Monthly Archives: July 2011

Fit Stella Joins our Fit Family

You’ve heard of Flat Stanley, right? Well, there’s a new kids in town. Their names are Fit Stanley and Fit Stella. They travel too, but in the interest of healthy living. So you can imagine how thrilled we were at my house when Fit Stella arrived last week. She made herself right at home and had no trouble keeping up with our fit family.

We like to start our day with a little yoga.
We play outside at every opportunity and Fit Stella knows all about playouts.
Climbing is another way we get active around here. Fit Stella reached new heights.
The quality of our day is measured in the need for a bath.
Exercising our mind is important to us, too. We read every day.
I was excited to see Fit Stella reading Hot Sweaty Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.
She knows a good book when she sees one.
We ended the week with a family bike ride.
But we know how to kick back around here, too.
And eat well. I’m always looking for a healthy dish the kids will eat up complaint free. This is a hit with everyone, including Fit Stella: Creamy Basil Pesto Coleslaw.
Now it’s time for Fit Stella to get fit with another family. You can follow her adventures over at Enjoy your travels Fit Stella. We’ll miss you!

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Lessons from Beginners

A smile at the triathlon finish is as good as a medal.

My almost 8-year-old daughters finished their first triathlon yesterday. My husband and I thought we knew all there was to know about triathlon. As it turned out we learned a few things from the beginners:

1) Swimming is more difficult when you can’t touch the bottom. For those logical types, this won’t make any sense. This makes PERFECT sense to me.

2) For some a race is not a competition but a journey. The girls swam in the same lane and one sister edged out the other by the end of the 50 meters. She didn’t rush off to the transition. She waited for her sister. Some people race for the experience and sometimes the experience includes finishing with a special friend.

3) Safety comes first. It’s just a race. Be careful out there. If you need to walk your bike down a steep hill, as one of my daughters did, there’s no shame in that.

4) If you walk and no one sees, does it matter? A lot of the participants, including my daughters, walked some of the 1/2 mile run. Once the finish line (and the crowds) were visible, those kids made an enthusiastic charge. No matter how your race goes, a strong finish can leave you with a positive outcome.

5) Don’t project your feelings on someone else’s experience. I had to keep my fear and nerves to myself before the race, but it was important after the race too. This became especially apparent to me at the end of our long day when I asked my daughter, “Are you exhausted?” And she answered, “Am I supposed to be?”

6) The magic of the triathlon lingers as long as the numbers on your arms and legs stay on. As I tucked the girls into bed I saw one daughter still wearing her swimsuit (a brand new orange and pink suit from blueseventy) under her race t-shirt. More than 24 hours later you can still see her race number on her arms. I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist on a bath now. Like the clock turning midnight, her coach will turn back into a pumpkin. Until the next race.

What have you learned about fitness from your kids? Share it with us and enter to win a pair of goggles and swim cap from blueseventy. –Kara


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Family Friendly Runs

Half way through the run, my kids were off running themselves. While mama's kickin' ass, the kids are enjoying the sunshine and company of other free-range kids.

After 50K, my girls were dancing on the finish line.

Trail runs offer a special kind of freedom to runners, and the kids who come out to cheer them on. My dance with dirt at the Afton 50K  Trail Run on Saturday was intense. With over 8,700 feet of ascending and descending, it wasn’t easy. But knowing my kids were out exploring and having fun meant I wasn’t worrying about them being bored or getting into trouble. And best of all, my kids didn’t just get to cross the finish line with me, they were dancing on it when I got there. My oldest even put the medal around my neck. After 6+ hours of running, it was the best finish line I could imagine!

What’s your favorite event for the family? What makes it so special for you or the other members of your clan?


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Age is Just a Number

This is my very own 65-year-old Hot (Sweaty) Mama who continues to inspire me with her sense of adventure. Who’s afraid of getting old? With a role model like this my attitude is: Bring. It. ON.

Fit moms just get better with age!


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Pelvic Floor Workouts

Not too many of us want to talk about this, although we might with our closest training partners, especially if say, one of them makes us laugh in Boot Camp while doing burpees or during a run. “Stop it!” You might cry, “I just peed in my pants!” There’s that dribble from urge incontinence (there, I said it) from a cough or sneeze that comes out of nowhere and then the continuum of unpleasantness goes on from there. I know women who’ve had to slip a pad into their shorts in the transition area of a duathlon before running. I know runners who no longer run because the leaking is so bad. I find that unacceptable. And if you’re having problems–anywhere on that continuum–so should you.

I’ve written a lot about pelvic floor health in the last year and have learned a great deal. First and foremost: It’s not really your bladder’s fault, it’s a weak pelvic floor. And while pregnancy and birth can certainly compromise that tiny area of muscles between our pubic bone and tail bone that essentially hold up all of our organs (is that all?), that weakness can (and most often does) effect everyone eventually, even men, because yes they too have a pelvic floor.

Here’s a run down of the most eye-opening pelvic floor facts I’ve learned from two people who have studied the pelvic floor extensively. This is the information that can mean the difference between wet and dry running shorts, and for some working out again with confidence.

1. The Pelvic Floor needs to be stretched and strong. When I interviewed biomechanical scientist Katy Bowman last year she blew me away with the very obvious:

One of the biggest misnomers is that tight muscles are “strong” and loose muscles are “weak.” In actuality, the strongest muscle is one that is the perfect length – you need Pelvic Floor Goldilocks – it’s juuuuuust right. The Kegel keeps making the PF tighter and tighter (and weaker and weaker). The short term benefits are masking the long term detriments. Ditch the kegels and add two to three squat sessions throughout the day (anywhere). The glutes strengthen and as a result, they pull the sacrum back, stretching the PF from a hammock to a trampoline. Viola! 

And because that seemed so incongruous to so many people I interviewed Katy again to get a “say what?” on that:

The muscle tissue in your PF is the same as the muscle tissue in your biceps. When you’re done realllly working your biceps, you’d like your arm to go back to its original length, right? What if, when you were done doing your curls, your elbows stayed as bent as they were when your muscles were the TIGHTEST? If you equate strong with tight, then you’d have “strong,” contracted arms with bent elbows all the time. Tight muscles. Unusable arms. That’s not what TONE is. Tone is having the MOST strength and the MOST length.

2. A flat butt indicates a person has a weak pelvic floor (and likely pees when sneezing). This is why squats are the new kegel. Again, I bring you Ms. Bowman:

The muscles that balance out the anterior pull on the sacrum are the glutes. A lack of glutes (having no butt) is what makes this group so much more susceptible to PFD. Zero lumbar curvature (missing the little curve at the small of the back) is the most telling sign that the PF is beginning to weaken. Deep, regular squats (pictured in hunter-gathering mama) create the posterior pull on the sacrum. Peeing like this in the shower is a great daily practice, as is relaxing the PF muscles to make sure that you’re not squeezing the bathroom muscle closers too tight. 

3. That hip, knee, foot, or back problem might really be a pelvic floor problem. The biomechanics lessons from Katy provide endless insight to the the many connections involved with our health. In the case of the pelvic floor, lots of important body parts connect to it: abs, glutes, hip flexors. If these supporting muscles aren’t strong enough our pelvic floor suffers; likewise, calling on these muscles to do the work of weaker muscles will trigger new problems. Katy posted four fast fixes for pelvic floor disorder on her blog. One of them: Not using the treadmill. I am so down with that!

4. In a well-aligned muscle-balanced body, kegels would not be necessary. Yup, if all of our muscles maintained their ideal strength and length so that our alignment kept our body in good working form, then there would be no need to “spot train” problem areas. And if you do need to “spot train,” understand that more than your pelvic floor is compromised (see #3 above). In another post by Katy (more prolific about the pelvic floor than I) she says:

PFD is a sign that your entire body is collapsing, from the inside-down. While the sneeze-pee and organ prolapse may seem like a huge deal it is nothing compared to the neurological damage to the spine, nerves, and tissues that those nerves supply (especially the nerves running to the lower legs.)  The kegel is a drop in the bucket to what someone with PFD needs to do to heal all their structures.  PFD is a whole-body situation and for optimal, whole-body outcome, the body has to be treated holistically. Otherwise it’s like putting a new roof on a termite-ridden frame.

5. A kegel is a two-part process, not just a contraction. Since most of us aren’t perfectly balanced and aligned, we still need to know how to do a kegel but only if they’re done correctly. Doing them incorrectly is only going to exacerbate pelvic floor disorder. And no matter what, you still need to be able to engage your pelvic floor. Guess what? A Kegel is more than a contraction. The next step is to relax the pelvic floor so as to lengthen it (see #1 above). The Kegel Queen emphasizes the relaxation step in her program and why she insists you can’t do kegels anywhere, like while we’re driving, as we’re often told.

6. If you can totally relax your pelvic floor you can completely relax your body. The ability to completely relax your pelvic floor allows you to completely relax your body. Can you do this pelvic floor party trick?

7. Doing two kegels is good, but doing 200 is NOT better. Both Katy Bowman and the Kegel Queen agree that too many equates to a too-tight pelvic floor. Katy points out that a too-tight pelvic floor can pull the sacrum out of alignment (hello back pain!) and the Kegel Queen explained it to me in a recent interview in terms I can understand as a fit mom:

Kegels work by increasing your control of the pelvic floor muscles, and by building mass and tone in the pelvic floor. How would you build mass and tone in any other muscle in your body? As anyone who does weight training knows, you’d do a small number of strong, sustained reps. Not 200 “quick flicks,” or 200 anything! Your pelvic floor is no different.

8. Even if your pelvic floor is in good shape, even if you’ve had corrective surgery, you still need to maintain pelvic floor strength. This is forever people. It’s like strength training any muscle. Once you feel like you’re in a good place you can’t just stop. This applies to all fitness, so of course it applies to pelvic floor fitness. Even my pelvic floor expert, Katy Bowman, discovered she needed to get back in touch with her pelvic floor after the birth of her baby (she’s human!)

I know that’s a lot of links. All that in one post is, “Everything Kara Learned About the Pelvic Floor That She Wants Every Fit Mom to Know.” So please share it with your sweaty sisters at your next workout. No one needs to worry about what will happen while running or laughing. And if you’re working out with your sweaty sisters you need to do both at the same time.



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