I have gone over thirty years knowing exactly how my body operates. It’s been a machine that has pretty much operated like clockwork. Until I got pregnant. Then shit hit the fan and my body became unpredictable overnight with one change and after another. Most unpleasant, if I can speak candidly. Post baby; things are still somewhat strange and unpredictable. Nine months later I still feel like I am renting out this shell I call for a body. Very few women speak about what they go through physically and emotionally postpartum, so I try to address the issues I experience here because I sure as hell know I am not the only one experiencing these things. Especially when it comes to issues relating to intimate health.
So the term intimate health sounds pretty vague if you ask me, so I am just going to avoid acting coy and get right to the point. The area “down there” or what I like to fondly refer to as the va-jay-jay, is an area that probably sees the most change in women postpartum and it all stems from the vagina’s pH level. Otherwise known as it’s acidity level. Yeast and bacteria play a major part in determining vagina health. Our bodies have limited resources so only so much bacteria and yeast can co-exist at any given time, sometimes causing them to compete. Ideally, for things to be running smoothly in that area the optimal vaginal pH should be anywhere around 3.5-4.5. This would indicate the perfect amount of good bacteria and no overgrowth of the bad kind, that can cause some irritation, odour or even infection. But there are so many factors that can affect this range and cause an elevated vaginal pH level like; pregnancy, intercourse, menstruation and even the use of tampons. Wipes, feminine washes and cleansers are probably the worst culprit because they usually mask the issue instead of treating or preventing them.
I personally noticed some changes after I started getting my period five months after having Maxwell and also noticed some mild symptoms after intercourse. I wouldn’t quite call it a yeast infection because there was no discharge but I definitely something a bit off down there, so that was the catalyst behind starting to do some research on the issue and figuring out how I was going to address it. I prefer to use natural remedies when possible and only turn to pharmaceutical medications when absolutely necessary. About a month and a half ago I started to test my vaginal pH with Hydrion test strips and decided it was time for me to find a solution address the mild va-jay-jay issues I was having. RepHresh Pro-B is a probiotic supplement made specifically for women. Just one capsule a day helps create healthy flora to balance unwanted yeast and bacteria. What makes it super effective is the two strains of beneficial bacterial it contains, called Lactobacillus, that helps keeps all the bad bacteria in check. And the best part, because it’s taken orally, it’s super convenient to use and doesn’t require refrigeration like most other probiotics. It can be taken at any point during the day but I like to stay in a routine with my supplements and prefer to take mine first thing in the morning before I start my day.
RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic is available now. I grab mine from my neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart for $37.99 but it can also be found at Wal-Mart and other retailers nationwide. Visit www.rephresh.ca to learn more about how you can keep your intimate health on point.
This post was created in partnership with RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic and Church & Dwight, however all views and opinions are my own.
I am working with a trainer for the second time in my life. The first time was while I was pregnant with Max (because I needed someone to force me to dial down and modify my workouts) and now postpartum. For years my workouts have always been with my team, a personal strength coach during my years playing tennis or workouts I created for myself. Getting back into a groove in the gym post pregnancy has been tough. Well, at least for me it has been. My body just wouldn’t move the way it used to and I was SO DAMN WEAK. I could have easily used my pelvic floor and wrist issues as an excuse to delay the hard work that was waiting for me because I was getting so discouraged but I figured if not now then when? And let’s be honest, when you’ve just had a baby people give you a free pass and tell you that you look great no matter how washed you look. If you’ve had a baby you know what I’m talking about, “Oh girl please, you JUST had a baby like yesterday and you look amazing!” But for my mental health and self confidence I had to get moving again and enlisted the help of a trainer.
There’s been so many of you sliding into my DM’s lately asking for advice on trainers like; how to find one, who is reputable in the city and why I’ve made SWAT my home for training and workouts? For me, the choosing SWAT Health was an easy decision. I needed someone who understood my limitations that came with postpartum fitness. That means, having the knowledge to put me through a Functional Movement Screen before taking a couple weeks to focus solely on creating a solid foundation again. With the plan of eventually progressing to a more intense program. A trainer who could be creative enough to come up with challenging workouts with the proper modifications for my wrist injuries. Not an easy task when it’s impossible to load any weight onto your hands. Most importantly, even though I am retired, I want to still train like an athlete. This meant the person chosen for the task probably needed to have been an athlete at some point too or experience training them, in order to come up dynamic workouts I would enjoy. I couldn’t think of anyone better than SWAT Health’s Co-Founder Kyle Ardill. The SWAT concept is based on a 360 approach to health and wellness incorporating chiropractic, physiotherapy, and massage into their offering. Since my body needs serious rebuilding right now, I am taking advantage of ALL of it. It’s been a crucial component to my journey because Kyle, Darcy (Chiro) and Phil (RMT) can all communicate to ensure they are providing me with the right rehab program within their respective disciplines to get me results. The education of the PT staff at SWAT is so diverse, the team has you covered whether you’re looking to do power lifting, HIIT/cross training, athletic based training, or group class workouts.
So how do you find the right personal trainer? Things have gotten a little interesting in the fitness industry because of social media and it has certainly turned into a hot topic. With so much information at people’s fingertips thanks to the internet and weekend fitness certification courses, becoming a personal trainer has replaced “handbag designer”, and “DJ” as the new fallback career in 2018. But here’s the thing folks, knowledge in personal training is not measured in a CanFit Pro certification or having a big social media following. I think it’s also important to point out, a person’s physical appearance on Instagram doesn’t necessarily tell the whole picture. Looking fit doesn’t always mean someone has the knowledge base to train clients. There are loads of folks on the internet sharing their transformation before and after photos and using this as marketing tool to get clients and actually charge them money, which is appalling. More often than not, these transformation trainers as I like to call them, usually have leaned out because they stop putting garbage in their mouths, stopped binge drinking and started working out a bit. Not because of any well thought out training program they expertly developed for themselves. Yet, they are selling training to uneducated consumers who think they are getting a deal because their prices are competitive. And nobody should just assume that someone is a fitness expert because they have the word “fit” in their IG handle. I could go on and on but I think the point here is that people need to be informed, know what to look for and expect when hiring a professional in the field of fitness. If you’re thinking about a finding a personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals, I applaud you for making this first and very important step in your fitness journey.
Here’s 5 things you should consider when looking to hire a personal trainer:
Certification vs. Experience. This is usually the first mistake many people make when they begin their search for a trainer. Instead of doing their due diligence and finding out how what a trainer’s experience is in terms of diversity in disciplines, they feel satisfied knowing that the person they have chosen to train them is certified. If you’re pregnant or a new mom, the goal should be to find someone who has worked with prenatal and/or postpartum clients. You may want to know if that person has experience training an athlete, has worked with a rehab client, who has the knowledge base to change up a client’s programming on training day if they are stressed or walk into a session injured. Someone who is passionate about fitness and continues to educate themselves through courses and programs. A trainer who reads and does research, always wanting to learn because things are always evolving. Anyone can get a certification in personal training in 48 hours but not just anyone has the extensive knowledge base to tackle a wide range of training scenarios. You want a trainer that can provide a wide range of results for a wide range of the population.
Authenticity. Yes folks, your trainer should be authentic…in other words living the lifestyle. And guess what? Your trainer should also be fitter than you, not the other way around. Ever. I never could understand how people would spend their hard earned money on a trainer that looks like a bag of milk. Your trainer shouldn’t be eating their weight in chicken wings or drinking energy drinks/soda. You wouldn’t hire a dentist with bad teeth, a lawyer that has never won a case or an accountant that doesn’t have their books straight. You need someone that has some credibility. Someone who is not a contradiction to the system. Someone who not only talks the talk but walks the walk.
Results. What is a coach/trainer without results? Results are everything. Take the time and do your research. Ask your potential trainer for “receipts” aka show you results they helped their clients achieved. If they can’t show you results you can applaud and admire, then how can they help you reach your goals?
Good Communication. This person should be an excellent listener and communicator. They have to hear what you’re saying. They can’t simply force you to do what they think you should be doing. It has to be a two way street; where they are providing you information and recommendations based on their experience in similar types of situations and the information you have given them. You both should be working together as a team. Your PT should be open and available to answer your questions and concerns outside of training via phone, email or in person. Last but not least, an excellent trainer will be able to fully explain why they are having you do the exercises in each of your workouts.
Personalized Programming. There are a lot of IG famous people, Insta coaches and a plethora of template programs that people are purchasing online. You cannot pay money for a program that is not personalized. I repeat, you cannot pay for a training program that is not personalized. If that is the route you choose to go, there are tons of free options available online. Your program should be created specifically just for you based on where you are and what you want your end result to be.
I guess you can say I had delusions of grandeur when I was pregnant about what my postnatal exercise routine would look like. I had actually assumed that soon as I got my six week clearance from the doctor to begin working out again, I would hit the ground running (literally) and back to my regularly scheduled HIIT workouts. Reality hit me pretty hard after giving birth and I’ve realized it will take some considerable time to ease back into the workouts I once enjoyed and to get back to feeling like my old self. But that didn’t mean I was going to stop moving. I soon figured out that finding alternative ways to stay active (like walking and hiking in Toronto’s High Park and in Hamilton’s beautiful conservation trails) meant that I would have more energy to tackle my crazy days with work and baby. The endorphin release would do wonders for my postpartum blues and most importantly it would help with the transition once it’s time that I can get back to more strenuous workouts.
And just because my ways of staying active are a little bit different these days, things have changed when it’s comes to my antiperspirant. Carrying around this little lady everywhere I go and postnatal hormone induced sweating, I need extra sweat protection these days more than ever. Degree Black + White Dry Spray Antiperspirant is what keeps me feeling fresh while keeping my clothes clear of those nasty white marks most deodorants leave behind. Engineered with Motionsense technology, it releases extra body odour protection the more you move and is formulated to provide 48 hour protection – music to any new mom’s ears.
If you’re a first time mom like me or expecting, it is important to be realistic and patient during this time until your body is 100% ready to take on the impact of regular exercise. Trust me, this is something that I still struggle with from time to time but Réjean does a great job of reminding me on the days I get frustrated. Remember, it takes about 40 weeks to prepare your body to give birth and it can take almost the same amount of time to return to your pre-pregnancy physical self.
Here’s 6 Steps For Easing Back into a Fitness Routine After Birth
Start Back Slowly. As a general rule, it’s best to not return to exercise until your bleeding has stopped and you have gotten the green light from your treating physician. If you push yourself too hard in the beginning, you can set yourself back – trust me! But that doesn’t mean you should be on house arrest by any means. A walk is a great start to getting back to your old routine in a slow and healthy way.
Pay Attention To Your Pelvic Floor. This is something I heard over and over again while I was pregnant and I am actually going to see a specialist this week about mine. If you’re pelvic floor is weak, doing crunches, Pilates or any other abdominal work can put too much pressure down there, drastically slowing down your healing or leading to organ prolapse.
Think Outside The “Studio Workout” Box. You don’t necessarily need to hit up for favourite cross training or boxing class to get back into a fitness routine. I’ve discovered that outdoor walks are a great place to start and the bonus – the little ones usually love the fresh air and scenery. Don’t discount walking like I did in the beginning. Especially when it’s in trails with varying elevations, it can be a great cardio workout with your baby in a carrier.
Loose and Wobbly Joints. Be careful of those wiggly, wobbly joints. Thanks to the hormone called Relaxin, a woman’s joints and ligaments loosen during pregnancy and childbirth and can stay in our body for up to six months. I am currently struggling with severe tendinitis in both of my wrists due to lifting the baby repeatedly with loose joints.
Stay Hydrated. Once you start ramping up your activity post baby, it’s important to stay hydrated especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Stay Fresh and White Mark Free. Make sure you have an antiperspirant like Degree Black + White Dry Spray to keep you dry and smelling fresh throughout the day.
This post was sponsored by Degree Canada but all opinions are my own