move well | 30 second abs

To kick off what we hope to be a marvelous weekend (adios, polar vortex. thursday is the new friday, right?), we thought we'd have you drop and do 30 seconds of simple, effective ab work. Right now. Where ever you are. It's just enough to help you to pull in that tummy-- whether you're going out or chasing wild bambinos. The wonderful thing about our bodies is it doesn't always have to be a perfect, comprehensive workout every time. Squeezing in a little here and a little there is sometimes the only way it can happen. And it is definitely worth it. You might even find yourself going long beyond 30 seconds.

note: If you're sinking or collapsing into your back you may not feel much more than discomfort in your back. Stay tall, lifted, and supported by your abdominals. Think less about going backward, more about using your abs to change the shape of your spine. modification: you can place a rolled up towel or small ball behind your tailbone. challenge: place a ball or a ring between your thighs, near your knees. Add a few pulses in on the ball or ring!

move well | swell shoulders in 3 moves

Today we have three simple moves for those shoulders and arms meant to build stunning posture and definition. All you need is a theraband. It's important to remember alignment is everything. So set yourself up by standing or sitting tall, engaging your core muscles (abs, pelvic floor, shoulder girdle). The trickiest part is keeping your shoulder blades sliding down and connected to your back. You don't want to feel this in your neck. If at any point you're not able to maintain your alignment and core connection, then slow it down, decrease your range of motion, or try it with a lighter band.  8-12 of each of these should be just right with a light to medium resistance band. Repeat for more of a challenge.

Maria | 5 things that help me reset

5 things that help Maria Cannon reset | Swell Mama

1 | Fresh flowers. Sometimes a bit of color, life and beauty in jar is all I need for a little boost.

2 | Morning walks. It's not always easy to get out the door in the morning, but when we do (even in our pjs), it's so worth it. Being outside, moving and breathing fresh air is a daily boost I don't like to miss.

3 | A green smoothie. I know I know, smoothies are all the rage right now but I don't think they're just a fad. They help me get that extra spinach or kale that I normally wouldn't eat, so for me, they're here to stay. Blending up all that goodness in one cup gives me the extra nutrition, fuel and motivation to stay healthy through out the day. 

4 | Moving furniture or rearranging even small decor. I know, weird, right? Something about having things around me organized or changed helps my mind feel organized and energized. Oh and moving furniture builds muscles too!

5 | A big juicy kiss from my baby boy. Being a mom is hard and draining and sometimes I don't know how I'm going to handle one more tantrum or 5:30am wake up call.  But then I ask Parker for a kiss and he comes straight at me with a "mmmm" and big wet one right on my lips. In that moment I'm overwhelmed with how amazing it is to be his mom, how sweet he is and how it is all worth it.

Jenny | 5 things that make me feel fierce

I wouldn't describe myself as fierce, per say. Being more thoughtful and reserved by nature, I am always working on ways to be a little bolder, even just for me. These are some things I've found that make me feel stronger, braver, more capable, and sometimes when the moment is right, even unstoppable.

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1 | Trying a new yoga pose or yoga transition. When I'm on the mat with no one but myself to worry about, there is something so freeing and creative. It feeds my courage to try all sorts of new things in life. 

2 | Saying no. Someone once said that trying to please everyone was the first step to unhappiness. And I have found this is really true for me. I like to help. I like to please. But trying to please everyone is exhausting and fruitless. Sometimes saying no (even to myself) is just necessary and doing it without guilt is just as necessary to assert my own priorities and limits.

3 | Getting up early. Man oh man, it's hard. But now that boyfriend sleeps in a little later, it's like I get this bonus window of time just for me. I can workout. I can fold laundry. It helps me feel like I got a head start on the day. 

4 | Running. Being more inclined to breathe-and-bend, my idea of a run may not be everyone's idea of a run. Still, there is something about going a little farther than I thought I could, using a little more energy than I thought I had, and feeling my heart beat.

5 | Childbirth. I know what you're thinking. I was extremely apprehensive about Penn's delivery. But even just thinking about it now gives me a little boost. While it's not the case for everyone, I was so lucky to have a smooth delivery and walked away with really positive, joyful memories. It reminds me I can do things I'm afraid of. And it reminds me how beautiful things happen, hard things first.

move well | 3 things you can do right now

Whether you're driving, sitting at work, bouncing a baby, or all of the above, you can do small, good things for your body. Most of the time, we don't realize how much our little habits effect us-- today and twenty years from now.  If your body is moving in proper alignment, when you add a load (carrying a baby, working out) your body is better prepared to handle it. When we're not in proper alignment, we tend to find ourselves with aches and injuries, chronic and acute. Here are three things you can do right now to help yourself feel a little lighter on your feet today and create long-term, happy-body habits.

1 |  Pull your belly button in. It will automatically lift you. Pulling in your 'navel to spine' automatically activates the muscles that support your spine. So you'll stand taller, look slimmer, and take much of the weight out of your lower back.

2 | Roll your shoulders down and slightly back. This takes the tension out of the neck and shoulders and activates the shoulder girdle muscles, so the support comes from your back. It also opens up your chest so people can see your gorgeous face and shoulders, and says, "hello!" to the world.

3 | Drop your chin and lengthen the back of your neck. Usually when we think of standing up straight, it involves puffing up our chest and cricking our chin way up in the air ("military posture"). I'm not sure where we get this idea. Instead, image a string pulling up out of the crown of the head. Allowing the back of the neck to lengthen so the chin can naturally drop puts everything in its optimal place. Which can mean less neck tension, fewer headaches, and fewer problems down the road.