Ah, the Internet, a simultaneous land of value and of woo. Distinguishing between the two is really hard.
I don’t agree with everything the following people say, and I’m sure they wouldn’t agree with everything I say because, you know, we aren’t clones.
Even so, these are the people I (mostly) trust and the stuff I (usually) use.
Stuff I Use and Like:
Black Mountain Resistance Bands: These are the bands I use most frequently, mostly because the kit was inexpensive and contains 5 different band levels, comfy handles, a door anchor, and an ankle strap. They are great for traveling.
TRX: This is a body weight resistance trainer. I even converted my husband. I use this at least once a week (except when my husband is deployed because he takes it with him). It was fantastic when I was pregnant and wanted to gently work my abdominal muscles in an upright position. It doesn’t take up much space and can easily attach to the door. If you don’t have space for free weights, this suspension trainer can take the place of all of them.
Bellefit: I knew my third baby would be born via c-section, so I asked my doctor about using a binder to help with recovery. He said the hospital could supply me with one. The hospital one was fine for the first few days but was bulky and kept on rubbing against my incision. The Bellefit felt so much better. I got the dual closure one, which helped me approximate my diastasis recti a little. The crotch strap also kept it from riding up. I don’t think every woman needs to “belly bind” after giving birth. A too tight binder may even harm the pelvic floor. But after a c-section, this was a godsend. I think it is expensive, so I hesitate recommending it. Nevertheless, I used it, so I must have thought it was worth the money.
Erin Condren Planner: I’m a bit obsessive about my planners. I once spent hours making my own planner, only to realize it had somehow cost me $170 in supplies, paper, ink, etc… That was certifiably, massively, expensively insane. It didn’t even look that good. I went back to the ho hum daily planners, but none were quite “right.” I tried going digital, but I kept on forgetting to check my calendar. I need to see a planner, and I need it to separate the day by morning, noon, and evening. I stumbled across Erin Condren planners and thought the price tag was a bit steep, but then realized I was already spending a ton of money on the search for the one and only perfect planner. Her life planners are the closest I’ve come to perfection. Every year I buy a new one, and I’ve never regretted it. I like to say “habit is hope and hope is organization.” This is how I stay organized. Interested? Then head over to her website. (Full disclosure: If you buy through this link, I’ll get store credit for referring you, which would be totally awesome).
People I Trust to Give Good Advice
A. On Postpartum Pelvic Floors and Bellies
Kari Bo: She is a Norwegian physical therapist and researcher. I only just discovered her work after realizing she was the co-author on many of the studies I was finding in PubMed. Unlike other therapists, including ones on this list, she doesn’t jump ahead of this evidence, which may be good or bad depending on how you view the current research. Frankly, I think this is good. She developed the Pelvicore technique, which seems to be similar to other pelvic floor muscle training programs. (I couldn’t find the official Pelvicore program available in the states, but you can watch some of the videos on You Tube here and here). If you like textbooks and information overload, check out her book Evidence Based Physical Therapy.
Tasha Mulligan: She is a physical therapist and creator of the Hab-It for Prolapse DVD. This is a good place to start if you are recently postpartum, recently diagnosed with prolapse, or just want to know how to safely exercise your pelvic floor. The exercise routines aren’t particularly exciting, but they are do-able and serve well as a foundation. I went on a panicked buying frenzy after my second large baby and stumbled across some really crap advice. Her DVD was an example of actual good advice. Check out her website or buy Hab-It.
Brianne Grogan: She is also a physical therapist and runs the website Fem Fusion Fitness. To be honest, her nutrition advice isn’t my cup of tea. Her workouts are decent, but some of the ab stuff isn’t appropriate for me. However, I really enjoyed her book Fem Fusion Fitness for Intimacy.
Julie Wiebe: Yet another physical therapist. Her approach is more breath centered than Mulligan’s. She also focuses a lot on posture. I got to see Julie Wiebe once in person (she is based out of L.A.), but had to forgo future visits because I got pregnant and sick. Such is life. Her posture and breath theories aren’t fully mainstream, but overall her advice is reasonable, easy to follow, and sensible. She talks a lot about the “anticipatory core,” a concept that is crucial for women returning to fitness after childbirth. Check out her website.
Blandine Calais-Germain: Surprise, another physical therapist. She is based out of France and is known for her No Risk Abs technique. She doesn’t have an online presence like the other physical therapists on the list, but I’ve read all her books, sometimes multiple times. The information is not flashy or to be honest reader friendly, which can be a disadvantage if you want clarity, but her work has been invaluable in teaching me about movement mechanics and anatomy. Buy No Risk Abs OR The Female Pelvis OR Anatomy of Movement or No Risk Pilates.
Celeste Goodson: She is a personal trainer who offers the ReCORE Program and sells the Fit Splint. I’ve tried a lot of online programs that advertise solutions for diastasis recti. Many of the programs are similar and have overlapping information. Goodson’s isn’t the glossiest of the options, but it was the most customized and the least boring of the programs I stuck with. I’ve tried splinted and unsplinted programs, and I’m still on the fence about the benefits of splinting. That said, if you want to try a splinted program, I recommend hers over the other uber popular splinted program that will remain unnamed. I bought the Fit Splint in 3 different sizes and wore it throughout my entire third pregnancy and for about 6 weeks afterwards. If you are looking for a pregnancy splint, this is the one I recommend. Check out her website.
B. On Nutrition
Amber of Go Kaleo: Another good fitness/nutrition blogger. Just as much snark as The Carb Sane-Asylum, but a bit less esoteric. I fully appreciate her “real food” advocacy that doesn’t also make me feel like I’m reading nonsense. Check out Go Kaleo.
Yoni Freedhoff of Weighty Matters: He is a family doctor and professor at The University of Ottawa. I found his blog after reading his book The Diet Fix. I highly recommend the book. In a nutshell, he argues that diets are dumb because they make life miserable and don’t keep weight off. He explains it better in the book. He’s also been blogging for pretty much forever, so check out his website.
Matt Fitzgerald: He wrote Diet Cults. The name sums it up. This book put into words so many of my feelings about diet camps. The breadth of the book is pretty wide, so sometimes it felt unmoored, but most of the time I kept thinking “Yes, so true.” Humans can eat in lots of different ways and there is no One True Way of eating, as he calls it. He offers a food game to track healthy eating, which sounded good, but honestly I never could be bothered. I suppose that is the problem with a lot of healthy eating solutions. Overall, this book made me remember that food obsession about the minutiae of what you eat is a #firstworldproblem.
Brian Wansink: He directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and wrote Mindless Eating. He’s done loads of social science experiments looking at why we eat how much we eat. His conclusions reveal that we all eat mindlessly (hence the title) and are influenced by food cues. If you think you aren’t a mindless eater, you’re wrong. This is why looking at our food environment is more important than forcing willpower.
C. On Body Image
Body Image, A Handbook: This book is a collection of essays on body image edited by Thomas F. Cash and Linda Smolak. It is NOT a guide to better body image. I debated whether to include it because reading it is a bit of an academic slog. Scientists (social and hard) really need to learn to liven it up a bit. However, if you want an overview of the academic literature on body image, start with the handbook.
The Body Image Workbook: Another book by Thomas F. Cash, this one more user friendly. Honestly, I couldn’t find many comprehensive body image programs (unlike the zillion belly programs). This book is decent, but the emphasis on positive affirmations and blanket self-esteem aren’t my style. Still, it’s a good start and I would recommend it.
The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Weight Loss: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has resonated with me, perhaps because I am more cerebral than meditative. Although weight is not my particular struggle, you could replace “weight” with any other body part you may have trouble accepting. Check out the Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Weight Loss.
D. On Science
Science Based Medicine: You should be forewarned that unlike many in the women’s health world, I have become a full fledged alternative medicine skeptic. The website Science Based Medicine is the best online source I’ve found about these issues. Trigger warning: Doctors and scientists aren’t known for their brevity. But, they are known for being smart. And indeed they are.
Paul Ingraham of Pain Science: He is an editor for Science Based Medicine and runs his own business at PainScience.com. The information is not directly applicable to postpartum bodies, but his general skeptical yet helpful approach to science and health is unique. His website is also really user friendly, which I appreciate.
Fitness Reloaded: Maria Brilaki, the editor of Fitness Reloaded, has created a great resource for fitness minded folks who are skeptical of fads and bad science. It is also a research based site. I’m a regular reader of the site, so I was thrilled when Maria asked me to become a contributor. I have a lot of fun writing for the Fitness Reloaded audience.
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