May 9, 2019by Coombsie860

Did you know my Bestie is a Registered Dietitian?  Check out her practical tips for eating well in the postpartum period.  To learn more about Claire & her practice please visit –

You’ve spent months eating as well as possible to make sure that your baby is receiving all the nutrients it needs to grow and develop during pregnancy. With your new arrival finally in your arms, what can you do to make sure that nutrition continues to support your family’s health during the postpartum period?

First of all, this question depends on many different variables such as whether you choose to breastfeed, your individual food preferences/traditions, finances, chronic health issues, and so on. In order to figure out that’s right for you, seek advice from a Registered Dietitian (RD). RDs are the only regulated nutrition professionals in Canada, meaning that they are qualified to give individualized, science-based nutrition advice.

If possible, consult a nutrition professional early on in your pregnancy journey to figure out what works best for you and establish lasting habits. Good nutrition doesn’t just happen overnight – it’s a long-term project that succeeds with lots of support and practice.

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

The golden rule of healthy eating is to ‘make the healthy choice the easy choice.’ Prepare for this exhausting time beforehand by having meals in the freezer ready to heat up, asking your support network to provide healthy options, and relying on healthier convenience foods such as pre washed and cut fruit and veggie trays. Don’t aim for perfection, and keep in mind that even less healthy options such as pizza can be modified into a reasonably healthy meal, for example by passing on the meat toppings that are high in saturated fat and sodium, and including a pre-washed salad or frozen mixed vegetables.

While caring for a new baby and possibly your older children as well, it goes without saying that your time will be limited and sleeping patterns unpredictable. Instead of sitting down for structured meals, aim to eat every few hours and include a source of protein each time such as meat, eggs, nuts, or milk products.

To promote healing after delivery, you’ll want to avoid straining when having a bowel movement. Focus on fibre and fluids by including water, whole grains, legumes, fruit, and vegetables. Talk to your doctor or dietitian before using laxative products.

Whether you decide to breastfeed or not has a significant impact on your nutrition requirements. It takes up to 600 extra calories per day for your body to make breast milk, which are derived from fat stores and your diet. Multivitamin supplements containing folic acid and Vitamin D are usually required to support lactation. Vitamin B12 and possibly calcium supplements may also be important for vegans and some vegetarians. There are many other important considerations such as what type of fish to eat to avoid mercury, and avoiding substances that can pass into breast milk such as trans fats and herbal/natural health products.

Easier said than done, but ignore whatever pressure you may feel to lose “baby weight.” Women often feel unrealistic expectations to lose weight quickly and return to their pre-pregnancy body. This can lead to dieting practices that cause real, lasting damage both physically and psychologically. Now is a time to focus on eating healthy food, resting, healing, and bonding with your baby. Be kind to yourself and recognize that wise lifestyle choices will cause your body to settle at its ideal size and shape over time. Be wary of fad diets, anecdotal stories, and anything that promises a quick fix – remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it is! An RD can provide tailored advice regarding healthy weight that doesn’t compromise you or your baby’s health if necessary.

To work with an RD, get in touch with Claire by emailing, visit to learn more about me, or go to and click on ‘Find a Dietitian.’

May 8, 2019by Coombsie860

Today’s guest post is by Classical Osteopath Sara Pukal, M.OMSc., from Sara’s Manual Therapy in the Scarborough Bluffs area. 

Are you familiar with the rhyme: “your head-bone is connected to your butt-bone”? As funny as this may sound, it’s completely true! Your head is connected to your butt-bone in two distinctive ways: physically and through the nervous system.

Your sacrum and coccyx is located at the very bottom of the spine, and with the help of the rest of the pelvis, it supports all of the structures above and below it. It consists of many major muscles that assist in standing upright, bending forwards, and many other forms of movement that occur in daily life! Poor functional movement through this area, can be caused by a restriction in the pelvic floor muscles, or altered mechanics from an accident or fall. During pregnancy and labor the pelvic floor and abdomen go through changes that require the body to alter it’s normal weight-bearing mechanics in order to make room and support the fetus. Changes through the body often compromises posture with increased tension rippling up the spine into the cranium (skull), affecting alignment of the body, functional movement and overall health.

The sacrum and cranium are also connected via the parasympathetic nervous system – also known as the Rest and Digest System. This part of our nervous system kicks in when it’s time to eat, relax, and sleep. Any tension through the muscles of the upper back, into the cervicals (neck) and into the cranium (skull) will in turn affect the lines of tension into the jaw and along the temporal and frontal lines of your forehead. Tension or restriction in the head (including the jaw) can be caused by many factors including poor alignment from poor postural habits, an accident (such as a fall or collision), or birth which may result in altered mechanics of the pelvis, the spinal column and up into the cranium (skull). This can lead to structural misalignment which affects the nervous system, pain perception, functional movement and overall health of the body.

Every part of your body is connected and works together using bony and muscular connections and the nervous system. In order to address any pain and misalignments you may be feeling in your body, the manual therapy of Osteopathy assesses and treats the body based on anatomy and physiology. This means the mechanics and functional movements of the body are assessed, and treated. Your Manual Osteopath will work from the top of the head, to the bottom of the feet (not always in that order), and everything in between to improve overall function and mechanical alignment in the body. Treatment is beneficial prepartum to help prepare you for birth, and postpartum for postural pain, breastfeeding difficulties, healing from c-sections, and overall health and recovery!

Sara Pukal, M.OMSc., is a practicing Classical Osteopath in the Scarborough Bluffs and is available by appointment for assessment and treatment, .

May 7, 2019by Coombsie860

I am so excited to present this guest post by Pelvic Floor Physio Julie Bagshaw from Vital Physiotherapy.

Finding out you are pregnant is an exciting time! It is also a time where you will experience many changes in your body, your emotions and……. your workout routine.

Despite my background as a pelvic health physiotherapist and Crossfit athlete, I still felt unclear about how and when I would need to modify my workouts through my pregnancy. This is because every woman starts their pregnancy at a different fitness level, every woman experiences different symptoms and every woman’s body changes and grows differently during their pregnancy. Also, every woman has different fitness goals during their pregnancy and this results in a lot of ‘grey’ area about how and when to adapt exercise. Given the lack of clarity on how to make changes to your fitness routine throughout pregnancy, especially for those like me who enjoy high intensity and high impact activities such as Crossfit, I wanted to share my top tips on navigating the ‘grey’ and staying fit throughout my pregnancy!

Currently, I’m 34 weeks pregnant and (*knock on wood*) I really haven’t had symptoms such as nausea, reflux and fatigue affecting my ability to keep exercising. I also don’t have any contraindications to exercise- if you are unfamiliar with this please read more here. Keep this in mind as you read through my tips, as all women and all pregnancies are different. If you are ever unclear on how to be adapting your workout routine and don’t have the confidence or background to do it alone, please consult your local pelvic health physiotherapist or trainer educated in pregnancy & postpartum fitness!

Let’s start with the question: What is the recommendation on exercise during pregnancy? After 15 years, (finally!) new Canadian guidelines were published in fall 2017 that indicated that all pregnant women without contraindications should be getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise over a minimum of 3 days each week. This includes both aerobic and strength training. This level of exercise showed no increase in miscarriage, preterm birth or stillbirth and can even contribute to a 40% reduction in major complications such as gestational diabetes and hypertension, to name a few. This makes it pretty clear that we should be exercising in pregnancy. Actually, one of my favourite things to remind women is that ‘you are pregnant, not sick…of course you should exercise!’

But, what about exercising at high intensity and with high impact, such as Crossfit? Evidence specifically about Crossfit and its effects on mom and baby is slim at this point and consists mostly of case studies of women who refuse to stop these workouts! Outcomes on both mom and baby in these studies sound promising but given how difficult (and unethical) it is to ask pregnant women to perform Crossfit workouts to properly study the outcomes, we likely won’t see any concrete guidelines in this area for some time. Welcome to the ‘grey’ area! My personal journey on adapting my training mainly consisted of my own personal and professional knowledge base and reading as much as I could about pregnancy fitness from some well known fitness professionals and physiotherapists such as Brianna Battles, Nikki Bergen and Julie Wiebe. I’ve included an entire list of these at the end of this blog for your reference!

My first trimester included very little change with the exception of making sure I was not getting too hot, as it was August at the time I found out I was pregnant. The Canadian pregnancy exercise guidelines suggest that avoiding excessive heat (as to not allow core temperature to rise above 38.9 deg. C) is important, which is certainly a consideration for Crossfit. With this in mind, I:

switched to lighter clothing
worked out near a door or fan and
although an outdated guideline, I wear a heart rate monitor to keep my intensity at a level that allowed me to keep moving and breathing moderately hard but not be gasping for air or overheating (my actual target was about 80% of my maximum heart rate or 150 beats per minute)
I’ve been exercising at a high level of fitness for the better part of 3 years and, as such, my body was used to both the impact and intensity that comes along with it and I found that these modifications worked well.

In my second and third trimesters I began to modify high impact movements such as burpees, box jumps, pull-ups and running. I was also not pushing myself to lift weights above 75% of my 1 rep max (my own target). These movements started to become a lot more difficult and I felt that I was not able to maintain good control of my inner core (see #6 below for more on this). My personal thoughts are that high impact exercise, such as jumping and running, is not the most beneficial during pregnancy. These types of exercise require more motor control, stability and ability of the body to absorb force. In pregnancy, our central stability system (aka inner core) is not functioning optimally due to the internal pressure from the growing uterus. This, among many other changes related to hormones, balance etc.., can compromise our ability to handle impact and can lead to a higher likelihood of pelvic floor and core dysfunction, such as diastasis, incontinence, pelvic pain and prolapse. As with all ‘grey’ areas, each woman will need to determine when to start modifying these types of movements, but know that signs such as doming or bulging at the midline of your stomach, pelvic pain, leaking and pelvic heaviness are NOT normal and should be a sign to modify your movements and seek help from a pelvic physiotherapist.

In physio school I was taught that pregnancy is a time to ‘maintain not gain’. However, in my first trimester I had no obvious changes to my body and so there was nothing reminding me that I was pregnant. As my belly grew, my intra-abdominal pressure increased and my clothes stopped fitting, I was constantly reminded that I was carrying a tiny human inside of me. More naturally, my training goals shifted to maintaining my training frequency (Crossfit 3-5x per week) but with modifications of specific exercises or to the amount of weight I was lifting to ensure I maintained good form. One thing I had to keep reminding myself is that making modifications is NOT ‘giving up’. It is just smart training. If you are faced with an exercise that you likely ‘could’ do (e.g. Toes to bar, handstand pushups), ask yourself ‘should I do this’ and what am I trying to achieve? If you’re just trying to prove to yourself or others that you still can – it’s likely not worth it.

Finding out that you are pregnant does not mean that you need to attend only ‘prenatal’ classes. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of really wonderful places in the city that offer prenatal fitness classes (e.g. 889 yoga, Evymamma, Toronto Yoga Mamas, and soon right here at Vital!) but after trying them out, I realized that it simply wasn’t what I enjoyed! Rather than limiting yourself to these classes, my suggestion is to work with a pelvic physiotherapist or trainer educated in prenatal fitness to help you modify the type of exercise you actually enjoy doing! Chances are, you will stick to it more easily.

I work with a lot of high intensity athletes in my practice and, in my experience, most of them have had a tight pelvic floor and hip region – myself include. Your growing baby accommodates the space it has and so creating a more relaxed environment can give your baby more room to get into an optimal position. Some options for improving flexibility include prenatal yoga, spinning babies poses (see link below) and, if you’re comfortable with making your own modifications, I’ve really enjoyed ROMWOD, which is a Crossfit focused mobility routine.

Having some insight into all of the changes that occur in the body in pregnancy and being exposed to pregnant women every day with varying levels of pelvic floor dysfunction, I was not about to wait to ‘see how it goes’ – especially since I knew I wanted to keep up with my high intensity exercise through my pregnancy. Any of the muscle or strength imbalances in your body tend to get amplified in pregnancy as your body grows and is put under more stress on a day-to-day basis.

Since my first trimester, I’ve been seeing a chiropractor, pelvic physiotherapist, osteopath, naturopathic doctor and massage therapist. I’ve certainly experienced many symptoms in my pregnancy from constipation to low back pain to pelvic girdle pain, but I haven’t let anything of get to the point that I needed some urgent care or couldn’t function. Don’t feel like you need to include all of these health care practitioners into your pregnancy team, but consider which ones seem right for you and don’t wait until you need help- be proactive!

If you don’t know what your deep ‘inner core’ means, please check out this post and this post to better learn about these 4 muscles- the diaphragm, transversus abdominis, pelvic floor and multifidus. Understanding how to activate your deep inner core is critical to your body functioning more optimally in any pregnancy, but especially for those wanting to continue high intensity workouts. Our core muscles stretch, carry more load and are more difficult to engage as we grow in pregnancy and spending even a few minutes a day maintaining a connection to these important muscles can help you maintain balance, continue to have better form, avoid obvious signs of diastasis, have an easier pushing experience and allow for a quicker postpartum recovery.

Unless you have a contraindication to exercise, don’t stop moving! In physiotherapy we love the saying ‘motion is lotion’ and it’s no different when you are pregnant. There are so many benefits to mom and baby related to exercise – improved digestion, better sleep, improved mood, reduction in risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and depression – to name a few.

If your goal is to continue higher intensity exercise its important that you support your growing body such as your breasts and belly! I had good luck with the Cadenshae nursing bras- they work well for those even with larger breasts who need good support for higher intensity fitness and allow for a nice transition to breastfeeding and activity postpartum. Additionally, I really liked the supportive hug from the Bao Bei Pregnancy Belly Support Band, which is created by a women’s health physiotherapist and pilates instructor. This band doesn’t negate the need for your to maintain a connection to your deep core (see #6!) but it allowed me to more comfortably continue higher impact exercises such as burpees and double-unders into the start of my second trimester and felt like a nice support during weightlifting.

As mentioned, all of my favourite resources to help guide modifications in pregnancy, maintain flexibility, support your growing bump and feel informed about the evidence of fitness during pregnancy are listed below. This is just a sample of information that I’m sure is available, but are all ones that I feel comfortable endorsing and sharing! Found another amazing resource? Please email me at: and let me know! Happy exercising!

1) Pregnancy Belly Support Band:

2) Brianna Battles
Free resources:
Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Facebook Group:

3) Julie Wiebe Blog
5 Things To Do Before You Get Pregnant:
Safe Exercise for Pregnancy:
Running + Pregnancy:


5) The Bump Method:

6) Spinning Babies: Daily Activities for Pregnancy

7)CSEP/SOGC Pregnancy Fitness Guidelines:

March 13, 2019by Coombsie860

By Joanne Taylor

I wanted to share a recent fun and inspiring experience I shared with my nine and a half year old super athletic, hockey playing, multi-sport loving son.

The moms were given the chance to try cavewoman training alongside their elite hockey players (set up by the hockey organization of the Scarborough Young Bruins at New Frontier Fitness.)

The team works with Jason at New Frontier Fitness regularly but this was my first time witnessing the focus and determination of my son and his teammates.

I wasn’t sure how I would do but, like the other enthusiastic moms, I was ready to try and rock the physical challenges. My goal was to share an activity he’s passionate about and not aggravate my previously injured shoulder.

Jason, the owner and trainer, quickly organized four stations for eight determined moms and ten young athletes. He had the perfect calm yet enthusiastic approach; he challenged each of us with not only a full body workout on each circuit but a mental workout too. I found Cavewoman training (or Caveman for those guys out there) was perfect for all the varying fitness levels of the moms and we all had a great, if not sweaty time.

Best of all, I’ll never forget how my son looked with a big grin on his face as he watched me participate in a wide range of exercise including ropes, boxing, resistance ropes and weights.

I marveled at how my son and his friends excelled not only in their focus at each station but also in their determination to complete each timed circuit. They encouraged one another, at times joked around, and obviously enjoyed the comments, and encouragement of Jason.

They also seemed to enjoy having us moms around to shout “Go, Mom go!” at as they raced past us doing our warm up laps.

Having a young athlete in the house is one of the driving forces in my day-to-day life; ensuring a creative, happy home, providing a super healthy diet for him and his siblings, and encouraging not only good but great and necessary sleeping habits.

I loved the chance to exercise along with him, the awesome hockey moms, his friends, and teammates.

A big shout out to Jason at New Frontier Fitness and a warm thank you for the opportunity to the Scarborough Young Bruins (SYB 2009) organization.

NFF – Website:

NFF – Instagram:

SYB – Website:

Thank you Joanne for sharing your wonderful fitness experiences with us!  Very inspiring.

May 15, 2018by Coombsie860

~ I am so happy to have this guest post by my friend Joanne Taylor.  She is a mom of 3, writer, underwater photographer, and make up artist.  She and her family visited Disney this year and wanted to give you all some awesome fitness tips for surviving the boot camp that is Disney.  To connect with Joanne or read more of her work please visit or .  Enjoy the post! ~


Disney Boot Camp 
By: Joanne Taylor

Having just returned from Disney World, Florida with my husband, double-stroller, three kids (8, 5 and 2) plus our two suitcases and four carry-ons, I’ve had my share of physical challenges outside of a gym.
Disney World is notorious for fun and physical exercise. The Magic Kingdom alone is 107 acres and it will kick your butt – not to mention the walk from the Disney transportation to the park gates or any of the other Disney parks (Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.)
We had ten days of park passes and did a park a day. In the process, my husband and I did get injuries. Our feet hurt, our backs and arms hurt and I pulled a muscle in a shoulder while trying to get my youngest down from a gate.
I admit we did run to catch buses, to make it for some of our fast passes and we did run after one or more of our children to catch them and I admit we did carry some tired kids because sometimes even a double stroller isn’t big enough!
But lucky for you, and thanks to Alison for letting me contribute, you can avoid some of our injuries.
I’ve jotted down some suggestions for you to focus on the fun and continue to be physically at your best.
First of all, remember, Disney World is a marathon, not a sprint, although the first day was a busy one trying to keep up with our kids level of energy.
My suggestions to take care of your body while having so much fun start here and I’ve listed ten of them.
1 – Hydrate! Avoid cramps by drinking lots of water.
2 – Stretch before you go in the morning and stretch again before bed. Your body will thank you! Don’t forget to massage those toes and rub some cream on your heels.
3 – Stretch while you’re in lines. Take advantage of long lineups to stretch your backs, arms, legs and feet.
4 – Eat healthy! Try dried fruit high in antioxidants at the new Pandora section of Animal Kingdom – the one with dried kiwi in is super yum), edamame (yes, edamame!! They sell them at a snack bar in Animal Kingdom) and pizza (try La Nampoli at Epcot – I had the white pizza with melon on top) or even yummy ice cream shakes in Hollywood Studios.
5 – Time your caffeine. Have it early so you get a good night sleep for the next day because you’re going to need it!
6 – Use eye drops to keep your eyes happy and lubricated because they will get tired too.
7 – Alternate the side you hold your children on to avoid muscle strain.
8 – Bring an anti-inflammatory cream for aching joints and apply after a warm shower at the end of a fun day
9 – Take care of your feet by wearing comfortable shoes and wear insoles if you need them.
10 – Like any holiday – relax. Tense moments will come and go so make sure you relax your body between them. The most frequent tense moments happened over little ones crying over a toy in the gift shop. Remember it’s ok, it happens all the time and the best thing to do (quoting Elsa) is to “Let it go.”