My Favourite Supplements

After my last Q&A on Instagram (I save them to my highlights if you’re ever bored and want to flick through haha), I had lots of questions about certain supplements and if/why I take them. I figured it might be helpful to just write and link it all here so it’s easy to refer back to!

**These are all products I used during pregnancy (except the pre-workout), and while nursing. I can’t tell you what you should or should not take because I am not your doctor. Run everything by YOUR medical professional first.

In other news, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!

PRENATAL

If there is any chance you could get pregnant, it’s a really really really good idea to take a prenatal every day. Prenatals are crucial for that early development, which is happening before you even find out you’re pregnant. It’s also recommended to take them while breastfeeding! My favourite brands are Garden of Life and Rainbow Light and Garden of Life. **Make sure to ask your own doctor if you are pregnant or nursing.

FISH OIL

Fish oils are one of my favourite, favourite supplements. I don’t love fish, so I like being able to still get the benefits. High quality is really important with fish oils, because a lot can be very high in mercury. I love Nordic Naturals! They’re great for hormones, brain (there’s a lot of research with fish oils and depression), heart, joint, and eye health. It’s also helps baby’s brain and eye development during pregnancy (obviously talk to your own doctor before using any supplement during pregnancy). **Make sure to ask your own doctor if you are pregnant or nursing.

PROBIOTIC

The gut is our bodies engine, and the gut microbiome, or all of the trillions of bacteria in our digestive tract, is really responsible for keeping us healthy. If you scrapped up all of the bacteria in your gut, it would weigh around 3-4lbs - so even though they are small, there are TONS and TOOOONS of them! We acquire most of the first microbes at birth, while passing through the vaginal canal, and from there, our diet, environment, and lifestyle determine the health of our microbiome, and how much good bacteria we have. The more good bacteria in the microbiome, the healthier we'll be! I use Silver Fern Brand probiotics. I use Children’s Probonix for Jack and Piper. **Make sure to ask your pediatrician for your kids, and own doctor if you are pregnant or nursing.

COLLAGEN

I started taking collagen right after I had Piper, and haven’t stopped since! It’s great for gut health, skin, hair, nails, joints, muscles, digestive health, and reduces fitness recovery time. There are a few brands that I’ve tried and like, but my main concern really is that it’s from a pasture-raised, grass fed source! The brands I use are Collagen For Her, Great Lakes Gelatin, and Vital Proteins! I definitely notice a difference in my hair, skin, nails, and muscle recovery! **Make sure to ask your own doctor if you are pregnant or nursing.

PROTEIN POWDER

I’ve only talked about Ideal Raw a million times before, but it really is my favourite protein powder! It’s plant based protein, but doesn’t have that gritty texture like all the other kinds I've tried. I like the ingredients, and used it while pregnant and nursing (obviously with the okay from my OBGYN). The chocolate peanut butter is sooooooo good! You can use SWOLE for 10% off, too! **Make sure to ask your own doctor if you are pregnant or nursing.

PRE-WORKOUT

I actually haven’t used pre-workout in a little bit, because I kept forgetting to buy more, but I actually really liked using it every now and then to help me get more out of my workout. I never drink any caffeinated soda or coffee or anything, so my body is really sensitive to even a little bit of caffeine. I like WMNutrition’s all-natural pre workout because it isn’t too much, and doesn’t make me feel weird or tingly. **I did use it every now and then while nursing Jack, but I ran it by my doctor, and again, this was the only caffeine in my diet. Make sure to ask your own doctor if you are nursing.

Mum & Baby Holiday Gift Ideas

**See my fitness & health related gift idea post HERE!

MY WORKOUTS

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Obviously my Pregnancy Workout Guide, Pregnancy & Postpartum Workout Subscription, and “Regular” Workout Subscription are something I’d recommend for pregnant and postpartum mamas. They are workouts that I 100% stand behind, and were put together from my education as a certified personal trainer, certified women’s fitness specialist, and certified pregnancy fitness, and certified pre/postnatal exercise specialist. They are not only SAFE workouts for pregnancy and postpartum, but they are designed to also be EFFECTIVE, and strengthen the muscles that need strengthening to help prevent abdominal separation, support your pelvic floor, and help your body prepare for and heal after delivery.

LOOPY CASE

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I’ve had my Loopy Case since February, and I SWEAR by it! I hardly ever drop my phone anymore, and the few times I have (or when Piper has), it’s been totally protected. The loop at the back stops it from slipping out of my hand, and I loop it around my finger all the time when I have my hands full of bags & babies. It’s SO handy! Every mama needs one. I don’t have a code, but I follow someone who does! Use “SWENSON10” for 10% off

FAWN DESIGN

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I loooove my Fawn Design diaper bag! It has lots of pockets, easy to clean messes, and I like that it doesn’t look so diaper bag-y, if you know what I mean.

FRESHLY PICKED

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I also have a Freshly Picked diaper bag, and love it just as much! I’d recommend either one, honestly! This one is a big bigger, so it’s great for days when I’m out for longer periods of time. If you sign up for their Fringe membership, you get it for 20% off! You pay $10 a month for the membership, but it just adds that $10 to you account to use on their site. It rolls over, so if you don’t use it that month, the next month you’ll have $20 if you account. Everything is 20% off and free shipping that way too!

FACE MASK

I love small little gifts like this clay face mask, because it’s something for a mum to use for a little self care!

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I used a Solly Wrap with both babies, and it was the BEST! Sometimes it was the only way I could get them to sleep! I loved having them so close to me, but also being able to get things done with both hands!

PROMPTLY JOURNALS

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I’ve shared Promptly Journals a few times on my Instagram stories, but I have 2 of their journals for Piper and Jack, and it makes keeping track of their milestones, memories, and things I don’t want to forget SO easy. They prompt you with questions at each age, so you can remember it all. I felt overwhelmed trying to figure out a way to keep track of their lives, and have loved using these journals!

PLAY KITCHEN

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Play kitchens are Piper’s favourite things to play with at other people’s homes, so I got her one for Christmas (still have to set it up though…sos). She’s going to love it! I got in on Amazon for $99, but it’s on sale for $79.99 right now!

VELCRO FOOD

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My mum bought Piper something similar to this last year for Christmas, and she LOVES it. It keeps her busy forever, and she still asks to play with them all the time.

POP UP PIRATE

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I used to play Pop-Up Pirate all the time as a kid, and bought the game for Piper for Christmas. I ended up getting it out and letting them play with it because I couldn’t wait haha. We play with it EVERYDAY now. It’s such an easy, entertaining game for little kids.

BABY BASKETBALL

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Jack looooves balls, so I got him this little basketball net for his birthday. It’s supposed to go in the bath, but I just put it on the Fridge, and he puts the ball in and out of the hoop alllll day long. It was the cheapest present I bought him, and is definitely his favourite!

BOOKS

Both of my kids love reading, and it’s the only time I can get them to sit still these days. These are some of their favourites:

Each Peach Pear Plum

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Where’s Spot

The Pout-Pout Fish

The Napping House

First 100 Words

Friday Favourites

Except on Monday. It’s all good. I have my life together, I swear…

Here are some of my favourite things that I find helpful in regards to being a mum, and trying to live a healthy lifestyle! Happy Monday!!

TRUE LEMON + COLLAGEN PEPTIDES

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I have been drinking this mix regularly since the beginning of the summer, so I have no clue why I’m only posting about it now. True Lemon is a natural mix that I like drinking during the afternoon to mix up plain water. I add in Collagen For Her collagen peptides (I believe “GOODFORTHESWOLE” gets you 10% off) because they are unflavoured and it’s just an easy way to sneak in collagen.

MENTAL HEALTH

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I’ve always known mental health is important, but going through a divorce has given me a whole new appreciation for it, and I see the direct impact it has on physical and just overall health. IT IS SO IMPORTANT. I recently started following Alexa Allred (@allredyalexa) on Instagram. She is a Mental Health Therapist, and shares helpful tips, advice, and mental health education on her page. Even just seeing her posts and stories pop up are a nice reminder every day to check in and make sure my mental health is taken care of too!

SHARK MOP

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When I went to Washington D.C. to visit a friend a couple of months ago, she was raaaving about her new Shark mop. You know you’re old when you get so excited about cleaning supplies haha. I ordered one on Amazon, and it really is the best! Jack and Piper are the messiest eaters known to mankind, so meal times look like a giant food fight took place. It’s so easy to just plug this mop in, and quickly sanitize the floors. It uses steam which I love because Jack’s crawls around the floors, and having chemicals all over the place stress me out. You just add water, and the steam kills 99.9% of germs and bacteria. I could go on and on, but just go and read the reviews. I’m a fan!

WORKOUT SUBSCRIPTION

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Obviously, I’m going to bring up my newest workout subscription! This one is designed for anyone wanting to workout effectively from home! I don’t get to workout at the gym very often, so most of my workouts happen from home. I know a lot of women/mothers can’t get to the gym either, so I hope this helps! For more information, go HERE!

NURSING SPORTS BRA

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Senita Athletics just released another style of nursing sports bras. Since starting Good For The Swole, I’ve had the chance to try nursing sports bras from different companies. Senita Athletics are hands down my FAAAAVOURITE nursing sports bras. They are comfortable, supportive, and the padding inside doesn’t bunch up when you pull it down to nurse (you know what I mean????). I have a smaller chest, so both styles of nursing sports bras work great for me, and I love them both. Their newest one has more coverage, and offers more support. If you have a larger chest, I’d opt for this one, but both are AWESOME!!

How To Activate The Deep Core & Pelvic Floor

Happy Monday!! I have been wanting to post about this topic for a while because it is a HUGE part of exercising during pregnancy and postpartum, if not THE most important part. Activating and connecting the deep core and pelvic floor muscles is essential, because if you don’t know how to activate those muscles, how do you plan on strengthening them? It seems like a stupid question when phrased like that, but it’s so easy to just go through exercises without properly thinking about what you’re doing. I know I've done that before!

I often get asked, “should I feel a burn while doing pelvic floor exercises”, and “it doesn’t feel like it’s doing anything, am I doing it right?”, and “should I breathe a certain way while doing these exercises?”. The answers are 1) no, you should not feel a burn, but you should feel a connection. 2) You may not be doing it correctly. You won’t get breathless or feel muscle fatigue, but again, you should feel a connection, and 3) YES! You should absolutely breath a certain way! The information below should answer these questions a little further, and hopefully help you effectively work the pelvic floor and reap the many benefits that it brings!

***I plan on posting a video to demonstrate this, but HERE is an amazing video of a 39 week pregnant woman properly activating her deep core.

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WHAT IS THE DEEP CORE:

All of the deep core muscles function together, and everything is connected. EVERYTHING! The main muscles to know are:

Pelvic Floor: This is a hammock of muscles that connect the pubis bone at the front to the tailbone. The pelvic floor supports the bladder, reproductive organs, and bowel and forms a figure 8 around the urethra, vagina and rectum. They also work with the multifidus and transversus abdominis to stabilize the spine, pelvic joints, bladder and uterus properly.

Transversus abdominis (TVA): This is the deepest of the abdominal muscles and wraps around the abdomen between the lower ribs and top of the pelvis. It acts as a corset that holds everything together.

Internal Obliques: This muscle is a little closer to the skin than the transverses abdominis, and supports the abdominal wall.

Multifidus: This muscle is located around the back of the spine, and functions together with the transversus abdominis & pelvic floor muscles to stabilize the low back and pelvis.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT:

Strengthening the deep core muscles through movement and exercise improves overall strength, energy, decreases low back pain, hip pain, neck pain, and incontinence, minimizes diastasis recti and prolapse, and sets her up for potentially easier, and quicker labour and recovery– all while decreasing the chances of an emergency c-section.

Most women struggle with at least one of these issues, if not many of them, and properly activating and strengthening these muscles during and after pregnancy can help minimize, and sometimes even prevent these problem. That’s huge!!

STEPS TO CONNECTING DEEP CORE MUSCLES:

1. Relax the deep core muscles on the inhale. You should feel a heaviness, and a pressing down sensation. If it helps, it’s the same type of relaxation you make while urinating. If you are unsure what it should feel like, trying sitting on a stability ball. You can actually feel the relaxing of the deep core and pelvic floor muscles this way!

2. Exhale to initiate light contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. This is a LIGHT contraction. You don’t want to grip the muscles, or strain in any way. Particularly make sure you aren’t contracting the glutes. Imagine you are lifting the muscles all the way to the top of your head, and really focus on lengthening. **Tips on how to lightly contract are below!

3. Once you have contracted the pelvic floor muscles, move into the exercise. This is why each exercise should always be done slowly and intentionally. Breath out and relax the muscles - then inhale, connect the deep core and pelvic floor muscles, and do another rep.

4. You want to breath diaphragmatically breathe throughout each exercise by inhaling out to the sides and back of her ribcage, and then exhaling as you lightly contract the pelvic floor. Feel the lengthening as stated above while also adding a light wrapping “down and around” of her lower ribcage. **I will do a separate post about this later.

TIPS FOR ACTIVATING DEEP CORE & PELVIC FLOOR:

This sounds incredibly confusing at first, and honestly feels very foreign. It can also be mentally draining too because it’s a lot to think about while also trying to exercise. I get it! The best thing to do is practice this before exercising. Take a few minutes to work on feeling these muscles and activating them. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at sensing them, and the easier it will become. Practice, practice, practice!

The most difficult part is figuring out how to lightly contract those muscles, especially if you’ve just learned you even have a pelvic floor!

  1. When making that light contraction, think about lifting up a wet towel from the corners. You want to pull the muscles together, and then up. Imagine you are lightly zipping up the pelvic floor, and really think about lifting up the way to the top of the head. That lengthening is key!

  2. Avoiding sucking the belly to spine. This is a VERY common tip I see on Instagram, but it restricts deep core activation and proper breathing. It also puts force on the pelvic floor and hinders posture.

  3. Lengthen tall through the torso and top of the head to positively affect posture and deep core strength. This also stimulates connective tissue which wraps around all of the muscles, and is what brings the abdominals back together.

Pelvic Floor Workout

Happy Monday!! I post a lot of pelvic floor workouts on my Instagram, but I wanted to post a little workout, along with some images, on my blog today!

These exercises help build new connective tissue, which is crucial for a strong pelvic floor and deep core. They rebuild the connective tissue between the abdominals, and bring them back together (or minimize the separation during pregnant). They are SUPER important if you have diastasic recti. They also reduce lower back pain, hip pain, and neck pain during and after pregnancy. They minimize incontinence which is the most common postpartum issue. They help the body recover better after delivery, and actually help you during delivery! Needless to say, pelvic floor work is very, very important and very beneficial!

***please excuse my very serious face in these pictures haha. They were taken for a project and the images are much, much smaller haha *face palm*.

PELVIC FLOOR WORKOUT - repeat 3-4x

  1. Glute bridge marching x 24-30

  2. Reverse plank heel slides x 16-20

  3. Zippers x 24-30

  4. Stability ball wall squats x 10-12

  5. Stability ball hips thrust x 10-15

GLUTE BRIDGE MARCHING

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REVERSE PLANK HEEL SLIDES

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ZIPPERS

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STABILITY BALL WALL SQUATS

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STABILITY BALL HIP THRUSTS

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Full Day Of Eating

I'm kicking off this Monday with a full day of eating from last week! Every day isn't perfect, and I try to just eat what feels GOOD. I don't count calories or macros, but I am mindful of them. For example, if I eat a breakfast that's higher in carbs (like a big acai bowl), then I'll try and focus more on proteins and healthy fats for my next meal. I feel the best when I get a good balance of everything at the end of the day, and it's just what works for me!

PRE-BREAKFAST

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I had warm lemon water with apple cider vinegar first thing (read the benefits of that HERE), and then brewed some crio bru (read the benefits HERE) and took it on our morning walk. We live 5 minutes away from a High School track, so we head there and do a few laps every morning. 

BREAKFAST

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This looks incredibly unappetizing haha, but it's what most of my meals look like. I've been eating overnight oats daily lately and I'm still not sick of it. I combine 1/2 cup oats, 3/4 cup liquid (I usually just use water), and 1 scoop of IdealRaw chocolate peanut butter protein (use SWOLE for 10% off) and store in the fridge. When I'm ready to eat it, I add peanut butter, strawberries, and hemp seeds, and it's so filling, good for the milk supply, and tastes so good!

SNACK

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2 rice cakes, nitrate-free turkey, arugula, mustard, and microgreens

LUNCH

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I had leftovers from the sweet potato nachos I made for dinner the night before. I posted the recipe HERE. The leftovers are just as good and I had to have two bowls.

SNACK

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Alright. WHY HAVE I NEVER TRIED DATES BEFORE?? WHY?!? I saw a box at Trader Joes last week, and I always see people using them in recipes, so I figured...sure, why not. I tried one when I got home, and I never got around to using the rest of them in a recipe because they're so good! Holy moly. I had a couple with peanut butter and hemp seeds on top, and it was so tasty. 

DINNER

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I talked my mum and sister into going to Protein Foundry for dinner with me, and we all got acai bowls (Piper and I shared mine). I love this place. 

SNACK

I went to the gym after Jack and Piper went down, and finished with another IdealRaw chocolate protein shake, along with a scoop of Collagen For Her collagen peptides.