Prenatal massage can ease back, hip pain

Fitness Q & A

August 08, 2004|By Gailor Large | By Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

I'm in my seventh month of pregnancy and am very active. I'd like to start getting regular massages to ease my back pain and help me stay relaxed. Where can I find someone who specializes in pregnancy massage?

Prenatal massage has become popular around town, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding a good therapist.

While they are not recommended for women in their first trimester, these treatments can do wonders to help relieve back and hip pain. You generally lie on your side, with big pillows supporting your neck, back and legs. Treating yourself to a prenatal massage, which generally costs around $80 an hour, will also help improve circulation and ease overall muscle tension.

Most full-service spas, like About Faces Day Spa & Salon in Towson and Paradise Day Spa in Baltimore, offer prenatal massage. You should also ask other mothers-to-be if they can recommend someone.

Whether you go to a spa or a massage therapist with an individual practice, always consult your doctor first. If yours is a high-risk pregnancy, for instance, you probably should not be getting a prenatal massage.

I've started a low-calorie diet and recently tried the new low-calorie Frappuccino drink at Starbucks. To me, it tastes the same as the original. Is it really that much lower in calories?

With summer in full swing, many coffee drinkers turn to iced coffee drinks for their daily kick. This year, a handful of coffee shops do seem to have adjusted their drink menus to cater to calorie counters.

And yes, Starbucks' line of low-calorie Frappuccino drinks do have fewer calories than the original varieties. According to the company's Web site, a grande (medium) Mocha Frappuccino Light, for example, has 180 calories, 15 calories from fat and 36 grams of carbohydrates. The original, by contrast, has 290 total calories, 35 calories from fat and 58 grams of carbs.

So, if given a choice, go light. These drinks aren't exactly nutritional powerhouses, but they're better for you than their original counterparts.

My sister has lost 20 pounds in the past year by watching what she eats. I'd like to do the same thing and want to start a food diary for myself. Is this a good strategy? What should I write down?

If you're disciplined enough to keep it up, a food journal can be a great way to evaluate your eating habits. Most of us overestimate the amount of nutritious food we eat and underestimate the junk food and total calories.

The good thing about a food journal is that it forces you to record every snack, even a late-night spoonful of peanut butter (and, yes, the handfuls of movie popcorn do count, even if you weren't the one who bought the tub).

You will be surprised by what you're eating, or when, or how much.

Even if you don't have the patience for keeping a written record for long, charting your eating habits for even one week can be a great help. The secret to a successful food journal is this: Be as detailed as possible and include not only the "what" and "when," but the "where" and "why." Getting at the emotions behind your eating will give you a more complete picture of your diet and inspire change.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness@baltsun.com.

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