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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Best Bicep Exercise (Infographic)

Thank you ACE!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

9 Signs You're A Highly Sensitive Person

Could this be you? It is so me!

Thanks mindandbody green

By Kristen Matthews
November 18, 2014 8:43 AM EST

In a world filled with quick fixes and simple solutions, it's easy to get accustomed to the commonality of just "getting by." For years I was guilty of the same. In an attempt to deal with the Read
Has anyone ever told you to calm down, stop being so sensitive, or not take things so seriously? I can say yes, yes, and yes without a blink of an eye. I was the sensitive one in my family, and I guess I still am. We all laugh about it now, because I can easily be brought to tears by so many different things.

I don't question what may be wrong with me anymore, because when you live with people who don't show their emotions like you do, you think something's wrong with you. Age, along with the knowledge that 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive, helped me embrace my personality.

Since discovering that HSPs are such a large group of people, I've learned more about what it really means to be a highly sensitive person. There's much more to this trait than just crying easily.
Below are some common characteristics that people with HSP share; if you recognize these signs in yourself, you may be one too. I can personally relate to each and every one.

1. You're hyper aware of subtleties in their environment.

HSPs usually notice things that other people miss. Maybe it's a new haircut or furniture that's been rearranged. Sounds can startle them easily, and they're more sensitive to certain smells and fabrics.

2. You're easily affected by others' moods.

Everyone is affected by the moods of others, both positive and negative, but the effect is heightened in highly sensitive people. It's great if you're around positive people, but not so great when you're around people with heavy energy.

3. You become overwhelmed quickly.

If you ask an HSP to do too many things at once, she becomes overloaded and rattled. HSPs don't do well in chaotic or stressful situations. Many times highly sensitive people will arrange their lives to avoid overwhelming situations. If they end up in a chaotic environment, they'll probably find a quiet place to down-regulate their overly stimulated brain.

4. You take criticism to heart.

Criticism is part of life. But because highly sensitive people feel things more deeply, they'll hold onto criticism longer than someone not so sensitive. As a result, they tend to be people-pleasers, removing room for criticism. It's important to note that while they hold onto criticism, a compliment will go a long way.

5. You make compassionate friends.

Highly sensitive people are also very intuitive and feel deeply. They're able to empathize with people, to a point where you almost feel like they're going through what you're going through.

6. You're conscientious.

HSP's are very considerate with above-average manners. They're the first to notice when someone is rude or inconsiderate. They'll give up their seat on a bus or move out of the way on the sidewalk without even really thinking about it. It comes naturally to them.

7. You tend to avoid violent movies and TV shows.

Since HSP's rank high on the empathy scale, they tend to stay away from shows with violence or horror in them. They know negative news or violence will upset them, so they do what they can to avoid it.

8. You have a deep appreciation of art, music and nature.

Highly sensitive people are often deeply moved by the arts and nature. The natural beauty of nature is healing and calming to them. Oceans, rivers, and lakes give them a sense of comfort.

9. You don't feel very decisive.

Highly sensitive people think with their emotions. This, coupled with being acutely aware of subtleties and details, makes it harder for them to come to a decision. They can easily get upset if they make the wrong decision or poor choice.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits

Kindness is one of them, I can't seem to find the other...active constructive response perhaps?

Anyway, it's a nice read =)

Every day in June, the most popular wedding month of the year, about 13,000 American couples will say “I do,” committing to a lifelong relationship that will be full of friendship, joy, and love that will carry them forward to their final days on this earth.
Except, of course, it doesn’t work out that way for most people.
The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction.
Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages, as psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book "The Science of Happily Ever After," which was published earlier this year.
Social scientists first started studying marriages by observing them in action in the 1970s in response to a crisis: Married couples were divorcing at unprecedented rates. Worried about the impact these divorces would have on the children of the broken marriages, psychologists decided to cast their scientific net on couples, bringing them into the lab to observe them and determine what the ingredients of a healthy, lasting relationship were.
Was each unhappy family unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy claimed, or did the miserable marriages all share something toxic in common?
Psychologist John Gottman was one of those researchers. For the past four decades, he has studied thousands of couples in a quest to figure out what makes relationships work. I recently had the chance to interview Gottman and his wife Julie, also a psychologist, in New York City. Together, the renowned experts on marital stability run The Gottman Institute, which is devoted to helping couples build and maintain loving, healthy relationships based on scientific studies.
John Gottman began gathering his most critical findings in 1986, when he set up “The Love Lab” with his colleague Robert Levenson at the University of Washington. Gottman and Levenson brought newlyweds into the lab and watched them interact with each other.
With a team of researchers, they hooked the couples up to electrodes and asked the couples to speak about their relationship, like how they met, a major conflict they were facing together, and a positive memory they had. As they spoke, the electrodes measured the subjects' blood flow, heart rates, and how much they sweat they produced. Then the researchers sent the couples home and followed up with them six years later to see if they were still together.
From the data they gathered, Gottman separated the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages.
When the researchers analyzed the data they gathered on the couples, they saw clear differences between the masters and disasters. The disasters looked calm during the interviews, but their physiology, measured by the electrodes, told a different story. Their heart rates were quick, their sweat glands were active, and their blood flow was fast. Following thousands of couples longitudinally, Gottman found that the more physiologically active the couples were in the lab, the quicker their relationships deteriorated over time.
But what does physiology have to do with anything? The problem was that the disasters showed all the signs of arousal — of being in fight-or-flight mode — in their relationships. Having a conversation sitting next to their spouse was, to their bodies, like facing off with a saber-toothed tiger.
Even when they were talking about pleasant or mundane facets of their relationships, they were prepared to attack and be attacked. This sent their heart rates soaring and made them more aggressive toward each other. For example, each member of a couple could be talking about how their days had gone, and a highly aroused husband might say to his wife, “Why don’t you start talking about your day. It won’t take you very long.”
The masters, by contrast, showed low physiological arousal. They felt calm and connected together, which translated into warm and affectionate behavior, even when they fought. It’s not that the masters had, by default, a better physiological make-up than the disasters; it’s that masters had created a climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally and thus physically comfortable.
Gottman wanted to know more about how the masters created that culture of love and intimacy, and how the disasters squashed it. In a follow-up study in 1990, he designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat.
He invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang out. And Gottman made a critical discovery in this study — one that gets at the heart of why some relationships thrive while others languish.
Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.
The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.
People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t — those who turned away — would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”
These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.
By observing these types of interactions, Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples — straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not — will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later. Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?
“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”
“It’s not just scanning environment,” chimed in Julie Gottman. “It’s scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right or scanning him for what he’s doing wrong and criticizing versus respecting him and expressing appreciation.”
Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there.
People who give their partner the cold shoulder — deliberately ignoring the partner or responding minimally — damage the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and invisible, as if they’re not there, not valued. And people who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them not only kill the love in the relationship, but they also kill their partner's ability to fight off viruses and cancers. Being mean is the death knell of relationships.
Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship.
There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work.
“If your partner expresses a need,” explained Julie Gottman, “and you are tired, stressed, or distracted, then the generous spirit comes in when a partner makes a bid, and you still turn toward your partner.”
In that moment, the easy response may be to turn away from your partner and focus on your iPad or your book or the television, to mumble “Uh huh” and move on with your life, but neglecting small moments of emotional connection will slowly wear away at your relationship. Neglect creates distance between partners and breeds resentment in the one who is being ignored.
The hardest time to practice kindness is, of course, during a fight—but this is also the most important time to be kind. Letting contempt and aggression spiral out of control during a conflict can inflict irrevocable damage on a relationship.
“Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger,” Julie Gottman explained, “but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.”
John Gottman elaborated on those spears: “Disasters will say things differently in a fight. Disasters will say ‘You’re late. What’s wrong with you? You’re just like your mom.’ Masters will say ‘I feel bad for picking on you about your lateness, and I know it’s not your fault, but it’s really annoying that you’re late again.’”
For the hundreds of thousands of couples getting married each June — and for the millions of couples currently together, married or not — the lesson from the research is clear: If you want to have a stable, healthy relationship, exercise kindness early and often.
When people think about practicing kindness, they often think about small acts of generosity, like buying each other little gifts or giving one another back rubs every now and then. While those are great examples of generosity, kindness can also be built into the very backbone of a relationship through the way partners interact with each other on a day-to-day basis, whether or not there are back rubs and chocolates involved.
One way to practice kindness is by being generous about your partner’s intentions. From the research of the Gottmans, we know that disasters see negativity in their relationship even when it is not there. An angry wife may assume, for example, that when her husband left the toilet seat up, he was deliberately trying to annoy her. But he may have just absent-mindedly forgotten to put the seat down.
Or say a wife is running late to dinner (again), and the husband assumes that she doesn’t value him enough to show up to their date on time after he took the trouble to make a reservation and leave work early so that they could spend a romantic evening together. But it turns out that the wife was running late because she stopped by a store to pick him up a gift for their special night out.
Imagine her joining him for dinner, excited to deliver her gift, only to realize that he’s in a sour mood because he misinterpreted what was motivating her behavior. The ability to interpret your partner’s actions and intentions charitably can soften the sharp edge of conflict.
“Even in relationships where people are frustrated, it’s almost always the case that there are positive things going on and people trying to do the right thing,” psychologist Ty Tashiro told me. “A lot of times, a partner is trying to do the right thing even if it’s executed poorly. So appreciate the intent.”
Another powerful kindness strategy revolves around shared joy. One of the telltale signs of the disaster couples Gottman studied was their inability to connect over each other’s good news. When one person in the relationship shared the good news of, say, a promotion at work with excitement, the other would respond with wooden disinterest by checking his watch or shutting the conversation down with a comment like, “That’s nice.”
We’ve all heard that partners should be there for each other when the going gets rough. But research shows that being there for each other when things go right is actually more important for relationship quality. How someone responds to a partner’s good news can have dramatic consequences for the relationship.
In one study from 2006, psychological researcher Shelly Gable and her colleagues brought young adult couples into the lab to discuss recent positive events from their lives. They psychologists wanted to know how partners would respond to each other’s good news. They found that, in general, couples responded to each other’s good news in four different ways that they called: passive destructiveactive destructivepassive constructive, and active constructive.
Let’s say that one partner had recently received the excellent news that she got into medical school. She would say something like “I got into my top choice med school!”
If her partner responded in a passive destructive manner, he would ignore the event. For example, he might say something like: “You wouldn’t believe the great news I got yesterday! I won a free t-shirt!”
If her partner responded in a passive constructive way, he would acknowledge the good news, but in a half-hearted, understated way. A typical passive constructive response is saying “That’s great, babe” as he texts his buddy on his phone.
In the third kind of response, active destructive, the partner would diminish the good news his partner just got: “Are you sure you can handle all the studying? And what about the cost? Med school is so expensive!”
Finally, there’s active constructive responding. If her partner responded in this way, he stopped what he was doing and engaged wholeheartedly with her: “That’s great! Congratulations! When did you find out? Did they call you? What classes will you take first semester?”
Among the four response styles, active constructive responding is the kindest. While the other response styles are joy-killers, active constructive responding allows the partner to savor her joy and gives the couple an opportunity to bond over the good news. In the parlance of the Gottmans, active constructive responding is a way of “turning toward” your partners bid (sharing the good news) rather than “turning away” from it.
Active constructive responding is critical for healthy relationships. In the 2006 study, Gable and her colleagues followed up with the couples two months later to see if they were still together. The psychologists found that the only difference between the couples who were together and those who broke up was active constructive responding. Those who showed genuine interest in their partner’s joys were more likely to be together. In an earlier study, Gable found that active constructive responding was also associated with higher relationship quality and more intimacy between partners. 
There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of kindness. As the normal stresses of a life together pile up—with children, career, friend, in-laws, and other distractions crowding out the time for romance and intimacy—couples may put less effort into their relationship and let the petty grievances they hold against one another tear them apart.
In most marriages, levels of satisfaction drop dramatically within the first few years together. But among couples who not only endure, but live happily together for years and years, the spirit of kindness and generosity guides them forward.

Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/happily-ever-after/372573/#ixzz3Iexxne00

Monday, November 10, 2014

Get Past It Instead of Getting Even: Revenge Isn’t Winning

Yes I know, sometimes you just want to give that person the same taste of medicine you got from him/her. It is just tempting with sheer monumental release...for that instance. Such satisfaction. Followed by regret.

Sometimes, the better way is to let go. Thanks tinybuddha!

For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The first thing many of us think of after someone has wronged or disrespected us is how to get even—how to hand out a dose of that person’s own medicine in an attempt to feel totally vindicated.
Most of us have thought about revenge at one point or another.
Maybe it’s a co-worker, a classmate, a family member, or even a boyfriend or girlfriend, but regardless of the relationship it’s often an instinctive reaction when someone attacks the deepest, most fragile part of ourselves
Does this really accomplish anything positive?
We might gain some personal, though temporary satisfaction, but it does little to ease the pain others have inflicted upon us.
I recently received an unexpected email. While the sender was certainly a surprise, the content of the message and its motivation were not.
The sender was my father, and in what has become my parents’ only way of communicating with me over the last few years, it was a familiar message filled with anger, blame, and defensiveness.
Though this wasn’t the first time my parents had defamed me in this way, it still saddened me for much of the next few days.
Children, especially adolescents, are known for “mouthing off” to their parents while growing up, but it’s hard to imagine this coming from someone who taught you that this was disrespectful.
My relationship with my parents has become difficult to maintain as a free-thinking adult.
I suppose some might say that we should always forgive family members for their faults, especially parents.
But regardless of the relation, at some point you grow tired of others not telling the entire truth; tired of having to defend yourself; tired of being referred to as the cause of someone else’s issues.  
Growing up I had a great deal of respect for my parents. They provided for all of my worldly needs, taught me invaluable lessons and skills, and maintained a true sense of family and tradition within the walls of our home.
Yet something was missing for me, as I was burdened by an inner need to always seek my parents’ approval and acceptance, which rendered me incredibly insecure and anxious growing up.
Eventually, I became completely dependent on them for emotional stability and continual guidance. I didn’t love and trust myself enough to be the keeper of myself, so I allowed my parents to fill that role for me.
As I evolved into an adult, found someone who loved me without conditions, and began to develop a deep appreciation for the person I was, I realized I no longer needed the family dynamic that I was so dependent on for so long.
My parents, however, had a difficult time understanding that I was no longer that insecure, anxious, easily manipulated little boy trying to find his place in the world. I was now an adult, ready to chart his own course.
We started arguing regularly, and many times rather than deal with the repercussions, I would just say I was sorry and return to how our relationship had always been.
This dynamic continued on for many years until one day I offered my opinion and perspective on a complex, delicate matter they were considering. I questioned their motivation and feared the possible outcome, and thought voicing my concern would be appreciated.
I was truly stunned by their reaction.
Letters, emails, character attacks—they even posted hateful comments on a newspaper’s website I contributed to frequently, dragging my name through the proverbial mud in an effort to convince people that I wasn’t the man I proclaimed to be.
I never expected something so heinous from my own parents. I was so taken aback, hurt and angry that my first thought was how to get back at them—to do a little mud-slinging of my own in an attempt at destroying their character, just as they had done to mine.
Then I stumbled upon the following quote, and suddenly everything I thought I understood changed.
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” ~Gandhi
How could I possibly be so naïve to believe that seeking revenge on my own parents would make my actions any better than theirs, let alone change the course of what had already been done?
My revenge would only keep the wound open longer, perpetuating my bitterness and squandering my time on something I couldn’t change. Though never easy, acceptance is key in putting the pain behind you and moving forward with your life.
I began to ask myself: Will I find any inner solace by propagating my anger? If I succeed at getting even, will it really change my reality? Does it make me the better person to do to them what they’ve done to me?
As difficult as it was, instead of arguing and trying to defend myself, I simply said nothing. No replies, no rebuttals, no communication, nothing to engage us in the kind of negative confrontations we were accustomed to.
I’ve learned that living without the drama that so many people thrive on is the only way to live a meaningful life.
I’m far from perfect and those feelings of retribution still creep up now and then, especially when I get an email or letter as I did the other day. But each time the thought pops into my head, I begin to realize something:
Regardless of how justified you might believe you are in seeking your revenge, it’s important to remember that life isn’t a game and simply getting even doesn’t mean you’ve won the battle; it just means you’ve lost your self-respect.
It’s taken me a while to accept that I probably will never see my parents again. Yes, there will be times when I miss the family unit I remember from when I was a little boy; but then I’m forced to remind myself that things will never be as they were again.
It saddens me that my parents are missing out on getting to know the man I truly am, instead of the insecure, anxious little boy they’re convinced still exists.
In truth, I would not be the person I am today without them—a person of character and integrity who’s managed to touch the lives of many, even theirs I’m sure.
In my heart I forgive them for everything that’s gone on, and the peace that provides me is much greater than the fleeting satisfaction of seeking revenge.
Though it might seem impossible, even the bad things that happen in life have a funny way of leading us to a better place. At least, they did for me.
Photo by joybot

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Preparing for Labour

I think it's more like preparing for the first Marathon for the first time...clueless. As I am in my last trimester, the anxiousness gets stronger *woosaaahhh*

Courtesy from the Pregnancy Centre

It is said that labour can be one of the most tiring and energetic experiences of a woman's life. Some people even say it is like running a marathon.

Now no one would consider entering a marathon race without considerable preparation and training specifically for it. All areas of a runners life would be focused on preparation for this big event - diet, fluid, particularly water intake, the amount of sleep and rest you get, and also physical training and mental preparation.
All areas of an athlete's life need to be prepared. Now what would happen if we considered labour like this. From the time you know and are ready to believe that you are pregnant, you could be preparing for this big event. Many people do, exercising and taking care of their body, while some spend more time physically preparing the baby room than they do themselves.
So in preparation, if you're not doing it already, what is needed?


Good fuel for your body will make it function to its peak performance. Runners won't usually just think about what they eat the days before an event. For the months of training prior to a race they will choose good foods that they know will continue to refuel their body before and after every training session throughout the day. If they put bad fuel eg junk food into their body, they can feel the effects. A little bit may be OK, but on a regular basis if they consume the wrong fuel, they wouldn't expect their body to perform at its peak, both in training and during the actual event - the race they are planning to run.


Water is important to re-hydrate an athlete before, during and after training and an event. If we use other fluids continuously all the time, we don't get the full benefit of hydration to help our bodies work the best they can. For example, sugary drinks may taste nice and give us short-term energy, but aren't purely for re-hydration when needed. Too much sugar has actually been shown to cause dehydration (if the concentration is too high this can also lead to stomach cramps during an event).
Caffeine products/drinks will also contribute to dehydration, so water should be consumed in addition to caffeine products eg tea, coffee, cola drinks, as they will not supply the needs of re-hydrating your body. Being dehydrated can make you more tired and so you perform better when your body is hydrated well.

During pregnancy, in the time leading up to your labour it is important then to stay well hydrated. Clear urine can help to indicate this. If it is yellow, then you are not as well hydrated as you should be. During labour, if you are able, sips of water regularly can help you to replace the fluid your body is using due to the hard work of labour. You would never see a marathon runner complete a whole event without taking regular drinks throughout. You may have seen the effects of dehydration on athletes eg fatigue, lack of coordination and cramps. These things are not helpful during pregnancy or labour. Consider what and how much you drink to meet your own bodies needs.

The amount of sleep and rest needed.

Athletes are often tuned into their bodies, and can tell when they need more rest or sleep, because of a big training session, or the activities of their daily life. Listening to their body is important, as if they ignore the warning signs and push on regardless, they can often end up more fatigued or sick, tired and run down. Then they are unable to train or perform as needed and they are set back in their training schedule. Listening to your body on a daily basis and responding to its needs and demands can allow you better preparation. Your body knows when you need a rest or more sleep, and when you can function on less. Respect these messages and signs, and listen out for them. The more in tune you are with your body, the better and more prepared you will be for when you go into labour.

Physical PreparationiStock_000004920302XSmall-(1).jpg

The amount of training a marathon runner does will affect his or her performance in a race. It will determine how quickly he or she will tire during the race, although the race conditions will also influence this. Fitness levels also determine how quickly a marathon runner will recover after the race - whether it will take weeks or months to recover from such a long event.

Labour can be considered to be more challenging than a marathon run for many women. It can last longer, although you do get a short break between contractions, At least in a marathon, runners know an estimated time of how long it is going to take to complete the event. During labour you are breaking new ground, never having run this particular track before and you start labour having no idea of how long it will take you to the completion of 'the event'.
Nevertheless, physical preparation will help you to endure and navigate the course ahead of you. That is, the fitter you are before and during pregnancy, the more energy you will have for labour. You are more likely to recover more easily if you are fitter too.
The other thing you often hear about is the 'runner's high'. This is where mentally and physically the runner benefits from a release of the hormone 'endorphins', which help to reduce the pain perception they have. All that work their body is doing can be seen as 'painful' and sometimes it would be easier to give up and stop the race than to push through until the end. Endorphins help them to push through and give a feeling of well being. The more trained an runner is, the higher the amount of endorphins released during exercise. This is the same for women during labour, who also release endorphins, which help reduce pain perception and give more of a feeling of wellbeing. Women who are fitter will release more endorphins during exercises in pregnancy and during labour.
Physical preparation is not always easy. Sometimes you have to 'make or discipline' yourself to go out and exercise, when it would be much easier to sit or lie down and rest. Although rest is important, as previously mentioned, there needs to be a balance between it and exercise. For more information on the types of exercise suitable for during pregnancy and how to exercise safely in pregnancy, visit the Exercise pregnancy section of this website.

Stretches - More Physical Preparation iStock_000009634616XSmall-(1).jpg

If a marathon runner didn't stretch after training or an event, their muscles, particularly in their legs and upper body, would continue to tighten and become stiffer over time. Flexibility of muscles is important to allow them to work freely and normally.
Flexibility of your muscles before and during labour is important to allow you to move freely as needed, and to get into comfortable positions for labour. Hamstring, quadriceps, adductor and calf stretches are all important both for the runner and the pregnant woman. These are stretches of the back, front and inside thigh muscles, as well as the calf muscles. These can easily be done before exercising (after a warm up), after exercise, or at other times of the day. Sitting cross legged on the floor will help the inside thigh (adductor) muscles become more flexible, as will sitting on the floor with your legs apart and knees straight. This will also stretch your hamstrings. A further inside thigh stretch is to 'diamond sit', with your feet together, instead of crossed. The good thing about these stretches are that you will also be more supple for when your baby is born and you play and spend time with your baby on the floor. To stretch your quadriceps muscle lay on your side and take hold of your foot, pulling it gently towards your bottom. Pull your knee back also, until you feel a gentle stretch at the front of your thigh.
To stretch your calf muscles you will need to remember that there are two different calf muscles to stretch. The outside muscle is called gastrocnemius, and goes from behind your knee down to the achilles tendon behind your ankle. To stretch this muscle you should place one foot in front of the other at a comfortable distance apart. Keep the heel of your back leg on the floor and your knee straight, (front leg, knee bent), while you lunge forwards until you feel a gentle stretch at the back of your calf. The deeper calf muscle is called soleus and goes from just below the back of your knee down to the achilles tendon behind your ankle. To stretch this muscle, use the same position as described above, and keeping the heel of the back leg on the floor, bend the back knee until you feel a gentle stretch at the back of your calf. You may feel this stretch lower down in your calf muscle. This stretch can also be done with both legs at the same time. Stand in front of a wall, place your hands on it for support with your feet level but comfortably apart. Bend both knees until you feel a gentle stretch in your calf muscle.
Remember to stretch gently while you are pregnant, as you are more flexible than normal due to the hormone relaxin softening your ligaments. This means it is more possible to overstretch if you are not careful. You should feel the stretch comfortably with no pain, but do not push into a strong stretch.

You can hold each stretch for between 10 and 30 seconds, and you may want to do this more than once on each side, particularly if it is a stretch that ‘feels good’.

Stretching after an event does help to reduce the amount of stiffness and tightness felt in the muscles over the next few days. Although this may be the last thing from your mind when you get to meet your baby after labour has finished, these same stretches can be used for the few days after the birth if you do feel sore from some of the positions you used in labour.

Mental Preparation

Often a marathon runner needs to prepare mentally for the event. This can be as simple as setting goals and targets for training sessions, and ticking them off once achieved. For pregnancy this may mean deciding to exercise regularly, for example three times per week for 20-30 minutes per session and recording this in your diary or on your calendar.

Visualization of the event is another way marathon runners can prepare for an event. This may involve running through the course in their mind, imagining how they may feel and how they may overcome obstacles such as feeling tired in the race. Determining to push through when they know it is going to be hard work is part of preparation of the mental attitude. If no attention is paid to this before an event, we would not be surprised if that runner found it harder mentally than another who was mentally prepared.

Preparing mentally for labour is of course very different. Again the course is unknown: the intensity level of the contractions, how long labour will take, what the different stages will feel like and what coping and pain relief strategies will benefit.
Preparing, despite this, could mean 'rehearsing' or running through your mind how labour might be for you. Be aware though that this can cause disappointment if your labour is harder or longer than expected or rehearsed, so don't get your heart set on a particular time or expectations of labour.
Relaxation methods may help you to physically relax your body while allowing you the time to think about labour. Thinking about how you feel while doing this can help you deal with what might be to come. Allowing yourself to explore your feelings and responses to your thinking about labour can be as much a part of preparation as preparing the nursery. Making time for this is important, particularly as labour approaches and becomes more of a reality. Mental preparation may help you feel more ready, and hence be more relaxed and less anxious about taking on the challenges ahead. Remember every labour is different, so even if you've already had a baby, spending some time on this process may be useful.
So, you may not be a marathon runner, but you're going to be a mum (or expand the number of children you are a mother to). So take the time available to you to prepare for your labour. The added benefits may be a more enjoyable pregnancy and energy afterwards to enjoy motherhood.
Be prepared. Take up the challenge. Remember you were designed to have babies and there are many people to help you along the way.

13 Things That Wont Happen During Pregnancy

Pregnancy and labor IS all about the unknown. No matter how much is planned, no matter how much is read and absorbed, things sometimes may just not go the way it seems. It is such a tremendous mystery upon one person's life, like sailing on a boat across the sea without a compass, uncertain of where to go.

So here are some light hearted articles to ease the journey of creating a miracle for the collections are from a series of the same people who wants ventured through the same journey ;)

Courtesy from Belly belly

Pregnancy is nine months of the unknown. Each pregnancy is different, and so you will never quite know what to expect. You may find that you have good days and bad days, or you manage to experience almost every possible, horrid pregnancy symptom out there. One thing that is certain though, is that these 13 things will never happen during pregnancy:

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #1: You Will Glow From The Moment You Find Out You Are Pregnant

This definitely won’t happen because that pregnancy glow you hear so much about, is really a small window of good skin and shiny hair hidden amongst nine long months of eye bags, excessive sweating and flatulence. You will likely spend the first trimester doubled over your toilet, and the rest of the pregnancy trying to hide your double chin on photos. When people do say you that you have the glow, you will eye them suspiciously and decide they can’t be trusted.

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #2: You Will Avoid All The Rubbish Symptoms Of Pregnancy

You know your friend who sailed through pregnancy without so much as a pimple? Yeah, she was a one off. In fact, you’ll be suffering from every symptom she avoided, so that’s twice the suffering for you. You may occasionally, if you’re lucky, manage the odd day without noticing a symptom, but mostly you will be jumping between nausea, headaches, fatigue and backache. Pregnancy is not so much something to be enjoyed, but endured in your case.

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #3: People Will Comment On How Your Bump Looks To Be The Perfect Size For Your Gestation

Ha. If only such a thing were true. In reality, you will probably make it through to your due date without anyone commenting on your bump in such a supportive and sensitive way. Friends and strangers alike will be clambering over each other to reach you, just so they can tell you how huge you are. Then the next day, others will tell you how frighteningly small your bump is. Then how they are sure you’re carrying twins. Then how you don’t even look pregnant.

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #4: People Will Tell You Stories About Positive Birth Experiences

Wouldn’t that be lovely? If the people who came over to compliment the perfection of your bump size, then went on to share beautiful positive birth experiences with you. It won’t happen though. In fact, not only will you go the duration of the pregnancy without hearing so much as a natural birth story, you’ll also be inundated with chapters for your upcoming book ‘Birth Stories From Hell’. People will come down with bad birth story diarrhoea around you, and be unable to keep the stories in. Everywhere you go, you’ll be greeted with tales of traumatising births and forgotten birth plans.

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #5: People Will Keep Their Advice To Themselves

If only. You will soon learn that everyone is an expert in pregnancy and babies, even those who have never been pregnant or had babies. People will comment on the food you eat, the exercise you take and the things you do. Before the baby is even born, people will be offering you advice on how to get your baby to sleep, and you may as well get used to it, because this will continue long into toddlerhood.

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #6: You Won’t Have To Lift A Finger For The Whole Nine Months

Ideally, you would probably like to spend your pregnancy resting, reading pregnancy and baby books, and going to the occasional prenatal yoga class. In reality, you are likely to be lugging your vacuum cleaner up the stairs at nine months pregnant, all in the name of nesting. You’ll also probably still be carting heavy boxes around at work, and rearranging your sofas at home. If it’s your first pregnancy, you may get the odd chore-free day to relax, but if you have older children, forget it.

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #7: You Will Feel Calm and Confident About Your Mothering Abilities

What you want, is to potter through pregnancy safe in the knowledge that you will be the greatest mother ever to grace the earth. In reality, however, you will feel very fragile about your abilities, even sobbing sometimes because you are terrified that you’re simply not mother material. What if you don’t love your child enough? What if you drop her? Or leave her at the supermarkets by accident? Don’t worry though, your brain is very clever (even if you don’t realise it!). When pregnant, your brain is busy brewing a concoction of hormones which make you fall in love and protect your baby. At BellyBelly, we call it the mummy margarita. So rest assured, mother nature has it in her plans for you to be an amazing, protective mamma bear… but not until you’ve endured nine long months of self doubt and fear. Trust your instincts and don’t let your ‘overthinking’ brain take over.

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #8: Your Partner Will Always Know Exactly What To Say

During this time of hormone-induced emotional upheaval, what you really need is be followed around by a trained counsellor who knows exactly what to say to help you feel better. But you don’t have that, you have your partner. Whilst your partner will be trying their very best to soothe you, he or she will most probably leave you feeling worse most of the time. Because, dammit, why can’t he or she just tell from your facial expressions that what you really want right now is choc chip, cookie dough ice-cream, while you curl up on the couch in front of the television, with a doona and a box of tissues (because ads make you cry), while you watch re-runs of The Bold and The Beautiful? Your partner should know by now. And then, as you burst into tears because your partner can’t figure out what you want or need, he or she will probably drop the H-bomb and blame it on your hormones.

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #9: You Will Sleep Eight Hours A Night For The Entire Pregnancy

If pregnant women could wish for anything (healthy baby and easy birth aside), they would most probably wish for this. A long, uninterrupted sleep every night for the whole nine months. Of course, it won’t happen. You’ll probably spend the first three months needing to pee, feeling nauseous or your mind will be going into overdrive, leaving you sleepless instead. In the second trimester, your bump starts to get in the way, leaving you unable to get comfy. The final trimester of wakeful nights will be spent on the toilet, feeling excited and terrified in equal measure, and struggling to get comfortable with all the aches and cramps. Joy.

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #10: You Will Have Sex Dreams About George Clooney

Ha, yeah right. Don’t worry, you’ll have the sex dreams, and they will be scarily vivid, but they won’t be about George Clooney, Brad Pitt or Ryan Gosling. Nope, they’ll be about your brother-in-law, your boss, and the woman who works in your local corner shop. Oh, did I mention that they will be really vivid? And a bit weird. You will probably spend the rest of your pregnancy feeling gross and freaking out that you’re a complete and utter perv. Also, you’ll never be able to look the woman in the corner shop in the eye EVER again. In fact, you’ll probably want to change shops.

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #11: You’ll Still Be Able To Maintain Your Active Social Life

You’re probably one of those women who won’t let pregnancy stand in between her and a good night out. Oh wait, nope, sorry, you’re one of the women who spend every Saturday evening in unflattering pyjamas at home. On the rare occasion you do make it out in the evening, you’ll be slumped over asleep by 8pm, mocktail in hand, as your friends do tequila shots around you.

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #12: You’ll Be Able To Eat For Two And Get Away With It

You know that old saying, ‘eating for two?’ So, it turns out its not a good idea – nor true. While you will need some extra calorie intake during pregnancy (moreso later in pregnancy), pigging out on extra foods containing sugar, processed wheat and other junk can leave you at risk of health problems, including gestational diabetes, heartburn, fatigue (yes, even more than you already have), problems with your moods and excessive weight gain. Most of these can all cause havoc with your birth plans when your doctor decides you are high risk.
Gees, and I thought I had been lied to when I somehow popped on over 20kgs in my first pregnancy – after all, I was a ‘real’ woman, and real women put on more weight than the ‘books’ say, right? Whoops. Find out how much pregnancy weight gain is normal here.

What Wont Happen During Pregnancy #13: Your Baby Will Arrive On Time

Around 3-5% of babies arrive on their due date. Yours won’t be one of them, much to your despair. But keep reminding yourself that its safest and easiest (for you and your baby) if baby arrives when he’s ready.