HOUSTON (CW39) – Scrolling through the social media feeds on woman’s phone, one will likely see ads and posts about how to eat, workout, dress, look etc. – You get the picture… Or do you? With all of this information plastered across our devices how do we sift through the good and the bad advice?

For years women have been trying to curate the body of their dreams whether that be at home or in the gym. I have to give us credit for the creativity through the years, just in case you forgot, that Jane Fonda/ Richard Simmons VHS tapes were a thing. While, I agree that SOME movement is better than NO movement, there are ways that we can use our time more wisely is our goal is to improve our health and fitness. Fad diets come and go, perception of ‘the perfect body’ changes by the decade, some of the information out there is geared to the general population – including men, and some of the information is simply bogus with no scientific studies to back it up.

As we step into National Women’s Health Week, I want to focus on the theme for this year.

“Women’s Health, Whole Health: Prevention, Care and Wellbeing.”

The CDC gives this advice for women across the nation on their webpage here – However, I wanted to dive a bit further into the habits we have and the beliefs we hold on a day to day basis. I spent an afternoon on the reformer with Mirna Espari from Sigma Pilates to discuss some common misconceptions about women’s health and the gym.

Mirna has been in the fitness industry for over 15 years. She is NASM CPT, MES, Peak Pilates certified and has managed successful personal training teams over the last 10 years. She has recruited and coached some of the top fitness professionals in Houston and currently opened Sigma Pilates – an exclusive personal training and Pilates studio in the upper greenway area – along with her business partner Carlos Mata. She is here to help and serve the community by helping them feel better about themselves, educating and helping them meet the goals they have set!

Belief: Women should not workout during menstruation

Mirna: Exercise is beneficial depending on where you are in your cycle.

The menstrual phase and the Luteul phase require less strenuous exercise. Low impact exercises such as walking, pilates, yoga, and swimming. During the follicular phase and ovulatory phase estrogen levels increase and give us more energy and tend to have better endurance. This is a good time to incorporate high-intensity exercises , such as strength training, agility, HITT type exercises and cycling. If you are experiencing severe pain make sure to set an appointment with your Doctor.

It is important to set up a yearly pap tests to test for cervical cancer and is an important part of your healthcare routine.

Belief: Women will get bulky if they lift weights

Mirna: I’m surprised this one is still around. It is actually not as easy to put on muscle as a woman as we lack the amount of testosterone that men have and put on muscle at a much lower rate. Genetics plays apart in this but the majority of women need to engage in weight bearing exercises a minimum of 2-3 days a week and our nutrition should include a healthy balance of protein, fats and carbs. Consistency is the key factor in ensuring you are maximizing your goal of increasing lean tissue.

Belief: Weight is the only way to know if you are seeing results

Mirna: There are many other ways to measure progress in the gym, such as improvements in form and technique, increases in strength and endurance, changes in body composition such as decrease in bodyfat and increase in lean muscle tissue. Improvements in mobility, energy, and mental health. Exercise is important to boost your mood and feel better after a stressful day.

Belief: Women should not workout while pregnant

Mirna: Exercise during pregnancy is important to maintain pelvic floor exercises and keep your core strong and avoid back pain. I have worked with pre, and post pregnancy women and exercise will make the delivery easier by ensuring blood sugars are level and both mom and baby are stronger due to the activity during pregnancy. If you are already working out, you can continue doing your usual workouts but be mindful when you are not feeling the same energy as before and its fine to move towards a different type of activity. Strength training, Pilates, yoga, swimming, and walking are great for women who are pregnant.

Women who are working out while pregnant find it easier to get back to pre-baby weight easier since it was still a big part of their routine and did not lose a significant amount of strength and muscle tissue.

Working out also ensures that you can keep from gaining too much weight while pregnant which will avoid pain to your joints and back.

Maintaining a healthy balanced diet while pregnant will also help balance out blood sugars and keep you at a healthy wight to make the delivery process and recovery post 6 months easier.

Belief: Women need to spend hours in the gym to lose weight and see results

Mirna: We do not need more than 45 min to an hour to get a great workout in and get the desired benefits.

A total body workout 3-4 days a week is efficient enough to get what you need for the week. Do things you enjoy doing don’t go by what your friends and family tell you to do. Find what works best for YOU!!! Stay focused, make it a priority as you would a work meeting and schedule in your calendar. Make it a habit for a minimum of 21 days and it will be easier to meet weekly. A book I love is atomic habits and it is a great read for anyone wanting to start and stick to any goal.