Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Post Baby Exercise

Since having a baby I get asked quite a lot when you can exercise, what’s the best thing to do and how often. I thought it would be good to share a few tips from my experience and other mums I have trained!

The general rule is you can start back after your 6 week check up, providing you have had a normal pregnancy and labour. However there is lots of different advice out there for when you can start back, especially if you have had any complications or if you had a c section. The best advice I can give is to start when you feel ready and start off gently, if you have any pains or bleeding stop and try again when you feel up to it. I had an emergency c section and a few complications after having my baby so was unsure when I would start back however I started to feel like exercising after 6 weeks and after checking with the doctor I began exercising again. When and what you start with does depend on your level of fitness before and during pregnancy.

So once you dig out your trainers, plan childcare or find a spare hour between feeds, nappies and housework what should you do?
I would recommend walking as soon as you feel ready with the pram and incorporating some hills in the walk a few times a week. Its great to get fresh air, get out of the house and get baby to sleep! If the walking feels easy then you know you are ready to step it up a bit. Begin with interval training on a bike, cross trainer, treadmill or outside. Work hard for two minutes, recover for a minute and build it up to 30 mins. Start doing some gentle resistance work and start working on your core with some simple abdominal exercises. Why not look for some exercise classes to try, there are some that allow you to bring your baby, or go with another new mum in the evening. Its important you are sweating and out of breath, then you know you are burning plenty of calories and will see an improvement in your fitness.

How often
Trust me I know now from experience how hard it can be some weeks to find the time to exercise but this is where a bit of advance planning is needed. Just like you plan baby groups, baby naps and feeds you need to try and plan your exercise sessions. Ideally you need to do 3 good sessions of 45-60 minutes a week. Can you fit it in before your partner goes to work, could you exercise while baby has a nap or could you arrange for a grandparent to come over for an hour while you go outside for a interval run? Some gyms do have crèche facilities so you can use the gym or attend a class.

Don't be put off if it feels hard at the beginning it will get easier and you will feel much better for doing something for yourself for a change. Plus it helps get you back in your pre baby clothes!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Burn 500 calories plus at home….

Have you ever tried a home circuit session as an alternative to the gym? You need very little equipment and could do it in your lounge, hall, garage or garden. Here is an example of some home circuits I do with clients:

Warm up:
  1. 5 sets of single stair climbs (walk/jog up and down staircase)
  2. 5 sets double stair climbs (2 steps at a time)
  3. 20 walking lunges (ideal in long hallway or across lounge)
  4. 12 shoulder rolls
  5. Total body stretch (hold each stretch for 10 seconds)

Home Circuit: Complete each exercise for 45 seconds and then move on to next one. Repeat 4 times, no rest between exercises, rest for 1 minute after each circuit.

  1. Wide leg squats
  2. Press ups
  3. Alternate leg lunges
  4. Ab crunches
  5. Bicep curl using dumbbells
  6. Tricep dips using chair or step
  7. Sumo squats (optional to hold dumbbells at shoulder height)
  8. Plank
  9. Star jumps or march/jog on spot
Cool down:
  1. March on the spot until breathing is normal
  2. Total body stretch (hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds)
This is an example circuit for people who are used to exercise, however if you are unsure of the appropriate technique for any of the exercises look it up online, in a book or ask a fitness professional. If you feel pain or think you are doing something incorrectly stop.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The importance of a good breakfast

Part of the service I offer to clients involves an analysis of their eating habits and one of the biggest concerns I have is when people miss breakfast. Put simply going from your evening meal to lunchtime is too long without food and your body will go into starvation mode meaning your metabolism slows right down making it more likely to store fat.

Other reasons not to skip breakfast include:
·      Missing breakfast will lead to low blood sugar levels causing headaches, shakiness, weakness and lack of concentration.
·      Breakfast is an ideal opportunity to get nutrients into your diet.
·      Missing breakfast means you would feel very hungry around mid or late-morning. You could probably crave for a sugary snack, such as a biscuit, which is high in fat and has less nutrients.

A healthy breakfast should provide some protein, a reasonable amount of complex carbohydrate, a little fat and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Good breakfast choices include:
·      40g Porridge and blueberries
·      2 Weetabix with skimmed milk and fruit
·      2 slices of wholegrain toast with 200g tinned tomatoes
·      Bowl of fresh fruit, handful of unsalted nuts and 100g low fat yogurt
·      3tbsp of oats (soaked in apple juice over night) mix with 3tbsp of bran flakes/ and blueberries
·      Homemade muesli: 2 tbsp bran flakes, 1 tbsp oats, 3 dried apricots, 1tbsp raisins, 1tbsp sunflower seeds with milk or 2tbsp low fat yogurt
·      2 slices of toasted wholegrain bread with 1tsp peanut butter (opt for Whole Foods – no added sugar). Plus medium apple, 200ml unsweetened orange juice.
·      Porridge oats, cooked, swirl of runny honey and 1tsp toasted hazelnuts.
·      Breakfast bruschetta - brush a slice of granary bread with olive oil and top with a sliced tomato, slice of low-fat bacon/turkey rasher. Drizzle with 1tsp more olive oil and grill. Top bruschetta with a poached egg. (limit to once per week)
·      1 poached or dry-fried egg served with 1 grilled low-fat beef/pork sausage (max. 5% fat) or 1 Quorn sausage, 3 grilled tomatoes  (limit to once per week)
·      1 medium boiled egg with two toast
·      2 scrambled eggs with 1 toast and tomatoes
·      Homemade smoothie: handful of strawberries, ½ banana,  1tbsp natural yogurt, handful of blueberries, handful of almonds, 1tsp honey

Friday, 14 January 2011

How to start running….

Would you like to start running outside? Many clients hire me as their trainer as they are unsure of how much to run, how long for or find it very difficult just to get started. Here are a few tips to help you:
·      Pick a 2 mile flat route to start with (use or just drive round a route and measure)
·      Wear a watch so you can time yourself
·      Walk briskly for the first 4-5 minutes
·      Jog to start with, many clients go off like a rocket when they first start running and tire very quickly!
·      Jog as far as you can and try to keep a mental note of where you got to using streets, trees or street lights as markers
·      Walk briskly until your breathing recovers and go again
·      Repeat this pattern for the whole route
·      Try to do this route 3 times a week and you will notice the walks getting shorter and the jogs getting longer
·      You will also notice it takes you less time to recover between jogs
·      Take a note of the time at the end of each run and see how you improve each week
·      Once you can run this route start to add variety by extending your route, adding in hills and trying new routes
·      Joining a local running club is another great option, they charge very little and have beginner groups to help you get started

Clothing and safety tips:
·      Wear good running trainers
·      Its good to wear a high visibility jacket if at night (these are cheap online or in sports shops)
·      Take a phone
·      If running at night pick well lit residential areas
·      Don’t have your music too loud so you can hear cars

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Don’t diet – eat healthy for life…..

At this time of year I am asked by most clients for advice on losing weight. There is no quick fix and the people who lose weight and keep it off are the ones who change their eating habits for good.

It’s no good following a particular diet for a few months then going back to your old ways again, you will only end up back on that diet next January! Instead you need to take the time to learn, plan and think about healthy eating. Those clients that read labels, research healthy eating alternatives and plan their weekly meals are the ones who have the most success with weight loss.

I try to get my clients to change their eating habits so once the weight loss is achieved they can maintain it and reap other benefits such as better skin, hair, nails, more energy and live longer!

To help you get started here are some tips:
·    Do not SKIP MEALS - Eat regularly e.g. 3 meals a day with a couple of healthy snacks in between
·    Opt for wholemeal/wholegrain where possible e.g. rice, pasta, bread
·    Eat plenty of different fruit and vegetables – 5 portions per day
·    Include dairy in your diet but opt for low fat versions
·    Eat fish 2-3 times per week
·    Have sensible meal sizes
·    Opt for low fat/light versions of salad cream , butter, margarine, mayonnaise or dressing and use sparingly
·    Stock up on healthy foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat, fish, wholegrain bread along with low fat dairy.
·    Avoid processed foods e.g. pre packed sandwiches, ready meals. Where possible make your own following low fat recipes.Try and learn a new low fat recipe each week
·    Use spices and dried herbs in your cooking, this will make your meals tastier
·    Aim to eat plenty of fibre rich foods
·    Eat low GI foods throughout the day e.g. brown rice, bread and potato. These foods fill you up and stop you snacking.
·    High fat/sugar foods such as fried food, biscuits, cakes and chocolate should be seen as a treat and eaten in moderation.
·    Replace snacks such as chocolate and biscuits with yogurt, chopped vegetables, rice cakes, fruit or handful of nuts.
·    Start the day with a high carbohydrate breakfast such as wholegrain or oat based cereal with skimmed milk and slice of wholegrain bread.
·    When cooking grill, steam or stir fry food, this will help retain nutritive value and avoids adding fat. Do not fry.
·    Opt for lean meat and trim fat where present. Look for lower fat alternatives when choosing meat e.g. swap bacon to turkey rashers.
·    Look at labels and start to keep totals of your calories/carbohydrate/fat/protein. Research online how much you should have.
·    If eating out: Avoid fried food and creamy sauces, choose lean meat or fish options, have a large side salad with meal, opt for boiled/baked potato over chips and where possible plan in advance what you are going to have to avoid making the decision when you are hungry.
·    Have diet versions of fizzy drinks or diluted fruit juice, these have less sugar and calories e.g. reduced sugar squash.
·    Drink plenty of water
·    If you drink alcohol this should be limited and an occasional treat when trying to lose weight
·    Exercise – even if this is just a brisk walk 3 times a week

Monday, 3 January 2011

Start a fitness programme and stick to it!

Everyone knows that in January many people join gyms, book classes and plan a range of exercise activities for the year ahead. However not many people stick to these plans for more than a few months. This is often because:
·      You start too much at once, e.g. from doing nothing you try to do four intensive sessions a week
·      You don’t see any changes or improvements as quick as you would like
·      You are not sure of what you are doing or how much exercise to do
·      Its winter and freezing so in the evening you don’t feel like going out!

However, you can start exercising in January and keep it up for life by following a few small steps:
·      If you are planning on joining a gym:
o       Get a proper induction and make sure you fully understand how everything works
o       Ask for a couple of different programmes to follow
o       Don’t stick to the same workout each week, try and use all of the equipment available and work your whole body
o       Don’t be afraid of using free weights or fixed resistance machines
·      If you want to start running:
o       Start by doing jog/walk intervals over a 2 mile route
o       Build up the time you are running as the weeks progress
o       Once you can run that route start adding hills/more distance
o       You can plan running routes on websites such as
·      To avoid boredom follow a varied programme of exercise from walking to a Pilates class or from swimming to running
·      Make a pact with a friend/family member to start something together and stick to it for at least 6 weeks. By then you should see the benefit and keep it up!
·      Plan your exercise sessions each week, if you make it part of your weekly routine you are more likely to stick to it
·      Book a course of sessions with a personal trainer, they can introduce you to a range of exercise activities and help you stick to it!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Coping with the Christmas food overload ………

Apparently the average person consumes 6000 calories on Christmas day which would take about 12 exercise sessions to burn off! However its not just the big day itself that causes weight gain over Christmas its the work nights out, family get togethers, the tempting TV adverts and the displays of fattening foods in the supermarket!

Some of my clients are worrying about weight gain at Christmas so I have come up with the following advice to help:
·         Fill up on a healthy meal before going on a night out so you are not tempted by fatty buffet food/takeaways
·         If you are eating out:
o   Avoid fried food and creamy sauces
o   Choose lean meat or fish options and have extra veg or salad with your meal
o   Avoid calorific buffet favourites such as chocolate, crisps, cheese and pastry based foods
·         Squeeze in an extra exercise session each week in December to burn off those extra calories!
·         Make the most of your time off at Christmas and get outside for a brisk walk or jog, especially after Christmas day indulgences!
·         Plan some activities with friends or family over Christmas that involve you being active!
·         If you have one bad day and over indulge try to have one very good day following it
·         Start planning your January healthy eating and exercise programme now!