4 musts during pregnancy

21 Aug

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Pregnancy is full of amazing surprises. What your body is capable of is incredible. You are carrying on with your normal life whilst inside you another life is being created! You can even forgive your body for making you feel tired and nauseous sometimes when you stop and think how hard it is working to create a safe environment for your child to grow in.

Now, you must look after your body while it is busy doing all of this. There are a couple of things that absolutely cannot be forgotten…

1. REST
This does not mean put your feet up all day long watching TV, this means listening to your body and making sure you’re getting enough sleep. Your body is working harder than ever now and the least you can do to help it, it getting a full nights sleep as much as possible.

2. EAT
You may have never even thought about your diet, or maybe you’ve been on all sorts of “diets” in your lifetime but now things are different. This is not the time for FAD diets, this is the time to eat the foods that are going to help your baby grow and help give you the energy that you need to get through each day. (Another post will go through this in more detail)

3. EXERCISE
Like with dieting, you may have exercised all your life or this may be a foreign concept to you. Either way, it is extremely important to keep your body as strong as possible throughout pregnancy. The main reason for this is to maintain a strong posture. This will help to avoid any issues with back pain when your centre of balance changes with the growing bump. The other reason to build strength and stamina is to prepare for birth. This may seem a long way off, but labour can last a very long time and you need to have the mental and physical strength to get through it. (More exercise tips in posts to come)

4. TALK
As I mentioned earlier, pregnancy can come with all sorts of surprises, some good and some scary. The important thing is to talk to people around you, whether they are professionals or your nearest and dearest. Feeling scared during pregnancy is completely normal but there is no point in going through it alone and spending your pregnancy feeling unhappy. This should be an exciting time for you so make sure you spend it with supportive people around you.

 

I will be posting more about helpful tips and advice during pregnancy, involving diet and exercise so keep your eyes peeled and please pass this on to anyone you know who is pregnant or even thinking about trying for a baby!

 

Exercise and Endorphins

13 Aug

89793497People will often tell you that doing exercise releases “happy hormones” and makes you feel good! This is 100% true. These so-called “happy hormones” are actually called endorphins.

What are Endorphins?

Endorphins are produced in the brain and act as the body’s natural painkiller. During exercise, they are released and they can produce a feeling of euphoria and general well being. The effect they have on the body can be so strong that they can sometimes mask pain!
As well as producing endorphins during exercise, the body also releases serotonin, adrenalin and dopamine which work together to make you feel good.

People suffering with depression are encouraged to participate in regular exercise to encourage the release of these hormones. Physically active people are shown to recover more quickly from depression and are also associated with better mental health as they grow older.

What kind of exercise releases endorphins?

Most types of exercise encourage the release of these hormones however cardiovascular and aerobic exercises are the most likely to give you these good feelings. These types of exercises are slightly more vigorous than some, increasing the release of endorphins, serotonin, adrenaline and dopamine. Having said that, slower paced activities such as yoga and pilates, which focus more on breathing and calming the body down help to put the body into a relaxed state, which also contributes to feeling good as it releases all the stress and tension from the body.

 

As you can see, it is ever so easy to improve your mood. No medication, no whacky remedies, just pure physical activity. Pick something you enjoy doing, whether it is fast paced or more focused on relaxation, and do your chosen activity as regularly as you can to discover the benefits. 

 

Organisation is key!

12 Aug

Monday morning… perfect time to plan your week if you haven’t done it already.

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The key to sticking to your fitness goals is to be organised! You need to plan your workouts, and then stick to that plan. Seems so simple doesn’t it, so why doesn’t that always work?

The reason it doesn’t always work is, often we do actually “plan” our healthy week but things get in the way such as meetings, work, family and social events that may interfere with it all and before you know it, the week is over!

The trick is to plan your workouts for a time when you are least likely to be interrupted. Sadly for some, this may be in the morning before work! In my experience as a personal trainer, I can tell you that most cancellations come in the evenings. Don’t kid yourself into planning a workout for the evening if you know that you are very likely to be called to a meeting or work event. You will never get anywhere. If you want to reach those goals, you may have to lose an hour’s sleep in the morning but it is a small sacrifice to make in order to achieve what you want in the long term.

Treat your workouts as meetings with your boss that, once in the diary, you absolutely cannot cancel. Exercise must come high up on your priority list otherwise you will never get to where you want to be. You have got to be totally committed and the first way to do that is to actually turn up to your planned workouts… and then you can focus on how to make the best use of that time!

Make a plan, commit to it and you will see results!

Maintain that holiday feeling

5 Aug

 

 

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I know only too well that amazing feeling when you wake up on a summer holiday and have no cares in the world. The only decisions that you need to make is what beach to go to, where to read your book or what to have for breakfast! After a few days of catching up on sleep, your body starts to go into relaxation mode, refreshing the body from all the stresses of work life and helping it recover to it’s ideal state.

Do not let this go to waste, you want to keep this feeling for as long as possible. There are a few easy ways to prevent your body going back to it’s pre holiday state…

  • Get as many early nights as possible
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid processed, sugary foods
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Drink lots of water
  • Keep your food as fresh as possible
  • Exercise

All these things make up the list of what we all know we should do anyway but after a holiday is can seem more important. You want to maintain that refreshed holiday feel if you can because this is when your body is least stressed.

If you revert straight back to late nights, early starts, boozy nights out, eating comfort foods and drinking coffee to get you through the day, then your body is going to lose those holiday benefits very quickly and you will soon be craving another week away!

Don’t waste it, treat your body well and it will treat you nicely in return! 

 

The more the merrier

22 Jul

Everybody is different. Some people like team sports, some like to exercise by themselves. Neither is the correct way to do it but both have benefits!

From what I gather, the general understanding of the term “personal training” is that it is 1:1 training and pretty intense! This does not always have to be the case.

Training with a friend or in a group can …

  • be more affordable
  • give your more confidence
  • be more fun
  • provide a bit of competitiveness
  • give you a chance to see your friends regularly
  • help spur you on when you’re having a bad day

There are so many people you can train with… brother, sister, boyfriend, girlfriend, colleague, flat mate, best friend… so why not ask one of them to join you in your exercise regime. Whether it’s just for a jogging partner or to go to an exercise class together, when that time comes to get out the door and go, having someone to go with will give you that motivation you may need.

We are all too good at dishing out the excuses and finding ways of not exercising, then a month or so down the line we are still complaining that we don’t have the body we want!

There is no time like the present so get out there and find a training partner to help get you going!

 

Exercise during nap time

19 Jul
Are you finding it difficult to find the time to exercise now you have a baby to look after? Babies have such a busy schedule so it is no wonder that you day is over before you realise it.
This is why I have created a home workout for you to do in the comfort of your own home while your little one is sleeping. It is very simple to follow and can take as much or as little time as you can spare. It is a mini circuit that you can repeat as many times as you’d like. I would ideally recommend 3 – 5 rounds if possible, but anything is better than nothing so don’t worry if you can only do 2!
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  • 5 walkouts – take a big breath in raising your arms above your head, bend over to touch your toes (or try) and walk your hands out until you are in a plank shape, then bend your knees to start walking your hands back up to a standing position.
  • 10 wide leg squats – legs a little wider that hip width, toes pointing slightly outwards, squat down as low as you can whilst keeping your back upright, feeling the stretch in your inner thighs.
  • 20 alternating leg lunges – hands on hips, or out to the side for balance, slowly step forward and lowering down to get a right angle on each leg, keeping the back up straight. Push off the front foot to come back to standing. Repeat this on alternating legs.
  • 20 Plank leg lifts – hold a plank position on your elbows, keeping the glutes squeezed and the legs straight, slowly lift each leg up just a small height off the floor. Make sure to keep you tummy pulled in tight all the way through.
  • 20 mountain climbers – This exercise in done in a plank position again, but on your hands instead of your elbows. Keeping the tummy pulled in, start crunching your knees up towards your chest, alternating legs.
  • 20 crunches – lying on your back with your legs in the air, bent or straight its up to you, pop your head in your hands. Slowly lift your head and tuck your chin into your chest, hold for 3 seconds and then release. These are tough so remember to breathe and take it slow. If you need to do 2 sets of 10 that is fine too.

There you go, 6 exercises to complete the circuit once. After completing it once, you will know how long it takes you and therefore how many rounds you are likely to fit into nap time!

I really encourage you to give this a a go. It won’t be easy to start with, especially if you are in the early postnatal stages, but take it slow, do it as often as you can to begin with and I promise it will get easier.

If you need any further explanations of how to do the exercises please feel free to contact me over email and I will be more than happy to help.

I will be posting more in the near future but get stuck into this one in the mean time!

GOOD LUCK LADIES!

Get your sweat on…

21 Jun

 

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London is trying it’s best to heat up, but this week we have just had “muggy” which gives us hot and sweaty journeys on the tube, sticky days spent in the office and even some restless nights. Sweating is mostly associated with feelings of discomfort and stress, whether it is physical  or emotional stress. I get asked about sweat regularly by my clients so I thought I would go through some basic facts to see if I can answer some of your questions.

 

What is sweat?

There are 5 million sweat glands in the body but not all of them produce the same kind of sweat.

Apocrine glands become active at puberty. From that sentence I am sure you can guess which sweat glands these are. They are mainly found in the arm pits and produce the smelly odour many of us worry about regularly, especially in stressful situations. This kind of sweat actually contains very little water, it is made up of proteins, lipids and hormones and is brought on in situations of high emotion, stress or exercise.

The second type of sweat glands are Eccrine glands. These are found all over the skin and start to function almost as soon as you are born. These sweat glands are responsible for keeping the body cool when it starts to heat up due to outside temperature, exercise, fever or anything else that causes the body’s temperature to rise by producing a dilute salt solution composed of 99% water. The eccrine glands produce a far larger amount of sweat that the apocrine glands in the arm pits but it is far less smelly!

 

Am I unfit if I sweat a lot?

For most of us, sweating is a pretty good determent of how hard we have worked when exercising am I right? It is actually a pretty good indicator as it shows you that the body has reached a temperature that it is uncomfortable at and it is attempting to cool down by causing the sweat to evaporate from the body as water. If you sweat a lot during physical activity, this is not a sign of decreased fitness!

 

Do men and women sweat differently?

Yes, this is absolutely true, men and women have different sweating patterns. The average male produces four times more sweat a day that a woman of the same age. Research is still ongoing as to why women need to exercise to a higher intensity than a man does in order to start sweating, but the guess is that the reasons are hormonal.

 

Does sweating burn fat?

In a nutshell the answer to this question is no. When you sweat, you are losing water, not fat however due to the loss of water the body is forced to find energy elsewhere, normally in the form of stored calories and body fat. So no, sweating itself does not burn fat but the act of sweating can help the body to burn fat in other ways. It is a sign of the muscles working hard if the body heats up to a temperature that the body sees as too high.

 

Remember that there is absolutely no reason that you should limit your water intake while trying to lose weight, in fact you should increase it. Feeling dehydrated can make you feel lethargic and lacking in energy, which leads you to reach for the comfort foods!!

Go and fill up that water bottle and … get your sweat on!

 

Caffeine – good or bad for you?

14 May

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As we all know, caffeine is a stimulant and a drug and we are all warned that if we consume too much of it, we are at risk of addiction and the associated health problems. However, the reason most of us are confused at how much we are supposed to have is because there are contradicting articles telling you that caffeine will help lower your chance of getting cancer and suffering from heart disease etc. Too much information leads us to huge confusion and so I am attempting to simplify some of the information out there about caffeine and the effects it has on your health – both the good and the bad.

 

  • Caffeine can be a mood booster. It stimulates the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine which activates the area of your brain responsible for productivity and alertness. The amount it may boost your mood and the time it lasts for depends on the amount of sugar consumed with the caffeine. For example, if your put a lot of sugar in your coffee, your mood may be boosted a fair amount however once your blood sugar level drops down again, you will notice a pretty sudden decrease in alertness and productivity!
  • Coffee has been proven to help lower the risk of oral cancer. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that there is a strong connection between the increased caffeinated coffee consumption and the lower death rate from oral cancer. Research is ongoing on this topic.
  • Having too much of anything is a bad move and it is no different with caffeine. Too much of it can cause nervousness, “the shakes”, insomnia, irritability, upset stomach, muscle tremors and irregular heart beats. Everyone will have a different tolerance so the amount of caffeine that works for your body will be individual to you but any more than 500mg (equal to 4 cups of coffee) can produce these effects on most people, especially if you are not used to taking in this much caffeine.
  • A healthy individual should try to remain under 300mg of caffeine a day which equals around 3 cups of coffee or 4 cups of tea. Pregnant women should limit their intake to under 200mg and children should consume no more than 50mg daily. Remember caffeine isn’t only in coffee and tea, it is also in sugary energy drinks that you may give your children.
  • Caffeine may NOT help weight loss!! Although many people use the zero-calorie coffee as a diet aid, research has not confirmed that it helps with weight loss. Caffeine does temporarily speed up metabolism leading to a few more calories being burned, however it also leads to the production of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone which is linked to weight gain and of course stress!! Research has also shown that the extra calories burned does not equate to an amount that will drastically help with weight loss.
  • Be careful which source of caffeine you choose! Health professionals always prefer you the get your caffeine fix from a natural source such as coffee or tea. Energy drinks are design to give you a quick boost of energy, and generally do just that, however the amount of sugar that is added to them can add up to about 70g. That is the equivalent to 17 teaspoons of sugar. These energy drinks can be dangerous to consume because as well as the huge amounts of caffeine and sugar in them, there are additives and stimulants that are thrown in there as well. These can cause the shakes, anxiety, irregular heart beat and also decrease the effect of any prescription drugs or antibiotics being taken.
  • Caffeine is used by athletes for exercise benefits. When caffeine is consumed in a fasted state, it stimulates the release of fatty acids into the blood therefore making it the preferable source of energy over carbohydrates or lean muscle.

The list of positive and negative effects that coffee has on our health is ongoing and there is no way I could talk about it all today but I hope those couple of facts have perhaps taught you something new, or cleared up something you weren’t quite sure on. We do not have a clear cut answer to the question in my title, the answer is that in moderation there should be no problem but you have to find the right amount for you as an individual!

Enjoy your day, stay healthy, stay active and … watch that caffeine intake!

Summer is coming…

17 Apr

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Even though this has been a long and dreary winter and we are still seeing some cold, grey days, i assure you that summer IS coming and it will creep up on you faster than you think!

Suddenly the sun will be out and the temperatures will rise and we all know what that means… 

…sunglasses go on and the layers come off!!!

This is by no means a bad thing, no one likes to layer up before going out however some of you have been hiding under those winter layers for so long now that you may not remember what it feels like to wear shorts or a skirt. This can be scary and intimidating and we haven’t even mentioned bikinis yet!!

If you can relate to that and you don’t feel too confident at the thought of shorts or a bikini then panic not! Whether you used to exercise but have been slacking off recently, or have never really thought about it, now is the time! If you are a member of a gym then great, if not just pop a pair of trainers on and head to your local park for a run or try a local bootcamp as there are lots around.

My point is, don’t dread the summer weather and the thought of a bikini… use it as motivation to get going!! Start eating well and moving more and you can embrace the summer when it eventually graces us with it’s presence.

If you want some 1:1 training, I have introduced two different intensive personal training packages to my services. These packages are either 4 or 6 weeks long and can be perfect if you are looking for a kickstart or a quick blitz before a holiday or special event. Have a look at the “prices” section or contact me for more information and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Functional core workout #2

14 Mar

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I am pleased to hear that many of you have been working hard and trying to complete the functional workout I posted a few weeks ago. As I’m sure you have found, it works the whole body and therefore can feel difficult and tiring the first few times you do it but stick with it and it can only get easier.

To mix it up a bit I have given you another workout to try. This by no means replaces the other one, it simply adds to it to get you a wider choice of exercises to put in your routine.  If you like to run, it can be a great addition to do when you get home or in the middle of your run when you want a change of focus.

Again there are 5 exercises and I suggest you try and do between 3 – 5 rounds of the circuit depending on how much time you have and your fitness level. Give yourself a minute to rest in between each round but try to limit the rest periods between each exercise.

1. Walkouts with a twist (5)

2. Leg swings (15)

3. High plank with single leg crunches (10)

4. side plank dips

5. fast twists

 

Exercise descriptions

1. Walkouts with twist – Walk your hands from a standing position out to a high plank. The in turn reach your hand behind the other one as far as you can twisting your torso to help. Once you have reached on both sides, walk you hands right back up to a standing position. This is 1 repetition.

2. Leg swings – In a standing position (holding onto a wall for balance if needed) swing one leg forward reaching with the opposite hand to try and touch your foot. Let your leg swing back as far as it goes before trying again. When you have done your 15 repetitions, turn around and try the other leg.

3.  High plank single leg crunches – Forming a plank position on your hands, not elbows, you will bring one knee in towards your elbow before straightening it as high as you can. Keep going on the same leg until all 10 repetitions have been completed, then do the same with the other leg.

4.  Side plank dips – Balance yourself on your elbow in a side plank (up to you how you have your feet, as long as you’re balanced) and dip your lower hip to the ground and back up again. Repeat this 15 times on one side before turning onto the other side.

5. Fast twists – This exercise is done in a Vsit position. Sit on the floor with your feet out in front of you and lean back to form a V shape! You’re going to lean back and twist from side to side touching the floor as fast as you can for 20 twists. This exercise involves 3 sets of 20 twists per round.

 

If you do not quite understand any of my descriptions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact and I can try to explain them in a different way or answer any of your other questions.

Good luck and happy exercising 🙂