As a Personal Trainer I am sick of people trying to find quick fixes to lose weight. As a mother I am sick to death of the expectations that people have of us mothers that we can pop out a baby one day and walk out of hospital in our skinny jeans and crop tops the next. Yes some of us were blessed with amazing genes, and they can do the latter, but most mums look at themselves after having baby and are nearly convinced the doctors left a baby in there somewhere. You still have a belly, you have HUGE boobs, you have aches and pains in all areas and you have no idea what happened to your pre-baby self. Furthermore, breastfeeding doesn't help everyone to lose the babyweight!
What happens then is that new mums resort to joining challenges and eating plans "designed for busy mums". Hey, I did the same! That was before I knew what I know now. I was planking and crunching with the best of them to "strengthen my core"! Mountain climbers, burpees, the works - and all of that not even 6 months postnatal!!! Unknowingly I most likely did more harm to my core than good. Which is why I still have at least a 2 finger gap and that is 2 years after giving birth! My core has only recently, after a lot of researching and hard work, been able to fire up properly. I wish I had completed my Postnatal fitness qualification before I had my baby!! It would've taken the guess work out of a lot of it.
I have also joined a few online forums directed at new mums and their health & fitness, and even though I am rejoicing at the fact that people are aware and talking about the basic issues (diastasis and pelvic floor), I am shocked at some of the misconceptions still surrounding postnatal fitness! I cannot stress the fact that your body went through a major (quite literally) life changing event! It needs time to heal, rehabilitate and recover before we can place extra strain on it to lose weight and get fit!! You are no longer "just you", you have a little person who relies on you for the most basic of needs, and if you are malnourishing yourself and over-exercising, how do you expect to be able to care for your baby?
Then I am faced with all these fads and trends (vibrating machines, waist trainers to name but a few) and I can all but shake my head at how these things are growing in popularity!
Any plyometric (or bouncy) exercise is not recommended until most of your postnatal rehab has happened, so why would you get on a vibrating machine? Your pelvic floor needs time to heal and recover, and the stress the vibration does, cannot be good. As for waist trainers - I thought we had left that in the Victorian Ages! You do get tummy support bands (FITSplint) for people who suffer from severe Diastasis, but those are specially designed and serve a medical purpose. Waist trainers (as made famous by the Kardashian-clan in recent media) really have no place in Postnatal Rehabilitation. There are many SAFE and EFFECTIVE exercises that will train your core and your pelvic floor and yes, it may not be the quick or easy way out, but it is the effective, long term solution.
In conclusion, while some people are able to just bounce back without much fuss, the rest of us need to realise that our bodies might never return to it's pre-baby condition. You have nurtured and birthed a baby and there is no bigger accolade in this world! Time to forget about all the expectations and accept that our bodies are new and improved. :-)
As a Fitness Professional specialising in prenatal and postnatal fitness, I get tired of common misconceptions about exercising during pregnancy. A well-balanced, safe workout regime has far more benefits to both mum and bub than no exercise at all.
Some common myths I have come across are:
#1 - Lifting weights are dangerous to both you and baby
New research has shown that fitter and stronger mums have shorter labours, less chance of preterm labour, fewer complications during pregnancy and labour and shorter hospital stays. Mums have also shown a lower Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) during labour! As for benefits to your bouncing bundle of joys, they include higher APGAR scores and the ability to handle labour much better. It has also shown a lower instance of cardiovascular problems later in life and babies whose mums kept fit during pregnancy has also shown faster maturity of their brains.
#2 - Pregnancy niggles will be made worse and you run an increased risk of injury
Yes, the hormone Relaxin is running through your body loosening the ligaments and weakening the joints, which is all necessary for you to bring your baby into this world, but instead of being an argument against strength training, it should actually be an argument FOR strength training! Think about it - a stronger body will have increased stability! If you work with a qualified Prenatal Fitness Instructor to work out a safe strengthening program, they will be able to teach you correct form and make adaptions as your body changes!
#3 - You need to keep your heart rate under 140bpm
Yes, you need to be mindful of over doing it but the 140bpm rule is outdated. A much better indication is using RPE and the talk test. If you are still able to hold a conversation, but still feel like you are getting a workout, you're good. If you are struggling to suck in oxygen and not managing to talk - you need to bring it down a notch... But doing higher intervals all helps to prepare you for labour. Doing 30-60 seconds work, short rest and repeat is pretty much the same cycle your body will go through during labour!
#4 - Do not train your abdominals because it will cause separation
Uhm - no.... Not training your core will only result in a heck of a sore back! Proper core training is vital during pregnancy! A strong core will reduce the size and severity of Diastasis Recti (stomach separation) and also help your DR to recover quicker after giving birth! Obviously proper core training during pregnancy does not include sit-ups, crunches or front planks!
#5 - You should avoid all exercise except walking and yoga during pregnancy
Walking and yoga are both needed as part of your prenatal fitness regime, but strength training adds another (and necessary) dimension to your exercise! Some benefits of strength training:
* Helps to support your changing body
* Maintain your strength as you carry extra weight
* Aids recovery after birth
* Prepare you and your baby for those intense moments during labour.
(Source: Jessie Mundell - Mundell Lifestyles)
Now that the myths have been debunked, let's look at some benefits of general exercise during pregnancy:
* Improved Fitness
* Improved Muscle Tone and Strength
* Increased Self-Esteem
* Increased Sense of Wellbeing
* Feeling in Control of your Body
* Heightened Body Awareness
* Weight Control
* Relieving stress
* Bounce back quicker after giving birth
* Promotes good posture
All-in-all, the benefits completely outweigh the risks. Obviously there are some instances where you should not exercise at all during pregnancy, and you should always check with your doctor or midwife whether it is safe for you to be exercising! Also make sure that you find a fitness professional who has a qualification in prenatal fitness, as this will help you to have the safest workout for both you and bub!
I get asked often about Protein Shakes and Supplements when it comes to weight loss and fitness. I have researched the topic at length and decided to post an article that condenses it all into one user friendly database.
Many experts agree that if one's diet is complete, no supplements are required. Unfortunately in a modern world where fast food and convenience foods are all over, very few people's diets are "complete". In fact - a study has revealed that 68% of the US population is deficient in calcium, 90% in chromium, 75% in magnesium, 80% in Vitamin B6, and 95% in Omega-3 fats! (Source: Precision Nutrition) Another study has revealed that even athletes diets weren't "complete". The diets of 70 athletes were analyzed for vitamin and mineral intake and not a single one met the recommended daily amount. All of them were deficient in between 3 and 15 nutrients.
On top of that, it has been shown that less than 3% of men and 5% of women get the minimum number of Fruits and Veg per day (2 and 5 respectively); and on average, women are only getting approximately 60% of their daily recommended protein intake, while men are fairing a bit better at approximately 70%.
Bearing all of the above in mind, people need to take drastic steps to improve their diets! We all lead busy lives, and I have seen first hand that getting people to eat their daily recommended serves is one heck of a task (especially when mums are pregnant and breastfeeding and they need to consume more vegetables), it is great that there are some options available to supplement our diets. These are:
breastfeeding it is best to speak to your midwife, doctor or pharmacist to determine which brands are safe to
1 - 2 scoops per day is sufficient for an average woman.
cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes, amongst other benefits.
4-6 capsules (unless you get a high strength version) is adequate for an average woman.
your basic vitamins, but should also include added minerals and nutrients. Obviously if you are pregnant or
breastfeeding a specialised prenatal formula is recommended.
Use as directed on the packaging.
muscle recovery during and post workout. So for better performance during a workout and less "ouchies" after -
rather sip on a BCAA drink instead of sugar-loaded "sports drinks".
be very helpful. Adding a scoop or two to your protein shake is a good idea and comes in handy when travelling.
and haven't been focussing on your nutrition this is probably you...)
Follow dosage instructions on the package.
While I have only touched on a few, these are the main ones that you (especially my female clientele) should be looking at. Hope it was informative. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me!
(Side note: ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR OR PHARMACIST BEFORE TAKING SUPPLEMENTS IF THEY ARE SAFE FOR YOU TO TAKE!)
December.... The month of class parties, office parties, family parties, and any other excuse to have a party. Not only do we over-indulge during said parties, but then there is Christmas. Between the rum balls, plum puddings and Grandma's stuffed turkey - everything we know about good nutrition seems to fly out the window! We know we shouldn't eat all that evil food, but we just can't help ourselves!
As a Personal Trainer I never tell my clients that they "cannot" have something. If you want to eat it, go ahead! Everything in moderation. But in the month where excessive eating rules, that doesn't count! I understand that there is very little moderation when you have all that yummy food in front of you!
Here are some top tips to survive the party season without tipping the scales!
1. Never arrive hungry.
Sounds silly, but if you have a healthy snack before you go to a party, you'd be less likely to overindulge! You can still try Nanna's pudding, but you just won't have as much.
2. Have your cake, but only a small portion!
Which brings me to my next point. Now is not the time to eat because the food is yummy! Portion control!!!!!!! When you start to feel full. Stop eating!
3. Drink LOTS of water!
If you know you have a big night ahead, make sure you have a nutritious breakfast, and drink lots of water.
4. Eat your veggies!
Rather stock up on the greens instead of the unhealthy options!
4. If you can't get to the gym, go for a run (or a walk)!
You don't need a gym to get a workout in! Put on your trainers - and go. And the benefit of hitting the pavement - you have to get back to point A! So you have to keep going! :-)
5. Think about it.
Think about your health & fitness journey so far. Is it worth it? Don't undo all the good you have done until now.
But most importantly, whether you celebrate Chanukah, Christmas or whatever, enjoy this special time with your friends and family! If you are travelling, do so safely!
See you in the new year!
With Spring Carnival drawing to a close and the loss of two horses after the Melbourne cup, I thought it a timely reminder that sometimes we push ourselves harder than what is healthy. The death of Melbourne Cup race favourite, Admire Rakti, a seemingly fit, healthy horse with no sign of illness, in particular, came as a big shock. Unfortunately it doesn’t only happen in the horse world. So many times we hear of people (healthy fit people) pushing themselves too hard, all too often to their detriment.
How far is too far?
Pushing your limits during exercise is obviously something we all do. And if you are not pushing then you will never increase in your strength, fitness and endurance. BUT there is a very fine line between pushing your limits and pushing yourself too hard. One thing I always tell my clients is that there is a good pain, and a bad pain. If you experience good pain (muscle fatigue etc.) during a session, keep going. As soon as you experience a bad pain (muscle strain etc.) you stop immediately!
Some warning signs to look out for while exercising (Stop immediately if you experience any of the following):
· Chest Pain: While not all chest pain is linked to a heart attack, it is prudent to note that all chest pains should be taken seriously.
· Shortness of Breath: Naturally there is some degree of shortness of breath during exercise, but if it becomes hard to breathe, stop immediately and seek medical attention.
· Joint & Muscle Pain: Sharp or severe pain could signal an injury. Stop immediately to avoid further injury.
In conclusion I note that whilst it is important to exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle, it is also important to listen to your body. Like racehorses, we are not invincible, and failure to act upon warning signs, could result in collapse.
After 9 long months, you finally find yourself holding this little person that you made. You are in awe of this absolute miracle and overwhelmed by a love that you never knew existed. At the same time, a lot of mums find themselves feeling extremely despondent that the bump doesn't completely disappear when bub is born... Needless to say - a lot of women are very eager to get straight back into their exercise routines as soon as they have clearance to try and regain their pre-baby bodies. Celebrities are not setting very healthy examples for women either, with a lot of famous mums stepping out looking better than ever before, only weeks after having a baby!
As mums we need to accept the fact that everybody is different; some women bounce back quicker and with less effort than others! We need to learn to love and embrace our postnatal bodies - and give it a little credit! It created a human being! It took 9 months to make a baby - at least give yourself another 9 months before beating yourself up about not being able to "shake the baby weight".
Before you jump back into a vigorous exercise routine as soon as you have your 6-week clearance in hand - remember this: Your body went through a lot to create and give life to this little person. As with anything - there is a lot of rehabilitation that needs to happen before you can even think of getting back to a "normal" exercise regime! Your core is without a doubt stuffed, your pelvic floor will need a bit of work, and your joints are all still very flexible and at risk of injury while relaxin (a pregnancy hormone that relaxes your joints) is in your system.
If you are able to see a physio or your Postnatal Exercise Qualified Personal Trainer in hospital, you will be able to start your rehabilitation before you and your new little bundle are discharged! During the first 6 weeks your body enters a natural healing process and by doing some breathing and tightening exercises you can help your body repair itself much quicker and more effectively than if you don't do those exercises. Again - it is very important to do these exercises under the supervision of a Postnatal Exercise specialist!!!!! Once you then receive your 6 week clearance you can start some light strengthening exercises and light cardio. Emphasis on the word LIGHT! Once you reach the 12-week mark, you should be able to start increasing the intensity SLOWLY.
Honestly - it can take up to 6 months before you will be able to exercise like you did before baby. Don't beat yourself up if you can't run a 5km like you used to straight after having a baby. It will come - with time. Rather focus on correct nutrition (you are still "eating for two" if you are breastfeeding!) and rehabilitating your body to get to a good starting point. You may even find that after proper rehab you are fitter and stronger than you were before pregnancy! Take your time, and enjoy your baby!
I hear it all the time. "Carien, I've been working my butt off, yet the scales aren't budging and my measurements are showing very little change! What's the point?" When you kick off a healthy weight loss plan, and you increase your exercise, your body goes through a very big transformation.
First of all - you are building muscle and it is important to remember that because it is denser - muscle actually weighs more than fat. Add this to the fact that a lot of my clients are breastfeeding mums - and believe it or not, but when you feed your baby also affects the scales. If your breast are full of milk - of course you are going to weigh in heavier than if bub just had a feed.
When I do the first repeat fitness test with my clients - we find that although the scales and girth measurements show little or no change, the skin folds show a major improvement and it is that body fat % that I base success in the first 4-6 weeks on. During the 4-6 week period, as I said before, you are building muscle. The muscle is replacing the fat which causes the girth measurements to remain the same and sometimes the scales to tip even higher than the initial assessment. This is totally normal. Once your body has built up that wonderful lean muscle - the lean muscle will be burning your own body fat to fuel itself. This is why it is very important to keep your muscle tone once you have established it. And this is why exercise is a very important element of any weight loss and fitness journey.
These very same clients who are feeling despondent measure much better in their fitness testing - which means their bodies are adapting and they are becoming fitter and stronger. And once they see the body fat % drop (quite significantly in some cases) they are once again motivated to push on.
There is no quick fix (that is healthy and sustainable) to help you lose weight. The only way is hard work and dedication. If you don't give it your all, you won't get the results. Keep at it - the results will speak for themselves in the end.
Video from MutuSystem.
So now that you know what to check for - how do you measure up? Anything over 2 and a half fingers is considered a big gap and you should avoid any exercise which forces your stomach to push outward (e.g. sit ups and crunches and even planks put too much pressure on the Diastasis). Just as a side note - I reckon you should avoid the first two anyway because if not performed correctly you can do more damage than good.
So what core exercises can you do? The good news is that just because you have Diastasis Recti doesn't mean that you have to sit out during the ab set. You just have to do exercises that will help your gap.
Here are my top tips for Diastasis Recti: (And it's an ongoing list - every day I'm finding more information! If you have any questions or anything to add to the list- drop me a line.)
I hope the information was helpful! If you have any questions - don't hesitate to give me a call.
PS: Here's a video with a few exercises that will help close the gap.
Video fro Fit Healthy Moms
For weeks (probably more like months) I have been stuck on a plateau. I know how to get rid of it and break the pattern, but I've been putting myself last - it's a mum-thing.. Sick kids, school holidays, starting a business - all have taken precedence over my weight loss. Not anymore!! Tomorrow I am starting my 8-Week Challenge. And what for a PT will I be if I don't practice what I preach??
Today I did my own measurement, goal setting and fitness testing session. Tomorrow I will hit the ground running and start off with a early morning sesh in my revamped fitness studio. I will eat right and do the right kind of exercise to reach my goals! I can do this - and so can you!
To my 8-Week Challengers - good luck! Let's take our goals and smash them one-by-one!
So how will my 8-Week Challenge work?
Firstly - don't expect a diet. This is a lifestyle change. It has been proven that it takes 21 days to create a habit. By following my challenge guidelines I will help you (and myself) to create healthy habits when it comes to fitness and nutrition. Once we have created the habits - we will build on them and by the end of 8-weeks we should be able to see and feel a notable difference!
Because there is no diet involved and I don't expect you to be taking any supplements it is also safe for breastfeeding and pregnant mums. It is not a weight loss only program and you will definitely not be cutting out any food groups or cutting (or counting) calories. Every challenge will be tailored to suit the challenger. As a pregnant mum, correct nutrition and safe exercise will be beneficial for both you and your unborn baby. For breastfeeding mums, it will help you shift some of the baby bulge in a healthy manner and feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. And with a qualified PT who has an extra qualification in pre and postnatal exercise you will have an added advantage.
So take the plunge with me. Let's do this thing together! Challenge starts tomorrow!
No actually I'm not. I'm here to tell you that when you feel like the picture attached to this post, that is exactly when you need to get off the couch and do some exercise.
I have three kids - I get it. Most mornings (no wait on - every morning) is a madhouse of getting everyone organised and making sure they have brushed their teeth, put on CLEAN uniforms (seriously how hard is that???) had breakfast, packed their bags and get ready to go. All the while feeding the baby, getting him (and myself dressed) only to name a few. As you can see - ABSOLUTE MAYHEM! It is easy to get caught in the trap to say - "I don't have time to work out", or "After the morning I had I have no energy left!"
But you see that is where you are wrong. Making the extra effort and throwing on a pair of runners and doing a workout first thing in the morning or straight after school run is always worthwhile. It releases all those fabulous endorphins which makes me a much nicer person (yes coffee does help too!) and instead of wearing me out - it energises me to get on with my day.
Yes - getting your workout in at any time is important, but research has actually shown that people who exercise in the mornings stick to their regime. This is because they get their workouts in before any distractions can creep up (the doctor's appointment, the trip to the shops, the mountain of ironing waiting in the laundry....) Research has also shown that morning exercise improves sleep! (I am yet to test that theory out - since I still wake up a few times with a certain little toddler...) Whereas evening exercise can cause people to have trouble sleeping. Having your workout in the morning also helps to kickstart your metabolism and that prepares you for the rest of the day.
So next time you see me post on Facebook about a morning class, instead of thinking "I can't", get your running shoes and workout gear on and get your butt over to the session! What have you got to lose other than unwanted calories?? You will thank me later and your body will thank you too!