Author:Jaime Manikas

my first lesson from our unborn child

Being pregnant is very interesting. 

If I’m being honest, I find it to be such a strange time in my life. My body has never looked like this before and has never felt like this before. And what’s crazy is that it’s basically out of my hands entirely. I can do things to keep myself healthy and strong, of course, but my body is not my own anymore — I’m sharing it with a little one.

There are times when this becomes a bit overwhelming for me. I become stressed about a number of different things (my body, my mental clarity, my diet, my maternity leave, my relationships, etc.) and then I get stressed about being stressed because you’re not supposed to be stressed when you’re pregnant. Yikes!

What I normally do when I am dealing with overwhelm is train really, really, really hard. I go to the gym, take a class, go at 100% effort, and it all feels so good again. The stress washes away.

But what happens when you can’t do that? It’s ill-advised to go at 100% effort in the gym when you’re pregnant — it’s not safe for the little guy or girl. But if that’s my way of releasing my pent-up stress, then what’s a pregnant gal to do?

This is an interesting problem, I think, because it’s not just a pregnant woman’s dilemma.

We have a dear friend that had a spinal injury not too long ago and has been advised to basically do nothing until told otherwise.

I have a family member who was on a hell of a exercise ritual, and then got diagnosed with a heart condition that required him to bring his intensity to almost zero.

And what about post-op patients who need to wait weeks or months before they can train intensely again? I’ve known a few of those folks, too.

Or what about when we just have a crazy week or two? We get sick, then the family gets sick, then we have crazy deadlines for work, and we just can’t seem to prioritize time to train.

We’ve got to have options that reduce cortisol levels even when we can’t train at the intensity that we’re used to, right?

I’ve been looking, and I’ve found some stuff that’s been working. And if you’re in a place where you need to reduce stress but going H.A.M at the gym isn’t really an option, maybe these will help you, too 🙂

From Mark’s Daily Apple’s post The Definitive Guide to Stress, Cortisol, and the Adrenals: When ‘Fight or Flight’ Meets the Modern World

Managing Stress

Managing stress, then, is paramount to maximizing optimal health. To the extent that you can, reduce the “noise” in your life – from entertainment, from frivolous or excess obligations, from fractious relationships, from debt, and so on. Managing stress is a very big topic indeed, and we’ll be addressing it more in future posts. For now, here are the key factors I believe are necessary to reducing stress:

– Consume antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. I also recommend a multivitamin that contains a comprehensive and potent antioxidant profile. Completely avoid processed, empty calories found in snacks, junk food and fast food.

– Consume adequate beneficial fats to utilize antioxidants, vitamins, enzymes and co-factors. Wild Alaskan salmon, pure fish oil pills, olive oil, nuts and avocados are good places to start. I don’t go in for the Omega-enhanced Tropicana or miracle mayonnaise, personally.

– Manage expectations: your own and others’. Ambition and motivation and generous support are all great traits to possess. But don’t over-promise to others or yourself. None of us knows the future.

– Exercise daily. I cannot stress this enough. Exercise releases endorphins and helps to regulate the production of critical brain hormones.

– Unhook daily. Most of us spend so much time on the input-output cycle, we don’t give adequate time to simply absorbing it all. Reflect, relax, restore. I personally like to spend a little time each day reflecting on what I am grateful for (I call this doing my “appreciations”.) Prayer, meditation, singing, cooking and other activities that get you out of your head and into the moment are vital to helping you manage the stress of constant stimuli and energy demands. “Think positive” is nice advice, but it’s tough to do if you are at your limit. It’s easier to find an action that naturally lends itself to positive thinking and feeling, rather than trying to control your thoughts. That in and of itself can become stressful. Find an immersing action that works for you and do it religiously. Fuming not recommended.

So it turns out, for this exercise junkie, that there is more to reducing cortisol levels and reducing stress than just slamming weights around the gym at 100% effort. Yay for that! I can work on eating really well, say “no” to things more often, play the piano, and, of course, exercise every day, albeit at a lower intensity.

And the cool thing about becoming more serious about the above habits is that I think they will serve me so much better in the long run. So instead of taking on a shit-ton of work, overdoing and overcommitting, and then going to the gym for a much-needed release, I am becoming a more integrated, more whole person who has different ways and avenues to unwind and unload.

The little boy is already teaching me something about life, it seems. And he hasn’t even arrived yet.



SOFLA athletes — Wanna know a secret?! We’re upgrading our gym’s software, and it’s going to be awesome 🙂 More details coming next week…