It’s okay and necessary to take time for your own needs. Most women tend to ignore them and take care of everyone else in their family. Try to start by scheduling in at least one hour per week. You can take an exercise class, art class or even meet a friend for coffee. Then once you are doing one hour, try to extend it and do two, then three hours per week.
I had the pleasure to interview Marianne Ryan PT, OCS. Marianne is a Manhattan based physical therapist and award-winning author of Baby Bod — Turn Flab to Fab in 12 Weeks Flat, a groundbreaking book and program for pregnant and postpartum women. Marianne is an elite physical therapist and thought leader with over 30 years of experience implementing manual therapy techniques in spinal care, TMJ and total body treatment (including sports injuries). In addition, she also specializes in treating prenatal and postpartum patients with particular emphasis on high-risk pregnancy and postpartum fitness.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Marianne! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
Iwas very lucky because I figured out what I wanted to do with my life when I was 19 years old. I was always very active, loved sports and outdoor activities, I realized that I would never be able to sit at a desk for several hours a day and “push paper,” and I wanted to help people on a daily basis plus I loved science, so physical therapy was the only career path I wanted to take and here I am over 30 years later.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Once I hit my 30-year work anniversary I decided that I needed time to figure out what direction I wanted to take as a physical therapist. I already had my own practice and knew I wanted to do more than just treating a general population of patients with orthopedic problems.
After a long vacation and a lot of soul searching, I realized I wanted to specialize in treating pregnant and postpartum women because the basic care offered to them in the US is limited. Many pregnant women I treated were not told by their doctors to go to a physical therapist for pain relief by their doctors and this always upset me. And I suffered with terrible back and pelvic pain for years after childbirth until I developed an exercise program to cure my problems and I wanted to share this information with other women.
Medical care for postpartum women in the US is almost Zero! While other countries in Europe offer home visits by health care professionals for weeks and even months after childbirth; and it is the norm to go for physical therapy treatment to rehabilitate pelvic floor and abdominal muscles in most of these countries. France has been offering postpartum physical therapy to their postpartum women since 1987. In the US the basic advice women are given is to not exercise for 6 weeks after birth and to return for a 6-week checkup. No wonder the US has the highest mortality rate in any developed country in the world!
I became determined to spread the message that pregnant and postpartum women need more and better medical care, including physical therapy. That is why I wrote my book, Baby Bod
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I have over 30 years of experience as a physical therapist, specializing in treating women’s health problems such as pelvic pain, incontinence, labor preparation, and postpartum care. In order to become a specialist, I took several postgraduate courses and did a lot of research during the three years I was developing and writing the Baby Bod Program, which is a groundbreaking program for pregnant and postpartum women.
As an educator, I taught at New York University, Columbia University and I have taught several workshops on Postpartum Rehabilitation in the US and Asia.
I have been an advocate for better postpartum medical care and wrote my book, Baby Bod to help women fully recover from childbirth. My Ted x Talk, “What Your Momma Never Told You About Childbirth” has been well received and has had almost 120,000 views.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have to extend my thanks and gratitude to all the physical therapists who were in a pelvic physical therapy study group that I attended. We met on a regular basis over several years and would share research, treatment techniques and brainstormed over difficult cases.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
Since I work with mostly new moms the answer is simple:
- They are tired and do not have sufficient help or extended care after childbirth
- New moms tend to focus on taking care of their babies needs and not their own
- New moms are often confused and not sure where to start an exercise program that will not make matters worse
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”?
- It’s okay and necessary to take time for your own needs. Most women tend to ignore them and take care of everyone else in their family. Try to start by scheduling in at least one hour per week. You can take an exercise class, art class or even meet a friend for coffee. Then once you are doing one hour, try to extend it and do two, then three hours per week.
- If you are busy it is easy to lose touch with “yourself.” Try to practice simple meditation every day. You can start by doing only 10 minutes a day. If you are a mom, make sure you’re in a room by yourself, so you can focus.
- Walking is a great exercise. I live in New York City, and the advice I give my patients is to try to walk as much as possible. One easy way to increase your steps is to make sure to take a small 20–30 walking break outdoors in the middle of the day. You can also try getting off the subway or bus a few stops earlier to try to get in 15 to 20 minutes of walking.
- Stop beating yourself up! Be happy where you are and use that as a stepping stone to take better care of yourself. If you are overweight, try to encourage yourself to make better eating decisions rather than feeling disgusted with yourself because that could prevent you from achieving your goals.
- Keep a calendar, like a google calendar and schedule in all of your exercise, meditation and fun breaks.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
- Overall wellness! Our bodies were designed to move and not sit at a desk for 8–10 hours per day and then end it with several more hours of sitting in front of the TV at night.
- Exercise can help improve mood and focus because of the brain hormones that are released every time you exercise.
- Daily exercise can help to relieve pain. Studies show that people who do not exercise experience more pain.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
I like to keep it simple:
- Daily stretching and breathing exercises
- Core and hip stabilization exercises
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?
- Start slowly, don’t jump back to what you were able to do a year before childbirth. For example, if the tennis season is starting try playing shorter games and build up to longer ones
- Use less weight and better form
- Try to keep a consistent schedule of exercise
There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?
I follow a diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, and healthy proteins. I avoid sugar, chemical additives, and processed foods. The easiest way to track your progress is with one of the many apps that are online such as “My Fitness Pal” or WW program.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
“Start With Why” by Simon Sinek was very helpful when I needed to decide what I wanted to focus on in my career and it helped me take the steps to develop the Baby Bod Program. I now spend my working days with moms who need to learn the right way to get back in shape after childbirth and I love it!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
As I mentioned earlier:
I became determined to spread the message that pregnant and postpartum women need more and better medical care, including physical therapy. That is why I wrote my book, Baby Bod.
In spreading this message, I have been fortunate enough to receive a lot of media attention ranging from TV interviews to local TV news and online, including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, Redbook, Parents, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Shape Magazine and have contributed articles to Mother.ly and Parents.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
One of my favorite movies is “Field of Dreams.” There have been many times in my life where I had to use the mantra “If you build it, they will come!”
I used this to help start my physical therapy practice several years ago. I remember family members questioning why I wanted to take a risk and how could I be sure going out on my own would work. I would just tell them “If you build it, they will come!” And it worked!
There were other times in my career that I had to use this mantra, after all the health care changes in NYC many physical therapists had to close down their practices and go back to working at a hospital. Our practice was failing because of decreased payments from insurance companies and a decline in the number of referrals because the hospital-based doctors were no longer referring outside of the hospital-based physical therapy clinics.
So, I decided to downsize and to totally turn my practice into something I loved. That is why I wrote my book and now I have a practice that I love. During this transition, a lot of people asked me, how are you going to sell your book? How do you know if you can change your practice to a niche market? My answer was always “If you build it, they will come!”
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would love to meet Arianna Huffington!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!