Friday, August 29, 2008

Breakin' it Down... All the Way Down... to the Pelvic Floor Muscles

I was having lunch the other day at a popular beach taco joint, having a (light) beer with my hubby and enjoying a meal away from my children. I saw a girl that I knew from a "previous life"; one where I was in college, and cocktail-ed at night. She used to be really thin, but now was... well... not. Let's call her "Becky" for purposes of this story, shall we?

So, Becky was with some other friends (who were all about the same build); a bunch of girlfriends out lunching, and I was spying on them. They were all tan, and had lip gloss on. They were smiling. They were seemingly unaware that they had all gotten fat since the last time I had seen them. Becky was wearing a strapless terry cloth dress, exposing her cleavage, arm fat, and neck... and she didn't seem to care. She looked comfortable in her skin.

They all looked happy. And in this happiness, they looked really beautiful. Watching these ladies gave me some insight into beauty; its really not "what you got", but how you carry yourself. Confidence. 

  My whole life I have always believed that the taller and skinnier women are the most beautiful women who exist. I will never be those two things- and lately, I have come to terms with my limitations. I am incredibly beautiful... and I really mean that. Its not that I am really better looking than anyone else; but I am confidant. In this confidence I glow: and it feels really beautiful to be me. If I spend my life lusting after some look I am never, ever gonna have... then what does that make me? I'll tell you what it makes me: UGLY.

And so I hoop. 

Hooping makes me stand up a little taller, and be more confidant. I actually feel radiant.  HoopMamma has seen great things happen to women who hoop. Beyond my own need to lose weight, women have written to me with amazing accounts of overcoming disease, becoming stronger, and learning to connect with others. I read these stories alone at my desk; share them with Rayna and Keaton; or sometmes with you in the HoopScoop (Hoopnotica's monthly newsletter). Sometimes they make me cry. Learning to hoop is a powerful experience; and the results are always life changing and positive. 

There has been so much positive energy around me lately; with all this Olympic medal-winning;Obama -Speaking;and Burning Man going-ON... I feel this nice change of pace occurring for HoopMamma. Something really big, and great is about to happen. I can feel it. Go HoopMamma, Go Obama, Go USA...!

You know, 10 pounds is a lot of weight. It really FEELS like a ton of weight. I am not so sure that my "before pictures" can attest for it yet, but they will soon. I can't wait to share them with you.

This is usually the point at which HoopMamma quits. For some reason, I get cocky, and start cheating, or putting exercise off. Writing this blog gives me a sense of obligation and accountability: I cannot cheat or divert my attention from the goal, because I have a promise to whoever has read this. I highly recommend shouting out into cyberspace whenever you have something to declare, man. Its like in doing so, I cannot back down- to do so would make a liar out of me. And if HoopMamma is one thing, its good for her word. I am no liar.

A response to a Mamma who wrote to me last week (you know who you are):
Q: "Ever since I gave birth to my little bundle of joy, I've got an ass that won't quit (and I don't mean in a good way). Is there any particular method of hooping that works better in targeting this area (waist vs. thigh?)"

And, upon further HoopMamma inquiry: 

"Okay, it's been 18 months since I gave birth. I am 5 feet tall and weight 133. According to all the health experts, this is considered obese. My goal is to lose 13 pounds, all of which is in my mid section, but primarily in my bootay."

A: HoopMamma wants to tell you that you are not alone. And though I do not know you, I will speak to you as though I am your best girl on Earth (ie. You're not going to like all of this)
Girl, your weight is not all in your bootay. It's not only hangin' out in your mid-section. That 13 pounds is ALL OVER. Its in your neck, in your arms, all the way down to your toes... and yes, it is also in your a$$. Regardless of where you want it to come from first, you have to take ALL of it off in order to get to the parts you really fixate on. In your case; your a$$. In my case, my belly and my a$$. 

I could tell you that hip hooping and waist hooping are great, and that doing them at high speeds will massage away cellulite while reducing your waistline. And hooping will do that; but it will work all over your body, as it is a powerful fat-burning tool.  Go and get yourself a heart rate monitor, and wear it while you work out. This way you can see how many calories you burn. Hooping burns 3-600 calories per hour, while toning every muscle in your body. The best part is that hoop dance engages your pelvic floor muscles. That's right, ladies... SEXY SEX. And when you are dancing, you are not even thinking about kegels, right? The muscles that are all loose and stretched and damaged from the kid are being lifted and tightened every time you take a step. So if you don't know how to walk and step from side to side, let that be a new focus for you. If you tighten all you got down there and add a squat you'll really be in business. For HoopMamma, these are the exercises that are repairing the double C-Section damage. 

At 30 minutes per day, HoopMamma is using 300 calories a day (or 2100 calories a week). There are 3500 calories in a pound of fat; so from there you can decrease your caloric intake or exercise more. Your choice. My goal is two pounds a week; so I do the hooping plus I cut my diet by 1400+3500= 4900 calories a day. Which means I need to cut 700 calories out of my diet every day. (Don't worry, for the rest of you reading this, there will be no quiz).

There are no exercises that you can do that will only affect one area: you must work out the whole body in order to see results.

Your body is a holistic unit; every muscle connects in some way to the other ones; a beautiful machine which responds to your needs as your life changes. Your body is a reflection of how you use it, and you are in control.

Our booties are mostly muscle; and they don't call it the "maximus" for nothing... slap a few pounds of fat on it, and you got a bootie that "just won't quit". We get a certain amount of this natural padding without being "overweight", and some of us naturally carry a little more than others. Even when our bodies are in perfect balance, our booties may not look exactly the way we want them to. It is when we are certain that our weight is appropriate that we may turn to specific exercises to "firm and tighten". 

When we carry children, and deliver children, our hips (and therefore a$$) does seem to get a little bit bigger. I think that we have all experienced the joy of that one. I know HoopMamma has; twice. And we know that this is to make room for baby. But how do we "snap back" from it?

I know that it is an ancient practice in many cultures to "bind" your hips after childbirth, and I totally believe in it. My holistic Mamma friend told me all about it back in the days before celebrity Hollywood got a hold of it (and endorsed it). But I never did it, and so I am left with what I got (as punishment?). Bummer for me? Perhaps. Perhaps my body will have wider hips. Deep down, I know in my heart that the "hip spreading" is an excuse, and that I just need to lose weight. 

HoopMamma believes and forgives us Mammas for all of the excuses we create for ourselves. Change is so uncomfortable; we are powerful women who do amazing things everyday. But when it comes to working on ourselves, it is easy to claim that we "don't have time". Or even better, "this shouldn't even be this way, it's not fair".

Excess fattiness can be controlled; less input, and more output.  Eat less; exercise more. Once you lose whatever weight is left from carrying your bouncing bundle of joy, your whole body will thank you (your a$$ included).

Loving you (and your a$$),


Anonymous said...

Are you serious, hooping engages pelvic floor muscles? Wow, I had no idea. Does hooping by itself do that or do you have to be stepping also?

I am so glad I am finally able to take little steps when I hoop. I guess it took a certain amount of muscle development, or coordination. I still walk with jerky, uneven steps for the most part though, so I hope they will smooth out.

I sent you a couple of emails - have you been getting them? I've had email problems lately.

HoopMamma said...

Engaging your pelvic floor is really important after childbirth, and really for all women regardless of whether or not they have had children. That is assuming, that they wanna have orgasms. Isolating these muscles is difficult, because really the muscles are small and sometimes difficult to locate. Bellydance is great for this, but really difficult to learn, and requires lots of practice. Hoopdance naturally engages these muscles, and when you learn to step side to side, and SQUAT- you are working out those "down there" muscles in a big way. You don't have to do giant leaps, either; small movements actually do great work, too. Your "jerky" moves will become more fluid with practice: Try walking for a stretch (like a long sidewalk): just walk and hoop. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to complete the distance, but it is the journey that will get you used to the action. Set this as an intention and as a goal; don't let yourself quit until you can get it. Its a great way to get that 30 minutes in; eventually you'll be able to walk effortlessly.

In regards to your e mails, no; I have only received comments on the blog : ( But I'd love to hear from you....!

Anonymous said...

Oh, drat! I resent you the emails, hopefully they'll come through this time.

Thank you for the exercises -- I hate kegels, so it's great I can hoop instead! I have experience with bellydance, but lost the fitness level (and confidence) to do it without embarrassment.

Since I am a Middle Eastern percussionist of sorts, I started to kind of hide behind my drum, playing for other dancers. While drumming is ultra cool, it doesn't help my own hips that much, as it turns out...

RubyHoops said...

Love your blog. I've been hooping since May and am really hooked!

Here is my current problem which I hope you can help with: I was in a car accident and am very sore from the impact. (No broken bones. And, i have seen the doc). I want to get back to hooping but I have a lot of soreness in my back, neck, shoulders, leg and arm --and I have not been able to hoop.

Can you recommend any specific kinds of exercises that might help me to not lose my hooping muscles without actually hooping? (all while keeping me away from the M&m's that I sometimes consider medicine)?

SierraTango said...

Well, that explains the awesome increase in frequency & intensity. I guess I won't tell the boyfriend it’s not all about him. I attributed it partially to feeling better about myself from losing some weight & toning up thru hooping. I had no idea I was exercising those muscles. WOW, yet another benefit of my new addiction to hooping…

HoopMamma said...

Oh Ruby... I am so sorry to hear that you are "down". I had a condition not so long ago that forced me to stop hooping for a few weeks, and it was agony- not being able to hoop, that is!

(And you know how it is when you want something and can't have it, right?)

My suggestion to you is to TAKE IT EASY, and to STRETCH. Hooping is like riding a bike; you're not gonna "lose your muscles", don't worry. But the worst thing that could happen would be for you to get stiff, and then injure yourself later.

When you feel less stiff and sore, you can start (gently) again, and it will feel so good. Like you were never down. Until then, be patient.Make sure and put down your M&Ms long enough to take a walk, and do some stretching.

HoopMamma would eat her weight in Peanut M&M's if she bought them. Seriously; I cannot come within an arm's distance of the stuff.

HoopMamma wants to encourage you to take this time as a "blessing"; an excuse to slow down, and appreciate your body for everything you took advantage of when it was working properly.
Feel better soon!

Anonymous said...

Speedy healing, Ruby! I agree with HoopMamma...don't overdo it, be gentle with your body and don't push yourself into hooping when you aren't ready. Your hoops will wait patiently for you.

RubyHoops said...

You all are the best!
Thank you for the advice to think of this injury time as a blessing.

Your kind remarks help me to slow it down...I have been making hoops instead...some real artsy ones!

And, hoopmamma's video is awesome!

RubyHoops said...

Stretching my arms and legs as I ease away from the m&m's, I thank you for sending good vibes and offering such good advice.

hope to hoop soon.

and, hoopmamma: you first video is wonderful. I am always amazed at folks hooping indoors. I would throw my hoop into a lamp or something!