Posts in MOVEMENT
Baby C's Unexpected Birth Story - Part 1 - The Pool

I did not expect a Sunday when I was 38 weeks to be the last full day of my pregnancy.

And I did not expect to be faced with the birth experience that I feared the most.

That Sunday morning, I left home to spend a day with a girlfriend in nearby Temecula, CA, getting pedicures at the spa, swimming in the salt water pool, and then planned on staying the night away with my husband so we could relax and connect, just the two of us, before our new baby arrived.

Grapeseed Spa

At 38 weeks, I had every expectation that I would be pregnant for another two weeks or so. My pregnancy with Little J had gone to 40 weeks and 2 days, I just expected more of the same. With a pregnancy that was normal and straightforward from the beginning, just 6 weeks earlier, my awesome OB, Dr. Capetanakis (Dr. Cap), had told me that my baby was head down at 32 weeks, and things were as straightforward as could be.

I knew I didn't want to give birth in the hospital again, which is the only place my doctor delivers, so after trying for months, unsuccessfully, to get my insurance to cover a home birth, I took my "straightforward as can be" pregnancy, and finally transferred my care to the nearby birth center, Tree of Life. I loved their birthing rooms, the midwives, and the experience I could see myself having if I gave birth there, all the midwives had hospital privileges, and they often worked closely with my OB, too.

But my 36 week midwife appointment revealed that my baby was in a breech (head up) position. This was not straightforward, and the midwives were not legally allowed to deliver a breech baby at the birth center. I immediately starting employing all of the tools I know to help a baby turn, and I thought it was working. I often felt things in my belly that led me to believe he was vertex (hiccups down super low, little kicks up high) but then it would seem like he flipped head up again.

Soon, I fully believed that he was turning up and down at will. So I kept hoping he would go head down when it was time to be born. I was mildly worried, but I continued with my care at the birth center, believing I could help baby get into the right position in time. I wanted to cover all of my bases to ensure a positive birth experience, so I opted to get co-care with Dr. Cap and Tree of Life, so that no matter what happened, I would be having my baby with someone I knew and trusted, rather than an on-call doctor after a potential emergency transfer to the hospital if things didn't go the way I hoped. 

Sans our 2-year-old boys that fateful Sunday, my friend and I were ready for some much-needed pampering and as we settled into our massage chairs, I started to unwind like I can never do at home. We painted our toes in happy colors, snacked on cheese and fruit and talked birth predictions poolside, and I decided to hop in the warm pool for one last attempt to get my unmistakably breech baby to turn.

I am blessed that Dr. Cap knows how to, and will, deliver breech babies! Not all OBs are trained in breech births, and many won't do them, preferring instead to perform c-sections because they they're taught that it's "safer." I had read that the level of risk for a breech vaginal birth and a breech cesarean section are actually the same (although the risks are different), but the older school of thought still prevails, making a c-section the go-to "fix" when a baby is breech.

If I was unsuccessful in turning my baby head-down, I knew I wanted to try for a vaginal birth even though he'd be coming out bum (or feet) first. I'd watched several videos of breech births, I saw how normal these births were, and I knew my body could handle it with ease.  Breech birth can be just another variation of normal, and after multiple lifesaving surgeries a decade ago, and braving the ensuing pain and uncertainty about recovery, the idea of MORE surgery was just not an option for me. I was willing to do pretty much anything to avoid being cut open AGAIN.

I swam laps of breaststroke and did countless underwater handstands in the pool, but I never felt the desired, dramatic roll or flip of position in my belly. I had yet another earnest and serious conversation with my baby about why he needed to be head down (for a cozy birth center birth, versus a clinical hospital birth) but... nothing. 

When I got out of the pool, water left my body and ran down my legs. "Huh, guess it was all those handstands," I thought. Then a few minutes later it happened again. I still didn't think much of it. I got dressed and went to get gas for the car and noticed my seat was wet when I got out to fill up my tank. "Wow, that's a lot of water. Must have filled up completely with all that time upside down." But throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening, it kept happening, and I was in TOTAL denial about what it really was. 

Before dinner, I did at least check the color (clear) and odor (chlorine), but with absolutely no labor symptoms, my brain hung onto the "it's just pool water" fantasy. Because amniotic fluid doesn't smell like chlorine, right? So I put on my little black (maternity) dress, let my hair down, and went out for a fancy dinner with my hubby and we had an awesome date night. 

Back at our room, I was still leaking, and we googled a bunch of things, but I was adamant that I was fine and it was just pool water, and my loving husband kept his doubts to himself. That night, I woke up around 1am, and my sheets were SOAKED.  I knew this was strange but nothing felt "wrong" or anything like contractions, so I STILL clung to this idea that somehow it was still water from the pool! I did google how much water a vagina could hold, though, and how would I know if my water broke while swimming.

The internet was NOT helpful and I so went back to sleep.

When I went into labor with J, my contractions started as soon as I woke up and my water didn't break until late afternoon. And then when it did, it was a small leak, followed by a dramatic "KERSPLOOSH" all over my living room floor. Then the pushing contractions started. It was a totally different experience and I just didn't know what to make of what was happening now.

38.5 weeks pregnant. The last photo of the bump before I had our baby!

38.5 weeks pregnant. The last photo of the bump before I had our baby!

I wasn't even to 40 weeks yet! I knew that "2nd babies often come early" and "breech babies often come early" but my brain just couldn't grasp it. When I woke up in the morning, and the towel I'd placed between my legs was also soaked, and when I sat down on the toilet to pee, MORE water leaked out of me before I'd even started peeing, I finally thought, "OK. Time to call the midwife."

* * * * * *

Let me rewind to the beginning of my pregnancy for a second. When I conceived this baby, I decided early on that I REALLY wanted to have a home birth this time. My experience of racing to the hospital to have J was no fun, and actually left me with some pelvic floor pain because I was trying to hold him in while my body was trying to push him out!

And my experience with one of my labor and delivery nurses actually contributed to that pelvic floor pain because her fairly aggressive and painful uterine massage after I delivered caused me to store that pain in my pelvic floor as well. That deserves its own blog post but I'll just say that emotional "stuff" causing physical pain is a real thing. And it left me feeling less than safe birthing in the hospital.

I knew I could birth this baby, and so aside from wanting my OB to be there, I had no desire to have another hospital birth. I just wanted to stay at home and have my baby. I wanted no interventions and to be pretty much left alone except for my husband and doula's support. So I applied to my health insurance company to have them cover my out-of-network home birth at the in-network level. Due to family health stuff, we spent a lot of money and hit our deductible over the summer, and "just paying for" a homebirth midwife out of pocket just wasn't an option. And despite looking high and low, I discovered there are NO midwives near me, in network with my insurance company, who attend home births. So I applied for what's called a "gap exception" since the lack of in-network midwives constituted a "network gap."

This is also worthy of its own post because the process was long and complicated and frustrating, but eye opening in terms of how to deal with health insurance companies.

In the end, though, my request was denied.

And that's how I ended up at Tree of Life, and it seemed to be working out that it was really the best outcome. I was excited to birth there. But when my baby was definitely breech at 36 weeks, my mind raced. I immediately thought of all the possible scenarios and I knew that more than anything, I DID NOT want to end up with an on-call OB I didn't know, if a transfer to the hospital became necessary.

So I requested co-care with Dr. Cap and Tree of Life. It's not an uncommon thing for them to do as they work together often, and it was simple to start seeing them both. More expensive, certainly, but after hitting our deductible, I didn't care. I needed the peace of mind that no matter what happened, I'd be under the care of people I knew and trusted.

But at my appointment just before Thanksgiving, Dr. Cap told me, "just don't go into labor this weekend."
It was his one weekend off that month, and if the baby came, and was still breech, I would end up with an on-call doctor.

"I won't," I said with a laugh, confident this baby was still weeks away.

HA.

When I woke up with the barest tightening in my tummy and a slight low back ache, my sheets and the towel I'd put between my legs soaking wet, I knew I had to call someone. I had no idea when Dr. Cap was returning, and Monday was not one of his usual clinic days, so I called the birth center to talk to one of my midwives. Susan answered the phone, asked me a few standard questions, and she agreed I should come in a get checked out. I  I had a 45 minute drive home, and we had to get our son to his preschool, so by the time we were about to head to the birth center, I had several text messages on my phone, telling me to go straight to Dr. Cap's office instead.

We arrived at around 9am and went immediately into an exam room. I was nervous, but excited.

"So, what's your plan?" he asked me.

"Ha! Plan? I have no plan. I was not expecting a baby this early!"

* * * * * *

CONTINUED . . . READ PART 2 HERE

* * * * * * 

 

10 years and 2 Babies
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Holy cow, guys. My Whole Healthy has now been a resource for you to live your Whole Healthy Life for 3 whole years! If you've followed me for a while, you may remember that I was also nearly killed by a drunk driver TEN years ago, TODAY! So there's a LOT to celebrate! 
New website design,
Website's 3rd birthday.
10 years since I stared death in the face and said, "NOT TODAY." And decided to live an epic, joyful, healthy life that allows me to serve you! 

My healing journey over the past 10 years has been long and hard and confusing. Especially early on. But as I moved through it, I felt increasingly driven to use my experience to help others.

So I built this website to help me share the things that helped me heal, and pass on evidence-based information (I do have a journalism degree and a penchant for facts) that you could use in a practical way. I also wanted to connect with you, and share my experiences and life in a way that would hopefully inspire you!

The past 3 years haven't been seamless, or made this blog see exponential growth! Not even close. But I'm still here, still writing, and now doing so much more. At first, my passion for health and wellness led to a very generic "wellness" website. I actually did NOT want to focus on my history of traumatic brain injury and all those broken bones. While those injuries will always been a huge part of my story, I no longer identified with being the "broken girl." I had recovered. I wanted to move on and lift people up. It didn't feel good to me to keep revisiting what happened unless I was speaking directly to someone who was going through it now.

Then, I got pregnant with my son in 2014. 
Soon after that, I became a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
I was soaking up everything I could learn about fitness. But soon, that desire to learn "all the things" about fitness, was dialed in to focus on pre and postnatal wellness. 
It's what I was living and learning myself!
My birth classes showed me that many of the same techniques I had used to heal after my accident applied to my pregnancy and having a healthy, peaceful birth. Nutrition was EXTREMELY important, mindfulness, meditation, and visualization were everything, and movement helped make pregnancy and birth healthier, easier and more comfortable!

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Talk about a light bulb moment. Pretty soon, I knew I had to narrow the focus of My Whole Healthy.

I am now a Pre & Post Natal Corrective Exercise Specialist with Fit For Birth, and I have pending certifications as a Fit For Birth Pre & Post Natal Diastasis and Core Consultant, and as a Certified Pre and Postnatal Coach with Girls Gone Strong. I can't stop learning.

My passion for helping and educating mamas has only grown as I raise my son, wait eagerly to welcome my second little boy in a couple of weeks!!! and serve my clients by helping them discover what their body is supposed to feel like, and see real results. 

Too often in this country and worldwide, I see women and mothers who need support as they try to conceive, during pregnancy, birth and into postpartum, but are completely failed by our medical system and our birth culture. It makes me sick, and it makes me angry. But when I see injustice like that, and that little flame of anger is lit, nothing can hold me back. 

I hope to grow My Whole Healthy more and more, and the beauty of the Internet is that it allows me to help support moms everywhere! So that's what I'm here to do.

Thank you for being here, whether you're a veteran reader, or you just stumbled on my little digital home today. 

WELCOME! 

If you're not sure what's new, this website got a big makeover over the last few months as I tinkered away and perfected the design myself (because I was quoted $8000 *cough cough* for a new website despite the examples I saw being designs I KNEW I could do on my own! So I decided to DIY it all the way).  I hope you like it!
I also created the most amazing resource for you that I'm giving away!!! - the Whole Healthy Mama Toolkit!

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So scroll down the welcome page and check the navigation links at the top to see my new and revamped offerings, see how you can WORK WITH ME, check out my RESOURCES page, my MOM MUST-HAVES, all the affordable equipment I love to use when I WORK OUT AT HOME, my custom (organic)  MY WHOLE HEALTHY swag, and more!

I have so much amazing stuff planned for you, you're going to want to stick around. Make sure you like My Whole Healthy on Facebook, and follow me on Instagram! This is where I share tons of valuable info, and peeks into my life behind the scenes. My social platforms are a great place to connect and get to know me better, and to be sure that you never miss a big announcement! Once you've hit that "Like" or "Follow" button, make sure you say hi so that we can get to know each other. I can't wait to see you there!

Here's to YOU. I already think you're awesome.
xoxo Maggie

The My Whole Healthy Household is EXPECTING!
My Whole Healthy, baby, expecting, baby bump, Whole Healthy Fit, Prenatal, prenatal fitness, prenatal wellness, pregnancy health

Yup, you read that right.

I.

Am.

Pregnant!

My husband, I, and Little J are so excited to be welcoming a new baby into our family this coming winter!

To celebrate, I have an EPIC giveaway for Pact Organic for you!!! So make sure you keep reading to learn how to enter to win the softest, cutest, most ethically made organic cotton clothing for the whole family!

Get PACT Organic for yourself by clicking here.

I am so excited to share this pregnancy journey with you. Right now, I'm feeling great. I had NO morning sickness at all during my 1st trimester (it was the same with J, thank you for those genes, mum!) but I was EXHAUSTED. Far more than with J - probably because I had all of my mom, breastfeeding (we have started a gentle weaning process as J approaches his second birthday), and business stuff going on, PLUS growing a small human!!

So, I let myself rest. I took naps when J napped. I did not go to the gym AT ALL for a month (but still walked and played with J lots so I kept moving) but am now getting back in there with new goals.

So far weight gain has been right on track - I'm right within the recommended 1-6 pounds for my 1st trimester. Definitely noticing an extra pound here and there when I've indulged in a lot of sugar! And then watching it fall off again when I get my diet back on track. Just a fantastic reminder right away that nutrition (or the lack of) has a powerful and immediate effect on the body, and it pays to pay attention.

I'm still using all of my favorite supplements. My fish oil and probiotics every single day.

My Seeking Health prenatal with methylfolate and methylcobalamin, necessary because of my MTHFR, and other bioavailable forms of all the necessary vitamins.
And I take this 10-strain probiotic that's also very effective now and then, to boost my gut and immune system, and the microbiome of my TWO babies!, with a wider variety of beneficial bugs.

These are my non-negotiables but I'm so thankful for my plant protein powder that helps me boost my protein intake, and curbs my sweet tooth, because pregnancy cravings are ridiculous.  And my greens and mineral powders that help give me energy (coffee is out), and make me feel less frazzled and more "together," and also taste incredible. 

In celebration of our happy news, I am giving away a $250 gift card to Pact Organic!!! 
TO ENTER:

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!
1. FOLLOW me @mywholehealthy AND Pact @pactorganic on Instagram
2. LIKE Maggie Yount: My Whole Healthy AND Pact Organic on Facebook
3. SHARE this blog post on either platform and TAG ME to make sure I see it! Remember to make the post public - if you share as friends only or have your Insagram set to private, I CAN'T see it even if you tag me.

Follow all three steps, and you are officially entered! All entries will be verified.

Giveaway closes Sunday, June 4, 2017 at 11:59 pm Eastern time!

GOOD LUCK!

Leave your questions in the comments! And enjoy some recent pics. All photos by my wonderful husband.

I'm wearing all PACT in these photos! Please excuse the fresh-off-the-clothesline wrinkles ;) PACT sponsored this giveaway but all opinions are my own, and I'm not getting paid for this. I just live in their clothes.

Plus, I wanted to celebrate with you!

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Fully relaxed baby belly. No core engagement.

Fully relaxed baby belly. No core engagement.

My "normal" resting baby belly. Slight core engagement.

My "normal" resting baby belly. Slight core engagement.

High lunge - one of my current go-tos to stretch my psoas and hip flexors.

High lunge - one of my current go-tos to stretch my psoas and hip flexors.

Little J is very excited to be a big brother!

Little J is very excited to be a big brother!

The Worst Exercise You Should Never Do!
Ah, the problem with attention grabbing headlines. The exercise in question is NOT "the worst exercise you should never do," unless you are doing it wrong (pictured above), or have specific exercise needs that prevent you from doing it correctly. See, I read this article the other day that states, "It’s about time everyone knew the truth about crunches and why they aren’t the exercise for you."  The headline, Six reasons you were right to hate crunches, definitely grabbed my attention, as my post tile here probably grabbed yours, but upon finishing the article and discussing it with my personal trainer and mentor, the piece left me with some serious concerns as both a certified personal trainer, and a journalist, and I want you to know the actual truth.

The article outlines six "reasons" why crunches are basically the worst exercise ever, but the reasons given describe ways of doing a crunch that are incorrect to begin with, and it does not give real direction for how to perform the suggested alternative exercises properly. I would like to show you how to do a crunch correctly, because a crunch done correctly can be useful for many (but not all) people! I'll also show you how to correctly perform some abdominal crunch alternatives, too.

This is a sit-up, not a crunch, done badly, and this could cause injury. Do not do this. 

This is a sit-up, not a crunch, done badly, and this could cause injury. Do not do this. 

Since I am more than halfway through my pregnancy now, it IS unsafe and uncomfortable for me to do most crunch-type exercises but my wonderful husband volunteered to demonstrate for you! Above he is showing you a sit-up, done badly. His abs are not engaged correctly, he has let his pelvic floor go, he is straining his neck and letting his lats (shoulders) go. In the article, the author describes,

"When performing a crunch, the work is being done by the superficial muscles in the abdomen and the hip flexors, which shorten and tighten with each repetition...Next time you are at the gym, watch people doing crunches and pay attention to their abdomen – you will notice the tummy pooches outward, which is the opposite of the so-called purpose of this exercise. You will also notice that the shoulders round, the head tucks forward, the butt tucks under and the breath is often held. This is disastrous to the core and pelvic floor and only serves to exacerbate the terrible posture we live in all day."

What she is describing is what my husband is doing here. THIS IS NOT A CRUNCH! 

A crunch, performed correctly, is a very small movement with minimal spinal flexion. To do one, you lay on the floor with your feet also flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and your finger tips behind your head in line with your ears. Placing your whole hand behind your head may make you apply pressure to your head and strain your neck so please avoid doing that.

First, you want to engage your lower abdominals  - you can lightly press your lower back into the floor, drawing your belly-button in toward your spine and your ribs down towards your hip bones, to feel the correct muscles engage.

Then, using just your abs, still drawn in and engaged, lift your shoulders off the floor while keeping your shoulders away from your ears, aiming for a small crunch movement that does not make you curl your spine or use your hip flexors - those muscles at the front of your hips between your hip bone and the tops of your thighs. Your tummy stays engaged and flat, and the movement is not forced.  Like this:

How to do a crunch correctly. Fingers light on the back of the head, abs fully engaged, feet remaining flat on the floor, shoulders lifted slightly off the floor. It is not a big or exaggerated movement.

How to do a crunch correctly. Fingers light on the back of the head, abs fully engaged, feet remaining flat on the floor, shoulders lifted slightly off the floor. It is not a big or exaggerated movement.

Lifting the shoulders off the floor while keeping all of your abdominals and your lats engaged is very challenging. By keeping the movement small and focusing on using all of the correct muscles, you can also keep your pelvic floor engaged (it's part of your core! Ladies, think Kegels. Gents, the muscle behind your man parts that your can feel tense and move up like an elevator going up into your pelvis), preventing the article's fear-inducing description,

"Crunches only weaken your core, mess with your alignment and set you up for back pain and pelvic floor dysfunction."

The author listed, in small print at the bottom of the article, is, "Kim Vopni, known as The Fitness Doula, is a certified pre/postnatal fitness consultant, co-founder of Bellies Inc. and owner of Pelvienne Wellness Inc." Given that little detail, most of the author's experience is likely with pregnant or recently pregnant women who definitely have special exercise needs. The article does mention women a lot, but nowhere specifies that she means crunches are a bad choice for women only, pregnant women or women trying to get back into shape after pregnancy. I'm pregnant right now and I'm all too familiar with the modifications that need to be made in my workout program, but the article paints the exercise with too broad of a brush. 

A crunch done correctly can be a useful exercise for building core strength and may be necessary for someone like a soccer player who uses their abs with spinal flexion when doing a throw-in. If you decide to work with a certified personal trainer, the key here is the word "personal." The workouts I, and any good trainer, would give you are targeted and tailored for you! Whatever your ability, desires for fitness and physical requirements, you would be given an exercise program designed to help you reach your goals and feel better. Every exercise contains some risk but so does walking out the front door. It's a good trainer's responsibility to give you exercises that you can complete successfully and will help you safely reach your fitness goals.

If you still want alternatives to the crunch, one fabulous exercise is called the plank, or "prone iso-abs." There are several modifications of this exercise so it's very versatile. To  perform this exercise, move into a pushup position with your hands directly under your shoulders, shoulders pulled away from your ears, and your toes on the floor behind you, putting your entire body into a "plank" position with your abs pulled in and engaged to keep your back neutral and your hips in a direct diagonal line with your shoulders and feet. Once in position, hold for as long as you can maintain good form. To improve core strength, try to hold it a little longer each time you perform the exercise.

Plank done in a push-up position. If this is too difficult, it can also be done from the knees with the feet lifted off the floor. In either position, imagine a straight line running from the top of the head, through the neck, down the spine and through the tailbone. If on your toes as pictured, extend that line through your legs to your feet. If on your knees, the straight line would end at your knees on the floor.

Plank done in a push-up position. If this is too difficult, it can also be done from the knees with the feet lifted off the floor. In either position, imagine a straight line running from the top of the head, through the neck, down the spine and through the tailbone. If on your toes as pictured, extend that line through your legs to your feet. If on your knees, the straight line would end at your knees on the floor.

This exercise requires that all of your abdominal muscles are engaged and held in an isometric way (tension without contracting the muscle) in order to maintain the position and prevent your back from arching, or your hips from either raising up too high or falling to the floor. If you can't feel where you need to be, try having someone spot you or do it in front of a mirror on the floor so you can look over and see where you need to be.

In the more advanced version, or the true prone iso-abs exercise, you would perform this from your forearms with your elbows under your shoulders. Here, gravity plays a bigger role and makes maintaining the plank more difficult.

Another increasingly challenging core exercise is the ball roll-out. For this exercise, you do need a stability ball and the smaller the ball, the harder it will be. The larger the ball, the more upright you will be and thus, the easier the exercise. An inch or two can make a big difference! To perform this exercise, kneel and place your forearms on the ball in front of you,  then lift your knees to get into a plank position with your arms on the ball instead of the floor, allowing your back to flatten into a neutral diagonal line from shoulder to ankle.

Ball roll-out starting position.

Ball roll-out starting position.

It's ok and good to bring the ball in close to you with your forearms under your chest to start. The point is not to hold this position, but to extend the forearms away from your body as far as you can while keeping the abdominals engaged and the spine neutral, without allowing your low back muscles to take over. You will not be able to extend your arms very far. Try rolling out and in five or six times, or as many times as you can maintain good form.

As you can see, my husband is very strong and this was challenging even for him. Beyond the abdominal work of holding the plank position and extending the arms, the ball introduces instability that must be overcome as well. I would not attempt this alone unless you are certain you can do it safely.

As you can see, my husband is very strong and this was challenging even for him. Beyond the abdominal work of holding the plank position and extending the arms, the ball introduces instability that must be overcome as well. I would not attempt this alone unless you are certain you can do it safely.

Most exercises incorporate using the core muscles in some way. If you aren't sure how to find or engage your core muscles, you can start with small movements to increase your awareness of them. While standing up, take a deep breath and let your ribs open and flare out. Then as you exhale, think about drawing your ribs back in and down, engaging your core. If you do it in front of a mirror, you may be able to see the difference when you use your core muscles.

Going back to the article, as a graduate of journalism school maybe my expectations of publications delivering news are higher than can be expected these days but this article was published in The Globe and Mail, a national Canadian newspaper, so I expected a heckuva lot more context and basis for the authors dismissal of this staple exercise. A crunch done correctly should not do any of the awful things she describes.

Maybe most people at the gym don't know how to do a crunch correctly and may be doing themselves real harm. Most gyms have personal trainers available, so if you have a question about an exercise, just ask! They may try to sell you a personal training package though so be prepared for the upsell. And if their direction makes you uncomfortable or leaves you feeling unsure, just skip that exercise until you are confident you know how to do it correctly!

If you are interested in working with a personal trainer, always look for someone who will listen to your needs, train your safely and not discount any fears or questions you may have. I am not accepting new clients yet but if you're in Southern California, I will announce when I am in my newsletter! Sign up for that below or above right. If you are not near me but are looking for a trainer, I'd be happy to try and answer any questions you may have about how to find the right one!

Do you hate crunches? Do you look for other ways to strengthen your core? Do you know how to use your core correctly? How does your body feel? Let me know in the comments below!

Big thanks to my hubby for posing for pictures. Happy exercising!

xo Maggie

If you're looking for a high quality stability ball (balance ball, yoga ball, fitness ball... they're all the same thing) that won't break the bank, we use SPRI balls at my gym! I love them and if you take care of them, they will last. The next level up in durability (anti-burst properties) is Duraball but they are pricey. Below is a link to the 65 cm SPRI ball. The ball my husband is using is one I've had for ages and wouldn't really recommend. The quality's not great but I'll use it until it bites the dust!
65 cm is a good size ball for MOST people but it depends on your height. When sitting on the fully inflated ball, your feet flat on the floor, your knees should be level or just below the hips, with your leg bent at a 90º angle or slightly greater. If you're knees are higher than your hips, the balls is too small.
This post contains affiliate links.

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All In.

You are amazing. Do you know that? Because it's true. You are a whole, perfect being who deserves to feel amazing all of the time. But these days, you don't feel amazing... and maybe you never have. If you can relate, I hear you! And I'm here to help you.

One night back in November 2007, I had dinner with my roommate in Montreal, laughing and talking  over Thai food, before I grabbed a cab to the airport to catch a flight home for the weekend. 

I was on track to have a successful journalism career, with dreams of being a top news reporter for a big newspaper dancing in my head. I was excited, the semester was almost over and I had plans to move to California after Christmas, I was newly engaged... everything seemed pretty perfect.

My plane was delayed a bit out of Montreal but I still arrived in time to rent a car before the rental counter closed. I threw my suitcase in the trunk, got settled in my car and called my dad, as is our ritual, to let him know I had landed safely and was on my way home. I pulled out of the rental lot and hit the road. 

And I almost made it home. Traffic was light, as it typically is late at night where I grew up, the road was clear... just a couple more exits and a few miles to go. I was really looking forward to that big bear hug from Dad! 

Until suddenly my peaceful drive was violently interrupted by a pickup truck suddenly swerving into my lane and colliding with my car head-on. You can read more about that, and how that led to this blog, right here.

- self portrait -  Me in my Montreal apartment while studying journalism at university. And yes, the little pic on the wall behind me of the person with a mohawk, that was me when I was 17. I have loved punk rock since I was 15, And despite the image it maybe projects, I did not party much and I got mostly As in school. Don't judge a book by its cover ;)

- self portrait - Me in my Montreal apartment while studying journalism at university. And yes, the little pic on the wall behind me of the person with a mohawk, that was me when I was 17. I have loved punk rock since I was 15, And despite the image it maybe projects, I did not party much and I got mostly As in school. Don't judge a book by its cover ;)

That accident changed the course of everything in my life. But even before my accident, I dealt with constant colds and flu growing up. I wasn't "sick" and I felt "good enough" to get through the day so I didn't know anything was wrong! I just figured I was exposed to millions of germs at school and it couldn't really be avoided. Except I was sick way more often than a lot of my classmates, but I didn't think anything of it.

Suddenly being thrust into mega-recovery mode after suffering severe traumatic injuries quickly made it crystal clear to me that Medicine and doctors could only get me so far. If I wanted to get 100% better, I had to take control of my health and I couldn't settle for "good enough". 

We are surrounded by toxins every day and most of us don't even realize it. I know I didn't until I started doing the research! We're stressed out with stress hormones coursing through our bodies and wreaking havoc; we eat processed/fast/junk food because we feel it's all we have the time or energy for; we don't feel that we can or need to exercise; we eat and drink out of containers that are leaching toxic and hormone-disrupting chemicals into our food; we breathe polluted air. I was even eating "good" food that is actually making me sick until I realized that I'm gluten intolerant! This is not an imaginary thing as has been sometimes reported and I will blog about it more in a future post.

You've probably dealt with some kind of illness or injury in your life, too, (even if it's just a broken heart) but despite all that, there is still a way to feel amazing every day. Really and truly.

I don't mean to minimize the experience anyone may be having if they have a terminal illness. At all. I know some things cannot be cured. One of my most dear friends and teachers passed away due to ovarian cancer and I have no illusions about the toll illnesses like cancer, and severe traumatic injury, can take. I will also never minimize your experience of what you've been through. Whatever you feel is the reality of your experience; that's what's true for you. And I will honor that. I've had people tell me that my injuries were worse than, and conversely not as bad as, someone else who experienced a similar injury... which just strikes me as a weird comparison to make. All I know is that it was the worst and most terrifying thing I have ever experienced in my life, but that doesn't change your experience of whatever you've faced, does it?

What I mean is, despite all the challenges thrown our way that can throw us off the tracks, there is always something we can do to feel more centered, happy in our skin and healthy in our bodies. I am so excited to be writing this post and launching this website for you, finally! My Whole Healthy has honestly been years in the making and I didn't even know it. I had to gain some major life experience before this vision for helping YOU became clear but I am over the moon with happiness to be able to share it with you now! Welcome, and thanks so much for being one of the first to be here with me.

I titled this post All In. So what do I mean? Hint - it has nothing to do with poker or gambling.

Photos by Jasmine   of   Let's Frolic Together

Photos by Jasmine of Let's Frolic Together

When it comes to achieving optimal wellness, you've just got to be all in, all of the time. Healthy can't be something you decide to be only on weekends. We have this one life to be here now and do whatever this life holds in store for us. Even if you believe in reincarnation, THIS life will never be replicated. It's special. Even if life right now seems particularly horrible (I've been there!), I stand by that. It's SPECIAL and offers us incredible opportunities to learn and grow and even those awful moments (or days/months years) are proof that we are alive. We are here on this planet, getting to experience all of what's beautiful... AND all of what's ugly and hard. To me, that's pretty miraculous.

Still, I know, what's familiar feels safe. Even if it sucks. Change can be scary! But the steps you need to take towards achieving whole health are actually really easy. I know I just said that if we want to be healthy, we have to be all in - all of the time. Doing something with 100% effort, 100% of the time, sounds kind of daunting, eh? But think about it - the lifestyle and habits you have now are already being done the same way. Whatever your life is now, it's already your 100%, as healthy or unhealthy as it may be. The scary part is thinking about change and the unknowns it brings.

For me at least, the idea of change is much scarier than the actual act.

So I'm here to guide you, to help you, to educate you, and hopefully be of service to you. I want to take away a lot of that scary unknown stuff. Ideally, I'll help you replace the fear with excitement and self-empowerment, because like I said, you are AMAZING and you deserve to feel that way! I have so much to share with you... I'm so excited! But I have SO much I want to say, it's hard to know where to start! So... please tell me if YOU have a particular health/food/fitness/meditation/wellness question, or anything else that's on your mind that you want me to tackle in the next post! I would be so happy to start this blog by writing something that's specifically useful to you right away.

I'm here to serve you, so tell me what you're wondering about!

Please read My Story so you'll know why I created My Whole Healthy, and you can Take Action with five EASY steps towards YOUR Whole Healthy right now, and I'd be honored if you signed up for my monthly newsletter (top right in the sidebar of this page) to get Whole Healthy gifts and guidance delivered to your inbox! Check out the site, visit and follow me on social media... this is going to be AWESOME.

Don't forget to tell me in the comments below if you have any questions or stuff I can help you with! Can't wait to talk to you!

xoxo Maggie


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