Top 5 pre and post natal blog posts

Hello,

This year is proving to be pretty awesome and as part of the fun I’ve been nominated for the What’s on 4 Little Ones Awards, in best Pre and Post Natal Activity Category. I’m so chuffed.

I love what I do, from seeing new mums through pregnancy to getting them back on the other side for some well earned re-hab. My post natal classes with babies are always full of smiles and baby coos.

I also love being able to share what I know and am continuing to learn with a wider audience through my blog posts. It’s great to see them read and shared across the world.

So in honour of this week’s voting I’m sharing my top 5 pre and post natal blog posts. Please share and if you like what you read please don’t forget to vote.

In fact do it now, before you read, in case you forget! http://www.whatson4littleones.co.uk/awards.asp

The voting closes this Friday.

Top 5 pre and post natal posts from alittlefitter.com

1. My timeline to post natal recovery. From early days to up to two years. How long does it really take your body to recover after pregnancy: The Princess, the bump, your body.

2. How to look after your tummy after pregnancy and why you need to avoid crunches or situps. Situps. The fastest way to a flat tummy.

3. On the ever popular subject of pelvic floor health, how about how your muscle can affect your sex life. Pelvic floor: The key to great orgasms for life.

4. Still on pelvic floor. How to actually do your exercises. To squeeze or not to squeeze.

5. And last but not least, my newest pre and post natal post all about nutrition post baby. The New Mummy Diet. What women really need to eat after pregnancy, labour and birth.

Enjoy and please share with your friends.

Look after yourselves ladies. You’re unique, special and really pretty awesome.

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs www.fit-school.co.uk with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

Advertisements

The New Mummy Diet

HELP! I want to get my body back.

You have a new baby.

You are shattered.

You feel less than blooming.

Your pre-pregnancy wardrobe is neither practical (especially if you are breast feeding) nor flattering – that’s if it even goes over your hips. And you are just all a bit jiggly. Plus to top it all off you have neither time nor energy to shop/eat/cook/all of the above.

So how do you get your pre-pregnancy body back?

Featured Image -- 835

NEWSFLASH: You won’t. That’s not to say you can’t have a body that you love but it will always be different. A scar here or (down) there; wrinkles on your tummy; or stretch marks on your boobs (which may also have gone down there). But it’s okay. You’re a mum.

Wear your baby badges with pride.

GETTING THIN AGAIN: Please please please know that this is the least important thing right now. Until your baby is letting you sleep for a good seven hour stretch and you have stopped lactating, it is not the time to consider cutting calories or dieting for the way you look. And I promise you, there’ll be a time in the very near future when you are so busy running around after your toddler that eating at all will become a challenge.

NewMummyDiet

THE NEW MUMMY DIET

So here’s the good news. My new mummy diet is what you really need to consider eating and drinking to cope with the now. To enable your body to cope with the demands of being a new mummy and perhaps feeding a new baby. And as luck would have it, a diet to cater for the above, is just the sort of diet your body needs to lose fat – so these are some good habits to get into.

What do you really need from your diet?

  • You need energy;
  • You need good quality sleep in the patches that you get it;
  • You need fuel to heal, repair and produce milk that satisfies your baby;
  • You need foods that help to stabilise your energy levels (and with that your emotional state); and
  • You need nutrients to keep your immune system high and pass that on to baby.

So what are my recommendations for THE NEW MUMMY DIET?

1. CUT OUT REFINED SUGAR AND REFINED CARBS

Yes this means chocolate, bread, sweets and cakes.

It sounds impossible, especially when you’re sleep deprived and you feel like you need a quick pick me up. But sugar highs will lead to massive sugar lows, which can affect your energy levels, milk supply, hormone balance and emotions. It’s also pretty bad for your health.

If going cold turkey feels like too much, start by cutting back. Your tummy fat will start to reduce in days if you cut out refined carbs.

2. CUT BACK ON CAFFEINE

If you’re breastfeeding this probably goes without saying but did you know that caffeine has a seven hour half life? So if you need to sleep when baby sleeps keep your coffee to the morning.

Evidence suggests that drinking more than three cups of coffee in a day massively reduces your sensitivity to caffeine, so you won’t feel the benefit anyway.

Stick to one caffeinated drink only.

3. SLEEP/REST

This is a toughie when you have a new baby. You just need to do what you can. If day naps are a challenge, try to at least rest.

When you miss out on quality sleep, your hormones are affected and can make you crave sweet foods.

So rest whenever you can and call in the troupes to help you get sleep if you have some available.

4. EAT PROTEIN WITH EVERY MEAL/SNACK

When we pick at foods, good quality protein sources can be the first thing we lose from our diets.

Protein is essential, especially when you are healing and perhaps feeding a new life.

The easiest way to ensure that we get enough is to include it with every meal or snack. This will also help keep your energy levels stable. So an egg at breakfast, some nuts with a piece of fruit, some humous on toast and a piece of fish or meat with your lunch will all help you to feel fuller and more energise.

5. EAT A PINT OF GREEN VEG

To ensure you get your vegetables in, visualise how many it would take to fill a pint glass. Try and eat this amount throughout the day.

You could invest in a high quality blender to get your greens in that way. Greens are important for your health, will help keep your vitamin levels high and are great for your digestion.]

Oh and drink loads (of water that is).

These are just guidelines for what to put into your mouth. Yes I’d recommend post natal specific exercise too but if all you can do is eat well, that’s a great start and is absolutely something daddy or friends/family can help you with.

Be flexible and realistic though. Don’t be hard on yourself for eating a biscuit (or two) but know if you are hungry, tired and grumpy and hour later, that’s why.

If you’d like more information like this on post natal health, read my most popular blog all about post natal recovery: The Princess, the bump, your body

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist.

Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.

Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.

Read the latest Fit School newsletter here: Fit School News

TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

Are you predisposed to be fat, fit, fast or ill – what your DNA says about you.

It’s all in your genes.

By guest blogger, Chris Laing, director of Fit School

The health and fitness industry normally trots along spurting out fads and hype to anyone that will listen. But every now and then, the industry makes a stratospheric jump in information that will genuinely be of benefit to everyone that listens. Cue: genetic testing.
Genetic testing is nothing new. We test for congenital diseases, DNA damage and we can see genetic differences in people (albeit less than 1% variation that separates you from me). In fact we are genetically similar to a banana! However, these variations are what determine whether we live life as a banana, or a human.Gene variation plays a big role in who we are and we now have the technology to determine how we work through our own individual genetic variations. I believe this is currently the most powerful tool in individual health and fitness customisation. If you know what directly affects your health, you can kiss the scaremongering headlines goodbye, for good.
ChrisPushUpStudio

How does your body cope with saturated fats, or carbohydrates? Do you have the fat gene? Does milk work for you?  All these things can now be tested to see if your DNA and your lifestyle are in harmony for optimum health.

This isn’t about being told you are ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Or being told that you need to stop drinking and live a virtuous life of mountain spring water and vegetables. I found it to be quite the opposite. I found it really empowering and quite cool to see how I work.So my genetic profile brought up some things which I already knew. Milk could be an issue, which it has been since I was a teenager. I don’t clear coffee from my system very well (hence my shakes after a strong coffee). I have a possible predisposition to hypertension, especially with excess sodium. My dad had high blood pressure, so this is pretty accurate. When completing a medical health questionnaire, people tend to be red flagged if there is a family history of high blood pressure. So it’s common sense that there must be a genetic element at play.What does it mean to you? Finding out your genetic profile will not tell you that you will live to 100 or you’ll get ill next week. It simply tells you how your body works and joins up the dots. It will tell you how genes are expressed or not in relation to managing risks for optimum health. It will once and for all confirm things that you’ve felt but couldn’t really explain. Finally, it will give you stepping stone to define for yourself how you want to be healthy.
The main test can tell from your DNA things like your body’s ability to process alcohol, toxins and gluten. You might find you have a high risk of certain chronic diseases but by tweaking your diet, based on this information you can minimise your risk. Put simply, the tests will enable you to supercharge your diet for your specific genetic makeup in order to live well and support your health.
This isn’t a patch test you can do at home or drop into the chemist for but then this is DNA testing which has only previously been available to elite level athletes and there are only a handful of professionals in the UK who can interpret your results. Fortunately I’m one of them.
If you’re interested, drop me a line. There’s no obligation.
I am however offering a £25 discount to the first eight people who get in touch and book in. I will go over your results myself and relay the findings via an on-line group.This will enable me to explain your report and help to create a programme going forward. Everyone will receive a meal plan, recipes and nutrition guide.The price for the first 8 people is £180 (£205 after) for the basic test, £225 for full test (£250 after). Please e-mail fitschoolessex@gmail.com,Chris.

Chris Laing is a personal trainer specialising in luxury, comprehensive lifestyle/fitness training packages. Chris is co-director of Fit School with his wife Karen, Fit School offers accessible group training programmes including ladies only training camps, online detoxes, P.E. classes and Pilates (including pre and post natal Pilates) in Essex.

 

Black Eyed Bean Chilli (Vegetarian)

WHILST I’m a confirmed meat eater I’ve recently been dabbling with vegetarian meals. When we’ve had an excess of meat or rich foods, we like to have the odd non-meat dinner. We’re also aware that whilst we are happy omnivores, not everyone is.

So here’s my latest veggie recipe. It appealed to me because I had some ripe plantains, so wanted a rice and bean dish to go with it but Chris’ mum’s African black eyed beans we had lurking in the freezer were way too spicy for my palate. This is sooooo quick (literally ten minutes to prepare and less than 30 minutes to cook) that it makes a great store cupboard, easy dinner and only requires a chopping board, knife and a tin opener. Plus the black eyed beans are really meaty. I used beef stock to meat it up (obviously veggies can use a non-meat equivalent).

We aren’t dieticans or nutritionists so would always recommend if you are following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, it’s really important for you to seek the advice of a nutritionist to ensure you are still getting enough amino acids, protein and fats into your diet.

BLACK EYED BEAN CHILLI

(serves 3 hungry people or 2 with leftovers for lunch)

blackeyedpeas

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tin chopped or plum tomatoes
  • 1 dessert spoon tomato puree
  • 1 450g tin black eyed beans
  • 1/2 tin chickpeas (optional)
  • 100mls water and stock cube (I used a Knorr beef stock pot)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

METHOD:

Fry the chopped onions in a pan with a slug of olive oil (be generous to add fats to this recipe) until soft and slightly coloured. Then add the chopped garlic and fry for a few minutes taking care not to catch the garlic.

Make a space in the pan and add the tomato puree, cook it off then incorporate.

Add all the dry spices (to your taste) and cook for another few minutes.

Add the tomatoes and stock cube plus a little water (rinse out the tomato tin) then bring to a simmer. Season well with salt and lots of black pepper.

Add the beans and chickpeas if using and cook for around 20 minutes, or until the beans are looking a little soft.

You can add more water if it’s a little dry for you.

Once you’ve finished cooking add the balsamic vinegar to taste. It brings out the flavour.

Serve for dinner with steamed rice, fried plantains and a green salad with avocado (extra fats) or this is also great for lunch with a baked sweet potato.

5 Good Health Habits

It’s that time of year when media bombards us with health crazes, detoxes, diets and food fads (and fallacies).

So rather than confuse you further, I’m here to simplify life with some easy to adopt, good health habits which should perk up any sluggish system:

1. Start each day with a Morning Zing. Either fresh lemon or lime juice in hot water or half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in a glass of water. Both will help start your body in an alkaline way, which is great for health, fat burning and just making you feel good.

2. Take a 20-minute brisk walk every day, ideally before midday to catch as much daylight as possible. This will rev up your metabolism and (especially if you’ve been stuck at your desk or at home) give your eyes and brain a break. Walking is low impact but will get your joints moving.

20130118-230616.jpg

3. Have protein and two portions of vegetables with every meal. This is a tough one but both your body and your mind will benefit from this good health habit. Your brain needs protein, especially in the winter months, in order to synthesise happy hormones. Vegetables help to alkalise your body and are packed full of vitamins and protein will keep you full between meals.

4. Avoid snacks between meals. There was a time when health sciences taught grazing for health but in the past few years this has been turned on its head. If you are keen to drop some Christmas lard, shape up for an event or just regulate your hormones, going cold turkey between meals is best. This will automatically cut out ‘extra’ calories from your diet and you’ll have to meal plan to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients in your main meals.

5. Drink at least two litres of water every day. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard it before but hydration is key for optimum health. You might be omming your way through yoga or clocking up the marathon miles but without enough water on board you’ll be under performing.

And finally (the bonus ball) … get your zzzzzz’s. At least seven hours beauty sleep a night. No TV’s or technology at least 30 minutes before bed and in as dark a room as possible.

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

Sugar Detox: Starts this Sunday, 5th January

Happy New Year to you all. I hope you had a great Christmas, with a chance to relax, unwind and spend quality time with friends and family.

Seasonal excesses can leave many of us feeling a little bloated and lethargic. Not just because of too much turkey and Christmas pudding. Did you know that for the majority of us, a month of eating differently and a change in routine can alter the nutrient balance in our bodies. That, coupled with winter’s lack of daylight and less exercise, is a recipe for sluggish systems and often low moods.

So the Fit School team have created a Sugar Detox plan. It’s a 10 day, online plan and it starts this coming Sunday, 5th January (Sunday will be a bit of a preparation day so you can hit the ground running on Monday, 6th). It costs £15 for Fit School members and £20 for non members.

firstimage.jpg

Over the course of the 10 days, the plan will help wean your body and mind from the sugar hit over the last couple of weeks. For some, the increase in sugar started as early as December! So here’s why we have created a Sugar Detox.

The three main nutrient groups in our diet are carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

We consume these nutrients in varying ratios. Here are some common sources:

Carbohydrates

  • Fruit;
  • Vegetables;
  • Cereals;
  • Grains;
  • Milk;
  • Alcohol (see note below *); and
  • Anything containing sugar.

 Carbohydrates can be further broken down into the following:

  • Starch;
  • Sugar; and
  • Fibre.

*Alcohol is a separate group all to itself. You get all the calorific effects of a carbohydrate (the side effects of simple sugars) and none of the benefits (despite some blood thinning properties – although you can get these from other sources).

Here is a breakdown of how one Fit School member’s diet changed over the festive period.

Pre-Christmas Average December December with drinks/sugar
Carbs 45% 63% 62%
Protein 30% 12% 8%
Fats 20% 25% 30%

So the big change is increased carbs in the form of sugars, less protein (except Christmas day) and more saturated fats (from processed foods).

The calories in the three examples were roughly the same but to explain why counting calories isn’t always beneficial, below you can see the calories just from food.

  • Pre Christmas – 2000
  • Average December – 1750
  • + drinks and sugar – 1400

Even though the calories were roughly the same, up to 600 calories were now being consumed in the form of refined sugars or alcohol which you can’t readily use. In our experience, this kind of nutrient change tends to result in little actual weight gain you might grow a muffin top and feel generally flabby. If the ratios change as they have above and you consume more calories, you will put on weight as well.

We generally exercise less in the winter, since we are less motivated. So unless you adjust what you eat, you will put on weight. Christmas then compounds the issue. You’re feeling lethargic and your clothes are tighter by January.

So this detox is to get your body back to a point where you are looking and feeling great. It will require some will power and also some support. That is why doing it in a group will help you keep going. Our golden rule with trying to create a new habit is you must not take something out of your lifestyle without putting something back in. No doubt you derived some pleasure from eating or drinking the things that you did over the festive period. So it is essential that you replace the pleasurable part of these activities with healthier alternatives. For example, drinking nothing but water for a few days is probably okay, but by day three, you’ll find that every fizzy drink you walk past will be talking to you!

We will provide:

  • Low sugar recipes;
  • Protein rich meals;
  • Healthy carb recipes; and
  • Exercise guidance.

These will all be posted daily in our Facebook group. If you have any questions, we will also do our best to answer them so you understand what we are trying to do.

Want to sign up? All you need to do is email us at fitschoolessex@gmail.com and pay £15 (for members) and £20 for non-members before Sunday via our PayPal account: fitschoolessex@gmail.com.

See you there!

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

Biscuit SOS – how to beat the mid-afternoon munchies.

Fesh Chocolate Chip Cookies with Rapsberries and Hot Chocolate

Peckish? Is your 3 o’clock appointment with the biscuit barrel ruining your good intentions? If so, you’re not alone. From lack of protein, to sleep deprivation, dehydration or just your body’s own clever chemical hunger warfare sending your brain ‘feed me’ signals, the mid-afternoon munchies are sabotaging svelte waistlines everywhere. It’s time we did something about it. Here’s my how, why and emergency guide to the mid-afternoon munchies.

THE GHRELIN GREMLIN

Think of your body like a finely tuned eco-system. It fights for equilibrium. You get thirsty or feel sleepy, that’s just your clever body looking after itself.

The same goes for hunger. Our tummies produce hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin makes us feel full but the ghrelin gremlin is all about hunger. Like most of our hormones, they regulate themselves during our restorative sleep hours. So a lack thereof can wreak havoc with our hunger signals.

Scientists know that sleep deprivation will increase ghrelin levels in the body. The 2008 study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, found that just one night of sleep deprivation can lower leptin levels and raise ghrelin levels.

The ghrelin gremlin peaks in the afternoon and signals the brain to eat, and to eat high calorie foods. Hence our visits to the vending machine or corner shop.

Scientists have also discovered that ghrelin is not good for waistlines. A study published in 2009, in the International Journal of Obesity, found that ghrelin favours an accumulation of fats around the tummy and also in the fatty tissues around our organs, especially the liver. Specifically those areas that put us at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

So if the gremlins strike, aim for healthy, happy fats which are much easier for your body to use as fuel and help prevent the unhealthy fat gain around your tummy.

REGULATE

If you are finding yourself hungry in the afternoons it’s also worth analysing your morning food intake. Did you skip breakfast? Did you nip out of the door with little more than a slice of toast and jam? In order to regulate your appetite and blood sugar levels, the best thing you can do is have protein with every meal. A boiled egg, nuts with your yoghurt or a tuna sandwich will all serve your dietary needs better than a teensy rice cake!

You may also be genuinely hungry? Sometimes a craving for high calorie food is just your body’s way of saying ‘EAT’ – so rather than reaching for a cake, eat something more substantial instead.

FIVE RULES TO BEAT THE MID-AFTERNOON MUNCHIES

1. Aim for at least seven hours sleep a night.

2. Eat breakfast – if you skip it then make sure your first meal contains a balance of proteins and good fats.

3. Eat protein with every meal and every snack – that might just be a few nuts (see below).

4. Drink at least two litres of fluid a day – if you feel hungry, try a drink first (you might just be thirsty).

5. Consider an omega oil supplement – it helps in the battle against unhappy fats.

EMERGENCY GHRELIN GREMLIN BUSTERS

If the hunger has already kicked in, here are a few suggestions for damage limitation:

1. Drink a herb or fruit tea, or a fresh vegetable juice – it can take away the sweet craving and quench your thirst.

2. Have a square of dark chocolate with a few nuts.

3. Eat oatcakes with nut butter or avocado.

4. Have an apple with a small piece of cheese.

5. Have some granola yoghurt.