Posts tagged personal trainer
It's HERE! Beautiful Brains, Bellies, and Babies

You've probably noticed a few changes around these parts lately. 

If you've been with me since the beginning of this blog and business, my passion for health, wellness, healing, and recovery is obvious. I've "been through it," overcoming that whole severe traumatic brain injury, coma, broken in at least 18 places thing. I know how it feels to be so physically weak you can't even walk at a normal pace, let alone climb stairs normally. I know what it's like to be in pain all the time, to not trust my thoughts or the words that come out of my mouth because I'm aware of how my brain confuses most things.... and I know what it takes to heal and overcome all of that.

When I launched My Whole Healthy in 2014, I was pregnant with my son. This blog, website, and business was borne out of my desire to help people heal, get healthy, and share my story in the hope that it might inspire someone who needed to hear it. At the same time, I also became a certified personal trainer, and dove headfirst into honing my skills to gain more knowledge and expertise in nutrition and wellness. 

Now, I am a pre and post-natal corrective exercise specialist, and I am SO excited to finally be launching my coaching services in an online format, as well as in person! I know good help is hard to find, ESPECIALLY when it comes to finding a personal trainer you click with, so it brings me so much joy to offer my coaching to the incredible souls I meet here in San Diego, and around the world. My Whole Healthy lives online, and I have connected with so many bright spirits in the online world. My husband being one, as well as many dear friends.

I know that very real connections can be made online, and I know that I can be of service there, too. With the quality of online video conferencing now, it's like we are sitting across the table from each other, and I am fully able to coach you on correct form and function by giving you easy-to-understand cues and tips.

CLICK HERE to visit my appointment scheduling page, and please feel free to share as much on social, and in person, as you like! I can't wait to help you reach your goals.

XOXO

Maggie

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The Secret To Whole Health With Wellness Expert Danny J

“I am here to show up, and help, and love, and serve people.” - Danny J

REST, REBUILD, RECONDITION: Danny J healed herself with those 3 key actions. While her words are different, it's not too far removed from the food, mindfulness, and movement that I used to heal after my injuries. 

Danny Johnson or "Danny J"  is a wellness expert with over a decade of experience and first-hand knowledge of achieving wellness herself after her body stopped working properly, she gained weight despite doing everything "right," and she had to give up and give her body what it was crying out for. She is the creator of the Find The Money Project, is the co-creator of Social Academy, and she has coached me in taking full advantage of social media so that I can better reach and help you! 

I am so excited to share her interview with you! We talk mindfulness, adrenal fatigue, money, and what really matters, so sit down and enjoy our half hour chat. I broke it into two 15 minute parts so it's easier for you to watch. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

“I  feel like I’m constantly learning, and I’m constantly pushing myself to see more and expand more, and to be whole I just think you need to address all those sides of yourself."

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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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So Many Gifts!

So this has been an amazing week and I have so much to share with you!

My itty bitty baby bump! I'm 6'1" tall and it's still early yet ;)

My itty bitty baby bump! I'm 6'1" tall and it's still early yet ;)

First off, I would like to officially, publicly, announce that I am PREGNANT!!! and my husband and I are over the moon with happiness! Honestly, after my accident I was scared that I might not be able to have children and even after I was told I still could, I feared there was some injury or damage that had gone unnoticed that would still cause problems. But thankfully, joyfully, we got pregnant pretty easily once we started trying!

I feel so blessed and grateful, and appreciative of the amazing healing my body has accomplished! Yes, I still have scars - physical and emotional - but my body is healthily and happily carrying a little person now! I am in awe.

Learning to walk again in the hospital after  the accident . Head shaved, arm still in a cast with pins in my wrist, and I remember my left leg (that had been broken in 5 places) felt heavy and numb, like dead wood. I was 23 years old at the time.

Learning to walk again in the hospital after the accident. Head shaved, arm still in a cast with pins in my wrist, and I remember my left leg (that had been broken in 5 places) felt heavy and numb, like dead wood. I was 23 years old at the time.

 


Secondly, if you follow me on social media you probably saw that I wrote my exam on Thursday to earn my personal trainer certification with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and passed with flying colors! I am so excited to have the qualifications necessary to work with and help people (you?!) one-on-one! I plan to start training later in the New Year and when I open the doors to accept new clients, I will let you know in my newsletter so make sure you sign up (top right of this page!) to make sure you're in the know! 

And now, with Christmas right around the corner, I wanted to give you some gift ideas with products and companies that I have, use and LOVE! Some of the links are affiliate links, so I would get a teeny commission if you use the link to buy something, but all the items are meant to help you! Anything I would make goes to helping me support this site but I hope you love and enjoy these things as much as i do! 

The next three companies make the most comfortable, stylish and functional organic clothing I've found yet! I don't like wearing synthetics made from petroleum (nylon, polyester, etc.) next to my skin when I work out and sweat, and the same goes for non-organic cotton which is sprayed with nasty pesticides, because I know there are cleaner, healthier options. I found these companies and since wearing their clothing regularly for months, I love them! They seem to have some killer pre-Christmas sales happening too, so check them out!

PACT apparel  - This company makes the MOST comfortable undies I have ever owned (ladies, no panty lines!) and everything they make is ORGANIC and Fair Trade, and they hold a ton of other awesome certifications!

Plus You can feel good when you buy their products! So if you need stocking stuffers, head over to their website to pick up CUTE socks, COMFY undies and the softest, most comfortable leggings and tees (plus camisoles, hoodies, tights and long johns!) Besides, who wants to wear pesticide-soaked cotton next to your most precious parts?! Every pattern they release is a limited edition so grab it while you can, and if your size is sold out, unfortunately it's gone. But every spring and fall brings new looks!

YOGIIZA - Organic yoga wear. This company is a recent discovery but I have two of their yoga/sports bras and three tank tops and I love them all! I know more Yogiiza apparel is in my future. It's is so soft and stretchy and comfy, yet supportive. Really well made and I love how it looks on! 

Here, I am working out (side lunges with a shoulder raise!) wearing a chocolate and turquoise color Yogiiza tank, Yogiiza sports bra and Gramicci leggings.

Here, I am working out (side lunges with a shoulder raise!) wearing a chocolate and turquoise color Yogiiza tank, Yogiiza sports bra and Gramicci leggings.

Gramicci - I discovered this company earlier this year while searching high and low for organic workout wear. Their NPT Athletic organic cotton and hemp line was the first thing I tried when making the switch to organic workout wear. And I keep looking with excitement every time they come out with a new line or new pieces! The hemp is naturally antibacterial so you don't smell all gross and sweaty even after an intense workout and the cuts and seaming of the clothes make easy movement a breeze. One feature I love is the little pocket in the waistband of the leggings where i can stick small things like my rings when they start to chafe during a workout! They are also committed to greener manufacturing.

 

Now for other things that have improved my life, and I hope they do the same for you!

Want to decorate your Christmas cookies without using the typical artificial (petroleum) food dye that's linked to hyperactivity in children? India Tree makes natural food dyes from vegetable colorants, and colored sprinkles made with the same. Seems like a great stocking stuffer to me!


I mentioned this film in last week's post and it's one of my favorite documentaries now. Released over the summer, I saw it in the theater and found it shocking, infuriating but also really inspirational because it shows what can be done. Our "food system" is broken and our nation is sick but there is a way through. This would be an awesome gift for anyone who cares about their health and is ready to make a change, or just become more informed.


Food, Inc. is THE film that inspired my husband and I to completely change how we eat. It wasn't a drastic change so don't feel intimidated but armed with the information in this film, it was easy for us to make smarter, better choices. The film is extremely well done, engrossing and inspiring. Shocking, too, in parts. It would be a great gift for anyone! It's kind of amazing :)


 

I recently found a toothbrush with a bamboo handle and I love it! Have you ever thought about how much plastic goes into the landfills because of all the toothbrushes we throw away? I'm using a different brand than this (the brand I found in my local store wasn't available on Amazon) but it looks pretty much the same as these and the bamboo is a sustainable resource (it grows back, fast) that will decompose when you throw the toothbrush away. Seems like a great gift for anyone who cares about the environment, and their teeth!


This book. Oh my god, THIS BOOK. I can't even begin to tell you how incredible it is and why everyone needs to read it. This book finally made me understand meditation and its benefits, and if you're like me and you need to know WHY something works, this book has it. The author is a science journalist who writes extremely well and who has faced more in her life than most of us, yet is still able to help thousands with her writing. It's so good. Just buy it for everyone you know who needs a little healing in their life.

 

I read this book right after I got out of the rehab hospital and it gave me SO. MUCH. HOPE! For anyone who has suffered a brain injury and is lucid and focused enough to read it, or the family or friends of anyone with a brain injury, this book is incredible. It's full of case studies that show the remarkable healing power of our brains and despite the scientific content, it's EXTREMELY well written and hard to put down. Highly recommended!!! 

 

I love these spices! All organic, never sprayed with pesticides and no GMO ingredients. These spices are not certified gluten free but I've never reacted to them, and they have many spice and seasoning mixes that are gluten free. And the little glass bottles are so cute to look at and re-use!

I know many of you are reading from Canada and the Amazon links are to the U.S. site, but hopefully you can get them on Amazon.ca, or in a store near you!

You can also purchase photographic prints, cards and keepsakes for the art lover in your life from m.y. photography!

What are your stories of healing? Has your body ever amazed you with its ability to heal? Has healing been hard and left you wondering how you'll ever feel like yourself again? I'd love to hear from you in the comments! 
And I hope this helps you with your last minute Christmas shopping! If you have any gift ideas of your own you want to share, leave them in the comments below! And what's on your wish list? I hope Santa brings you exactly what you're hoping for!

xo Maggie


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