Nikki Bergen

Belle Talk

8 Tips to Get Back in Shape

By: Nikki   , ,

If you blew off your workout routine for a few weeks (or the whole summer…it’s ok, we get it!), getting back to your pre-hiatus fitness level can feel overwhelming. But don’t worry, we got you! Whether an injury, illness, vacation, or overbooked social life is to blame, having to start back at square one is never fun—but here are 8 tips to make the transition back to fitness a smoother one.

  1. Practice Self Love. Perhaps most importantly, do NOT berate yourself for having taken a break from working out. Be kind to your body and know that you 100% will get back in shape – it may take a month or two, but it’s going to happen.
  2. Cut out Sugar.  If you have to have it, no more than 15 grams a day and stay away from artificial sweeteners. (No diet sodas).
  3. Challenge yourself to break a sweat at least 5 days a week for an hour. This can be in the form of a group fitness class, a brisk walk or run, soccer game, swimming, cycling – anything you want!
  4. Drink More Water. Thirst can often be mistaken for hunger. Try a big glass lemon water first thing in the morning, and all throughout the day. Lemon water also helps liver function to detox your body and shed extra pounds.
  5. Eat Soup. Have a vegetable based, low sodium soup as dinner every other night for a week. Homemade it best! Make it Sunday night and enjoy for several days. You can always freeze the excess. Here are some recipe ideas from Oh She Glows that we love!
  6. Prep Snacks. Wash and chop carrots, celery, and peppers and place in tupperware or baggies for easy fridge access when hunger strikes. Add hummus dip for an extra satisfying snack containing protein.
  7. No white bread, rice, flour or pasta. Switch to quinoa, millet, brown/wild rice and buckwheat. Bonus: these are all gluten free which means easier to digest, and delicious!
  8. Breathe and Let go. Turn off your devices and meditate for a few minutes at least once a day. Close your eyes, breathe slowly and deeply in and out. Visualize yourself healthier, happier, sexier, feeling good, and taking care of you.

Enjoy the last 2 weeks of summer! We’ll see you back on your mat this September 🙂

Watermelon Mint Mocktail Recipe

By: Nikki   ,

Here’s something to sip on! Enjoy this recipe by Belle Holistic Nutritionist, Laura De Sanctis! 
With summer comes fresh seasonal fruit and usually cocktails on the patio or on a rooftop. The problem with many of these summery drinks, is that they are packed with sugar or artificial sweeteners and food dyes.
What I love about this mocktail recipe is that it’s super hydrating and only uses a few seasonal ingredients. The mint leaves, which I call nature’s gum, adds that extra kick of flavour. I use mint more than just as a flavouring agent, but because of it’s nutritious and healing benefits. Mint helps aid in digestion, alleviating symptoms such as IBS, dyspepsia and indigestion. It also acts as a natural antibiotic and is anti-fungal.
What’s a summer drink without any watermelon? Watermelon is one of my go-to fruits for the summer. It’s one of the most hydrating foods with over 90 per cent water.  That’s right, 90 per cent water!!!
If you’re looking to whip up something this summer that’s quick and easy to make, healthy to serve, and packed with flavour (minus the alcohol, artificial sweeteners and colouring agents) try this easy mocktail recipe.
Watermelon Mint Mocktail Recipe
Ingredients:
2 cups of organic watermelon (packed)
8 mint leaves
2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-4 ice cubes
Directions:
*Blend all ingredients on high until smooth and enjoy!
*Another option is to use the recipe above, to make summer popsicles. Include all ingredients mentioned above except for ice. Place the liquid in a popsicle stick tray and freeze until solid.
*Nutritional tip: Watermelon is one of the most hydrating foods with over 90 per cent water. Eating hydrating foods such as watermelon and cucumber are great for weight loss and detoxification.
Another benefit of watermelon is that it’s packed with lycopene, which is a great-anti-inflammatory. Lycopene also gives watermelon it’s reddish-pink colour.
About Laura De Sanctis 
Laura De Sanctis is a Holistic Nutritionist, speaker, health blogger and international health and wellness ambassador.  She aims to provide individualized care and assessments to all clients, and bases her treatments around sensible and holistic dietary and lifestyle advice.
Laura is a Holistic Nutritionist with Belle Nutrition, and specializes in coaching women on digestive wellness, detoxification and post-pregnancy weight loss.
She also conducts educational and corporate seminars, speaking on topics such as the importance of overall nutrition, gut health and mindful eating. We’re lucky to have her on our team!

“ELVIE” Review: a FitBit for your Kegels

By: Nikki   , ,

We’ve come a long way. Pelvic health is becoming a less taboo topic, and women are starting to open up about their struggles with sneeze leaks, painful sex and prolapse – all very common postpartum issues that our own mothers and grandmothers often suffered from in silence. In fact, the latest statistic shows that incontinence affects 1 in 3 women.

So how do we treat these issues? The answer has almost always been to strengthen your pelvic floor and “do your Kegels!”

However, there are problems with this strategy. Here’s a list of them:

  1. Experts say 30% of women are doing Kegels wrong, bearing down instead of lifting up.
  2. Many women don’t get results from their Kegel exercises, and then give up.
  3. Many women are too focused on “holding their pee” when their pelvic floor muscle recruitment should really come from farther back near the perineum and rectum (try holding in a fart without squeezing your butt – you’re doing it now aren’t you!)
  4. Many women are already very tense in their pelvic floors, and need to learn how to release the muscle down before squeezing it up. Women with tight, hypertonic pelvic floors often suffer from painful sex and urge incontinence ( having to pee all the time and can’t hold it). Traditional Kegels for women with tight pelvic floors will make their issues worse!

So if traditional Kegels aren’t the answer, what is? Ideally a visit to your local pelvic health physiotherapist for a pelvic floor assessment and personalized therapy, followed by a focused exercise program to regain core and pelvic floor control.

However, there’s another option. While it’s not a replacement for pelvic physiotherapy, it makes a great add-on to a personalized program. I quite like it.

It’s called the “Elvie”, and it’s like a FitBit for your vagina. Yes that’s right. I recently got my hands on one, and have been testing it out for the past 6 weeks.

The Elvie looks pretty sleek and slick. It is an egg-shaped sensor-packed device made of silicone that you insert into your vagina before doing your Kegels.

It comes in a chargeable tube-shaped case, and can be paired with your smartphone app. The app (which feels like a video game) allows you to visually see if you’re doing the exercises well.  As you lift your pelvic floor, you can watch a little diamond bounce up and down on the screen, depending on the strength or frequency of your squeezing motion.  The 5 minute workout takes you through several different kinds of exercises. Lifting, pulsing, holding, speed and stepping. Strength is measured in LV’s – a unit of measurement created by Elvie, which isn’t totally clear. Regardless, I found this workout rather entertaining and actually became very competitive with myself.

Confession: I started squeezing my butt to get into the “perfect” zone on the score board, even though this is clearly cheating. My score went down once I stopped the butt clenching, but in the name of good form I had to leave my Pilates Instructor ego at the door. Sigh. The app instructions even guide you to relax as you breathe and not clench your stomach, buttocks and thighs. Ya, I know. Thanks for the reminder Elvie.  One day I will beat you. One day…

 

Here are my top 3 favourite benefits of the Elvie:

1) Elvie can help you learn how to relax your pelvic floor as you inhale

My favourite thing about this device is that it mirrors your breathing, and can help you connect to your “core breath” through biofeedback.  Your pelvic floor and diaphragm are a tag team – they move together like a piston. When you inhale, your pelvic floor and diaphragm drop down and expand (think release your Kegel as you inhale). When you exhale, the pelvic floor and diaphragm lift back up (lift your Kegel as you exhale).

Synching your breath with your Kegel is something most have struggled with at some point. In fact, learning correct breathing is the NUMBER ONE thing we prioritize in teaching our pre and postnatal Pilates classes – it’s that important for a strong, functional core. Too often women are so concerned with lifting their Kegels as much as possible and don’t learn how to release the muscles between reps.  They may end up hypertonic and tense in their pelvic floor. That’s the equivalent to walking around with your shoulders hiked up by your ears all day long.

The good news is that the Elvie CAN help teach you to relax your pelvic floor. When the exercises are done correctly, the gem on your screen will drop down when you inhale, and lift up when you exhale. If you’re not releasing your pelvic floor between reps, the gem won’t drop. You’ll see right away if you’re releasing enough.

2) Elvie teaches you to ‘lift’ the pelvic floor instead of bear down

30% of women studied will bear down when asked to do a kegel instead of lift and squeeze their pelvic floor. The Elvie sensors will not register if you bear down, and will ask you to try again.  In one exercise you need to keep a gem above a line; something that can’t be done unless you’re exercising your muscles correctly.

3) Elvie offers an adjustable fit 

Its silicone exterior and egg shape make for a comfortable fit that is small and discreet. And because not all vaginas are the same, Elvie comes with an optional cover that you can put on if you need it to be a bit bigger to fit your body perfectly.

Elvie was created by female-led startup Chiaro in collaboration with the designers and co-founder of Jawbone as well as engineers from Dyson. The female-led company is helping change the conversation around the vagina, and is giving women better technology to improve their pelvic health – something that has been sadly neglected for a long time.

This is a company and a mission I can get behind! While the device is not inexpensive, it’s an investment in your health (better sex, no more sneeze leaks, stronger core and more). The app is supported by both iOS and Android and the Elvie is available online for $199 USD.

 

 

How to Sleep Better

By: Nikki   ,

The following is a guest post by Belle Nutritionist Laura De Sanctis who has learned firsthand how to improve sleep for better health, digestion and vitality. Mom was right – sleep is the best beauty medicine too! Thanks Laura! 

Counting Sheep?  Here’s how to fix it

 

Feeling exhausted and frustrated because you can’t get some shut eye? Have you lost track as to how many sheep you’ve counted over the week?  I know many people turn to an over-the-counter sleep aid or even medication to help fall asleep.  During stressful events in my life, especially when studying for exams in university, I also turned to over-the-counter sleep aids. Upon waking I found I had severe brain fog (similar to what happens when I eat gluten) and was slow to start my day.

When it comes to lack of sleep and insomnia, one of the biggest issues we overlook is determining what the root of the problem is. While an over-the-counter sleep aid is a band-aid solution, dealing with insomnia or sleeplessness (the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep) can be what’s ailing you, and can be a culprit to weight gain.

Sleep is necessary for hormone balancing, cellular rejuvenation, stress management and brain health.  Ideally, health and wellness practitioners suggest getting seven to nine hours of sleep.  Anything less will interrupt your sleep cycle and imbalance your hormones.  Lack of sleep can also inhibit your body’s efficiency to rest, repair and eliminate wastes.

As a holistic nutritionist, I strive to treat the problem not the symptom.  I recommend my clients re-set their sleep patterns.  If you feel you are experiencing sleepless nights, assess how you are feeling.  Increased levels of  pain, anxiety, stimulants and your bedroom environment can be major culprits. Stress (high levels of the hormone cortisol), depression, hypoglycemia and sleep apnea (interrupted breathing) can also lead to insomnia.

To help get a better night’s sleep, and have a relaxed and restful night, try incorporating these tips:

1.Exercise early into your day.  This helps give you an outlet to release tension and running thoughts that are going through your mind.  Plus it also releases endorphins, so you can mellow out your nerves and anxiety.  A great way to incorporate exercise into your day is trying an early morning Pilates or Yoga class.

2. Avoid coffee and stimulants.  Learn to wean yourself off of coffee, caffeinated beverages and sugar. These are big NO-NOs.  Change your habit of drinking warm coffee or tea in the morning by substituting it with warm water and lemon. You’ll feel better and have a little mini cleanse every morning.  Now that’s a win-win!

3. Don’t drink and eat a big meal late a night.  Alcohol combined with a big meal late and night may initially make you feel bloated, stuffed like a turkey and sleepy. Plus it leads to indigestion or heart burn (even weight gain) and can cause you to wake up during the night.

4. Reduce your exposure to electronics – including laptops and your cell phone before bed.  Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) can lead to sleepless nights.  Instead, make it a habit to shut off all electronics and unwind at least an hour before bed.

5. Add a few drops of organic lavender oil to your pillow before bed.

6. Create a wind-down routine at night, so your body has a natural rhythm.

7. Try a few yoga poses in the evening like viparita karani pose (legs up the wall). Place your gluts right up against the wall with a rolled up towel or pillow behind your lower back. This will slow down your heart rate and calm your nervous system. 

8. Meditate.  Close your eyes and sit in stillness for a few minutes before going to bed. Download the Headspace app for free easy guided meditations.

9. Do a brain dump.  Got so many thoughts, ideas and feelings going through your head? Write it all out on a piece of paper or notebook then go to bed.  Upon waking, look at the notebook.

10. Try taking a Magnesium supplement at night. Magnesium is a natural relaxant and tranquilizer.  It relaxes skeletal muscles and smooth muscles of the blood vessels and GI tract. A recommended dosage per day ranges from 310 – 400 mg.

Assess your diet and sleep patterns.  Do you usually eat your meals late at night? Do you frequently have coffee and or other stimulants mid to late day?  Do you wake up every night at the same time?  Track your patterns for a week or two.  You may be surprised at what culprits in your diet and lifestyle can be preventing you from getting better sleep.

Did these simple sleep strategies work for you? Sweet dreams!

 

Our Struggle With Infertility: Part 1

By: Nikki   ,

This might be the most personal I’ve ever gotten online. I can remember shaking with nerves when this video interview was first posted to YouTube. See, I’m supposed to be the one inspiring others with health and wellness – sharing pictures of perfect kale smoothies and video tips on how to get strong flat abs. I never imagined I’d be posting Instagram selfies in pre-surgery hospital scrubs and a video interview with a psychologist about the very real struggles with infertility.

But here we are.

We are in the middle of our first IVF cycle after three failed IUI cycles, one miscarriage and almost 2 years trying to conceive. Through this journey I have met so many women who have also walked this path – some for as long as a decade. And they are still resilient, positive and hopeful at one day growing their families.  If this journey has taught me anything, it is the breathtaking strength of women and the powerful community that forms when we open up and share our most vulnerable moments with each other.  These women are my inspiration and give me strength to keep going.

The fact is, no matter how much acupuncture you do, or how pristine your paleo/gluten/dairy-free organic diet is, or how many Naturopath recommended supplements you take – infertility still happens. Miscarriages still happen.

There should be NO shame in this. But it still exists. Women often don’t openly share their struggles precisely because of this outrageous notion that they’ve done something wrong to deserve it – that they are somehow inadequate. Shame around this topic breeds silence, and silence is so, so isolating for the 1 in 8 couples experiencing infertility.

The fact is, women’s bodies bear the double burden of invasive medical interventions and society’s judgement when it comes to infertility, regardless of the cause. I’m sharing my story to let others know they are not alone. There is no more room for shame in this conversation of infertility.

Please watch part 1 of this conversation as I talk about the struggle of infertility with my friend, psychologist Dr. Stacy Thomas 

 

When Breastfeeding is a Struggle

By: Nikki   , , ,

The following is a piece written by long time Belle student Julie Holder. Julie first joined our BelleFusion Pilates classes about 5 years ago, switching to the Bump Prenatal classes when she became pregnant after several years of trying to conceive. I’m thrilled to say that she welcomed a beautiful baby boy 5 months ago! Julie is an incredibly warm, caring person (not to mention an incredible fashion designer – she might be the coolest, most creative chick I know!) She is bravely sharing her story of breastfeeding struggles. Julie, you are awesome. Thank you for helping so many other women know that they are NOT alone. 

WHEN BOOBS BECOME FOOD

I sat awake the night our baby was born, staring at him with amazement. Our birthing story was one of ease. We were lucky to birth him at home with a smooth and relatively short labour. In the 9 months of being pregnant I learned from friends and even strangers what I thought was every detail surrounding pregnancy and birth. I learned that if you play music they can hear it. I learned that the weekly size of the fetus can be compared to fruit. This makes zero sense really. How can a baby be the size of a leek? I learned about the hospital bag essentials. Particularly how embarrassing it can be to run into your partner’s friend while stocking up on adult diapers for said bag. I learned about the love you can feel for something that is only the size of a peppercorn yet has a heartbeat. And most importantly I learned that no, wearing spanks during pregnancy can not harm the baby. We had waited for this baby for over four years but, while being no stranger to hard work, I wasn’t prepared for the struggles that came after the ring of fire.

Following the birth, the midwives tucked us into bed and snuck off into the night leaving us with this new human staring back at us–his big blue eyes channeling the plant in The Little Shop of Horrors saying “Feed me Seymour”. The next day during our visit from the midwife she told us our baby had a tongue tie which needed to be released so that he could feed properly. The earliest appointment for this was a month out. Although he was already precious, patient and calm, I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to be understanding about waiting a month to eat. So we attempted to figure out this feeding thing while our midwife stood overhead until her phone rang and she rushed to the many other babies waiting to be birthed. We struggled for the next few days through nipple shields, hospital–grade breast pumps, numerous books, cracked nipples, bottles, two types of formula, lots of tears and many hours of what I have learned to be the biggest new mother no no….the dreaded deep hole of the internet…Google.

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 9.08.08 PM

Photo cred: @SummerandStorm

I am pretty sure I have read every possible website advocating how wonderful breastfeeding is with supporting glamorous Instagram photos of women sipping heart-shaped foam lattes while casually feeding their babies with hashtags sporting “#the breast is best”. I sat sobbing in a sports bra with holes cut out so I could pump hands free. This was far from the images on my Pinterest board of half–naked women feeding their babies on beaches displaying what we are told our bodies are naturally made to do. It was during this time that I wished I had spent even just a little bit of time prepping for this so I didn’t feel so absolutely helpless.

What I now realize is the best thing to come out of my extensive research was the term Lactation Consultant. I called the first number my close friend Google gave me, Lynda Kirby. The voice on the other end of the phone was so magical that for the first time I felt relaxed knowing that my boobs would be in good hands, literally. Lynda arrived at our door with a bag full of tricks including a doll she used to show different breastfeeding positions whose name is Flow…get it?! I loved that she found humour in something which seemed so painful at the time. She came over almost every day for the next three weeks for what she called Booby Camp. The power sessions involved football holds, tubes, cups, bruised boobs, more and more tears but most importantly emotional support. Lynda amazed me with her selflessness and dedication to her work of helping others. Her compassion and warmth are something I think about daily. I thought back to our struggles to conceive him and how I never thought we would be able to make him. I told myself that as with those struggles, this too shall pass and that like all worthwhile things in life, they take practice and perseverance. It was with her support and the hard work of all of us that we made tiny baby steps each day to perfect the delicate dance of breastfeeding. Each day we lay together for hours, baby and I, making small progress until one day everything fell into place and he lay sucking away happily while I rubbed his feet as smooth as silk.

While breastfeeding isn’t everyone’s choice, and sometimes not possible at all – we must do what works for us in this crazy world of new parenting. What I pictured to be the most natural thing in the world didn’t start off that way. However, with help and perseverance it has paid off in the form of a chubby boob-loving baby who enjoys spending his days at the cafe eating while his mom sips her heart-shaped foam latte dropping croissant crumbs into his hair.

10 Tips for Better Gut Health

By: Nikki   , ,

I started struggling with digestion in my late-twenties, and it finally got to a point that I could no longer accept a diagnosis of IBS as good enough. The bloat was horrible, my skin was breaking out and I lacked energy and vitality. There didn’t seem to be any answers, and I was eating “so clean”: spinach smoothies, veggie stir fries, protein bars and lots of hard boiled eggs. Turns out, there is a lot to know about gut health, and I had to learn what to eat and how to heal my inflamed tummy after years of consuming “healthy” foods that my body couldn’t properly digest. The following is written by Belle Holistic Nutritionist Laura De Sanctis, a true expert on this topic who has helped so many people reclaim their gut health. Thank you Laura! 
digestive health - photo via tumblr
Restoring balance to your body takes time, but with a clean diet and proper supplementation, you can dramatically improve your digestive system.  It is important to remember that if we are unable to digest and absorb fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, poor health will definitely follow.  From an energetic standpoint, if we are unable to digest our food, our reality on the outside, then we are unable to digest our reality on the inside.
As a Digestive Health Coach and Holistic Nutritionist, I’ve met so many women who struggle with IBS, Crohn’s disease, constipation, excessive gas, heartburn and reflux.  While there is no quick fix for curing these issues, there are several holistic remedies that can help heal your gut.
Through years of struggling with IBS, I’ve found that changes to both my lifestyle and food choices worked in synergy to help me heal.
Below are my top 10 tips to help keep your gut in good health:
  1. First thing in the morning, drink at least 8 oz of warm water with lemon juice in the morning.  This allows the liver to begin dumping toxins accumulated during the night and will help produce a bowel movement in the morning.
  2. Eat breakfast 20-30 minutes after drinking lemon water.
  3. Incorporate 1 tbsp of Omega 3, flax seed or borage oil in your morning smoothie or shake.  Oils help lubricate the colon, heart and joints.  They also help reduce inflammation in the body.
  4. Take a probiotic!  Multiple strains of probiotics help restore proper micro-flora in the small intestine.
  5. Avoid eating raw foods, as they are hard for the body to breakdown, and can lead to excess gas and bloating.
  6. Drink water at least 20 minutes before a meal, and again 1 hour after a meal.  I caution my clients to avoid drinking with their food, to prevent them from diluting digestive enzymes which are needed to breakdown food.
  7. Avoid sugar and high glycemic foods as these foods are nutrient void, raise blood sugar and cause inflammation.
  8. Drink a minimum of 2-3 litres of water a day!  Add a few tablespoons of liquid chlorophyll, lemon or cucumber to your water. This will help alkalize yoru body, cleanse your body of toxins and reduce acidity in your body.
  9.  Follow proper food combining rules.  A good rule of thumb is to remember that vegetables and salads should be eaten with meats, or vegetables and salads should be eaten with carbohydrates.
  10. Get a food allergy/food sensitivity test.  We are usually allergic to the foods we constantly crave.  In Energy Medicine, and in many spiritual healing modalities, food allergies are connected to fear, while food intolerances are connected to judgement or inadequacy.  Food allergies and food sensitives contribute to many diseases including high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and hypertension.  Known as “silent inflammation,” food allergies and food intolerances can damage your immune system.
Eating clean, wholesome foods, managing stress, exercising and embodying a powerful mind-body connection will help lead you to a path of gut bliss. Be mindful of what you eat,  how you eat and take the time to chew your food.  Savor every bite – as you truly are what you eat.  Most importantly,  extend gratitude and kindness to yourself.  Be kind to your body and be kind to your gut.
xoxo

How Prenatal Pilates Empowers Women

By: Nikki   , ,

When I took my doula certification course several years ago, we learned about the pain-fear-tension cycle during child birth. This is hugely powerful concept that illustrates the spiral that can happen when women experience fear surrounding birth.  For most of our lives, we have been bombarded with negative stories of other women’s birth experiences and seen dramatic depictions in movies and on television. We have been conditioned to believe that excruciating pain is associated with labour; and because of this, most women I know fear giving birth. This fear can create a cycle of increased tension and pain. fear-tension-pain-cycle

Here’s how it works: Fear creates muscle tension, and tension increases perceived levels of pain, which of course leads to more fear.  This creates a cycle that inhibits the body from performing a normal physiological function.  The result is exactly what’s feared most – long, painful birthing or unnecessary intervention.

Fear comes from both misinformation and the unknown – from cultural myths and questions never asked.  Knowledge is power, and feeling powerful will reduce feelings of fear. Prenatal Pilates is an opportunity for women to receive the knowledge they need. They’ll learn how to trust in themselves and their bodies so they are prepared no matter what happens during their birth. Here’s a little bit of what we cover in The Bump Method Prenatal Pilates classes, both in person and on video. 

Posture: learning how to position your body during pregnancy to reduce back and hip pain. Tip: ensure your pelvis is stacked under your rib cage instead of thrusted forward (very common as your growing belly can pull you out of good posture).

Breathing: learning how to connect your exhale to the contraction of your pelvic floor and your inhale to the release of your pelvic floor. The inhale is key for the pushing stage of labour. Tip: picture your pelvic floor gently dropping and opening as you inhale into your diaphragm, then initiate the push at the very end of your inhale.

Birth Positions: learning the best body movements and poses for encouraging the baby to descend during labour and delivery. Tip: being on hands and knees and gently rocking OR using 2 pool noodles ( yes, pool noodles) vertically under each of your pelvic bones while seated can be a good for helping baby get “unstuck” and descend into the birth canal.

Diastasis Recti: learning how to avoid separated or “over-stretched” abs from pregnancy. Tip: avoid positions in your pregnancy and postpartum that will increase pressure in your abdomen. So no planks, crunches, or even curling up as you get out of bed. Roll onto your side first. If you see a ridge or dome pop up in your tummy during certain movements, that’s a sign your abs are stretching apart and you should get out of that position asap. Instead, learn to prevent diastasis recti through targeted “belly pumps” that work your pelvic floor and core at the same time, minimizing the pressure on your abdominal wall.

Bump Method Prenatal Pilates

Pregnancy and birth is the ultimate act of surrender. Surrendering to the unknown can be a pretty scary thing for most of us, but arming yourself with knowledge, support and a caring community of women is a sure fire way of making the journey more comfortable. You are never, ever alone!

xoxo

 

Healthy Hot Chocolate

By: Nikki   ,

Here’s a great little recipe compliments of Belle Nutritionist Laura De Sanctis! 
Cold weather in Toronto got you craving hot chocolate?  When the weather gets cold and it’s a snow storm outside (think #snowTO), nothing feels better than curling up with some hot “healthy” cocoa, staying inside and watching Netflix.
Instead of having a conventional hot chocolate made with cow’s milk, here’s a healthy alternative that won’t make you feel guilty, bloated or gassy, especially for the lactose intolerant people. I promise!healthy-hot-chocolate-photo-2-via-tumblr
Ingredients
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp of maca powder
1/2 tsp of ground chia seeds (optional)
2 tbsp of cacao powder
1-2 tsp of coconut sugar
Directions
Heat up almond milk and bring to a boil.
Pour almond milk in a cup, stir in maca powder, cacao powder and coconut sugar.
Enjoy!
Nutritional tip – Maca powder is a healthy root grown in Peru.  It helps boost energy and balances hormones. Also, try making your own almond milk, free of nasty additives like carrageenan. It’s easier and cheaper than you think. Here’s a homemade all natural almond milk recipe to try! 
*I’ve also swapped out conventional white sugar (simple sugar) for coconut sugar, which is low on the glycemic index – meaning it won’t create such a high spike in blood sugar. This keeps insulin levels stable, which is key for a healthy metabolism and weight.
Stay warm out there! For more info on Belle Nutrition programs, click here! 

The Only New Year’s Resolution You Need to Keep

By: Nikki   ,

‘Tis the season of starting fresh, seeking motivation and getting pumped up by phrases like “New Year, New You!” The majority of us have New Year’s resolutions for 2017 – whether or not we actually write them down or say them out loud.

I’m a big fan of goal setting, and do honestly believe in the power of writing down your intentions for the year ahead. That said, the past year taught me that even the most organized of plans can go awry.  Some things are truly beyond our control. We cannot control all our circumstances, but we can decide how we react.  Instead of looking back at 2016 feeling defeated or doubting in our ability – remember this: embrace resistance.

That’s it. The only New Year’s resolution you need to keep is a promise to yourself that you will embrace resistance, you will keep moving, you will start on your journey and continue to push through those difficult moments when you’d probably prefer to throw up your hands and crawl back into bed.

Because resistance is normal. It does not mean you have failed, or are destined to fail. Because the hardest part of any new project is getting started. The energy is takes to set a big boulder in motion is massive. Once that boulder picks up speed and starts rolling along – life gets much lighter. So remember, when you’re pushing hard against something that feels like it won’t budge – embrace resistance. It won’t always be as difficult as it is in the beginning. You’re making progress, even if you can’t see it right away.

girl power...it was rolling down the hill, she stopped it, I grabbed the camera, what can I say?

There is no perfect set of circumstances waiting for you.  There is no perfect time. You already have everything you need to start. The pursuit of perfection is a big fat lie we tell ourselves when we are afraid to take a risk.

The process of growth, it seems, is the process of falling down. Growth is measured by the gentleness and awareness with which we pick ourselves back up, the lightness with which we dust ourselves off and the openness with which continue to take the next unknown step, beyond our edge.

Wishing you a 2017 filled with health, light, love, and truly powerful growth.  We are in this together!New Year