Five Things Friday: Pelvic Health Edition

I decided to switch it up this Friday and do my list on one of my favorite topics – Pelvic Health

Five things you may not know about {your} pelvic health:

1. Did you know your pelvic floor is a main component of your core? Also, side caveat, everyone has a pelvic floor – it is not an exclusive body part to women :). Continuing on… when most people think about core the first thing they think of is the abdominals and while yes they are apart of the core they are far from the whole story. You can think of your core as a canister, pop can or even a pistoning system (stick with me on this one). It is comprised of four main parts, the pelvic floor muscles, the deep abdominals (transverse abdominus aka TrA or TA), the diaphragm and your deep spinal muscles (multifidus). So while the abdominals are important, if you want a really healthy, fully working, well-oiled-machine of a core you need to look at all the parts. This especially includes your pelvic floor muscles and your diaphragm.

Image from Girls Gone Strong Post

2. This takes me to point two. How you breathe is vital to your pelvic health. Ever watch a baby/toddler/young kid breathe (that has no medical problem)? It’s pretty much all from the stomach. No large chest or shoulder movement when they breathe. It’s how we all naturally breathed in and out every day. It is very common, especially in women nowadays to have little no movement in your stomach when you breathe and even have trouble to get your stomach to move with your breath. It can take practice. Unfortunately the impact of societal pressures of always looking your best, trying to be smaller, don’t let your stomach show, etc. etc. has been awful for the natural movement and breathing pattern our body needs to function properly. See the gif below from Burrell Education’s website, it’s one of my favs.

 Source above

This is showing how our core system works together seamlessly with each breath we take in and out. With an inhale our diaphragm extends down in to our chest cavity causing a natural descent of the pelvic floor muscles and expansion of our abdominals (due to our spine there’s not a lot of movement “back” of the deep spinal muscles, but there is some). Then with exhale the diaphragm returns up in to the chest, the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles pull in slightly. The piston system make a little more sense now? With relaxed breathing neither the inhale or the exhale movements are very large, but they’re vital. If you spend all-day every-day holding your stomach in breathing out of your chest you are losing out on the natural stretch and recoil that your deep core system/muscles need. Add in life stressors that make getting in to a normal breathing pattern even harder.

3. If you are experiencing an issue related to your pelvic floor (e.g. pee a little – or a lot – when you cough, sneeze or laugh, leak a little -or a lot – trying to hold back going to the bathroom with all your might, going to bathroom ump-teen times a day, feel a heaviness in your pelvic area, have some discomfort – or a lot -in your pelvic region with daily activities or intercourse, etc.) this isn’t somethings that’s “normal” just because you’re a women and maybe you had a child or 2 or 3 or 4…. It’s your body telling you that somethings not working right together. Spoiler alert – and you don’t have to live with it. Whether you’ve had a baby or not if you’re experiencing these issues and a doctor brushes you off because you’ve had a child or because you’re a women or because you “just need to relax more”, find a new doctor. Period. This is not okay and you should not be treated that way by a medical provider. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it agin, I’ll say it over and over again. Common does not equal normal. A shameless plug for my profession there is more and more research coming out that conservative measures, specifically Physical Therapy/Physiotherapy is super effective and should be in the first line of treatment. Ask your doctor about it, be an advocate for yourself. The pelvic health specialty is gaining more traction so it’s getting easier to find a PT that may be able to help you!

4. So while both men and women have pelvic floor’s this point is specifically for women. So men, if you’re reading this you may want to skip over it, but maybe not – I think it’s important for both sexes to know about the other, but I also love pelvic health, so my viewpoint may be skewed from a lot of peoples. Maybe. Did you know your vagina is like a self-cleaning oven? Yes I said the “V” word. It’s a normal part of our anatomy, it’s a part of our body. You may not be comfortable with saying it, and that’s okay, but I have no problem saying it, it’s just a body part. Yes, I may still get a little rosey in the face time to time discussing female or male anatomy and other things and issues related to it, but I am a show it in my face, highly emotional person, so even though I am very fine with talking about and saying the correct terms for the nether region body parts, old habits and tendencies die hard. I’m not embarrassed personally to be talking about it, but I know it can make others uncomfortable and it can come through on my face whether I want it to or not. Back to the point at hand. I completely understand wanting to make sure you are being clean and preventing excess bacteria and such from entering your vulvar and vaginal area, but you do not need to wash/clean/douche/etc your vagina. This can actually do more harm than good by upsetting the bacteria in your vagina and making your more likely to have issues. If you feel the need to “wash” up just rinse with warm water over the area is all you need to do.

5. Lastly, a more general tidbit. Pelvic health is important at every age. Pelvic health issues aren’t just reserved for women who have had babies. Pelvic health issues affect both men and women across the lifespan. From when we are little to when we are old. Creating good toileting habits from when we are just learning to control our bladder and bowel systems are crazy important. Then with going to school and the issue of creating schedules around using the bathroom or anxiety of using the bathroom in public. Adding in childhood sports, body image issues, overuse and extreme athletics from a younger and younger age. In general your kid may be fine and do well with these changes, but especially in young female athletes the emerging findings of incidence of pelvic health issues is alarming. These issues often continue through this period of their life in to adulthood. Then add to it if the young female with pelvic issues eventually becomes a mother and you’ve got compounding factors and then that mother hits menopause and it continues… Going back to any person at any age, adult men are not excluded from this or even young men and boys. Pelvic health issues may not manifest in the same way as as females, but they can still happen. Into adulthood the potential for men increases just like women with changing hormones, decreasing strength, and just aging in general. So whether your 2 or 92 pelvic health is important, and it’s never too late, or too early, to start addressing it and creating better habits.

I hope you enjoyed and learned a thing or two from my post today. With me not working, going through these points are as much for me as they are for you, gotta keep the info fresh. Leave a comment or send an email with any questions related to the post. Have a good weekend!


<3 – Brittany

My current skincare routine

I am finally getting around to type up this post. I literally took the pictures of what I’m using oh about a month ago when I originally planned to do the post, whoops. And the funny thing is since I took the original photos I’ve been swapping a few things, but that’s how I do my face routine, I tend to change things out. The original pictures also make me want to paint my nails again, something I usually don’t take time to do and can’t do while the little guy is up because I smudge it easily anyways – trying to paint and chase after a toddler, ain’t no way. Continuing on…I normally have staples and a general outline that stays the same, but depending on the weather, my hormones, etc I may change a product here and there. I have found that for the past 2-3 months my skin has really improved in look and feel. I am attributing this to not only being more consistent in the products I’ve been using, using safe, high-quality products, but also a shift in my hormones from 1st to 2nd trimester. So I’m interested to see how my skin changes as my pregnancy progresses and in to postpartum period. I don’t say this to downplay the products I’m using at all, but I am aware of how much our internal body affects what goes on externally so just keeping it all in mind and in my perspective.

The past two years I’ve really overhauled not only my skincare routine but my products and the companies I buy from also. I am a sucker for aimlessly wandering the aisles of Target or Sephora or Ulta to look at all the new, fun and enticing products they have in the health and beauty aisles (and probably spending way too much money in said stores), and while I have been more conscious about my purchases and thinking about what I put on my body getting pregnant in 2015 pushed me to think even harder about these choices and research in to who was actually selling safe, natural and effective products. Anything I was putting on my body was getting absorbed and in turn could effect my unborn baby, that was a big deal to me. Also with age, I’ve really tried to be meaningful with my purchases so maybe I’m spending more on an item but if it’s high-quality and it works and it checks off the other boxes for safety, I’ll gladly pay more and buy one item instead of spending a smaller amount and buying a boat load of lesser quality products and potentially doing harm to myself in the long run. So, it’s been a slower switch with my skincare (and beauty/makeup) products then with some of my other for improved switches, but what I’m learning in the process and the companies I’m finding makes it all worth it (and the peace of mind).

One way I try to stay on top of what I’m using and not falling for false marketing/advertising is by using the EWG Skin Deep app and Think Dirty app


They both have databases (with different products that is constantly growing and changing) that list health and cleaning products in the stores to browse or you can even scan products while at stores to see their ratings. I have used EWG more so I will speak more to this one, but they are both beneficial. EWG gives an overall rating of safety for the product looking at it’s ingredients and there potential for overall hazard, cancer promoting ingredients, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity and use restrictions. Think dirty is very similar. They both have drawbacks with not always being updated (products are constantly changing) and not having everything, but it’s a good place to start to see what’s in what you’re using. All of Beautycounter’s products fall in the 1-3 range on the EWG scale (it goes from 1-10, 1 is the best, 10 in the worst) and it’s not by accident, it’s because of their commitment to safety and bringing you the best products they possibly can. It’s also why it takes a while for them to come out with a new product, everything is extensively tested and retested. I am a consultant for Beautycounter and an amazing perk of that is I can get products at a reduced rate along with potentially getting additional income if anyone purchases from me, but I do not get paid just to talk about the company and the products – I just love them after using them for about 1.5 years. Also, even with being a consultant I have worked my way up to adding to my personal collection of skincare regimen. It’s still a financial investment for me, discounted or not, but this is my priority. Many of my daily products are Beautycounter, but not all. I love trying new products and while I sell for BC I am all for trying other brands that meet the standards I set for my skincare products. 

On to what I’m using right now! So here is a snapshot of all the products in my general routine. I don’t use them all everyday, 2x/day. I have never been a religious wash your face everyday person (or even nightly – I know… not the best), when I get tired and want to go to bed I just want to be in bed. right. now. I feel this way about dental health too – don’t worry I do brush my teeth every night, but I’ve made an effort to make flossing and tongue scraping a regular habit where as before I never did. Along the same lines I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort since I have the resources to be kinder to my skin at the end of the day. Sometimes I do just a quick water rinse, especially if I didn’t wear makeup for the day or use a norwex cloth to wipe my face, but If I have any makeup on I use the Nourishing Cream Cleanser to wash my face. It is a coconut oil based cleanser with aloe for additional hydration and witch hazel to help tone the skin. If I’m showering before bed I use the charcoal bar because that’s what’s in my shower and the cream cleanser is in my medicine cabinet, no other reason, lol, I love both just depends on where I’m washing my face. The charcoal bar helps to detoxify and remove impurities from your skin and is a best seller. Since I side on the drier side (especially during pregnancy) I don’t use this everyday but love it a couple times a week.  Moving on, after cleansing I use Primally Pure’s everything spray. This spray took some getting used to in regards to the smell. It has ACV (apple cider vinegar) in it and it’s not crazy strong, but there’s enough of a hint of ACV that it wasn’t love at first spray by any means. Now though, I can’t get enough of this toner. The ACV balances pH and the spray also decreases inflammation, soothes and tones irritated skin and more.  I use it after cleansing and periodically throughout the day for a little pick-me-up for my skin. It has magnesium in it which is also really beneficial to get topically (and can help with relaxation and sleep!)



This is one of my “switches” I was talking about earlier. During the day or if I cleanse in the morning I may use Beautycounter + facial mist #1 (brightening + vitamin C). The most helps to reduce the appearance of age spots and brighten your complexion. It just depends on how I”m feeling for the day on which one I choose.


After letting the toner set it I use Beautycounter’s Rejuvenating Radiance Serum. I love, love, love this product. It goes on smoothly, is light and airy and feels great. The Rejuvenating line is the “Aging Gracefully” line and has additional ingredients that helps to even skin tone, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and increase hydration. Music to this mama’s ears. 


I follow up the serum with the Rejuvenating Eye Cream, because, motherhood. But seriously the skin under our eyes is super delicate and sensitive and I’m not getting any younger, so any help I can get to keep it looking young and fresh I’m all for! It helps to reduce puffinesss and smooth fine lines and wrinkles while also decreasing those pesky dark circles. The formula soaks in quick and it doesn’t bother my eyes at all.


Lastly, I have not been using a traditional moisturizer for a while now, instead I’ve been using an oil for my moisturizing. At nighttime I use Primal Life Organics C-ex Vitamin C serum and for daytime moisture I use Beautycounter’s #1 or #3 facial oil (picture of #1 is further up in the post). Oil #1 is brightening+vitamin C for intense hydration, brightening, and evens your skin tone. Oil #3 helps to restore balance, camp and soothe your skin. C-ex is a nutrient rich, highly concentrated natural oil serum that helps to nourish and revive your skin. I finish with the oil because I don’t want it to block out the eye cream or any water based moisturizer I may use. If I’m needing an extra moisture boost I may use a couple drops of the oil with a traditional water based moisturizer, but lately I haven’t needed to (first trimester I did, my face was soooo dry – I don’t remember if that happened with my first pregnancy or not).

The C-ex serum has a steep price tag, but again, I love what it has done for my face, and you don’t need much each time you use it. I have used the same bottle for about 6 months, maybe even closer to 8. So yes, that one is a definite investment (PLO does sales every once in a while, so if you’re interested in it I’d get on their mailing list and wait for that – it’s what I did!). The serum is a collaboration between the owner of Primal Life Organics (she’s from Ohio, woot woot!) and Liz Wolfe a blogger that I have followed for years and highly trust for her recommendations. Her blog is called Real Food Liz, but she doesn’t just blog or talk about food, she’s extensively researched in to skincare and makeup and finding safer and more natural alternatives. She also is doing the same regarding pregnancy and postpartum, so I love hearing what she has to say.

I’ve edited this post it feels like a ba-jillion Times. I keep thinking of little points I forgot and going back in. Well I think this is the last edit I intend to make (we’ll see haha…) but after all this and saying how much I love my routine and what it has done for my face I figured I should show you a picture of my face… novel right?! Oiy… So below are three pictures one with makeup first and two sans makeup (holding BC’s new makeup remover and a yummy green smoothie!). A trouble area on my face has been my chin for a couple years and being a chronic pimple popper I have quite a few little red spots, scars and bigger pores in that area. I am trying to curb my pimple popping ways because it’ll never truly get better without that, but in general I’ve noticed a ton of improvement there and that also makes me extremely happy!


So that’s my “routine” for now. It may change in a couple months as the seasons change and what I’ve got going on in my life changes, but for now it’s working for me and my face has never felt better. If you have any questions about the products leave me a comment! Are there any products that you’re currently using and love?

<3 – Brittany

 

 

Weekend Ramblings + Recipes

Hello! I’m departing from my regular Friday post and just writing what feels best for me this weekend. I’ll pick back up with my five things Friday posts, but this week after a hiatus from blogging, I’m just going with the flow.

This week has been a nice slow roll getting back in to a daily routine. I had a wonderful almost full two weeks back in my hometown visiting with friends and family and not being rushed to cram it all in to a two or three day weekend. It was refreshing and just good for my soul. I’m from a very small town and my parents live out in the country/flat-land of Ohio and my little guy loved the ability to run out side and play in the backyard multiple times a day and towards the end the two weeks really warmed up to going for a gator ride just like his cousins. Our days are pretty lax back in Maryland with me not working right now, but the added slowness of being out in the country was nice. Not to say that there wasn’t craziness – my little guy is one boy of 6 grandsons under the age of 6 and my mom watches a different number of them three days a week, so there was always plenty of activity and wild intertwined. I almost felt bad coming back home with my little guy having so many less friends to play with daily, but he’s doing quite alright and he was so excited to see his dad and his two kitties. The time away was great, but it was equally as great to be back home.

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Checking out the outside cat herd at my parents house (this is not all of them).


Sisters just a little over 8 weeks apart!

Came home to beautiful birthday flowers! I hadn’t even come close to unpacking and organizing but seeing these flowers and lighting my new candle (that was al so a wonderful birthday gift) was a nice sight in the crazy of our apartment.
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I actually did a little bit of pointed meal planning for the week also. We loaded up at Costco on Sunday and then supplemented the rest of what we needed from Trader Joe’s and our local farmer’s market. Having the farmer’s market within walking distance has been ah-may-zing. It goes till November and it has been a summer weekly ritual that I look forward to every week. I made one of my favorite quick and easy dinners Red Thai Curry with Chicken. I first got the recipe years ago while I was working with Robyn Coale to help with eating habits and setting myself up for success with meal planning/prep and recipes when I was in grad school. She is an RD and NP, I have loved following her blog for years and as she has progressed in her RD work and gotten her NP she continues to be a favorite of mine to follow for not only good recipes but great information on health, intuitive eating, hormone regulation and more. Like I said I got the recipe working with her, but she has one that’s similar on her blog linked here. Here is my adaptation for it this week, since even with grocery shopping I never have quite all the ingredients.

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Red Thai Curry from The Real Life RD [adapted from Eat Live Run]

Ingredients:

•1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks

•1 tbsp coconut oil

•3 cups coconut milk, light or regular – I used ~2 cups of regular coconut milk and ~1.5 cups of coconut cream then about 3/4 cup water to get to the total liquid amount

•1 1/2 cups water

•3 tbsp red curry paste – The jar I buy is has between 3-4 tbsp of paste in it, so I just used the whole jar 🙂

•2 baby bok choy, chopped

•1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

•1″ knob ginger, grated – I used 1 tsp of ground ginger

•1 cup chopped snow peas

•2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ thick pieces

•1 1/2 tsp agave – I used maple syrup

•2 tsp fish sauce

•juice of 1 lime – I used 1 tbsp lemon juice

•1 1/2 tsp salt

•cooked rice or quinoa for serving

Directions:

1.Heat tl he coconut oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat. When

hot, add the ginger and saute until fragrant — 2 minutes.

2.Add the chicken and sear until not quite cooked through. Then, add

the curry paste.

3.Mix the ginger, chicken and curry paste together and continue to saute over high

heat for another two minutes.

4.Pour in the coconut milk and water, then add the bok choy, bell pepper, chopped

snow peas and sweet potatoes. Bring curry to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.

5.Stir in the fish sauce, salt, lime juice and sugar. Continue simmering over medium/low

6.heat until veggies are soft. This will take about 10 minutes.

7.Serve curry over rice or quinoa!
Here is a link to her website and another curry veggie recipe of hers using green curry paste.


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One of the other dinners I made this week was an Italian style pork roast. I’ve made a similar recipe with beef roast, but this week we had a big bone-in pork shoulder from a local farm and it worked perfectly. I was planning to make Nom Nom Paleo’s Kahlua pork but I haven’t bought the red Hawaiian sea salt it calls for, so I’ll make it eventually. This one was even more of a throw together what I had at home type of recipe. It’s loosely based on this slow cooker recipe I found and then also on verbal instructions from Eat Live Run that I saw on her instagram stories one day. The first night we had it I served it over spaghetti squash (no picture of that meal), and today I had leftovers served over a white potato. I personally think it’s really good. I love using the instant pot also, cooking that big of a piece of meat in just over an hour is really nice. I also cooked the spaghetti squash in it earlier in the day – it was a larger squash but still only took ~10 minutes.

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Fun side note: as I sit here and type this my toddler is eating dinner and pretty much whenever I look away from him to type he acts like he’s going to throw his food on the floor. Oof #momlife. He’s just about 15 months and so we’re starting to get in to the thick of toddler-ness, acting out and figuring out discipline and setting rules and boundaries. It’s an interesting journey that’s for sure.

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But back to the recipe. Here’s what I did:

Italian Style Roast

3-4 lb pork roast (mine was bone-in pork shoulder). If frozen defrost prior to cooking.

*Italian seasoning to coat both sides of the roast + ~2 tbsp for cooking

Large can of crushed tomatoes ~24.5oz

Half a small can of tomato sauce ~7oz

3 pepperonicini’s

1 onion sliced

1. Turn on instant pot to sauté setting and add in ~1 tbsp of olive oil. Season all sides of the roast with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

2. Brown all sides of the roast (2-3 minutes each side). Press cancel button to stop the sauté function.

3. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Close lid on instant pot and make sure valve is seton sealed position. Select manual setting and set timer for 55 minutes. Once timer goes off allow the pressure to come down naturally.

4. Remove meat and separate from the bone. Turn on sauté function to cook off some of the water off the sauce if desired. You can add the meat back to the sauce or keep separate. Serve over pasta, spaghetti squash, potato, or whatever your heart desires!

*I used a homemade blend from my Practical Paleo Cookbook

Carbs, carbs, carbs. That’s what my body has been craving, so white potatoes have been on repeat the last couple days. Baked potato two ways for this lunch! The Italian roast didn’t photograph to nicely, but I promise you it’s delicious.

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I have been eating both of these dishes on repeat this week (yay for leftovers!) and have not minded one little bit. I know some people hate leftovers, but I personally love them, so any recipe that makes enough to have some at least another day is a winner i.n my book.

This weekend was uncharacteristically hot for October – high of 84 yesterday.. 84!! We went to a local farm for their fall festival and it was a lot of fun and little guy enjoyed it, but it was so funny to see everyone buying and drinking apple cider slushes instead of hot apple cider. I have to say I was a little miffed to be dressing for the day and picking out shorts, but I made the the best of it and still paired it with boots and a lighter chambray top Thankfully there was a breeze so I didn’t get too hot – and I had on a black tang top underneath so if I needed to remove my outer layer it wasn’t a problem.

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Today was a lazy day, the way I like Sundays. With a slow morning making breakfast, a quick trip to the local farmers market – only got sprinkled on a little with the on/off rain -, football watching, grocery shopping & now baseball watching to cheer on the Cleveland Indians. Go Tribe!

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I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

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<3 – Brittany