Archive | January, 2013

Make Your Own Granola

29 Jan

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I was inspired by a friend of mine to make my own granola. I absolutely love granola sprinkled on my bran flakes as a treat, but you never know what is in those pre-made packets bought in the supermarket. The likelihood is that there is far too much added sugar when really, the ingredients are sweet enough on their own! This is the first benefit of making it yourself (less added sugar) and the second is that you can pick and choose exactly what you would like in it so it’s exactly suited to you!

It may seem a bit expensive when you first buy the ingredients (mine came to about £10) but they do go a long way and I will get a good 3 rounds out of mine so don’t panic!

Now, there isn’t really much need for a recipe because as I said, it is up to you what goes in your granola but for something to go by, I have written down my recipe below as an idea for you.

  • Heat the oven on fan at 180•c
  • Heat up a pan with a drizzle of sunflower oil and a couple of tablespoons of runny honey (depending on how much you’re going to make) Alternatively use coconut oil as a replacement for the sunflower oil to make it even more healthy!
  • Once the two are mixed together nicely, you may add the rolled oats and mix them into the mixture until they are all covered.
  • Add in your ingredients one by one mixing them all in evenly.
  • The ingredients I chose were : Almonds, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and raisins.
  • Once everything is coated in a bit of the honey and oil, spread the mixture onto a baking tray covered in baking paper.
  • Cook for an estimated time of 20 minutes or until you see the oats start going brown. Every oven is different so please keep checking it to make sure you don’t burn it.
  • Once you’ve taken it out the oven, let it cool before putting it in a container.
  • ENJOY with milk, yogurt, fruit salad … anyway you wish!

Why not try different varieties of ingredients to see what you really like the best! Be creative but remember, only a little bit of honey is needed to keep it healthy! 

The recipe that inspired me was from http://homemadeluxuries.blogspot.co.uk, a lovely blog to read, so if you have a second have a look at it yourself for some other ideas!

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Postnatal Exercise – What you SHOULD do!

24 Jan

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Now that you know what you should not be doing, this post will fill you in on some of the things that are good to do after giving birth!

Just remember that your body needs extra special care at this time so you need to treat it well. It has helped you create, feed and grow your child so you owe it a lot!

DO wait to get the all-clear from your GP. There is no need to rush this as they will only sign you off if you are well and truly ready to start exercising. If they don’t, there will be a reason for this!

DO remember that you won’t be at the same fitness level as you were before pregnancy! Be patient and take it slow, you will be back there sooner than you think.

DO get your feet properly measured. It is not uncommon for a woman’s feet to grow a bit during pregancy so treat yourself to a new, properly fitting pair of trainers to ensure a comfortable workout.

DO wear a supportive sports bra. Your breasts will need extra support at this time because they may be bigger and full of milk at times. Wearing a supportive sports bra can prevent stretch marks and potential discomfort.

DO try to breastfeed before your workout. Some arm movements may stimulate milk flow and cause embarrassment for you. You can put breast pads in your bra just in case this may occur but it is always best to breast feed before doing any exercise.

DO drink plenty of water, especially when exercising. Dehydration can damage the breast milk so its very important for you and for your baby that you are properly hydrated.

DO exercise your pelvic floor regularly. You need to do this in order to strengthen the muscles that have been exhausted and weakened during pregnancy. The pelvic floor muscles act as a support and help to keep everything in place on the inside of your body. To strengthen the pelvic floor, you need to draw up the muscles that you use to stop yourself from having a wee, hold it there and then slowly relax them! Repeat this and when you feel you can, increase the length of the hold!

DO focus on technique and quality of the exercises you do. Don’t make the mistake of going too fast, going slow makes your body work harder in the end anyway and you want to make sure you are doing everything properly to start with so you don’t develop bad habits as they are hard to get rid of!

DO exercise your tummy muscles in a functional way so they are of use to you. There is no point just doing hundreds of sit ups as this will just get you really good at sit ups!

DO make sure you tighten your tummy muscles before any movement to make sure they are engaged and working hard for every movement. This will ensure that your posture is correct before you even start the movement.

DO enjoy this time and don’t spend it focusing on all the bad bits about yourself. You’ve just had a beautiful baby, enjoy spending time with him/her, try to stay active and the rest will fall into place.

Good luck with your training, take it slow, don’t panic and if you need any advice or help don’t hesitate to get in contact with me via this website as I’d be happy to help!

Postnatal exercise – What NOT to do!

22 Jan

 

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Recently I have taken on a number of clients looking to get in shape after giving birth. They range from having given birth a year ago to just 6 weeks ago. I have begun to notice a few patterns of thought and a few of the same questions being asked so I thought it was a good idea to write a few blog posts highlighting some of these issues.

The post is all about the DON’Ts. I do not intend this to leave you feeling negative and unmotivated, it should help you to start exercising safely to avoid an injury that may prevent you from getting into shape again. I want you to take it slow and watch how quickly your body returns to it’s previous shape, or a better shape, without you pushing it too hard! Some of the points below may seem obvious but there may be a few things you didn’t know, so have a read.

  • DON’T think that because you are no longer carrying your baby in your tummy that you can jump straight back into the exercise routine you were doing before pregnancy! Your body has been through a lot in the last few months and it is only natural that things may seem a little harder for the time being. Take it slow!
  • DON’T set the goal to try and get your body back to it’s previous shape in 2 weeks! All this will do is exhaust you and set you up for a failure. Be patient, it took 9 months to get it to this stage, it wont pop back overnight!
  • DON’T underestimate your health. Getting back into shape is only one part of the process. It is important that you don’t push yourself to exhaustion. If your baby has kept you up all night, choose a light form of exercise such as walking or even go for a nap! You are less likely to injure yourself when you are well rested.
  • DON’T wear old trainers! You must not forget that relaxin is still present after pregnancy and can take up to a year to go. This means that ankle stability is essential to prevent you from falling over and hurting yourself.
  • DON’T skimp on your sports bra. Spend a little extra to get one that is highly supportive. Your breasts will be larger and more sensitive than normal, especially if you are breastfeeding. If they are not supported properly, you may start to experience back ache caused by bad posture.
  • DON’T hold back on drinking lots of water because you are afraid of leaking! If you are experiencing leakages, this is a warning sign that you may need to do more pelvic floor exercises.
  • DON’T jump heavily for at least 6 months after the birth. This is important because the relaxin present in the body means that your body’s structure isn’t as strong as it has previously been so putting it under huge impact is not a good idea!
  • DON’T do hundreds of sit ups and crunches. This is not the best way to get a flat stomach. The weakened abdominals will call for help from the back muscles and this can result in back pain. The are other ways to work on the stomach.
  • DON’T stretch beyond your normal limit. You may feel more flexible but this is the effect of the relaxin on the ligaments and they are stretched too far, they could become damaged!

As you can see from the above points, PATIENCE is the answer after you have had a baby! You have had to be patient throughout the 9 months of pregnancy and this is no different. If you put the hard work in, and are patient, you will start to see results before you know it!

Keep an eye out for my next post, detailing all the things you SHOULD do after pregnancy! 

Why Should We Drink Green Tea?

15 Jan

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At this time of year when you are quite regularly looking for ways of warming up, a cup of tea can be the perfect cure. The majority of people will know that green tea is good for you but how many of them actually know why?

What is so special about Green Tea?

Green tea is an extremely rich source of catechin polyphenols which is not only a very powerful antioxidant but is also known for it’s cancer fighting properties and its wonderful ability to regulate glucose levels in the blood. It is also known for preventing the formation of abnormal blood clots which is extremely beneficial considering the fact that thrombosis (the formation of blood clots) is one of the leading causes of heart attacks.

How is Green tea different for other herbal teas?

Although all the different varieties of tea come from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, it’s the way that the leaves are processed that give Green tea it’s distinct properties. Green tea leaves are steamed which makes it different from the black and oolong tea leaves as they are fermented. Steaming the leaves prevents oxidisation of the catechin polyphenols previously mentioned, ensuring that all the beneficial properties they offer are enhanced and not diminished.

What are the health benefits of Green tea?

There is a long list of amazing benefits that Green Tea offers and I have detailed a few of these below.

  • Blood pressure: drinking Green tea can help to prevent hypertension but keeping blood pressure low.
  • Cancer: Green tea is known to lower the risk of oesophageal cancer and recent studies have also suggested that is can actually kill cancer cells, whilst maintaining intact surrounding the healthy tissue.
  • Weight loss inducing properties: Green tea contains “polyphenol” that increases the rate of fat oxidisation, and also the rate at which the body converts food into calories resulting in improved metabolism!
  • Diabetes: The fact that green tea helps regulate glucose levels is a massive help to those suffering with diabetes as it helps to prevent insulin spikes that trigger the storage of fat.
  • Skin: Green tea contains antioxidants that can delay the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of ageing, keeping the skin looking and feeling firmer and younger. It can also be effective against the damage caused by excessive exposure to the sun.
  • Depression: An amino acid found in green tea called “theanine” is thought to induce a soothing and tranquillising effect which can become an effective remedy for depression.

How much Green tea should you consume?

There are varying opinions as to how much green tea should be consumed in a day in order to gain maximum benefits. The general thoughts are that you should drink as much as you feel like drinking. Be aware that there is caffeine  in green tea (however much less than in coffee) and so some people may not react well to more than one or two cups per day, but trial and error will soon let you know your ideal amount.The tea also contains tannin, which can interfere with the absorption of iron from fruits and vegetables but funnily enough adding lemon to the tea could counteract this.

*It is suggested that pregnant women refrain from drinking green tea simply because the caffeine can cross the placenta and this is best avoided.*

On the whole there are very little side effects of drinking Green tea, especially compared to the over whelming positives and it is nearly always encouraged.

Try to add Green tea into your daily schedule and see what benefits you experience!

The Truth About Sugar

7 Jan

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Most people will try and cut out fat when going on a diet or a health kick! It seems the most sensible and obvious thing to do but how come the weight isn’t dropping off if i’m cutting out fat?

The real culprit is SUGAR!!

Eating a diet high in refined sugar is fast becoming one of the leading causes of obesity in this country, amongst many others! Sugary foods such as fizzy sweets or marshmallows often say they contain no fat on the label and can be misleading to those trying to lower their fat intake!

 What is sugar?

Sugar is pure, refined carbohydrate that derives from plants such as sugarcane. The sugar we put in our tea and on our cereal is called sucrose. There are many other types of sugars around though like fructose that is found in most fruits, or glucose that is found in softs drinks as well as energy drinks.

How can sugar make you fat?

  • Sugar is quickly absorbed into the blood stream once consumed to give you that “boost” of energy from the sudden rise in glucose. The body reacts to this by secreting insulin which brings the glucose levels down. When your glucose levels fall you start to feel hungry and so you end up eating more!
  • When you eat more food than your body requires for energy, the excess calories need to be stored. When the liver’s storage capacity is full, the excess sugar is converted into fatty acids and returned to the blood stream where it is taken around the body to find places to be stored. These places can vary from person to person but the all time favourites are the thighs, stomach, breasts and bum areas!!
  • Very simply, if you are indulging in too many foods full of refined sugar, you are missing out on some vital health benefits of other foods such as fruits and vegetables that you require in your diet. Don’t fill up on the bad stuff!!

 

Try and satisfy your sugar cravings with natural foods such as fruit. You will be getting all sorts of vitamins as a bonus rather than setting yourself up for a fall later on.

It can come as a shock to find out just how much sugar is in some of the things we consume daily. Have a look at the picture below as an example and just think twice next time you go to grab your sugar fix!!

 

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Set yourself smaller goals

3 Jan

 

217298750740384706_twvCO13z_cFirst of all I want to wish all of you HAPPY NEW YEAR and I hope that 2013 is a good one for all of you!

I have no doubt that many of you have set a list of resolutions to help 2013 be a good year, no?

I am all for new years resolutions as there is nothing I like more than making a plan. It’s an exciting prospect and at the planning stage it seems as though nothing will stop you from getting to where you want to be! Wrong! The problems start shortly after this stage when you start to realise there are obstacles you are going to have to overcome such as addiction or motivation.

If everyone who proposed to give up smoking or run a marathon for their resolutions succeeded in doing so, we would be living in a fantastically healthy and motivated world! Unfortunately, there are many that give up on their goals relatively quickly. The reason for this is that their goals are far too big. The only way of proving successful at these two goals is to never smoke another cigarette again or completing the gruelling 26.2 mile circuit, both of which are extremely challenging.

It would be far more beneficial to set yourself a few smaller goals, so even if your end goal is to run the marathon, you may wish to set yourself the goal of going running for 30 minutes 3 times a week in january, then in february to extend it to 45 minutes and so on. Then you are much more likely to achieve your goals and feel good about yourself.

Give yourself the task of setting yourself one small goal each month and when I say small I really do mean small! 

Here are some examples –

  • Try cooking at least 1 new recipe each week
  • Sign up to a new exercise class
  • Cycle to work at least 3 times a week
  • Limit drinking to weekends only
  • limit smoking to 1 pack a week (if that’s a reduction!!)

Think of a few of you’re own and have fun trying something new each month, and actually having a chance of staying on track!