Saturday, February 13, 2016

Vacuum For Moms

I vacuum when I bend over to pick up a toy on the floor, I vacuum when I drive, I even vacuum when I vacuum.  As silly as this may sound, I really do it.  And you should too. Vacuum exercise is a tried and tested method many body builders use to use back in the day (think Arnold Schwarzenegger when he use to be one) to get those really skinny waists despite the massive muscles they displayed elsewhere in their bodies.  It is not as popular nowadays but it is a very powerful tool for us moms to cinch our waists back down after carrying our babies in the womb for 9 months and overstretching our abdominal muscles to the point you think you are going to pop.

If you Google vacuum exercises for body builders you will see some scary stuff. This exercise for body builders was made famous by a guy named Frank Zane and it looks like this:

Wheresamommy Vacuum Pose Body Builders

Cool, right? I'm telling you right now, there's no way I can get my stomach to look sucked in like this yet.  I've tried, but it is SO HARD to do.  However, I will tell you that you will benefit from practicing the beginners pose (and then adding the challenge as you get more confident) from the start. If you practice and are able to properly do it (like the picture above) let me know.  My version is adapted for everyday life and on the go practice.  You will notice your midsection whittle down within a few weeks.  The caveat here, you have to practice it.  You can't expect to have a tiny waist by doing this once.  Remember, you have to be consistent. 

The science here is that you will work two parts of your body that had to give out in order to support your growing bun in the oven.  One is the TVA (transverse abdomini muscle) and the membrane that connects all the muscles together (it has a very complicated name - thorocobular fascia - you just need to know what it does).  When you do the vacuum exercise properly you attack these two problems from the inside and end up with a skinny mini waist.

How to Get Your Flat Belly 

In all 3 moves below, breathe with your diaphragm.  Expand your belly and rib cage with an inhale, on the exhale, bring your belly button to your spine and contract your abdomen muscles. To start, hold the exhale (or belly button to spine) for 20 seconds.  Increase to as you go along.  After you get a hang of it, you don't have to hold your breath anymore.  You can keep muscles contracted but breathe through it. 


Hold exhale for 20 seconds to start

Intermediate (the known and loved Cat/Cow from your yoga class) 

Hold exhale for 20 seconds to start

Vacuum on the Go
You can do this last move anywhere you are.  Sitting in the car at pick up, folding laundry, making dinner, anywhere! You certainly don't have to be sitting on your feet for this last move to work.  I just needed to be sitting like this to fit in the picture.

Hold exhale for 20 seconds to start

Vacuuming for moms - Take your vacuum to go

As you already know because you read my first post (wink, wink), my mom used to tell me when I was a teenager to engage my ab muscles and "suck my belly in" all the time. I heard her. I do that frequently and it has become a habit of mine.  Now I don't think about it.
I'm always working on something. Be it kegels when I'm driving, or vacuuming when I'm vacuuming.  I'm always trying to improve myself.
I know your life is busy, I get it, I'm a mom too.  I know it is hard to try to remember to do kegels (those your OBGYN has told you to do every time you are at a red light), and now I'm telling you should be constantly pulling your belly button towards your spine?  Do you want a flat belly? Do you wish there was something simple you could do to solve the protruding belly? You know where I'm going, right? You have to do the work to see the results.  Sticking with it is the best way to see results. Just reading about it will not improve the appearance of your six-pack.  You can do it right now! I am doing it...
Set a reminder on your phone, try to make a habit of doing the vacuum exercise it in the car.  A few seconds to start with, increase it as you go along.  True story, I have an app for kegels that counts 10 seconds to squeeze and 10 seconds to relax and every time I get in the car I set it, as soon as the timer beeps, my son wants to know what the exercises I'm doing are for (he had asked me before what that noise was and I said I was just doing some exercises). I don't need a timer for the vacuum exercises and I do it right after kegels are done.  It doesn't matter if you are a new mom or has had your kids a while back. Anyone can benefit from doing it.
Do it consistently for a month and let me know if you feel the difference.  Take a picture before you start and another a month later.  Show the results on Instagram and tag @wheresamommy with the hashtag #vacuumexercise.  Are you ready for the challenge?

Disclaimer: I'm not saying you will lose weight by doing these exercises.  You will notice change in your abdominal muscles! I just want to be clear because to lose fat you will have change diet and exercise. This exercise is to compliment the program you are already doing.  Just saying!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Trainer Talk - Kevin Williams

I met Kevin Williams at my local Y and he is always so nice and shared some great exercises with me and my friend. He sat down with me after he was done with his clients one morning to give me his thoughts on fitness motivation and how he helps his clients get their bodies back post pregnancy.

Kevin has been a trainer for 12 years. He was also in the military for 13 years where he had the opportunity to be a welness coordinator in the Navy, a type of field trainer in the Army, and he always been very active doing sports.

What kind of exercises you like to use when you train your clients?
Most exercises I like to use are full body light weight to begin with, core strengthening moves.  The intensity level will increase.  I usually find out how strong or weak the person is first.  Since every person's body is different, it might take a week or two to find out what your weaknesses are. If for example a lady was in bed for the last trimester of her pregnancy, or they have job seating down. So it depends on what they are doing while they were pregnant and before determines what weaknesses I find post pregancy.

Also, any exercise that throws your body off balance, your body natural strengthening mechanism is to stabilize one side of your body once the other side becomes imbalanced.  So although it might seem you're not doing anything once I throw your body off balance, your whole body will tighten up to the point it is trying to fix the imbalance. Now you have left, right, front and back, and there are a lot of exercises on the TRX that you can use to throw your body off balance. I recommend this TRX move to throw your body off balance:

TRX Push-Up Hold with Knee to Elbow 

What kind of mix you find ideal for a person that is trying to get toned and lean, not bulky?
Isometric holds will strengthen your body first. I like to work inside out.  So if I can get your body to become strong while your metabolism goes up it is going to, eventually after a few months, the tightness of that muscle is going to force your body to burn more calories.  When you think toned and tight, its almost a misconception, because when you say toned and tight you are talking about a look in which the body fat percentage has to be very low.  Now we know the more muscle you have the more calories you burn, the more your body fat drops, but if somebody doesn't want to become bulky you can start with isometric holds just to build the strength. Once you can get your metabolism to go higher you can go higher reps you can add 5 lbs but manipulating the body to basically stay in a hold that is imbalanced to tone after the body fat percentage has dropped. So the tone is the look, and that look comes from diet.  80% is your diet, what you eat fuels your body for the energy your body will need in 2 hours. So if you workout intensily today you need to eat more, but if you will rest tomorrow your intake doesn't need to be as high.

What is the biggest mistake you see moms make when trying to go back to the gym to get their bodies back?
Two mistakes - time, you gotta give your body time to change, your body is only going to change so fast.  It does take time.  Another mistake is overworking your body, you gotta know your body.

What is the number one exercise you recommend to moms trying to regain their figure post pregnancy?

I will say, you need to train a big muscle first. That just makes sense. A bigger muscle like your legs are going to burn more calories. I see many people come in and say I want to lose my belly or get abs and they'll work on their abs.  That is a small muscle, right, and the idea is to boost your metabolism, burn calories, so I'll start with the legs.  Bigger muscle more calories, more energy output.  Your workout should change every 3 weeks.  But start with legs because you don't build a house from the top down, you build it from the foundation up.

Taking in consideration that many moms stomach muscles have streched out and are weak, what is the best way to address abdominals?

You want to tighten the core, your core involves your back, your diaphragm, the thoracic cavity, it involves your pelvic bottom.  It is not a big muscle but it helps you strengthen your pelvic bones that have streched out.  When you think about your core, your core works every day, when you twist, when you breathe, so you just want to work it a little more consistently to get your body back to where your core is thight.  It might take a month of consistent workout.  A good one to start is this one (actually a two that combined address core from all directions):

Forearm Plank with Sumo Squat

Go from plank to squat without a break in between
Get Your Body Back Post Pregnancy
Forearm Plank - Hold 20 seconds to start*
Get Your Body Back Post Pregnancy
Sumo Squat - Hold 20 seconds to start*
*Do 3 sets, add time as you feel your body getting stronger and to make it more challenging

How often should one workout in a week order to see results?
For the first month, maintaining consistency I tell people to go with a Winning Week.  A Winning Week is 4 out of 7.  That's a good start.  As your body begins to metabolize it burns more energy.  So the first month is key, consistency and a Winning Week (4 out of 7 at least)! You need 4 Winning Weeks in a row to get you in the mindset.  You will see results if you continue to for 2 more months. About the third month is when you get results.

How do you stay motivated?

When times get hard, remember why you started.  Go back to the beginning and remember, write it down, have a picture, anything that reminds you why you got started. Go in with the understanding that the idea is to break your body down, when it rebuilds you are going to rebuild your results.  And you are going to get tired and you are going to want to stop and you'll say I'll do it next day, next week.  Discipline, you gotta have it, even when you don't want to do it and your body will continue to change.

Anything else you'd like to add?

What I've learned in the many years of being active is if you stop becoming active, your metabolism drops, the mechanics of your muscular system weaken and your bones become stiff.  So a good idea for clients that I have, regardless of how long it will take you to get to your results, you must maintain an active body, your body is meant to move.

There's no question Kevin Williams is pretty inovative trainer.  He is the one who taught me to the Single Legged TRX Bosu Lunge (view here).  Its a killer move and have him to thank for that. Kevin works at the White Rock YMCA but he also has private clients.  If you live in the Dallas area and you'd like to get in touch with Kevin for a workout sesh, you can email him at

Monday, November 30, 2015

Motivation Monday

It is that time of the year. It is too cold outside and we have the tendency to hide inside and eat hearty foods and indulge in sweet treats.  The exercise level falls to none because we are so busy preparing holiday parties and shopping for gifts.  We start feeling the clothes fit tighter and start thinking "after the holidays I'll go back to the gym."
I wanted motivate you to stay in the game and survive the holiday craziness.  After all, it will be much easier to get back in shape and achieve your New Years Resolution if you keep the momentum and your sanity.  Think how much ahead of the game you'll be compared to all the people that are waiting until the "right time" to go back.

Here's how I stay motivated (and survive the season):

Go to the gym/yoga/cycling/whatever as much as you can

Whenever you have an opportunity to get moving, take it.  If it's nice outside (I live in TX so the weather can be nice outside even in the winter) go for a walk or jog with the family.  Go to your favorite class, be it Yoga, Cycling, Body Pump, Boxing, Pilates, lifting weights or any activity that rocks your boat.  The goal here is to do something.  When you keep the habit of exercising you'll find that on days you cannot go you end up missing being there.  That's the goal. Make your body crave moving and staying active.  It is too easy to give the excuse that it is too "______" (fill the blank) outside and stay in.  In my experience, I never regret going to the gym, but I do think "I should have gone" if I don't go.

wheresamommy fitness

'Tis the Season for good food
Oh the holiday food! So many delicious and decadent foods I can't even name them all.  Don't deprive yourself of all the good food but also don't stuff your face - keep a healthy balanced diet. Listen to your body.  Learn to identify when your stomach is full and obey it. This part is really hard but you'll be thankful you don't have too far to go to be back in shape. To help me increase my will-power over food and control my blood sugar levels I have been adding one Plexus Slim to 20 oz of water when I workout.  I do notice the difference in the ability to resist sweet cravings and plus it betters my energy level.  Moderation is key when it comes to eating all the holiday food.  So nothing is prohibited and we are all happy.  Plus if you exercise you will burn off some of the extra calories you ate.

wheresamommy fitness

* Update: During the holiday season I was able to keep my weight constant and not gain too much. With that said, I was still gained a couple of lbs.  Since the beginning of the year I have continued to add the Plexus products to my routine and notice big difference.  I've started taking their Bio Cleanse in the morning (oh what energy!) and the Probio5 at night (can't even begin to tell you how amazing this product is).  These two products combined with the Plexus Slim have made it possible to drop a few lbs since I last posted this article. 

I did make a conscious effort to stop eating sweets in the afternoon.  The biggest surprise here is that with blood sugar levels stabilized I don't have to go chase something sweet around 2 pm.  I'm loving having this control!  

Try not to stress out

Emphasis on try.  This is a very busy season.  Holidays in my opinion bring out the best and the worst in people.  I've had encounters with other people cutting me off in the parking lot and being flat out rude to other people because they have "places to go" and are in a hurry.  But I also see the ones that give and make life better for other people.  Let's all smile more and be more cordial to people.  You might find that you will feel better in return.  People give what they have, and if your smile is met with a sneer than a sneer is all the other person has to give.  This is a time to be loving and not all stressed out.  Enjoy the season and take care of yourself.

Get Your Body Back Post Pregnancy Workout

I hope you find a way to keep going and meet your goal to #getyourbodyback.  Body and mind work best when they are in harmony. You can survive the holidays!

Best holiday wishes to all!

plexus slim wheresamommy