areas of my life, but it right sizes these goals and then sets them free to just be small adjustments rather than magical buttons with magical powers. 

 

This is why here at MommaStrong, we don’t start out January with a huge resolution push. We don’t jump on the train of helping you conquer your limitations and become the best version of you. Because we care, truly madly deeply, about the long haul wellness of you. We care that you find a way to show up for yourself each day, regardless of chaos and circumstances, and return over and over to your center. And we know, from evidence-based data and from our experience in this field, that lofty shiny goals made on January 1 rarely do this.

 

So, what will you see from us instead? You will see us give you some deserved proof of why we care about you and how we care about you. This will come in the form of an entire month dedicated to all of our resources, outside of workouts and other more obvious things. We want to make sure that you aren’t just trusting us because the surface level looks great, but because our insides match our outsides. 

 

Whew. Let’s dust off the pressure to be bold and ambitious this January and instead be curious and self-preserving. And let’s do it together. Our January Challenge: MommaStrong Resources starts Monday, Jan 3rd (ahem, soon). Come slowly re-enter your workout practice with us or join us for the first time, doing small chunks of functional movement as often as you can during the challenge, while also learning how we support you in every step of the way with a ton of bonus resources and built-in support.

 

You can join us as a current member by logging in to your membership, then clicking on Challenges in the teal navigation bar. And if you are not yet a member, simply sign up for your free trial and then follow those instructions above. 

 

PS: It’s ok to pause before you launch into change.

What Worked

 

I’ve resisted writing this post, mainly because it is designed to introduce our December Challenge and I am in shock that it is December. I think I am still trying to get through the month of September. Like, wait, September has 75 days, right? Right. GOTTA GET THIS BACK TO SCHOOL THING figured out. 

 

I’ve also avoided it because of the topic, which is focused on “What Worked”. I mean is that a question or a statement? I don’t know. Haha. As I braved the keyboard in the face of this topic, I discovered that the resistance here is less about feeling negative towards “what worked” and more about becoming aware that I need to do some paleontologist level digging to find what actually worked. And, yes, this is where I imagine myself stuck in some southwestern desert, with a magnifying glass and some teeny tiny tools, dusting off some hopeful looking rocks.

 

For me and for so many people I know, the past few months (ahem years) have felt like one shoe dropping after another. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone mumble, I don’t know how much more I can take. I’ve even said out loud to friends, “So wait, is this normal grown up life?” I have so many questions in this vein. I mean, for real, did our parents’ generation deal with this and we as kids were just not aware or not in the loop? Is it social media? And necessary news coverage? Is it hyper accessibility? Because I don’t remember shoes dropping from the sky constantly when I was a child, even though there were traumas and stressors. And, of course, generations before us dealt with horrific things and often. So, why does this all feel like it does … constant … extra … unknown?

 

The result for me is that any “wins” from the last year have been covered over with a layer of grime formed in the fumes of endurance. Ah yes, endurance. That’s a polite reframe of survival mode, if I’m honest, but I think it’s a worthy one. We all have endured and we continue to endure. We know that we’re not out of the woods, that nothing will be like it once was, and that our basic safety structures are no longer what they used to be. This means that our new framework for life is now enmeshed mostly in how we get through the unpredictable, rather than “when this is over” or “when things are normal again”.

 

I suppose this is where wise people and thinkers come in. The ones that teach the idea that our expectations of ease are actually the real causes of misery. They remind us that life is more of a bumpy road with occasional smooth moments than anything else. Our prompt here, then, is to find joy and meaning in the bumpy terrain. I get this more now than ever. It has been relentlessly uncomfortable to wake up each day and feel like life is out to get me or to look up at the sky and say WHAT NEXT? I feel a certain calm in figuring out how to stay hopeful and whole while dealing with life on life’s terms. It reminds me of a pair of weathered hands at the end of a long life … they were used and they suffered and they are wrinkled, but they were used. They found a way to make stuff, hold stuff, open stuff, do stuff. They endured. 

 

So, for this month ahead, I’ve decided to go all in on this personal paleontology dig to find what has worked in my life over the last year, which also gives me a new way to celebrate the refresh of the new year ahead. Fortunately for me and for you, we get to be led by the brilliant Stephanie Steiner, who is a meditation teacher amongst the many other skills she embodies. She will help us deal with these human experiences and these bigger needy needs in a way that feels, well, doable. And, for me right now, that matters more than anything else. Doable. 

 

This is your official call to join me this next month in our December Challenge: What Worked, which starts on Monday, December 6th. You’ll get daily content on this subject AND prompts to show up for 5-15 minutes of functional exercise each day. If you are a current member, simply login and then click on Challenges in the teal navigation menu. If you are not yet a member, woohoo, half your challenge is on us. Simply sign up for a 14-day free trial today, then login and click on Challenges in the teal navigation menu.

 

Oh and YOU CAN ALSO GIFT the challenge to a friend, the link to which you can find at the handy Challenges link I have already mentioned too many times hahahaha. 

 

Ok. Off we go. See you soon. 

resistance training
Jya Plavin, MPH, CPT, CPPC

The Fear of “Getting Bulky” with Resistance Training

  One of the biggest misconceptions I encounter about resistance training is a fear that it will make us get “bulky,” (i.e. that it will rapidly make our muscles huge, and we won’t like the way we look). Sigh. There’s a lot to unpack here, but my response when I hear this concern is usually: If only it were that easy to build muscle!   What Can Resistance Training Do for My Body? Resistance training is an excellent way to maintain or (if you’re lucky) increase skeletal muscle mass, strength and function, all of which is critically important for our health, especially as we age. It can improve flexibility, posture, stamina, and metabolism;  it helps increase bone density (i.e. less risk of osteoporosis); and improves cholesterol, blood sugar profiles, mood, self esteem, and sleep quality. Whew!    Will Resistance Training Make Me Gain Muscle? When it comes to gaining muscle, simply put—this is not easy, particularly for women and folks with lower testosterone profiles. Significant muscle gain won’t happen by accident and it won’t happen overnight. Working on increasing muscle mass is an incredible investment in health that requires intention, time, mental bandwidth, planning, consistent training, progressive challenge, adequate recovery

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Incontinence
Stephanie Dillon, PT, DPT, WCS

Smart Shorts: An Easy Fix for Incontinence?

  The ads are out there, and they are tempting. Can wearing a “smart shorts” Innovo device really fix my incontinence in just 12 weeks? Or some other products like Elitone include external devices that you put in your underwear—they promise results in 6 weeks. And the best part is that these devices tell you that you can just “go about your day” and let them do the work!   I’ve seen ads for products like this—how do they work? These types of products rely upon a technology called neuromuscular electric stimulation (NMES). This is something that has been around for years in the physical therapy and rehabilitation worlds, and can be very effective at getting weak muscles to work better. However, unlike other muscles in the body, the pelvic floor muscles are seated very deep inside the pelvis. So there are two main ways to stimulate those muscles—internally with an intra-vaginal or intra-rectal electrode, or externally with small electrode pads. These devices like Innovo and Elitone rely upon external stimulation, which means of course they are not just stimulating your pelvic floor! They are also stimulating other external muscles in your pelvis and hips as a means of getting

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To Be Safe Again: A 10th Birthday Celebration of MommaStrong

I’ve been writing different versions of this post in my phone notes the past few nights while camping out by my three year old’s bed. Her body has decided to take her brand new ear tubes for a high octane test drive, steered by Mystery Preschool Virus #1,763,980 of the year. Negative for COVID, positive for WTF.   It’s ok. Really. No, actually it’s not. THIS IS HARD. I didn’t know that parenting would be the hard we expected plus the hard no one told us about. There are things you just can’t possibly know until you know, you know? But, in any case, outside of the germ-pocalypse I’ve been restless anyways, spending the last few weeks figuring out how to process what today is: MommaStrong’s 10 year anniversary.   Deep breath for that. 10 years.    In an effort to mark this incredible milestone, I’ve been combing through ancient email accounts and dropbox folders, searching for images and videos from the start of MommaStrong. This means I have come face to face with The Past, along with a very complete visual documentation of said past. Who else can say that they have a video of themselves working out everyday-ish

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Sleeping
Stephanie Dillon, PT, DPT, WCS

What are the Best Sleeping Positions for Your Neck & Back?

  It comes on slowly over time—as you age you may wake up one day with a sore neck, or a stiff lower back. And you have to wonder, is my sleeping position contributing to this pain? What are the best sleeping positions for neck and back pain?   Is there really one sleeping position that is best for everybody? Not exactly. Everyone’s body composition is different, not to mention the firmness of your mattress, size/shape of your pillow(s), etc. So we can make generalizations, but in the end every person will have to do some experimenting to figure out what works best for them!   I have heard that sleeping on your stomach is the worst position, is that true? This is mostly true. There was a great scoping review article completed in 2019 (find it here via open access!) that looked at 4 different studies to determine which sleeping positions are recommended for neck and back pain. While the authors do state plainly that their results need to be interpreted with caution due to inconsistencies between the articles that were analyzed, sleeping on your stomach is not one of the positions they recommend. However, if sleeping on your

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Breastfeeding & Weight Loss
Theresa Moutafis, RD, IBCLC, FUEL Dietitian & Courtney Wyckoff, CPT, CES

False Promises: Breastfeeding & Weight Loss

  All new moms grapple with hard postpartum realities like sleep deprivation, hormonal shifts, identity crises, body image, and learning how to be patient with themselves as they heal.   This is made even more difficult with the added pressures to “get your body back” which usually means in this culture, sadly, to lose weight.   Breastfeeding moms get a double message here with the ever-present notion that breastfeeding “burns a lot of calories.”   And it is also true that moms who may not want to breastfeed often feel pressured to override that valid need for this reason.   Let’s get to the bottom of this, debunk this myth, and help you understand what your incredible body is actually going through while breastfeeding.    So, does breastfeeding burn extra calories?  This is actually true. It takes a lot of energy to make milk, and the milk itself has macronutrients and therefore calories. It all has to come from somewhere! All of this equals caloric expenditure from your body.   But what does that mean for my weight?  This is where it all gets fuzzy. Even though you are spending extra calories, this does not necessarily result in losing weight,

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A Little Taller This May: The Hows and Whys of a Happy Spine

Oh May.  This is the month that feels as ferocious as September’s Back to School insanity. May’s End of School, however, comes with zero post-summer sunny reserves to help buffer the hustle. AND, at the end of May, you end up with kids home for many months, so there it is: May is more ferocious than September. I’m glad we talked that through. This feels especially relevant to me right now, as I currently log about 5-6 hours a day in the car, commuting here and there and everywhere. Kids needing this and that. No one told me that parenthood was also going to be a part time unpaid taxi driver position on top of your normal full time job that actually pays the bills. And I know a lot of people will say, oh that’s not manageable Courtney, you need to find a solution. Yes, I do, however it’s just what it is right now. And it will change soon enough when my teenager starts driving in omg 6 months. Terrifying, but also, bring it. In any case, the point of this post is not about the struggles of parenthood, but about the stuff I haven’t been doing to

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