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.

Health & Fitness Holiday Gifts

MY WORKOUTS

I wouldn’t be a very good business woman (lol I don’t know if I’d ever consider myself that, but ya know) if I didn’t mention my Pregnancy Workout Guide, Pregnancy & Postpartum Workout Subscription, and “Regular” Workout Subscription that I have available. 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.

SENITA ATHLETICS

If you’ve followed me for longer than 2 seconds, you’ll know my love for Senita Athletics runs deep. 99% of the workout clothes I wear are from their store because THEY ARE THE REAL DEAL. Super affordable, high quality, and so many cute options. They have hands down the best nursing sports bras I’ve ever tried. I’m not even nursing that much anymore, and I still wear them for most of my workouts!

BOOTY BANDS - $20

These booty bands don’t roll up when you put them on/work out. They’re super thick (a booty band snapped and hit my eye once, and it was not a good time), and I love the colours! Highly recommend!

STABILITY BALL - $20

Another deep love I have is the stability ball. It’s an AMAZING way to create instability and activate the deep core muscles. SO helpful during pregnancy and postpartum, and just in general! My workouts all require a set of dumbbells and a stability ball because it’s that beneficial!

GORILLA MATS - $80

Yes, Gorilla Mats are definitely pricier than other yoga mats you can find, but they.are.worth it! I didn’t get what the hype was about until I tried one. They are the perfect size, so you can do your WHOLE workout off one. They don’t slide around (which is the BEST thing about them), and they’re thick and well padded.

THE DAY DESIGNER - $30

I' feel like I’m going to keep repeating myself throughout this post haha, but this is another FAVOURITE product! I’m at the end of my second year of using Day Designer planners, and they are where it’s at! It helps me keep track of projects, deadlines, appointments etc. in a really clear and concise way. I would 100% lose my mind if it wasn’t for this planner. I attribute all of my productivity and sanity to it.

SET OF DUMBBELLS - ~$20

The price varies based on the weight you want, but if you are limited to working out from home (like most mums are), INVEST in a set of dumbbells!

FOAM ROLLER - $22

I *try* to foam roll before stretching after a workout. I do sometimes forget, but it’s so good for muscle recovery and rehabilitation, and is an easy way to take care of your body!

HYDROFLASK - $29

Hyrdo Flasks are great for keeping water cold (or hot!) throughout the day. If you struggle with drinking enough water, get a good water bottle like this - especially one with a straw! It makes it easier to take lots of sips throughout the day!

STANCE SOCKS - $25

I bought some of these Stance Socks a few weeks ago, because I just found out they sell the “Invisible sock” kind. They are the ONLY type of socks like this that don’t fall down at the back (you know what I mean…when the sock slips off your ankle?? It drives me mad).

SQUARE ORGANICS - $25

I have loved Square Organics since I was pregnant with Piper! They’re a natural, vegan, chocolate covered protein bar, and they let me create a combo pack of my favourite flavours for Christmas! It is available for purchase until December 18th, AND it comes already gift wrapped for free! AND you can get an additional 20% off with “goodfortheswole”. Pretty cool if you ask me!

IDEAL RAW - $35

Another deep love is Ideal Raw’s chocolate peanut butter protein. Holy moly. I have it every day, and it never gets old. It’s plant based, but it’s gritty like all the others I’ve tried. I use it while pregnant and nursing, but you have to ask your own doctor if it’s right for you! You can use “SWOLE” for 10% off any of their products!

METAL STRAWS - $10

I bought a pack these straws last year, and I’m surprised how much I use them. They come with a straw cleaner too which is so helpful!

COLLAGEN FOR HER - $36

I love Collagen For Her, and use it in my diet almost daily. I personally kept using it during pregnancy, and while nursing, but you have to ask your own doctor if it’s right for you!

VOORAY

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I’ve and a Vooray gym bag for over a year now, and it’s still in perfect condition! It’s the perfect size, has lots of pockets, and a separate compartment for shoes too!

SUDIO HEADPHONES - $99

I’ve had these Sudio headphones for two years, and I still love them! I have another one of their products, but I think these big headphones are still my favourite. I’ve never had them slip off (even when doing burpees and other jumping exercises), and they cancel out the noise around you. The best!! I believe “goodfortheswole” gets you 15% off on their website too!

INSTANT POT - $80

I joined the trend and got an Instant Pot for Christmas last year, and I’m SOOOOO glad I did. My first experience using it was very overwhelming/mildly terrifying, but it’s awesome and I can’t imagine life without it. If you’re a mum, and have little time for cooking - this is for you!

STASHER BAGS - $12

Again, Stasher Bags are a product I have loved forever! I use them for storing food in the fridge and freezer, traveling, and for the kids snacks when we’re out and about. I don’t buy plastic baggies anymore, and just use these instead! SO worth the investment!

REUSABLE PRODUCE BAGS - $12

I’m nowhere even close to perfect, but I’m trying to be a little better at reducing the amount of plastic we use. Especially when it comes to food. I bought these on Amazon this summer, and they’ve been great!! I use them at the store, and also wash the produce in them when we get home!

HEALTHY HUMAN TUMBLER - $27

These are similar to Hyro Flasks, but I drinking my smoothies or hot drinks from them. These tumblers keep food and liquid hot or cold, and I love having them on hand!

G2G BAR - $20

G2G Bars are another staple I’ve had in my life for a long time. I LOOOOVE their flavours (I think peanut butter coconut chocolate is my favourite). I eat them allll the time…currently snacking on one right now actually…and the ingredients are actually helpful when you’re nursing too! You can use “THESWOLE” to get 20% off!

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.