• Couples Massage Techniques for Valentines Day

    Couples Massage Techniques for Valentines Day

  • Helpful Nutrition Apps for Your Fertility Journey

    Helpful Nutrition Apps for Your Fertility Journey

    By Shawna Schwalb, MS, LDN

    In our google world, I frequently receive questions regarding what apps we recommend for fertility nutrition or tracking daily eating. Everyone wants to stay on track and needs a little help in this area. When our phones have become our other half in many ways, they can help us stay motivated and to stay on track. The reminders pop up, keep us on our toes and sometimes even guide us through our days and make them more exciting. Ah, the thrill of our technical world. There are so many great apps, but, this blogpost will focus on the general nutrition apps to help you stay on track and focus on nutritious fare that helps support your fertility, overall, health, and weight loss when needed. Medical studies show that keeping a food journal may even double your weight loss.

    Fooducate is a helpful app to look up the nutrient content of foods. It rates/grades foods and lists their nutrition facts, ingredients and controversial additives. There are drop-down boxes under each additive that you can click to learn more about the potential health risks, which can be a really great teaching tool! You can scan barcodes of foods while grocery shopping to help you make choices at the store. In summary, Fooducate goes beyond simple calorie tracking to provide a more comprehensive overview of the health properties of that food.

    Plate Joy offers personalized meal plans and allows customization for multiple restrictions such as vegetarian, low carb, and gluten free among others. Meals are based on family size, which helps avoid food waste. It has helped many save money and eat healthier by eating at home and cooking more. There is even an option to note what ingredients are already in the pantry with a personal chef contact to motivate you.

    In addition, My Food My Health offers plans for specific health conditions. It helps people restricting their diet to be able to have access to delicious, tasty foods quite easily. It offers information about recommended foods and recipes. It creates a community for those suffering from autoimmune disorders.

    My Fitness Pal is a helpful app for daily meal tracking. While many use it strictly for calorie counting, My Fitness Pal is a useful for determining the breakdown of carbs, protein, and fat in your daily in diet. It’s also a useful tool for determining if you’re getting enough of certain nutrients like fiber and calcium. Again beyond the calorie counting capability is just the fact that keeping a food journal forces us to be mindful of our food choices. The community on this site also draws many people in.

    The Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living app includes both scores for foods and for personal care products. Many personal care products contain endocrine (or hormone) disruptors such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates that may negatively impact fertility.

    While there are so many nutrition apps out there, make sure to choose apps that are helpful to you in developing healthy habits and that make your life easier. If using a specific app feels overwhelming or creates more stress for you, skip it! Remember that motivation is intrinsic. You are motivated, strong and can do this! Find what works for you and helps you stay on track.

  • Four Surprising Reasons Yoga Is Great for Fertility

    Four Surprising Reasons Yoga Is Great for Fertility

    At Pulling Down the Moon, we have offered our six-week Yoga for Fertility class form nearly 15 years and can speak with experience that yoga is simply great for you when you are trying to conceive. Read on to learn why:

    1. Yoga balances the nervous system. Unlike intense, high impact cardiovascular exercise, which causes the body to move into “flight mode,” yoga uses deep breathing, mindful movement and unique stretches to stimulate the body’s relaxation response. Note: This does not mean that cardiovascular exercise is bad for fertility; simply that adding a gentle, hatha yoga practice is good. Moderate, low-impact cardiovascular exercise can help relieve stress and does form part of a balanced fertility fitness program. Equally, super-intense, heated power-style yoga classes can be as strenuous as a tempo run and eliminates many of the greatest benefits of yoga for fertility.

    2. Yoga massages and stimulates your internal organs, promoting blood flow and oxygenation. Unlike exercises like weight lifting, cycling and running, which direct blood into the large skeletal muscles and are largely two-dimensional, yoga uses subtle multi-dimensional movements like twists and folds, inversions and backbends. This gentle action stretches and massages internal tissues and organs, promoting not only blood flow but the movement of lymph. Note: While the idea of a “cold uterus” is not well accepted in western medicine it forms the basis of many traditional medicine fertility diagnoses. In a recent study, researchers noted a significantly lower abdominal temperature in infertile vs. fertile women and hypothesized the difference may be due to poor blood perfusion of the core muscles and tissues (1). Whether this is established science or not, it makes sense that increasing blood flow to the uterus and ovaries is a good thing for fertility and pregnancy.

    3. Yoga trains your “letting go muscles.” Researchers have found that a “letting go” coping mechanism for stress was related to better IVF outcomes (2). Again, while researchers debate the details, women in the think of their fertility need to manage stress and anxiety in the here and now. Holding a challenging standing pose while staying calm is rehearsal for staying calm in stressful life situations . Note: Our previous research with Fertility Centers of Illinois found that women who took our six week Yoga for Fertility class experienced a 20% decrease in anxiety vs. controls (3).

    4. Yoga creates “sangha,” the yoga word for a like-minded and supportive community. Everyone on the fertility journey needs a positive environment and some place they can go to feel safe and understood. Struggling to conceive can turn a woman’s social network upside down. Girlfriends are all on the mommy-track, family get-togethers turn into minefields, and ordinary interactions can become excruciatingly painful. A yoga for fertility class creates a safe haven – and most women don’t realize how much they needed one until they join a class and experience it. Note: Our students form lasting friendships that stretch into parenthood. There’s a perception when going through fertility treatment that the world is passing you by, that relationships that mean a great deal to you are being damaged, and that you are somehow being punished. All this is situational, but deeply painful. Meeting other amazing women in the same place helps to heal these feelings and put challenges into perspective.

    We are starting another study this January with Fertility Centers of Illinois. If you are interested in participating, contact research@pullingdownthemoon.com !

    Sources

    1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27712655
    2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18930223
    3. http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(15)01610-6/abstract

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