Restoring Body Balance for Preconception
- balancing your body
- balancing your mind
- balancing your home
- balancing your healthcare
TLDR: by balancing all areas of your life you can set yourself up for a healthier and more mindful start to motherhood, parenting, and all that comes with having kids.
Look at the big picture
Holistic wellness is the goal here; body balance will prove to give you the most value for your efforts. We can hyper focus on one aspect, but the truth is that our bodies know when something out of proportion as its purpose is to return to a place of homeostasis, which means the body is always trying to return to a steady state of balance.
We can encourage our body to return to its best function by encouraging balance in our body, mind, home, and healthcare. When we have strategies for stress management, sleeping better, and nourishing ourselves, we fall into a rhythm that feels natural. This rhythm looks different for each person, but it’s essential to find your own patterns for life, especially when you’re thinking about bringing a new life into the world.
How do we find this rhythm when life and schedules are busy and it’s hard to find time to sit down and savor our food or have a moment to think about doing a yoga class?
It’s easier than you think. I promise. And the funny thing about holistic wellness is that it tends to build upon itself. Think about how when you start one good habit, the others tend to follow suit. It’s common to start to move more in the morning if you’ve had a restful night of sleep. It’s easier to focus at work when you’ve nourished yourself with quality food.
Elevating the importance of your health often means you will neglect other chores. You have to choose to be bad at something so that other projects and areas of your life can thrive. I often choose to be bad at keeping house so that I can sleep, write, or go do something fun, like a bike ride with friends.
1. Balancing Your Body
1. Balancing your body
Sweet, sweet sleep
I’m a firm believer in sleep. I used to not be. I used to get by on about 5-6 hours a night, and then “make it up” on the weekends when I didn’t have to work my day job. My recovery from surgery taught me the importance of rest and sleep. I knew that it was important before, sure. I told all my clients that their 5-6 hours of sleep wasn’t enough as I was drinking my second or third cup of coffee for the day. Talk about hypocrisy. I would feel like I couldn’t put together sentences unless I had an afternoon caffeine boost. I would wake up too early so I could have a moment before work, and when I got home, I would stay up too late trying to finish my entire to-do list. Then my body told me I needed more rest. It’s hard to go from hyper overachieving to resting more. It sometimes looks like frustration because you can’t do it all. Speaking from experience here.
Shifting my focus to making sleep my top priority has improved so many aspects of my wellness. I drink only one cup of coffee in the morning now, loaded with collagen, heavy cream, and either maple syrup or mint chocolate LMNT. When I have a second cup, I notice the negative effects of the caffeine.
Since optimizing my sleep, my mood is better, I’m more relaxed when I’m working, talking with people, or throughout my morning routine. I have time to think, my brain works better, and I have fewer times throughout the week where I am overwhelmed by my anxiety. Oh, and my digestion has improved, as well as my skin. Now some of these great things are results from other changes I have been making, but sleep is the foundation for integrating these changes.
- Limit blue light for at least 30 minutes before sleep
- Wake up at the same time, Monday-Friday
- Keep the room completely dark
- Use a wake up light to mimic the sunrise, and to ease into alertness
- Read instead of scrolling
- Take magnesium supplment or epsom salts bath to induce calm
- Use a sound machine
Consume to nourish
Eating for your health is a concept that's easy to forget. Our health is tied to what we consume. I'm speaking about food here, but other consumables like social media have a great impact on our wellness, as well.
Quality, nutrient-dense foods are what are going to give us our most vibrant self. My encouragement to you would be to honestly evaluate what you’re eating. Are you eating fast, sugary foods more often than slower, home-cooked meals that include fats and proteins? How much does what you eat affect the inflammation in your body? If you're curious about how to eat more whole foods and what nutrients are necessary, check out what Lily Nichols has to say in Real Food for Pregnancy.
In a similar vein, look at what you’re drinking. Frequent alcoholic and/or sugary drinks can send your body into panic. This can lead to many other issues. The bottom line? Cut out the majority of your alcohol and sweet drinks, add more water more salt to your diet.
Speaking of consumables, a straightforward way to improve wellness is to quit smoking. You’ll breathe better, providing a healing environment for yourself and your future baby as well.
Move Your Body
Move well. Get sweaty and lift heavy things a few times a week to start. Get a coach. If you have back pain when you squat, or you notice your quads with every exercise, you might be compensating and you would benefit from a form assessment.
One of the most simple ideas to say and hardest to begin is plan to get outside with friends weekly. Doing things together in nature provides you with a powerful multi-purpose activity. You get fresh air, social time, quality time with people you love, movement, and a mental break. What's not to love?
Time to get personal: your pelvic health matters
Learn ahead of time about your pelvic floor so you don’t worry when it comes time to think about it during pregnancy and postpartum. If I could summarize many of my clients’ sentiments after they work with me, one common thread stands out. It is that they were disappointed that no one had told them about their pelvic floor before, and what they could do to keep it healthy. Commit to booking an appointment with a Pelvic Health PT today. That’s your first step toward avoiding leaking when you laugh after having a baby. Search on the Pelvic Guru directory for a qualified one near you.
2. Balancing Your Mind
2. Balancing your mind
I stress, eustress, we all stress
Let’s talk about how to reduce negative stress when you’re a busy professional. Stressful living is esteemed in our society, but this has been slowly changing in the last few years. We are learning that resting and recovering is crucial for a functioning society. And if you’re looking toward motherhood, you need to have established strategies for stress management before you add a newborn to the mix. I love how Katy Bowman talks about “stacking your life” and how we can check many wellness boxes with one activity. Think about how by sitting on the floor eating with friends: you’re not only getting good hip movement and gaining strength as you get up and down off the floor, but you’re also getting quality friend time and nourishment for your body through what foods you’re eating. Some stress is good (this is called eustress), we need tension to create growth, exactly like when we build muscle. It's when we have too much dis-stress that we see these negative rhythms.
Increasing your mindfulness can be helpful for so many aspects of life, and will benefit you in the long run. Being present where you are is easier said than done, but helps to increase your mindfulness.
Get a counselor. Talk it out. Download an app for meditation. Do a yoga video daily. Your mental health is worth it: this is the only brain and body you’re gonna have. You might as well spend some time in a calm state, right?
As we move toward a calmer state, here are some ways that can help you advocate for yourself and your health. Commit to move your body more throughout the day. You can take a 5-minute walk break. You can move your lungs and breathe deeply through 5 inhale/exhale cycles before walking into a meeting.
We can spend less time in the mindless scrolling mode, and more time focused on the task at hand, or the people we’re talking to. The amount of instagram posts you see per day is inversely correlated with your anxiety levels. (Or at least this is true for me! I’m way less anxious when I spend fewer minutes on social media.)
Advocate for yourself by choosing the thing that serves you better, whatever that looks like for you. Setting some simple boundaries is a good place to start.
3. Balancing Your Home
3. Balancing your home
Declutter your life, mentally and physically
Get rid of clutter. Honestly, this one can reduce so much stress. Decluttering in small amounts each day can help improve how you see your home (as a place of calm and healing rather than chaos) as well as help you to feel like you have some control over one aspect of your life - what comes into your home and what stays. I love watching the But First, Coffee YouTube for decluttering and organizing ideas. She keeps it real and talks about practical strategies that you can use daily.
A little less toxic, please
Let's cut straight to the point. If you have toxins in your home, get rid of them as best as you can! You can start small, and an easy way to choose non-toxic products is to check everything with the Skin Deep Database by EWG. They have an app as well. I also like the app Think Dirty for scanning things in the store.
It’s fun to buy new lotions, soaps, cleaning supplies, and skincare products for our homes, but not fun when you find out the harm that can be caused by their ingredients. You can check the safety of these products through the EWG’s Skin Deep Database, and find clean products as well. I love using this because it gives me the knowledge I need to choose good products for my family.
- Cleaning products
I've used Branch Basics for three years now, and won't ever go back to cleaners full of harmful chemicals.
- Skincare I love
- Sola Skincare
- Alaska Tallow Company (code trainernatalie gets you 10% off!)
- Araza Beauty for makeup (code NATALIE15 gets you 15% off!)
4. Balancing Your Healthcare
4. Balancing your healthcare
Is your provider providing good things for you?
Find a provider who’s for you. If your current provider doesn’t talk aout sleep, mood, eating healthy fats and proteins, moving your body, and makes you feel like you could ask them any question in the world, find someone else. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve seen that one - they work for you, not the other way around.
Seeing a functional medicine provider can be helpful with addressing things from a holistic viewpoint. You may also want to establish care with a local midwife for your well-woman exams. You need someone who can explain thyroid health and hormone health in depth and who eats and encourages you to eat organ meats. Plus, by switching providers you’re already practicing self-advocacy, which is a skill you’ll need during pregnancy, the birthing process, and parenting!
Needles, herbs, and moxibustion, oh my!
Other treatments can assist in bringing your body back to a homeostasis point, and one of these is acupuncture. The very basis of Chinese medicine and acupuncture is to support your body by getting things flowing and moving how they should which calms down the nervous system, promoting healing. Listen to my interview with licensed acupuncturist Rachel Delaney below if you haven’t already!
Conclusion: you know yourself better than anyone
You are the expert on your own body. If you have pain, your body is telling you something. If you need copious amounts of caffeine to get through the day, something needs to change. If you get bloated every time you eat, something is likely going on with your digestion. If you have painful periods, you might have endometriosis or another hormonal problem. If we accept where we are as concrete, we won’t move forward. We are responsible for our own bodies, and we need a village of support to help us get back on track. I hope to be a source of resources for you, and to take some of the hours of research and googling out of the equation so you can find what you need sooner. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Here’s to better health for women everywhere.
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