Monday, 30 March 2015

15 minute sanity saver meals for new Mums

When I first arrived home from hospital with a toddler wrapped around one leg and a newborn in my arms - I truly appreciated friends and family dropping around with ready-made, home cooked meals.
Of course, this kind of hospitality doesn't last forever. And there comes a point when you need to stop opening the pantry in a zombie-like fashion wishing that dinner would magically appear before you.
As much as I tried to 'stock the freezer' with nutritious meals before baby-number-two arrived, there just never seemed to be enough time. And when you're a working Mum with little ones most of the time you just feel drained - even just thinking about all the things you have to do (and the little time you have to do them in). Sometimes you just need a fast energy fix - some easy, nutritious meals you can just whip up quickly. Who has the time to prepare a three-course gourmet meal anymore?
If your nutritional habits have disappeared since giving birth (last seen somewhere near the nappy bin), along with your energy and your sanity, try some of these 10 quick, easy and tasty dishes that'll nourish your body and re-boot your drive!
Let me know what you think of these - and if you have a special body-nourishing recipe of your own please share it with us!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Heavenly stretches during pregnancy

Stretching is a bit like backing up your PC: you know you should do it, bit it's easy to put it off.

But stretching is an easy thing to do when you're up the duff - and it has so many benefits - you feel more relaxed, it helps correct posture, and gives your greater flexibility for labour.

For pregnancy
During pregnancy, your chest muscles (those pecs), hips flexors, hamstrings and lower back muscles become tight. As your chest and stomach swell, the added weight frontside can result in you rounding your shoulders and dropping your head forward and down. So stretching your pectoral muscles and doing some mobility exercises for the upper back and neck will prevent these muscles from becoming tense and restricted.

Likewise, those hip flexor muscles get tight with the weight of the baby pulling forward - and this can effect your pelvic tilt and put extra strain on the lower back. 

For labour
Squats and groin stretches encourage the opening of the pelvis to prep you for labour. Inner thigh and hamstring stretches prepare you for the second stage in labour, so you're as comfortable as possible in your chosen position.

Top tips for static stretching during pregnancy

  1. the hormone relaxin softens your connective tissue in preparation for birth, so it's important not to overstretch as it could lead to permanent damage. 
  2. only stretch a muscle as far as you can without pain, and hold it there for 10-20 seconds
  3. to maintain flexibility, stretch to the 'biting point' where you feel the stretch in the muscle, and leave it at that. 
Modified Mermaid
Why? This stretches and strengthens the back as well as your side abdominals. You can also do this exercise throughout pregnancy to help strengthen the muscles that support your growing baby.

Sit on the right hip with the right knee facing forward and the left knee pointing up into the air with your left foot flat on the ground.

  1. Extend the right arm next to your hip for support. As you inhale, life your right hip off the group and exhale as you bring your left arm up toward the ceiling and over to the right Exhale and return to the start.
  2. Repeat 3-5 times and then switch to the other side.

Next time: I'll go through four easy dynamic, feel-good stretches for pregnancy you can do anytime.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Beating the Easter chocolate binge

Easter has almost arrived but the lure of chocolate in every aisle of the supermarket has been here for some time now.

If chocolate is your weakness, surrounding yourself with it, or depriving yourself of any, is a sure-fire way to feed the cravings.

What causes cravings for certain types of food may be a mystery, but you can still enjoy Easter without overindulging.

See these top tips to kick the chocolate binge

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy Easter break.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Good posture long after the bump has gone

For more than 38 weeks your body went through a dramatic transformation to grow a new life. Early on your waist seemed to disappear, then your belly started to stick out, and then your centre of gravity started to shift forward.

By the time you reached your third trimester, your pelvis tipped forward too, and your ribs migrated to the nether regions to make room for the little cherub. No doubt about it, over nine months your posture changed. And it doesn't just zing back into shape once the little one is born!

So why is correct posture so important?
When the body is 'out of whack' it has to work harder to maintain an upright stance. Muscles that aren't designed to support the body have to take up the slack and they become too tight. As well as putting extra strain on the joints, tight muscles decrease range of movement and pull the body out of alignment. And if that isn't enough, slack muscles tend to tire easily in the attempt to correct things and the body begins to sag. These changes also increase the pressure on the spine and can decrease blood flow.

What does it mean to have good posture?  And how on earth do you get it back long after the bump has gone?

For a start, when you look at yourself from front on, your spine should be nice and straight. This means that:

  • your ears should be at the same height;

  • your shoulders should be at the same height; and

  • your hips should be at the same height. 

Many Mums just assume that this is the case and are surprised when they actually look in the mirror. Check it out for yourself, or even better get a friend to check it for you. While you’re at it, check out your posture from side-on as well. The middle of your ear should be directly above the middle of your shoulder, which should be directly above your hip, which should be above the front of ball of your ankles.

Top 3 tips for getting your posture back:

  1. Practice good body alignment (as above).

  2. Increase your core stability (yes, that means working on those abs and strengthening the back).

  3. Balancing opposing muscle groups (ie. chest and back) through strength and stretch routines.

    Join me next time when we look at how to set up and maintain good posture for those everyday things you do as a Mum - lifting, holding and feeding your baby.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Top 5 tips to make your resolutions stick

Now we're at the start of another new year, many of us have been busy thinking about what we'd like to doing - or stop doing - this year. But how do we make our good intentions stick beyond today, tomorrow, let alone 365 days? Try these tips to help you create resolutions that actually make a difference to your life.

Create a plan - 'cos as the saying goes - "an objective without a plan is a dream."
In order for your resolution to have resolve, (as the word "resolution" implies), it has to have clear steps that can be put into action. A good plan will tell you: what to do next, and what steps are needed to complete the goal.

Don't wait 'til tomorrow - create Your Plan NOW

If you're like most people, then you'll have a limited window of opportunity during the first few days of January to harness your motivation.  So it's really important that you start creating your plan now.

Write it down
Commit your resolution and plan to writing somewhere; keep it where you can see it, and refer to it often.

Think "Year Round," Not Just New Year's
Resolutions should be realistic; with small steps to reach specific goals. Nothing big gets done in a day. Resolutions are set in one day, but accomplished with a hundred tiny steps that happen throughout the year.

Remain flexible to keep your sanity

Accept that being a busy Mum often means that things don't always go as planned. So when great intentions are derailed, there's no guilt or giving up: just pick up and move on. Most of all, recognise when you succeed at every step along the way.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Make 2015 your best year yet

Are you still under the influence of a Christmas binge fest? Don't give up hope! It only takes a couple of weeks to climb out of your rut and be back with a vengeance! 

Here's my top 5 tips: 

  1. Don't panic! You can't change what's happened but you can wipe the slate clean and move on. You can be in total control from this point onwards. 
  2. Set goals and get EXCITED about them - make them tangible so they mean something to you. What do you want to achieve and when do you want to achieve them by? Why do you want to do this? How are you going to achieve it?
  3. Make the commitment to yourself! You may need to make some sacrifices but looking after yourself is the best gift you can give to your kids! Make a written promise that you will give it 110%, no excuses and that you'll never EVER give up.
  4. Believe in yourself and banish negative self talk. If you don't believe you can do it, then most likely, you won't. Replace your negative thoughts or words with positive ones. If you keep on telling yourself that you're fat, hopeless and don't have enough time, then your subconscious will believe it and prevent you from achieving what you want out of life.
  5. Above all you need to be consistent AND patient. None of the above will work if you aren't.The number one reason people fail in their attempts to lose weight and live a healthier life is they simply give up too soon! You can't change the way you look or feel overnight, but in 12 weeks you can see some amazing results! 

So no more "buts" - if you're thinking about new ways to move more, check out these tips on 51 ways to be more active.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Power push

Looking to tone up and lose some of the baby belly fat?

This workout is simple and you can do it anytime with your baby in the pram. It's just five exercises with intervals of power walking or gentle jogging, depending on your level of post natal fitness. All exercises are completely safe provided it's six weeks after the birth of your baby (10 weeks for caesarean births), and you have your doctor's OK to exercise.

Start with two sets of 8 exercise repetitions, and build up to 15 as you get stronger. Remember to walk with good posture when pushing the pram and lift your pelvic floor - especially if you're lifting or doing anything strenuous.

Warm up: walk briskly for seven to ten minutes, then power walk for one minute. Briskly walk for 30 seconds, end with another power walk of one minute.

Pram squats: these are great for the butt and thighs.
Start with your feet about one and a half times hip width apart. Bend your knees and lower down into a sitting position keeping your back flat and tummy tight. As you squat, push the stroller away from your body (but don't let go). Make sure your knees come out over your toes. Then return to the start position.

Lunges: from standing position (feet on train tracks) take one step forwards, bend the back knee first and the front will naturally bend too. Push the pram away from your body. Make sure the body is lowering centrally and not lunging forwards. You should be able to see your toes in front of your knee. Return to the start, drawing the pram in towards you. Complete one set and then repeat with the other leg in front.

Push ups: Start on all fours with hands slightly wider than shoulder distance apart and fingers pointing forwards. Place baby between your arms on the ground.Tighten up your tummy and make sure your back is flat and then bend your elbows and lower the body down towards ground/baby. Return to start position.

Bench tricep dips:
sit on the edge of a bench with your hands tucked below the sides of your bottom and your arms straight (don't lock out the elbows). Keeping your tummy muscles tight, slide your bum forwards off the bench and bend the elbows to 90 degrees so your body lowers. Make sure your elbows go straight back and not out to the sides. Return to start position.

Heel drops: Lie down on your back with your feet in the air in 'table top' position. Start by slowly lowering one heel to the ground, and bring back up to meet the other leg. Alternative with the other side. If this is too difficult, or if you still have abdominal separation, rest both feet flat on the ground, and slowly slide out one leg, before returning and alternating with the other leg.

Warm down: when you have completed all the exercises, cool down walking briskly for seven to ten minutes and then stretch the legs, chest and arms for about 10-15 seconds each.

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